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Why Did My Crape Myrtle Die?


“What caused my grown crepe myrtle to die? it was doing fine for many years, then just died. I cut down the branches [last spring] hoping it would revive, but it did not. I have several crepe mytles and never had one die before. Question from Sandy of Wake Forest, North Carolina
Answer: Crape myrtles (Lagerstroemia indica) are usually quite trouble-free, but there are some […]

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Can I Use Black Walnut Leaves for Compost?

Can I Use Black Walnut Leaves for Compost?
“I have several black walnut trees in my yard. Would it be alright to use the leaves in the compost? Question from Raymond of Holt, Michigan
Answer: I would not recommend it. As you surely know, black walnut trees (Juglans nigra) excrete the toxin, juglone, which is deadly to quite a few ornamental plants. The toxin helps reduce competition, […]

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How Do I Keep Squirrels from Stealing My Tomatoes?


“Squirrels have stolen all my tomatoes for the last 3 years.  Is there any option other than putting up fencing?” Question from Barbara of Portage, Michigan
Answer: Squirrels tend to steal fruit when they are thirsty as well as hungry, and there are several proactive things that you can do to keep them away. Fences do not work due to the acrobatic nature of squirrels. […]

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How Do I Stop Snails and Slugs from Eating My Hostas?

“How to prevent snails from eating hostas?” Question from Madelaine of Irmo, South Carolina
“How to prevent snails from eating hostas?” Question from Madelaine  of Irmo, South Carolina
Answer: There are lots of great products on the market that ward off slugs and snails. Some are even OMRI Listed for organic gardening. Here are my top three favorite slug repellents and deterrents.

Pelletized Iron Phosphate Killers – These […]

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How Do I Remove and Manage Mealybugs?


“What is the best way to remove ground mealybug or should I dispose of the whole plant?” Question from Erin of Conover, North Carolina
Answer: Mealybugs can be overcome. It just takes a little time and patience. The main reason is that one has to eradicate both the adults as well as the juvenile crawlers, which are almost invisible to the eye. Outdoors, ladybugs and […]

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How Does Wildfire Smoke Impact Gardens?

How Does Wildfire Smoke Impact Gardens?
“I live in northern California where we had a lot of fires and smoke. The sky was thick with smoke for quite a few days.  How will this impact my flowers?” Question from Jenna of Magalia, California
Answer: What a crazy season it has been! I have watched several of my western gardening friends struggle through the impacts of wildfires. Thankfully, […]

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Mildew, Insects, and Rodents Damaged My Vegetable Garden. Help!

Mildew, Insects, and Rodents Damaged My Vegetable Garden. Help!
“My raised bed gardens were a disaster this year!  Mildew, cabbage worms, rodents – even though I thought I had great organic soil mix and high enough barriers.  What can I do this fall to get a great start next spring?” Question from Glenda of Sewell, New Jersey
Answer: I am sorry to hear that your vegetable garden […]

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How Do I Protect My Tomato Fruits from Insects and Slugs?

How Do I Protect My Tomato Fruits from Insects and Slugs?
“How can I keep bugs and slugs from destroying my tomato fruit? They totally decimated my crop this year leaving me nothing to can for the winter months.” Question from Sylvia of Belle Plaine, Minnesota
Answer: There are several things that you can do to ensure that insects and slugs don’t damage your tomatoes. Here are […]

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Why Does My Pilea Have Black Spots on Its Lower Leaves?


“Why is my Chinese money plant (Pilea peperomioides) getting black spots? It’s almost always the lower leaves.” Question from Katherine of Las Vegas, Nevada
Answer: There are several reasons why the semi-succulent Chinese money plant gets black spots. First, consider what it needs to grow. The South China native naturally grows in shaded forests in well-drained soils among damp rocks at higher altitudes. It likes […]

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What Preventative Strategies Stop Garden Pests Before They Attack?


“What is best to use to be on the offensive and keep pests from coming into your garden?” Question from Marilyn of Roseburg, Oregon
Answer: You cannot keep pests from visiting, especially if you are growing their favorite foods. But, cleanliness, monitoring, and planting robust pest-resistant varieties are three excellent tools for keeping pests at bay. Planning ahead for potential pests is another tactic. Let […]

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