Food Crops in Vietnam’s culture

VietNam Airlines Commercial

I love VietNam Airlines Commercial.
I love how they show Vietnam’s culture in this video.
I love the view of the lotus field.
I love the idea of steaming rice in the lotus leaf.

Anthony Bourdain: No R…: Anthony Bourdain – Banh Mi in Vietnam

Anthony Bourdain returns to Vietnam, a food destination like none other in the world, where he samples Banh Mi — a hearty sandwich loaded with ham, cucumbers, dressing, and topped off with a fried egg. New episodes of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations air Monday nights at 10PM ET, only on the Travel Channel. http://www.travelchannel.com/TV_Shows/Anthony_Bourdain

Gardening Daily Tips 110

Peony (Paeonia officinalis)

Plant type: Herb, Perennial

USDA Hardiness Zones: 4a to 10a

Height: 18″ to 40″

Spread: 24″ to 34″

Exposure: partial shade partial sun to full sun

Bloom Color: Red, White

Bloom Time: Early summer, Late spring

Leaf Color: Green

Growth Rate: average

Moisture: moist

Soil Condition: Loamy, Neutral, Sandy, Well drained

Form: Upright or erect

Landscape Uses:

Border, Foundation, Seashore, Specimen

Special Features:

Not North American native, All or parts of this plant are poisonous, Suitable for cut flowers, Fragrant flowers

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Q&A: Transplanting Magnolia from Container to Garden

Question: We have a large magnolia in a half-barrel on patio in dark shady corner. We wish to transplant it into the garden. When would be the best time to perform this transplant, and how best should one proceed?

Answer: Magnolias should be planted in spring for the best results. First, choose a site that is in full sun if possible with average to rich soil. Dig a hole the same depth as the soil in the pot and at least twice as wide as the root ball, tapering the sides outward. Water the plant well a couple of hours before transplanting. Carefully remove it from the pot and place it in the hole, making sure it is at the same level as it was in the pot. Carefully replace and tamp the soil you removed from the hole – do not amend it. Water the tree in well and keep it watered throughout the growing season. Don’t fertilize until it has been in the ground for a year. Good luck!

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Q&A: Growing Shamrock

Question: Could you please tell me more about the Shamrock plant and how it acts? Mine is opening during the day and closing at night, and I was wondering if this is right. I had one last year and it died. I really want to keep this and was also wondering how best to keep it growing and also how big will it get.

Answer: Around St. Patrick’s Day nurseries and florists sell ‘Shamrocks’. These are either Medicago lupulina (hop clover, trefoil or black medick), or Oxalis acetosella (woodsorrel), or Trifolium repens (white clover). The first group are annuals, the woodsorrel and white clover are perennials. So, if your plant died last year, it was probably an annual. To keep the perennials growing, provide a sunny window or a sunny spot outdoors, and moist, well-draining soil. It’s natural for the leaves of the plant to fold up at night and open during the day. You can expect the stems to grow from 2″ – 10″ high, with flowers to 1″ across. The perennial plants will spread by underground roots and form large clumps as they mature.

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Q&A: Tree Staking

Question: I bought a 5-gallon crabapple tree last week and it came with a bamboo stake tied to the trunk. Should I remove this stake and insert a larger one just outside the rootball, or should the tree be left unstaked and allowed to flex? It’s leaning a bit right now.

Answer: If your crabapple is leaning, you’ll want to straighten it out while it’s still young. Remove the small bamboo stake and drive 3 stakes into the ground just outside the rootball area, in a triangle pattern around the tree. Tie the trunk of the tree to each of the stakes so that it stands straight and tall. Check the ties every few months to make sure they’re not digging into the bark of the tree trunk. You can safely leave the tree tied to the stakes for about a year, which will allow plenty of time for the roots to become established. Once your tree is firmly anchored in the ground you can remove the stakes and ties. After this treatment the trunk should not lean, but continue to grow straight.

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Tip: Order Onions

Onions can be planted as soon as the ground can be worked in spring. Onion sets larger than a dime are best used for scallions since they tend to bolt. Smaller sets will usually produce bulbs. For more variety availability and better bulb set, order onion plants by mail order.

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Tip: Apply Mulch in Perennial Gardens

Apply mulch, such as bark chips or pine straw, in perennial beds and under trees and shrubs now — it’s easier to maneuver around plants before they’re fully leafed out.

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Gardening Daily Tips 109

Daffodil (Narcissus)

Plant type: Interior Plant, Perennial

USDA Hardiness Zones: 3a to 9a

Height: 12″ to 18″

Spread: 12″ to 24″

Exposure: partial shade partial sun to full sun

Bloom Color: White, Yellow

Bloom Time: Early spring, Mid spring

Leaf Color: Green

Growth Rate: average

Moisture: moist

Soil Condition: Loamy, Neutral, Well drained

Form: Upright or erect

Landscape Uses:

Alpine garden, Container, Massing, Rock garden, Seashore, Specimen, Woodland garden

Special Features:

Attractive foliage, Naturalizing, All or parts of this plant are poisonous, Suitable for cut flowers, Fragrant flowers

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Q&A: Aerating Lawn

Question: How can I aerate my lawn? Should I mow the weeds down on my dormant lawn?

Answer: Mowing down weeds before they flower and set seeds is a good idea. As for renovating your lawn, thatching removes the dead stolons, rhizomes, stems and old grass blades. All turfgrasses have thatch but a thatch layer that is too thick can keep water from penetrating down to the roots and can keep fertilizers from reaching the soil. If your turf has excessive thatch, more than one inch of thatch, then you should dethatch your lawn, then overseed this spring. Aerating helps if your soil is compacted, which can happen by itself over the years, or by lots of foot traffic. By removing plugs of grass and soil, then spreading a thin layer of sand or compost over the lawn and watering it in, the sand or compost will work its way into the holes and help loosen the soil. If you are not sure which to do, you can do both. Dethatch and overseed this spring, then aerate in the fall, leaving the plugs on the lawn. They will dissolve with the rain. Hope this information helps you make the right decision with your lawn!

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Q&A: Rooting Willow Cutting

Question: I’d like to root a stem of corkscrew willow that was part of a bouquet. It is now in a little glass of water. What should I do next?

Answer: Congratulations. You now have a new plant from your bouquet! Willows are famous for rooting easily from cuttings. Now all you have to do is keep it relatively happy and plant it this spring. I’d pot the rooted cutting in a soiless, potting mix in a container under grow lights. It will continue to grow so place the container in a cool (50F) room so it doesn’t grow TOO fast. Fertilize lightly, enough only to keep it green and growing. Be sure to harden it off before planting it outside.

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Q&A: Using Seed Tape to Create Designs with Flowers

Question: I want to start a flower garden and want to spell out words with the flowers. What flowers would work best and how do you form the letters of the words?

Answer: I’ve seen gardens just as you describe, and they’re delightful. You can start out with pencil and paper, measure the garden site, and decide where your letters should go. The size of your site will help you determine which plants to use, depending upon their mature size. If you want to use annuals, you can change your design each year. If you use perennials, they should last 3 or more years. A more permanent design would incorporate shrubs. The easiest way to form designs (and words) with flowers is to make your own seed tapes, with one type of flower seed on each set of tapes, then plant the seed tapes according to your drawing. Here’s how to make your own seed tapes: Dissolve 1 tablespoon of constarch in 1 cup cold water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. Once it starts to boil and turn into a gel, remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperatue. When it’s cool, put a few spoonfuls into a small plastic bag and seal the top. Take 4 or 5 paper towels, fold them at the perforations, and cut into 1″ strips. Unfold and lay on a flat surface. Use a ruler to pre-mark the paper so your seeds will be properly spaced. Then snip the corner off the gel-filled plastic bag and drop a little glob of gel on each of the pre-marked spots. Place a seed on each speck of gel. The seeds will be firmly attached when the gel dries and you’ll have your own customized seed tapes. Lay them on a prepared garden bed, cover with a little soil and water thoroughly. Seedlings will begin to appear in 1-3 weeks, depending upon what you’re growing. Good luck with your project.

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Tip: Plant Early Vegetables

By the end of the month in most places, you should be able to plant peas, spinach, lettuce and radishes. As long as the soil is not too wet, the cold won’t bother these vegetables. The earlier you get them in the ground, the better chance you will have to harvest before bolting in hot weather.

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Tip: Allow Soil to Dry Before Tilling

Wait for soil to dry before tilling or planting — the soil should be as moist as a wrung-out sponge. Tilling wet soil breaks down the structure and leads to compaction.

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Horoscopes by E-Mail — With New Forecast Edition

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Gardening Daily Tips 108

Cherry, Higan (Prunus subhirtella)

Plant type: Tree

USDA Hardiness Zones: 5a to 8a

Height: 300″ to 600″

Spread: 179″ to 300″

Exposure: full sun

Bloom Color: Pink

Bloom Time: Early fall, Early spring, Late fall, Late spring, Mid fall, Mid spring

Leaf Color: Green

Growth Rate: fast

Moisture: moist

Soil Condition: Acidic, Clay, Loamy, Neutral, Sandy, Well drained

Form: Vase

Landscape Uses:

Specimen

Special Features:

Not North American native, All or parts of this plant are poisonous, Blooms are very showy

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Q&A: Rabbits in the Garden

Question: Each year I have rabbits in the garden eating all the young shoots. What can I do to keep this from happening? Would fencing be the solution? What else?

Answer: There are a number of animal repellent sprays that would help deter rabbits from eating your flowers. Try ‘Get Away’ or ‘Deer Away’ available from Burpee. ‘Deer Away’ is efffective in deterring deer and rabbits and lasts 7-10 days without washing off. Natural scent repellents are also available such as fox and coyote urine. I have found that rabbits quickly realize there is no actual threat though. You could also try constructing a fence of 1-inch chicken wire that should be 2 feet high and buried at least 6 inches deep around your flowers. Consider also interplanting your flowers with garlic, onions, Mexican marigold or dusty miller. Bunnies tend not to like their aroma.

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Q&A: Seeds From Bouquet

Question: I want to start a little flower garden out on our deck from some flowers that my husband brought home in a bouquet. Can I get seeds from these carnations, mums, and a white daisy-like flower? I would like to “recycle” these beautiful flowers.

Answer: I like your idea of recycling the flowers, but unfortunately you won’t find many, if any, seeds in flowers from a florist. They’re specifically grown and forced into bloom under controlled circumstances and, without pollinating insects like bees to visit each flower, there won’t be any viable seeds. If you’d like to keep the thought alive, why not purchase seeds of exactly the same flowers as were in your bouquet and plant them outdoors in your garden?

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Q&A: Reclaiming Overgrown Garden

Question: I have a vegetable garden spot of about 50 ft x 75 ft that I have not used for two years. It is overgrown with weeds. It is especially overcome with comfrey, a tubular root herb. I would like some advice on reclaiming the garden for vegetables. If I just pull the weeds and rototill, I am afraid I will just cut up the tubular root of the comfrey and have a worse mess than before. But perhaps that is my only alternative. Last year I even tried “RoundUp” on the weeds. Something I really prefer not to do, but it only made a dent in the problem. Any advice you can give will be appreciated.

Answer: You are right, comfrey is an invasive plant and difficult to eradicate once it takes hold. You will need to try a combination of methods, a few times, to get it under control. If at all possible, dig up the roots so you can get all of the root system, as opposed to breaking it up with a tiller. You may need to dig to a depth of 12 inches or so. If spading is difficult for you physically, perhaps you could hire a high-schooler to help? As soon as you see any of the stuff sprouting, dig it out. Round-Up’s main ingredient is called glyphosate. Glyphosate is a systemic. This means when it is sprayed on a plant, the plant absorbs and distributes it throughout its system. Eventually, it kills the entire plant, including the roots. However, it needs to be applied when the plant is actively growing, and for tenacious weeds, it may need to be applied again. Follow product instructions exactly with any herbicide. The spray can drift to other plants, particularly if there is any breeze. Spray in the morning when air is usually calmest and cover any nearby plants. Another solution is to dab the hard-to-control weeds with glyphosate in a wick applicator (VERY low chemical use that way), which is preferable in a food-producing garden. Soil solarization is another possibility, but I don’t know if it will work with comfrey roots. Basically, you are heating up the soil to “cook” pathogens and weed seeds. You need to solarize during the hottest part of the summer, for up to 3 months. To solarize, smooth out the area (removing sod, plant debris and rocks), moisten the soil, lay a 4 mm to 6 mm thick sheet of clear plastic over bare soil, and seal the edges of the plastic with rocks or soil. This will naturally heat up to over 140 degrees F, which kills most pathogenic organisms and weed seeds in the top 4-8″ of the soil, depending on soil type and temperatures. I’m sorry there isn’t any easy “cure.” As a tip for the future, if you want to grow something that can be invasive (mint, for example), sink a 5-gallon container into the ground, which will contain the root system.

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Tip: Spruce Up the Lawn

When the snow leaves, it’s time to think about sprucing up the lawn. If it thinned over the winter, there is no reason to overseed. Allow it to thicken on its own first. Also, don’t be tempted to roll out the lumps. This will only compact the soil. Consider core aeration, a light fertilization and high mowing to thicken grass.

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Tip: Set Up Fences

If animal pests, such as woodchucks and raccoons, have caused problems in your vegetable garden in the past, set up sturdy fencing now, before planting.

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Gardening Daily Tips 107

Rose, Lenten (Helleborus orientalis)

Plant type: Perennial

USDA Hardiness Zones: 4a to 9a

Height: 12″ to 18″

Spread: 18″ to 24″

Exposure: shade to partial shade partial sun

Bloom Color: Pink, White

Bloom Time: Early spring, Mid spring

Leaf Color: Green

Growth Rate: average

Moisture: moist

Soil Condition: Alkaline, Loamy, Neutral, Well drained

Form: Upright or erect

Landscape Uses:

Border, Container, Foundation, Ground cover, Specimen, Woodland garden

Special Features:

Attractive foliage, Naturalizing, All or parts of this plant are poisonous

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Q&A: Mulch Coverage

Question: What are the measurements of a yard of mulch? How much will it cover?

Answer: A cubic yard of mulch is 27 cubic feet, or think of a pile 3 by 3 by 3 foot. It will cover a little over 300 square feet (actually 324) roughly an inch thick, or a 100 square feet (a 10 by 10 foot area, or a 5 by 20 foor area for example) about three inches thick. Your typical mulch layer should be two to three inches deep.

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Q&A: Flower Choices

Question: Can you suggest some full-sun perennial flowers for the border of my patio?

Answer: You’ll probably be happiest with medium- to low-growing perennials for the border so they don’t block your view. Some of the nicest choices include Asters, Dianthus, Phlox, Ranunculus, Veronica, Armeria,, Aubrieta, Heuchera (Coral Bells), Primrose, Saxifrage, and Lewisa. Some of these provide cut flowers for a tabletop bouquet, indoors or out.

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Q&A: Pruning Rhododenrons

Question: When is the best time to prune rhododenrons and how do I go about it?

Answer: Rhododendrons tend to become bare in the center as they mature unless they’re faithfully pruned every 2-3 years. Depending upon how old your rhodie is, you can lightly prune the tips of the branches, or you can climb in and prune your way out. Rhodies bloom on the ends of two-year old shoots. It takes a full year for blossom buds to develop after a shoot has developed from a main branch or limb. Keep this in mind as you’re pruning. If a branch is bare from the trunk to the tip, you can cut it back and it will develop leaves and shoots from leaf scars below the cut. It’s best not to prune more than one-third of the live plant material in any one year, so you may have to divide your shrub renovation into a two or three year project. Wait until your rhodie finishes blooming in spring before you prune. Then, with your eyes, carefully follow each branch from tip to trunk. Decide where on that branch you’d like new shoots to develop and cut just above a leaf scar. New stems should develop in the summer and flower buds should develop the following year. You can expect one or two new shoots to sprout on each branch you cut back.

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Tip: Broccoli Harvesting

When harvesting broccoli, cut the head at an angle with a sharp knife. Snapping or cutting flat across the stem leaves creates an uneven surface where water can collect–since a callous can’t form, decay can start. Also, cutting too far down the stem, where it is hollow, provides a cavity that can collect water and decay can set in. Excessive nitrogen, which makes the plant grow too fast, causes a hollow stem.

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Tip: Install a Rain Barrel

Install a rain barrel on the downspout of your house to collect rainwater for gardens. Rain barrels conserve water and reduce the amount of runoff entering storm sewers.

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Advice Columns — Dear Abby, Nancy Grace, and more!

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Gardening Daily Tips 106

Cinquefoil (Potentilla fruticosa)

Plant type: Shrub

USDA Hardiness Zones: 2a to 6b

Height: 11″ to 48″

Spread: 24″ to 48″

Exposure: partial shade partial sun to full sun

Bloom Color: Pink, Red, White, Yellow

Bloom Time: Early summer, Early fall, Late summer, Mid summer, Mid fall

Leaf Color: Green

Growth Rate: slow

Moisture: moist

Soil Condition: Acidic, Alkaline, Clay, Loamy, Neutral, Sandy, Slightly alkaline, Well drained

Form: Rounded, Spreading or horizontal, Vase

Landscape Uses:

Border, Foundation, Ground cover, Massing, Rock garden, Specimen

Special Features:

Not North American native, Attracts butterflies, Attractive flowers or blooms

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Q&A: Dividing Ornamental Grasses

Question: I have several varieties of ornamental grasses in my yard. When is the best time to dig up the plants and divide them?

Answer: Early spring is a good time to dig and divide clumps of ornamental grasses. Gently lift the clump and pry apart the crown. One technique is to use 2 garden forks back-to-back to carefully divide the root ball into sections. (Be sure to leave some foliage with each root division.) Replant the sections immediately and water well.

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Q&A: Growing Basil from Seed

Question: How do I grow basil from seed?

Answer: Starting basil from seed is similar to starting most seeds. Plant in slightly moist seed starting mix, covering seed with just 1/8″ or so of soil. Loosely cover the container with plastic wrap to maintain humidity and set in a spot out of direct sunlight. At warm temperatures (about 70 degrees) the basil should germinate in just a few days. As soon as you see sprouts, remove the plastic and place the pot in direct sunlight, or within 1-2″ of a fluorescent light bulb. Keep the soil evenly moist but not soggy and the plants should grow well. You can also sow seed directly into a garden bed in full sun as soon as the soil has warmed in spring.

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Q&A: Container Gardening with Children

Question: My children (ages 7 and 10) would like to start a container vegetable garden. What kinds of vegetables would be good for containers, and easy for children to grow and tend?

Answer: I’ll bet they can grow anything that they like to eat — with that kind of incentive, it’s easy to stay focused and attentive to a project. And it’s always fun to grow things you can eat right there in the garden! Plant a few different crops that mature at different stages to keep the process interesting. For instance, radishes, lettuce, and peas can all be planted early in the spring. Radishes should be ready within a month of germination; leaf lettuce soon after. Choose a pea variety that does not require support or will be happy climbing a short tomato cage, and that mature within 60 days. Purchase a cherry tomato or two to put in containers after the danger of frost has passed, and sow cucumber seeds at the same time. And I can’t imagine a kids’ garden without pumpkins! Choose a compact (bush) variety that matures quickly for best results.

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Tip: Be Ready to Harden Transplants

Make sure you have plans in place to harden off your transplants. They will need gradual exposure to the outdoors before moving them into the garden. Find a place with partial shade and no wind, and move them out for an hour the first day, two to three hours the second day and so on until they are ready.

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Tip: Consider Planting a Kiwi Vine

If you’re looking for an attractive fruiting vine for a fence or arbor, consider a kiwi vine. Hardiness varies so read plant descriptions carefully.

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Advice Columns — Dear Abby, Nancy Grace, and more!

ArcaMax Publishing brings you the best wisdom from the most popular advice columnists, including Dear Abby and Dr. Joyce Brothers.

You may also enjoy one of our newest additions, legal advice from Nancy Grace. If you are not subscribed already, click any of the subscribe links below to start receiving your advice columns instantly.

* Dear Abby
* Dr. Joyce Brothers
* Annie’s Mailbox
* Carolyn Hax
* Nancy Grace

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Spice Bush (Lindera benzoin)

Plant type: Shrub

USDA Hardiness Zones: 4b to 9a

Height: 72″ to 120″

Spread: 72″ to 120″

Exposure: partial shade partial sun to full sun

Bloom Color: Green, Yellow

Bloom Time: Early spring, Late spring, Mid spring

Leaf Color: Green

Growth Rate: slow

Moisture: moist to wet

Soil Condition: Acidic, Alkaline, Clay, Loamy, Neutral, Sandy, Slightly alkaline, Well drained

Form: Oval, Rounded

Landscape Uses:

Border, Pest tolerant, Massing, Woodland garden

Special Features:

Attracts birds, North American native, Fragrant foliage, Wetlands plant, Attracts butterflies, Attractive flowers or blooms

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Q&A: Controlling moles

Question: How do I rid the yard of moles without poisoning my organic garden not to mention the environment? All the neighbors use toxic pest control so the moles come here instead.

Answer: Moles and gophers can be exasperating when they take up residence in a yard. The critters tunnel through the soil feeding on grubs, worms and beetles. Sometimes they chew through plant roots and bulbs, causing damage to the plants. The best way to control these pests is by trapping. Invest in one or two scissors-type traps and set them in the active runs. The best approach is to use a stiff metal probe (like a straightened wire coathanger) to find the main runs. Start at a mound of soil and explore the ground with the probe, finding the longest tunnel. You’ll be able to tell by whether or not the probe penetrates into the soil easily. Short tunnels are used infrequently, so your best chance of trapping will be by placing a trap in a frequently used main run. Once you’ve found a likely tunnel, set the trap and cover it with a section of turf or a board to exclude daylight. Keep setting the trap until you stop catching moles and gophers. It may take an entire season, but persistence pays off and eventually you\’ll reduce the population of the creatures. Healthy soil naturally has a large population of insects. As long as the insects inhabit the soil, moles and gophers will be attracted. Wish there were an easier way to eliminate moles and gophers from the landscape

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Q&A: Leggy Mums

Question: My mums always do fine after transplanting but I can never get them to look as pretty and bushy as when I bought them. How do they get them to bloom like a bouquet?

Answer: Chrysanthemums should be pinched or sheared back about twice a month until the beginning or middle of July. This should keep the plants dense and bushy as well as compact. At that point, stop pruning and allow the flower buds to develop.

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Q&A: Growing Carrots

Question: My carrots grew well, but they are not particularly sweet and are thickly covered with root “hairs.” What is causing this? Do you have any pointers for growing carrots?

Answer: Carrots need a stone-free, deeply worked soil that drains well. During early stages of growth, the carrot’s taproot must meet no resistance in the soil. If a root meets a rock or hard clay, it will branch or simply stop growing. Carrots produce best in a raised bed. Till the soil to a depth of at least 8 inches, adding plenty of compost but no manure unless it is well rotted. Excess nitrogen causes branching and hairy, fiberous roots. Potassium promotes solid, sweet carrots. Carrots are cool-weather vegetables, so start sowing about two weeks before the last expected frost in your area. Make successive plantings every three weeks until July. Furrows should be about 3/4 inch deep and 4 inches apart. One planting method is to place a half-inch layer of sifted peat moss in the bottom of each furrow, sow the seeds sparingly on top, then cover with about a quarter inch of peat moss. To help germination, cover the beds with burlap bags kept soaking wet until the carrots sprout. Remove the bags and water the beds daily until the seedlings are well established. Mulch with clean straw. The first few weeks after sowing determine the size of your crop. Carrots can’t tolerate a deep planting in a dry bed, so the trick is to offer them a shallow sowing with even moisture. The seedlings grow slowly and can’t compete with weeds. Hand weeding is recommended until the carrots are 2 inches tall. Thin the carrots to 3 inches apart then mulch with chopped leaves, pine needles, and compost to keep the weeds at bay. Mulching also helps the soil retain moisture and prevents “green shoulder,” which is caused by exposing the crowns of the carrots to the sun, making the roots bitter. Most carrots can be harvested in less than three months. The largest carrots will have the darkest, greenest tops, but don’t leave the roots in the ground too long or they will be tough. Most are at their prime when about an inch in diameter at the crown. When harvesting, drench the bed with water first, making the carrots easier to pull. When you find a carrot large enough, grasp the greens at the crown and tug gently with a twisting motion. If the greens snap off, carefully lift the roots with a spading fork. Use damaged roots right away and store unblemished ones.

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Tip: Training Vines

When I’m working on training a vine to a frame, I store several extra twist ties for the project by attaching them to the supporting frame. Then, as the plant grows and needs more help following the form, I have the ties where I need them. What could be more convenient?

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Tip: Use Fresh Soil in Containers

Replace soil in outdoor planters with fresh potting mix or a combination of potting mix and compost. Put the old soil in the garden or compost pile.

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