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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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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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Should I Rotate My Container Tomatoes?


“If I grew tomatoes in a container last year, what CANNOT  be grown in that container this year? I’ve read about crop rotation but can’t find this answer anywhere. Hope you can help me.” Question from Debbie of Hoquiam, Washington
Answer: You cannot plant a tomato in that pot unless you refresh its potting soil. Tomatoes are rife with soil-borne diseases that can carry over […]

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Why Won’t Tomatoes Grow Well in My Garden Box?

‘Sunrise’ sauce tomato shown. (Image thanks to Johnny’s Selected Seeds
“I have a deep garden box with soil and fertilizer. I plant tomatoes and they never do well. I am getting frustrated. This year will be my 3rd try!” Question from Janis of North Attleboro, Massachusetts
Answer: There are several reasons why your potted tomatoes may not be succeeding. I will list several potential reasons, and then […]

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How Should I Feed and Weed My Asparagus?

Here is my midseason asparagus patch. Cutting back wayward stems in summer can also keep clumps tidier. (Image by Jessie Keith)
“What kind of fertilizer should I use in my asparagus patch? What can I use to control the weeds in my patch?” Question from Linda of New Providence, Iowa
Answer: Asparagus is one of those spring vegetables that I think everyone should grow if they have […]

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Builders Dumped and Left Cement in My Garden. What Do I Do?


Builders dumped cement in a space that’s and covered it with soil.  What is the best way to work around this without digging it all up?  Container garden, Large pots? The area has grass and weeds in a strip about 2 feet wide, 6 feet long.  I tried planting grass and flowers but was not too successful. Question from Kay of Seattle, Washington
Answer: If […]

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How Do You Divide Globe Artichokes?


“My artichoke has grown quite large, do I have to dig the whole thing up or can I remove offsets easily and replant them.” Question from Jean of Longview, Washington
Answer: Dividing globe artichokes (Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus) is a cinch. As offsets arise and begin to leaf out, take a sharp spade and cut down between the offset and parent plant. Then dig out […]

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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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Are Grow Bags Good For Growing Vegetables?


“Are grow bags good for growing a vegetable garden and how long do they last?” Question from Erin of Kirkwood, Missouri
Answer: I have used grow bags and found that they are very good for vegetable growing. Grow bags are inexpensive, remain aerated, and provide a lot of space for plant growth. The life of each will depend on the manufacturer. Smart Pots is one […]

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How Do I Keep Mushrooms from Growing In My Mulch?

Pine needles or pine straw mulch do not encourage mushroom growth.
“I buy fairly expensive mulch each year but continually experience mushrooms growing in it.  What causes this and is there anything, (non-toxic), I can use on the mulch to stop mushrooms from growing?” Question from Diane of Newark, Ohio
Answer: Traditional bark mulch is the perfect medium for mushroom growth, especially if it’s kept moist. The […]

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