Gardening Daily Tips July 14

Thursday July 14, 2011

Oak, Pin (Quercus palustris)

Today’s Featured Plant
Oak, Pin (Quercus palustris)

Read the full profile of this plant at

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Q&A: Staking a Tree Rose

Question: I planted a tree rose in my garden last fall. The stake is now loose and not holding the rose straight. Should I replace the stake with a deeper one in the same place or in a different spot?

Answer: Tree roses should always be staked. They are topheavy and the wind can catch the top and bend or break the stem. Use a metal stake (I use a piece of rebar for mine) and drive it down into the soil a few inches away from the main stem. Tie the stem in several places with twine or the green plastic ‘garden’ tape you can find in garden centers. Check the ties several times during the growing season to make sure they are not too tight. Best wishes with your garden.

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Q&A: Weeds in Ground Cover

Question: How can I get rid of weeds in my ground cover without damaging the ground cover plants?

Answer: It’s amazing how annoyingly tenacious weeds can be! If the weeds you’re dealing with are perennials that spread from runners or stolons along or below the ground (e.g., Bermuda grass or nut grass), you’ll need to pull them out and mulch heavily under the ground cover with organic matter such as wood chips. You can repeatedly cut them off to keep them under control, but, unfortunately, you’ll need to be very diligent because they usually pop up elsewhere. Herbicides probably won’t work in your situation, because the weeds are intermixed with your plants. The herbicide won’t distinguish between the plants you want vs. the plants you don’t! If the weeds in your ground covers are coming up from seed, then you might want to try a pre-emergent herbicide made from corn gluten. Corn gluten produces an enzyme that kills germinating seedlings.

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Q&A: Dethatching Lawns

Question: I recently discovered my lawn has thatch. What is the recommended method of dethatching a lawn? Do I do it by hand, or is there some sort of mechanical dethatching tool I can use? Should I aerate before or after I dethatch (or at all)?

Answer: Dethatching is a practice used on mostly warm-season lawns that produce heavy woven mats of stolons or runners. It’s done in spring before the lawn gets off to a new start. The steps, in order, are: 1) scalping — setting the mower as low as it will go and taking the grass to within 1/2 inch of the ground; 2) dethatching — using a rented machine that rakes the mat of runners right out (hand dethatchers are available but they are not efficient and can wear out the best of us if the lawn is large); 3) aerating — using a rented piece of equipment that removes small plugs of soil which you then fill in by raking compost across the lawn.

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Tip: Unearth Some Early Potatoes

Harvest some small, tender early potatoes by carefully reaching into the hilled-up soil around your potato plants and plucking off some golf ball size tubers. Then firm the soil back around the roots. You’ll have some delicious “new” potatoes for supper and your potato plants will continue to mature the rest of their crop without missing a beat.

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Tip: Stake Pepper Plants

If pepper plants are getting top heavy with developing fruit, stake or cage them now to keep them from toppling. Take care not to damage roots in the process.

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80 Comic Strips Now Available by Email!

ArcaMax has added dozens of new comic strips to its Comics page, including Archie, Hi and Lois, and 77 others. Subscribe to as many as you like via email, and start your day with a laugh!

Visit the Comics page and subscribe or read online right away.

— From the ArcaMax editors

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