Are Hybrid Plants Better?

“Are hybrids better than the real thing?” Question from Dave of Springfield, Massachusetts
Answer: There is a simple and more complex answer to this question. The simple answer is that they often are better. Hybrids exist in the wild, as well as in the nurseries of plant breeders, and they often exhibit something called ‘hybrid vigor, outbreeding enhancement, or heterosis. Plants with hybrid vigor have an edge […]

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How Do I Calculate Compost Application Rates?

“Your example calculation on your Guide’s formula for Compost application seems to be incorrect. What is right?  I am trying to figure how much to order.” Question from Anne of Elmdale, Kansas 
Answer: The original formula did need some adjustment, so I just modified it. Here is the corrected formula along with a conversion table and links to other helpful sources–most notably, a great article […]

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What Seeds Need Heat Mats For Germination?

“In seed starting, which plant benefits the most by having a grow mat under it?” Question from Tim of Burton, Ohio
Answer: Some seeds need supplemental heat for germination, and these are almost always seeds for warm-season crops that naturally sprout when the outdoor temperatures heat up. Summer flowers, like cleome, cosmos, coreopsis, gomphrena, marigolds, salvias, and sunflowers, sprout better and grow faster with added […]

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How Do I Protect Apple Trees from Fungal Disease?

“I have fungal diseases on my apple trees and fruits. I have tried all different sprays and had no results.” Question from Candace of Bradyville, Tennesee
Answer: Apple trees get loads of fungal diseases (Click on this link for a full list). Some cause trees serious damage while others are just disfiguring and reduce fruit set. Either way, you can reduce fungal disease problems by […]

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How Do I Manage Codling Moths on Fruit Trees?


“I have a Liberty apple tree and a peach tree within 20 ft of each other and every year fruit tries to grow but what I believe is the coddling moth destroy it all. Do you have an effective solution?  Sprays have not helped.” Question from Ilene of West Greenwich, Rhode Island
Answer: It is likely that you are dealing with European apple codling moths […]

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How Do I Start Seeds?

“Hi, I have the worst time starting seeds and am not sure what I’m doing wrong. Do I need to put a heating pad under the tray and a light on top? If so, can I use a regular heating pad for under them? Can I use a regular shop light above them? I cover them with plastic wrap until the seeds sprout, which […]

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How Do You Keep Slugs Away From Strawberries?

“What’s the best way to keep slugs from eating strawberries?” Question from Mary of Lincoln, Nebraska
Answer: There are several things that you can do to ensure that slugs don’t damage your strawberries. Here are six methods.

Clean your vegetable beds up completely in fall, and till lightly in spring. This will remove any overwintering eggs.
In spring, apply a […]

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I Need Vegetable Garden Crop Rotation Tips

“I have 4 raised beds, each 16′ x 3.75′ (60 SF ea.) I live in Georgetown, TX Zone 8.  I have attempted to set up the planting plans for each bed for a 4-year rotation.  This spring garden, going in now:

Bed 1: Garlic (planted last 11/1), and Kale.  The Kale is still producing, and the garlic will be harvested in June.  The Kale […]

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Do You Sell Living Soil Products?

Do You Sell “Living Soil” Products?
“Is Sunshine Advanced Mix #4 considered a living soil? If not, do you sell a living soil product?” Question from Glenn of Leland, Illinois
Answer: “Living Soils” are considered soils that contain microorganisms that naturally break down organic matter and help support plants. They contain beneficial mycorrhizae as well as other supportive microorganisms from earthworm castings and compost. We have several […]

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How Do I Grow Microgreens and Baby Lettuce?

How Do I Grow Microgreens and Baby Lettuce?
“What do you recommend for growing microgreens and baby lettuces? I am interested in buying your products at retail for now to test.” Question from Karman of Indianapolis, Indiana
Answer: We recommend growing microgreens and baby lettuce in OMRI Listed Black Gold Seedling Mix. Our seedling mix holds water well and is porous and fine, to encourage the development […]

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