Gardening Daily Tips July 30

Saturday July 30, 2011

Abelia, Glossy (Abelia x grandiflora)

Today’s Featured Plant
Abelia, Glossy (Abelia x grandiflora)

Read the full profile of this plant at

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Q&A: Use of Tree Stump Grindings

Question: Can you use tree stump grinings as mulch?

Answer: Ideally, the material would be aged for a year or else composted prior to use. If used fresh, they may rob the soil temporarily of nitrogen while they decompose. This can be compensated for by applying some additional nitrogen. When used as a mulch, these are usually best used around shrub or tree plantings rather than in a vegetable or flower garden for the same reason.

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Q&A: Brown Roadmaps on Tomato Leaves

Question: What should I do about the brown, twisting “roads” that are appearing on the leaves of all my tomato plants?

Answer: Those are leaf miner tunnels. A tiny fly-like insect lays an egg in the leaf. The egg hatches into a tiny larva that feeds between the upper and lower surfaces of the leaf making those squiggly lines you are seeing. Then the larva drops to the soil to pupate and return as an adult. Insecticide sprays won’t affect the larvae, since they are hidden inside the leaf. So the only “control” is to repeatedly spray the foliage to try to kill the adults. This requires lots of spraying and is just not necessary since the damage these insects do is usually not severe enough to warrant control. The secondary damage to beneficial insects caused by pesticides usually outweighs any benefits. This “minor miner” damage shouldn’t affect your crop.

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Q&A: Lawn Needs Renovation

Question: Two years ago our front lawn was infested with grubs, and last year we had a drought. The lawn is hay-like and now is being overtaken by violets and miscellaneous weeds. The violets are nice, but I’d rather not have them take over the front lawn. What can I do to improve the lawn and keep the weeds under control, without starting over?

Answer: Most lawn failures can be traced to poor soil preparation at the very beginning, along with poor maintenance practices, and, in some cases, poorly selected lawn grass varieties. When a lawn is in truly bad shape, it can be preferable in the long run to start over from scratch. If you want to try to renovate the lawn, begin by having the soil tested to determine the pH and nutrient levels. Dig out as many weeds as you can, then spread a thin (1/4-inch) layer of compost over the entire lawn. Overseed with an appropriate lawn grass, keep the are watered, and hope for the best. Healthy grass will outcompete most weeds, so if you can get the sod in good shape, you’ll go a long way toward controlling unwanted invaders.

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Tip: Preserving Peppers

Preserve peppers as soon as they’re harvested. Quick-freeze them by slicing or dicing the whole peppers, spreading the pieces on a cookie sheet and freezing them. Pack the frozen pieces into larger containers, and use the pieces as desired. They will lose their crispness when they’ve thawed, but they’re fine for recipes to be cooked.

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Tip: Protect Fruit from Bird Damage

Birds love blueberries, raspberries and other small fruits as much as we do, so protect plants with netting. Use stakes to suspend the netting over the the plants rather than simply draping it, so birds can’t reach through. Secure the netting to the ground to prevent birds from sneaking in.

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New Quizzes Every Sunday!

Test your knowledge with quizzes on everything from video games to Garfield with interactive Sunday quizzes in the ArcaMax Trivia ezine. New quizzes are being added, so be sure to try them all and see how well you do against your fellow readers!

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— From the ArcaMax editors

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