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How Do I Remove Liverwort From My Garden?


“Can I get rid of Liverwort by burying it in the ground?” Question from Russ of Berkley, California
Answer: It depends on the site’s soil, soil level, and moisture level. Admittedly, I kind of like the common liverwort (Marchantia polymorpha). Sorry! But, they’re kind of cool. The funny little non-vascular plants are close relatives of mosses and a sign of a very moist, shaded, nutrient-rich […]

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What is Better for Stopping Weeds, Weed Barrier or Newspaper?


“Does laying down newspapers diminish weed growth as well as laying down weed mat?” Question from Barbara of Afton, New York
Answer: It’s an excellent question. They can both work very well. I have a love-hate relationship with mulch cloth/mat that does not organically break down over time. It helps keep back aggressive weeds, like Canada thistle, in the first season, but then it quickly […]

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How Do I Remove Whiteflies?


“What can I use for whiteflies on Jatropha plants?” Question from Susan of Pembroke Pines, Florida
Answer: I recommend physical methods of removal for whiteflies followed by the use of an insecticide approved for organic gardening.
What are Whiteflies?
Whiteflies are fast-to-produce sucking insects that remove the juices from plant leaves and stems. Tiny whiteflies can be very destructive when populations are high–causing leaf drop and decline. […]

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I Am Looking For a Deer-Proof Chartreuse Ground Cover

Golden lemon thyme is a great groundcover that is disliked by deer.
“I planted a chartreuse ground cover, I believe it was a sedum, not sure.  Very low growing.  It looked great & then the deer discovered it – they ate it all.  Can you suggest another chartreuse ground cover that perhaps the deer wouldn’t – the little darlings.” Question from Peggy of Canton, Michigan
Answer: Many […]

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Ants Are On My Fava Beans. What Do I Do?

These ants are farming aphids for their sweet honeydew.
“I planted fava beans, and I noticed that I have ants on them. How do I get rid of them without using any unnatural pesticides?” Question from Isabella of Waxhaw, North Carolina
Answer: There are two possible reasons why ants may be visiting your fava beans, and in both situations, the ants are not doing damage. Here are […]

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How Do I Stop Peach Leaf Curl?

Peach leaf curl (Image by Giancarlo Dessì)
“What is the best way to keep curly leave off of my peach trees?” Question from Craig of Big Bar, California
Answer: Peach leaf curl is caused by the fungal disease Taphrina deformans. It causes infected peach leaves to thicken, turn shades of pale green, yellow, and red, and become curled and distorted. Eventually, the leaves will drop prematurely. On […]

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Why Is My Lavender Dying?


“This is the 2nd lavender I am having problems growing.  I can pull up part of it like it’s rotting.  What am I doing wrong?  There is another Lavender about 3 feet away that is looking great.” Question from Jacklyn  of Portland, Oregon
Answer: When lavender (Lavandula spp.) struggles, it is almost always due to a problem with soil quality and drainage. If fungal rot […]

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How Can I Protect My Potatoes From Cut Worms?


“What is the best way to organically protect potatoes from the fat, grey larvae that wiped out my potatoes last year? I forget the bug’s name, but I looked it up last year. My organic gardening book said to use bran bits and molasses.” Question from Kit of Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania
Answer: I think your pest is the cutworm. Cutworms (Agrotis spp.) are the destructive […]

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Do Grubs Hurt Plant Roots?


“Do grub worms hurt roots? I have a lot in one of my containers.” Question from Jody of Live Oak, Florida
Answer: Yes they do. I’ll fully answer your question in two parts. First, I’ll address grub problems in the garden as a whole, and then I’ll address the grubs in your pots.
Grub Root Damage
Grubs are the larvae of many types of beetles. Most grubs […]

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What Are Your Best Tips for Natural Pesticides?


“What are your best tips for natural pesticides?” Question from Jacquelyn O’Neil
Answer: It depends on the pest. Generally, we recommend purchasing OMRI Listed products approved for organic gardening. But, we also advocate managing pests through IPM (integrated pest management) to keep populations down without the need for harsh chemicals. Integrated pest management employs a variety of tactical techniques for pest control (see infographic below). […]

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