Several readers have asked me to create an “open forum” thread where gardening, green-living, and decorating questions can be posed. Well, here it is. If you have a question or a comment concerning one of your cherished garden plants, or about cut flowers, compost-making, green alternatives to chemical fertilizers, houseplants, etc., even current events, simply post-away in the comments section of this OPEN FORUM. I will check the comments frequently, and join in. And, feel free to invite your gardening friends into the forum. Shall we get started? Who wants to go first?



  1. Jed Swift says:

    Hi Kevin

    How do I keep a hanging basket of petunias fresh now that the first bloom is off?

    Best, Jed

  2. Hi, Jed: Food and water are daily necessities for outdoor container-plants, including petunias. I feed mine with a high-phosphorous formula. To prolong bloom and to keep the petunia attractive, deadhead spent flowers, including the seed-pod (see Petunia post from April.) Enjoy – and thanks for asking!

  3. Hi Kevin,

    thenks so very much for th elovely tour of your gardens on Saturday. they are an inspriation.

    I have a question:

    Would it be too much to plant a bed of alliums interdispersed with chives, which look like mini alliums?

    The chives would fill on the low areas and camouflage the allium leaves that can dry out easily?

    Despina and Michael

  4. Hi, Kevin. Do you have any ideas for a perennial climbing plant that likes full sun?

  5. Despina and Michael, welcome! I think your idea for planting chives among alliums is a terrific idea, especially if the bed is near your kitchen. You will have to keep your chives watered, however, because these too can dry out. I use hostas and hellebores to hide the withering alliums that reside in a bed near my back door.

  6. gothamdan: Ah, where do I begin? If you like roses, I suggest either red 'Blaze,' white 'Iceberg' or pink 'Zephirine Droughin' (see post from a few days ago). Clematis is another possibility. If you want something a little more “macho,” hops (useful in beer-making)will thrive in full sun. Let me know what you decide upon, and thanks for asking!

  7. Do the hops flower? Can you recommend a clematis with the smaller (not the giant ones), more vibrant flowers. I have another clematis at another place, and it grows back (en masse!!!) that is purple. How about morning glories?

  8. Hi Kevin,

    My father gave me a Taxodium Distichum, Cascade Falls. I planted it on a flat bed. He said I should move it in order to get the full cascading look. Can you move a very small tree that was planted a year ago? I do not want to harm it.


  9. Gotham – Hops have lovely green flowers.

    Small-flowered clematis: Those that I have seen tend to be pale, rather than vibrant, in color. Pink 'Inspiration' grows 4-6 ft.; creamy-white, scented 'Virginiana' 10-20 ft.; pure-white, scented 'Sweet Autumn,' (this one grows in my garden) 30 ft.

    I did not mention Morning Glory vine in my earlier response, because you asked about perennials. But I do love MG, particularly the 'Heavenly Blue' variety. This one covers the fence in my herb garden from July through frost each year. I'll have to post a picture when it is in bloom.

  10. Despina – I love, love, love Taxodium distichum! In fact, I want one for the lower stone wall in my Serpentine Garden.

    You can, if you wish, leave your Taxodium exactly where it is, and stake it to get a beautiful cascading effect. But if you want to move it to a slope or stone wall, go ahead. Just do it before the weather turns horribly hot and humid. Once moved, be sure to pamper this glorious green cypress with an abundance of water.

  11. My father though I planted it on too low a ground. He thinks it should be on a mound for the full cascading effect. I will keep you posted. It is sprouting all sorts of green throughout. It is very young.

  12. Hi Kevin, this site is so inspirational. what a garden you have! We just bought a house and the back yard is so bare. Is it to late for me the start a garden this year? See you soon, Erin from Crazy Daisy

  13. Erin – Welcome! Congratulations on your house and your backyard! It is absolutely NOT too late to start a garden. In fact, now is a good time to buy plants, because you can find them on sale.
    I hope to see you here often.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Kevin, Really enjoyed meeting you on yesterday's tour. The name of the herb lady in CT is Adelma Simmons. Vivian

  15. Vivian – it was delightful meeting and talking with you, as well. I hope that you will visit this site often, and comment frequently.

  16. Hi Kevin –
    I've been looking online for a source for the Rose: Rosa Tropicana. Jackson & Perkins no longer carry it. I understand that it was an extremely popular variety, so I don't know why it seems to have been discontinued. I believe I saw that the patent expired, but I don't know why this would have affected its availability. Do you have any suggestions? Is there a way that I can take a cutting from my mother's bush, and plant it? How does one do that? Thank you for your help.

  17. m8kmida: Romence Gardens & Greenhouses in Grand Rapids lists the beautiful 'Tropicana' rose in their catalogue. You can call them toll-free at 888-907-5268. If they are out of this rose, ask them to order one for you. Let me know how you make out.

  18. Kevin, you once mentioned your favorite bulb suppliers. I can't remember which post it was, however. Can you point me in the right direction?

  19. Janie – you can find my fav bulb dealers in the late July post “What To Do In
    August.” Thanks for asking!

  20. Dear Kevin, I've enjoyed and learned so much from all that you have written. Kindly consider a harvest topic like how to care for garlic, potato, and storage for squash and other long lasting winter vegetables.

  21. Hi Kevin,

    We had an amazing time having dinner in your secret, secret garden. It was magical and whet my appetite to create outdoor table settings.

    what is a good twisty vine to wrap aound a lsrge votive cadle in the middle of the table?

    despina and michael

  22. Despina and Michael – my pleasure. A vine to wrap around a large votive? Definitely English Ivy.

  23. Any ideas on how to remove small tree stumps(about 3 inches in diameter) & roots from a future flower garden–other than dynamite?

  24. John – if you have the strength to bang it into the earth, a pick-axe will usually accomplish the small tree stump-removal job.

    Otherwise, use dynamite.

  25. Kevin,
    Iris are one of my all time favorite flowers.
    Which ones flower again in the fall and do you have a supplier to recommend?

  26. Suscha – I love irises too, and can never have enough of them. My favorite is 'Immortality,' which gives fragrant pleasure in both spring and fall. You can read all about this reblooming iris and others, too, by clicking the September, 2009 blog “Reblooming Irises Offer Twice The Fun.” My favorite source for rhyzomes is

  27. Hi Kevin,
    what is the pros and cons of vinca major vs vinca minor? have you had any experience growing asiatic jasmine as a groundcover? would you combine it with vinca minor?
    the groundcover i plan on using under my flowering cherry trees will be pachysandra. in the shady area i thought of combining the jasmine and vinca minor.

  28. Mary – Vinca major, although dazzling when covered with blue flowers in spring, is slower-growing and less effective at smothering weeds than its smaller-leaved relative, Vinca minor.

    Also beautiful is asiatic jasmine, which I have only seen in southern gardens. It is a marvelous substitute for turf, providing people and pets do not trample it.

    To avoid an uneven appearance, I would not combine asiatic jasmine with any other ground-covering material, including Vinca minor. While the effect might look grand early on, it is sure to resemble chaos, not serenity, in three year's time!

  29. Dr Robert says:

    hi Kevin Will told me about your site it is very beautiful and informative thank you Dr robert abramson

  30. Dr. Robert – Thank you! I hope you'll stop by often. There's always something to grow, cook, or decorate here!

  31. Andi Swift says:

    Kevin: Is it too late to transplant Hosta and Siberian Iris's-Now that I have cut them down I have discovered how much I have and places I want to move them to. Do I need to wait until spring?
    Great information on Violets. None of mine are in Bloom. Not enough sun.

  32. Andi – hello! Hosta and Siberian Iris need at least 30 days to establish their roots before the first killing frost of autumn. Thus, if you've already had frost, it's best to wait until spring to move the plants. They will both recover quickly then.

    Regarding your non-blooming violets, do you have room for one — just one! — fluorescent fixture?

  33. I'm about to buy paperwhites. Is it too late to force bulbs? I want them to bloom shortly before Christmas. And I'm gong away this weekend to visit my sister for her special birthday so I don't want them to bloom while I'm away and miss them. What do you suggest??

  34. Judy – it's not too late to force paperwhites. If you plant them in pebbles and water today, and keep them warm, they might bloom in time for New Year's. For Christmas bloom, the bulbs should be planted in mid-November. Bulbs planted before January need 5 weeks to bloom.

  35. What is the name of the company for the best flower bulbs? I forgot.

  36. Anne – There are two mail-order bulb companies I like:, and

    Based on my own experience with them, these companies are completely reliable.

  37. Kevin,
    Was wondering if blue spruce can be pruned to control height. I have 12 trees in a raised berm that i would like to control if it will not effect the health of the tree. Thanks for any info.
    Chris W

  38. Christopher – welcome. If you are not removing an excessive amount of growth, a healthy blue spruce will not be harmed by top-pruning. However, the shape of the tree will be affected, when one or more lateral branches bend up to form the top, or “terminal” point.

  39. Hello! I have a blog called A-Z Apartment Garden and would like to exchange links. Description: How to grow the plants you love in a small space. Posted Monday thru Friday: Best Houseplants, Better Gardens, Easy Houseplants, Frugal Gardens, and Houseplant News. At A-Z Apartment Garden I take a different approach to plants in the home, suggesting that our houseplants should not be taken for granted. I have already placed a link to your site in my sidebar. Please consider linking to my blog. Thank you.

  40. Nancy – welcome, and what a wonderful site you have! I will be happy to link to you as soon as I set up a “favorite blogs” roll. This should happen in the near future…

    Happy New Year to you!

  41. Hi- I was told I could propogate kalanchoe from cuttings. I would like to pot the cuttings for gifts. Do you know how I might get them to bloom, and how long it takes? Is there any way to predict when they would be in bloom for gifting? I am enjoying your comments and replies. Thank you for your site. Lynn

  42. Kevin Lee Jacobs says:

    Welcome, Lynn – This is the way to propagate kalanchoe: Take two-inch-long stem cuttings, remove the lower half-inch of leaves, and insert each stem into its own 3-inch pot of a porous soil. Keep the soil moist but not saturated for the first 2 weeks; thereafter, let soil dry before watering. Pinch out new growth to encourage branching.

    You can schedule kalanchoe to bloom by giving it short days and long nights. As outlined in my November post “Kalanchoe Blooms On Demand”, I set mine in a dark closet from 8pm to 8am for at least three weeks before Christmas, because I want blooms then. Do have a look at that post, if you haven't already.

    And, have fun with your project! I think handsome, well-grown houseplants make terrific gifts. Anyway, I like to receive them!

  43. Thank you! I will certainly look up that post. I am so glad to have found you!

  44. Charlotte says:

    Hello Kevin. After a disasterous first year (last year) of trying to grow vegatables, I'm moving this year's garden. The spot in the backyard that has the best sun seems to have some Japanese beetle damage. I'm going to try raised planting beds. Will the layers of newspaper you recommend keep the beetles' larvae from attacking my vegatables? Thanks for your help.

  45. Charlotte – welcome! The best way to deal with Japanese beetles is by applying, in August or September, an organic product called Milky Spore. Milky Spore takes 2-3 years to become effective, but then it lasts for 10 years. You apply it to the grassy areas on your property, for this is where the beetles lay their eggs.

    Newspapers, although effective at controlling weeds, will do nothing to deter the dreaded JBs.

  46. Hi Kevin – we're suffering from winter cabin fever and would like to start working on our outdoor vegetable garden early. We'd like to start cultivating vegetable seedlings indoors and then when the weather permits, transplanting them into our vegetable garden.
    I hear that some vegetables work great as indoor seedlings and transplant to the outdoor garden well, while others don't. Can you tell me which vegetables we can start growing indoors and would transplant well? and which ones we should avoid?

  47. Frank – which hardiness-zone are you in?

  48. I'm in Zone 6.

  49. Frank – In your zone, the only things I would plant right now would be peas, spinach, radicchio, broccoli, onions and shallots. These, if sown in sterile potting mix, and placed in a cool but very sunny window (or better, under lights) should transplant well after you harden them off in late March/early April.

    You can also WINTER-SOW the above and tomatoes, too, in late-March; winter-sown seeds, of course, need no hardening off. For winter-sowing instructions, see Jan. 11 and 25 posts.

    I hope this has been helpful to you; let me know if you have further questions.

    p.s. – In winter, simply shopping for seeds can do wonders to mitigate cabin fever!

  50. Hi Kevin, A friend of mine recently went to Alaska and bought me back a big bag of Alaskan wildflower seeds. There is no mention of the names of the plants that are inclued. So any suggestions? I was going to sow them indoors in late March. Thanks kevin!!

  51. Erin, how exciting!

    Wild flowers are best started outdoors, not in. Why not winter-sow them? Or, prepare a bed as soon as the ground can be worked, and just scatter the seeds there.

  52. Thanks Kevin, I will winter sow them so I don't mistake them as weeds when they come up in the spring. I've done that one too many times. I will let you know what sprouted when they come up!
    Thanks Again!!!

  53. I keep hearing about planting after the “last frost”. What does the “last frost” actually mean and when is it considered the “last frost” in Columbia County?

    Thanks, Frank

  54. Frank – Last frost refers to the date in spring when temperatures are unlikely to dip low enough to damage tender plants. In Columbia County, the average last frost date is May 17.

  55. So I was just outside raking and cleaning up the yard when I went over to check on my mini greenhouses and as I'm checking them over I realized one of them wasnt marked. As I started looking at the others I realized the ink had washed off of 3 of them! I know one was cosmos one was poppies but the third????? we'll have to wait and see. so the moral of the story, use a paint pen like you suggested! LOL

  56. Erin – Could the other be hollyhocks? I think you mentioned planting them. Anyway, a paint-pen is definitely the way to go when labeling winter-sown containers. Even a sharpie won't suffice, because its ink fades in the sun.

    Have any of your seeds begun to sprout?

  57. I went out and relabled all of them with a paint pen. The ones I wrote on with a sharpe were ok. Most seedlings have begun to peak thru the soil. As for the mystery jug…. Not hollyhocks, I think it may be one of my morning glories….

  58. Ah…you will recognize morning glories if, when the second set of leaves appears, they are heart-shaped.

  59. Charlotte says:

    I was given pottet tulips on 3/1 purchased from Hannafords. They were looking kind of sad so I cut the flowers and put them in water where they lived beautifully for 2 weeks. I still have the bulbs in the pot. Can I dig them up do something with them?

  60. Charlotte – You can definitely save the bulbs. While it is OK to cut off the flowering stalks, you must not remove the green foliage. Set the bulbs in full sun, and provide food and water freely until foliage fades. Then let the soil dry out.

    Next, set the bulbs someplace dark and cool for the remainder of spring and all of summer. In the fall, plant the bulbs outdoors or repot them for winter bloom.

    My (long) post “Hardy Bulbs for Winter Windows” gives these instructions, too, but not until the final paragraph!

  61. Anonymous says:

    Hi Kevin:

    Beautiful work! I am wondering how long it takes to get a full sized boxwood when they are started as cuttings. I did a trial of cuttings and they rooted well, but I hesitate to do it on a large scale without knowing the answer to this question, happy planting!


  62. Welcome, Deb! My boxwood cuttings grew to the size of my nursery-bought stock in only 3 year's time. Of course, the older plants were kept small, too, through twice-yearly trimming.

    If you are creating a hedge, or edging a bed with boxwood cuttings, just plant the clusters of stems rather close to each other. This will give you a respectable-looking hedge or edging in only 2 year's time.

  63. Scott Olsen says:

    Hi Kevin,
    Here is an article from todays NYT you might be interested in. He seems very familiar to me.

  64. Scott – Thanks for the link. Good for him!

  65. Anonymous says:

    Greetings. I have t 6ft tall and 10inches across thick Amber (light to medium light shade of amber). I get 6am-11:00am sun shining through them. Never gets hots. I live in Vancouver, Washington. My idea is to place rows of shelves in these windows and grow some Herbs ( Rosemary, Thyme, Basil a couple others. Do you think they will florish & grow nicely?

  66. Ke'hley Lauer says:

    Greetings..I previous left incomeplete post.My Amber I was referring to are tall windows 6ft by 10″. I have 2 same side of my home. The light is so bright when it shines through it. I wonder if flowering bulbs would thrive in this colored glass as well as the Herbs.
    p.s.Great site Kevin.I've been enjoying what I've been reading here on this site. Learning.

  67. Welcome, Ke'hley. The herbs you've described require direct, unfiltered sunlight in order to flourish. A better choice would be scented-leaved geraniums (pelargoniums), for these do well in bright light alone. Among the scented-leaveds, 'True Rose' and 'Lemon Crispum' are particularly useful as herbs.

    For ever-blooming flowers, choose African violets, wax begonias and impatiens.

    As for bulbs, any of the tender, tropical Narcissi will perform well in the filtered light your windows afford.

  68. Kevin- Im going to try growing potatos this year. I bought 2 yukon gold and 2 kennebec “starters” (I guess you would call them.) My veggie garden includes 1 tomato plant, green beans, cucumbers and squash. How much room do potatos need? How should I plant them? Thanks!

  69. Thank you, Erin — you just inspired the topic for the current post! Well, an updated version of my post from last spring, anyway!

  70. Hi,
    Apologies if this has been asked but I am very new to gardening and wondered what plants would be suitable for a shady part of the garden ?
    I have the whole length of the left hand side that gets no sun at all and look terribly bare.

  71. Oops forgot to say I am in the South of the UK. Not sure if that makes any difference or not.

  72. suscha says:

    Dear Kevin,
    I pruned the spent blooms off my lilac bushes last October. Spring 09 I had the best bloom ever! This year, however, not so good. Did I do something wrong?

  73. Welcome, Julie. Stay tuned…there will be a post on gardening in the shade very shortly. In the meantime, perhaps you can tell me a little more about the kind of shade you have:

    For instance, does the area receive dappled light — the kind that peeks through the open branches of trees?

  74. Suscha – I can think of three reasons for poor lilac-bloom.

    1. Perhaps, when dead-heading your lilac, you also cut the two small buds at the base of the dried clusters. Those buds were this year's flowers.

    2. It could also be that your yard is receiving more shade than in the past, due to an exuberant tree. Lilacs will only produce flowers where the sun strikes the shrub.

    3. Lilacs will not flower well if the soil they are in becomes too acidic. They prefer sweet, or alkaline earth. If in doubt, have your soil tested. Also, you might spread, as I do, unleached wood ashes around the drip line of your shrub. Ashes (and also lime) are sweetening agents.

  75. Thank you for replying Kevin.
    Nope no dappled light through trees.
    There is a garage about 12foot long and 8foot high which is causing the shade.
    The soil here is also very much clay so very cloggyand wet where the shade is.

  76. Julie – A stunning garden is possible even in very deep shade.

    First, solve your soil problem. Amend the area with rich, well-draining compost. Or, construct a raised bed there.

    Next, plant tall cinnamon ferns in the background, with smaller ferns like the graceful maidenhair before them.

    To brighten the picture, tuck in plants with dazzling foliage. Here, coleus comes to mind, as does the silver Heuchera 'Snow Angel,' and the red-veined, yellow Heucherella 'Sun Spot.'

    Finally, edge the planting with hostas. The white-marked 'Patriot' is as decorative as bloom in deep shade.

    And do sign up for my newsletter, so you won't miss the soon-to-appear pictures of my woodland garden. Part of this garden is planted in quite deep shade.

  77. Thank you so much Kevin for your help.
    I think I already have but will go and make doubly sure LOL

  78. Kevin,

    I was very inspired by your beautiful gardens yesterday and am doubly so with your fabulous website! I look forward to following along, what a great resource! Beth

  79. Welcome, Beth. Stop by often!

  80. Lucille N. says:

    kEVIN: Would Montauk Daisies make a good hedge of flowers on the water (salt ) ? Do you have any suggestions for low flowering plants (about 1 to 2 or 3 feet high) for waterfront? (Annuals).

  81. Lucille Noble says:

    Hi Agsin Kevin, I meant to say your websight….Lucille

  82. Hi, Lucille – Montauk daisies are one possibility; but there are other flowering perennials that will tolerate a salty waterfront, too, providing you first amend the soil they are to grow in. A tall hedge of beach plum is useful too, as a screen.

    Stay tuned…I'll do a post on “Seashore Perennials” very soon.

  83. Dear Kevin, I have a Hydrangea bush that is not growing.I took a small section from a huge bush at my old house.It's been almost 9 years now and it's still no bigger than it was when i transplanted it.I've replanted it 3 times thinking maybe it was too deep.It's on the north side of my house so i don't think location is the problem.I really love this hydrangea and i don't want to give up on it.HELP!!!

  84. Alice – welcome to A Garden for the House. And, congratulations — you are comment number 100!

    Three things hydrangeas request to achieve perfection: full sunlight, rich, well-draining soil, and water in abundance. Their great hates are moisture-robbing trees and severe winter temperatures.

    Thus, move your plant (yet again!) to sunnier, warmer quarters, preferably near a hose, and definitely away from trees.

    To transplant, first dig a HUGE hole. Then refill with fertile soil, copious quantities of leaf mold, and a little 10-10-10 fertilizer (such as Osmocote). Make a basin around the plant as a reservoir for water. And plan to water deeply once each week, unless rainfall is sufficient.

    I hope this has been helpful to you!

  85. Kevin,
    Thank you for sharing your garden with us yesterday. It was brilliant even in the rain. Question, where can I get that Viburnum 'Cayuga'?
    PS. I signed up for your newsletter.

  86. Tina – Welcome. What an intrepid soul you are to have ventured out in yesterday's weather. Sign of a true gardener.

    Here is one place that offers V. 'Cayuga':

  87. Andriana says:

    Hi Kevin,

    I am new to your website which I find very interesting and educational. I have a 8ft long by 2ft wide planting bed at the foundation of the back of house. I would like to plant boxwood to form a hedge and I am wondering which boxwood would be best. I need a boxwood that does not grow to wide.
    I was thinking dwarf english boxwood but maybe this is to small from a height perspective? The ideal height would be about 3 feet high, but do not want to wait years and years for it to get this high. Which boxwood would be best?


  88. Chrys Meatyard says:

    Do potato plants have to be hilled in order to produce potatoes? This is my first year, I did not hill, and my potato plants are just now blooming. They are 1-2 feet tall with blooms just at the top of each plant. Thanks!

  89. Andriana – welcome. I recommend 'Winter Gem' (the variety that I grow), 'Green Mountain,' or 'Green Velvet' boxwood. All these eventually grow to about 2 feet wide. Height can be controlled with trimming.

    Thanks for reading — stay in touch!

  90. Chrys Meatyard – Potato plants do NOT have to be hilled in order to produce potatoes. Hilling merely increases the harvest, by providing more “underground” room for tubers to form.

    Thanks for asking, and enjoy your harvest! There's nothing like home-grown potatoes!

  91. Good Morning Kevin, This year I tried something new, I planted canna lilies and elepahant ear bulbs in container pots this year. I love them! the question is, are they annuals? do I remove the bulb and bring it in over the winter and replant next year? or just bring in the pots over the winter? Or am I going to be buying new bulbs in the spring? Thanks Kevin… and yeah finally rain!!!!

  92. Erin – Great question. Here are two answers:

    You can dig up canna rhizomes and elephant ear bulbs after frost kills their foliage. Let rhizome/bulb dry in the sun for a few days. Then store at 40-50 degree temps in a perforated bag of vermiculite.

    To winter-over in pots, reduce watering when tops begin to die back in fall. Place pots in a cool (40-50 degrees)location, such as the basement. Provide water once a month (or less) during winter, in order to keep soil from completely drying out.

    I've had success with both storage-methods; the real goal is to keep the bulbs from freezing during winter.

  93. Thank you!!

  94. Kevin,

    I love walking out onto the deck and seeing everything in bloom. Thinking about the months ahead, I was wondering if there is anything I can plant now that will bring color into my yard in the winter months?



  95. Marlene – yes, you can certainly plant now for winter color! Cotoneaster, Hicksii yew, American holly, Viburnum americanum (American Cranberry Bush)all feature bright berries in winter, as well as food for the birds. Birds, all by themselves, add winter color to the landscape!

    Hamamelis mollis, the vernal Witch Hazel, is the first shrub to open its yellow flowers in late winter; the brilliant red stems of the Siberian Dogwood make an arresting silhouette against the snow.

    Try any of the above, and your garden will be a thing of beauty all through the dark days of winter.

  96. Dear Kevin,

    What is the procedure for saving the geraniums so we can enjoy there beauty again next year?


  97. Gina – welcome to A Garden for the House! I overwinter my own geraniums from year to year. It isn't hard to do, but you must perform a tiny amount of the surgery on the plant. Here are the directions: Overwintering Tender Herbs & Annuals.

    See you soon again, I hope. And…be sure to sign up for my weekly newsletter…if you haven't already!

  98. Compost tumbler – thanks for your inquiry. I'll contact you directly.

  99. Hello Kevin.. Happy New Year to you.

    I was searching for information over the net about a rose called Zephirine drouhin and one of my searches lead straight to your blog.

    Have you had any pest issues with these roses, like mildew and insects. I have heard/read conflicting stories about this rose.

    Some gardeners say that they have grown them without problems, others say that they have had issues with mildew. What is your experience?

  100. Vetsy – welcome. What zone are you in?

    Here in my Hudson Valley zone 5-b garden, Zephirine is probably the ONLY rose which has tolerated the most adverse conditions — including insufferable heat and humidity. Neither mildew nor pests have bothered this rose. Even the Japanese beetles — which reign here from mid-July to mid-August — seldom visit the plant. I can not recommend the thorn-less, fragrant Zephirine enough.

    Visit again, yes? And be sure to see what “cooking” on the home-page. Just scroll down and click “Home.” KLJ

  101. No Career in the Keukenhof says:

    Hello, Kevin–
    Thank you for your gifted, inspiring offerings re happy plants, food, and homes . . . Hope you can help address a bulb disaster. Here in zone 4, our household was overtaken by chaos, and I failed to get a whole mess of daffs (& some crocus) in the ground. Now I'm despairing: is the only recourse to still try to force them to bloom this spring (using cellar fridge & bulkhead) & then lose the bulbs' growth forever after? Or can I keep bulbs in fridge (not planted) & then plant (in spring? fall?) and hope to recoup future bloomings? Or is it just plain too late? I'm afraid that I've doomed these bulbs, given that it's January already . . .

  102. No Career in the Keukenhof – welcome! If the bulbs are still firm and healthy, there's no need to lose them. Proceed this way:

    Pot your daffs and crocus in soil, and continue to chill them in your fridge or cellar. In mid-March bring them to full sunshine. Be sure to provide a little food with every watering. After they've bloomed (probably April, in this case), go ahead and plant them out in the open garden. They may not bloom next fall, but they surely will the following one.

  103. Hi Kevin – we are your weekend neighbors in Kinderhook and lucky enough to have seen your garden twice on the Kinderhook garden walk last summer. Your boxwoods so inspired us that we started a boxwood hedge (similar proportions to your rose garden) on the path from our front door to the side walk. TRAGEDY – the last snow storm the little hedge to the left of the house was creamed by a snow blower. We diligently picked up the remains and have planted them in pots in our NYC apt in hopes we can extend the hedge this spring.

    My question is – do you think the “creamed” boxwood will come back? Do you have any tips how to mark smaller plants when we get two feet of snow?

  104. geolytle – Just reading your post made me shudder. I always suggest, in the November chores, to insert sturdy stakes with reflectors before the ground freezes. These do wonders to keep snow plows and snow blowers off lawns and beds.

    As for your “creamed” plants, they might just surprise you by making a come-back this spring. That is, if they had ample time to set their roots deeply before frost.

    In the meantime, I'd have a talk with your snow-blowing person. And I'd stick some red or orange flags among your young tribe — just weave the flags among the boxwood's branches, making sure they stand high enough above any predicted future snow.

    Hope this helps…

  105. Anonymous says:

    Hello, I just stumbled upon your site and found it so informative and so easy to understand that I'll be a frequent visitor. I just read your article about growing paperwhites in water and gin. About how long from “planting” until bloom? Are the paper whites available at any time from mailorder firms? My daughter is getting married next June (of next year) and am looking for something to force for decorations and her bouquet. I've already decided on trying my hand at forcing tulips and Erlicheer. If I start them in February, will they be blooming by June 23rd?

    Thank you

  106. Anonymous – thank you for your kind words. How lovely paperwhites, Erlicheer and tulips would look at a wedding! I'm afraid you'll have a difficult time finding these bulbs in February; they are normally only available in autumn. Furthermore, bulbs chilled much past April do not bloom well.

    For a June wedding, I'd go with African violets. These propagate easily from leaves. Start propagating in August or September, and you'll have mature, blooming plants in time for June. African violets make stunning centerpieces; I made these arrangements one year.

    Do stay in touch…I'm happy to answer any questions that come up.

  107. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for your response. Your arrangement of the African Violets are beautiful and I will suggest them to my daughter. I do have another question regarding the Erlicheer. I am in zone 4b? (Some sites say 4, others 5). Since Erlicheer blooms later in the spring, I was wondering if the following process might work: purchase and plant Erlicheer bulbs in pots at normal time and place them in the ground in my raised garden beds. Allow them to flower, cut blooms but not leaves until brown, bring the pots in at the end of the season, allow to dry out, put pots in frig for a period of time, then plant them at a slightly delayed time so that they would bloom around June 20th. IF this might work, I would need to know when they should go into the frig and how long to keep them there, when to water, and how big of pots to use. If it would work, then I would just dig the pots out of the ground and put them in the urns along with other flowers for the wedding.

  108. I don't blame you for wanting 'Erlicheer' at your daughter's wedding. It is truly the perfect flower for such an event, and what a pleasant change from the usual lilies, etc.

    If you want to risk it, here's how I'd proceed: Purchase the bulbs in October, 2011. Pot 3-5 bulbs per 6 or 8-inch “azalea” pot. Place pot or pots in a refrigerator set to 40F, or in some other dark location which stays reliably cold but above freezing. Check the pots for water every two weeks. Keep the soil moist but not saturated.

    Bring the pots to sunlight and COOL temperatures (55-65F is the absolute max) on May
    20. You will probably have to turn the air-conditioning on. Too much heat and the buds will definitely blast.

    I sincerely hope this scheme works out for you. Again, it's only what I would do were I determined to have 'Erlicheer' on June 20.

    If only your daughter was getting in March. Then it would be very easy to feature this gorgeous, sweetly scented plant at the wedding!

  109. Anonymous says:

    I am willing to give it a try! We will definitely have a back up plan, but who, knows… it just may work. Since this is out of the norm, do you know of any retailers that will sell and ship bulbs so that I can plant them in October? Should I plant around the 20th of October, following the procedure you recommend for tulips as far as soaking the pots in water before putting them in the frig, and the type of potting medium? Once again, thank you for being so helpful. I enjoy your informative site.

  110. Anonymous – you can plant the bulbs anytime in October, or even November. I plant mine following these instructions.
    I normally order my bulbs (including 'Erlicheer') from

    I'm glad you enjoy this sight. Feel free to “pick my brain” anytime you like.

  111. Accidental Gardener says:

    Hello again! I last left a question about winter sowing perennials (thanks for the information, by the way), but now have one about calla lilies. I searched your site, but was unable to find any information about them – maybe because I'm still new to the site.

    From what I have been able to find, they can be grown in pots outside, brought indoors at the end of fall before a hard frost, and left to dry out in a cool, dark place. I've also read that after anywhere from 8 to 16 weeks, slowly increase the amount of water until sprouts are seen. After that, keep soil damp, but not soggy and begin fertilizing – but not too much nitrogen or they won't flower. (Is this correct information?) However, I have read nothing about how long it should take from sprouting to rebloom. I am in zone 4b and had planned on ordering some to plant this spring to bring in this fall. I know it seems early to be worrying about spring of 2010, but…I am “anonymous”, whose daughter is getting married in June of 2012, and need to know if the calla lilies would possibly be blooming by then if I delayed watering until a certain date. If not, I won't bother ordering them. With such informational sites as yours, maybe I can finally lose the “accidental” part of the name!

  112. Accidental Gardener – at last I know who “anonymous is”! Nice to meet you…again!

    I love the idea of forcing calla lilies for a wedding. Unfortunately, I do not have any experience with them. This is something I intend to correct this autumn.

    Thus I'd use the information you've gleaned from other sources and go from there. And, I think you shall soon become a very fine gardener!

  113. We have a big problem with squirrels and chipmunks digging up bulbs. I swear they must have been looking when I planted out 90 daffodil bulbs in 2009 as I know a lot didn't show up last year. Have you ever made your own bulb basket/cage to protect the bulbs from being dug up by the critters? White Flower Farm is the only company that I have found that sells the bulb baskets, but they are a bit pricey,(#22.95 each) yet the thought of buying the hardware wire/chicken wire and making my own doesn't appeal to me. Those suet baskets that you hang with the suet for the birds, do you think they would work? I saw where my son had about 4 of them in his garage when I was trying to clean it for him this summer. The bulbs would fit inside and be buried the depth needed. I know not all bulbs would be safe in them from the critters. Would appreciate any suggestions.

  114. Yes, squirrels LOVE to dig up bulbs…only to discover they really don't like them!

    Kathleen over at Easy To Grow Bulbs (dot) com recommends sprinkling red pepper flakes on top of the planting area. This is probably the cheapest and easiest solution to deterring squirrels and chipmunks from rearranging your bulb beds!

  115. I've searched your blog for information on composting with chicken manure, so forgive me if I missed information that you've already given. I'm planning to buy a composter that I can turn with a handle to place next to my chicken coop to dispose of the manure and the pine shavings I use in the coop and run…with grass clippings, kitchen scraps, leaves, etc. However, I've read that chicken manure takes too long to break down. What is your opinion? I know chicken manure is one of the best fertilizers, but I don't know how to use it. I appreciate your help. ~Andrea
    [email protected]

  116. Andrea – you are SO lucky to have chickens. I don't have any…yet.

    Here's is a rule of thumb when fertilizing with poultry manure: Use only that which has composted for at least 6 months.

    Thus, if you have an OLD pile of this goodly stuff somewhere on your property, you can use it now on your vegetable and flower beds. Otherwise, let it compost in a pile, in a wire-mesh bin (my favorite composter, and cheap, too) or in the composting “drum” you are intending to purchase. All composting methods require moisture and frequent turning.

    OR…simply spread the manure/bedding on your vegetable beds in the fall. This way you won't have to bother turning it. By the following spring it should be good to go.

    By the way…how many chickens do you have?

  117. Thank you so much for the quick reply. Your last suggestion is what I have been doing…digging it in to my raised vegetable beds in the fall. My chickens are pets and keep me laughing. They are interesting to watch. I usually keep about 6 hens and they provide all the eggs I can use and plenty to give away. Many thanks, Andrea

  118. PAMdemonium says:

    Hi Kevin,
    I'm a newbie to your delightful, informative and fun site. I'm glad to become a part of the “family”. Do you have any idea for inexpensive table favors for an early September wedding taking place at a ski resort in Vermont? ((NO, I refuse to think about snow) The mini-maple syrups and jams are cute, but getting old. Anything creative coming to mind? Thanks.

  119. PAMdemonium – Welcome!

    How early in September is the wedding? I only ask because a REALLY great table favor would be a few freesia bulbs for each guest. Even non-plant-minded people can grow this bulb indoors for fragrant February bloom. Not sure these bulbs are available so early in September, however. I can check if you'd like.

    Another possibility is the autumn crocus bulb. Guests can plant this either outdoors or in as soon as they return home. The bulb will bloom about 3 weeks later.

    Neither of these bulbs is expensive. You could wrap each in colored tissue paper tied with a pretty ribbon. Attached to the ribbon can be a picture of the bulb in bloom, along with the simple directions for growing it. Of course when the bulbs bloom, your guests will think of you and that special day in September!

    If the bulb-idea doesn't appeal to you, and it very well may not, by all means let me know. I have another idea in mind, too.

  120. PAMdemonium says:

    Thanks so very much for the bulb ideas… and dressing them for success! The wedding is Labor Day weekend, so certain bulbs would certainly work. You mentioned you had another idea, I'm just curious to know what that might be, although this idea does appeal to me and it is a splendid one at that.

  121. PAMdemonium – My other idea is to buy a few rose-scented geraniums (the best is Pelargonium graveolens), and propagate them in tiny 3 inch pots. You could paint the pots any color you like.

    These incredibly useful geraniums propagate very easily — and quickly. If you buy the plants now and let them grow, by late July you can take all the cuttings you need and root them.

    I'd set one pot at each place-setting at the reception, on top of a card which indicates the name of the plant, and how to use it. The leaves can be turned into a scented cocktail, a scented icing for cake, and even a fragrant bath. All these uses are described on this website.

    Anyway, it's a thought! I happen to love the rose-scented geranium, and am currently writing about it for Garden Design Magazine.

  122. PAMdemonium says:

    Hi Kevin, You've certainly given me food for thought as well as a couple of unique ideas for the reception tables. I'll be using one of them for sure. Thanks for being so creative and taking the time to respond.

  123. Kevin,
    Great article and demonstration about Wintersowing in the snow but I didn't see any holes punched around the neck of the milk jugs for air circulation. You added a new twist to your jugs by adding more drainage holes..I've been using foil or duct tape all around the cutting edge of the jug..I see you only have a few pieces taping the two halves together. Doe that really hold it secure and keep critters out? Hey, it must work because you have beautiful gardens..interesting how everybody may find their own short cuts that works and may save time, speeds up the preparation process and saves supplies. Did you show making and putting a plant marker inside? I may have missed that part, but you have your jugs well marked on the outside.

  124. Betty819 – Glad you liked the Winter-Sowing demonstration. I punched out ventilation holes in the necks of some of my milk-jugs, but not all of them.

    As for taping: When I first started winter-sowing I would tape all along the cut edge. But this made the containers extremely difficult to open when spring arrived. Now I use only 2 small strips of duct tape to secure the hinged top. This method very well.

  125. Kevin,
    From time to time, you suggest using certain products, can you mention these by name or post a picture of certain products you found work for you.
    I haven't seen any mention of any clematis in your gardens, but definately roses..Have I missed those?

  126. Betty – I have only 2 clematis here, both very beautiful both located on the north wall of my potting shed. I simply haven't written about them yet! I'll talk about them this spring…I promise!

  127. There are so many bulbs that I'd like to try to grow but they are such a hassle to dig up and store for the winter. Example: Dahlia bulbs will freeze and rot if left in the ground over the winter. I would imagine caladian bulbs and several other types would be the same way. How do you suggest you store these type of bulbs that have to be “winterized” Somewhere I saw in a gardening magazine that this one lady uses the tubs cat litter comes in and packs her bulbs down in vermiticulite or something. Wouldn't shredded newspaper serve the same purpose or peat moss? Newspaper always acts as an insulator. If they are stored in a garage where the winter temperatures hover below freezing. what other precautions can one take to make sure those stored bulbs don't freeze/rot? I have no place to store them inside the house.

  128. Betty – I agree — summer bulbs can be a pain because you must dig them up in fall and then find suitable winter quarters for them. A tub of cat litter will work. Another option is an insulated ice-chest (the kind you might use for a picnic). Fill it with straw, shredded leaves, peat moss, vermiculite or sawdust — any material that is completely dry and fairly dense. Then tuck the bulbs inside, and replace the lid loosely.

  129. What a great idea on how to store those summer bulbs..that's do-able. Those styrofoam chest are reasonably priced too. That opens up some opportunities for me of ideas of planting bulbs in my patio containers..Loved your post about how you layered your bulbs in that large container.

  130. Anonymous says:

    How do you weed your gardens? I don't want to use chemicals like Round-Up, but I have a huge area that I could spend the whole growing season weeding by hand or hoe and still not cover it, much less get any other gardening done. I'm sure you've already answered this, so please direct me to that post.
    Many thanks,

  131. Andrea – Most of the weeding here is done by hand. New beds, such as those in my Woodland Garden, are covered first with cardboard and then with mulch. This system smothers the weeds. As for the brick walks in the Rose Garden, I spray undiluted vinegar between cracks in the bricks.

    Can you describe your troublesome area – or send me a picture of it? I might have a solution for you.

  132. Anonymous says:

    Oh, my! I would be embarrassed to send you a picture of my weeds! You have helped with the vinegar suggestion. I use newspapers where I want to start new gardens but didn't think to do that between my perennials. Another question….. is there any way to get rid of lichen or whatever that moss-like stuff is that grows close to the ground and makes a tight mat that smothers anything growing in it's path? I've poured gallons and gallons of vinegar on it to no avail.
    I appreciate you so much!

  133. Andrea – Here are three ways to deal with lichen.

    Lichen and other mosses usually dry up and die with 24 hours if sprinkled with baking soda.

    Alternatively, you can spray the lichen with a fungicide. Your garden center will offer an eco-friendly fungicide.

    Because lichen thrives in shade and compacted soil, you might solve the problem this way: First, prune your perennials back to admit more sun. Next, pull up all the lichen by hand. Finally, using a garden claw, gently loosen the soil around your perennials.

  134. Anonymous says:

    A million thanks, Kevin. I wish I could reciprocate and help you as much as you have helped me. You wouldn't have a knitting question by any chance…..? Seriously, I am grateful for your knowledge and availability on this site.

  135. Pepi Noble says:

    Hi, Kevin – great postings. Do you have a favorite fertilizer for houseplants as well as in the garden? Thanks.

  136. Pepi – For flowering houseplants, as well as flowering container plants outdoors, I rely on Jack's Classic 12-36-14. Its high phosphorous content encourages spectacular bloom.

    Houseplants grown for foliage only receive regular feeding with an “all purpose” food. Ferns and other woodland-type houseplants, which prefer acidic soil, are fed with Miracid.

    I no longer scatter fertilizer on the outdoor beds. Instead, I amend the soil each fall with huge amounts of leaf mold. Leaf mold aids in water-retention, and keeps the soil both friable and fertile.

  137. Pepi Noble says:

    Thanks Kevin – I used leaf mold this past fall and can't wait to see how it works. I wasn't able to get all the garden areas finished before the snow fell and fell. I need to jump start my Hydrangeas. Any ideas?

  138. Pepi Noble – what kind of hydrangea is it?

  139. Anonymous says:


    I wanted to email you in regards in any possible advertising opportunities you may have with your website. I'm looking to earn support for a national cause and get visibility for the “plant 1 billion trees” project. Shoot me an email back and let me know if you would be interested at all in supporting this cause or if you want more information on it. I look forward to talking to you soon!

    [email protected]

  140. Pepi Noble says:

    Hi, Kevin – sorry I dropped out for a couple of days – working on technical issues. Hydrangea most important is Endless Summer – this is the beginning of the 3rd year. First year beautiful blooming, last year nothing so I'm hoping there is something I can do to get more growth and blooms. My other Hydrangeas are very old, grow very tall and have great leaves but don't bloom much. Thanks.

  141. Pepi Noble says:

    Hi, Kevin – I wanted to make the Lavender Cupcakes but the recipe is alluding me. Where should I look?

  142. Pepi Noble – 'Endless Summer' has not received good reviews here in endless-winter zone 5. Late spring frosts, which often occur at night (and thus go unnoticed) kill off all the flower buds. I suspect this is the reason your plant hasn't bloomed well. When you bought the plant, it was probably covered with greenhouse-born flower buds, and that's why it bloomed well the first summer.

    The same might be true for your older hydrangeas. However, if they used to bloom regularly, and then gradually stopped setting buds, perhaps maturing trees are now casting too much shade over the plants. Prune, if you can, the lower branches of your deciduous trees in order to permit more sunlight to reach your cherished older hydrangeas.

    If you want infallible hydrangeas, go with the Pee Gees. Harsh winters, late spring frosts, and hard pruning do not bother them. Their genetic make up tells them to bloom in late summer — period. Honestly, you can't go wrong with Pee Gees. Unfortunately they only bloom in shades of white.

  143. Pepi – here's the recipe for swoon-worthy Lavender-Iced Cupcakes. Ah…these are unbelievably delicious!

  144. Pepi Noble says:

    Thanks Kevin – we live in a forest of 27 trees, most decades old so pruning is not really an option. However, what is an option now that you've given me this info is to MOVE all the Hydrangeas out of the shade, I got my Endless Summer from a well-known grower who does not use greeenhouse-born bushes so maybe I will talk to him about this.
    Also I found the Lavender Cupcake recipe. Love your newsletter and Tweets.

  145. grow what ever you want in house all year long!!! Click on the link below to check it out!! they have amazing products!!!

  146. Why don't my daffodils bloom? do i need to feed them something? I have plenty of leaves and leave the leaves rot after flowering…but very few daffodil flowers this year??

  147. Betty819 says:

    Regarding wintersowing flower seeds in milkjugs:

    Spring showed up on the calendar but it forgot to show up in person in our area! We've had maybe 3 or 4 Springlike days since Spring arrived. Rain and more rain! The potting mix in the milk jugs are still wet from the 2 inches we got the first of the week. While some seedlings are outgrowing their milk jugs and needed to be planted out, I did it knowing there was a risk. Lot of the sprouts are so spindley, the ones that are HOS seem to be the ones that are doing the best. Yesterday I decided to separate a few milk jugs that were had HOS and they fell apart in my hands when I turned them upside to get them out. I decided since they were so spindly to transplant into 4 in. nursery pots and give them more room and more time to grow. Have you experienced a really wet wintersowing season? What is the solution? I have limited space to place the wintersowing jugs. Even the perlite mixed in with the potting mix has turned green. Is that Algae from too much rain? Glad I kept some seeds out and I can attempt to direct sow them again. Until this week when we had two warm Sunny days, the daffs finally are in full bloom and so pretty. Think I will think outside the box this Fall and plant a different variety other then the stand more common daffs.

  148. Betty – I have indeed experienced a horribly wet winter-sowing season! That's why I punch out so many drainage holes in my milk jugs. Don't worry about the green on the perlite — I have this too. I'm curious why some of your seedlings grew spindly. This has never happened to me.

    One question for you: what does HOS stand for?

    I've bumped my post on Transplanting Winter-Sown Perennials so that it appears on the home page. Scroll down, click “home” and you'll see it. Besides transplanting info, I describe how, exactly, to get the seedlings out of their milk-jug greenhouse all in one clump.

  149. Anonymous says:
  150. Jerri – nice to meet you. Usually, the “Christmas” cactus (Schlumbergera bridgesii) is sold as the “Thanksgiving” one (Schlumbergera truncate). Your local, independent florist can obtain one for you. Click here, and you will see pictures of my Thanksgiving cacti, along with details for growing them.

  151. Betty819 says:

    Here's the senario: If you have ever rec'd flower seeds in a trade or at a seed swap and they are not marked as to what year the seeds are from, what test do you perform to make certain the seeds are still viable? A lady was just here that admired my columbines and I promised to save seeds from them for her. I knew I had some seeds that I'd rec'd at a recent seed swap that I had not got around to planting yet. I looked through my seed pks and found 3 or 4 pk. but one was marked 1997 but the others didn't have a date but I feel confident by the username that they were good. The ones marked 1997 didn't have a username on them. I read about floating them in water first and if they float to the top, they are not good and those that sink will still be viable. Then I guess there is the wetpaper towel test that I've read about. Maybe you can comment on this for me and others who are interested. Many thanks!

  152. Betty – that is a great idea, and I will do a post on this topic. The paper towel trick is easy enough to do; more complicated is the testing of seeds which require cold stratification. These require a couple of freeze-thaw cycles to check germination.

  153. Hi Kevin,
    Can you tell me what the best way to care for tulips once they are past their prime and have lost their petals? We have a zillion of them in some beds that now look very sad. We would like them to bloom again next year but want to now plant some other flowers in those beds. We read that we should dig them up, stems and all, and place them in a trench, lay the bulbs and stems in the trench, cover with a few inches of soil and wait until the green plant part turns brown. Then after that, take the brown plant part off and put the bulbs in a bag and put in a dark, cool place. Sounds like a lot of work, but it would free up the beds for other flowers. What's your secret for your tulips?

  154. Hi, Lisa – Keep in mind that after a tulip blooms, it relies on its leaves for food. This food (acquired through photosynthesis) enables the bulb to make an embryo flower for next year's show. Consequently, if you transplant a tulip during this critical period, it will likely go into shock and abort its embryo-making mission.

    The best plan is to keep the tulips where they are. Let the leaves naturally wither and fall off. Then you can safely move/store the bulbs.

    If you MUST move the tulips (and I know how ugly the withering foliage looks), go ahead with the plan you mentioned. But there is a good chance — 50 percent or worse, I'd say — that your tulips will be foliage-only plants next spring.

  155. Hi Kevin! My jade plant is growing heavily on one side making the whole plant droop. The 'branches' on that side are so long and heavy they're skimming the windowsill. Is it okay to trim the stalks and replant them inside the same pot?? I've had the plant almost twenty years!! Thanks!

  156. Judy – I love jade! Regarding your question, go ahead and cut it back. If there is room in the pot, you can plant the cut pieces there.

    Did the plant grow heavily on one side because that is where the light was concentrated? If so, be sure to give the pot a quarter-turn at the window each week.

  157. Great answer, Kevin! Yes, the plant grew heavily on one side because it was facing the light. I must remember to turn it weekly! Thanks!!

  158. Hi Kevin,

    I was reading this post today ( and wondering if you've heard of this “Chelsea Chop”. I've got a tall coreopsis that needed staking last year. Should I try a Chelsea Chop this year instead?

  159. BBI – This “Chelsea Chop” is a clever way to describe “pinching-” or “cutting-back.” The technique is excellent for rejuvenating plants, including old Lilacs. So go ahead and cut back your coreopsis, if you wish. Whether it will prolong flowering on this or any other perennial, I haven't a clue. I suspect it would not.

    On the other hand, cutting back annuals early in the season will dramatically increase their sturdiness, and also the quantity of their blooms.

  160. It's not that I'm hoping to prolong the flowering. I was just wondering if doing that would stop it from getting too tall and needing staking. I'm just afraid that if I do it now, it will mess up its flowering.

  161. Hi Kevin
    I have a question. Our son was killed in 2001 on a corner of two major highways in the UP. We have tried to do a rainbow garden (In the shape of rainbow) mostly of annuals where this happened. We would love this to be spectacular memorial. The first year 10 years ago people donated blue and purple petunia's marigold, red germanium's. We live 15 miles and could not water but it looked ok and people really liked it. This year we redone it with some red monarda, yellow primrose, red petunias, gold and yellow Marigolds and mulched it. It looks ok but we would love it to look spectacular for the fourth of July.. Do you have any ideas of annuals ? I just bought some walkers catmint was thinking of planting some there. This is almost a mile coming into the town of Munising. thanks for your time…

  162. Kevin Lee Jacobs says:

    BBI – If you are worried about interrupting your coreopsis' flowering, but don't wish to have stems flopping all over the place, try placing a peony ring around the plant. The ring will hold the stems up, for an investment of about $2.50. You can use this ring year after year.

    Otherwise, if your plant has not already started to bud, go ahead and give it a Chelsea Chop. It should respond by growing bushier, yet it should still bloom for you. But again — to be safe — avoid doing this if flower buds are already present.

  163. Kevin Lee Jacobs says:

    snowflake — First, I'm so sorry you lost your son. Next, I think the rainbow garden is great idea. I have some ideas for colorful annuals. Just tell me which colors you are particularly interested in. Is this to be a red-white-blue 4th of July theme?

  164. Thank you Kevin. We have tried to do the rainbow in rainbow colors. The rainbow garden is about 12 feet arch 6 feet in the middle. We even have a pot of gold spot. I tried to send a picture but it will not go. sigh…We have purple pink red and very small gold and yellow marigold planted last week. I will try and send a picture to your email if you would like to see it….thanks so much for your thoughtfulness….love your site and your gardens…

  165. Susa – Thanks for the picture. I like what you have selected for your rainbow garden, and I imagine the petunias will be spectacular when they have filled out.

    Here's another idea for a rainbow effect, involving plants which take minimal water. I've listed them in their placement starting with the foreground, and working back:

    1. Edging: White, Sweet Alyssum
    2. Begonia semperflorens (wax begonia)'Pink Pearl'
    3. Gomphrena 'Gnome Purple'
    4. Celosia 'Amish Cockscomb' (red)
    5. Salvia 'Victoria Blue' (as background)

    All these are arranged by height, from the low-growing alyssum to the tall salvia.

    Maybe you can consider this for next year's planting? Or, just add the tall blue salvia as background to the planting you currently have.

  166. thank you so much Kevin.. going to go plant looking today. Will add to the group. I love the idea of the white sweet alyssum in front. I think blue salvia was in our local greenhouse My husband built me a small greenhouse so next year I will start the plants. Thanks again and God Bless You…..

  167. Cathie – To my eyes, Astilbe always looks best when associated with other woodland plants.

    Here, an astilbe-collection positively shimmers in a bed which includes the following: a variety of ferns (New York, Maiden Hair, Royalty, Christmas and Ghost); brunnera 'Jack Frost,' and red-tinged heuchera.

    A bed of astilbe and ghost ferns alone would make a dramatic picture. If you wish to add groundcover beneath the plants, choose either lamium or sweet woodruff.

    Let me know if you have other questions — I'm always glad to help when I can!

  168. Hi Kevin,

    Any chance you'll do a comprehensive post on delphiniums? I've never had much success with them and I love them, especially the classic blue ones.

  169. BBI – Great idea. Like you, I adore blue delphs. Although they loathe the high heat and humidity of the Hudson Valley, I've had success with them in the past. I did not grow any this summer. However, I plan to start a crop next month. When these bloom next spring, I shall indeed take your advice, and do a comprehensive post on them!

  170. Next spring?! I can't wait that long lol. Are they biennials, perennials? I have one lonely one blooming right now and I don't know whether to expect it back next year. Definitely going to try and winter sow some of its seeds. It's a little cooler up my way so I'm hoping…

  171. BBI – Delphs are short-lived perennials, meaning you can get 2 (and SOMETIMES 3) years out of them. Consequently, if your plant is already 2 years old, better plan on seeding more.

    Besides seeding, you can also propagate delph from stem cuttings. Select new growth, remove lower leaves and insert the exposed stems into good soil (or potting mix). These, if placed in the shade, and the soil is kept moist, will form roots in about 4 weeks.

    Hope that's helpful…more to come.

  172. Ooh, thank you for clearing that up!

  173. nice work. Thanks for the post

  174. My tomato and pepper plants are not growing well, have yellow leaves on the bottom, and the peppers are not flowering – any suggestions?

  175. Elva – nice to meet you. From my experience, it is not unusual for the lower leaves of a tomato plant to turn yellow, especially if water is splashing on them. A good policy is to mulch the plants with shredded leaves of chopped straw, and then provide water at their roots, via a soaker hose.

    I wrote about non-flowering peppers recently. Here's how you can coax them to bloom.

    As for poor growth, this can be the result of several factors. Is it possible your plants were pot-bound when you bought them? Please give me more information.

  176. Jen in Vermont says:

    Hi Kevin —

    I would love to know where you purchased your white currants: Ribes 'Blanca'. I've searched the internet with little success. Thank you!

  177. Jen in Vermont – Thanks for writing. I bought 'Blanca' from Micosta Enterprises in Hudson, NY. Micosta specializes in berries of all kinds. You can reach them a (518) 822-9708. Steven McKay is the owner.

  178. Thank you for this beautiful and informative web site!

    I have not seen any insect damage in any of your veggie garden photos. What do you do to manage insect pests?

  179. Marion – nice to meet you.

    Actually, my garden is not free of insects. But since I have stopped all use of pesticides, the garden has become somewhat ecologically balanced. Now beneficial insects are eating harmful ones. Also, I'm a big believer in companion planting for pest-control.

  180. Kevin,

    Seems to me our watermelons and cantaloupes are not very sweet. Is there something I can do to change that?

  181. The Japanese Redneck – Too much water as the plants near maturity can lead to fruit which lacks sweetness. Consequently, withhold water just before harvest-time.

  182. Hi Kevin!

    I need a really good banana cream pie recipe. All I'm finding online are recipes with instant pudding! I don't want that. I want the real deal.

  183. Brigid – I love Banana Cream Pie. But I'm with you — instant pudding is horrid. Will see what I can find.

  184. I could have sworn I posted this earlier but I guess Mercury retrograde took care of that! Kevin, I am looking for a banana cream pie recipe. All I find online are recipes with pudding and I want the real thing.

  185. Anonymous says:

    Sorry Kevin, I posted twice. Brigid

  186. Found one in my old Betty Crocker cookbook. Here goes: 9-inch baked pie shell

    2/3 cup sugar; 1/4 cup cornstarch; 1/2 t. salt; 3 cups milk; 4 egg yolks, slightly beaten; 2 T. butter, softened; 1 T plus 1 t vanilla.

    Mix sugar, cornstarch & salt in 1 1/2 qt saucepan. Stir in milk gradually. Cook over med. heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens & boils. Boil & stir one minute. Stir at least half of the hot mixture into egg yolks. Blend into hot mixture in saucepan. Boil & stir one minute. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla & butter.

    Press plastic wrap over sauce, and let cool to room temperature. Slice 2 large bananas into pre-baked pie shell; pour filling over bananas. Regrigerate until serving time. Top with sliced bananas and whipped cream. Yum!!!

  187. Thank you so much Kevin! I will let you know how the BCP comes out!

  188. Can't find the answer to this anywhere. You're my last hope. I've dug up an old iris bed, divided them and want to replant in the same place. However, the bed was overgrown with violets and anemone, so I used Round Up on the remaining growth. I know…YUK, but was afraid vinegar would change the ph of the soil. How long must I wait to replant the rhizomes? Also, how long will the rhizomes be viable just waiting on my garden table? Thank you for being a wonderful resource for gardeners!

  189. Annie – Household-type vinegar isn't strong enough to alter the pH of soil. Roundup, unfortunately, remains in the soil for a long, long, time. I would not replant your iris in that bed for another year.

    Otherwise, iris rhizomes are very sturdy. If they were dormant when you dug them (meaning the foliage had already withered), you can count on blooms for next spring.

    Place the rhizomes on your table into a box of peat moss or dry potting soil for now. And then plant them out in October. Again, plant them in a different location. Their roots can easily absorb the Roundup you applied.

  190. How do you keep pachysandra contained to a specific area, and not have it continually spreading? I enjoy my pachysandra where it is, but I would like to plant flowers in the area beside it. Is there any way to keep the pachysandra from spreading into unwanted areas?

  191. Donna – Pachysandra is shallow-rooted; any type of “landscape-edging” material will keep it within bounds. You can buy edging made from plastic (ugly, but it works), aluminum (moderately-priced) or steel ($$$).

  192. Hi Kevin!

    It has been a while since we have spoken, but I am truly enjoying A Garden for the House!

    Your article and terrific video have convinced me to grow potatoes this season. I am looking for a source of seed potatoes of a good blue variety, but cannot locate one for fall planting in my mild, San Diego climate. They only seem to be offered in the spring. Would you know a source I could contact?

    Thanks so much!

    Kathleen McCarthy

  193. Hi, Kathleen! I suspect it would be difficult to find any commercial “seed” potatoes at this time of year. However, you can always buy a few blue potatoes at your local farmers' market. Cut these into pieces as directed in my tutorial, set them in a bright window until they begin to sprout, and then plant them out in your garden. Can't imagine why this wouldn't work.

  194. -Great!

    I'll give it a try!


  195. Hello Kevin,
    Thank you so much for all your great advice! I am a frequent visitor to your blog. I planted a container herb/vegetable garden this summer for the first time, and I have a lot of soil left (used and unused). Can I store the soil over the winter and reuse it next year? None of my plants had diseases or infestations, to my knowledge. If so, how should I store it? It is currently damp, so I'm worried that if I just stick it in a plastic bin in my garage that it will grow mold. Would the container need to be airtight or breathable?

    Thanks so much!
    Lily A.

  196. Lily A. – Nice to meet you.

    If you are referring to a soil-less peat/perlite potting mix, then yes, you can absolutely store it in a sealed bag, clean garbage bin, or clean, covered bucket over winter. I've never had mold form on my stored potting mixes.

    The fertilizer which is usually added to such a mix will be depleted by now, but that's not a problem. Just add more food to the mix next year.

    You can store the mix either moist or dry. If it's dry, you'll need to rehydrate it next year. And for this you'll need to use near-boiling water. Otherwise dry peat moss is difficult to re-wet.

  197. Hi Kevin, I have a question for you. I have this vine that grows between my garage and fence, it seems to have originated in the neighbors yard but the original owners are long gone and no one knows what this vine is. It looks like a concord grape vine, but the “grapes” are very small. You can see pictures of it here:
    I would love to know what this is and if it is edible.

  198. Terry – To me, it looks like the “Fox” grape, a wild-type which exhibits a musky taste/aroma. It's supposed to be marvelous for both juice and jelly.

    When I had a garden apartment in Queens, NY, this grape grew in the abandoned yard next door. Apparently it will grow anywhere, and requires no attention whatsoever.

  199. The Thelypteris Noveboracensis (NewYork fern) in the beds next to the house turned brown with the lack of rain and heat in July. I was too ignorant to realize how to care for them because we'd only just moved into the house from South Central Texas where it's ALWAYS hot and dry. So, my question is….now that they look terrible, would it be ok for me to prune them to the ground and just mulch? I've been trying to find info about this on the web, but failed. Any advice?

  200. Anonymous – Good news for you: Your NY ferns have entered dormancy. Go ahead and cut them down. They will return next year.

  201. Hello Kevin,
    An hour or so ago I searched the internet for info on overwintering
    a Thunbergia Grandiflora. I found a bit of info on your site but became immediately distracted by your lovely posts. An hour and a half later, I find myself filled with things to do this fall. Among them, poking holes in milk jugs for winter seed sowing, making some mozz, dividing hostas and reading Ruth Reichl's book, Comfort Me With Apples! I am definitely bookmarking your blog! Now back to my question.
    This summer I bought a Thumbergia Gradiflora at a small, independent greenhouse. Living in Zone 5A, I had never seen this plant. I transplanted it into a larger pot and watched it grow on it's trellis to 5' It stopped blooming after a couple of weeks, perhaps because I did not fertilize it. I'd like to winter it over and haul it back in my garden next summer. Suggestions? When do I bring it in? How far do I cut it back? The best I can offer is a 60 degree guest room.
    Thanks for the info and your wonderful website!

  202. Claire Ann – nice to meet you. So glad you enjoy the content here.

    In September, before nights get too cold, cut your Thumbergia back to six inches. Just make sure it has at least a few leaves at that level. Scrape off some of the top soil, and replace with fresh mixture.

    To encourage indoor blooms, provide the long-night-short-day-treatment I mentioned in the post devoted to this fine plant. Or, just set it in your sunny but cool guestroom window (60 degrees is ideal). There it should bloom for you starting in December.

    I've never had trouble overwintering Thumbergia. To me, its big, blue flowers are utterly irresistible!

    P.S. Hope you will sign up for my weekly newsletter (if you haven't already).

  203. Hi,

    I'm interested in using my indoor space this winter to grow a mini-garden. I have a large, sunny kitchen window but nowhere to put pots. At least I thought so until I saw your great vine blog post and noticed the glass “planks” across your window forming shelves. Where can I get something like that?

    Thank you!

  204. Anonymous – check this post.

  205. [email protected] says:

    Hi Kevin- have you ever heard that planting garlic in the rose bed works well to keep the bugs and black spot away? I read it somewhere and my roses had nary a bug or black spot on them – they looked fabulous – what do I do this time of year for my roses to prepare for winter?- Seattle weather is turning cooler – the rains will come soon – thanks

  206. lamberjam – garlic is amazing. Even rabbits here won't trespass a row of garlic in order to reach the salad greens. Garlic chives are good pest-deterrents, too.

    In Seattle, roses do not require much in terms of winter protection. However, you should rake away the leaves which fall from the shrubs, lest any be infected with a fungus or disease. Do not attempt to prune your roses now; wait until February.

  207. HELP! Kevin, is it possible to actually CLEAN a spray tank that ROUNDUP was used in? I can't believe that my father actually used it. My mother would NEVER have allowed it on the property while she was alive. Thanks, Mary

  208. Mary – Based on reports I've read, it's best to label that spray tank “Roundup,” and consider it contaminated. Apparently it is impossible to remove every trace of the herbicide from the line and attachment of a pump.

    Glad to hear your mother was anti-Roundup. Time to work on Dad?

  209. Kevin, Unfortunately Dad passed away in February so the brothers and I are cleaning up everything prior to selling and heading back to the States from Canada. With all respect to pop he probably knuckled under to my step-mom grumbling about “nasty weeds everywhere”. Which is funny because the only way to get rid of the weeds (they WERE here first) would be overhead spraying ala Agent Orange over the Vietnam jungle.

  210. Hi Kevin,

    Just finished your informative 8/5/09 posting “How To Propagate Petunias, Wax Begonias & Impatiens for Winter Bloom Indoors.”

    I have some petunias in the white round nursery containers (maybe 10″?) that I never had a chance to put in the ground. Can I bring them in and do anything to keep them flowering? I live in zone 6b in central NJ.

    Last year I kept a wax begonia in the small container it came in, and it flowered beauthifully for me all winter. It now looks spindly. Should I take cuttings and start again? What about the original plant?

    Do you know anything about an invasive weed called nutsedge? My landscaper says it comes in pots from the nurseries. He is going to use Dismiss on it next year because it has invaded my flower beds and has now seeped into the grass. Dismiss has very good reviews on line, because it kills the 'nut' (rhizome) which can be very deep in the ground, although he says it will take two years to kill everything.

    Thanks so much for your informative site.

  211. Rebecca – nice to meet you. You can absolutely keep your petunias flowering in winter. To avoid spindly growth, cut the plants back severely (to about 2-3 inches of growth). Placed under fluorescent lights, you can expect budding to occur in Dec.; in a sunny window budding may not occur until February.

    Wax begonia is perhaps my favorite winter-flowering plant. I've outlined its easy winter culture in this post.

    Hope to hear from you again.

  212. Rebecca – forgot address your nutsedge question. This is not a weed I'm familiar with by name. Probably it grows in my “lawn” too — I don't have actual grass, just lots of clover and other weeds that get mowed. Anyway, I hope your eradication-program works for you!

  213. Kevin thank you so much for your wonderful website! I am so inspired!

    For Rebecca ~ I too am invaded by nutsedge. It's terrible! I'm trying to stay on top of it by pulling it up before the weed is two weeks old, because the 'nut' isn't yet developed at that time.

    Kevin, in addition to planting garlic, I worked on freezing my herbs this weekend and have a few questions. Which method would you use to freeze tarragon? Also, 1/2 cup olive oil to 2 cups (or so) basil is a whole lot of olive oil. Did I misread your instructions? My husband was making chicken stock and used a bunch of the older basil that I didn't want to freeze. Unfortunately, there's still a lot of that basil in my garden. What are your thoughts about freezing the 'soup stock' quality herbs? Can I just put them in a ziplock bag, remove the air & freeze them?

    Thanks again. I have learned so much from your website!

  214. Kathleen – Thank you for the kind words.

    Regarding basil, I wrote “1/2 cup (or so) olive oil.” It's fine to use less than 1/2 a cup. The goal here is to hold the leaves in an olive oil-suspension.

    I have not tried to freeze end-of-the-season basil. But I imagine you could turn it into pesto cubes, too. (Probably best to indicate on the freezer bag that it contains “soup-quality” pesto!)

    Tarragon will freeze perfectly well if you first pull off individual leaves (a boring job, I'll admit) and then flash freeze them on a baking sheet. This way the leaves won't stick together when they are placed in an air-tight container.

    Have fun!

  215. Hi Kevin.

    As you know I will start soon to plant Boxwood green winter. I took ooff the grass and I dont like the dirt. So I have to buy mixed soil with compots. How many inches I have to buy to plant tiny plant boxwood grren mountain?

  216. Ervis – Dig a big hole for each tiny shrub. Set the shrub in the hole, then fill in with 1/2 – 2/3 good compost mixed with some of your native soil.

    Boxwood will grow in poor soil; it just grows faster and better in good soil.

  217. Anonymous says:

    Kevin–Fall is upon us. Why don't you do a breadmaking post?

  218. Anonymous – Funny you should mention bread. I'm thinking of making French baguettes this week.

    Have you seen my other bread recipes?

    My Favorite Whole Wheat Bread

    Jim Lahey's No-Knead Bread

  219. Hello Kevin–thanks for a whole season of great gardening and cooking advice! I winter-sowed parsley and it was the best performer out of perhaps 20 herb/vegetable/flower seeds. I tried everything…
    Now, as frost is looming, I have a ton of parsley to deal with. Besides freezing and pesto, I'm hoping you have a creative way to use it. Thanks in advance!

  220. Melinda – You can use parsley just as you would kale or spinach. Consider a P&P (potato and parsley) galette; or a parsley quiche. This last one you can freeze after baking.

    Also – I recently discovered that parsley makes a FABULOUS substitute for traditional salad greens. My partner and I love it topped with blue cheese dressing and strips of red bell pepper. Absolutely delicious.

    Hope these suggestions were helpful!

  221. Anonymous says:

    Kevin, I have raised veg garden beds and planted strawberries for the first time this year. They were good and plentiful but what do I do now to keep and protect them till next year.

  222. Michael – My strawberries grow in a raised bed, too. In mid-December (or whenever the ground starts to freeze), I cover the plants with about 5 inches of shredded leaves. Straw is a good winter-cover, too.

    If you live where winters are not too severe — say, zone 6 and up — your plants probably won't need any winter protection at all. Strawberries are extremely hardy.

  223. Hi Kevin,

    I just found your site via pinterest and it is full of great ideas and information. I was fascinated by the winter sowing idea and your use of milk jugs. What changes would you make to your instructions if you lived in the deep south(AL)? My daughter is getting married in May and I would love to provide fresh flowers for the wedding. Also, what are your ideas for flowers to plant? Thanks for your time and expertise!!


  224. Andrea – In which hardiness zone do you live? (If you’re not sure, visit my Homepage and you’ll see a link for this info. in the left-hand column.)

    As for recommending flowers to you, I’ve winter-sown so many I wouldn’t know where to begin! Here is one list ; and you can find other ideas by clicking the “Gardening” category located up top.

    I agree — it would be great to have flowers from your own garden for your daughter’s wedding. Maybe consider those flowers which normally bloom in your region during May. Then go ahead and sow the seeds at once.

  225. Hi Kevin,

    We are in zone 7B. Thanks for getting back to me so soon. I have enjoyed reading browsing your website. It is chock full of useful and easy to understand information. Now to figure out what normally blooms in May around here. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  226. Kevin,
    I am in zone 6B outside of Philadelphia, Pa. and wondered if you have ever winter sown bulbs such as daffs or tulips, in the milk cartons or isnt there enough soil depth or time? Just started to winter sow and have scavaged my neighbors recycling containers for their milk gallons.
    Thank you

  227. Beth – Welcome to the world of winter-sowing!

    Regarding bulbs…just as you surmised, in a jug there isn’t enough soil available for the roots of tulips and daffodils. Also, Dutch bulbs prefer to make their roots in advance of freezing weather. Finally, if placed outdoors, a milk jug would not provide enough insulation to protect the bulbs from freezing to death.

    But if you have bulbs to plant, and if your ground isn’t solidly-frozen yet, go ahead and plant them in the open garden. Set tulips and daffs at least 8 inches deep.

    Otherwise, pot the bulbs. Set the pots in a location which remains reliably dark and cold, but above freezing. After 12 weeks have passed you can force them into bloom in a cool, sunny window.

  228. I have 3 milkweed plants and need to know if I should prune them back before Spring. They have pods with cotton inside. This is my first time growing them. I love the colors of the blossoms and that butterflies are attracted to them.
    Thank you, Melissa

  229. Melissa – If your plants have lost all their leaves, go ahead and cut them back now. The rhizomes will push up new growth in spring.

  230. Cary Bradley says:

    Hi Kevin, I have a few questions for you. First of all, how did your amaranth for grain experiment go? Did the hurricane disrupt it? Also how did your Brussels sprouts do? I planted late and mine did not pop into sprouts, but hope yours did. Lastly, do you recommend any particular veg seed catalogs in particular? I have some favorites and wonder if I am missing any jewels :)! Stay warm!!!

  231. Cary – Well. The amaranth grew beautifully all summer. It even survived Hurricane Irene. I tried to harvest some of the heads in late September, by shaking the heads into a big dish-pan. But along with hundreds of seeds, out came hundreds of tiny spiders and other insects. Yuck! Consequently I decided to wait until the first hard frost (the professionals advise this), with the assumption that any spiders, etc., would be killed off. But such a frost did not occur here until early December. And by that time, most of the flowering heads had already released their seeds — onto the ground!

    So amaranth was for me a grand experiment. I think, for the home-gardener, that if a decent harvest is to be achieved, the weather must cooperate. If we’d had a hard frost in October, probably all would have worked out. I’m not sure how California growers harvest the seeds without benefit of a hard frost — but maybe their plants aren’t visited by myriad insects.

    As for seed sellers. There is a post floating around this site called “My Favorite Seed-Sellers…& Yours.” I’ll look for this old post and give it a bump-up. Hope you are staying warm…here were are basking in 10-degree heat. Quite a change from last week!

  232. You had a site listed that tells about winter sowing annuals and vegetables, but when I tried to pull it up, I was told it was no longer available. These are what I would love to know how to winter sow. I learned so much from your perennial WS site. Thanks!

  233. Maggie – My apologies. When this site migrated from google blogger to WordPress, almost all of the links got misplaced. Here’s the article you’re looking for:

  234. tenului delicat la preturii fara concurenta!

  235. what shall I do with the hyacinths after they have made our Xmas family gathering a scented meraviglia from the balcony where they stayed in the sun???? Shall I plant them in the ground, or let them dry and store for next winter? Thank you so much for inspiring me

  236. mada – nice to meet you. If your hyacinths were forced in soil (not in vases of water), you can keep them for future flowering. Provide plenty of food, water, and sunlight until the foliage withers and falls off. Then let the soil dry out, and remove the bulbs. Store these in a dark, dry location (I set mine in a paper bag filled with dry peatmoss or vermiculite) until autumn, and then plant them outdoors.

    Bulbs which have been forced for winter-bloom usually need a year to regain their strength. Then they will flower annually for you.

  237. Brenda Johnson says:

    I keep forgetting to ask you when I see you (delicious food distracts me!) I have a rosemary plant that LOVED being on my deck…. when I brought it in- all seemed fine at first, now it’s dropping “needles” and not looking so great. Any suggestions?

  238. Brenda – Indoors in winter, Rosemary requires 3 things: cool temperatures (a range of 45-55 is ideal), moderate humidity (40-50 percent), and water no oftener than every 10 days. Otherwise the plant will undergo a Victorian fainting-spell from which it may not recover.

    Here is a resuscitation campaign which may or may not work for you: First, increase humidity by covering plant and pot with a clear plastic bag. Then set the plant in a very cool location, where it can still receive plentiful sunshine.

  239. Poking around your website I’ve seen quite a few references to growing sweet peppers—and the challenges they present. I did not grow them myself for several years because I never seemed to get any peppers. Hot peppers are easy in comparison.

    Here is my solution and now I have an abundant supply every year. (I live in zone 5a.)
    Variety, variety, variety. I grow Lipstick, Apple and Carmen. These all reliably ripen to red in my garden.

    I start my own seedlings indoors under flourescent lights in March or April depending on when I get to it. I use the larger 4-pak plastic seed starters or 4″ pots. They will germinate quickly (bottom heat helps) but grow very slowly. I fertilize them after about the second set of true leaves. I use weak Miracle-Gro about once a week. Keep the lights just above the tops of the seedlings. You don’t need gro-lights, just ordinary flourescents.

    Harden them off or grow on in a cold frame until after the last frost and the soil has warmed up–then plant in the garden. I usually put them in about June 1.

    I really don’t like the use of black plastic, but heat lovers like peppers need some help around here. So I plant them on black landscape fabric. This is water-permeable and re-usable. I’ve been using the same piece for about six years (it is getting pretty tattered).
    This gives the heat boost they need to produce a good crop.

    Other helpful tips:

    I also usually put a metal cage around each plant for support. I use the small and medium ones sold for tomatoes. (That are too small for tomatoes!)

    I grow them in raised beds where the soil has been amended with lots of compost every year and a winter mulch of straw or shredded leaves. I put them in staggered rows about 18″ apart.

    I plant some marigolds in the same bed.

    I water them if it’s dry.

    I don’t overfertilize–nitrogen causes too much leafy growth and no pepper fruits.

    At the end of summer or when frost threatens I pick all the fruits even the green ones. They will turn red on my kitchen table. I chop and freeze both green and red peppers–no blanching required. This year I sliced up all the leftover sweet and hot peppers (all colors from yellow, orange, green, red) and pickled them. We have been enjoying them on sandwiches and especially pizza.

  240. Martha – Thanks for offering these tips. The black, water-permeable fabric is a great idea for increasing the heat which sweet peppers demand.

    My own plants grew well last summer, but they were slow to flower. Then I gave them a dose of low-nitrogen, high-phosphorous food — the same food I give my African violets — and they blossomed beautifully.

    I turned the fruit into Piperade — a blend of green and red peppers, onions and garlic. Marvelous on pizza, omelets, and…well, just about everything!

  241. I love your threads about winter sowing. I’m more of a vegetable gardener then a flower gal. Any ideas on what veggies would be best started this way (vs. direct sow in the garden or buying plants from a nursery). I am in zone 5 too btw. Thanks.

  242. Ellen – Thanks for writing. The great benefit to winter-sowing veggies is that you can plant, at your leisure, the varieties YOU want — instead of relying on the slim pickings of your local nursery. As a rule of thumb, I use this timetable:

    Sow frost-hardy types (peas, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, spinach, kale, Swiss chard and other lettuce greens) in January and February. These, after germination in spring, do not need protection on frosty nights.

    Sow frost-tender types (tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, etc.) in late March. Be prepared to cover their containers with a blanket should frost occur after seeds germinate.

    Keep in mind that winter-sowing is not an exact science. One year, I winter-sowed tomato seeds in January. These sprouted in April and even survived frosty nights without any protection at all — except that which the milk-jug container provided. So consider the above timetable as merely a guide.

  243. am I in time to plant fresie, I live in north east Italy

    your tips about forcing hyacinths made our Xmas family gathering a sweet scented one, thanks thanks, have a wonderful 2012

  244. mada – So nice to hear that your hyacinths bloomed in time for Christmas!

    Regarding freesia, I always plant mine in October. But who knows? Maybe it will bloom for you if you plant it now. The fabulous fragrance is worth the experiment!

  245. Thank you so much for the entry “What to Winter sow when”.
    I have been WS’ing for years, but I WS flowers and herbs. Now I am giving a workshop on WS’ing, and the folk want to know about vegies. so your comments were very helpful.
    Re additional vegies – eg. pepper, cuke, squash,and more- any experience with these- with the best time to sow, and when they germinate?
    I am in Zone 7 according to the NEW hardiness zone map, used to be in 6B.

    thank you!

  246. ellen – good luck with your WS workshop — I gave one on this very topic just last week.

    Peppers, cukes and squash (both summer- and winter-types) germinate when the soil temperature reaches 75-85 degrees. Consequently, even in zone 7 I wouldn’t winter-sow these seeds before late March.

    Of course the soil in a milk jug is going to warm up much faster than the soil in the open garden. So after the seeds germinate one must keep an eye on the forecast, and be prepared to cover the containers with a blanket on chilly nights. Otherwise, these heat-loving seedlings are easily killed by frost.

  247. This is my first year to ws. I live in zone 7 & wonder when I can ws petunias, impatiens & coleus. The weather has been much warmer & the seed I’v sown have already sprouted, my lupines have leaves already. Thanks for all info you provide.

  248. George Lytle says:

    Hi Kevin:

    Before we left Kinderhook for the city today we were walking the dogs and noticed that the garlic patch had sprouted – the plants are about 10 inches tall – what should we do? Any ideas? Has the same happened with your garlic?

    I was SOOO looking forward to a summer of roasted garlic – I will be so disappointed if this false spring has ruined it!

  249. Patti – You can plant petunias and impatiens now. I’d wait until March to sow coleus. And definitely hold back some of the seeds…just in case.

    George Lytle – Garlic has a habit of sending up shoots in autumn, and then again during any warmish patch in winter. Mine have had green growth since October. This does not effect the summer harvest. Roasted garlic…YUM.

  250. We get those stubborn thistle weeds that grow tall in our Ivy beds. I want to keep the Ivy, but get rid of those nasty thistles. Is there anything that will kill them? I’ve even tried using a needle syringe and shooting weed killer into them. Those suckers are determined to live!

  251. Debbie – No easy thistle-weed solution.

    One option is to starve the roots, by continuously cutting stems to the ground. Otherwise you will have to resort to chemical warfare (but you probably don’t wish to do that). Your cooperative extension might have other ideas.

  252. Just wondering…are heirloom varieties of most veggies generally NOT from the evil empire? Is it safer to buy them to avoid Monsanto? I really want my garden Monsanto free and I will pass this on to everyone I know that gardens. Thanks!

  253. Marla – Thanks for writing. Heirloom varieties labeled “Certified Organic” are (at present) free from Monsanto’s taint. Best plan is to buy from companies like High Mowing Seeds, Baker Creek Seeds, Seed Savers Exchange and others who have no Monsanto connection whatsoever.

    My best to you –

  254. Kevin — we have a beautiful Cleveland Pear in our front yard. Love that tree and how it has different “looks” each season. What we don’t love is all the “suckers” that come up through the ground around it. Any suggestions on how to keep them from coming up? I figure the vinegar treatment will kill the tree, and we certainly don’t want that. But we get so tired of cutting them off at ground level every week. The tree was planted by a professional. It is in a landscaped area to which we add mulch every other year. Thanks in advance for the advice!

  255. Ken, will the vinegar also work on poison ivy?


  256. Kevin I stumbled upon you website thru pinterest. so glad I did. It is awesome.
    I have a Big Red Oak tree in the front yard about 20 years old. for the last couple of years it is showing signs of dead leaves late summer early fall. I had a tree man come out he did not see any signs of disease. He sugested because of age it was not getting enough moisture. So he did what I call wagon wheel trenches aroung the tree & filled with compost to hopefully get more moisture & save the tree. any sugestions. Would it hurt to spread wood ash from the fireplace around the drip line of this oak tree & the pin oak next to it.

  257. Love your site! Very informative and interesting stuff. Thanks for all the info. 🙂

  258. Hi Kevin,

    What a wonderful site! So glad I stumbled upon you. I really enjoyed your post on your kitchen garden, as this spring we are converting my garden to a raised bed garden. To avoid the high cost of cedar/redwood (our whole house is sided in cedar and I think my husband has had enough!), we are considering pine or Douglas fir. We are also in New england so we have plenty of snow (not this year) and mositure. My husband is wondering, would it be prudent to line the interior of the bed with a vapor barrier such as tyvex to prolong the life of the pine? Or would that not be a good idea because of it being a veggie garden? Also, do you somewhere on this site have suggestions or past posts about companion planting or how you have organized your own beds? I’ve made spreadsheets based on book recommendations but nothing is better than good old fashioned experience! Thanks so much! Noelle

  259. Kathryn S. says:

    Hey Kevin! I have truly being enjoying your site- I ran across it on pinterest and it is now my go-to place for all questions! Right now I have 2 for you- what do you think about the use of epsom salts in the garden? I’ve just been reading up on it and it sounds great but I didn’t know if you had tried it before! Secondly, I have an Areca palm tree I keep indoors next to the window and have noticed dead brown tips continually forming on the leaves- what is a way to prevent this? Thank you so much!

  260. ValpoBard – Nice to meet you. No easy solution for suckers, I’m sorry to say. Suckers are the way the grafted bottom of a tree like yours reproduces itself. Left in place, they rob vigor from the tree. The only thing you can do is cut the suckers off the moment they emerge. I have to do the same with my collection of crabapple trees.

    Roger – Best way to eradicate poison ivy? Pull it out. Mercifully it is a shallow-rooted vine. My lawn person volunteered to remove a patch of poison ivy from my rose garden. It took him only 5 minutes to accomplish the job, because he is one of those lucky folks who is immune to the vine’s toxic oil. If you want to tackle the job yourself, the directions are here. Otherwise, hire a lawn- or garden-service to remove the vine without the use of chemicals. Chemicals, in my experience, are mostly ineffective on poison ivy.

    Sharon – I would not spread wood ashes around your oak and pine trees. The material is a natural soil-sweetener, whereas oaks and pines prefer acidic soil. Better to use the ashes as I do — around lilacs, peonies, and other plants which prefer a sweet-touch!

    Tender – So glad you like this site, and thought to tell me so. See you soon again, I hope.

  261. Hey Kevin:

    Just read about the use of vinegar for weed killing…great idea…how long does it I have to re apply monthly..yearly…ever? if yearly..does that mean I can re plant there next year? Just wanna make sure before I do spray…:) thanks..

  262. I love the vinegar for the weeds concept and will use that this spring! I searched your site for corn meal to use for ant hills…..we use this a lot and it works great (I think it was in a Texas newspaper a while back), we try to keep our kids and animals safe. Thanks again for the tips

  263. Kevin:

    My nephew has donated about an acre of his land to me for planting! I want nothing but fresh veggies! (I will do the flowers around my house). I will not be able to start this until May. What do I need to do to prep this land and is there anything I can plant at this time?

  264. Kevin:
    I was looking at the picture of your raised bed vegetable garden and it is exactly what I hope mine to become. I have the space but my garden will be on a slope, not a huge one but enough of one that I’ll need some form of retaining wall to level it out. Any suggestions for something that is inexpensive and safe to use close to where the beds will be?

  265. Marlaine – Welcome. If you are spraying annual weeds, once application should do the trick. But if you are spraying perennial-type weeds, you’ll have to re-apply the vinegar when new shoots emerge. By denying these weeds any top-growth, their roots will eventually give up. Unlike Round-up and other toxic herbicides, vinegar does not poison the ground. After the weeds have shriveled (12-48 hours after spraying), water the soil deeply. Then you can safely plant in the area.

    Deb – Nice to meet you. I like the idea of using cornmeal on ant hills. Several people have asked about fire ant-eradication, and for this I’ve heard that diatomaceous earth (available at garden centers) works well.

    Welcome, Bee. You are lucky indeed to receive an acre of land on which to grow veggies! My only advice, if you intend to plant veggies directly in the ground, as opposed to raised beds) is to have the soil tested. Your cooperative extension will gladly test the soil for you, and advise you on what amendments — if any — are in order.

    Piera – Nice to meet you. As one who lives on an extremely hilly property, I know about retaining walls all too well. Have a look at my Serpentine Garden, where I used field-stone to hold back the earth. If field-stone is not an option for you, you might like to use untreated, rough-hewn hemlock, cedar, redwood or oak to retain soil. Avoid using railroad ties near your edible garden — they are treated with toxic chemicals.

  266. RaNae Mitchell says:

    Hi I’m trying to propagate one of my
    Daphne Adora whats the best way to do this???
    Thank you in advance:)

  267. Two years ago,I moved to North Central Florida
    Every summer, I am plagued with CHIGGERS
    Any advice?

  268. Peggy Gurley says:

    Hi Kevin, hope you or some of your readers have a solution to our problem. We live in Panama City Beach, Fl. Our yard is covered in “sand spurs”. which are nasty little balls of spikey hurtful spurs that cling to everything. And lord help you if you step on them bare-footed, which we do on a daily basis cause you cannot help but bring them into your home.
    Do you think the vinegar spray will kill them ? Any help will be appreciated. Thanks in advance.

  269. RaNae Mitchell — How I love Daphne odora! Easiest way to propagate the shrub is by layering. Do this immediately after the shrub has flowered. You can find the directions and pictures of the procedure in my article Plant Propagation: Layering. (Click photos to enlarge)

    Gloria – No experience with chiggers here in the cold Northeast (our worst pest is the tick). But here is a link you might find helpful: How to Get Rid of Chiggers.

    Peggy Gurley – Those sand spurs sound dreadful, and I wish I had an easy answer for you. I did a little research, and it seems some folks have had good success smothering the weed with cardboard, while others have stopped it from sprouting by applying an organic pre-emergent in late winter or early spring. You’ll find a sand-spur-eradication-discussion on this Florida gardening-forum. Let me know if it was helpful to you.

  270. I live just north of Atlanta, GA. Is it too late to plant impatiens seeds in the milk jugs and put outside?
    I love my newsletter and your interesting articles!

  271. Kevin, I,m ready to start some seeds inside for my mid May plantings. As I was growing up my dad grew plants under grow lights. I have been thinking of trying it. I start seeds indoors every year but have trouble getting them to not be so thin and spindly. I think not enough sun during the day. my dad had beautiful plants. have you ever used this method. or do you have any suggestion on what I can do to strengthen my little spindly plant and be strong enough to put out when the time comes.

  272. Kathy – Nice to meet you! Glad you like the newsletter/website. It’s not too late to winter-sow your impatiens now. They should sprout just fine for you.

    Beak – Welcome. I have probably grown more plants under lights than you can possibly imagine! Here’s an article which will get you started. And if you have more questions, by all mean ask!

  273. Not sure if this is really a gardening question. I had a TERRIBLE problem with ground wasps last year. There were at least seven nests in my front yard and four or five in the back. I couldn’t mow my yard for more than a month. I tried flooding them, pouring on dish soap, throwing dirt on the nests, and dumping vinegar down the holes. The wasps just got mad. I didn’t want to use pesticides. What can I do this year? Or should I just call an exterminator.I hardly got to enjoy my yard at all last year. 🙁 By the way, I live in Mid-Michigan.

  274. Hi Kevin,
    I am from Macedonia, (it doesn’t matter where I am from, but I tell you just to know for maybe more precisely answer), a friend of mine gave me your website and I must tell you that I am so amazed how could be one Home Garden so nice as yours!
    But now I like to ask you now. I Like to gather some vegetables from this early month, march. For better results I’ll nose-dive plantations. Tomatoes, peppers, corns, pumpkins, etc. Could you tell me please how to do it now?
    Thank you in advance and I wish you better results and more yield this season!

  275. Patsy – According to author Barbara Pleasant and others, the time-honored, no-pesticide way to get rid of ground wasps or yellow-jackets is this: Place a clear glass bowl over the nest hole. Weight the bowl down with a brick. The wasps will be trapped, but because they see light — and think there is hope to escape — they will not dig an exit hole. In about a week the entire colony will starve.

    Zvonko – Nice to meet you. You can winter-sow your tomatoes, peppers and other vegetables now. Follow these directions. Hope this helps!

  276. Thanks Kevin! Easy, cheap, and no pesticides! 🙂

  277. Louise Brouillette says:

    Kevin, I have a bad problem with cucumber beetles I read that kaolin clay is a good, organic protection against their devastaion. Do you know anything about kaolin?

  278. Louise – Thanks for writing. I have not used Kaolin clay. But I’ve read that it’s effective against the cucumber beetle, so long as you re-apply after plants get wet. Kaolin clay is organic, and it’s “generally regarded as safe” (GRAS) by the USDA (for whatever that’s worth!). The substance is used in processed foods and cosmetics.

  279. Jenny Smedley says:

    I grew five lovely hyacinths in vases of water for Christmas but was wondering how I could save them now they have finished flowering? Should I try burying them in the garden ( but still a chance of frost?) or try a large pot? Or are they a one time only thing?
    Thanks Jenny
    P.S. I live near Stratford Upon Avon, Warwickshire, England, UK.

  280. Jenny – Thanks for writing.

    Although I force a number of hyacinths in vases each winter, I do not bother to save them. Why? Because this method of forcing depletes their energy.

    In my experience, only bulbs which are forced in soil can have a future in the garden outdoors. The directions for tending such bulbs are here (scroll to the last paragraph).

  281. Hi Kevin,
    Thanks for your answer to my previous question.
    Getting a late start on winter sowing but I was wondering if you have a recipe for homemade potting soil to use in the milk jugs? Failing that, do you have a favorite commercial brand?
    Thank you!

  282. Piera – Here’s my recipe for homemade potting soil.

    As for commercial mixtures, I’ve tried almost all of them. “African Violet” potting mix, “all-purpose” potting mix, potting mix with “moisture beads”, “Seed Starting” mix, etc., etc., etc., have all worked well for winter-sowing. The important thing is that the mix be well draining — and most commercial mixtures are. (My homemade potting is well-draining, too.)

  283. Heather Schlerf-ZONE 5a says:


    i’ve been meaning to ask !! Do you have a greenhouse on your property ? I can’t believe you don’t !! I am struggling without one and have many plans to build one but nothing so far. My houseplant and tropicals suffer as a result every winter as we have forced hot -air and very little window space.

  284. Heather – I do not have a greenhouse here. But believe me, it is on my wish-list!

  285. I have moss growing in my lawn. It’s taking over. Any ideas on how to get rid of it and let the grass grow?

  286. Doug – Nice to meet you. Moss, more often than not, is the result of too much shade, too acidic soil, and poor drainage. Pruning the lower branches of trees can help, for this will admit more light (assuming your shade is caused by trees). It will be helpful also to aerate the soil, by loosening it. A lawn-care service might be able to do this for you. Then sweeten the soil by adding lime or wood ashes.

    I wonder if you live in Oregon — moss in lawns seems to be an issue there.

  287. Kevin ,
    We live in Southeast Georgia and every spring we get a weed that spreads fast that we call
    Firegrass ,if you step on it it burns like fire and its very painful ,
    we live on a Farm ,and believe it came from some animal feed,Round up will kill it down ,but the next year its back ,We have alot of Grand Children that would love to know how to get rid of it al together ,if you can please help. God Bless

  288. Hi, Kevin! I have a cranberry cotoneaster that’s about 3 years old, is growing well and really needs to be moved because I misjudged and put it in a bed too small for its size. I’ve read that one shouldn’t transplant cotoneasters and am wondering your thoughts on it. Is there any way to do it “safely”? Would this be a spring or fall event if I can move it without likely killing it?

    Thank you!

  289. Diane – Could that be the same weed some call “stinging nettles?” From what I’ve read about this horror, the only way to truly remove it is by pulling it up. Wear your body armor (heavy shoes or boots, long pants, long-sleeved shirt and heavy gloves) as you work. And you have my sympathy!

    Tammy – Nice to hear from you! The only “safe” time (if any) to transplant cotoneaster is in spring, when new growth begins. This is when the plant is bursting with energy and will most likely recover from the digging-up ordeal. As with all large plants, cut off about 50% of the foliage in order to lessen the burden of mangled roots. Hope this is helpful to you…

  290. Thank you, Kevin! Do you think I’m ill-advised even to try?

  291. Tammy – Not ill-advised. Why live with a mistake?

    Just a reminder: move your cotoneaster after (not before) it starts growing in spring. Then it will have the greatest chance of survival. Be certain, also, to remove about 50% of the foliage. Mangled roots can’t support excess top growth.

    Speak nicely to the plant, too.

    And if your cotoneaster should die, just remember you were trying to give it a better home.

  292. Hi Kevin,

    I am loving your site and how very informative it is! My father and sister are big gardeners, I must say, they have the “green thumb”. I, on the other hand, do not. I have tried and tried to grow something, anything but with not much success.

    When I moved into my home, the previous owner had his own garden area that did well from what neighbors had said (and it’s been a long while since it’s been a garden). But then, the oak tree probably wasn’t as big as it is now. I didn’t realize this when I had my poor father in law use a small tiller to break up what once was the garden over hours of labor and sweat. And this was my first attempt at gardening. I did, however, get a few green peppers, not of the size you would get at a grocery store, though. Corn stalks grew but not too high and no husks. The area is not in a good position at this point due to my yard being in a sloped position to where it would rain, it would end up standing still in the garden (it was directly in the ground). I even tried to plant flowers in the front of my house where it gets no sun. No success there. Soil was too clay-ey and still is. Only thing that is growing in front are 2 rose bushes and some spearmint that my dad planted there since the soil in the garden area was not good. (I’m surprised the spearmint is still there, not thriving but living). ). I even tried to plant Gerber Daisys around a small maple tree in the front of my house (which gets sun) and they too, withered away.

    Second attempt, I did 3 earth boxes on the ground. Tried to plant strawberries, tomatoes and cantelopes. Everytime a strawberry or tomato would fruit, it was eaten by a creature. So I put it on a table, thinking they couldn’t climb, lol. They still got to it. I didn’t have this problem when the garden was in the yard…Hm…

    Now on my third attempt, I started my seedlings indoor in a kit with my kids. Seedlings were growing great, until my cat thought it was nice to start eating at them. She ate half of them. Ugh! I have now transferred what I have left to containers and the earthboxes. We are still not clear of frost (zone 7a) so I bring them out when its nice and bring them back in (my poor cat is shunned to the basement til they can stay outside permanently lol. I hope that 3 times a charm because my luck with gardening, I’m surprised I have not given up at this point.

    My questions are – what should I be feeding my soil and plants to keep them thriving? I’m a newbie to all of this and I know you need to fertilize. I plan to make raised beds for my garden if I know to take care of the soil and the plants first. I don’t want to invest my time in it just yet, since I have not done so well. And as for the front of my yard, I was planning on just doing some type of raised wall there and adding gardening compost on top the layer of clay-ey soil. Do you think thats a good idea or what would you suggest? My front looks so pitiful.

    I am hopeful and determined.

    I also think a post on Gardening 101 and the basic steps on what to do would be helpful, if you don’t alread have those posted!

    Sorry this is so long!

  293. I’m happy to have stumbled across your site! I have two questions and maybe you have ideas. I planted a fuyu tree in the sunniest area of my now shady backyard against my house three years ago. Every year buds and fruit appear, but by mid summer they’ve all dropped. Fruit has never matured in the fall, nothing is ever left on the tree! Move it, spray it, what?

    Secondly, I thought to plant my veggie garden in the front of my house since the sun is all but gone in the rear. I live on a semi busy street on Long Island, and want to keep my produce neat and kinda private from passers-by, amid my perennials and annuals. Any ideas? Thanks!

  294. Becky Raymond says:

    Hi Kevin,
    I attended your “Kitchen Garden” workshop at Spring Garden Day on March 10. I really appreciate your practical advice and advocacy. You mentioned using shredded straw as mulch. What is the name of the company that sells it?
    Also, I would like to get tickets for your house tour on June 10 but was unable to find the information on the Garden Conservancy website you linked to on your page. I don’t see it under Events. Please point me to the right page for tickets.
    Enjoy the spring. I hope that the black flies hold off for awhile.
    Best wishes,
    Becky Raymond
    Averill Park

  295. I purchased 6 different varieties of trillium, 3 bare root plants of each. Now I’m stymied as to how to plant them! Should I keep each group of 3 together? Randomly scatter and just see what happens? I do know that I want their presence known throughout the shady parts of our back yard.

    Any ideas?

  296. Last year we had a very invasive weed that took over our gardens. We think it came with some topsoil we got. They grow about 1 ft to 1 1/2 ft. tall. They have very small white star-like flowers with a yellow center. The flowers are loaded with seeds. I took a plant to our extension office and never heard from them I then took a sample to a friend that knows a lot about plants and he couldn’t tell me the name of the weed, but told me it is used as a spice in South America.
    Would you happen to know what it might be?

  297. Donna – You are right — I really need to do a post on gardening 101. But for now I’ll simply say that you can address your clay soil by incorporating into it copious amounts of organic matter. And the easiest organic matter to obtain is leaves. Gather these in the fall, shred them with a mower of leaf-shredding gadget, and then dig them into the soil. As you work to turn your clay into loam, you can still plant shrubs or perennials in the area. That is, providing you first dig a big hole (at least 3X the diameter of the plant’s root ball) and refill with quality compost. I had to do this for the roses in my Rose Garden. That patch of land was previously an asphalt parking lot, so you can imagine how compacted and inert the soil was! But the roses prospered in their special mix, and now, after years of adding leaves to the beds, the soil there is rich, worm-filled, and easy to dig.

    About raised beds — fill them with equal parts top soil, composted manure and sand. This is a no-fail mixture for all plants. You can read more about raised beds and soil in my article “The Easy Kitchen Garden.”

  298. Nicole B. says:

    Dear Kevin,

    I live in Arizona and a have rock landscaping and real weed problem. I just doused the entire yard (minus the plants) with a mixture of white vinegar and dish soap. I’m saddened to read that this won’t prevent future weeds from coming up. I was very excited about this method because it’s more natural and affordable. What are other methods that I can use to prevent weeds that won’t hurt the environment or my wallet?

    Thank you for your time,


  299. Hello Kevin. About using newspaper in the vegie garden….is the colored ink ok to use or should I use just the black ink pages?

  300. Hi Kevin, I just started reading your site, so you have probably already answered my question but I’m not sure how to find it.
    I have a small Cottage Garden. I weeded it a couple of weeks ago, now all the weeds are ofcourse back. I usually put compose on if for the nutrients and my advice garden lady doesn’t like barkdust. How do I keep the weeds down. Can I add a shredded hemlock barkdust to help me keep the weeds at bay???

  301. Nicole B – By rock landscaping, I take it you mean you have paths or entire beds filled with small pebbles. Can you tell me what’s under those pebbles?

    Bonnie – As I understand it, the inks used in most of today’s newspapers are all plant-based, and so considered safe for composting. You might check with your local newspaper to make sure. For weed-control, I use all but the glossy pages, which are wax-coated. The wax, I’ve been told, is not biodegradable.

    Faye – If barkdust (I think that’s a regional term) is the same thing as composted shredded wood mulch, as pictured here, then it is absolutely fine for laying down in your beds. I use it very thickly (2-3 inches) to keep weeds down. The only thing I’m opposed to is chunky bark mulch, primarily for aesthetic reasons. Not sure why your garden lady is opposed to shredded, composted mulch — unless it is the dyed stuff.

  302. Hi Kevin, looove your website! Can you help me with a suggestion for a fast creeper than can hide some nosy neighbors? Unfortunately it is a totally shaded area (under large tree). I have three v shaped trellis structures attached to our wood “privacy” fence but not enough. Pleeeeeease help, summer is fast approaching and we have a lovely deck area that we love to enjoy without being constantly watched! Look forward to hearing from you

  303. Julie – So glad you like the website. I don’t blame you for wanting screen out your neighbors. I’ve certainly screened out mine.

    Because the area is totally shaded, and because you need QUICK coverage, I suggest you do what I did one year: obtain very long strands of English ivy. Even long, unrooted cuttings will work. Just remove the lower leaves and stick the stems in the soil. Secure the strands to your fence/trellising. Keep the soil watered, and the stems will grow roots in about 3 weeks’ time. Also, once or twice a day spray the foliage with water. The spray will keep the foliage from wilting while you wait for roots to form.

    Where to find long strands of English ivy? Talk to landscapers and lawn services. They are often asked to remove the vines from structures, such as houses and trees.

    There are other plants which will provide coverage, but you will find them slower than molasses, especially when planted in a thoroughly shady situation.

  304. Thanks, Kevin. I will contact a local landscape gardener and start my mission!!!

  305. I have a dirty little secret…I am very “green” (and not in a good way) when it comes to caring for plants. Despite this fact, I moved into a home that has a lot of landscaping all around it. Now, after two years of living here, what used to be my little secret is now an obvious fact to anyone who walks or drives by. I have no idea what I am doing with any of this stuff so any help you can give me would be GREATLY appreciated. To be fair to you and the others who post comments/questions on here, I will try to just tackle one issue at a time. :0)

    My first question to you is, do you know how to manage or eliminate patches of grass growing up in a bed of vines surrounding a koi pond? I’ve been trying to just pull them out as they spring up, but that approach is not only becoming more and more time consuming, it just isn’t all that effective. Any ideas on a better way to handle this?

  306. Hi Kevin,
    I’m planting an herb garden for the first time ever. I’ve decided to start small so I have a 4 x 7 ft. box that I plan on using.
    I have the seeds for Italian Pasley (yummy!), cilantro, tarragon, chives, and basil. Should some of these not be mixed with the others? Also, are there any herbs you would suggest (maybe for a spaghetti herb mix or even just some that you think are fun?)

  307. What can you recommend for ants found in the house?

  308. What do you do with Daffodils after they have bloomed?

  309. Mary Ann Salsman says:

    Hi Kevin, Our lot is very hilly. Part of it is mowable, but we have had to build 2 retaining walls. On the hills below the walls we have plants various things and have been using pine straw as mulch. The straw eventually slides down the hill onto the river rock that we have placed at the base. Typical wood mulch would probably wash away. I have considered a ground cover of some sort but don’t want anything too invasive. Any suggestions?

  310. Hi Kevin, thanks for a wonderful website. I have a camellia with leaf VEINS going very pale .Ive looked in all the books and web sites to find a cause to no avail. It began last summer with one branch but has now spread throughout the plant. The leaves die and drop off. I take good care of it with feed etc, there are no signs of insects on the leaves or roots. Please help!

  311. Hi Kevin, I just learned of this wonderful site – LOVE IT!!! Question please, Last fall I moved an old lavender plant to a sunnier location. There are about a half-dozen tiny green shoots down in the center of the plant, should I prune it or just let alone?

  312. Jingles – A pleasure to meet you. You can prune off all the old dried growth from your lavender.

  313. Theresa Jurevicius says:

    Help! We transplanted a clump of lilacs 1 1/2 years ago to our yard. During the transplant the clump broke in two, so we planted them separately next to each other. One clump is almost dead….the other sprouts few leave and fewer blooms. Both look horribly sad and scraggly. What can I do to revive them? They are from my parents yard so they are super special to me. Help! (We live in Upstate NY…..45 minutes west of Albany)

  314. Theresa – Try this. Cut out about 1/3 of the oldest stems. This should encourage new growth. Are these shrubs located in full, direct sun?

  315. I successfully used vinegar on the weeds on my patio and walkways. Can I use vinegar on weeds a few days before I prepare garden soil or in other areas I want to plant? Does the vinegar dissipate from the soil quickly?

  316. I have beautiful perenial gardens around my house and out of nowhere I now have these pickers that pop up everywhere. They are easy to pull up but keep coming back, I have noticed that they are on a vine type root that goes forever. Do you have any suggestions to help me out with this problem? If so it is much appreciated:) Thanks…

  317. Hi Kevin I live in Norway and love you gardens, over the last 4 years I have been getting tulip bulbs from Amsterdam and had over 400 tulips coming up, they are beautiful but Im devastated, deer have been in the beds and have eaten every single one of them, what can I do next year to stop them,apart from building a fence around the flower beds and will my tulips come up and flower properly next year?? Thanks

  318. How can I treat leaf curl on my peach trees organically? Thanks!

  319. How can I treat leaf curl on my peach trees organically? Thanks.

  320. I have a tough time starting plants. Seeds sewn in soil can be so difficult to keep moist enough to sprout. Seeds that I sprout in a closed container (to retain moisture) never seem to make it through the very delicate/transplanting stage. So I’ve recently taken to “re-growing” plants using what used to be scraps – green onion, celery and romaine lettuce root ends. They go into water and the tops shoot out in no time. My question is: when should I actually plant celery and lettuce ends? My romaine has leaves 3-4″ but there are no visible roots. Thanks

  321. Christina says:

    Help! We are overcome with dandelions. We live in a development and I’m pretty sure we are the only people who refuse to use chemicals on our lawn. I don’t mind some dandelions, but I think we might not have any grass left soon. Plus, in truth, I am a little embarrassed. Is there a way to reduce them naturally? Do you have ideas or do you have a place I can look?
    From my reading, creating a very healthy lawn should do the trick, but I don’t know how to do that either. Give me a perennial and I’ll know what to do. I’m way out of my league with grass though. Thanks!

  322. Helen – I use vinegar only on weeds which emerge in my walkways. If you use it in a garden bed, just wait a day or two before planting. It’s not a seed-germination-inhibitor (like “Preen”) nor is it a toxic poison (like Round-up).

    Tammi – As with all aggressive weeds, you’ll need to pull, pull, pull those “pickers.” Try to get as much root as you can. Roots of such weeds eventually give up if you stay on top of them.

    Ruth – Sorry to hear that the deer got your tulips! If foliage is still growing from the bulbs, you’re in luck. Provide food and water, let the foliage wither naturally, and yes — you should have flowers next spring.

    Deborah – How upset you must be! You will find the cause of peach leaf curl and the organic treatment at this site.

    Jac – Planting root ends — what an interesting way to achieve crops! I’d transplant only after new growth has started, which indicates that roots have formed.

    Christina – Go out with a long, strong, serrated kitchen knife, and cut those dandelions out. (Since you don’t use chemicals on your lawn, you can eat the dandelion greenery.) And…if nothing else, be sure to remove the dandelion blossoms before they go to seed. This will help to reduce the number of dandelions you’ll have to deal with next year.

  323. What is the ratio ginger and water

  324. John – Do you mean vinegar and water? To kill the weeds in my brick, gravel, and blue-stone paths, I use common, white vinegar (5% acidity) straight from the bottle. I do not mix it with anything.

  325. Juliet Rono says:

    Hi. I just found your website thanks to facebook. I have a question about my bogenvillia. First I live in south Louisiana. I had it in a pot for 2 years and it would not grow or bloom ,so I put in in the ground . Now it is beautiful but does not bloom. last winter I cut it back to the ground because it looked dead.In the spring it sprouted back and grew very bushy and tall it was so pretty but no blooms. This winter I tried not prunning to see if the new growth would grow from the branches but it is again sprouting from the bottom so I an wondering if I should prune all the brown stalks off . But my main concern is what am I doing wrong that it is not blooming? It is planted in the ground next to the house and gets afternoon sun. Any tips would be greatly appriciated. Thanks from the Louisiana swampland

  326. Hi Kevin,
    While reading your forum about vineigar, thanks for that BTW, I saw some thing about an egg mixture to kill moles. I did not get what the mixture would be. We have one that is digging hole near our porch, and the grand baby’s foot goes right in them!!
    Thanks for any help.

  327. Dave McWilliam says:

    Hi Kevin
    I have some Daliah’s that have been planted for about 3 years and have a large base root, how do I seperate and move these without killing them?

    Also what time of year is safe to move raspberries?


  328. Looking for info on how to best suppress grasshoppers… No frost this last winter left us with a lot of the munchers. Last year, between drought and grasshoppers I lost 3 acres of garden. So far this year, no drought as yet – but the farmers almanac indicated that we should expect one… Still there is an abundance of the hoppers. Tried Noloe bait last year.. Did not seem to help. This year I have been spraying a hot pepper solution on the leaves – but this is very labor intensive having to be re-applied after each rain. Other ideas?

  329. Hi Kevin: Hope you can help — I purchased a lovely gardenia with flowers/buds shortly before Easter. No matter what I do — frequent watering/plant food/good light — the leaves are turning brown with black/yellow spots and constant loss of leaves. I see many white roots when I have taken out of the pot — is my water too “hard” — does this need repotting ?? Thanks so much (I have it near my orchids — would that be a problem ?)

  330. Gale Johnson says:

    Any suggestions about how to kill poison ivy and be safe to the environment?

  331. What can I use to keep the worms off my tomatoes? I’ve been using a Miracle Grow product. I want to know what I can use that’s environmentally safe.

  332. marjolein says:

    Hello Kevin,

    Here in Austria we are having a huge problem with our Buxus Sempervirens. They are all beeing eaten by the cattepillars of a small butterfly. Do you have a solution ?

    Thanks 🙂

  333. Juliet Rono – I have no personal experience with bougainvillea. But here is a great article from the Houston Chronicle which I think will answer your questions about the plant.

    DebiM – Eggs won’t kill voles. But eggs can be used as a vole-repellant. This from the Univ. of Illinois Extension: break four eggs and remove the membrane around the yolk to prevent clogging the sprayer. Blend the eggs with 2 oz. red pepper sauce, 2 oz. chopped garlic and 3 cups of water. Strain the mixture through cheesecloth, and transfer it to a garden sprayer or spray bottle. Spray the mixture on your plants, and reapply once a month.

    Dave McWilliam – Spring is the time to transplant rasberries. As for dahlias – you will some great info here.

  334. Pam Madigan says:

    I am looking for a natural killer for poison ivy/poison oak…..will the vinegar spray work on those too? Thanks

  335. Ken Burton says:

    Hi Kevin, Your boxwood gardens are beautiful!!!! Did you design them and plant them yourself?

    There so geometrically perfect….where do I start? How long did it take you to lay them out and then actually plant them?


  336. Will vinegar work on poison ivy?

  337. i have a huge round circle of Pampus Grass i want to get rid of..i can’t even give it away because no one can figure out how to dig it up.We’ve lost a few shovels and pick axes to this demon !!!! We can’t afford to get someone in here to dig it up so now i want to know what we can use to kill it off without harming the ground or the surrounding grass ??

  338. I see that you use vinegar as a natural weed-killer instead of Monsanto’s diluted version of Agent Orange–“RoundUp”. Can you use vinegar to kill aggressive-invasive English Ivy.

  339. Elaine Reynolds says:

    Can you start a rhubarb patch from seeds? I live in Ecuador and can not find any rhubarb.

  340. Kevin, My peach tree (Huntington Beach, Ca.) is looking sad. Leaves are shrinking and red glob is growing on the leave itself. Any suggestions? TY

  341. I’ve read your helpful info on vinegar as a weedkiller. I need to get rid of an arbutus that has grown and widened with all the rain. What would be the best deterrent? I’m loathe to use roundup.

  342. I have Hostas and something keeps eating the leaves?? I don’t know if it is a deer or a rabbit? or some other animal? What can I do to prevent them for having my Hostas as their salads? Is there some thing I can spray on or around my Hostas? My Tulip heads are also disappearing 🙁 PLEASE HELP. Thanks!!

  343. Pam Madigan and Ruth – Best organic way to eradicate poison ivy? Pull it out. Mercifully it is a shallow-rooted vine. My lawn person volunteered to remove a patch of poison ivy from my rose garden. It took him only 5 minutes to accomplish the job, because he is one of those lucky folks who is immune to the vine’s toxic oil. If you want to tackle the job yourself, the directions are here. Otherwise, hire a lawn- or garden-service to remove the vine without the use of chemicals.

    Ken Burton – Glad you like the Rose/Boxwood Garden. Yes, I planted everything myself. Most of the boxwood I grew from cuttings. More details here.

    Dbby Yanke – I’m afraid that cutting down the stems and digging out the roots is the most effective organic eradication-treatment for Pampas grass. Otherwise you will have to use chemicals which will, of course, murder your soil and every living organism in it for some time. Seriously, consider hosting a “dig out the Pampas party” — ask friends and neighbors to bring stout shovels and pick axes. You supply the food and drink.

    Bruce – I don’t know if vinegar will work on English ivy. But it is worth a try. First pull out as much of the vine as you can. Then, every time new sprouts emerge, zap ’em with vinegar. Hopefully the roots will soon starve to death.

    Elaine – Yes, you can start rhubarb from seeds.

  344. Ken – You will find great info and solutions to peach tree leaf woes at this site.

    Isobel – Unfortunately I am not familiar with arbutus.

  345. Peggy – Deer are fond of hostas, especially the common green and white-striped-green types. In my Woodland Garden, which is frequently visited by deer, certain hosta varieties have been left alone. These include ‘Paul’s Glory,’ ‘Wide Brim’ and ‘Blue Angel.’

    In any event, you can spray your hostas with “Deer Off” or some other organic, rotten-egg-type mixture that every garden center sells. The mixtures smell terrible and you’ll have to re-apply them frequently.

    As for tulips — deer, woodchucks, rabbits and chipmunks will bite the flowering stems off cleanly. Here again, an organic repellent such as the one mention above will be helpful. Otherwise, plant your tulips in some fenced-in area. Most of my tulip blossoms were promptly snipped off by critters this year, too. I blame the chipmunks.

  346. Ken Burton says:

    Thanks Kevin! I’m going to try the geometry myself…..I’ll initially lay it out with a hose and then take it from there.

    I love old houses so I took the liberty and “researched” yours….problem is it that it states it is in a village named Valatie, New York. I then googled Kinderhook Village and found a beautiful, almost 19th c New England town, complete with a village green!

    ‘Confused….where is your house located? I will be up in New York State this Summer and would love to make an appouintment,if possible, to visit your gardens and “many periods style house”.


  347. Elaine Reynolds says:

    Hi Kevin,
    I am here in Kuwait teaching and the school had this beautiful decorative grass. When it went to seed i harvested all the tops and took the seed parachutes and am drying them. When i get home to my organic coffee farm in Ecuador I am going to try to get these to grow and a path hedge,
    Any suggestions for success? No one seems to be able to tell me the name of the grass but one person thought the were a type of Bull rush????
    Elaine, Apuela, Ecuador

  348. Kevin,
    I have 2 questions froma new gardener learning.
    1 I have a apple, cherry and peach tree in my back yard and have been told they had a boar last year. ( just brought house) what is something natural that I can spray on these trees?
    I need something natural to spray every year also so as not to get worms.
    2 How do you get rid of ants with a natural product? We moved a bunch of dirt from the parkign strip out front to the back under some trees and when I went to use some of the dirt I discovered ants in amongst the dirt. Yu can’t even see them from the top only when you dig into the dirt.
    Thanks for you advice.
    Jenny from Utah.

  349. Hi Kevin ~ I have the worst lawn this year. The MOLES have destoyed my yard!! They say moles are attracted to grubs. I need to treat my lawn for grubs while still being a healthy application; since I have a dog. Thank you…

  350. Barb Gilligan says:

    Hi Kevin, do you come to Minnesota, I would love a visit and some of your fresh ideas. Contest winner ‘A day with Kevin’ That would be exciting. Thank you for your awesome ideas I find on your site.

  351. do you have any ideas on how to get rid of big hugh ant hills with some kind of household cleaner? i have two big mounds and filled with ants…i sure could use your help???

  352. Kevin I have 2 azaela I planted last year. one looks ok the other does not have all its leaves & some leaves look brown. I water them the same. Is it an insect or not enough water over the winter or what. Can I put fireplace ashes aroung them or what fertilizer should I use & when. I was told I could put ashes around my lilac bushes . what eles are they good for.
    Thank you.

  353. I have a huge plant of cardamom, which arrived as a present in a tiny post parcel, it flourished only once, but it has filled the pot with leaves and roots.I’m thinking of dividing it, making more plants. What do you think?
    another question is I have three large low pots full of ginger roots from last year, what shall I do now leave them there or dig them out and divide them into many little pots, changing the exhausted soil?
    thank you for your beautiful pics and tips

  354. Hi Kevin –

    any tips for getting rid of poisin ivy?

  355. whoops! found the answer above! thanks for ALL your tips!

  356. gsxrjenn says:

    Hi Kevin! Your blog is wonderful!! I have questions regarding the use of vinegar as a weed killer: Is it ok to plant in an area where vinegar has been applied after the weeds are gone? If so, how long? I have a LARGE flower bed in front of my home that is empty, aside from mulch and, mostly grass, but some weeds. The grass is not thick, but has made it’s way through the cloth barrier I put down last year. I have pulled and pulled, and am tired of pulling. Do you suspect vinegar will help me? Thanks Kevin!

  357. Second request:
    Last year we had a very invasive weed that took over our gardens. We think it came with some topsoil we got. They grow about 1 ft to 1 1/2 ft. tall. They have very small white star-like flowers with a yellow center. The flowers are loaded with seeds. I took a plant to our extension office and never heard from them I then took a sample to a friend that knows a lot about plants and he couldn’t tell me the name of the weed, but told me it is used as a spice in South America.
    Would you happen to know what it might be?

  358. My rhubarb isn’t doing good, all we get is short little skinny stems and it is all of our plants. The people down the road have a huge patch and they let the seed pods stay on. I don’t think they even use it. What are we doing wrong? Nothing we do seems to help. Last year we put lime on it we have put compost on it. I have bought new plants all of them are the same. How can I make mine look like yours? kris

  359. Hi. Do you think Astilbe would thrive in the Atlanta area or is it too hot here? We have both shade and sunny areas to work with. The natural soil is red clay but could be amended. Thanks!

  360. Juanita says:

    Hi Kevin,
    I’m gardening in pots in sunny Orlando FL…and my question/problem is with my cucumber plant
    It started off really beautiful with lots of flowers but now the very large leaves are turning yellow and they also have a kind of sqiggly thing or almost like something is tunneling on the face of the leaves…I really don’t see any bugs…there were some really tiny ant like things on them but I kind of blast them off with a spray of water…I also have a homemade pest spray that I use made from habanero peppers, water, and a drop of liquid dish soap that seems to be working…but the plant is still in trouble and the tiny fruit does not look heathy!
    Please Help!!!!
    Thanks JP

  361. Hi Kevin,

    Love your blog! Here’s hoping you have answers for the following 2 things I’m having trouble getting answers to: #1, how to divde penstemon? They don’t look splitable to me. #2, how do you get rid of weeds in your lawn? I’ve used vinegar only in areas where I don’t have grass and am afraid to use it in the lawn, but I have stubborn quackgrass and something else that looks very similar to ajuga and spreads via runners. It’s literally taking over my lawn in some places. Any ideas?


  362. Ken Burton says:

    Hi Kevin,

    Have you discontinued your blog or just been too busy with Spring garden work?


  363. Deb Haack says:

    Happy May Kevin,
    I have spent about an hour and a half looking for your article on free mulch that cities and town have stacked in piles all over the county. In December the county crews cut and mulched all of the Red Cedar trees in the county ditches alone the highways. I am sure that I read an article that you written on the subject of free mulch. I can’t seem to remember if you have said to wait a year before using this mulch around your plants. But this fresh mulch would be perfect for walkways. Would you please point me into the right direction for this article.
    Thank you so much.
    I have no idea how you get everything done and maintain you home and garden so beautifully.
    Deb Haack
    email: [email protected]

  364. Elaine – I’m not familiar with the type of grass you described. My only advice is to keep the seeds dry until you are ready to plant them. Would love to hear more about your organic coffee farm!

    Jenny S. – Usually ants are not a problem. Their tunneling helps to aerate the soil. As for an organic fruit tree pesticide — kaolin clay spray is said to work wonders.

    Tracyg – To kill the grubs in your lawn, treat your lawn with Milky spore. Milky spore is completely natural, and harmless to people and pets. You can find it in any garden center.

    Barb Gilligan – “A Day with Kevin” – That would be a fun contest. Any idea who could sponsor this?

    Judy – I’ve read about this ant-killing treatment: Mix 1 cup sugar with 1 cup boric acid. Add just enough water to make a thick paste. Then place small bits of this paste around the ant hill. The ants will eat the poisonous sugar, and spread it around the other ants and eventually the queen. End of ant colony.

    Sharon – Wood ashes are great for lilacs — but not azaleas. Azaleas want an acidic soil. Give them acidic food (“Holly Tone” is a good organic formula) and provide them with plenty of water. Azaleas which entered the winter in a too-dry state are known to drop their leaves.

    Mada – I’m sorry, but I have no experience with either cardamom or ginger roots.

    gsxrjenn – I use vinegar only to kill the weeds which emerge in the cracks of my brick, gravel, and blue-stone paths. If you spray vinegar in your flower bed, my best guess is to wait a couple of days before planting anything there. Vinegar isn’t a toxic poison (like Roundup) nor is it a seed-germination-inhibitor (like “Preen”).

    Toni – Any chance you can send me a picture of the weed you described? Send pix to [email protected]

    kris – Are your rhubarb plants growing in full sun? It took 3 years for my rhubarb to amount to anything. The plants are in their fourth year now. So maybe it is just a matter of time? It seems like you are doing everything right, i.e., compost.

    Kim – Yes, you should be able to grow Astilbe in Atlanta. It is hardy in zones 4-8 S / 4-9 W. I can tell you this perennial loves plentiful moisture and dappled sunlight. Mine flourish in a bed that I amended with copious amounts of leaf mold.

    Juanita – Sounds like your cucumber is the victim of the vine borer. Too late to do anything about it now. But you can start all over (there’s plenty of time still) by replanting seeds in fresh soil. Place a piece of row-cover-type fabric (available at garden centers) over the seedling(s) until they start to flower. Alternatively, you can spray the young plants with kaolin clay spray.

    Meg – Yes, you can divide Penstemon. Lift the plant, then cut it with spade or serrated knife into sections. Be brutal.

    Ken – You are right — the garden is keeping me busy, and hence my delay in responding to questions. Trying to get the place “gussied up” for the tours which begin (gasp!) in just a few weeks.

    Deb Haack – I don’t know how I get every done around here, either! If you click on the category “Soil” (Left-hand column on the website) you will find the mulch-article.

  365. Hi Kevin,
    I was wondering if you knew of any chemical -free ways of getting rid of poison ivy. My family & I recently moved into a home with a beautiful, spacious yard. However, there is poison ivy surrounding the yard. It’s tough doing yard work because when we think the poison ivy is gone (even in the winter) it seems to come back. Any ideas you can send my way on how to get rid of it for good , would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you

  366. Myra – To remove poison ivy without the use of chemicals, follow these directions.

  367. Sandi Romijn says:

    Hi Kevin,

    I’ve positioned 5 square foot gardening boxes in my yard for my veggie gardens. As an entrance to the area, I’ve placed 2 (each to either side of a 4′ wide entrance) 2’x8′ boxes for use as my herb and edible flowers garden. The 4′ wide entrance will be flanked with climbing roses. Your gardens are just gorgeous–I was wondering if you have any design suggestions in mixing all these beautiful annual and perennial edibles for an informal cottage garden look.

    Thanks so much!
    Sandi Romijn

  368. Pat Leary says:

    Kevin – I have a large garden in the front of my house of which a large portion is under the umbrella of a maple tree with north west exposure. The maple tree sends out spidery roots that wrap themselves around the roots of my plants and it looks like a birds nest and eventually kills them. Example, there were 6 beautiful hostas planted 5years ago that grew to a certain size and then each year became smaller until they were either totally gone or left with one tiny leaf. I dug them up this year to find the roots shriviled and the soil filled with the birds nest like roots everywhere. To stop planting there would tottally disrupt the design of the garden. My question is – do you know of any NATIVE plants that would possibly be strong enough to survive .. I have planted hostas, Japanese Painted Fern, and sedum. Any suggestions would be most appreciated. Many thanks Pat

  369. secondhandlibrarian says:

    I read your latest issue and really enjoy your common sense approach. I am having trouble finding the seeds for nicotiana the white fragrant ones you mentioned on your website. … Any ideas of who has them.

  370. Can you tell me what the calorie and cholestrol count of the 3 minute mayonaise is please.

  371. Sandi – Sounds like you’ve already designed a fab entrance-way to your veggie/herb garden. As for the arrangement of plants…I say do whatever floats your boat. As they grow, your herbs and veggies will spill over the sides of their raised beds, producing the cottage-garden look you want. Well, this has been my experience, at least!

  372. As for the vinegar spray to kill the weeds, how often will you have to spray to keep the weeds under control?

  373. Deb Haack says:

    Hi all,
    Kevin, you talked about your Hamamelis Vernalis in one of your blogs and I became very interesting in planting one or two on our acreage. The problem is that I can’t seem to find a supplier. Do you know where I can find them? Thank you, Deb

  374. Deb Haack says:

    Wow Kevin, I just found your blog so I have another question for you. I have a wild asparagus patch in our field and I was looking for an organic weed killer that will not hurt the asparagus. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you.

  375. Pat Leary – To discover which native plants can flourish beneath the surface roots and dense canopy of a maple tree, my advice is to visit a local forest. Where I live, the graceful New York fern is one such plant; I’ve grown Solomon’s Seal, Rhododendrons and Azaleas, too beneath maples, but I give these plants plentiful moisture and food.

    Secondhandlibrarian – The white nicotiana I’ve grown here is called ‘Fragrant Cloud.’ The seeds were purchased from Thompson & Morgan.

    Sandie – My three-minute mayonnaise is certainly high in fat. I usually make it with olive oil, which is considered a “good” fat. Otherwise I do not measure the calories and fat content for my recipes.

    Jeanie – How often to spray weeds with vinegar? Well, that depends on the weeds. I’ve noticed that annual-types require just one spraying, for they can not survive without foliage (vinegar “fries” the foliage). Perennial-types usually need repeated sprayings until their roots eventually give up. Keep in mind that vinegar is not a poison (like “Roundup”) nor is it a seed-germination inhibitor (like “Preen”). I spray vinegar on my brick, gravel, and blue-stone pathways every 3-4 weeks during the warm-weather months. I do not use vinegar in flower beds or on my lawn.

    Deb Haack – Hamamelis vernalis – what a great shrub! I bought two from a local mom & pop garden center several years ago. A quick Google search just now lead me to BlueBell Nursery, who says they can ship this winter-flowering Witchhazel in autumn and winter. So that is one source.

    As for wild asparagus — this is a plant I am not familiar with.

  376. Kevin, I sprayed my veggie raised beds with round up (now that I havve found out about vinegar I will use that) so how long before I can plant my seeds and plants?

  377. Chris – The label on the bottle of Roundup will tell you how long to wait before planting. Glad to hear you won’t be using that horrid product in the future.

    And here’s a tip: If you mulch your beds heavily with shredded leaves or salt hay in the fall, you will have very few weeds to contend with when spring arrives.

  378. Thank you Kevin. What is salt hay? I have never heard of it. I reaally want to mulch around the boxes also.

  379. Riversana says:

    Hi Kevin,
    I keep coming across references to fish emulsion in various gardening articles, and I’m curious if that’s something I need to incorporate into my routine? Can I make my own with canned tuna juice? Thanks for your help!

  380. Hi Kevin, my name is Lynn, I`m new to your site and lovin` it !
    Kevin do you have pets to keep out of your veggie and flower beds ?
    Also how bad is cat or dog offerings for your soil ?
    Caio dude…. 🙂

  381. Some questions about BULBS!

    What should I be doing with my spring bulbs that I had to dig up from my raised garden bed to plant my summer veggies? Should they be planted in pots and kept indoors, in my house, my basement? Should they be left to dry in my basement (cool/dark)? Should I have left them in the ground? I have tulips, freesia, and crocuses, all of which bloomed beautifully, died down and the bulbs multiplied wonderfully. But, due to limited garden space, I dug them up.
    Thank you Kevin, in advance, for you guidance. Kelly

  382. Chris – I use something called “Salt Hay Substitute.” It comes in bagged bails, a little goes a long way, and it is completely organic. More details here.

    Riversana – I know that fish emulsion is supposed to be wonderful for plants. I, alas, have never used it, so can’t advise.

    Lynn – Nice to meet you. I have two cats — Tiger and Camille — who are kept strictly indoors. My dog, Lily (a beagle), receives tons of exercise at the local dog park. She is never allowed off-leash in my yard.

    As for cat and dog “droppings” — these are not good for the garden. In fact, grass and other plants beneath them often die from nitrogen-burn. Cat feces are of particular concern — they can carry toxoplasmosis, a parasitic disease which has severely sickened many an unwitting gardener.

    Kelly – Good news: If you let the foliage of your bulbs wither and die naturally, the bulbs are now dormant. Go ahead and dig them up. Store them some place cool, dark, and absolutely dry. To help insure dryness, tuck the bulbs into paper bags which you’ve filled with sawdust or peat moss. Then plant them out again in autumn.

  383. Dear Kevin, What have you got for a soft shell or flour tortillia recipe?

  384. Mary Ann Salsman says:

    Hi Kevin! I just finished making my first (ever) cheese (moz). I now have alot of whey left. Should I freeze it? Any suggestions on how to use it? Thanks so much!

  385. Heidi Hihn says:


    I just recently found your site, have enjoyed reading it and gathering knowlege!! I do have a question, maybe you can give me the info I need or direct me in the right direction. Recently my husband and I purchased a retirement home and 50 arces in SW Wisconsin. The property has about 35 apple trees on it. These trees have not been well kept, however, they still are bearing a lot of fruit. I would love to prune the trees and take control of them. I am looking forward to having apples to bake, can and give away… Here is my questions

    1. How do I prune these trees

    2, What is the best time of the year to prune them

    3. What type of sprays should I use to control bugs and disease…I would like to go organic if possible

    Well, those are the ones I can think of …but if you have any knowlege you want to share on the subject …


  386. Hi Kevin – love your blog! I have a couple of questions. We have about 8 rose bushes, and I do mean LARGE rose bushes in our front yard. I would like them not to be in our front yard. Unfortunately we were not able to get to them in early spring and they are now in bloom. If we move them now, will it kill them? And if so, will it kill them for good, or they just won’t bloom again for this season? Is there any special tricks to moving them that we should be aware of? Thanks!

  387. I have planted for the first time vegetable plants and find that 3 weeks into this I have little black gnat like bugs running through the soil. How to get rid of safely? THANKYOU

  388. Lenny – I’ve made both taco shells and flour tortillas in the past. Will have to make them again and post recipes. Thanks for the idea.

    Mary Ann Salsman — Yes, you can absolutely freeze whey.

    Heidi Hihn – How lucky you are to have acquired an apple orchard! Best plan: Visit an apple orchard, and have them show you how to prune (pruning is accomplished in winter). Even better — ask one of the employees to visit your property and show you how, exactly, to manage your trees. Old, neglected apples trees can usually be brought back to health. As for pest-control with organics, check out this post, then scroll down to comment #14 from reader Jerry King. Jerry grows fruits trees without spraying.

    Sam – In the past, I have moved mature roses while they were in bloom. The secret to success is to cut the shrub back rather drastically — by half, two-thirds, or even more. Then the rose can better accept having its roots severed. And believe me, you’ll have to sever roots during the digging and transplanting ordeal. The shrub will look awful for several weeks. But with adequate water and kind, soothing words from you, it will recover and bloom again. Mine, moved in late May, bloomed again in September.

    Susan – Not sure what kind of insects you are referring to. Gnats tend to fly — not crawl through the soil. In any event, if the creatures are not damaging your plants, there’s no need to take any action. (And if they are hurting your plants, let me know.)

  389. I sprayed my lawn with someweed killer and i was wonderin how long shoulf i wait until i can throw some grass seed ….it was ortho weed killer

  390. Justin – I’ve never used Ortho weed killer. If the product label doesn’t tell you how long to wait before seeding your lawn, you should probably contact the company directly.

  391. Lorraine says:

    Hi Kevin,

    My family just moved into a lovely cottage bordered on one side by a massive hydrangea (about 7-8 feet across). The problem is that a large part of it is being subsumed by a bushy sumac and the interior portions of the hydrangea are being taken over by wild honeysuckle vines and some other sort of invasive vine. My question is, what can I do to save the hydrangea? Should I wait until winter to go in and try to pull out/uproot the offending invaders? Or should I attempt this now while the sumac and vines are spreading daily (FYI- the hydrangea is in full bloom right now)? I’m having the same problem with a huge bridal veil bush, but with that, the invader is poison oak. Help!



  392. Lorraine – Similar horrors here. Just now there are maple saplings growing through the center of my ancient bridal veil, and sumac is rearing its aggressive head through a fountainous forsythia. It’s difficult to tackle such problems in summer, without destroying the looks of the plants we wish to keep. For the sake of appearance, cut out now what you safely can. Then, in autumn, after the shrubs have lost their leaves, it will be much easier to get and dig out or pull up the unwanteds. Well, that’s my plan.

    As for poison oak, I’d hire a tree-service to remove it. And if your property is an organic one like mine, just tell the service that eradication must be chemical-free. Any tree service worth its salt should know how to remove poisonous vines the old-fashioned way: by hand!

  393. We now have a product that is a vinegar (20% vise OTC is around 8%) herbicide at the local feed store. Any experience or information? I swiped your OTC vinegar idea awhile back and it worked great. Thanks. Steve – South Whidbey Island

  394. Steve – Thanks for writing. I have not tried any vinegar which is stronger than 5% acidity. I’ll wager the 20% stuff is mighty powerful — be sure to protect yourself if you use it.

  395. Hi Kevin:
    so i have a garden but my little girl thought she was helping mr one morning a sprayed roun-up all over, the next day everything was dead. that h appen 2 weeks ago so i have read online and it says that i can replant 3 days after the product is spray, but i don’t want to re-plant and everything die again.
    what do you recomned me to do??
    i was going to go out there and take the first layer of soil and trash it and mix the remaining with new soil and add miracle grow and let it sit for a few days and then re-plant,,,,, help

  396. Maria – Oh, my goodness! Yes, remove as much of the top soil as you can, and then replace with fresh mixture.

    And please…if you are going to use Round-up (I hate the stuff)…make sure your little one can not get a hold of it. It is extremely toxic.

  397. Hi Kevin,
    I used to use a product called Iron Green when my plants yellowed. It had both iron and nitrogen, 15-0-0. It is no longer made. What can I use instead? Many thanks, Joanne.

  398. Mike Hylton (Sarge) says:

    Kevin, What is the best way to get rid of poison oak, ivy and sumac? I am highly allergic to it and it’s starting to grow like crazy in certain parts of my property. HELP!!!

  399. Hi Kevin, I have a question for you please … I have just purchased a property that has an old Yellow Trumpet Vine very tightly entwined in an old wooden sidewalk arch/trellis. The arch is scrumbling and its ugly. I want to tear it down, but I must save the old thick vines. Any ideas how I can re-train this lovely old vine to a new small pergola style trellis that I can sit a wicker love seat inside ? I`d love to send you a picture file, but I don`t know how to send you the attachment without an email address.
    Thanks for your time Kevin …. Lynn 🙂

  400. Joanne – I use organic cottonseed meal (Espoma sells this). It is inexpensive, and almost all-nitrogren, with an NPK of 6-2-1.

    Sargent Mike: If you’d like to remove those poisonous horrors yourself, the directions (at least for poison ivy) are here. Otherwise, contact a tree service — pronto. Any tree service worth its salt will know how to get rid of poison ivy, oak and sumac without resorting to chemicals.

    Lynn – You can save your vine, if you are willing to slowly and lovingly untangle as many of its stems as you possibly can. You can submit a picture (I’d love to see it) through my FB page.

  401. I am wondering I planted my garden and everything is doing really well, but my spinach only a few seeds have come up. Should I replant where they haven’t grow or should I wait a while longer?

  402. ciao Kevin just a question about ants. is there a way to ban them from my veg garden without any chemical stuff. I found a huge ants with wings nest after taking peas plants away and wanting to plant peppers. I have milled some blck pepper and spread around some lemons slices, if it works they will move to another bed, pooooor me! any tips?

  403. Lori – Sounds like your spinach seeds might be old. I’d perform a germination-test on them. If only half the seeds germinate, you’ll know to plant twice the amount you want. Can’t imagine there is a soil problem since some of your spinach grew.

    mada – Terro Liquid Ant Bait is organic — and supposedly very effective.

  404. grazie Lori, I’ll look if it’s available in Italy

  405. Kevin, my mint has developed black spots. What should I do? I have a HUGE bed of mint, with various kinds intermingled now, and the black spot seems to be spreading. Help! Do I have to rip out all the mint and start over or is there something I can treat it with?

  406. it was you Kevin answering aswell thanks a lot this site is so precious

  407. Vicki – Mint grows so quickly that it hardly seems worthwhile to attempt to salvage a fungus-damaged crop. I’d start over with fresh plants, and keep them confined to containers.

    Meanwhile, remove your existing mint, roots and all (what a job). Otherwise the fungus can spread to your new mint.

  408. strawberries. when is it the right time to make them root and create new plants?? they are running all around, shall I pu the ones with roots in little pots or wait till august?

  409. Hi Kevin –

    I have a garden for the first time ever and chose yellow squash and zuchinni because they are supposed to be easy. However, the fruit on the yellow squash get about 2″ long and start to rot before they even mature. I have a lot of honeybees so I think they are getting pollinated. Any suggestions?

  410. Mada – You can pot up your strawberry runners now.

    sue – A question for you: is the fruit rotting at its blossom end?

  411. Hi Kevin –
    yes, it is rotting at the blossom end.

  412. Sue – Probably your squash is suffering from Blossom End Rot, or “BER.” BER is not a disease, but a physiological trait. It is caused by a calcium deficiency, induced, more often than not, by improper watering (i.e., letting the soil get too dry, and then saturating it with water).

    Here’s what you can do: first, remove the damaged fruit. Then provide your squash plant with at least one inch of water each week. To provide calcium, crush some clean eggshells and then lightly dig them into the soil around your plant (be careful not to damage roots).

    And finally, mulch your plant(s). Mulch will help to conserve moisture.

    Hope this was helpful to you!

  413. thanks so much Kevin! I will let you know! I LOVE your blog!

  414. Are there any plants that woodchucks hate, that will deter those pesky critters from eating your tomatoes and other crops? I just lost my entire tomato crop to the local resident woodchuck :-((

  415. Vicki – Sorry to hear about your tomatoes. Woodchucks hate lavender, garlic, and onions. But if you really, really want to protect your tomatoes, you’ll need to set up a fence. The wire-mesh around my Kitchen Garden has protected my crops from all kinds of critters. And I live next to a forest.

  416. Theresa Jurevicius says:

    Oh Kevin! Another gardening question! I am so frustrated with!! First, I planted some adorable marigolds (as I have in years past) out front of my house and in the back yard. Out front “something” had the adacity to eat the entire plant leaving me simply stalk! I remember my neighbor down the road had the same issue in the front yard. All of my marigolds in the back yard are fine (knock wood)! The other question I have is what type of pest with eat up a Zinnia plant?? I have two plants (one in front and one in back) that totally dissolved 🙁 due to a pest. AND Hubbies cucumbers are under attack by a malicious striped bug. Any advice would be gratefully appreciated 🙂 Theresa (Your Lilac advice to me helped me save a Lilac bush from my parents house, which, of course, if very special to me!)

  417. What was the lowest temperature reached when you left your mini greenhouses outside? Obviously, cold enough for snow, but what was the low? And how long was your winter season? I’m in Stuttgart, Germany, doesn’t get much below 0F. Thanks for your time!

  418. Hi Kevin!

    I usually Bookmark your pages for future reference, but this time I forgot! You mentioned a formula to spray on roses that get mildew on them. I thought it was a percentage of milk and water, but it could’ve been vinegar! Not to get this wrong, I thought I’d ask you again. Could you please remind me?

    Thanks so much!

  419. Hi just wondering if you have any ideas on how to get rid of yucca plants. They are multiplying and growing throught our pavement!!!

  420. Theresa – Leafhoppers and spider mites can devour marigolds. A firm blast of water can keep these pests at bay. Zinnias can be devoured by rabbits and woodchucks. Planting lavender near zinnias will deter both of these pests. Slugs eat zinnias, too, but you can stop them by sprinkling on the soil beneath the plants either garden lime or iron phosphate. Iron phosphate is sold by most garden centers as “Sluggo.” Striped bug destroying your cucumber vines is the cucumber beetle. You may have to replant (there’s still time) in a different location. To prevent attack, cover the vines early on with a floating row cover. Remove the cover when the vines start to blossom.

    Katie – Over the years, my winter-sowing containers have endured sub-zero temps. But last winter was a mild one, when nighttime temps rarely dipped below 20 degrees. Seeds which require cold-stratification (alternating freezes and thaws) to germinate merely require a low of 32F. I think you are in a good location for winter-sowing.

    Lynn – here’s the article which details the milk and water treatment for blackspot and powdery mildew:

    Nella – I’ve no experience with yucca. My best advice is to contact your local cooperative extension — they will guide you through your yucca-eradication.

  421. watermelon and melon plants: some say you have to cut them after the fourth leaf to let them become stronger and produce many new “branches”. Mine are already running everywhere, shall i do it now???? I didi it in some plants but I’m not so sure it was well done, anyway I have bought some new plants from a nursery, so even if late I probably will eat something, Kevin what shall I do with the new plants?

  422. I’m growing copra onions for the first time this year. I haven’t had much luck with onions before but these are actually bulbing and I’m so excited. How do I know when to harvest and how should I store them? I tried to open your blog post on storing onions but got an error page instead. Thanks for all the great info on potatoes, freezing green beans and greens, growing and storing garlic and winter squash. I’ve made copies for my garden notebook. I blanched 4.5 pounds of green beans yesterday and need to do lots of kale today. More firsts!! Thanks so much for all the info you offer!

  423. Rayne Petruzzi says:

    How can I keep my grape vines healthy, I have them growing in the sun over my arbor.

  424. mada – That’s the trait of melons — the vines spread and spread! From what I’ve read, it’s not a good idea to prune back the vines, lest you accidentally cut the main stalk. Any damage to the main stalk can result in the death of the plant. But you probably already know this.

    New plants: Any chance you plant these vertically — say, along a wire-mesh fence? I did that one year (with cantaloupe), and the vines remained tidy. The fruit, of course, was very easy to harvest, too!

    Laurel – Sorry about the broken link. Here’s the info on harvesting/storing onions:

    Rayne Petruzzi – Are your grape vines suffering from some ailment? If not, you are probably doing every right. Otherwise, let me know which symptoms have developed.

  425. lisa trujillo says:

    hi kevin, how do I get rid of moles and voles in my flower garden?? I have used about everything. I have tried grub X, the poison worms, moth balls, mice traps and a few other things with no luck at all. they are eating and destroying my plants and lawn. Help!! There are tons of holes and tunels everywhere and I am at my witts end!!

    Thanks for the help!
    Lisa Trujillo

  426. Kevin, I have spent the last hour pouring over your blog soaking up as much info as possible. I am a rookie organic gardener, just bought our first house last year. I have ten tomato plants with 8 varieties, three cucumber plants and some lettuce. All is going smoothly. My question to you is this, do you have any tips for a first timer? I am proud to say i have garden fever and will be looking to make year round use of my veggie garden however possible. Zone 6a. Thanks!

  427. Hi Kevin –

    I wrote you about my yellow squash and you suggested the problem was blossom end rot to be treated with eggshells. Well, we crushed up our eggshells and fed both the yellow squash plant and the zuchinni. I am DELIGHTED to report that we have not had the problem again. Will keep feeding! And enjoying our abundance! Have to try the currant tart! Yum!

  428. Hi Kevin,
    I enjoy your weekly blog a great deal. Thank you.

    Do you know how to rid soil of scab? This is the third garden I’ve had it in and honestly it’s wearing a little thin. This garden, which seems to be full of rich, fertile soil, is also abundant with the scab virus. Even my poor radishes are affected.
    I wonder if ants are instrumental?

  429. HELP.
    Tiny striped cucumber beetles have invaded my squashes. I’ve hand picked but they are now hanging out in difficult areas (like in the flowers).
    What can I do before I loose the rest of my crop. I’ve read squashes don’t take kindly to chemical sprays…..and quite frankly neither do I.

  430. Deborah Mintz says:

    Hi Kevin
    I enjoyed meeting you and seeing your garden at the Conservancy open day. You were kind enough to identify my variegated goutweed–it is my first year in this garden and I am trying to identify everything before deciding what to keep and what to change. I have another mystery plant which I believe is an impostor–it looked important but all it has done is grow like a weekd and seed everywhere. I don’t know how to add a picture to this comment but I will send the picture to your email. Thanks, Deborah

  431. Kevin

    My tomatoes are starting to ripen but have the dreaded blossom rot. I know I read someplace about this but cannot find it. Can you help or is there no help?

    Thank you. I love your site. Lots of helpful information.

  432. Kris Lee says:

    Great website and I found great info on spraying weeds w/vinegar and will try this at home this weekend.
    I live in Western Wyoming and have a fern like weed growing all over my lawn. It does become a white flowered weed if left alone. I need to kill it and keep it out of my yard. How do I do that? Short of using something terrible that will kill everything it comes in contact with. We also have lots of pineapple weed in the lawn as well. Our lawn is nearly 3/4 acre so it is no small task to keep it up. I am constantly pulling thistle, and other invasive weeds….
    Now a question about Sedum. How do I keep it from taking over? I would like to dig it all up and then just plant where I want it. Should I dig it in fall? or early spring? Your help would be appreciated.
    One more comment for those that wondered what will kill weeds all over. I have heard and seen from a friend of mine, that newspaper will kill all weeds it covers and they don’t come back. Overlap pages of paper, keep it damp and in place for a season. Then till the soil and plant. Try it.
    Thank you in advance

  433. Amy Sorensen says:

    Hi Kevin; I need help! I’m looking forward to next year’s vegetable garden and would really like to plant seeds that I can harvest and repopulate the following year. Of course most seeds and plants sold in the stores around me produce sterile seeds to prevent you from doing just that. Do you have advice on how to get seeds that I can be confident will produce fertile seeds?

    I was inspired by your Monsanto seed list, but it’s also a little overwhelming. I brought it around town with me, even to the local nurseries, and had a heck of a time finding anything not on that list! I’m not from a big area, but gardening and earthy-living is a very popular way of life here so I’ll admit I expected better options.

    Thank you for your time, and sorry for the novel! 🙂

  434. Two questions, Kevin
    1. This is probably a very dumb one but: (a) can I seed just before winter sets in (ie around the same time when i put bulbs in) for spring/summer blooms and (b) if so, can i do it with both annuals and perennials? I live in greene county, NY…so zone 5b and was thinking specifically of:
    -black eyed susans
    -wildflower mixes
    -bee balm

    2. would lupine manage in this hot, muggy summer thing we have going on in NY state (90+ most days), or should i really not bother.


  435. and i also wanted to say that your blog is really so welcome. very helpful. thanks…

  436. lisa trujillo – Best plan is to contact your local cooperative extension — they may have some answers for you. Seems like you have some very determined tunneling critters!

    Amanda – What a sweet comment. My best advice for new gardeners is to keep reading this site. I try to offer all of the wisdom I’ve acquired over many, many years of gardening, and writing about gardening.

    Sue – So glad to hear the eggshell-solution worked out for you. Often just watering evenly (keeping the soil evenly moist) will cure blossom-end rot.

    Linda – I know of scab on plants, but not scab in soil. I’d take (or send) a soil-sample to your local cooperative extension. They can test it for you, and then tell you precisely what is going on — and how to fix matters.

  437. Hi Val – I’m not sure what you can do now to protect your plants, short of picking off the insects or spraying the foliage (which, like you, I am loath to do). But here’s what you can do to help matters in the future. In autumn, clean beds of all debris. This will discourage egg-laying. Then, when you set out young plants in spring, arrange cloth or paper cones around them. The cones will act as a barricade until the plants establish themselves. A floating row-cover is useful, too, but this must be removed once plants begin to flower.

    Deborah – It was lovely meeting you, too! Yes, send picture.

    Norma – You can cure blossom end rot by making sure the soil beneath your tomatoes is kept evenly moist. Crushed eggshells, lightly dug into the soil around the plants (be careful not to damage roots) can help, too, in the event your soil is low in calcium.

  438. Julia Rosenthal says:

    I just picked a bushel of tomatoes from the garden. While stewed tomatoes and sauce (gravy, for the italian folks) are good, do you have a recipe for salsa that I can preserve? There’s so many out there, and since this is my first attempt, I’d like a really good recipe. I have peppers, both sweet and hot from the garden, along with some jalepeños for kick.

  439. hi! 2 ?s: 1.) my MIL gave me softneck garlic now (late july). when do i plant the tiny cloves? and 2.) do you have a TNT way to make an affordable trellis for my peas? we have raised beds. TYVM!

  440. the reflourishing big strwberries I propagate and made make roots in little pots are ready to be separated from the main plant, and have already given fruits, hurrah, now what do I do with the wild oness, they do not go around but have grown into a thick bushy plant, how do I divide them, shall I wait till they go dormant?
    thank you for this forum Kevin and for your humor in answering our questions and sharing tips, I cannot but pass on to all my friends (with your kind permission)
    ciao from Italy

  441. Kat Emerick says:

    I have too many cherry tomatoes in the freezer that my cousin gave me and I wanted to know if I can make a sauce with them. My husband does not like Cherry tomatoes so I was hoping a sauce so he didn’t know it.

  442. Peggy Lupo says:

    Hi Kevin:

    Please, Please tell me where I went wrong! I wanted to grow potatoes badly, but because of Hip and knee replacement last year it was going to be a physical challenge…. so, I bought
    potatoe bags, quite large, vinyl bags with drainage holes and side velcro windows for harvesting or peeking. Well I have twelve of the bags going, the plants grew beautifully, up the bag and have now died off for harvesting. We are so disappointed…. not more than a dozen potatoes in the bottom of each bag, mostly golf ball size. I expected a huge yield.
    Costly too, $16 per bag plus fresh vegetable garden mix of about an addditional $100. I started 3 eyes per bag as instructed, used ” sure start” and fed them once with fish emulsion/kelp. I did notice I didn’t have a lot of flowers. All the potatoes were at the very bottom, it appears they never produced up the vine as we covered them with the soil.

    Again….we are soooo disappointed! Can you shed any light on this issue?

    I shall watch for your response!

    Thanks so much!

    Peggy Lupo

  443. Diane B. says:

    Hi Kevin,
    My husband and I are originally from the Hudson Valley and return occasionally to visit relatives. I’ve looked throughout your blog and can’t find where you are located. We’d love to attend one of your events or just tour your beautiful gardens. Where are you?
    Diane Bunting

  444. I absolutely love your tip for getting rid of weeds with vinigar… however I am still trying to kill off the neverending bamboo.. I have dug and dug, pulled tons out only to see a few more shoots come up everywhere else.. I have now put all my plants in temporary pots in that area… do you think I should soak the area with vinigar, will it work on bamboo I dont see? I hope to replant my flowers. — plus do you have any tips on killing lawn moss, my roofer sprinkled powder laundry soap – will this work on the lawn…thx

  445. Hi Kevin,
    I was just wondering if you had any tips on how to start a rose from a cutting. I have tried the rose starter that you buy at stores with no luck. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  446. Nancy Morgan says:

    Forgive me if I’ve missed it somewhere on your site, but can you give us a list of your favorite catalogues to buy bulbs, seeds, etc ?

  447. Heather Caouette says:

    Hi Kevin, I have an abundance of serano, jalepeno and banana peppers this year. Any ideas on a good way to save them for use over the winter?

  448. Kevin:
    Using White Vinegar for weeds–do you use it right out of the bottle or mix it with water?? If mixing it–how much vinegar with one gallon of water?

  449. I followed your directions to mulch with newspaper and then mulch on top in one bed earlier this summer. Now I realize there are jonquill bulbs and some other bulbs under the mulch. the paper has not rotted so I wonder if I should remove it where the bulbs are so they will come up next spring. I am located in Memphis TN. This bed gets morning sun.

  450. Lisa Williams says:

    As a beginning gardener, I have a few questions…
    .1. When do I dig up Canas bulbs? I bought some in the Spring and they are fabulous but don’t want to risk ruining them for next year.
    2. Any special hints on Crocus? I planted a “fairy path” of 180 bulbs in my tree lawn but when they die down in the Spring, do I just mow over them?
    3. Do I have to dig up tulip bulbs every year? I got 152 free ones from a retirement community (they have an annual tulip festival) so I know these have only bloomed once.
    4. Can you save geraniums? Again, I got 75 free plants from a retail farm store and most of them just needed a little TLC. It would be nice to replant next year but have no good light to bring them into the house. Thanks!

  451. Cheryl Lynskey says:

    Help! I have a gopher that has killed at least 3 large plants in my garden. How do I get rid of him before he makes more of a mess in my cottage garden! Thanks!

  452. RobertE. Nebergall says:

    Kevin any experience with hydrophonic tomato plants. Frost is just around the corner and we are completely spoiled with garden fresh tomatoes. Any suggestions for tomatoes and herbs growing in the winter. We can have a fair bit of snow in northwest NJ. Thanks Robert

  453. I’m looking at my luscious, blooming tomato plants that have produced what seems to be a beginning flush of fruit, but wondering if there may have been a way to get them producing earlier in the summer. (ie. more tomatoes) The vines are enormous, very leafy and I was thinking that if I had pinched back some of the vines, they wouldn’t be so tall and maybe I wouldn’t be looking at so many small, green tomatoes that need another month to grow. I bought the plants as early as I could, planted them deep in the soil and they started producing fairly early. Maybe I just need summer to be 6 months long?

  454. I live in Central Oregon high desert and we are having problems with mushrooms in our yard. I am continually pulling them and was wondering if there is something we could use to help rid us of this problem.

  455. Hi Kevin,

    Jesica from Anchorage, again… We just had our first frost, and one light dusting of snow, this past weekend (been here 19 years, and stil not used to winter starting in Sept/Oct!). I have a number of things that need to be dug up and overwintered (gladiolus, canna pink, tuberous begonia), and most of the instructions I can find say to store them in an unheated (but not freezing, has to be around 45) location. We don’t have a special storage space that meets these requirements, it’s either outside or inside. Our garage is the coolest place, but it’s still heated and warmer than 45 degrees. Do you have any recommendations?


  456. Deb Nelson says:

    Kevin, I have a question. I planted some Artichokes on a whim this year that I spotted where I buy my plants, . They have grown quite well but they did not produce. They are labeled as “tender Perennial”. I am in zone 6. Can you give me pointers on how to protect them over the winter? I didn’t get them set out very early in the season so I don’t think they had enough time to produce. Let me know if you think I can overwinter them and possibly get some tasty Artichokes next year. My coworkers were all excited when I said I planted some and made me promise to share if they produced. I had no idea you could grow them here. Thanks for any advice you can give me.

  457. Maxine Meach says:

    How does one condition Boxwood for wreath making for the holidays?
    Thenk you Maxine

  458. Kevin hi! Maybe I missed it in your article but in what month do you plant potatoes?

    Thx michele

  459. Susan in MI says:

    Hi Kevin,

    Today I took your “parlor” tour and was delighted at seeing the photo of Prudence. I have one very similar but her name is Anna Hopkins. She is my great, great, great grandmother who was widowed with a bunch of kids when the Union Army commandeered her plantation during the Civil War. She moved to town with her children, but after the war, took the train to Washington D.C., and was paid restitution directly from President Lincoln. She spent some of the money on her own portrait and the one of her husband, Tarleton Laughlin who was killed when a tree fell on him during a storm, was painted directly from a group photo (that I also have) from the time he was in the Mexican-American War. Can’t but wonder what history your Prudence may have.

  460. Hi Kevin,
    I live in Wyoming and am well in to an indoor winter vegetable garden. I have cuttings from my summer tomatoes that are doing very well. My other seeds are sprouting also, carrots, bush beans, edamame, spinach, lettuce and some herbs too. My problem(s). The tomatoes have aphids, it isn’t bad, but I know they can get bad quickly. Since there aren’t any ladybugs to take care of the that, what can I do? Also, I am getting those nasty little gnats that often get into the house plants, is there a remedy for those? And finally, I have noticed that the top of the soil is getting this fuzzy white mold looking stuff on it, I assume from the soil being moist and no wind to really dry it out. I used organic vegetable soil from a garden center. The planters are in a very well lit window where they get plenty of sun, but just no outdoor time. Suggestions?

  461. I live in north Georgia 30 miles from Tennessee. We are moving to east central Florida and I’m wondering if I can take my hydrangeas to plant there. I’ve only had them for 1 year, a lace cap and a mop head, and I’m so sad at leaving them here.

  462. This is the first season that i grew a large garden of tomatoes because i have a small local market for my heirloom tomato seeds.
    i live in southwest Missouri where this summer was very hot and dry. In mid summer i had very few tomatoes but the foliage was so thick I couldn’t see very many. Then one day something ate all the leaves off my five foot high variegated. They looked like Christmas trees with red and green bulbs all over them. They did much better very quickly so i got busy and pruned all the shade leaves off my Missouri pink love-apples and suddenly they were producing thousands of big fat green tomatoes. Then an early freeze came and now i am stuck with over a hundred pounds of green tomatoes in all stages of development that I had to harvest and bring in. It took us three days just to clean them. What do i do with so many and will the seeds be mature enough to be viable?

  463. Jesica – To store your tender bulbs and rhizomes over winter, you might want to invest in a small refrigerator that you can keep in your garage. You could use this same refrigerator to chill hyacinths and other Dutch bulbs which can be forced into early bloom.

    Deb Nelson – I have no experience with artichokes. But from what I’ve read, they are hardy only in zones 7-11 (some sources say 8-11). So your plants may not prove perennial for you even if you mulch them heavily.

    Maxine Meach – To condition boxwood for wreath-making, spray the foliage with anti-transpirant, or “Wilt-Pruf.” You can find Wilt-Pruf at most garden centers.

    Susan in MI – Regarding Anna Hopkins, what a story! Wish I knew something about “Prudence.”

    Eileen – I admire your indoor-veggie-growing experiment. But as you have discovered, veggies can be tricky to manage in a house. What pests they invite! I don’t know how you can safely eliminate gnats. But you can certainly control aphids with a weekly blast of water. And if the pests and problems become too much for you, don’t be afraid to toss everything onto the compost pile.

    Margi – From reports I’ve read, both lacecap and mophead hydrangeas can be grown in central Flordia. See

    Hi Abe – Someone did a test with seeds collected from a green tomato. The tomato was allowed to ripen indoors. And guess what? The germination rate was terrific. Here’s the report:

  464. oh oh, just learned from you that spreading ashes from firestarters on soil is a problem- what do we do now? will removing it work? we put it where i plant morning glories- is it hopeless?

  465. Hi marti – Firestarters, as well as Duraflame and most other man-made firelogs contain paraffin or other petroleum-based products (check labels). Consequently they are not fit for garden use. At this point, I wouldn’t bother removing the ash from your morning glory bed. Just don’t add more petrol-containing ashes to your garden!

  466. Kevin, made this with dinner tonight. It was soooo good! I didn’t have pesto made up so I cut some fresh basil and chopped it up in the squash mix. I didn’t think about adding garlic till later. Next time ;o)

    Pretend you are eating pasta, while saving the calories. Spaghetti squash takes the place of pasta, while pesto, mozzarella, and Parmesan cheese give depth to this casserole. It’s hard to believe this recipe needs only 5 ingredients. Use your favorite pre-made pesto sauce from the market or whip up your own pesto sauce in the food processor or blender.
    Prep Time: 5 minutes
    Cook Time: 10 minutes
    Total Time: 15 minutes
    Yield: 6 to 8 servings
    1 medium spaghetti squash, cooked and shredded into strands
    1 Tablespoon olive oil
    3/4 cup pesto sauce
    4 ounces smoked or plain mozzarella, shredded
    1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

    Place skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add olive oil and cooked spaghetti squash. Stir in pesto with a fork. When spaghetti squash is heated through, add mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses and stir. When cheese begins to melt, remove from heat and serve hot.

  467. Kevin, what is the Monsanto, Now in a Bag all about? I am anti GMO. If this has been addressed earlier, I am sorry for not catching it. This is a subject I am passionate about.

  468. Hey yall, I really need your help. I live about 30 miles south of the Dallas/ft. Worth area, in some 11. I’m trying to get a blue spruce to grow here and can’t seem to get them all the way thru summer. They may live till august and die. Is it due to bugs, or what. I treat the soil, and have sought help from my county extension agent that was worthless, I have read all I can on them, but what can you tell me for my area. I have seen some here, and when I stop and ask how they got them started, they always say the tree was there before they got there. So, if you can assist me in any way, I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you all so much, donna

  469. Donna – I don’t know why some blue spruces have survived for more than one year in your zone. As a rule, they need cold winters. Consequently my advice is to seek out a different tree. Perhaps Cunninghamia lanceolata, the “China fir,” would be a good substitute for you.

  470. Hi Kevin, my red peppers this year produced very well but the skins were tough. I live in Southern Ohio…it was very hot and dry. I tried to keep the garden watered (ground watering) the peppers did not produce until late but then the outer skin was very tough. They were juicy and sweet but just the outer layer of the skin was too tough to eat. Any suggestions? Thank you. I learn much from you,,,,thank you for all you share!

  471. Joanne Wine – I’m not sure why your peppers had tough skins. But I suspect the culprit was the weather. Perhaps a pepper must develop a thick skin in order to conserve moisture. Weather was hot, dry and horrid here last summer too. Let’s hope for better next year, okay?

  472. Kevin did hurricane Sandy affect your home or gardens in any way.. sure hoping not… sending blessings… love you web site I’m planned on using it to start a raised bed garden for our new home come spring of 2013…

  473. Hi Kevin!

    I love reading your weekly newletters and it brings new knowledge and inspiration! Thank you!

    I have been trying to plan a garden for my back yard for 1 year now and am overwhelmed by the options that I have yet to start. It is a partial shade (old pines) with a few sunny patches & we live in Iowa – zone 4-5 I think??

    Our home was built in March 2011 and is “cookie cutter” surburbia! I want my lawn, garden and landscaping to be my refuge! Do you have any thoughts or helpful hints on starting a garden from scratch?

    Thank you,

  474. Julie Sefton says:

    Hi Kevin,

    Can you give me some tips on preparing Lambs Ear for Wintering over? Mine has always done alright…but I feel I could do better with it. And is it possible to get it to bloom again after it’s initial Spring Bloom? Any and all tips and pointers is appreciated.


  475. Hi Donna – Thanks for asking. No storm damage here — we were lucky. Have fun designing your raised bed garden!

    Hi Josie – So glad you enjoy the newsletter. Here are some of my thoughts about landscape design — use them as you see fit: My Random Thoughts on Garden Design.

    Hi Julie Sefton – Perennial Lambs Ear is a once-a-year bloomer. No special winter-care, but here’s a tip: if you really love this plant, why not consider winter-sowing its seeds?

  476. Kevin, can we assemble spanikopita (phyllo dough wrapped around a cheese filling) a day ahead and then bake it? I spelled this phonetically so please don’t laugh!

  477. Hi Margi – Yes, you can make spanikopita (you spelled it correctly!) a day ahead and then bake. After you form the triangles (or whatever shape you’re doing), arrange them, single layer, in a plastic bag and refrigerate. You can even freeze them. No need to thaw before baking.

  478. Thanks so much for the answer about the spanikopita. We are taking it to Nashville to my sisters (4-1/2 hours away) for Thanksgiving so it will work much better that way.

  479. Mary Ellen says:

    Kevin-I adore you. I admire your style, your taste and your ENERGY…quite inspiring!
    Here is my “Ask Kevin”: the subject is the bar/hospitality setup. I have a small house, and I want every square inch to be Fab & Stylish ( yet cozy & homey !). Currently, my bar supplies are set up on a tray on the sideboard. I don’t have lots of different items: martini makings, sherry, cognac and scotch, as well as four awesome brilliant-cut old-fashioned glasses which comprise my entire collection of barware. I have it on the sideboard because I don’t want it to take up any precious storage space. Can you give me some ideas to make this display chic and stylish, rather than just a boozy display of bottles on a tray? =) What does your set-up look like? Have you seen other examples that you admire? What advice can you offer? Thanks!

  480. Kevin, we have a 1.5 acre organic vegetable garden and would like to know that by using the vinegar as a week killer over the whole area, how long would we have to wait before we can plant our vegetable seeds to avoid harming the growth of the seedlings?

  481. Diane Kratz says:

    Hi Kevin,
    I’m trying to figure out how best to take care of the amaryllis that I was given. It spent all summer outside getting green and it looks like it even split and now what do I do? There are no shoots for blooms and some of the leaves are browning. It is indoors right now. I was looking for your amaryllis growing guide but I can’t find the link for it to show me what to do next. Thanks for your tips, very helpful!

  482. Hi Diane – Here’s the amaryllis link.

  483. Hi Mary Ellen – An opulent bar set-up? I like how you think! My thoughts, based on bar arrangements I’ve designed in the past:

    First, decant all on-display liqueurs into crystal or cut-glass decanting bottles. (Avoid lead crystal — it poses a health-concern). Use a different-shaped bottle for each liqueur, i.e., the cognac in a nicely-curved decanter like this one; the sherry in a straight-sided decanter, etc.

    Next, set the decanters on silver trays. The trays needn’t be sterling — silver-plate will do. Place your old-fashioned glasses on a round tray, with a decanter in the center.

    And finally…keep everything in tip-top shape. The silver must always gleam, the decanters must always sparkle.

    Well, I hope this was helpful to you in some small way.

  484. Hi Terri – I don’t spray vinegar in places I wish to plant, so I can’t give you an absolute answer. But please keep in mind that regular white household vinegar is nothing like Round-up. Vinegar kills top growth only. This means annual weeds are wiped out immediately. Perennial weeds will require repeated spraying until their roots give up.

    Whenever I have to deal with a large, weedy patch, I smother all the growth with newspaper. Applied thickly, newspaper will eliminate weeds for one season, and sometimes, even longer.

  485. Renate simsa says:

    Dear Kevin,

    I am in zone 5 and would like to start vegetable seeds ealy with your method.

    I like peas, all kale, chard, mesculin salad mix, salad, mustard greens, collards, parsley, potatoes. Fava beans, bush beans and any others you can think of starting with your method. Is there a time table what to start when or can i start all these in December? Our over the thumb planting date is Labor Day, some years 1st of May.

    This year I missed out on your suggestion to collect leaves and shred them due to a new hip and broken knee cap now, so I will have to buy leaf mold in the spring, anything I need to watch out for if I buy that?

    Oh, is there a faster wsy to post a question other than go through all the comments? And on some websites you get the daily comments forwarded to keep up to date. I love that arrangement of daily forwards, because I have little time to go to the web.


  486. Hi Renate – I rely on this timetable for winter-sowing plants (I’m in zone 5-b): What to Winter & When.

    Not sure if you can buy leafmold. I think its the kind of thing you have to make yourself. But here’s an idea: if you can’t shred the leaves on your own, hire someone to gather and then mow-over the leaves. The same person can pile the shredded leaves somewhere on your property. Then you’ll have the material when you need it.

    I read all questions which are posted on this site (although sometimes I do not have time to answer them all!). Maybe a “subscribe to comments” feature is in order…I’ll work on that!

  487. I just found out about the dangers of storing bulbs in the fridge w/ apple storage. Theyve been together for about 6 wks. I just moved the bulbs down to a closed drawer. The apples remain in big huge open bags. No other produce stays in that fridge. Will those bulbs be doomed?

  488. Hi Mina – Your bulbs could very well be doomed, because ethylene gas emitted by ripening fruit can sterilize the bulbs. But let’s hope you’re not too late. Either move the bulbs to cold storage elsewhere…or remove the apples from your fridge. And keep your fingers crossed!

  489. I am re-reading your posts on winter-sowing. I live in zone 7B and am most concerned about planting hearty veggies, tomatoes (I want lots of tomatoes) and berries. I got some raspberry plants when a family member was passing through from MI and I need to know when I ought to plant them as well. Also, the area I want to plant them in is red hard clay, will that be acceptable for raspberries, or should I plant them in regular dirt, with the rest of the garden? Thanks!

  490. Do you know a reliable but safe remedy to get rid of fungus gnats in indoor plants without removing the plant from indoors?

  491. Hi Jenn – Raspberries will perform best if they are planted in well-draining, highly-fertile loam. You can vastly improve your red clay by digging in lots of shredded leaves and other types of organic matter. A raised bed filled with excellent soil is another option for raspberry-growing.

    Sharon – Fungus gnats are a royal pain. A product called “Gnatrol” will eliminate them.

  492. Hi Kevin!
    I have been force blooming bulbs for the past two years now, but for some reason, this year, I am not having much success.

    The water is turning foul smelling and it looks as if there is some mildew or something growing in there aside from roots!

    Any idea what or why this is going on and what to do about it?

    Your words of wisdom will be most appreciated!


  493. Hi Kelly – I saw your comment under “Forcing Fun” and left a response there.

  494. Dear Kevin:

    Let me start off by letting you know how wonderful I think you are: I love your receipes and gardening tips and I enjoyed the tour of your home very much. The way you write makes me feel like I am in the kitchen with an old friend. Keep up the great work!

    I have a hydrengea question: My hydrengeas, who are at least 10 years old, would give great big blooms w/vibrant colors at first, and in the past three years have been very small and the colors (blue, pink and purple) are not as vibrant anymore. I prunned them once and I think I damaged them. I am in Los Angeles. Do you have any tips for me?

  495. Hi Lucy – So glad you enjoy this crazy site.

    Regarding your hydrangeas, the smaller, less-vibrant flowers could be the result of decreased fertility in the soil. More advice (including when to prune) in this piece from Orchard Nursery & Florist.

  496. Hi Kevin,
    I am interested in my garden becoming weed free forever! I though I could achieve this by massive mulching, with large amounts of leaves and grass clippings, the grass clippings of course being pesticide free, as i am part of an organic community garden. My question is, should I have not begun this until spring? I’m concerned that the thick layer of leaves I applied this fall might serve as a breeding ground for disease and/or pests, how would you suggest I go about doing this? (or is it already too late)!? PS I live in Mid-Michigan

    Thanks so much!

  497. Hi Kevin,
    Even though I live in Scottsdale, AZ and our gardening is a much different animal than that of the east coast, I love your website and I enjoy the recipes, home decorating tips, and gardening practices that apply here. You are a wealth of info…how does one person learn sooo much? But gratefully, you pass it on!! Our soil sucks to say the least but I have a proliferous above ground plot organic veggie/herb garden. In two 4 X 6 planters, I have a season full of fabulous foods at my fingertips. I mix 1/2 and 1/2 organic soil and organic compost and I don’t get weeds at all. The marigolds and nasturtiums keep the bad pests away. I do have a question though…my dwarf orange tree had only 3 oranges this year and the leaves have been somewhat crinkled. I occasionally deep water it and have fertilized with organic manure and another citrus fertilizer. Do you have any idea what would make the leaves crinkle and what might help the fruit production? Have a very Merry Christmas!!!!

  498. In one of your recent emails you told how to wash windows, a formular and also a Windex window scrubber. Could you please repeat your advise? I have checked your recent newsletters and am unable to find it. Please give a reference. Thank you so much. Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday!

  499. I never knew about winter sowing until I started reading your site. I have gotten four house-holds to get excited about it, in Connecticut and Massachusetts. We are trash-picking for jugs, etc, on recycling day and making plans. One of your links was broken. I’d love some more advice about annual vegetables, especially about varieties. We are mostly planning to go hog wild with alpine strawberries.

  500. Hi Kevin,

    I thought that I had seen a post in your archives about african violets that have curved and don’t have a straight stem anymore, but I can’t find it. I thought that you pulled off the leaves and planted it deeper. Was this on your blog? If so, could you point me to it. If not, is this the way to handle this problem?

    Thank you!

  501. Hi Tina – I apply a thick layer of leaves on all my veggie beds in the fall, and have never had an issue with pests/diseases. Leaves are nature’s compost.

    Hi Deb – Thank you for your kind, kind words! As for your crinkly-leaved citrus, my best advice is to contact your local cooperative extension. They will be familiar with the issue, and will likely have a cure for you to try.

    Donna – Here’s my window-cleaning story.

    Hi Sonia – So glad to hear you are planning to winter-sow. You can read all of my articles on this topic right here.

    Meg – You are right — pull off the lower stems and replant the neck deeply. More details here (be sure to read the comments, too) and here.

  502. Hi Kevin,

    I hope you still get messages from comments made here. I must tell you your website is now on my top 5! I keep talking to everyone about you 🙂

    I live in the centre of Spain near some mountains (that is Madrid but not the city, the outskirts are surrounded by mountains up to the north). We have nice temperatures as you probably know here, between 95ºF during summer and 15ºF during winter (those are mas and min temperatures).

    I have my own difficulties with growing any type of plants as I am a slighlty new gardener. My garden is small but I’d love to keep it beautiful. But there’re another inhabitants of the house who refuse to help me. We are the proud owners to 4 cats, 2 of them Norwegian Forest cats, who behave let’s say more or less ok towards our plants and flowers. The other 2 Coomon European are such naughty boys! A girl named Ada (after Ada Lovelace) and a male called Turing. The girl keeps wanting to use my pots as litter boxes, and the male loves to use a special corner of the garden as a litter box as well!!! It doesn’t matter what I use! Lemon, pepper, garlic, repellent….anything!

    Any ideas? I run out of ideas, and I’m already tired of planting new plants (already growned from a garden centre) and seeing them destroyed by Turing. My bulbs, the ones in pots, have now a special net protecting them to avoid Ada to urinate on them.

    Thanks a lot for reading!

  503. Hi Ruth – I can appreciate your dilemma! Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to un-train cats who are accustomed to “powdering their nose” in a particular spot. Placing prickly objects on the ground (holly branches, thorny rose branches) are said to be a deterrent. Motion-activated sprinklers can work, too.

    If you find a good solution to your problem, kindly let me know what it is.

    My own 2 cats are not allowed outdoors.

  504. I’m going to try winter sowing for the first time this year. Depending on the zone map I’m in either 6 or 7…right on the line in WV. I want to sow cucumber, zucchini, squash, tomato, and sweet pepper. Is this too early to sow? Do I need to wait longer?

  505. Hi Shannon – The plants you mentioned are heat-loving annuals. Sow them in March or April, just as I do. And if you’d like to get a “feel” for what you can winter sow right now, then be sure to read my post “What to Winter Sow…& When.” Meanwhile, have fun!

  506. Hi Kevin.
    Want to put glass shelves in kitchen window with plants or herbs, for year round. I get HOT sun all day, any suggestions OR do I pass due to too much sun

  507. Hi Keven, I found your site tonight through Pinterest. Love it. We recently purchased 17 acres at Lake Norfork in Mountain Home Arkansas. Eventually, we plan to build a Home there. In the mean time I want to begin to plant Trees, and perenials and work on paths through the woods to the lake. The soil there is not great. Lots of rock and red clay. Some top soil but not much. The property has spectacular views of the lake. Gentle slope to the water. I would love to build raised beds for flower and veggie gardens. Any ideas on how best to garden on a hill and what I might do with less than perfect soil conditions would be greatly appreciated. Suggestions for building a walking trail (300 yards -+) would be Great. I Love your fresh ideas!

  508. Joan Sullivan says:

    Hey Kevin,

    I am just starting my winter sowing in zone 5a (NH) and I ran across another site that seemed very picky about the soil. I used Miracle Gro Seed Starting Potting Mix. I have not planted any seeds yet, so if I need to add something or buy something else, let me know. Is there something else I should use?


  509. TONI KITCHEN says:

    Thank you for the information on the poison by bayer. i will keep my eye open for it so I don’t use it. I prefer using organic methods anyway. Also I have quite alot of foxgloves, lupin snapdragon and any non double flowers I can find for our garden. Hubby does the veggies mostly and i do pots and flowers.
    I try to buy those flowers that are for the bees, and had I room and not so close to neighbors, I would strive to have a hive, but alas, best left to those who have the room and we provide what we can for birds and bees to come and visit.
    Thank you Kevin for your wonderful articles. You are so appreciated.
    Toni Kitchen

  510. Joan – I’ve tried all kinds of potting mixtures for winter-sowing, and they all work. The only requirement is that the medium be well-draining. You can use a sterile seed-starting mix, but you certainly don’t have to. Fine textured, sterile mixes are only necessary for indoor seed-starting projects. Have fun!

    Toni Kitchen – So glad you plant for the bees. They need all the help we can offer them!

  511. I wonder if you could share an easy soup recipe with me. The recipes I’ve seen so far on your site have been so wonderful. I live in Tucson, AZ and believe it or not it gets cold here in the winter……I’m not the greatest cook and I recently bought an immersion blender so I can try and make some good soups….Would you have a potatoe soup recipe you could share with me or a zuchinni or brocoli soup recipe? 🙂 Would sure appreciate it! Jan

  512. Hi Kevin,

    I gave my violets makeovers yesterday and they look great! I had them in pots that were far too big, and after their trim, I put them in smaller pots that look like they have much better fit. I also tried sticking a leaf in some dirt and put that in a ziploc to see if it I can propagate. The bag stays closed the whole time? Oh, and as for fertilizer – I like to use Plant Tone on my plants, is this ok for violets or should I get something else. I like to stick to organic and not chemicals.

    I have another question for you today. I have one of the fancy impatiens that I brought inside (or possibly a fancy begonia, I’ve lost track), and within the past week or so, the leaves started wilting and the stem feels, not quite mushy, but soft. Now the leaves have completey dried up and shriveled off. Is this plant completely toast, or could I cut it down to the tuber and see if it restarts? And do you know what may have caused this?

  513. To Ruth:

    I used to have a cat that used my pots for a littler box and I ended up putting masking tape with the sticky side up across the tops of the pots. Kind of like a lattice pattern. This totally stopped him from getting in the plants. Thought I’d pass it on in case it would work for you.

  514. Amy Henderson says:

    Hi Kevin,
    I heard you speak at NYBG LDSA recently — thanks for your ideas for “Princely Gardens on a Poet’s Budget”! Afterwards, we chatted briefly on wintersowing Thyme for patio cracks, etc. I have a few more questions and instead of emailing directly I thought — why not? — maybe someone else might be interested so here are my questions on your garden forum…

    1) I’m about to work on a design for friends in Ghent NY which I believe is your neck of the woods? Seems to be listed as zone 5A, much colder than I’m used to, plus the site is wide-open field with a big house on top of a hill and just beginning of windbreak plantings, etc. I’m working on an entry planting which is actually somewhat protected by the architecture… Please brainstorm and dream for me here — What are some plants that strike you by their WINTER “warmth” i.e. something that seems alive and not shriveled, something that has rich winter color or texture, something with animated movement or even late winter / early spring fragrance? I need to come up with some winter HAPPINESS for your zone.

    2) Please suggest nearby nurseries (wholesale or retail) that are knowledgeable and / or (hopefully “and”) have great plants. I’m going to want to work with some good suppliers since I’ll be specifying plants from long distance and leaving the homeowners to do the actual purchase & oversee the planting.

    It was interesting at our meeting of landscape designers, that most of the interest was in gardening hints, i.e. wintersowing and leaf-chopping. I am getting ready to do the wintersow thing myself. What have you done this year?

    THANKS, Amy

  515. Hi Kevin –
    with your help we had a very successful first garden! thank you! I live in Michigan, zone 5, and am looking for a fast growing, native hedge (5-8 ft high) to plant to screen us from our neighbors. suggestions?

  516. Kevin,

    I’m winter sowing for the first time this year so thanks for all the info.

    My question,however, is unrelated. How do you keep your garden watered? Drip systems, super thick mulch, any secrets mixed into the soil?

    Just garden dreaming in January!


  517. Hi Kevin,

    My husband and I are moving into a new home in a few months – a large house that was built in 1890. It is still in fairly excellent condition but the past few years has been rented out to college students and I would like to give pretty much the entire interior a fresh coat of paint. While I don’t know that we will stick to period accurate colors, etc., I would like to start with that as inspiration and work from there. Do you have any recommendations for how to go about making these decisions? I have loved seeing your posts about your home and the decorating choices you and your partner have made.

    Thank you!

  518. BTW I don’t really know what style the house is. It reminds me of english cottage style… it has one main cross gable and most of the house has wooden siding and then the front entry is enclosed/gabled/with an arched door and rock facade. I know the small town its in has a lot of tudor style architecture.

  519. Joan Sullivan says:

    Hi Kevin,
    I have been prepping my jugs and planting my seeds for winter sowing. However, once I got a bunch ready, overnight i found the tape was not sticking (Duck brand duct tape) and everything was coming undone. It took me a couple of days to get some Gorilla brand duct tape and retape the jugs – but, alas, a few jugs have already sprouted in the meantime.
    Should I assume these will die if I put them out now?
    Today is a warm day, should I chance it and put them out anyway?

  520. Meg – If the defoliated plant is a tuberous begonia, it has most-likely entered dormancy. But if it is a variety of Impatiens wallerana, then the plant is definitely a goner. Lots of things can cause the loss of foliage — a hot, dry atmosphere, a sudden change in temperature, and/or spidermites are possible culprits. As for African violets, they will bloom best with a low-nitrogen, high-phosphorous formula. I use Jack’s Classic 10-30-20, but it is not 100% organic.

    Hi Amy – I had sooo much fun speaking with you and your group at The New York Botanical Garden. Regarding the property in Ghent, several plants/shrubs come to mind. But I’m afraid I’d need more information. For instance, are you referring to a “foundation planting” or a pathway that leads to the front door? Feel free to email me: kevin(at) Use the symbol @ for “at.”

    Sue – In my experience, Thuja ‘Green Giant’ provides super-fast privacy. I used it to screen out the neighbors along the eastern side of my property. See these posts for pictures/stories: Need Privacy? Plant Thuja ‘Green Giant, ‘ and Evergreens for Privacy Screens. Please forgive the lousy photography — these are old posts.

  521. Hi Nicole – Nice to read that you acquired an old house in good condition. As for paint colors, best plan is to look at books that show late-19th century interiors. Then visit your local paint store, and ask to see a fan-deck of Benjamin Moore’s “Historic” shades. Warm tones (not bright white!) were typical of the era. Keep me posted on your project, okay?

  522. Hi Joan – Seeds which germinated indoors are not likely to survive the outdoor temps just now. Consequently, my advice is to re-plant. You’ll end up with far-stronger plants if the seeds are permitted to sprout outdoors.

    And what’s up with milk jugs and/or duct tape this year? I had the same problem as you with some — though not all — of my containers. I suspect the milk companies are using a new type of non-stick plastic.

  523. Hoosier John says:

    Hello Kevin!

    Just checked out the link to find out gardening zones. Just in case you weren’t aware, there is an updated zone map, just released last year. Most areas have “advanced” a zone warmer. My location in Central Indiana went from 5B to 6A. I don’t know if your zone website can be updated, but it would be of great service to your extensive fan club!

  524. Hi Kevin, I am a faithful reader of your blog and I am always impatiently waiting for the next installment! Thank you for such a beautiful resource. My question is regarding winter sowing. I would love to get started however….neither my husband or I drink milk or bottled water. I have asked several people to save their jugs for us but no one remembers. Can you recommend any other kind of container that might do the same thing? Thanks Kevin – til next time!

  525. maryanne butler says:

    Hello, thank you for your helpful site. I have a question re: African violets. What causes their leaves to curl downwards?

  526. Hi Hoosier John – That USDA Plant Hardiness Zone link is something I’ve been trying to update for the past year! Fortunately I have a new tech person who says he can fix it.

    Hi Kate – Restaurants, coffee shops and recycling stations are 3 great sources for gallon-size milk jugs. Otherwise, feel free to improvise winter-sowing containers. The only requirements are that the containers be transparent enough to admit sunlight, and deep enough to hold 2 inches of potting mixture. The little tubs that hydroponically-grown Boston lettuce comes in is ideal. Soda-pop bottles will work, too.

    maryanne butler – Hard to say without seeing your plants. But if the light that reaches your African violets is too strong, the plants will attempt to shield themselves by curling their leaves downward.

  527. Robbie Varnell says:

    Can I also freeze the stems of the sage and parsley that I roll up cigar like to freeze? Just wondering if I could roll them up inside the leaves and let them be a part of the “cigar”.

  528. We live in northern Connecticut and are considering digging out a root cellar under our deck. You have mentioned your root cellar. Could you do an article on this, with pictures? Thanks.

  529. I’m in growing zone 6b and am wondering when to start tomatoes using the milk-jug-technique. I noticed you started the gypsy tomato in January but will wait until April to start others. What planting dates would you recommend for 6b for tomatoes? I’m planting Sun Gold Hybrids and Virginia Sweets.

  530. Robbie Varnell – The herbs will be easier to use (and easier to roll) if you remove stems. But if you want to leave the stems intact, by all means do so.

    H Pinson – I’m afraid that a photo-tour of my root cellar would give certain readers nightmares. It has been here since 1826, when the house was built. It is quite dark, and very, very creepy. I suspect the root cellar you ultimately create under your deck will be far nicer than mine!

    Roxann – Tomatoes seem not to care when they are sown. As evidence, just consider the “volunteer” seedlings that emerge in compost piles and elsewhere outdoors. Consequently you can plant them in the depths of winter, or wait until April. They will sprout when nature tells them to. And that is when the soil temperature in the milk jug greenhouse reaches approx 70 degrees. I always hold some seeds back…just in case.

  531. Hello Kevin,
    I just found your wonderful website and was wondering if you could use whole wheat flour in the Naan recipe you posted? I didn’t post over there because it looks like you haven’t been over there since last June. I try to do whole wheat whenever I can but love Naan so may have to just eat it as is if it won’t work.

  532. Hi Regina – I’ve made excellent pita bread with whole wheat flour. But for Naan, I’ve always used unbleached, all-purpose flour. My advice is to first try the Naan exactly as described in the recipe. Then experiment with 50/50 white/whole wheat. Hope you’ll report your findings. Feel free to post under the respective recipes — I’m always notified when a comment comes in (although I’m sometimes slow to respond!).

  533. My husband gives me roses each Valentine’s Day and sometimes I will dry them out or on occasion I have just let them die and thrown them out, not my favorite thing to do. Is there a way that you can root the stems to create a bush before they die? Just curious.

  534. Hi Liz – I’m afraid you’ll need to keep drying your roses. The cut stems will not grow roots.

  535. Laura Dowrick says:

    Hi Keven.
    I planted Kale, Brussels SPROUTS and Radicchio as you said in a milk cartons 1/7/13 and nothing has come up yet. I don’t know what I did wrong.
    Love your web site.
    Thank you,

  536. Laura Dowrick – Where are you located? None of my seeds have sprouted yet, either, but it is still winter here.

  537. Mary Ellen Hern says:

    May I mail you a pic of my winter-sown seeds? How do I do it? Thanks. Mary Ellen

  538. Hi Mary – Would love to see your winter-sowing set up. You can send a pic to kevin(at) (use @ symbol instead of (at) )

  539. Hi Kevin,

    I’m new to your site and already love it! I live in Boulder, CO, which is semi-arid, in a Condominium complex that has wood chips along the concrete sidewalk in front of our townhome-style buildings. On the opposite side of the walk is green lawn. We have a lot of very windy days here and the wood chips spend most of their lives on the grass instead of where they were intended to live. I’m on the Board of the HOA and have been tasked with finding an alternative plant to the wood chips. Do you know of an evergreen perennial ground cover that can withstand the full sun?

  540. Hi Ellie Lake – I’d plant a hedge of boxwood ‘Winter Gem’ there. I used this shrub to border my Rose Garden. It requires water only during its first season in the ground. Thereafter, you simply clip it once each year to maintain the size you like. It’s a great, no-care shrub!

  541. Marta Magaw says:

    Can a window garden face any direction? How much sun should it get? If you had to list the directions in order of preference, what would they be?

    All of my windows have heater/AC vents under them (figures). If I get one of the magnetic things that directs air out and parallel to the floor, rather than straight up, do you think that would be sufficient protection?


    Marta in NC
    (love, love! your gardening info. have got 4 of us here, including my mail carrier, trying the winter sowing)

  542. Janice Gans says:

    I loved to garden and have nine raised beds..Last summer I planted several zucchini and squash plants..I had squash borers and cucumber beetles everywhere as well as an army of ants. I purchased an organic product called Pyganic but it didn’t seem to help..Was last year a tough year?? Should I give my beds a rest? I try to not plant in the same bed the following year. I thought I might try planting in earth boxes this year….Any suggestions??

  543. Janice Gans says:

    I loved to garden and have nine raised beds..Last summer I planted several zucchini and squash plants..I had squash borers and cucumber beetles everywhere as well as an army of ants. I purchased an organic product called Pyganic but it didn’t seem to help..Was last year a tough year?? Should I give my beds a rest? I try to not plant in the same bed the following year. I thought I might try planting in earth boxes this year….Any suggestions??

    Thank you

    Janice in Me

  544. Hi Kevin,
    I saw an article on your site about using mulch from the local landfill. Ours has had mulch in a pile since last October. Would this mulch be “seasoned” enough to use in my garden areas this year? Or is it really just good for walkways?

    Thank you.

  545. Hi Kevin,

    Today I rescued my huge hydrangea (about 6 feet around) from an insidious sumac invasion. Unfortunately, in order to dig up some of the root masses of the sumac, I ended up damaging some of the inner canes of the hydrangea. Most of the canes are quite tall – about 4-5 feet, except for where I squashed them, leaving a sort of gap here and there in the overall circular shape of the shrub. My question is: should I prune back the canes a foot or so in order to encourage new growth to fill the gaps or should I just leave it and see what comes back? I haven’t been able to positively identity what sort of hydrangea it is, so if I do prune it, I might be risking losing the blooms for a year or two while it recovers. I realize its a rather messy affair, but it was really a choice of either attempting rescue or giving it up to the weeds.

    Thank you!

  546. Kevin,
    I want to grow those really sweet miniature multi-colored peppers that you can buy in a bag at the supermarket. Can I save the seeds out of a pepper or are they hybrid and not produce. What are they called. Can I winter sow them. I live in Indiana at the southern tip of Lake Michigan.

  547. Kevin
    What if I put those little peat pots inside the milk jug for winter sowing? Then the individual plants would be separated when ready to transplant.

  548. Sonnie Croft says:

    Kevin – First , how can you find time to do any gardening when you answer so many questions?! Second, if I jug-plant Brussels sprouts, can I expect any “sprouts from spring- planted plants in my garden? My sources all say to plant in mid to late summer. Also, can I really pre-plant carrots? Again, my seed sources all say to direct sow. Wish I’d found your website 6 months ago. I know, there’s always next year. Thanks!
    PS. I’m in Ohio zone 5.

  549. Kevin, How do you feel about nonstick cookware? I hear the gases the coating chemicals emit are harmful.

  550. Marta Magaw – A window garden can face any direction. As for choice of exposure, this depends on what you wish to grow. In general, flowering plants need full, direct sunlight (such as an east of south window affords) to bloom well. Foliage plants can flourish in a bright north window that receives little or no direct sun.

    Air conditioning and artificial heat are horrible for plants, because they dry the air out. If a heat vent or radiator exists below the window, and you can’t bear to turn it off, then place the plants on a 2-inch deep tray filled with pebbles. Add water to the tray almost but not quite to the top of the pebbles. The water will released blessed humidity as it evaporates. As for air conditioning, definitely direct it away from the plants. In summer, try to give your plants a vacation out of doors. More info here:

    Janice Gans – Always a good idea to rotate your crops every year. To mitigate the damage of cucumber beetles and squash borers, use row-covers. You can easily produce a hoop house like this one. Remove the covering once the plants start to flower. As for ants — they are drawn to sandy soil. Add shredded leaves to the bed, and you your ant problem will be probably be reduced rather dramatically.

    Maureen – I’d give your landfill-obtained wood chips a full year to decompose somewhat appreciably before using it as mulch. In the meantime, you can certainly use it for pathways.

    Lorraine – Believe me, I know what it’s like to have to remove sumac from the center of a beautiful shrub. Good for you for getting rid of that awful invasive, and let’s hope it doesn’t come back! Meanwhile, go ahead and prune the shrub to the shape you desire. If it is a peegee hydrangea, you won’t lose any blooms this summer. Otherwise, you might have to wait for another year to see blossoms.

    Jim – I’m not familiar with the peppers you described. As for placing peat pots inside a milk jug, you could certainly do this. But you don’t have to. I can tell you from years of experience that winter-sown seedlings are so strong and healthy they recover in a flash after there roots have been cut of mangled.

  551. Sonnie Croft – I’ve jug-sown Brussels sprouts in April, and have received terrific harvests from October through December (Brussels sprouts benefit from autumn frosts). Lots of winter-sowers have planted carrots with success. One gardener I know planted them in cell packs (one seed per cell – what a job), and then set the cell pack inside a jug. In zone 5, mid-May is the best time to “winter”-sow carrots. They won’t sprout until the soil reaches a fairly warm temperature.

    Brigid – I have only 2 pieces of non-stick cookware. One is a baking sheet; the other a tiny skillet that I use exclusively for making crepes. Otherwise all of my cooking is accomplished with cast-iron skillets, and enamel pots such as those that Le Creuset sells. I thoroughly dislike Teflon — it gives off a toxic gas when heated to a too-high temperature.

  552. In one of your blogs about raised bed gardening, you stated to use ‘raw’ linseed oil and not boiled. I’ve been to several places and they all have boiled. Now ‘they’ all say it’s good to use on gardens, but since you say it’s not, I didn’t buy it. My question is why raw?

  553. Hello Kevin! First, my compliments and thanks for your site; I’m a newcomer here, and have been having great fun reading past posts while planning my garden adventures for the coming year!

    I’m wondering if you have any suggestions for decorating, both outside and in, for a specific event I’m planning for. You often mention entertaining, and describe the most lovely things! Our close friends are to be married in the third week of May, and as they’re both from other cities, my husband and I have volunteered to host at our home the events (rehearsal dinner, etc.) that their families might otherwise have done. We’re in Zone 2b here, so May can be a bit unpredictable weather-wise, but hopefully we’ll be able to be both outdoors on the patio and by our pond, as well as indoors. Our friends have a love of both springtime, as well as for music… themes I’d like to incorporate if I can. I was wondering about using springtime bulbs indoors, but am wondering if I’m too late, as it’s almost March!

    Any ideas, insight or wisdome would be much appreciated!

  554. Boiled linseed oil has chemicals added to speed drying time, which can leach into your raised bed soil. Try sourcing it from a local paint store.

  555. Hi Kevin,

    I’m in a rural area that is traditionally zone 5 but I just looked it up and now supposedly I’m zone 6a. I do know that my garden is colder than the ones in town so probably 5b? Anyway, today is March 1. Can I still try and start those suggested plants on your Jan/Feb list for wintersowing?

    Also, I was looking for advice on what kind of soil to use.

    Thanks! I love your site.

  556. Brigid OBrien says:

    Thanks Kev. I’m throwing my nonstick in the garbage. I rely on your opinion.

  557. Hi Kevin!
    I have been saving used coffee grounds and eggs shells all winter in hopes of finding out where to best use them. I have roses, lilacs, and a vegetable garden. Would any of these benefit from the use of either?

  558. Hi, Kevin! My Cameo Quince is blooming nicely for several years, but it never produced fruit. Could you give me any clue, what goes wrong? Thank you!

  559. Hi Deborah – You were right not to buy boiled linseed oil. Please see Marjean’s comment (#560).

    Hi Meghan – Spring bulbs would indeed be lovely for a late-May wedding. However, I’m afraid it’s too late for you to start them. Dutch bulbs (tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, etc.) require a 12-week rooting period in cold, dark quarters, followed by another month of sun and warmth. But don’t despair — your local nursery should have plenty of blooming Dutch bulbs for sale in May. They should also have in-bloom azaleas and primroses which will compliment your bulb-decor. Then there are lilacs…

    Carla – Where you are, early March is not too late to winter-sow most seeds. As for soil, any commercial potting mixture will do, as long as it drains well. You do not have to use a sterile seed-starting formula for winter-sowing.

    Brigid – Good for you. In my book, Teflon coated cookware is a no-no, unless you are willing to handle it very carefully.

    Tina – Coffee grounds and egg shells are terrific for gardens. You can spread the coffee around your roses, just as I do here. Egg shells contribute calcium, and also act as a slug-deterrent. If you have a shade garden, you can spread the shells around your hostas. In the veggie garden, place them around your tomato and zucchini plants.

    Hi Nadya – I saw your comment under my Flowering Quince ‘Cameo’ post. You’ll find my response there.

  560. Hi Kevin! I think I accidently emailed you as well ;). I live in zone 4 and would like to try winter sowing, but am having a difficult time getting all my ordered seeds in the mail and obtaining enough milk jugs. How late can I winter sow the majority of the perennials you’ve listed for cold strat and winter sow here in Minnesota? Does it help to throw the seeds in the freezer and/or start seeds in cells in my dark, unheated garage? Last, I have a shelf/bag “greenhouse” kit that I bought thinking it would jumpstart winter sowing. Would that be helpful in any way? I love your site and advice! Thanks!!

  561. Hi Kevin,

    Do you ever transplant your winter sown seedlings into nursery pots? I’m in zone 4b and wondering if it would be worth transplanting some of my tomatoes and other veggies before I plant them in my raised bed.

    I also ws some perennials… and wondering if it would be worth transplanting some of those too.

    Thank you in advance!

  562. Veleda Nelson says:

    Hi Kevin:
    I have an area (8’x 12′) in my back yard that used to have great sun exposure. Over the years, however, the trees in the surrounding green belt have grown so large that there is almost no sun in the back yard area. I would like to plant something edible in that area, but don’t know might will do well in an area of only 1-2 hours of sun. Can you suggest something for me?
    If no veggies, do you have any other ideas for utilization of this space.
    We are in the Seattle area.

  563. how do you store your onions? The one you pictured with the shrimp dish is beautiful.
    thank you.

  564. I can’t wait to try this!!! I’m wondering if cider vinegar works as well or does it have to be white vinegar?

  565. Hi, I am really enjoying your site and picking up so many wonderful gardening tips. I live in the California foothills and about 4″ under the bad topsoil is solid rock. I am putting in garden boxes this year , how deep should I make them? I would like to grow tomatoes and squash but am worried about drainage and root space. Thanks for any tips.

  566. Hi Kevin. This year I got a little anxious and seeded my basil already. The winter mornings here in Connecticut is in the 30’s, but in my lean-to greenhouse it is in the low 40’s at the lowest and warms in the 60’s by 10:00am. Is it ok if I put my basil (Italian sweet and Ruby basil) in the morning before I go to work? They’ll be in 40’s and 50’s for about 3-4 hours before the sun warms up the air. Thanks!

  567. Hi Lariza – If you are still experiencing freezes and thaws in Minnesota (and I’ll wager that you are), then it is not too late to winter-sow perennials that need cold- stratification. Have fun with your project!

    Hi Sarah – I do not transplant my winter-sown seedlings into individual pots. The seedlings are strong, they are itching to grow, and even when their roots get severed at transplanting time, they recover in a snap. More details here.

    Veleda Nelson – My woodland garden receives very little sun. Perhaps you can grow some of the same plants as me.

    Brenda – Here’s my onion-storage routine.

    Barb- I have not tried apple cider vinegar on weeds. Because it has the same amount of acidity as white vinegar (5%), I can only assume that apple cider vinegar would be useful for weed-frying, too.

    Helen – Veggies will flourish in a bed that is 8-12 inches deep. Mine certainly do.

    Allan – That’s a tough call to make. Personally, I’d wait until nights are in the 50s before transferring the indoor-born basil seedlings to a cold greenhouse. Alternatively, you could transfer just a few of your seedlings to the greenhouse as a test. If they survive the cold, then move the rest to the greenhouse.

  568. Hi Kevin,
    I have a flower garden that has nothing but bulbs in it… Gladiolus, and different Lillies… I must have gotten a bad bad of soil a few years back and now I have TONS of weeds that spread over the entire area and make it impossible to keep weeded… Do you have an idea how to solve this without harming the bulbs or do I need to pull them up and start from scratch…. Please help it once was a thriving and beautiful garden now it looks horrible! Thanks for any suggestions!

  569. Toni Kitchen says:

    Hi Kevin. I love your site here and have used some of your recipes and suggestions. I am posing this issue to you in hopes you can find for me a hopeful bee solution.
    I visited a bee farm last fall on the east coast of England and found out they and many other bee keepers feed their bees on sugar water. I was flabbergasted. I am writing to ask if you know of anything I could do, maybe a honey water dish I could put out, or some kind of good solution for them to feed on.
    I plant loads of bee loving flowers and sometimes put out fruit for them and the birds.
    What can you tell me?
    I love your site and read it regularly.
    Toni Kitchen
    [email protected]

  570. Hi Kevin,
    I am planning a garden in my sister’s yard and she asked about fall flowering shrubs. She is zone 5B.
    She has also expressed an interest in boxwood for a different area. Do you prefer American or English boxwood. By the way, I rooted some of my own boxwood last summer and they are thriving. Unfortunately, (for her) she wants to get bigger to begin with plants and have the “screen” there more immediately.


  571. I think I made a big mistake.
    I just had some old hemlocks cut down because they were attacked by aphids and I was afraid they would fall on the house during all the bad storms that we seem to have nowadays. Their trunks were pretty though because they were covered with English ivy. Now I have a VERY empty space in the shade on the side of the house.
    What kind of evergreen do you think I could plant there in the shade Kevin? A lot of hostas, bleeding heart, lily of the valley, ivy and Virginia creepers are growing, but now no vertical greenery such as trees anymore. I want to cry!

  572. I am new to gardening and want to make sure I do it organically with non-GMO seeds from the very start. I am moving my family to a whole foods diet and want to can as much as possible to avoid the chemical laden grocery store food. I saw your earlier post about Monsanto and will work with the list provided to avoid GMO seeds but I have to admit I am rather overwhelmed. Can you help me understand heirloom and hybrid seed options? If I stick with those (even if bought from a place like Ace, Target, Home Depot etc.) will I be avoiding GMO seeds? Thanks for any info you can share.

  573. Sherry Kanoski says:

    Hi Kev. Your pictures all show such gorgeous greenery and gardens. My plight is that on our .6 acre city lot, I have a large area between sidewalk and road that is all gravel, and a huge section (25′ x 200′) all along one side of the lot that is pea gravel. Former owners did this. No plants are on this area. It slopes slightly. Half of this area is open to our labrador retriever. I have tried every herbicide on the store shelves (mostly glycosate) and still the weeds come thru. I had an estimate to scoop all the gravel, put black soil and grass seed, but it was way too expensive. How can I treat this area. What would you do with It???? thank you!

  574. Hi, Just wondering if it is beneficial to heat potting soil in the oven before starting seeds to make sure soil is disease and bug free. I read where they say that the soil should not get hotter than 180 and to cook in oven for 30 minutes maintaining this temp. Thank you.

  575. Michelle says:

    Hi Kevin, I see that the slug/snail deterrent page is “not found”. What is your recommendation for getting these guys out of my garden? They ate more strawberries than we did last year, and ruined more of my ground cover than anything else. I live in northern California and my gardens are all in raised brick beds.
    The gooey slug n snail bait works well but I don’t feel comfortable with my dogs around it.

  576. phineasfong says:

    Hi Kevin, First, thanks for a great blog that i found looking for African Violet growing hints (my new current obsession)! Next, i’ve been buying & gifting Amaryllis bulbs for V-day (and keeping one for us)! The bulbs are good quality and give magnificent blooms the first year. I’ve tried “restoring” to bloom the following year, and haven’t had much success. Tried outside, inside, and with fertilizer (diluting to 1/2 strength) once a month. Am I missing some trick you might have? Thanks much in advance!

  577. Barbara - Shreveport, LA says:

    Let me say I like cats, I am allergic to cats but not to the extreme, I have had house cats in the past but we found out I feel much better when they live outside.

    My problem is the neighbor feeds the neighborhood cats, last count 8 and for some reason they like to come across the street and potty in my flower beds, is there any way I can deter them, I really don’t like working in the beds after they have been there, they don’t smell nice and the flower beds by the 2 main doors have a cat urine smell.


  578. Hi,
    I read that you can spray vinegar on your garden if you have pests but I didn’t know it was to be diluted!! I’m desperate to find out if I am going to lose my broccoli and cauliflower along with jalapeno’s I sprayed my carrots and I can see that they are basically fried because they were so small. The leaves are dry and white! Can they survive?? The plants where just starting to grow buds!! Please help me!
    Thank you

  579. is it too late to winter sow? I live in a 5b zone.

  580. Patricia says:

    I noted you cleaning your hardwood floors in the Music Room with dilute vinegar/water. I do the same on my solid white oak LR and red oak DR. My question is do you then go over and dry your floor? Or do you allow it to air dry? Thank you so much.

  581. Lynda Failla says:

    Hi Kevin!
    My question is about Bearded Iris, I have a number of them but every year lately they send up beautiful foliage but no flowers. Any suggestions? Also they have traveled all over my yard in the last few years, how does this happen?
    I will appreciate any info you can share.
    Thanks, Lynda

  582. Hi Toni – I’m shocked, too. But apparently feeding bees sugar-water is sometimes necessary in order to preserve the hive. More details via Google, including this article.

    Huguette – Your hemlock story made me weep. Unfortunately, shy of hemlocks, most evergreen trees — those I’m familiar with, anyway — want full sun. If I were you, I’d replace the hemlocks with broad-leaved Rhododendrons. These will give you the vertical element you want. Although the leaves will curl up on frigid days, they will remain green year-round.

    Hi Annie – Although Seminis (owned by Monsanto) sells seeds for the home garden, the seeds are not genetically modified. My favorite seed sellers (who have no business dealings with Seminis/Monsanto) are listed here.

    Hi Sherri – I had a similar situation when I rented a duplex apartment in Queens, NY. The backyard had been covered with gravel, the landlord’s idea of “maintenance-free gardening.” Ha! I raked out the gravel, and planted a gorgeous garden there. As for your situation, here’s what I’d do: First, hire high-school students to rake out every trace of gravel and pea stone. Then cover both areas with a weed-blocking layer of newspaper. Finally, cover the newspaper with shredded mulch. When the mulch breaks down, you can plant either grass seed or vinca minor in the beds. Alternatively, you can cut right through the newspaper and plant flowers or shrubs in the two areas. In any event, the cost of removing the gravel will probably be less than what you’ve already spent on herbicides!

  583. I just decided to spring/winter sow some veggies and herbs! we will see how big they are by the time I can plant. If they are big enough, they will go in the garden. I’ll let you know! Thanks for all the great posts!

  584. Could a person use old bricks that are crumbling into pieces as a cover around plants in yard I was using them as a border now they are falling apart. They are a beautiful color but not sure if they would be good for a weed barrier.
    Thank you Kevin for all the great ideas I have gotten from you website.


  585. Hi Kevin, I would like to know the shelf life of unplanted seeds. I have too many in my packs and wonder if I can use them next year too.

  586. Lisa Groon says:

    I read your post about not using seeds that benefit the Monsato seed company. I was originally planning to use ‘spirit’ and ‘snackface’ pumpkins for planting this spring (I paint dozens each fall but have never planted my own). Do you have other suggestions for similar hybrids that come from a more ethical company?

  587. My husband brought me back a potted Confederate Jasmine from North Florida. Down there it covers an entire gazebo – too much to hope for up here with our short season. Wondering – could I grow it as a trellised porch plant and let it go dormant over the winter in a controlled environment i.e., unheated area of the basement?

  588. Barb – If you are starting seeds outdoors in containers (i.e., winter-sowing), there’s no need to sterilize or pasteurize the potting soil. However, for seed-starting indoors, you should certainly use sterile (or pasteurized) mix. You can buy such a mix, or create your own via the “cooking” method you described.

    Michelle – In the past I’ve used garden lime as a slug deterrent. These days I rely on iron phosphate, which is safe for both people and pets. Iron phosphate is sold as “Sluggo,” and it really works!

    Phineasfong – Based upon my own experience, amaryllis will bloom reliably each year when the bulbs are treated this way:

  589. Barbara in Shreveport – You’ll find lots of possible cat-deterrents via a Google search. I don’t know if any of them really work. My own two cats are not allowed outdoors. But cats that belong to others (or are stray) have caused more damage in my gardens than rabbits, woodchucks, and deer. Be sure to wear gloves when working in your garden — cat feces can be lethal to humans.

    Sherry – By now your vinegar-sprayed veggies have either survived or died. I use common white vinegar (not mixed with water) to kill weeds in garden paths — but never in garden beds.

    Sue – In zone 5, it’s not too late to winter-sow most perennials and annuals, including veggies.

    Patricia – I let my ancient wood floors dry naturally (air-dry) after mopping with vinegar/water.

    Lynda – Bearded iris will refuse to bloom if its rhizome is buried too deeply. Plant the rhizome with the top half exposed to air.

    Lori – I could be wrong, but I don’t think crumbling brick would work well as a weed-barrier. I rely on newspaper to smother weeds in garden beds.

    Caryn – You’d be amazed at how long seeds can last, especially if they are stored in a cool, dry, location. I always test my old annual seeds this way:

    Lisa – To find possible substitutes for the two pumpkin hybrids you mentioned, I’d contact Baker Creek or Seed Savers Exchange.

    Leslie – My advice: Keep your Confederate jasmine in a pot, and let it grow outdoors in summer. In autumn, cut the vines back, and move the pot to a sunny but cool window indoors. I’ve had great luck growing Jasminum polyanthum this way. Alternatively, you can take stem cuttings in late summer, and grow these on as houseplants over winter.

  590. Kevin,
    I guess I didn’t really ask the question right……..will the brick hurt the plants if I use them in and around the plants I have most are perennials, cause I still have to weed those every year. Most are bulb plants, like tulips star of david and other plants that spread so newspaper doesn’t work well and I was worried if I finished crushing the bricks up more to add that splash of color that I liked….
    Thank you so much for your answer.

  591. Lori – Got it. Bricks won’t harm your plants.

  592. Ginger Nowakowski says:

    Hi Kevin,

    You recently said you can grow pachysandra in full sun as long as you keep the roots cool and moist. You said it was very important to mulch. But once my bed was established and dense how would I then mulch around it.


  593. Hi Ginger – The pachysandra in my rose garden grows in full sun. I mulched the plants only until their leaves completely covered and shaded the soil.

  594. badger gardener says:

    Hi Kevin,

    With temps hovering in the 40’s , is it okay to divide perennials? I want to divide my sedum and heuchera.

  595. Looking for a recipe to use a lot of bunching onions. Would welcome any suggestions

  596. Rebecca Madon says:

    Hey Kevin,
    Love, love your site. I can’t wait until Sunday to see what you have new.
    Here is my question. My Aunt has a lot of grape hyacinth’s growing through out her grass, and she would like them taken out. Personally I think they look great and they will be gone soon anyway. Do you know of any way to get them out besides digging out each one?

  597. Hi badger gardener – Yes, you can divide sedum and heuchera now.

    Hi Nancy – I often use the white and tender green part of bunching onions in place of diced or minced regular onions. To see recipes, type “onions” into the search box at the top of the right-hand column on this site, scroll down (past the Google ads), and you’ll find lots of recipes that require chopped or diced onions.

    Hi Rebecca Madon – I’m with you — I think grape hyacinths look beautiful in a lawn. But if your aunt wants to get rid of them, the bulbs will have to be removed.

  598. Naomi Shelton says:

    Hi, Kevin. I finally got out today and began some cleaning up of the yard. I have a lilac bush, some little spirea bushes and a Rose of Sharon in front of my house that I believe need prunlng but is this the right time to do that? The spireas whlich I planted two or so years ago have become sparse and with no blooms to speak of and I tho’t maybe that’s because they need pruning to encourage fullness. Pruning is most confusing to me even tho’ I have read some books on it. They all say something different! Anyway, just wondered what your practice is. Or anyone else’s who reads this. Thanks.

  599. Hi Kevin, I read about using vinegar to kill weeds. My question is that on another web site I read that you can kill insects on your plants with diluted vinegar. Is this true and can I use it on my vegatables or will it kill the plants. If true what are the proportions you suggest or what is another natural way to kill pest eating my vegatables.


  600. Dave Payne says:

    Hi Kevin, I’m new to your site and it’s great. My question is about the linseed oil for preseving the wood on raised beds. The stores around us have only boiled linseed oil and the talk about useing for the preserving wood on the package but suggest diluting with paint thinner. I would think the paint thinner is used to make the linseed oil penatrate the wood and then evaporate. Is there still some contaminates in the boiled version? What about just a water repelant product? Thanks

  601. Hi Kevin,

    We just built raised bed planters yesterday and we are ready to fill them today. Question: If I put newspaper on the bottom and fill with soil, will they drain when it rains or will I end up with a big muddy mess? Will the water drain out the bottom through the newspaper? Thanks.

  602. Hi Kevin,

    Have recently found your site and I love it already. I do not have a green thumb and kill most everything. I’m going to try newspaper mulching, mainly for weeding purposes. What do you think about rubber mulch? I like the look and the it seems more permanent than having to continually replace organic mulch. Good? Bad?

  603. janetbertinot says:

    I just read your tip on using vinegar for weeds. But I noticed this was not on garden soil surfaces.
    I am already using my hoe, but do you have a similiar recommendation for de-weeding a plot of land I am planning to grow vegi’s in?

  604. Does the vinegar make the soil sterile, can you plant right away? My husband wants to use it in his garden boxes. What do you think?

  605. Wendy Haslam says:

    Kevin I’m wondering if the undiluted vinegar will eventual effect the ecology of the soil.

  606. Hi Kevin,
    Another question for you, how do I get rid of wandering onion in my yard? Or what can I use them for?


  607. Brigid says:

    Hey Kevin, What is the best place to get mulch and what is the best kind? I want to avoid mulch that has bugs and of course, I will avoid red mulch (gag). Some local person just tried to charge me $65 per yard. What do I look like.

  608. Juli Straub says:


    I’d like to use the vinegar idea for my weeds that have taken over my garden area. i have not planted yet. Can I spray the weeds then plant in a couple of weeks without damaging the soil for the new plants?


  609. Irish Mike says:

    I’m having a very successful spring with all my indoor starts. Tomatoes are spectacular. I had a good start to my Melampodium to the multiple leaf stage but have recently had a dieback and can’t figure it out. Definitely not overwatering. Any thoughts?

  610. I have Rhododendron’s in my yard and some look good and some look bad but none look great! I don’t think I great soil in my yard (lots of clay) but there must be something I can do to help them grow. Please let me know any suggestions. Thanks!!

  611. Hi All,
    Can anyone tell me how to naturally kill …”alley palmtrees” i don’t know the real name for them but they are notorious for growing in alley’s and begin as a small hollow stalk….within a year or two it’s big as a tree?

    Last year, i cut it down. but it’s back…with several babies now growing around it. HELP 🙂

  612. Kevin,
    Asparagus…my family’s current topic of stubborn debate. But again we stubbornly debate all farm/garden issues.

    Last year we planted crowns (in ground garden), and mulched with straw. Now here lies the debate:
    1. Are we on year 2, since crowns and not from seeds (we chose crowns, due to zone 6 drought in spring)?
    2. Do we feterlize at all? (Prior to planting our soil was pushing ph 7.0, naturally high in limestone)
    3. Should we leave straw on up through year 3?

    I’m sorry this is so lengthy, but I have found so many different “rules” even from my own extension office.

  613. I have two rhubarb plants that refuse to grow “up” but rather grow horizontally and not lengthy at all. One of these was a transplant and one was in a gallon pot from a nursery. They are both planted in raised garden beds. This is year two for both of them. Any clues as to why I cannot be successful with what is described as the simplest of plants?

  614. Janice says:

    Any suggestions on how to get rid of gophers?

  615. A question, Kevin. Can bearded irises be moved at this time of year? I’m in zone 5, and my irises have plenty of leaves, but have not yet set buds. I’m hoping that digging them up with a lot of soil intact, they won’t experience too much shock and will bloom this year. What do you think?
    Many many thanks for your help,

  616. Corliss says:

    Hello Kevin, I have a question similar to #614. My garden is quite large. I am wanting to try the vinegar in the garden. Can I spray the weeds today and plant in a week or so? How long will I have to wait to plant my vegetable garden?

  617. Kevin,
    Last year, for the first time, I had a problem with aphids on the burning bush and mock orange. I made a soapy solution to spray on them, but it wasn’t as successful as I had hoped. This year, these bushes barely have their leaves out and already the aphids are starting to do damage. We usually have a good number of lady bugs in the yard (I sure have enough of them in the house over the winter), but not enough to keep the aphids at bay. Any suggestions for a better spray or something else I may not have tried yet?
    Thanks for a great resource.

  618. Thanks for the info on the onions.

    Another question, I’m growing Fritillaria meleagris for the first time (I love them!) and thought they were bulbs (are they?). I was reading in a few places that people grow them from seed. If I want them to naturalize, can they also re-seed? Confused about whether to remove the seed pods now that they are finished.

    Also, are there any sterile Rose of Sharon so that they don’t pop up everywhere?

  619. Hi Kevin: Quick question re: moss. My vegetable garden has a layer of moss over it this spring (with quite a few weeds poking through). i’ve been hand weeding the bed and removing the moss layer. I plan to add a thick layer of compost to the bed before tilling it (promise, last year for the rototiller-going to have defined walkways and mulch heavily in the vegetable growing areas from now on!) . Wondering if I should add some wood ash, or is it most likely that the moss is a symptom of heavily compacted soil. Had stomped around on most of the bed during fall clean up. Haven’t had a moss issue previously.

  620. Hi Kevin,

    I had to move tulips in the spring couple of years ago. I planted right away, I figured that the first year they wouldn’t do much of anything. I was right now it’s the second year…..I have only a half dozen or so that bloomed…….Most have come up with a very big leaf but no flower. Could you tell me was that is and how long before I will get blooms. They had lots of blooms before I moved them.


  621. Hello, Kevin,

    Just discovered your terrific website. Do you have any suggestions for getting rid of the Bittersweet that is starting to invade our semi-wooded area? There are lots of nice wild flowers growing there, plus wild honeysuckle bushes and forsythia on the edges. The bittersweet seems to like to twine itself very tightly around anything in its path.

  622. Hi, Kevin, I love your newsletter and read it religiously every week. I really appreciate your efforts. My question is, I have about a dozen day lilies in containers and I would love to transplant them into garden beds. Have I left it too late for this season? In other words, if I transplant them now will that stop the blooming process in its tracks? Thanks! Rachel

  623. Linda K. says:

    I left my parsnips in the ground over winter. How long do i dare leave them in the ground now that the snow has left? They are sprouting, but are delicious.
    Also i did the winter sowing and the only thing that sprouted was spinach. I didn’t water them after i put them out as i figured the snow would keep them moist . Was all new seeds. We are zone 3 and had a tough winter. Am dissapointed. Linda K.

  624. Hi Kevin

    I’m in Gibsons BC Canada and I moved into my daughters house lower level Sept 2010
    The upstairs is rented out as my 3rd daughter is in Toronto, one of the first things I did
    was take out approx 12 feet of Laurels on my neighbours property it wasn’t easy because
    they were huge, used a Bow Saw a Reciprocating Saw and then my friend used his chain saw
    then carefully removing underground roots. My neighbour had never gardened before and
    had a lady to come in to cut grass etc but her joy at having her land back was wonderful.
    My friend also took out 2 Cedars and a Weeping Willow and there was no pond near by.
    I haven’t stopped for almost 3 years and will send you some pictures of the results using
    my small resources and a lot of manual work. I posted on your someone says about the
    problem that we need to resolve because I didn’t know of this site if you need pictures Elizabeth can send photos of the situation that could be resolved with your help. I also planted a wild garden on the Ocean when I was living there and it is coming up beautifully in spite of not being there very often.
    The horsetails are really causing problems though.

    Thank You for your wonderful Web Site


  625. we have 3 apple trees that we planted about 3 yrs ago, what should we spray them with to keep the bugs away?

  626. Beth Wilson says:

    Kevin, I’m trying again to get the oriental poppies out of my flower bed. It has taken over and is killing everything else. I was told to dig up what I want to keep, till the rest of bed up good and douse with roundup. Wait a few weeks then replant. I was going to ask if rock salt would work since it is cheaper but then i saw all the posts about vinegar. Will that kill the poppies?

  627. HI

  628. Susan in Ohio says:

    I am having a our town’s benefit garden tour come to my garden in mid-July. Do you recommend any flowers to plant now in containers or garden to get showy blooms? I have mainly perennials and will use some annuals. I have planted lilies that are supposed to bloom in mid summer. Any suggestions on how I might be able to speed up or slow down bloom time to match the tour? Ditto on the roses? Thanks!

  629. Will vinegar get rid of the moss on my patio bricks?

  630. Hi Kevin,
    I hope you can solve a mystery. There is a large, (once lush) fern garden in front of one of my outbuildings, but this spring something is stripping it down to the stems; only in this particular garden–it has not touched any other fern on my property. It looks horrible! I live in Bucks County, PA one block from the Delaware River.
    Any help would be most welcome.
    Thanks so much!

  631. Heather says:

    Hello Kevin:

    I have several large chive plants. Once the chives reach about one foot tall, the thick hollow stems crease in half and droop over. This happens when in flower and when not in flower. It just looks funny. But the chives still produce and taste great. I have tried subdividing but that does not solve the issue. I have tried watering less, too. I would like to sell cut chives at the farmers market but when they crease like this the tops shrivel somewhat, too. Even though they are organic and taste great, I think the toppled appearance will dissuade people from purchasing. Why don’t they stand up straight? Any ideas? Thank you so much. Heather

  632. Naomi Shelton says:

    To Jeanne (May 14): I have two large jade plants and several small ones from cuttings or leaves. My guess is that your plants are not draining well in the sphagnum moss. I have always planted mine in regular commercial potting soil and made sure the pots drained well. You might want to repot them and let them dry out quite thoroughly and see what happens. If they get too dry they will tell you by their leaves beginning to wrinkle. Just give them a good drink and they will be fine.

    Now perhaps Kevin will have another take on your problem. I’ll be interested to know. Good luck!

  633. hello Kevin,
    I have two questions one concerns some roots I received but cant id them they grow about 3 ft tall and have very red flowers. They grow straight up on one stem and the roots have to be taken up in the fall and replanted in the spring. Do you have any idea of the name of the flower. Also can decorator rock be used instead of mulch when covering weeds. I am not a great fan of mulch.
    thanks for your site and your ideas i am trying the vinegar for weeds now.

  634. Judy Hines says:

    Hi Kevin from Central Illinois where McLean County soil is called black gold.
    Both you and Margaret Roach are inspirations! My husband and I would like to plan a trip next year 2014 so we may visit your garden and Margaret’s. I noticed this year you and Margaret had your Open Garden Days June 1 and we are wondering if you have any plans to do the same next year, to open your gardens on the same day. Will look forward to hearing back from you. In the mean time, we are having too much rain but at least the farmers were able to get their fields planted.

    –Judy and Ed Hines in Central Illinois

  635. jessica says:

    hi kevin,

    i would love to grow a few watermelons this year.
    i just put a few seeds (ali baba type) in a small planter.
    I live in Nassau County, Long Island.
    Is there something special I need to do?

  636. Hi Kevin and all:
    Please!! Do you or anyone have suggestions to stop rabbits from eating my plants. Started a new garden planted last year with coneflowers & blackeyed susans. They won’t let them grow…they think they are a salad bar!!! We’ve made a few little “cages” for some of the flowers with chicken wire (time consuming to make) and those are safe for now…until they get larger. I’m planting other perennials now…and fearful of what’s gonna happen.

    Any unique suggestion short of a shotgun???

  637. Hello Kevin,
    I saw recently on the tour you gave that you have a yew hedge. I want to start a yew hedge that is going to be about 36 inches high maximum. Do you have suggestions for what kind of yew plant to use for this? I live in Washington State. Thanks!

  638. badger gardener says:


    Some of my eggplants and tomatos are planted out and some sprouts I planted in plastic cups ( I made drainage holes) waiting to be giveaways. I am finding brown spots on the leaves of all but one variety of cherry tomato. The cup-o-plants are looking worse than the garden plants. Can this be a blight already, when they are just babies? Are my plants all doomed?

    A rabbit just wiped out my swiss chard and seems to be moving on to my spinach. My last resident bunny stayed away from my garden but this one is Peter Rabbit himself. I found a “hot tea” recipe in one of my old garden books. Crush cloves of 1 head of garlic + 1T hot pepper flakes or crush 3 hot peppers+ 1 qt. hot water. Place in glass or plastic jar and let sit in warm place X 1 wk. Strain w/ cheesecloth or coffee filter. Add 1/2 c “tea” , 1 pint water, = 3 drops dishsoap to spray bottle.

    The book claims one taste will keep away the rabbits and squirrles and can also be used for flea beetles (something else I’m having a problem with).
    I have some steeping but plan to use it only sparingly since I don’t want my greens to taste like that concoction. For flowers, I plan on spraying ’til my heart’s content.

  639. Hi Kevin, we live in Spain and white vinegar is hard to get here. This sounds silly but do you think apple vinegar is OK..thats really easy to get in supermarkets.
    We are surronded by agricultural field where they grow artichokes, peppers and lots more.
    We have a finca ( small holding ) where the weeds get out of hand.
    We dont like using a product that all farmers isnt Roundup but when I looked the product up it is virtually the same.But we have had to as all the farmers say it is best and only one they know, it is a real agricultural area where most of produce is for export .
    Thanks in advance.

  640. Penny Heying says:

    I have millions of weeds in my vegetable garden. There is no way I can hand pick them. Can I use newspaper over the weeds and then cover the paper with straw since I do not have grass clippings?

  641. HI Kevin,

    My roses have a sticky film on them and on the ground. Can you tell me what it is and how to treat them?

    Thank you

  642. Emergency! (You know how that goes) I need the best Key Lime Pie recipe ever! I’ve been charged with making this for a special occasion for a dear friend and never made KLP. I wonder…would those little Lemon Tartlets be marvelous with a Key lime filling?

  643. Hi Kevin,

    I have some philodendrons that have gotten long and robust enough that I want to drape them around the inside frame of my windows. Do you have any suggestions? I was thinking of using metal cup hooks, but don’t know what the plants would like best. Also, how far apart should I space them? Thank you!

  644. I suddenly see mushrooms growing in one of my raised beds. The soil is all nursery bought only. Is this common and how do I know if they’re edible?? Or should I just pull them out? Thanks!

  645. Donna Stratton says:

    Dear Kevin,
    Thank you for telling us about Zephirine Drouhin roses. I had never heard of them. They will be perfect for an extension to the arbor my husband built. He was looking for a good climber to go up the post. He loves them. Happy Fathers’ Day for him!

  646. Kevin – wondering if you could give me some advice on freezing summer squash? To blanch or not to blanch? I seem to find mixed suggestions on an Internet search….

    Thanks in advance – and I love your website!

  647. Paul Clarke says:

    Hi – I wonder if anyone out there can help? How do you remove residual ivy ‘clinging bits’ from a plastered painted (as opposed to face brick) outside wall? I have thought of tackling it with a wallpaper scraper but I would like to know is there some type of product that can be applied to make the job easier/cleaner?

    Thanks in advance!

  648. I have ants all kind of ants.
    Sugar babies from time to time and fire ants.
    Any realistic solutions to this would be appreciated.

  649. Cathy Schutzenhofer says:

    I have these flowers & have no idea what they are. Can I send a picture for some help? I have friends that would like some & more than happy to share. Just don’t know when or if they can be split. Thank you!

  650. There is definately a lot to know about this topic.
    I really like all of the points you have made.

  651. Hi Kevin,

    I have numerous columbine that I love but have had problems for several years now dealing with the destructive little green worm like things that eat all of the leaves down to the stems and in short order too. Hundreds of them.

    I have figured out they are one of the stages of the sawfly. I have used chemical sprays in the past which has worked but I really would prefer not to use them. I have spent hours before individually killing them by hand but that is just not practical with my numerous columbine spread throughout many gardens. Last year I was spared from them I think because of the spraying I did but this year it looks like they are making a slow return. I also know that there are other trees and such that are host plants for the other stages of the pesky sawflies. Any help would be appreciated.

  652. Hi kevin,
    I live in New Orleans where it is hot and humid. And I am planting eggplant for the first time. They are growing great..tons of flowers but once they fall eggplant. What do I need to do to get the fruit to grow?

  653. Taken your advice on why my african violets don’t flower. They used too and were gorgeous.
    Will see what happens. However, why does my “mother” plant have a root that resembles a carrot and what do I do about that?

  654. Mary – No need to blanch summer squash. Just shred it, drain it, and freeze it as I do. And be sure to read this post.

    Kerry – Insecticidal soap is claimed to work against sawfly larvae. You can find this organic treatment at most garden centers.

    Joy – If blossoms are dropping due to lack of pollination — this can happen when the weather is hot and humid — you’ll need to pollinate by hand. To do this, take a small, clean paintbrush and dab each blossom. (Blossoms can also fall when watering is erratic.)

  655. Jean Sorenson says:

    I have a problem with my vegetable garden. My beans, peas, cucumbers and even the zucchini have not even germinated! At first I thought it was too cold, but today I dug down to find out what is going on under the surface but could not even find any seeds!!!! What happened?

  656. Hi Jean – My guess? Foraging chipmunks or squirrels stole your seeds. (Birds, including crows, are major seed-thieves, too.)

  657. Thanks for the response, Kevin! I’m going to try that freezing method. And I’m going to make zucchini bread with my yellow squash, too. We’ll see how that goes!

  658. Hi Kevin, If I put newspaper and mulch down this year will the tulips and daffodils be able to push thru in the spring? Also I have bumblebees under my shed and want to know if that’s a good thing or not. Scary either way!

  659. I planted avocado trees and the leaves are turning yellow and brown at the edges. Any idea how to fix this? Am I watering too much, too little. They have not produced any fruit yet.

    Thank you.

  660. Hello, I have a strange bug or disease on my gooseberry bush I’m wondering if you can identify it. We live in Canada by the Bay of Fundy……I have gardened for years but this is new to me. It is like a small white ‘marshmallow’ on the stem. It is not spittle bug as the white is very sticky and comes away like cooked marshmallow would. None of the websites I’ve looked through have anything close to it. Can you help?

  661. Caryn – If you don’t lay the newspaper too thickly, your bulbs should be able to poke through in spring. Keep in mind that newsprint will decompose considerably over winter. The bumble bees beneath your shed might be carpenter bees, who drill out holes in wood in order to lay their eggs. The male “guard” who hovers near the nest is all bark and no bite. For he does not possess a stinger.

    Hi Joe – I’m not familiar with avocado trees. But your local Cooperative Extension will leap at the chance to identify (and find a remedy for) the yellowing leaves.

    Teeny – The sticky white stuff on your gooseberry shrub might be Woolly Currant Scale. Easiest remedy is to pick it off.

  662. Thank you Kevin. Now I’d like to know about the wasp nest in my compost bin. I have the black box kind with lid. These are little nests but do I need to keep them? Thanks for all your help.

  663. Mae Watters says:

    Hi Kevin,

    I am planning a major winter sowing project with milk jugs this winter. I live in zone 7a. I’ve searched the web pretty extensively and can’t find any advice out there regarding when to start in my zone. Any advice? I live on the Cumberland Plateau.


  664. Hi Kevin,
    I want to build raised garden beds in my back yard for vegetables, herbs with various fruit trees and shrubs and flowers etc. I have seen a raised garden bed where the person placed 1 inch cut plastic PVC pipe inside the parameter of the bed vertically so they could erect a green house over it and that seemed like an intriguing idea to me.
    I really do not know where to begin with the problems or challenges I am facing on my property. So hopefully sharing all this with you could be a start and not a waste of time for any of us. I have numerous large Cyprus trees paralleling my fence in my back yard of my property off a fairly busy street. They act as a buffer and privacy. They are probably at least 3o feet tall or taller and I believe they really need to be pruned and topped off but I need to find someone to do that for me who will not charge me an arm and a leg where I could afford it, do you have any ideas to help dealing with this problem?
    At this point my yard is very plain and boring and doesn’t even have any large trees for shade or beauty, with the exception of a three or four year old magnolia tree that currently is in my back yard in a small area near the side of my home. I would like to transplant it to the front yard this fall or winter. It is roughly about 2 inches in diameter. The tree is already about eight feet tall and has beautiful flowers. I want to transplant it somewhere in the center of my front yard but the challenge I am faced with is not killing it when I dig it up and what is even more challenging for me is where I want to transplant it which is in my front yard where the soil is extremely rocky with numerous potato sized rocks. I have an island type area where I had remove a portion of my lawn and placed ¾ to 1 inch salt and pepper rock. I wanted to transplant the tree there. But how do I successfully do that when the soil is so infested with rocks and making it extremely difficult to dig there or plant my tree and have it survive?
    And one other tree I have in my back yard that I do like is a fairly large pie cherry tree. But the unfortunate or sad thing about it as of yet I haven’t done anything with the fruit that it bares nor pruned it or treated it for disease or properly care for it. It bears a lot of fruit each year. The squirrels and birds really like it but I haven’t made much use of it yet. What are your thoughts about that?
    I live on a third of an acre and have a sprinkler system in my front and back yard. My lawn right now needs to be thatched and probably aerated and treated with some sort of moss and miscellaneous type grass weed remover. I have just recently treated the front lawn with ‘Scott’s Weed & Feed’ fertilizer which I bought at Home depot at $50.00 dollars a bag and I still have to buy more to treat the back yard. Do you have any ideas on how I can save money on fertilizer especially weed be gone? The directions stated you can apply it twice a year.
    I have also used Ammonium nitrate fertilizer in the past to treat my lawn and it definitely made my lawn greener and I would like to use it again sometime but must take into account the other fertilizer I just mentioned or anything else I might also use to treat the lawn of the problems I just mentioned.
    Also I have been having a huge problem with moles digging up my yard and at McClendon’s store they want $20.00 dollars for 10 poison worms or pellets to get rid of the moles.
    What do you recommend I do to get my yard in shape and get rid of the moles and get myself prepared to have raised vegetable garden beds, with fruit trees and shrubs? My back yard has about 12 to 13 cubic yards of top soil beneath it but my front lawn does not but is very rocky; it is horrible.
    I have looked at some of your posted articles and they are very informative and interesting. I liked your information on using news papers to keep out weeds and mulching and the idea of making raised garden beds for everything and planting zinnias for attracting bees for the benefits of pollination.
    I haven’t read your article on designing a garden yet but that is important to me. I stated what I need help with so far and I am interested in knowing how to make my own mulch so I do not have to buy it and making my own compost pile for future nutrients for the soil. I have just recently saved some grass clippings for that purpose but need to know the recipe for that as well. I live in Spanaway, Washington approximately 44 miles from Mount Rainier National Park.
    Just the other day I regretfully used round up to kill some weeds and will start using vinegar for now on but I am concerned how long it will remain in the soil or the long term negative effects it will have and though I sprayed some weeds near some perennials I have planted and hope that will not kill them too.
    I also realize the direction of the sun is important in relation to what will be planted and when and where it is shady are factors and not over or under watering; also taking the seasons into account and knowing the importance of properly caring for and protecting and nurturing each unique plant.
    I have been working on my lawn and my yard and home looks very presentable and is clean and tidy but I really want to address all these things I have discussed with you thus far and want to work on these things now.
    I have said way too much in this memo and hope this is not inappropriate; though this post did state to speak your mind.
    I just signed up for your news letter and really appreciate all your help and support.
    Thank you Kevin, very much and have a great Fourth of July!

  665. Can you tell me why a Linden tree has not bloomed in about 20 years? I remember that smell from years ago

  666. pickles says:

    I have purchased the low growing Justin Brouwers boxwood and discovered when planting it that one pot has several (5-8) separate plants in it. Should I divide these or plant as 1 plant. I would appreciate your advice. Also, any tricks to keeping rabbits from eating strawberry plants? Thanks!

  667. Cathy Marchione says:

    Can I shred zucchini and freeze it for baking breads in a couple of months?

  668. Patti Lynch says:

    I just came across your site, the information you are sharing in wonderful and so much appreciated. I was reading how you use white vinegar to kill weeds and greass. I was wanting to know if I could use this in my iris bed, I have pulled the grass out, and tryed to use my hoe in between the plants, but there is still so much grass that is coming up. I have cut the iris foilage back for the year, and there is all this grass that needs to be removed. Can you please tell me if the vinegar would be harmaful to the iris rhizome.

    We live in North Carolina and are experiencing hot, damp days, so the weeds are jumping for joy!

    Thank you again for sharing all of this wonderful information. Enjoy the garden, my Mom always talks to her plants, and they seem to thrive on her conversation!

  669. Peter Shevlane says:

    Hi Kevan
    Where can I purchase White Distilled Vinegar in a large container as it shows in your picture.

  670. Hello Kevin
    Aabsolutely love your website and have been a fan for a few years now. My question is “do gou have any Trilliums in your beautiful shade garden and if so, have you ever tried growing them from seed? I’ve just picked two seed pods off two plants but have never tried it. Any pointers?
    You on the eastcoast have some beautiful and different varieties the we do in the Pacific Northwest.
    Jim L

  671. Jody Mandel says:

    Dear Kevin – Thank you for making me laugh!
    I have been following your website for several months now. I am an avid gardener.
    You provide great and useful information.
    I look forward to reading the funny comments you make during your tours and instruction.
    Right now, I am sitting in my office, and went to your site while eating lunch to brighten my day.
    Thanks, again, Jody.

  672. Jody Mandel says:

    In answer to Peter Shevlane qustion on July 7, 2013:
    Hi Kevan
    Where can I purchase White Distilled Vinegar in a large container as it shows in your picture.

    BJ’s, Costco and Sam’s Club have this large size if you belong to any of those clubs.


  673. Hello,

    My friend is engaged to be married next June, and she really wants to use daffodils in her centerpieces. Unfortunately, most of the florists we’ve found only have daffodils available through April. I am considering trying to hold bulbs in cold storage through the spring to force into bloom in late May/early June.

    My question is–does this sound feasible? We are willing to take a risk, but I don’t want to get her hopes up for something that is doomed to fail.

    If you think this sounds like a worthwhile experiment, I would appreciate any advice you have to improve our chances of success.


  674. Carol belcher says:

    Your vinegar ,salt and dawn soap worked wonderful in the areas we did not want anything to grow, now I desperately need help with how to get rid of earwigs in my hanging baskets of million bells, this is the second year in a row they are feasting well and it is new soil.

  675. Hi Kevin,
    I just discovered your website and am in heaven! I was wondering if you could help me with a Clivia that I’ve had for several years. It is big beautiful leaves but no real blooms. It did bloom this spring but very sparsely and I’m wondering if I have to go through the whole process of depriving it of water and light, etc., to get a good bloom. Can you give me any tips?

  676. Kip Morrissette says:

    Kevin, I still haven’t found the Chipotle Pepper Powder. The info I have found comparing it to Chiplotle Chili Powder says the two are very different.
    I see you have a Question section for the garden section but not for the Recipe section, at least I haven’t found it. I’m saving the Grissini to make Bacon-wrapped Grissini one of these days. PLEASE help me on this one. ALSO, while I’m at it, the picture of the brown sugar looks like you used the DARK brown, right? My email is [email protected] if you or someone out there reading this can help me. Thank you.

  677. Hi Kevin,

    We are moving to another old house (ca. 1850) soon and I am planning a new vegetable garden. Now that I am starting from scratch, I am trying to decide on the best size.
    So my question to you is – what are the dimensions of your kitchen garden?

    Thanks for the info!

  678. I’m a novice gardener so my question is about killing the weeds in my garden and not killing the flowers. I have found expensive chemicals at the store but I would rather find a less drastic solution. I live near the ocean and don’t want my run off to harm the Eco-system.. I try to be planet friendly but also would like my weeds to go away. Thanks to anyone willing to help me.


  679. Kip – I use dark brown sugar (I’ll clarify this on the recipe) and McCormick’s Chipotle Chili Pepper powder. If your grocery store doesn’t carry the McCormick product, I suspect you can order it from Amazon. Good luck with your Bacon-Wrapped Grissini – I’m making a big batch for a pool party this weekend.

    Abby – I measured my Kitchen Garden many years ago after a reader asked. But I’ve forgotten the dimensions now. Will have to head out with tape measure and get back to you!

    Jeff – So glad you wish to avoid chemicals. I use common white vinegar (instead of Roundup) to eliminate the weeds which emerge in my brick, gravel, and blue-stone paths (details here). As for vegetable and flower beds, I smother the weeds with newspaper. Newspaper is great because it works instantly, and lasts for at least one season (details here.)

  680. Hi Kevin,

    My mother planted a hosta cutting taken from my Uncles garden in WI. It’s been three years and the plant has tiny leaves and only grows about 5 inches tall. Her sister also planted a cutting from the same plant and it’s the normal height and blooms. What’s going on with my mother’s plant? It’s in semi shade and other plants in the bed are growing normal. We live in central Texas. Thanks for your help!

  681. Dana Freeman says:

    Hey Kevin,
    Have you ever used milky spore for Japanese beetles? My hubby researched it and said he thought it was the best product out there that was environmentally safe. They have attacked our kiwi plants, apple trees, and many other things.

  682. I’ve never had more gorgeous Boston ferns, Kevin, thanks to your tip on watering them daily and using Miracid. But one fern has aphids!

    I tried blasting the demons off with the hose. That helped but it didn’t get them all.

    Any tips on saving this lush fern?

    Thank you!

  683. Michelle Mutchler-Burns says:

    Hi Kevin,
    I’m enamored with your site. The recipes, your home and gardens and the gardening tips you have provided; thank you for sharing!
    I’m looking for advice. I reside in the Park/Glen Historic District, Council Bluffs, IA. A “flower basket” neighborhood and also zone 5-b, I’m told. For the past several years, our family has volunteered to care for the baskets (as many as 40) and this year is no exception (although the task has changed somewhat). We now have these wonderful Sternberg poles to display the baskets and the banners that welcome folks to our neighborhood. This year, there are just 5, and we hope to double that for 2014 and our ultimate goal is 18-20. We are using the 16″ H2O Labor Saver baskets,, although we are not convinced that they are truly that helpful, as we are still watering every 2-3 days. We had our baskets “professionally” planted and held at our local greenhouse until the poles were in place. We had envisioned huge mounds of color, and were a bit disappointed by Euphorbia, Lantana and other tiny blooms, clearly they didn’t hear us say they would be displayed 10 feet from the ground and they didn’t add any trailing vine. We had also requested the “water absorbing crystals” be added. I’m not certain if they were concerned that the baskets would be too wet, or if they were just forgotten.

    For 2014, we have decided to plant them ourselves. We know we want to try the crystals as an adjunct to the baskets. We are very budget-minded as we have written grants to acquire the money for the poles, baskets, banners and plantings and I thank you immensely for including the information on how to propagate petunias. I intend to plant cuttings to overwinter and we have purchased 3 of those “portable” greenhouses and I have grow lights galore, as I also breed companion birds. In addition to the Petunias, I envision chartreuse Sweet Potato vine, which should be a wonderful contrast to the dark brown poles. The basket arms are rated to hold 70 pounds, so I believe the weight should be fine once they start to produce the tubers.
    Now my question; would you suggest other plantings that are easily propagated and would have an impact? We do have one basket that would be considered partial shade. I wasn’t available the day they installed the pole, so after a couple of weeks of seeing nothing but Dead Nettle, I took it down and added some purple Petunias, which of course will never reach the potential of those grown in sun, still they are trailing and adding some interest. I was surprised to see there were Impatiens in the basket; they are still not visible from the ground level. I have included a link to our neighborhood website, which includes a photo diary of the process and concludes with a color photo of one of this year’s baskets.

    I would love to know what you would suggest.

  684. Jewels Annabell says:

    Was very interested to see your article on using newspaper to get rid of weeds – I am definitely going to try it! However, I have one particular nasty that I wanted to check and see if you thought newspaper would still work, or if you had any better ideas… couch grass!! Not sure where it came from, but it is all pervasive and has spread exponentially, both lawn and garden! One ready-lawn guy even told me that it was impossible to get rid of and not to bother! Any advice you can give me would be greatly appreciated 🙂 Thanks so much! Jewels

  685. Hi Kevin: How do I make Kale Chips? I did not like the taste of my home grown Kale, so I gave it away. Tons and tons of it. I didn’t know how to cook it correctly. It was organically grown too.
    If you have more than one way of fixing it w/salt or whatever, please share. Thank You. Pam

  686. Elfrieda Tullar says:

    Thought I’d pass this on … a friend had a lot of caterpillars – she counted 27 – on her parsley (swallowtails). She realized there wasn’t going to be enough to feed them, so dashed off to Wallymart and bought a couple more parsley plants. She said she thoroughly washed and washed them. However, later in the day she found them — all dead. Obviously the plants had been sprayed at some time in a nursery somewhere. Geez; what the heck is being sold for us to eat ? I told her that she should do as I do; just buy from a reputable nursery that you know doesn’t sell plants that have been sprayed. We all felt sorry.

  687. Elfrieda Tullar says:

    Can I ask a question please ? I see all the comments posted and a lot of questions, but no replies to any of them. How does this particular “forum” work ?

  688. Hi, Kevin,
    Can you suggest a good container that can froth milk on top of the stove….one that can be heated and not fall apart….also would be great to have a glass on so you can see the progress….love heated frothed milk to top coffee and Earl Grey Cream tea….thanks……..Jo-Anne

  689. We are in our home on Long Island one year now. I have a vegetable garden which is so wonderful. There were wood chips in the walking path between the veggie beds when we purchased the house. I guess they got absorbed into the ground, since they are not there anymore. It is just dirt or mud when it is wet. I would like to ask your advice on what is the best thing to use for the path? I would like to keep the cost down. Also, if it is wood chips, is any kind okay to use?
    Thank you so much Kevin.

    PS I am so excited to actually put to use your advice I have been reading now that I have my house and gardens.

  690. I have a question for you, .that I hope you can give me the remedy to.How do you prevent butternut squash from rotting (microbs) underneath in the soil as the plant is waiting for maturity? I would also like to add, I really enjoy the knowledge I gain from your wonderful website and I enjoy your home and gardens (sounds like a good name for a magazine lol ). Sincerely, Linda

  691. I live in the UK and I’m not sure what you mean by ‘store bought biscuits in your Classic Tomato Pie, which looks delicious! To me it looks on one of the pictures as if it might be pastry – am I right?

  692. hi Kevin,oh!! how i love your website, could you by any chance send a picture of a small (SkimmiaFORTUNEI.ihave anordinary bush ,but this i understand is a small bush

    many thanks yvonne x

  693. Hi Kevin, Can you tell me where I can purchase an african violet with pink leaves?
    Thanks buy I love your sight

  694. Hi Kevin! I received 2 vertical planters for Christmas that I planted this year with echeverias that have formed the most beautiful big rosettes. Do you think there’s any way to over-winter them, either in the vertical planters (put them in the garage or a sheltered spot?) or transplanted and brought inside? They made the most beautiful tapestry, I’ll hate to see them go!

  695. Hi Kevin,

    Thx again for answering my questions in regards to the trellis ( can’t wait for next spring so I can build one). I would like to begin to prepare planting some fall/winter veggies but I’m not sure what will grow and will not do well. We live outside of Philadelphia. I would appreciate any suggestions. Thx again!!

  696. Thank you for the membership…just signed up! Very informative. I can tell already that this will quickly become one off my favorite places. I just started gardening this past spring and I love fresh flowers but not the bugs. How can I get rid of the critters in order to enjoy the flowers indoors?

  697. When is the best time to plant poppy seeds. I live in RI.

  698. Kevin,
    Many thanks for the gardening advice, recipes and all the other wonderful ideas contained within your website. I currently need advice about what to do with a baby rabbit who has taken up residence in my enclosed vegetable garden. It’s the cutest little thing but its voracious appetite is not. It’s eating its way through the bush beans and now the pole beans. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
    Leslie in Ct

  699. Help! Do we cut the tall fern like stalks on the asparagus bed? Now? Keep them cut off? Let them go until spring? Also, the bed has been invaded by wild violets….we have dug and dug but they keep coming back even more. Any suggestions as to how to get rid of them without harming the asparagus? I had thought to maybe put old piece’s of carpet on the bed over the Winter, taking it off in maybe February?

  700. Will the newspaper work as well getting rid of grass in the flowerbeds or is there something else to try. I just cannot pull grass any longer.

  701. Hi Kevin
    I followed your instructions for extracting the juice from shredded zucchini and making the “patties” to freeze for later use but was really loathe to throw away all that wonderful juice (although it would be pretty salty). You said that you did not have the space to keep the juice at that time but I was wondering what you could use this salty concoction for if you were to freeze and keep it for later? Thanks!!

  702. Kevin, can you recommend a good on-line source for bearded iris bulbs? When is the best time to plant them for NY metro area? Thanks!

  703. Kevin: I live in Western North Carolina , Burke county NC. I see morning glory’s growing wild in my neighbors , and along the end boundaries of empty fields etc. These beautiful flowers are something I would really like to plant in my yard!! My ? is this , should I simply just buy packs of morning glory seeds , and plant them , / these illusive flowers never decide to mysteriously bloom in my yard!! What is your thought.

  704. Hi Kevin

    Had a question about Pee Gee hydranga tree? How do you get it to stand upright? without any support. There is a hedge RIGHT next to it (touching) could that be the cause of it not standing up on it’s own? Also, how would I prune this? It has 2 trunks/limbs less than 2″ in diameter not sturdy enough yet?

  705. Dear Kevin,
    I have a questions about Pelargonim graveolens. Two days ago, I bought a new plant and asked the guy working at the shop to repot it into a larger one. I took me about two hours to get home when I watered it. Now, it is terribly wilted, (and I am teriibly sad). Would my pelargonium graveolens survive? Is there anything I can do to help it become healthy again? Many thanks in advance.

  706. What steps should I take to turn a very weedy lawn into a grassy one? I wish to avoid chemical remedies.

  707. I have dug Amaryllis bulbs and they are dry now,tops cut off. I live in FL in zone 10b and have had no luck getting them to bloom in the yard. (Made sure they were not too deep). I need to know how and when to plant in containers. I have some large bulbs and some small ones. Should I combine different sizes? How many in one container? Any advice would be appreciated. Do you have any advice about blooming them in the yard? I left a few there in sun and plenty of water.

  708. Hi Kevin,

    I have a fantastic Yucca plant growingi my full sun front garden — it’s about 7 years old now, doing well and getting big. I was wondering if you could give me some advice about dividing some of it to another part of this same garden. …like when to do it, and how.

    I’m in zone 7A (near Baltimore, MD).

    Thanks from your devoted fan,

  709. Kevin
    I just purchased a house with a 30 year old bougainvillea. It was allowed to grow out of control and has taken over the yard sprouting up everywhere. The main trunks (yes, plural) are 10 inches in diameter maybe more and it is growing up at least 20 feet. The previous owner cut it back from the main trunks; however, there are vines popping up everywhere and the large canopy remains alive as ever. How can I make it stop, it is growing under my deck into the house siding and all over the yard and power poles. It seems to grow a foot overnight! Any suggestions? I have tried using round-up and other chemicals for woody vines (which I absolutely hate doing).

  710. I am just wondering what kind of plant is growing in my garden hoping you can help

  711. Kevin

    I have a big bag of gladiolus that I bought in the spring and forgot to plant. How can I store them over the winter so I can plant them next year? I live in west central WV about 30 miles north of Charleston. Thanks.

  712. Jenny Miller says:

    I just discovered your blog. I LOVE IT!!! So terrific!

  713. Kevin, have you ever grown Lisianthus? I had white ones this summer and brought them inside now (PA zone 6). I want to try and grow pink and purple from seed…not sure if I can start them now already on the windowsill, or do I have to wait till spring. They’re fantastic flowers, everyone oo’s and ah’s over them. Love your blog, it’s such a wealth of information.

  714. Jan Schroeder says:

    I bought the ingredients today to make mozzarella. My recipe calls for rennet tablets, but I could only find liquid rennet–which says it is ‘double strength’. I can’t find a straight answer as to the equivalent. I read that all US liquid rennet is double strength, so when I find the equivalent listed as 1 tsp liquid = 1 tablet–does that take that into account or should I cut the liquid in half? I know I could experiment, but if I am wrong I hate to waste the ingredients. Thanks

  715. I live in Maine- Zone 5A.
    I have several Canna plants in large pots outdoors. What is the best way to preserve these for next year?

  716. Melissa Horton says:

    #722 wants to know what you would serve a friend with tea? My friend is coming over to help me learn how to draw and I would like something easy and not messy. I have Tazo Tea, “JOY”
    an oolong. Thank you Kevin!

  717. Hi Kevin.
    Happened upon your page while researching ways to combat creeping charlie. Kinda of a two part question here. I noticed on your homepage about suing vinegar to kill weeds. Is this effective for creeping charlie? I’m aware it would kill the grass, but I’m considering using as a last resort. I just bought my first house and have an extensive invasion in the backyard. (guesstimation of 30% coverage of my lawn). About a week ago I sprayed with “Ortho Weed B Gone crabgrass control” fairly extensively and heavy on the affected area, and hasn’t even turned brown. I would assume to have seen some sort of visual result by now. To be fair we did have record breaking rainfall a day or two later. I’ve read borax is another soultion but dosent break down in the ground and can be over done? Any suggestions, along with application directions would be great.

  718. My husband is a land scaper is there any website tjat can give me good tips on such things to where I can learn ?

  719. louise tolley says:

    Hi Kevin,

    I live in Dorset in the uk and love the idea of freezing herbs like a cigar. Can you tell me how big a quart size freezer bag is please ? Your website is well laid out, clear and very helpful with great photography thank you

  720. Does the lovely baltic ivy overtake trees and all other flora in the way that English ivy does (which is considered a noxious weed where I live)? If it does, how do you control it?

    Great photos and commentary in your blog!

  721. Kevin, my Thanksgiving cactus, which was large and beautiful with its branches standing straight out throughout the summer, is now drooping badly. I added more soil and water, and fed it with Miracle Gro Bloom Burst, and it is still drooping after 4 or 5 days. It’s beginning to form buds on the tips, but the whole plant looks very limp. Can you help me get it back to life???

  722. what a good way to kill ivy that grows up into house cracks between wall and floor.
    ? it was a sealed porch but ivy works its way through where wall and floor meet thanks

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    erotic coupons p or n sex free sex erotic fan fiction

  724. Hello, I enjoy reading all of your post. I wanted to write a little comment to support you.

  725. Hi Kevin
    I’ve recently chanced onto your info on using vinegar on weeds, tried it and loved it. Excellent, weeds gone in a matter of two days. I’ve now been researching how to tackle a problem i have in the back yard. Our neighbour has two old, huge oak trees which drop acorns (obviously). Some large branches are overhanging our yard and I keep getting baby oaks sprouting up in my garden beads. Unfortunately, if I don’t find them when they are really small, I have difficulties eliminating them. They form really deep root very quickly and ripping them out can rip up part of our underground irrigation system (I’m in Australia and without this my garden would turn into a dessert). The vinegar does not kill them. Any suggestions? Thanks, mosa

  726. I live in Ohio… zone 5.. can I winter sow here and what plants will NOT do well with this method?

  727. How do we find out if we have won a gift? Do you email us?

  728. Rachel Mendinueto says:

    Hi Kevin,

    How do I properly care for a Coral Berry plant?


  729. I am going to try Winter Sowing this year. I’m in zone 5b. Do you winter sow vegetables or just flowers? What vegetables work best? I’ve seen some comments on other sites that say zone 5 does’t have a long enough growing season to start tomatoes outside. What are your thoughts?

  730. Hi Rachel – I have no experience with the Coral Berry (Ardisia) plant, and thus cannot advise on its care.

    Hi Jenn – Speaking from experience — not just hearsay — the growing season in my zone 5-b location is not too short for winter-sown tomatoes. Although nursery-grown seedlings are always larger when first set out in late spring, their winter-sown kin soon catch up. As for when to plant, I follow this schedule: What to Winter-Sow & When.

  731. Ok,not only am I new to gardening but blogs remain a mystery to me! I posted a question about winter seed sowing in zone 7. Surely there is an easy way to know when you have responded rather than scanning each of the comments in your overwhelming yet interesting collection of questions and answers! My question was….what and when can I winter sow for zone 7?can you help me? Hope you can email me to notify me of your response..[email protected]

  732. Hello Kevin,

    I came across your site goggling “What to do with frozen beets?” ; which is my main question.

    I also want to tell you that with the short time that I have been on your site today, I am absolutely going to bookmark you. I want to start a garden of my own soon and from what I see you garden is awesomeness ^_^

    P.S. I have no idea what so ever what to do with all of these frozen beets…0_0

  733. Hi Kevin,

    Can I start seeds with hard coats like moonflower now? I am in zone 5b as well but in Illinois.
    Thanks for you help!

  734. Cathy Quimby says:

    Hi Kevin. We live in the northwest and garden in raised beds. Every year we search for the perfect carrot seeds. They are so limited in our garden centers. We are searching for a long carrot that’s sweet. Any suggestions?

  735. Hi Telmika – Warm the sliced beets, splash them with vinegar, sprinkle them with salt, and then top them with crumbled goat cheese. Delicious!

    Hi Dolly – Both moonflower and morning glory seeds can be winter-sown now in zone 5-b. As always, hold back a few seeds as insurance.

    Cathy – Try ‘Nantes’ — a carrot that grows 6-7 inches long. Sweet and delicious.

  736. Hi Kevin!

    I found your awesome site while researching winter sowing which I’m starting next week now that I’ve collected enough containers!

    I have several questions. I’m in my third season, but my first planting this large a scale and this much variety.

    The garden in question is in Lexington KY, it’s a new garden: 60×30 ft of lawn which in November I covered in muck hay from a friend’s horse ranch almost 3 feet deep and topped with several hundred bags of leaves I collected (black-walnut free). It’s sunken as I’m sure you guessed to about 8″. I intent to go Ruth Stout style and just plant right into the soil which is clay-y but not horribly compacted and decently drained after rains.

    2 questions:

    Question 1:
    I had an idea to create a permanent border around the garden of perennial herbs and flowers as well as 1-2 islands of perennials in each garden section. I have googled around and don’t see this as a common practice among companion planters/no-tillers/permaculture veg gardens. It seems like a good idea, but is it impractical for a big veg garden for reasons I’m not thinking of? Maybe for tilling people it doesn’t make sense because it adds complexity for tilling, but that is not an issue for me.

    Question 2:
    What kind of soil should I use for my winter sowing starts in my milk jugs? Do I have to go to Home Depot and get soil for seedlings to have a good germination rate? Can I be frugal and only use starter soil for the finnickier seeds? Which are those? Or should I just buck up and buy the starter soil? I’m planting a total of 452 row feet of annuals and 160 row feet of perennial border (depending on your thoughts on Question 1) so that’s a lot of seedlings 🙂

    Thank you so much Kevin. I am BURSTING with excitement for this season and all its lessons and bounty!!!

  737. Hi Kevin. My question isn’t about gardening, but I didn’t see another place to ask you this. 🙂 I know in several of the recipes you share you use a food processor. I’ve never used one, but have thought I’d like to get one for awhile now. What food processor(s) would you especially recommend? I can’t spend a fortune on one, but do want one that won’t limit me toooo much as far as what I want to process in it either.

    I really enjoy your website and your warm, wonderful personality!

  738. Hi Kevin, where do you order your seed from for winter sowing. I got seeds from menards and although they grew well they were wimpy, I thought if I tried a different brand of seed to see how they would grow. Thanks

  739. Tasha ans autumn says:

    We are wanting to do a greenhouse for our ag class in school. We are in zone four and don’t know where to start. We are very interested in the winter sowing and are excited to test it out. We would love to plant flowers and vegetables but we don’t know what will work best with our zone. Can you help us get started?

  740. Hi Kevin,
    I planted seeds in milk jugs last winter with limited success. I wonder if I could use a clear Rubbermaid/storage container with a clear lid instead of milk jugs? I believe the concept would work the same as the milk jugs in that I’m creating a mini greenhouse. I could divide different seeds with cardboard pieces in between… poke holes in the top and maybe the sides for ventilation and watering by rain and snow… poke holes in the bottom for drainage. What do you think? Any suggestions?

  741. I admire the photos of your vegetable garden. Do you use row cover? (Maybe removed for photography?) Or if not, how do you handle cabbage butterflies and their larvae on your crucifers? They plague mine. And if, as happens, a couple of eggs arrive on seedlings, they thrive even more brilliantly under the row cover. Frustrating!

  742. Hi Remy – I think a border of perennial flowers is a terrific idea, but I’d avoid throwing herbs into the picture. Herbs grow like weeds, and soon you’ll regret having planted them in open beds (I speak from experience). As for soil for winter-sowing, use any potting mixture that is light and well-draining. Most commercial potting mixes will do. You don’t have to use a special, sterile “seed-starting” mix, because the jugs are going outdoors where conditions are definitely not sterile!

    Hi Janel – I love, love, love my Cuisinart food processor. The 9-cup capacity model (which you can order from Amazon) costs around $100.

    Hi Katie – Here’s a list of my favorite seed-suppliers.

    Hi Jessica – Yes, a clear Rubbermaid (or sterlite) box can be used for winter-sowing. Just make sure that moisture can enter through the top, and that you have sufficient drainage in the bottom and along the sides. Have fun with your project!

    Hi Chris B – In the not-too-distant past, I’d plant cruciferous vegetables twice per season. The early crops were not bothered by pests. But the later (mid-July-planted) crops were regularly destroyed by the larvae of the cabbage moth. Well, lesson learned. Now I plant broccoli, etc. only in spring (without row covers).

  743. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer questions Kevin. Re: perennials in and open bed, you think they will still take over even in a no-till bed where it’s all mulched deeply? I don’t think any sunlight can penetrate to germinate any reseeds — it was 3 ft of muck hay! For sowing I’m only uncovering enough soil to transplant my winter sowings. Ah, the mind of a newb. Thanks again!!

  744. Hi Remy – I was talking about perennial herbs in open beds. Certain types — mint and oregano, to name just two — spread via underground roots. They can not be confined to a designated space no matter how thick the mulch. Thus for a defined border, you might prefer to limit your plantings to well-behaved ornamental perennials (or annuals).

  745. Jackie Leib says:

    Hey Kevin,

    I am new to your website, but cannot stop myself from spending endless hours of surfing. Just bought Renee’s Garden Queen of the Night sweet pea seeds, Botanical Interests Russell Blend Lupine and Gloxiniiflora Blend Foxglove to winter sow here in Zone 5 Libertyville, IL. A suburb that is halfway between Chicago, IL and Milwaukee, WI. This is the first year I am attempting your winter sow method and am very excited to see the results!!

    I have three questions for you: First, we have a lilac bush that was planted prior to us living at this house. It is probablly about 9-10ft tall. All the blooms are too high for me to reach for taking cuttings. Would I kill the bush if I cut it down to a more reasonable size? What would be a reasonable trim size?

    My second question is about the soil in my garden. A few years ago we had a landscaper put in some compost. We asked for it to be mushroom compost, but it is obvious that it was something with perenial weed seeds that take over my garden and have sufficated many of my babies. 🙁 There are also parts of my garden that nothing will grown in. It is very dry, even when watered. Do I need to dig up all my babies that have survived and re-do the whole bed?

    Thanks for producing such a fantastic website and for helping me with my home garden.

  746. Lynn Pickett says:

    Hey Kevin,

    My husband and I just purchased a farm out in middle Tennessee…………..I love the way you did you veggie and herb gardens……………..I was wondering if you have a plot map of them. What you planted and what you planted next to each other…………..what flowers you planted to help with pest control etc.? any ideas to help me design our veggie and herb garden would be wonderful.


  747. 20 1 2014 hi Kevin,my son want’s to plant a pear tree i have put the date on so that you can see we are in winter,will it be o k if he planted now? many thanks y moram

  748. Barbara Petersen says:

    Hi Kevin, we are experiencing a drought here in California and I would like to redo my landscaping with drought tolerant plants and hardscape. Any suggestions?

  749. I saw your list on Winter Sowing and from the forum comments I have an idea of what zone you’re in. I’m in southern MN, zone 4b. You suggest starting perennials in Jan/Feb. Should I begin mine in late Feb/early March?
    thank you

  750. Kevin,

    Just subscribed to your weekly newsletter and have looked at some of your earlier articles and they are great. You provide very good, useful and practical information. I just finished my winter sowing project based on your directions and I’m curious to see how it works out.

    Is there any chance you could provide information on what perennials to grow in areas with low to part sun? Hopefully, perennials that attract hummingbirds and butterflys.

    In any event, keep up the great work. Thanks.

  751. Leslie Underwood says:

    Hi Kevin,
    I have received a salt block for cooking as a gift and have tried it twice.
    Do you have any insight on this method of cooking?

  752. Hi Kevin,
    Last summer my sister and I tried the vinegar and dish soap on the weeds that you posted. Our problem was that we have those weeds that we call “goat heads” You know the ones that are real prickly and hurt when stepped on. My poor dogs can’t seem to keep them out of their paws. It works (the vinegar and dish soap) to an extent but they keep coming back with a vengeance. Any solutions you can give would be appreciated. They also get into my veg. garden and spread like crazy. I hate using a lot of chemicals but may have to resort to that.

  753. Kevin, here’s a little tip for the jug green houses. I used an inexpensive soldering iron to put the holes in my jugs. Quick and easy!

  754. Jackie Lieb – You can rejuvenate a lilac by cutting it down to within a foot of the ground. But I wonder — is it possible that the blooms are only at the top of the shrub because other shrubs/trees are shading it out? Lilacs want full sun.

    Lynn Pickett — Congratulations on acquiring a farm! I don’t have a map of my kitchen garden, but if you click the “gardening” category in the top menu of this site, you’ll find lots of pictures. My kitchen garden plantings tend to change from year to year.

    Barbara Peterson – My heart goes out to everyone affected by the California drought. Since the plants I’m familiar with might not be suitable for your area, my best advice is to do a google search for “drought tolerant plants California.” Hope your region receives some substantial rain — and soon.

    Hi Nicole – Even in zone 4-b you can winter-sow seeds of perennials in January/February. Annuals are a different story!

    Hi Ron – The list of hummingbird/butterfly-attracting flowers which will grow in partial sun is a long one! This article is a good place to start.

    Hi Leslie Underwood — Salt blocks — what a fascinating way to cook! Unfortunately I’ve no experience with the method. Yet.

    Lani – Wish I could offer an easy fix for you. But if your goat head weed can’t be eliminated with vinegar, or smothered with newspaper/cardboard, then the only organic treatment is to pull, pull, pull.

  755. Georgia Lewis says:

    Kevin: my question concerns the weed proofing you did recently with newspapers? I know there is a great difference in the weather between your home and ours, so I was wondering if you lived in Californian where there is no snow, when would you put the newspapers down? Would it be in the fall just before winter or after winter has started? I am unable to kneel to pull weeds and this is just the answer for me!

  756. Hi Georgia – Good news for you: Where you live, you can smother weeds with newspaper (or cardboard) any time of the year.

  757. Thank you for all of your information.
    When would you winter sow milkweed seeds?

  758. Hi Kevin, Can I wintersow Annuals that require light and warmth to germinate or would it just

    be better to direct sow those?( What about putting the seeds in a moist ziplock bag and taping

    it to a window and then the germinated seeds? Hmmmm….)

  759. Hey Kevin, just found you. I have onion seed planted in clear plastic boxes with the lids on under lights. Would they be alright outside, or stay inside? Also I’m going to plant flower seeds & veg seeds in the clear boxes also to place outside as I have no milk jugs at present. I suppose these will be alright if I leave the lids on? We’re going through icy cond. right now. Of course the bottom of boxes have drilled holes in them.
    Happy I found you.

  760. Shannon Finch says:

    Hi Kevin, I have collected a bunch of newspaper for weed smothering, but I am wondering about the mulch. I have loads of lovely compost from my horses, would that work for putting on top of the newspaper or am I asking for more weeds to grow in the compost? Thanks, and stay warm and safe in the weather.

  761. Hi Kevin,
    I just read your post on winter-sowing and I would like to try it! I live in zone 9b and our last frost date is usually around April 15th. I want to do tomatoes, peppers, and a few herbs; can I start now (mid-Feb)?

  762. Hi Kevin enjoy your informative post! I live on the east coast of Virginia.I prepared my raised beds for winter just as you said..newspaper and shredded leaves.I would now like to plant my onion sets.i have a few questions:do I plant them right thru the leaves and newspaper? i’m reading where they need a few inches of compost on the soil 2 weeks before I remove the leaves and paper to put this on? or better still I should ask how do you plant yours? waiting your reply before I do anything.thanks,Martha

  763. Hi Martha – I simply move the leaves aside (between rows), and then punch out planting holes right through the newspaper. Newspaper cuts very easily with a trowel when it is wet. Alternatively, you can can punch out a row in the paper so the soil is exposed. As for compost…your shredded leaves should be enough. Once the onions begin to grow, return the leaves you brushed aside so they cover all exposed soil. (And by the way…I’ve never had luck with onion sets. I always plant from seedlings.)

  764. Help! My soil keeps getting dry on the top/ even though all of my jugs r frozen solid!! I tried placing some water in the tote that’s holding some of them and they seem … *darker/wetter* (but that waters ice now) But the still I have problems with the others.. SO frustrating having to keep checking on them,, wondering if they’re going to die since a lot of them are very small seed quite near or on top,,

    help! ! needing suggestions quick !!!!

    I have even watered slightly from the top on a few, of course those probably all got scattered – blah ! what a treasure it will be if these blasted things survive,, maybe I am to fussy for this lol … =)

    and there’s next to no condensation its cold as ice here (zone 5)


  765. Hi Jess — The beauty of winter sowing is that if you live in a cold zone (like me), you can just forget about the seeds. No need to add water. My own jugs are frozen, too, and buried beneath a pile of snow. Germination will occur when the weather warms.

  766. Hi im looking for Saintpaulia Blueberry Buckle , And i wonder if you may have it ?

    Or if you or someone else can help me to find it 😉 I be glad 😉

    And im Also looking for Cartoon Ballon Sp .

  767. Good Morning Kevin – can you share ideas on how to keep the dog-children entertained through this weather. Up here in Minnesota we’re on day 47 of below zero temps and over thigh-high snow. My “kids” are going craaaaazy (me too 🙂

  768. Hi Eggypeggy – I’d check with Lyndon Lyon Greenhouses.

    Nolie – I feel so sorry for the dogs who are too small to romp and play in the deep, frigid snow. Lily the Beagle is going nuts. I try to keep her entertained with cheap “squeaky” toys. She loves to disembowel them and retrieve the squeaking element!

  769. hi kevin,
    i’m ready to go with my winter-sowing. got my poland spring jugs ready to go. my question is: how many seeds do you put in one container? most of the seeds i have are little specks resembling coarse black pepper. i have aquilegia, geranium, platycondon grandiflorus, blue picotee morning glory and chinese foxglove (got them from summer hill). thanks!

  770. I just discovered your site today. I also notice there is an outstanding question waiting
    to be answered since September of last year in the thread on Re-blooming Iris. So
    now I am wondering if you are still active on this site, or am I late to the party?

  771. Hi Darlene – I sow tiny, dust-like seeds as thinly as possible, and then transplant the clusters of seedlings using one of these methods. Otherwise, I plant 4-6 “large” seeds per gallon-size container.

    Hi Glendolyn – Although I read every question or comment that comes in, I’m unable to respond to all of them. So sorry I missed the question about re-blooming iris.

  772. I have a persistent Jenny Wren and every year she builds her nest in a wren birdhouse under my porch eves. Although she lays eggs, a varmint of the black slithery type eats them.
    I’m an organic gardener and all creatures are welcome, but I hesitate to place the birdhouse back out for the season. What do you think? How much trauma can one Jenny Wren take?

  773. Shannon says:

    Hey Kevin! I bought some strawberry plants that are supposed to be perennial for my zone 5. When would you suggest planting them? I says to wait until the last frost has passed but if they are perennial shouldn’t they be ok with the cold?

  774. You tell us in your profile that you were introduced to gardening when you were no taller than a delphinium. Would love to know more about where you grew us, when you began to love gardening, what inspired you, etc., etc. Will you include that more in some of your commentary?

  775. Hi, Kevin. Do you tie your tomatoes to the stakes of the JC Tomato Trellis? Or do you tie the vines directly up to the crossbeam? Thanks.

  776. Marian – Yikes! I’ve never heard of snakes climbing up posts to reach a birdhouse. No clue as to a solution, but maybe another reader can offer you one.

    Shannon – Strawberries are perennial. But they can not handle freezing weather until they’ve established themselves in your garden. So you are right — plant after danger of frost.

    Nancy – Stay tuned!

    Ellen – I tie the plants directly to the vertical poles of my JC trellis. It’s a fun job!

  777. Hello from GA, zone 7, and I do not know whether to be happy or disappointed with my first milk jug greenhouses and the first time I’ve ever planted seeds; only 5 out of the ten are showing signs of life. We have had a colder winter here than in the past number of years. Does anyone know if it is too early for my Coral Bells to begin to emerge? They were the ones I was hoping for the most. Thank you.

  778. Helen Skidmore says:

    Can the Freesias be pebble-water forced? Also how long until they bloom? We are hoping to have them for a Mother’s Day Tea on May 10th if started tomorrow March 12th, 2013. Is it possible? Thanks for your help and great advice.

  779. Helen Skidmore says:

    Not 2013 but May 10, 2014. Sorry for the confusion.

  780. Just stumbled upon this website today – and am realizing I have been mising out! What a beautiful site, with loads of great tips and recipes. Thank you.

  781. Hi Regina – I know others who have successfully winter-sown Coral Bells, or Heurchera. The seeds must be sowed on the surface of the soil, as they need light to germinate.

    Hi Helen – I don’t know if freesia can be forced in pebbles and water or if they will bloom by May 10 if started in mid-March. I’ve always grown them in soil, from little bulbs (or “corms”) started in the fall.

    Hi Janice – Welcome aboard!

  782. Mary in Iowa says:

    I was looking at the slide show of your beautiful woodland gardens, Kevin. Since you more than likely don’t have electricity in the woods, what is the power source for the pump in the fish pond? I would like a small water feature (not a pond) with the sound of moving water. I live on a postage stamp city lot, can’t afford an electrrical contractor to install underground cable to a fountain, and want the water feature in a shade garden area. The only non-electrical power source I’ve seen is solar powered and wouldn’t work in shade. Do you have a solution?

  783. Hi Mary – To power the pump in the fish pond, I ran a very long outdoor extension cord from the swimming pool to the woodland garden. The cord is buried in a shallow (1-inch-deep) trench.

  784. Hi Kevin, Before I moved up here, we had a condo. I hadn’t lived in a house since I got married at age 20. I tried a tomato garden in 2005. I got a few. I really don’t know what I’m doing. I want to try a garden again. Would you please help me. I want to grow tomatoes, garlic and broccoli. 1. Where can I get heirloom seeds? 2. Is it okay to put a garden near tree roots of a tree that was cut down. It’s a sunny spot. Thanks!

  785. Hi Brigid – Kudos to you for wanting to start a veggie garden. Garlic is planted in the fall. As for heirloom seeds, be sure to read this post. And if you’d like to locate a garden where the soil is poor or difficult to work with because of tree roots (from a dead tree), my advice is to proceed this way. Have fun with your project!

  786. Kevin! Outstanding work. Love your passions, and thank you for generosities.

    I was so excited when I read about winter sowing that I ran down to Pine Tree Garden Seeds and bought a whole bunch – they were all annuals. Is there any hope? We still have lots of snow here in Maine.

    Do I have any window to start perennials?
    Thanking you very much with kind regards,

  787. LA Mailloux says:

    Dear Kevin, I’m new to gardening. Okay, not that new. My first attempt last year was very disastrous. I am wondering if I can indoor sow my seeds in my greenhouse rather my house? I live in Texas, and although we’ve had freakishly cold weather lately, I’m sure it’s going to heat up again soon. I guess I’m asking how hot is too hot for seed starting? Thank you very much for your website. I’m trying to learn all I can about gardening so when we retire from the Air Force I’ll be able to have a garden like yours! Love, Lori Anne

  788. Jackie Leib says:

    Hi Kevin,

    It has been over 5 hours since my first post to you on your “Ask Kevin” tab of your website. Like I said in that post, I am so enjoying surfing your website and am embarrased to say that I have spent thoses 5 hours on your website!!! It is cold and snowy and I need a gardening fix.

    I have another question for you and it involves bulbs. I purchased bulbs in the fall. Before I could get them in the ground, I got sick and was unable to get them in the ground before it froze. Can I do anything with them now? I don’t need them to bloom indoors. In fact, I would prefer to have them in my garden. Is it possible to pot them up?

    Thanks again for a wonderful website. I am so glad I found you!!!

  789. Jackie Leib says:

    Hi Kevin,

    I have another question for you and it involves bulbs. I purchased bulbs in the fall. Before I could get them in the ground, I got sick and was unable to get them in the ground before it froze. Can I do anything with them now? I don’t need them to bloom indoors. In fact, I would prefer to have them in my garden. Is it possible to pot them up?

    Thanks again for a wonderful website. I am so glad I found you!!!

  790. Cathie Ricketts says:

    The link to transplanting winter sown seeds seems to be gone. Any chance I can find it somewhere? THANK YOU!

  791. Hi Kevin –

    I love your site! I have a raised bed question for you. The only spot where I can garden is on my deck. We did containers last year, but this year I want to do a raised bed directly on the deck. It was built in 2005, I believe the wood is pressure treated, but I don’t know specifically what chemicals I am dealing with. I bought cedar for the sides of the bed, but will have the pressure treated wood on the bottom. Should I line the bottom with plastic to protect my soil? If I do this can I punch holes in the plastic for drainage, or will that compromise it? Could I use landscape fabric to line it, or would that not be strong enough to protect soil from the chemicals in the wood?

    Thanks for your help!

  792. Hello!
    I love your site and you have given me the… guts… to attempt to garden for the first time. We just bought our first house and I winter sowed based on your time table (I live in Denver and you and I are in the same zone.) I have small sprouts in my spinach, lettuce, a couple tiny broccoli and cabbage sprouts as well! My carrots, brussels and alpine strawberries haven’t done anything yet.

    My question is actually about the nicotinia. I winter sowed it as well and haven’t seen anything happen. Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself but I am just wondering if I failed somehow and should sow some indoors… What do you think?


    P.S. I come from a long line of plant killers and so I am always thinking I’m killing things even when they don’t look it. Don’t even get me started about my succulents… RIP.

  793. Hi Kevin,
    I am trying the Kale Tart this week or wk-end. Have made several of your recipies and just love them. Tried the Spinach Strata @ Christmas time on several occasions. Wonderful! Will your cook book be available on your site? Amazon etc? When?

    Finally got around to trying winterseeding, and am now awaiting germination…planted 3-1-14. I am in Charlottesville VA. zone 7. Snowing here again today.

    I love receiving your e-mails each week…Thank you for all your valuable information in all fields.

  794. Hi Kevin, I have a question about getting rid of the weeds in my lawn that sprout into tiny little white flowers that attract bees (don’t know what they’re called). I’ve sprayed them with commercial products and they die off but it also damages my lawn. They seem to be only a problem in my back yard that receives direct sun all day long. I don’t get these in the front of the house. Can you suggest something?

  795. Hi Kevin, I am going to try your method of winter sowing this year. I am in zone 5b in Ontario and since we still have snow 🙂 I guess I’m not too late to start. I always had a prolific organic garden until I moved in 2010 to a small space and couldn’t garden. In 2013 I tried container garden which turned out to be a bust with all the rain drowning most of the plants. This year I’ll rent a plot at an organic garden site and plant the basic veggies in there that I want for juicing and storage. I used to have a complete indoor lighting set up for starting ~500plants , so WS is new to me.
    Would it make any difference to position these WS containers in a tractor shed that gets light but no snow/rain? My problem is too many rabbits and racoons to leave containers outside where they can destroy them. I’m guessing the bunnies will eat all the sprouts – buffet they can and the coons just like to rip stuff up. Or do you have a method of deterring critters?
    while searching/ordering heritage seed catalogs, I found this: an excel fill-able planting sheet maybe others will find it useful.
    all the best, dianne

  796. I have a huge clump of grass growing next to the base of one of my favorite rose bushes. If I “paint” the grass with the vinegar, will it eventually help me get rid of it? I’m afraid of damaging the roots of the rose bush even though it is a well-established bush.

    Also, I read that 2 tablespoons of rubbing alcohol to a quart of water also works on weeds.

  797. Dana Freeman says:

    I need an evergreen that will do well around a wall we are building to hide the heat unit/trash cans. I thought about the mint julip juniper because it gets large. Do you have any suggestions? And, I want to start a rose garden in honor of my late Mother- do you have a favorite yellow?

  798. HI Kevin , I was reading your advice about newspaper mulching, and then browsed your site and really enjoyed it.
    I have inherited a small front garden having recently moved, which looked beautifully tidy before I moved in! It has a single large pot plant, surrounded by chippings., and a couple of plants in front of the window- sill. Unfortunately I have not been able to keep up with the weeds that grow through the small stones. It is a small area, and I considered removing them,- though I don’t know how hard that might be as depends how deep they are, laying newspaper in as per your recommendation in other areas. Then perhaps I could replace with new chippings, or slightly larger stones- what else would you suggest. .I have been here just about a year, and there are always lots of tiny straggly weeds, difficult to remove from between the stone chippings, so hard to make it look nice again. Your advice would be much appreciated.

  799. Hi Kevin, I love your blog. I have a really small garden and want to grow some tubs for my patio. I want to use annuals that will be big, bushy and full of big flowers and last all summer – am I asking too much?!!! I have no idea whether to plant more than one in each tub or indeed what to use as I am a total novice (;

  800. Toni Kitchen says:

    Dear April Fooler…
    Whew! You scared my little self! I thought you were really retiring and my tummy went into knots…What a relief when you said just kidding.
    Thank you for all you do for us fans out here and for the future fans you obtain along the way.
    We love your work and have no idea how much personal time it takes for you to put this together every month, but just know, it is soooooo appreciated.
    Hugs to you,
    Toni Kitchen
    Sleaford, lincs. England

  801. Terri G says:

    Hi Kevin, I love your African violet window, and have made a blooming plant window, off the kitchen which is rustic Italian.. I purchased 2 different window kerosene hangers for hanging plants, from ebay. They are both black, wondering if I should paint them? Have no idea what color..your violet window is gorgeous!

  802. Kevin: Thanks for the format. I have one african violet. Some of the leaves have cracks in them. Can you help? Also do you pick the dead blooms off. thanks

  803. Hi Kevin,
    This question is About Weeds: Spring has, finally, arrived up in central Vermont. We’re probably a few weeks behind you. There’s still some snow on the ground and everything is very, very wet. You have heard of Vermont’s other season: Mud Season. Things are just starting to sprout. I have small patio garden with some perennials like hosta. I’d like to know when the optimum timing would be to lay the newspaper/mulch barrier. Should I wait until the plants come up a bit more; let it dry out little; or get started right away?

    Really enjoy your Sunday morning news. Thanks.

  804. I just received a True Rose Geranium, and was disappointed to find that it has less of a rose-with-green-notes scent and more of a rose-overwhelmed-by-citronella scent.
    Does the scent improve as the plant matures, or become more mellow when it’s cooked? Is there anything I can do to alter the growing conditions for a sweeter scent? Changing the pH of the soil maybe? Or am I just more sensitive to the citronella notes in the scent?

    Thank you.

  805. Kevin,
    I think we’re just about in the same zone. I transplanted a deutzia last summer but see now signs of growth on it as of yesterday. Is yours showing new growth now? I hate the thought of having lost it, but we had such a brutal winter. I think I also lost a Invincibelle Spirit hydrangea (transplanted) and there are a lot of dead branches on my roses, even the Knockouts.

  806. Cora Lyne says:

    Hi. I just found your article on winter sowing. I am new to seed starting and would love to try this next year. My zone is 3 and I am trying petunias. I am wondering if the petunias are hardy or tender, anything I’ve found says semi-hardy but possibly in this zone it wouldn’t be considered hardy? Do you think winter sowing would work in my zone? It is common to have cold snaps in March to -35 C, and if so when would you start them. Thank you very much

  807. Hi Jackie Leib – If the bulbs are still firm, not mushy, go ahead and plant them. Not sure if they perform for you, but it’s worth a shot.

    Cathy Ricketts – Click on the “Winter Sowing” category located on the left hand side of this site. You’ll find the transplanting article there.

    Kate – I’ve never built a raised bed on a deck before, so unfortunately I have no answer for you.

    Adrienne – Nicotiana is a determined perennial. Just give the seeds a bit more time. By May you should be overwhelmed with plants!

    Pat – I’m hoping to have the cookbook available by Christmastime. Thanks for asking!

    Isabel – If bees are attracted to the white-flowering weeds in your lawn, I’d leave the weeds alone, or just mow them. The bee population is in serious trouble.

    Dianne – Tape the hinged top on your milk jug greenhouses, and your plants should be safe from pests. I’ve never had racoons, squirrels and such meddle with mine.

    Gabbee – I only apply vinegar to my walkways.

    Dana Freeman – Fastest growing evergreen I’ve ever encountered is Thuja ‘Green Giant.’ I used the shrub to screen my property from the street. My favorite yellow rose? Definitely ‘Graham Thomas.’ It has a gorgeous scent, too.

  808. Clare – If the little bed you describe is in full sun, you might have luck spraying the small weeds with vinegar. Otherwise, your idea is correct: remove the chippings, lay down a weed-barrier (newspaper my favorite), and then replace the chips. Have fun with your project!

    Jen J – If your patio receives at least 6 hours of full sun, you can grow an entire world of potted annuals there. Just how many plants, and whether you grow more than one type per pot, depends upon how large the pots are. Pink geraniums, annual blue salvia, dwarf snapdragons…well, the list is a lengthy one!

    Toni Kitchen – Why, thank you!

    Terri G – Old lamp brackets were typically painted black. Why? Because black goes with everything! But you can spray paint them any color you like. White or periwinkle blue are both good colors for a setting that includes African violets.

    Paul – Sometimes older African violet leaves will develop cracks. You can remove them if they bother you. As for faded flowers — yes, pinch or snip them off.

    Patin VT – You can lay down newspaper any time after the ground has thawed. Or, if there are perennials in the bed, just wait until they sprout (so you know where they are, and don’t accidentally cover them up).

    KLF – If your rose-scented geranium has a strong hint of citron, you may have been sold a variety that is not ‘True Rose.’ I don’t think there is anything you can do to alter the scent. You might place a few leaves in boiling water, then cover the pan and remove from heat. Let the leaves steep for 10 minutes, and then do a “sniff test.”

    Durf – Yes, ’twas a brutal winter here in the Hudson Valley. Probably your Deutzia is fine — mine has a few tiny leaves, but it’s still early in the season. Try scratching a stem. If you see green, the shrub is alive.

    Cora Lyne – Petunias typically reseed themselves here in cold zone 5-b, and are thus good candidates for winter-sowing even in January. But you can start seeds in your much colder climate anytime after days are above freezing. They should be fine in a milk jug greenhouse.

  809. Dear Kevin,
    I Love, Love, Love your blog!
    I have sent it to all my friends to enjoy and I have made so many of the delicious recipes you have posted. Your home is beautiful, and your decorating tips so useful and creative!
    Did I say I love your blog?
    Now I have a question for you, we have a small patio in the back of our Bungalow in Chicago. Around the patio for coziness I have planted boxwood which I thought I could shape into a little 3 foot barrier between the yard and the concrete patio.
    Every year since we planted them,about 4 years ago, 2 to 4 bushes die and we replace them with new bushes.
    What do you recommend for our zone and for the coziness factor of our patio?
    Thank you,

  810. Hi Kevin,
    I’m ready to get me one of those Hori Hori knives. Rascally weeds gotta go for good.
    Please tell me what brand you are using…when I look for one I am overwhelmed by the choices.
    What would you suggest for my new best friend??

  811. Dear Kevin
    Your blog is indispensable, fun, and funny too. Thank you. Would you be interested in writing about designing a window box ?

    I would love to see your ideas.

  812. Hi Kevin

    I have planted my ditch with Periwinkle over the last few years & it is now quite well established. My problem is weeds. I planted the ditch as it is deep & steep & cutting the grass was beginning to be a problem for this old gal. Getting into the ditch to weed is now out of the question. Any suggestions on what I might use to keep the weeds down but not kill the plants? I live in Ontario Canada where pesticide is banned & I would prefer natural anyway. Many thanks for any suggestions.

  813. Hi Kevin, some rose and related questions.
    Does the milk for the black spot protection need to be whole milk? Can it be fat-free?
    Does it work for powdery mildew also?
    What are the most disease-resistance type of roses? I think I lost several of my beloved hybrid teas because of the awful winter (NYC northern suburb) and will not replace them because I am so done with fighting diseases.

  814. and one more question about azaleas – speaking about the terrible winter – at what point do I really know they are dead – in zone 6B – but the warmer side of 6B – seems like my microclimate is much toward 7

  815. Hi Kevin:
    I have been following you for four years now, but every Spring I need a refresher course in PESTS! My vegetable raised bed garden seems to have quite an abundance of cut worms. Any effective organic way to rid the bed of them. Ooo, they are so nasty looking!
    Thanks! Kelly

  816. Hi Kevin –
    I just read your comments re African Violets and discovered that one of the two that I have is in a self-watering pot and is “drowning.” Is there any way to save it. I have another white one that is doing incredibly well, and is NOT in a self-watering pot.

  817. Kevin,
    What is the name of the lavender Weigela you show in your comments on layering? The shrub does well outside Santa Fe, NM, and I want to have one like yours. Sources?
    Many thanks.

  818. I would like the recipe for rhubarb custard pie, it was taken off your website

  819. Kevin, I have a groundcover question. I have 2 old, mature magnolia trees that shade my small front slope, We don’t want to mow the slope anymore (not that the grass ever did well there) and I want a low growing perennial groundcover that will keep the slope green but must do well in shade. Also, the trees produce flowers in the spring & leaves in the fall that need picked up. It is easy to rake the flowers & leaves off the grass I am concerned about damaging a groundcover in the cleanup. I really like the vinca minor but a landscaper recommended a blue grass juniper for easier clean up. But the juniper appears to need sun – at best the sun is dappled over this slope. Do either one of these options seem viable to you? Thank you!

  820. Cherie says:

    I am completely emptying several flower beds and starting fresh. Reason being no matter how much weed killer I use or how often I weed the beds they get so weedy every year. Any suggestions? I was thinking of watering the entire bed down with vinegar!! Will my annuals still grow if I do that?

  821. do you use straight vinegar to get rid of the weeds or do you mix it with water, if so how much water ?

  822. Shirley says:

    If I use vinager to kill the weeds around my fruit trees will it hurt the fruit trees?

  823. Hi Kevin
    Your site is so informative. I love it!
    I have loads of tulips. The question: About 1/3 of my tulips are just leaves and no flower. I haven’t done anything to the leaves for years now thinking “Maybe, just maybe…” to no avail.
    What should I do? Will these leaves ever have any blooms?

  824. Jim Lambert says:

    Hi Kevin,
    You are always an inspiration to me – I created a vertical Pallet Garden which I’d like to share pics with you – how would I do that?

  825. PapinVT says:

    Is the newspaper smother effective on gout (bishops weed)? Trouble getting rid of it and hoping you have some secret or know of one?


  826. Cristie says:

    Hi Kevin! Thank you for this opportunity. Short of reading all 800+ comments/answers, I may be re-asking a common question; but, here goes… What do you recommend for killing weeds of the dandelion variety that won’t harm my grass here in Denver? This is my first year of many that I am having this problem. Thank you for your time!

  827. Hi Kevin,

    Last Fall I piled lots of shredded leaves on two of my raised beds that I plant vegies in. I followed your instructions and put down some layers of newspaper first. Now is the time to plant my lettuce seeds. Do I leave the newspaper and leaves in place? Do I plant the seeds right in the leaf layer? The newspaper is still there, I can see it on the corners where the leaves no longer are. Or do I pull it all back and compost it? I thought I’d dig a hole right thru the leaves and paper when put in my tomato and pepper plants. Please answer soon, as I need to get my lettuce seeds in.

  828. Hi Sami – I’d go with Buxus (Boxwood) ‘Winter Gem.’

    Nancy – Milk for blackspot can be any fat content (whole, skim, whatever).

    Ronald – My Weigela variety is ‘Wine & Roses.’ Love it!

    Glenda – In the search box at the top of this site, type “Joyce Kippen Jacobs’ Custardy Rhubarb Pie” (without quotes) and then press your “enter” key.

    Rocky – In spring and autumn, I use a small, flexible rake to remove leaves, etc. from my Vinca minor. So if you like this particular groundcover, go ahead and plant it in the shade of your magnolia tree.

    Cherie – Just smother the weeds with newspaper or cardboard. No need to use vinegar or any other weed killer.

    John – I only use vinegar on my garden paths, never in beds or on lawn. I never dilute it with water.

    Shirley – I’ve no answer for you, as my experience with vinegar is limited to garden paths.

    Lisa – Try feeding your tulips heavily while they are in leaf. If still no blooms next year, then replace the bulbs. I think some tulip varieties are short-lived.

    Jim Lambert – By all means post your pix on this website’s Facebook page. I’d love to see them!

    Hi Christie – No easy way to rid a lawn of dandelions without resorting to nasty chemicals. Best plan is to bribe some kids to dig them out for you.

    Marlyn – Plant your tomatoes and peppers just as you mentioned — by digging a hole in the newspaper (easy to do). For seeds, I simply push the leaves aside to make rows. Then I make openings in the paper for seeds. As the veggies grow, I gradually return the leaves around the plants. Hope this makes sense to you!

  829. Jean Harrison says:

    Hey Kevin! I just saw your article online for the remake of the magazine Garden Design. What a wonderful article. You’ve written about the making of your rose garden (and other areas of your yard) in the past but I enjoyed seeing it again as if through new eyes. When I saw that you had an article on this site I felt like I was visiting an old friend. Now about that mixer/food processor that I never win…

  830. Cristie says:

    Haha! Thanks, Kevin! That thought had not occurred to me.

  831. Cathy Chism says:

    Hi Kevin,
    I am trying to amend my flower garden soil. I would like to add earthworms to the soil. Would I add the earthworms prior to laying a fresh layer of top soil? If so, how long would I have to wait before I lay my newspaper down and mulch on top of that? This year it is all about the soil.
    Thank you ,Kevin
    Freeland, Washington

  832. Hi Kevin,
    I searched in this thread and I couldn’t find exactly what i’m looking for so now i’ll ask. We bought a house 5 yrs ago and with it came a beautiful back yard of garden beds, 5 yards to be exact. The gardener before me had an amazing green thumb (i do not have a green thumb at all!) and for 17 yrs she worked the yard to have plants flowering throughout the spring, summer and fall. I have kept up w/ the yard these past 5 yrs and it’s now getting to the point where i have to start breaking up all of the plants b/c it’s just getting overgrown. I have Hostas, Black Eyed Susan’s, Peonies, rhubarb, Iris, tulips and a boat load of other plants (that i just don’t know the names of) that need to be broken up and given away. How do i go about doing this? I’m afraid that if i just start digging up plants that i’ll kill them. Help!

  833. Hi Paula – I saw your post elsewhere, and left a response.

    Hi Cathy – In my experience, when organic matter is added to the soil, earthworms simply show up. As proof, I invite you to read about the creation of my rose garden — the former site of an asphalt parking lot.

    A good plan for you: add composted manure, shredded leaves, or chopped kitchen waste to your existing flower bed. Then soak the soil well, and apply cardboard or newspaper. Finish with a layer of mulch. After a year has passed, the bed will be teeming with earthworms, millipedes, and other soil-making creatures.

  834. I have a shady tree area that is overgrown with grass and weed. will the vinegar solution work to kill stuff instead of round up? i don’t want to hurt my mature multi-trunked maples. also i want to plant ferns back there…i have tried multiple times to transplant from neighbors gardens…but after watering them throughout summer they die off and then the next spring again, i have zero fern plants……how can i get ferns to grow? also i have planted hydrangas and rhododendron bushes….they all died everyone!!!!! I live on an acreage all i can grow in pasture grasses in my lawn and gardens, HELP!!!!!!!!

  835. Hi Kevin,
    I need some help! I’ve been trying to grow rhubarb for years now – without success – & it looks as though I may fail again. I planted my latest patch in a raised bed which has afternoon shade. Also, they are approximately six feet from my herb garden & five feet from my tomatoes. Can you give me some tips for rescue? They do look quite pitiful! Thank you!

  836. Hi Kevin,

    Wondering if you happen to know if Ferry-Morse is in anyway connected to Monsanto?

    Thanks so much!

    Will I automatically get an email if/when you answer this question??


  837. Becky Harris says:


    Will left over cold coffee sprayed on herbs cause them harm? Particularly a Rosemary bush.

    Thank you,

  838. Paulette says:

    No garden question at this time. Just learned about this site today at a garden center while looking for bonsai items/trees. The woman was right there is a lot of information and recipes, thanks.

  839. kenneth lemire says:

    Hi Kevin do you thing this weed killer would work on moss also.Ken

  840. Waaaah!!!! All my planted winter sown marigolds were eaten overnight. Who could the culprit be and what can I do about it. I wanted to plant my winter sown zinnias and the rest of the marigolds today, but I’m afraid to put them in the ground. I have a pretty good supply of used egg shells, do you think this would deter whatever it is? Help, please!

  841. Hi Lora – I only use vinegar on pathways — never on lawns, flower beds, veggies beds, etc. As for your plants dying — I feel for you! Probably you should have your soil tested. Your local county extension will do this for you. They will also advise you on what to do to improve the soil for the plants you wish to grow.

    Hi Leesa – Your rhubarb crowns may be planted too deeply. Make sure they are covered with only 1 inch of soil. Rhubarb performs best with all-day sunshine in spring. Part shade in summer won’t harm the plant.

    Hi Mindy – I don’t think Ferry-Morse is connected with Monsanto. But you can certainly call or email them to find out for sure.

    Hi Becky – I’ve never heard of anyone spraying rosemary or other herbs with cold coffee. How is it supposed to help them?

    Hi Paulette – Nice to “see” you!

    Hi Kenneth – Are you referring to vinegar? I’ve never tried it on moss, so unfortunately I don’t have a proper answer for you.

    Hi Gloria – Was the marigold foliage eaten or just the flower buds? I once planted 60 zinnias in the open, and the flower buds were cleanly snipped by rabbits. Now I plant zinnias safely behind a fence!

  842. Kevin, the marigolds hadn’t bloomed yet and the plant was eaten down to the ground, all but disappeared.

  843. Gloria – The old French-type marigold is a great pest-deterrent, because of its disagreeable odor. But newer cultivars have no scent, and are thus attractive to deer, chipmunks, woodchucks, and rabbits. My advice? Spray your marigolds (and your zinnias!) with deer/rabbit repellent. You can find such sprays at most garden centers and hardware stores.

  844. Richard Masterson says:

    I want kill all the weeds and grass inside my privet hedge, will the vingar harm the hedge

  845. Richard Masterson says:

    Hello Kevin,

    I want to use vinegar to kill the weeds and grasses inside my privet hedge. Will the vinegar harm the hedge?

    All positive consideration will be appreciated’

    Thank you

  846. Hi Kevin,
    The cold coffee was not sprayed directly on the rosemary. I’ll explain. I work on the second floor of a marina. We do not have sinks or running water. When we make coffee we throw the old coffee over our deck. We try to toss it pass the herb garden but there are times the coffee drips in. I collect the coffee grounds for my compost pile. I wanted to be sure the coffee was not harming the herb garden.

  847. Hi Kevin,

    I have been following your blog for several years and even won a nice prize once! so glad you have this. I have a two part question:

    I recently purchased two trees which I have been passionate about and want to be sure I plant according.

    first – sycamore – beautiful bark that I would like use a corner anchor for my 1863 greek revivial – they get HUGE! can I plant it about 25 feet from house safely? I see in your photo you have a large tree in front of yours and wondering how your roof is doing. we need some shade

    second – purple robe locus – LOVE< LOVE – went to buy the sycamore and saw this, bought it. Now I read it's horribly invasive with runners. any suggestions or experience?

  848. Naomi Shelton says:

    Hi, Kevin. I have a question about my rose bushes. Every Spring they begin to grow and look very healthy. Then in two or three weeks their leaves become riddled with holes and this just continues the rest of the summer. They bloom but they look terrible. What is eating my rose bushes? I don’t want to go though another summer without knowing and doing something to cure them. Preferably, I would like to use something non-chemcal.

  849. My husband would like to use church pews (cut into slabs) for raised beds. Is there a concern with toxins from the varnish? (especially over time?)

    Thank you for your site. It’s wonderful.

  850. Sw33tchef says:

    I tried to link to this recipe No-Work, No-Knead, Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread but got the dreaded Error 404. Help?Thank you

  851. Kevin:

    For our anniversary dinner tonight (married 28 yrs) I fixed your rosemary mint pork chops. They were divine! My question is how do you keep mashed potatoes warm for serving without making them soggy…the lid condensation always drips in my pan if I try to keep my potatoes warm that way. I chose to microwave them at the last minute instead, but that just felt wrong.

  852. What is the plant in the picture. It’s growing all over my garden and I never planted any. So curious!!!

  853. I want to know what I can use to get weeds out of my rose garden without killing my roses,I can’t get out to do much and I need weeds out of my roses

  854. Hi Richard Masterson – I only use vinegar to kill the weeds which emerge in my brick, gravel, and bluestone walkways. So unfortunately I do not have an answer for you.

    Hi Lisa – I doubt your sycamore will cause any problems if planted 25 feet away from the house. As for purple robe locust — watch out. Gorgeous flowers, but invasive (as you said). Hence a terrific amount of upkeep, unless you want a purple robe forest!

    Hi Naomi – Lots of chewing insects are attracted to roses — especially hybrid teas. Best to consult with your local cooperative extension to learn the culprit and — hopefully — the cure.

    Hi Cindy – I’d be concerned about the chemicals used on the church pews. Any chance you could sand them first?

    Hi Sw33tchef — Here’s the recipe, which I adapted from the good folks at King Aruthur: No Work, No Knead Sandwich Bread

    Hi Sonya – Congrats on 28 years! So glad you enjoyed the rosemary-mint lamb chops. To keep mashed potatoes fresh, warm, and wonderful until serving-time, place them over a pan of simmering water.

    Hi Karen – It’s “Star of Bethlehem” (Ornithogalum). Beautiful flowers, but oh, how it multiplies!

    Hi Sandra Yeager — You can use newspaper or cardboard to smother the weeds in your rose garden (details here.) Alternatively, you might hire some industrious teenager (or an adult who needs extra cash) to pull them for you.

  855. Hi Kevin! Any tips on how to keep the ants from eating all my strawberries? I haven’t been able to get any berries yet because the ants eat them before they re ripe. They don’t bother any of my other beds so I haven’t really worried about them in the past. This year I planted an entire raised bed of strawberries and red onions and they have swarmed the berries. HELP!

  856. ~gloria says:

    Last year, smashing success (mashing success?) w/ potatoes grown in big feed sack,vertically, and in an old laundry basket. I used more soil to hill up. Plants got tall, flowered, all the right potato growing progress. This year, I’m using the basket again and added 2 galvanized wash tubs. All went well until it was time to hill. I was out of decent soil so I used some coarse pine mulch mixed with some so-so soil. Soon a couple of the plants started to die off. Should I dig out the spuds from those plants or leave them? The other plants, which I think I have too many for the size of the containers, are growing but not flowering yet. Do you think my hilling material is too heavy? Here in w. NY, we’ve had a LOT of rain, a few days of really hot humid weather and some fairly cool days too, kinda like where you are. Have you ever had plants that didn’t flower. I’m growing all red potatoes, same as last year.

  857. I have some kohlrabi and I need suggestions for a good recipe that does not include red meat. How about it, Kevin? Help me here!

  858. kelly lent says:

    I found your ‘shade garden’ article on how you transformed your wooded area into a beautiful garden. Wanted to know how you ran power to the pond in the woods and which pump did you buy? There are too many and prices vary widely. Do you keep your fish in the pond all year around? I live in CT on the shoreline. thanks for your help!

  859. Hi Kevin,
    I have several questions regarding plant diseases. I was recently HORRIFIED to learn how Monsanto Roundup works, and can now see the negative effects of plant disease running rampant throughout my yard. I have been fighting back invasive vines for almost a decade with Roundup, but recently noticed that several of my azaleas, creeping junipers, all of my Vinca vines, and two Flowering Dogwoods are sick. I have identified some of the diseases, while others I’ve never seen before. One of my azaleas actually looks moss-covered due to the way the leaves are regrowing. How do i disinfect my garden soil before everyone back there dies and i’m living in a barren wasteland? Also, are Girasol Mammoth Sunflowers perennial? Will they ever stop falling face first into the dirt?

  860. SANDY MARTINEZ says:

    Hi Kevin,
    Can you help with powdery mildew on our wine grapes? We live in Forbestown, CA.
    We heard if we change the ph level it would help. We deduced that vinegar would lower the ph, but we’re not sure. Also, we know that sulfur is supposed to be the cure all but our daily temps are warmer than the 80 or 90 degrees maximum required to spray sulfur. Does that mean we spray in the evening/early morning or not at all??
    We would appreciate any info or suggestions you may have.
    Thanks, Sandy and Jim

  861. Denise LeBrun says:

    Hi Kevin, I just put in a large perennial garden. I would love to send you a picture, but I’m not sure how. It is mainly for the butterflies. In fact, I am applying for the “Monarch Waystation” certificate. My question is, should I apply a fertilizer now? If not, when is the best time and what kind? Thank you so much. I also wrote to you a while back about my Joe Pye Weed. I will follow your advise and remove the newpaper later in the fall so the seeds and fall to the ground and germinate.

  862. Hello Kevin. We was having a great first year harvest in our raised veggie bed until we noticed our zucchini leaves turning yellow and looked at the stalks to find something was eating it from the inside out!! We of course didn’t use pesticides. It is a long skinny black bug that runs very fast up and down tunnels created on the inside of the stalks…. so depressing since it was producing rapidly and was ever so yummy. We still have 3-4 plants that don’t seem to have it yet didn’t know if the rubbing alcohol deal would work on this or not. We didn’t want to pull the dying plants since we are still currently getting fruit. There was a large beetle looking stink bug shaped bug hanging out on a leaf today….. is that what the black bug grows into or something different?
    Our cucumber leaves are also turning yellow and are dying underneath the trellis we have them on. Don’t see the main stalks having an issues but we are concerned something is killing it too. I knew if anyone could tell me what this stuff was it would be you. Thank you ever so much for your blog and the time you spend helping all of us out.

  863. I live in Central Arizona (our summer temps get to about 95 degrees), can I plant my impatiens on the east side of my house? They will get full sun from 6am. to about 1pm.

  864. Jaime Maurer says:

    Hi Kevin, I just read your article on placing newspaper in a flower bed to prevent weeds. Could I place rocks on top instead of mulch? We already have river rocks so I’d like to stick to that, but the weeds are out of control! Thanks!!

  865. When I originally commented I seem to have clicked
    on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on each time a comment is added I
    receive four emails with the same comment. Perhaps there is an easy method you can remove
    me from that service? Kudos!

  866. Hello Kevin!

    I’m from UK originally and although I can buy wonderful blueberries in the States I cannot find my favorite fruit – blackcurrents! If you’ve never tried blackcurrent tart with Devonshire Clotted Cream then you’ve never lived lol!

    Do you know of anywhere I can obtain blackcurrents?

    If you do find some then please try a blackcurrent tart – it’s wonderfully tart and sweet and I hear now so good for your eye-sight!

    Thank you! Mags

  867. I have a bunch of bee balm flowers growing. My question is will they multiply by root spreading or should I leave the flowers till they mature fully and dry out so maybe they will drop seeds. Thank you! Elaine

  868. Carolyn Baker says:

    I have been growing African Violets for many years. I have always had very good luck with them. Now, however, they are not doing so well. I put them in afternoon winter sun in one window as well as some in an east facing window. The window gets early morning sun for a few hours daily. After not blooming for quite some time I noticed the new growth was very tightly formed. After some research, I found out they were getting too much light/sun. Now I have plants that are curling in the leaves as well as down around the pots. I have not re-potted any recently. I can’t seem to get it right. HELP!!!!!

  869. Hi Kevin,

    I’m having a problem with rust on my hollyhocks. Do you have any solutions for this problem?

    Thanks so much!


  870. Joann Bourget says:

    Hi Kevin:

    I look forward to your new letter and you have helped me solve many problems. Here is another one.

    I have a braided annual hibiscus and it has little white flying bugs. Someone told me that instead of using a pesticide on hibiscus pests you can mix Dawn dish soap with water and treat both sides of the leaves with it. Have you ever heard this?

    Thank you for ALL your help.


  871. Hi Kevin,

    I wanted to thank you for your thorough instructions, and how they helped me start my tiny garden of AVs which is growing rapidly everyday now. I have been using your instructions and was able to get an AV plant to bloom after a one year-no bloom period (since it was purchased)!

    I am recently having trouble with one my AVs, it was purchased 2 months ago and seems to be doing very well, healthy leaves and all, however it started to dry the buds and blooms turn brown . I cut all the blooms that were turning brown and the plant took a couple week off blooming, now it has started budding and blooming again but same thing happens, the flowers don’t last as long as my other violets’ do, they turn brown fast and I don’t know what to do about it. Other than that the plant seems healthy with plenty of nice green leaves.
    I’d appreciate your help in this matter!


  872. Where is the best place to plant a hibiscus? Why does it always have yellowing leaves no matter what sunlight it is in?

  873. Hello! I was reading through your pages and found information on winter sowing. I have been saving containers all summer. My question is, can you winter sow bulbs?

  874. Andi Stewart says:

    hi Kevin

    I took note of your posting about spraying the mild solution on roses for blackspot. We live in north Central Florida where it rains quite often. If I have sprayed the roses early in the day and we get afternoon rain, do I need to respray or does enough of whatever works sink into the leaves during the day. Also, does the blackspot ever just completely go away after the milk treatments or is this an ongoing program? I do love my roses so don’t mind the extra effort to keep them looking great….guess my other solution would be to find blackspot resistant bushes. Thanks!!

  875. David Sword says:

    Hi Kevin
    I’ve been researching how to force freesias and found your website/blog very useful – thanks for sharing your knowledge! I have several additional questions I’d appreciate your perspective on as the freesias in your photos look fantastic. Can I give you a call to discuss directly?
    Please let me know.

  876. Carol Bell says:

    Hi Kevin. Your blog is fantastic. I just finished reading your article on African Violets. I gave my 97 year old Mother one for her room at the Nursing Home and it hasn’t blossomed for months! I am going to pick it up tomorrow and see if I can get it blooming for her!! Now, I am trying to figure out the best way to care for my Christmas Cactus so it will bloom for Christmas. It is two years old. The first year it was covered with blooms and last years not a one! Any helpful hints? Thanks so much, Kevin.

  877. Kevin,
    Hello! I have tried winter sowing in milk jugs and in Rubbermaid containers with moderate success even with our unusually harsh 2013-14 Cincinnati winter! I would like to know your thought on actual mini greenhouses. Measurements are 27 wide x 19 deep x 62 1/4 high. The one I’m looking at on Amazon is the only one I found that a reviewer said they used it in the winter but I don’t know their growing zone. Mine is five. The cover is described as tarp like, thick clear plastic with a green square matrix overlay. How much should I water or ventilate? There is a zipper door in the front. I have already been warned in reviews to use zip ties to reinforce and to secure it to the ground with whatever means necessary or it will tip a strong wind. If I do use this should I start the seeds as early I would with winter sowing, which is February-ish. I have to buy from Amazon as I have gift cards from there.

    Thanks for you advice in the past and this time!


  878. Hi Kevin,
    I found some hollyhock seeds in the 80’s that were in an enveloped dated March of 1952 Ark. So these seeds are over 60 yrs old and most likely a heritage seed! I have hug onto them for all this time (for some unknown reason).
    Last year I decided to see if they would germinate. I searched online for any info hints or tips as to whether old seed could be germinated and how. I didn’t find much information so I just tried it anyway. I soaked them for about a week to get some swelling started. Then I put them in a pot to watch the magic!
    Do you have any insight on this type of project? Is it possible for this old of seed to grow into a beautiful plant? I would love to see what these would turn out to look like! Oh please tell me there is a way! Althea

  879. Hi Kevin,

    I am thinking about purchasing a truck load of horse manure for my garden a I’ve heard it does wonders and my new garden is only two years old. The soil is good but I think some manure would help a lot. So my question is ” I can purchase a truck load from a horse rescue farm but I won’t know if it is “aged” or “fresh” until I get it. If it is fresh, can I put it safely on my garden and let it sit all winter and if so, will it be safe to plant in when Spring comes along or should I stack it in a large pile, let it age and add it to the garden next Spring?”

    Thanks so much for all of your wonderful thoughts and recipes. When is that cookbook coming out? Can’t wait. Jean in Indiana

  880. Lots of questions. I have a circle driveway on a slope and want to use vinegar for the weeds in the driveway. I live in a very wet part of Oregon. Will this runoff harm my flower bed at the bottom? I would like to kill a lot of thistle—I have pulled it up but unfortunately, during the wrong time of year because it all went to seed! So, will putting down a good thick layer of newspaper for the winter keep them down, dead, or what would you recommend. This is next to our pump house and our property ( 3/4 acre) is surrounded on 3 sides by a creek so chemicals are of huge concern for me. If it boils down to good old fashioned elbow grease, then let it be. What are your recommendations?

  881. Dennis Hermanson says:

    My wife wanted to know when to use ROUNDUP, and so I went to the web, where I found you suggest vinegar.
    Honeysuckle and wild grapevine has woody stems, and let’s not forget poison ivy, the long-growing patch in the side (wild) yard.
    Any experience with these tougher varieties?
    Also, we have mucho bamboo grass. That stuff defines invasive. Does the vinigar keep it down… of course you know, those seeds are long-lasting, years, in the soil. so I suppose it’s a yearly spring spray of vinegar that is needed for that.
    Thanks for the update on vineger!
    Hillsborough NC

  882. My house is 100 years old and so is the garden soil. My problem is, that some of the dirt in the beds (as well as the lawn, but that is another story) is very old and deeply weed ridden. I do not know the name of the weed (leaves are shaped like violets) but its roots are at least a foot deep, and after trying to get rid of it for 3 years manually I gave it up. Leave a millimetre of that root and it is back next year looking better and healthier than ever. I even tried the dreaded Roundup this year on the sidewalk to see if it would work. It did wilt briefly, but came back, a bit worse for wearing, but it is back.
    So I tried removing the 2 feet of dirt in the one bed, though backbreaking, very successful. So my first question is, do you know of a way that I can rid that dirt of the weeds in it, or do I just get rid of it?
    Secondly, there is 2 more areas that needs attention, do you think that I might have success putting plastic over the bed for 6 weeks during the hottest part of the year? Will that kill those deep roots?
    I think your newspaper method will work for the new garden and I am excited to try it next year, or do you think I should give it a try?

  883. While establishing up the account, click on on the More Settings button and on Outgoing Mail Servers tab, select
    the My server requires authentication box.

  884. We are renovating a 1950s house/bathroom and found a lovely green and yellow mosaic tile on the floor (under vinyl). We’ve found a matching porcelain mosaic, matte, tile and want to install in the shower. Is this a good material choice for cleaning? We can seal it, but don’t know if it will be a problem down the road for cleaning.

    The distributor said not to use a matte mosaic tile in the shower. (I was also told not to use marble for my kitchen counter top. We did it and LOVE it). Should I listen, or do what we think is the right design aesthetic for the bathroom?

  885. Zone 5, too late to propagate privet? Same as boxwood?

  886. Hi Kevin! We’ve built a new house with a Colonial-inspired exterior (while somewhat disguised, it’s actually a one-story ranch that we drew out ourselves to deal with my husband’s back and knee problems, but that’s another story…) on 5 acres (wooded in back, roughly 3 landscape-able acres that the house sits on). Your garden transformation photos are incredibly inspiring but I’m finding myself overwhelmed by the task at hand. How did you prioritize projects when you started your transformation? We have some unexpected budget challenges (the pool contractor abandoned our pool after making many mistakes that will involve a winter of concrete removal to fix…) but again you seem to have dealt well with those type challenges. Did you prioritize projects that could be completed to have impact, or projects that would require more time (best to get started early), or some other method? How did you avoid frustration and/or being overwhelmed? I have a friend who has offered to divide some plant material (daylilies, iris, etc.) but I’m not sure even where I might tuck such things since I don’t really have any ‘bones’ in place beyond some hardscape surrounding the house proper. Would I be better off making more purposeful selections or should I refrain from turning away ‘free’?
    How much did you reach out for assistance in the planning? Do you do any conceptual design consultations? Many thanks in advance for responding, and for sharing your garden’s story. If you need respite from the harsh winters up there, I know a garden in Tennessee that would be glad to see you 😉

  887. Hi Althea – Holy cow — hollyhock seeds from 1952! Seeds can remain viable for a long time, but only if they are properly cared for (i.e., frozen). If you’d like to test them, just do a google search for “test perennials seeds.”

    Hi Jean – I’d let the horse manure age over winter. It should be perfectly safe to use when spring arrives.

    Hi Tammy – A thick layer of newspaper (or cardboard) will smother the weeds.

    Hi Dennis – The weeds you described are really hard to kill. I’d pull them. If new growth emerges, hit ’em with vinegar!

    Hi Elsabe – A tart of clear plastic, left in place for 6 weeks during the hottest part of the summer, ought to rid your soil of those nasty perennial roots. Good luck with your project!

    Cynthia Haffey – Porcelain tile can be fabulous in a shower! Seal it, and it should last you forever. Always a good idea to dry the shower walls with a towel after use, no matter the material.

    Hi Terry – I’ve no experience with privet. Sorry!

  888. Hi Kevin – LOVE your blog. Between the recipes, the gardening, and your house I am continually inspired, entertained and well-fed.

    My question – over the years I’ve acquired quite a few amaryllis that I’ve managed to coax to bloom almost every year. The oldest bulb is 18! Normally I cut off the wilted flowers, trim down the stems, and put the pots outside for the leaves to feed and grow as soon as it’s warm enough. Usually they yellow and die off by late September…I cut off the leaves and put the bulbs, in the pot, in the basement ’til they start up again. I’ve only re-potted over the years for effect. I do feed the plants over the summer, sparingly.

    This year, nothing’s withering! Shall I just cut all the leaves and force as usual? Also, I read a suggestion that I take the bulbs out of the soil and refrigerate them for six weeks, then re-pot and force. Your thoughts?

    Best, Krysia

  889. Hi Krysia – I always force my amaryllis into dormancy. Details in this (old) post o’ mine:

  890. I have a raised strawberry bed that I will need to winterize for our Wisconsin winter. My be is about 3.5 feet high x 3 feet wide and about 5 feet long. I am 73 years old and this bed is wonderful for herbs and now I hope for strawberries. I am at a loss as to how to winterize this bed. My parents were commercial strawberry growers, so I understand the winterizing process for 15 acres of berry plants. My concern is the open space UNDER the planter….shall I fill this space in with bags of leaves, etc. and then wrap the legs with plastic and cover the plants with straw??? My plants are healthy. I did pick off the blossoms this past spring and am pleased with the health of the bed. Thank you.

  891. Hi Karen — The strawberry plants in your bed-on-legs will freeze no matter what you do. After the first deep freeze (not just a light frost), cover the plants with straw or shredded leaves. Then gradually remove this mulching material (or tuck it underneath the plants) when the soil begins to thaw in March or April. (When I grew strawberries in a regular raised bed, I did not give them any winter protection at all. They survived sub-zero temperatures, and in spring they grew without a hitch.)

  892. ingmarie peck says:

    I would like a recipe for gluten free pie crust , dessert and veggie ,please
    My daughter loves my spinach pie ,but has gone gluten free

  893. Lisa Ortmeier says:

    Hello Kevin,

    I have a very large, neglected African Violet that needs help. My climate doesnt allow for Violets to grow so I brought this old guy to my office where they floorish.

    I went to pinch a couple of dead dried up leaves off the bottom and accidently pulled a clump off… Is there any hope for this clump???

    I wish I could send you a photo of the poor thing… Please help!!!

    Thank you so much!

  894. Hi Kevin,

    In your recipe, the section that you can print it up from, you have left out the brown rice.

    Kind regards,

  895. Hi Kevin,

    In your recipe Brown Rice, Lentil, and Kale Soup, the section that you can print it up from, you have left out the brown rice.

    Kind regards,

  896. Hi Marie – Glad you caught the rice/lentils omission from the copy-and-paste version of the recipe. Fixed now!

  897. Kevin, you have competition.


  898. Hello again.
    It’s that sad time of year when I have to put the garden to bed. But this year, nothing wants to go. Many of my potted plants and flowers are wanting to “stay up” and watch a little more TV or something. The boxes of parsley, sweet potato vine and nasturtium just wont’ quit. Sooo, can I bring all these indoors successfully? Or about time for Thanksgiving, will I have a bunch of dead tired (or just plain dead) potted plants?
    Thanks, Kevin, I appreciate your great advice,


  899. Dori – I love the “Passover munchies” video! Lines of matzo meal — oy vey!

    Gloria – You can keep parsley going all winter long. See this old post o’ mine: Overwintering Tender Herbs. I’ve no experience with the winter care of nasturtiums and sweet potato vine. Unfortunately!

  900. I have 10 big Amaryllis bulbs that are still in my garden but need to be brought in before a heavy frost. They have big green leaves yet. Do I did up bare rooted and let the leaves weather away or do I plant them in a pot and quit watering them so it dies back?

  901. Hi Roxanne – I’ve only grown amaryllis at potted plants (see this post: Amaryllis How-To). But according to one article I found, you can simply store outdoor-grown bulbs as you would dahlias or gladiolus. Here’s the article.

  902. I am wondering about ornamental cabbage plants. I was sure I have seen large ones but the tags say annual and the woman at the garden center said they only last one season. If that is so then how do they get so large. I was going to buy some last week that were on sale. They looked great. Thought I would put them in the house for the winter then repot next spring and put them by my back porch steps. It is about a 12 inch section where there is some concrete beside the step and little dirt so grass really does not grow there. Only two steps up then the porch so I was looking for something to pot and set there. I like the purple/red ornamental cabbage. I wanted something that would continue to grow/fill out yet not grow tall and overbearing in that spot. …. any thoughts?
    Thanks Kevin- love all the info on this site.

  903. Kevin, I’ve enjoyed discovering your blog and I’m so happy to find you have a place for questions! I want to put in some raised beds and I’m working on designing a lay out for them. I noticed that in your veggie garden the beds are quite close together and in the herb garden the paths are quite a bit wider. Ideally, how wide would you make the paths between beds if you didn’t have anything restricting the size of the overall space? I like the look of them closer together, but I want to make sure it won’t make it harder to work around!

  904. Cat Jones says:

    We have an Italian Plum tree which produces a good amount of fruit each year. I make a fruit jam each fall with the prunes by stewing them in OJ Concentrate or sometimes in Lemonade Concentrate. But I can only make so much of that, and I was wondering if you had any ideas or twists on recipes in which I can use my abundance of prunes. Love your website, by the way. Very fun.

  905. Renate simsa says:

    hello kevin,

    I really enjoy your site. Re winter sowing, we have no snow, 14F, then 36F, then 17F great changes in temp. Can I still winter sow? Last year we had the last frost June 10th, even though they try to tell us we are zone 5, but we are really still zone 4 in Traverse City, Mi.

  906. Susan Golden says:

    I hate winter for only one reason: All of my houseplants which adored their place in my house the others three seasons or enjoyed hanging out on my deck, HATE coming inside! First of all, the leaves on my African Violets that hung out on my new window shelves in the dining room all summer (Yes, I admit it. I copied your idea!), suddenly began turning light green, yellow, and then practically white! The new growth of leaves in the center was tiny and crowded and began dying, too. I looked it up on google and they said it was too much light! I moved them all to another location, but am wondering if they will make it or not. All summer they were beautiful and full of flowers! Darng it anyway! Also, my miniature Sheffelara ( I know this isn’t spelled right, but it’s 2:48 AM, I don’t have my glasses, and the dictionary print is too tiny to read) was in the house 2 days and began it’s annual loss of leaves. It will be naked in a week. This has happened 2 previous years and it scarcely limped through the winter, but grew a lovely new set of leaves once it went outdoors! What can I do to make … ‘this plant’ (I’ll spare you misspelling it twice) happier with its winter accommodations? I don’t think it can survive this ritual again! (Oh, just so you know, you and I are on a first name basis. I told my husband of a year to REMEMBER that when I am talking about ‘Kevin’, he is supposed to know that is the guy who cooks, grows plants, and fixes up a wonderful 1800s house! I hope that you don’t mind my familiarity!) Enjoying your blog as much as ever!!!

  907. Hi Renata – You can definitely winter-sow seeds in Traverse City, MI. Have fun!

    Hi Susan – Nice to hear that I’m a familiar name in your household! The leaves of African violets will definitely fry if you give them too much sun before winter arrives. See my article African Violets: How to Achieve Constant Bloom. As for Schefflera and geraniums and all other houseplants that vacation out of doors in summer — they need lots of humidity and fresh air when brought inside. Otherwise they will drop their leaves. See the September House & Garden Chores (scroll down to “Houseplants”) for more details!

  908. Hi Kevin! I would like to start composting. Can you recommend a small kitchen compost bin and a double-barrel insulated compost tumbler with a tea faucet? Thank you! I love your posts! Debbie

  909. Just wanted to drop in and say “Thank you” for your post on where you get your seeds from. I just got all of mine for my vegetable, herb, and flower gardens for under $40 from Pinetree. What an excellent site!!! I can’t wait for my winter sowing to begin 🙂 🙂 🙂

  910. Hi Kevin, I have a question about using salted butter in a recipe and eliminating the salt used in the recipe.

  911. I was wondering if you or anyone else has experience with overwintering a gazania plant as a houseplant. I’m having luck this winter with getting the pelargoniums, dianthus, Gerbera Daisy, florist mum, and Sunpatiens blooming that I brought in from the gardens during late fall but no sign of buds on the gazania.

    Love having the challenge of getting colorful blooms in the drab months of winter! I found your website in the fall while looking for advice on this topic…thank you for all the information.

  912. A few months ago I was dancing on air because for the very first time ever ,thanks to your superb instructions, I was able to propagate literally trays of baby African violet plants. They are to be donated to a spring fund raiser – or at least I hope to. Several years ago I stopped even trying to grow plants from a nursery because eventually every plant developed tightly curled, wrinkled leaves with stems so brittle it was impossible to groom the plant. With the success mentioned earlier I have a dozen beautiful plants that were the source for the babies. Yesterday I discovered that the crown of my favorite plant has developed the curled, wrinkled leaves that devastated my plants in the past. Please, can you give me a hint as to why this is happening? Can the plant be salvaged or should I bite the bullet and stuff it and the babies in a snowbank? Thanks, Kevin.

  913. Hi Kevin,

    Last fall a customer gave me some bulbs that her daughter had brought back fro Hollad. A true prize! She thinks they are tulips, but was not sure. I kept meaning to plant them…but they are sti in their bag in the garage. Have I ruined them, or could I pot them inside and have the equivalent of forced bulbs? I am in Kalamazoo, Michigan, so zone 5b, same as you.


  914. Hi Kevin. I want to thank you for your information about African violets. You were the first choice I picked and I am sure glad I did. I have had one for a few years but it did not bloom, I just figured it would never so left it alone. It is a big plant and I was not sure what to do so I finally looked it up and found you. I was doing almost everything wrong but am confident with your help I will get it to bloom…Thank for sharing your knowledge. I have you book marked now and will use it.
    Sincerely Christine

  915. I’m looking for the website Kevin mentioned that carries seeds for the night-blooming jasmine. Difficulty searching for it as I can’t recall the proper name of this plant.

  916. Well posting must have triggered my memory. It was Nicotiana seeds from Renee’s Garden.

  917. Kerry – Yes, nicotiana. GREAT for winter-sowing, and the plant blooms and blooms until the first really hard frost. Love it.

  918. Kevin, I’m considering making a raised garden bed, but am unsure as to what type of soil to fill it with. I’m also not sure how to maintain it. You have mentioned filling your beds with shredded leaves in the fall. What do you do to prepare the beds in the spring since rototilling isn’t an option? Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks!

  919. What is the best way to keep green plants & weeds from showing up in my mulched areas among my Knockout rose bushes?

  920. Hi Nancy – The soil in a raised bed never becomes compacted. Hence, no need to till. My beds are filled with equal parts top soil, composted manure, and sand. More details here: The Easy Kitchen Garden.

    Hi AL – Before I mulch with shredded leaves, straw, or wood chips, I first lay down a thick layer of newspaper. The result? No weeds for an entire season! Details here:

  921. Thanks for the raised garden bed info. Very helpful. However, I’m still unsure about spring preparation. Do the leaves completely decompose, or do you need to work into the soil by hand?

  922. Nancy – If your shredded leaves haven’t decomposed by spring, you can dig them into the soil. Or, just do what I do, and move the shredded matter aside when you plant your seeds or seedlings. As the plants grow, spread the leaves around them for mulch. (Hope this response was helpful to you!)

  923. Hi Kevin!
    I am a very beginner African Violet grower. Usually all plants die under my touch, but currently I have ONE African Violet that I have managed not to kill for two months now. A record for me! ;). My question is this–I am trying to follow the instructions you have already posted about caring for these plants, but am uncertain about how to give them their weekly shower. Could you please explain in detail for people with black thumbs like me? I would hate to do it wrong and kill the only Violet I have! I just put up a light for it, and have ordered different plant food. The leaves look fantastic, it has just stopped blooming and I do not see more buds anywhere.

    Thank you!
    Susan M.

  924. Kevin – Do you have any experience with drying flowers for making wreaths and arrangements?
    I am going to be winter sowing my flowers (first time ever growing flowers) to use for drying for making wreaths and arrangements.
    Any tips you can give would be most appreciated!
    Your neighbor in Massachusetts!

  925. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Kevin,

    I winter sowed last year for the first time using your directions. I had complete germination and very good success with the mature crops. I planted a lot of things—I’m a big gardener (not to be confused with being a good gardener—-). My poor husband has mentioned the irony of my success with winter sowing, three years after we built a beautiful 1,000 square foot green house and attached it to the house at a window that can be opened for heat from the wood stove (I’m lucky, lucky, lucky). My question is about petunias. They’re tender annuals, and I know not to winter sow them until real winter has passed—-but if I do that, can they catch up with their green house grown brothers? I want to do all my own annuals this year to avoid the GMO/systemic pesticide problems of big box annuals. I keep bees, and it kills them. What do you think?

  926. Hi Susan – It is helpful, but not critical to give AVs a weekly shower. Be sure to use slightly-warmer than room-temperature water. (Leaf spotting only occurs if the temperature of the water is colder than the temperature of the leaves.) I use the spray attachment at my kitchen sink. Wet plants will not be harmed if you place them under fluorescent lights. Wait until the foliage dries before returning a plant to a window.

    Hi Donna J – I do not have any experience drying flowers. One day.

    Elizabeth – I’ve had old-fashioned petunias reseed themselves in my zone 5-b garden. And this means they (the old-fashioned types, anyway) can be winter-sown even when temperatures are freezing outside. For newer varieties, I’d wait until March to sow. True, the seeds won’t germinate as quickly as those planted in a proper greenhouse, such as you are fortunate to have. But they will catch up with their winter-sown colleagues when the weather warms.

  927. Kevin, I live in zone 5b, Colorado Springs and I need to find good garlic seed for next fall, any recommendations from you or any of your followers? Thank you, Jim

  928. Here’s a different kind of question for you, Kevin. Late last summer, I had a field mice population explosion in my vegetable garden. Quite the sight. Mice frolicking freely and openly during daylight hours. The exterminator said he’d never seen anything like it. I closed the gate, and never went back in. The problem was taken care of immediately, but now I am hesitant to plant edibles in those beds that obviously had droppings. There is one large bed with perennial strawberry plants that I feel I should take out and start over, if at all. I have considered making that garden into a cutting garden for flowers. Field mice carry Hantavirus. This may be a little out of your line, but I would be grateful for your thoughts.

  929. Hi Kevin. Great website. My mom and three sisters are trying your winter-sow mini-greenhouse seed starting tutorial for zinnias and a few other annuals. We live in Virginia – do you think I could start basil seeds using this method?

  930. Hi,
    Jim Ciletti, I’m also in Colorado Springs, and I guess I cheated a bit. I bought 2 heads of garlic last fall (2014) and split the heads into cloves and pointed them small end up and they are still doing great. full green ‘leaves’ tall and enjoying the sun ‘up here’. So waiting for real spring to see what they have become. It’s amazing that these will grow through winter.

  931. Hi Kevin,
    I got my hands ‘dirty’ today 2-7-15 zone 5b. I started my winter sowing (first time) thank you for sharing your tips on this topic. I also started putting up my greenhouse (hoop house), way early, but with 70 degree days, the itch got the better of me 🙂
    Anyway, I usually buy plants from XXX retail store and tonight as I delight in my sore muscles I was struck by the thought “How do I transplant?” Do you have any ‘down and dirty’ secrets?
    I don’t believe I’m too dumb, but if there are 4 plants in my mini green houses; don’t the root become entangled? and won’t they be harmed by splitting them?
    Also, I’m using toilet paper tubes in some of the mini greenhouses with a seed per tube, is this the correct way to use the tubes?

    Thank you for a great site. Looking forward to picking your brain more often,


  932. I was just wondering if I can winter Garden in a Zone 3, Actually Edmonton, Alberta. What types of seeds could I start in March or April?

  933. Ceal Whalen says:

    Is it too late (2/12/15) to prune my peach trees, apple trees and pomegranate bush/tree? I only have two of each.

  934. Kevin,
    Have you use or have heard of using cornmeal as weed killer and pest control? I am game to try it this summer.

  935. Hello Kevin
    If I cannot find heavy creme locally will heavy whipping creme produce the same results in your Chocolate Pots of Creme (and other receipes) with its lower fat content ?
    Many thanks and thumbs up for your site.
    KR, Monica

  936. I live in zone 5 Michigan. Is it too late to begin winter sowing of perennials?

  937. Dear Kevin,

    Just found your web page and have subscribed to your newsletter. My question is I’m in S. California, and I’ll be putting my tomatoes in my planting box. Is Fish Fertilizer all I’ll need to support there growth. I’ve put a good blend of organic mulch and soil in the box.
    John Shinavier

  938. Lon – 70 degree days in February? Lucky you! Click here for the how-to on transplanting winter-sown seedlings. As for paper tubes, I know they can be useful for plants that are bothered by vine borers. I, alas, have never used the tubes.

    Ceal Whalen – In general, fruit trees are pruned when dormant.

    Linda – While I’ve read that cornmeal inhibits germination, I’ve never used it. I’m a big fan of newspaper mulching, as it means zero weeds for an entire season. Click here for details.

    Hi Monica – Heavy whipping cream is the same thing as “heavy cream.” Enjoy the Chocolate Pots de Creme!

    Hi Nancy – February in Michigan is a fine time to start winter-sowing perennials. You can follow the same schedule as me (see my winter-sowing links).

    John Shinavier – Welcome aboard. Tomatoes vines will thrive in any decent soil. There is no need to fertilize the plants, ever. As a matter of fact, if you give them too much “love” in the form of nitrogen, they will produce lots of foliage, and very few flowers. No flowers, no fruit!

  939. If you have a minute, I would love your input on wedding colors/flowers for my son’s May wedding. s Chinese-Jewish wedding, she wants purple/green, her mother wants red/gold and the room that has been booked is an old house turned function hall with navy blue walls. How do I incorporate all of these colors in the flowers? They are all in China, that is why I am doing the planning. There are three seperate rooms to decorate, I thought red and gold in the foyer, purple and green for the ceremony and in the blue room? Any thoughts for flowers, bouquets? Thanks in advance.

  940. The salt and snow removal here in the northeast has truly damaged my 60 year old privet hedges surrounding the entire perimeter of my corner street house. I have tried to plant pieces of the privet in dirt directly and also in sand. I wish I could find a local distributor in massachusetts.They are about 3.5 feet high. Any suggestions how to propagate?
    Also My tiger lilies seem to get eaten alive by some red winged 1/4 bug boring holes and killing them before bloom. Other then smashing them between my fingers is there any other non toxic way to get rid of them ?I hate being so violent to the creatures!.

  941. Dear Kevin,

    Thank you for your prompt answer on fertilizing tomatoes, which is NOT!! I have purchased a house on a large lot and a half here in Southern California (Los Angeles). I have made a couple of cedar raised beds, and have planted 8 Tomato plants (Monomoto) wrong spelling, but a sweet tomato from Japan. I have a smaller raised box, any suggestions for something yummy that I don’t have to fuss over too much? It will be in very hot full sun for a good 4 to 5 months?
    Love your site!! You must have at least 5 assistants.
    John Shinavier

  942. Hi Cheryl – First, congrats to the bride and groom! The best plan, I think, is to take pictures of the rooms, and show them to your florist. He or she can help you select the right flowers for the right locations.

    Hi Cindy – The Northeast is currently infested with the Lily Leaf Beetle. For such a small insect, it causes major damage to lilies. I wrote about this red-shelled horror when it attacked my own plants. See this post.

    Hi John – The list of edible plants that will flourish without fuss in a sunny raised bed is long indeed! Brussels sprouts need a lengthy growing period (such as you have), as do soy beans (edamame), melons (grow these up a trellis), lima beans, and…and…and…

  943. Kevin, I respect not only your knowledge, but also your insight and common sense. I will try to rephrase my earlier question about field mice since I left out the most important part: NO chemicals or insecticides were used to rid my garden of mice. It’s just my revulsion at even thinking there were mice in my garden! that puts me off. I’m being silly, I guess. Would you hesitate to grow edibles in those beds? I have no problem turning it into a cutting garden for annual flowers. Many thanks, Andrea

  944. Mary in Iowa says:

    Hello Kevin.

    This is the old lady with the “invalid” e-mail address. The old lady image may be an illusion. It’s possible I’m actually a hologram, but, if so, the hologram needs a couple of points of information. For years I’ve longed for boxwood, but it was too rich for my budget, and I wasn’t sure how it would do in my zone 5a climate. Then there was always the business about it being “slow growing.” At my age, slow growing isn’t an asset. When I read about your method of propagating with prunings, I determined that come spring I would purchase a few and give it a whirl. Then today, my first day of the year transplanting at the city greenhouse, I noticed 4 large potted boxwoods with lots of new growth. The greenhouse manager told me to help myself so I now have a bag of cuttings. My questions are: 1. whether you dipped the sprigs in rooting hormone or just stuck them in the soil as is; and 2. how far apart would you plant them? Needless to say, I’ll have to put them in pots now and plant them out in the spring. It was minus 2 when I logged on this morning, and a jackhammer would be needed to break the frozen ground. I don’t have a clue about variety or hardiness, so it’ll be a crapshoot, but nothing ventured, nothing gained, and the price was right.
    Thanks so much for all the info you share. I’ve gardened for 50 years and have learned a lot from you–and others–and hope to keep learning for as long as I keep hanging around on this planet. To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, “… But though an old hologram, I am but a young gardener.”

  945. Hi Andrea – Organic gardens are commonly visited by mice and other rodents. Consequently I wouldn’t hesitate to plant veggies in the beds you mentioned. You, however, must proceed as your conscience dictates!

    Hi Mary — An adventurous spirit and a curious mind will keep you young at any age! I always plant boxwood cuttings very closely together, in order to create an “instant” hedge. No rooting hormone for me. Click here to see my fabulous (ahem!) boxwood propagation tutorial.

  946. Dear Kevin,

    Thank you for your last response. Do you know if Fish fertilizer can generally be used on all vegetables and plants? I guess I’m trying to find one natural fertilizer which I can use for all plants. Any suggestions for down here in Southern Ca.
    Thank You
    John Shinavier

  947. Bonnie Adams says:

    Hi, Kevin,

    I know that I probably should have started the winter sowing in milk jugs before now in NC, but is it too late in Zone 7 to start now?

  948. John – Fish fertilizer is generally safe for all plants.

    Hi Bonnie – Good news: You can still winter-sow in NC zone 7. Have fun with your project!

  949. Hey Kevin,

    I’m a beekeeper. Just wanted to share my site with you. I just did a blog about what to plant for the bees and pollinators. It gives people and idea of what to look for to plant rather than just wandering around the big box stores or nurseries with no clue. Although I do that, too sometimes!

    It needs to warm up and dry up her in NC !!

    Love your recipes and advise. We share many of the same ideas and beliefs about keeping things natural.

  950. princess says:


  951. Gladys – Best of luck with your bee-keeping blog!

    princess – You can grow an avocado tree in zone 5-A, but only as a potted specimen. You will need a mighty large pot!

  952. Hi Kevin,

    I just pulled a pain de mie from the oven that I made using your recipe – it smells amazing and I can’t wait to cut into it. Unfortunately, the bread has started to sink and shrink into itself…I had tried the recipe from USA Pans that can with the pullman pan but that one sank into itself much worse than this one even. Can you tell me what I’m doing wrong?

  953. Good Morning Kevin,
    You are truly a gifted and beautiful human being. I love your blog and your generosity in sharing so much of your knowledge and creativity with us.

    I have a home on Shelter Island and have beautiful gardens that I have inherited from the previous owners and have continued to enhance and create new ones.
    This spring, I am creating a new garden that gets full sun. I would love it to be abundant with purples and blues and blooms from early spring through fall. Any thoughts about perrenials and bulbs that would great a spectacular effect!
    Thank you for any ideas you may have.

    If you are ever on Shelter Island PLEASE COME AND VISIT!!

  954. Kevin! I don’t know HOW you do it! Please share how to you keep up with scheduling all that needs to be done in your gardens. Do you rely on a phone app? Phablet? PC? good old fashioned wall calendar? in addition to being just plain BRILLIANT?!!

    Can’t wait to hear!


  955. Hi Karen – I can’t imagine why your Pain de Mie is sinking in the middle. Is it possible your oven temperature is off? As an experiment, try baking the loaf 5-7 minutes longer than usual. I bake Pain de Mie at 435°F.

    Hi Susan – Blues and purples are my garden favorites, too. You might like to type ‘garden tour’ into the search box located at the top of this page. There, you’ll find scenes from my gardens during different seasons, along with lots of blue-hued blooms!

    Bev – You are too kind. Actually, I write out a list of garden chores for each month, and attempt to follow them! You can see the lists here.

  956. marv zejhnder says:

    Now that Spring is around the corner I am looking for my favorite annuals to start by April l. My usual source is no longer in existence, and I find the pickings nationally to be very slim. Is this a sign that the craze of gardening is on the wane? or are companies being seriously affected by that trend of being bought out by large combines and therefore cutting back on services and supplies? or are there sources that I still do not know about? I googled the best seed companies in America, and found nothing but the usual sources and those places that specialize in non GMO, or heirloom, or mostly vegetables.

    Your help would be appreciated.


  957. If I thoroughly weed my rose garden, apply Preen Weed Preventer then apply 4 inches of bark mulch (see attached), will that deter new weeds?

    Or should I also put cardboard between the soil and the bark mulch?

    Will the cardboard allow enough water, air and nutrients for my roses?

  958. If I thoroughly weed my rose garden, apply Preen Weed Preventer then apply a 4-inch layer of bark mulch — — will that deter new weeds?

    Or should I also put cardboard between the soil and the bark mulch?

    Will the cardboard allow enough water, air and nutrients for my roses?

  959. Sharon Koss says:

    Do you use a rain barrel?

  960. Susan Golden says:

    Kevin, I have read how critical it is to assist the Monarch Butterflies by growing local Milkweed! I live south of Buffalo, so where do I go to find the appropriate kind of seeds for my area? I wish that I had searched for some last fall, but until I can do that, where can I buy some seed? Thanks for you help!!!

  961. Hi Marv – Here’s a list of my favorite seed-sellers. Maybe one of them will have what you are looking for.

    Hi Gary – I’d skip the Preen, and use newspapers/cardboard in your rose garden. Air, moisture and nutrients can penetrate paper. More details in this post.

    Hi Susan – Please visit this site: Milkweed Seed Finder. Very important to plant a native species of milkweed.

  962. Hi Kevin!
    Like your page, wish I had found it a couple of months ago! My name is Nina, and I live in Zone 6b. So this year I am a first time cold stratifier, and indoor plant starter, yay! I have a whole shopping bag of seeds and a bunch of new gardens that I will be planting this season, so exciting! In addition to experimenting with all new vegetables, I am doing several butterfly gardens; to that end I have been cold stratifying butterfly weed and hollyhocks in water cups in the fridge for two weeks now, I am hopeful that they take when I plant them in a couple of days.

    So my question: When starting my cold stratify plants I missed the artichokes! I planted artichokes on 3/9 without cold stratifying-they have been sitting under a heat lamp, and I see that they are just about to unfurl and pop through the soil. I am worried because I just read that artichokes need to be cold stratified or they wont produce a head the first year, is this really true?

    If so, do you have a suggestion as to what I should do with my non- cold stratified, already germinated, about to break through the soil artichokes?

    I have considered putting them outside now, the weather is going to be in the 40’s/50’s for the next week. I have also considered putting them in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks so that the temp would be regulated cold; however, I am unsure if that would mess them up having been under a heat lamp for a week. I could also start water stratifying a new batch today, and though its late (zone 6b) hope for the best? Last resort I could always buy starters later. Thanks for your input! Happy St. Patty’s Day! 🙂

  963. Newspaper and cardboard sheet mulches become pest havens; become hydrophobic (rainfall or irrigation water sheet away rather than percolating through the sheet mulches to the soil); and induce anaerobic conditions

  964. Hi Nina – I have zero experience with artichokes. Thus I can not, in good conscience, attempt to answer your questions.

    Hi Gary – Too often, I think, garden-writers who have never tried newspaper mulching have claimed the method does not work. Alas, I have used newspaper in my beds for many, many years. And guess what? Newspaper mulching works for me! No problems with termites or other pests. Furthermore, newspaper — which is porous — completely shades the soil and keeps it moist. My plants are happy.

  965. re: newspaper mulching

    Would CARDBOARD laid on the soil then covered with 4 inches of bark mulch cause termites and/or exclude air, water and nutrients from the soil?

    By the way, The “garden-writer” of the article I referred to is Extension Horticulturist and Associate Professor at Washington State University, the Washington State editor of the MasterGardener magazine, author of several garden books and is an arborist certified by the International Society of Arboriculture.

  966. Hi Kevin, Thanks for the honest answer. Looks like I will be having many experiments this year! The type of artichoke I am working with is the Pagano-Violet; since writing you I have done more research and found that the Imperial Star, is reputed to produce heads the first year with or without stratifying/vernalization, so though its pretty late already, I plan on buying, giving them a quick jaunt in the fridge for good measure and planting asap. As for the Pagano Violets, presently I continue to grow the original artichokes under lamps, they will be going outside or into the fridge for some vernalization shortly; I am cold water stratifying the rest of the package in the fridge-starting the seeds in a couple of days. Hopefully, fingers crossed that the deer don’t decide to munch them up, by the end of the season I should have some chokes, pretty flowers, and some interesting findings to share. Will let you know! ThanksMuch!

  967. Hi Kevin – it’s me again with the pain de mie. I’m writing with an update and a thank you. I’ve made it three more times since you suggested a higher temp. The first time it still shrank, although a little less. The second time it was underproofed (it had gone thru the final proof overnight in the fridge and then I had to run an errand so I left my husband with instructions on when to put it in the oven and he got impatient…long story). Today we pulled #3 out of the oven. This time I proofed it to within 1cm, not 1 inch of the top of the pan before sticking it in the oven, and it came out perfectly. All three loaves were baked at 435F for 45 minutes in a calibrated convection oven. Despite my issues with the shrinking/underproofing, this bread has consistently been delicious and something we look forward to eating every day. It lasts us about a week and by the end, we look forward to the wonderful croutons it makes too. Thank you for sharing such a great recipe and for helping with the troubleshooting!

  968. Hello Kevin,
    First I’d like to thank you for all the valuable information you make available on this website. Really great!
    I live in an apartment that gets very little direct sunlight, even in the summer. It’s mostly indirect light, and it’s rather low on most windows. Could you recommend flowering plants that can live under these conditions? My african violets and shrimp plants don’t bloom, my christmas cactus barely makes a couple flowers per year, and my geraniums only bloom in the summer when I move them to the balcony. I have a few more plants I got from a friend (don’t know what kind they are), they bloom at his place but they don’t at mine. Any suggestion would be appreciated.
    note: I live in a small apartment, I don’t have much space, I’d rather not go the fluorescent light way. I’d like to keep my plants on window sills 🙂
    Thanks in advance.

  969. JUNE ROWE says:

    Kevin, Looking for a Non- Toxic way to rid school baseball infield of weeds….we use Vinegar at home- but wondering if your newspaper method would work for us. Time is of the essence, as they asked me about using the Round Up , to which I replied NOOOOOOOOO!

  970. Geraldine says:

    Hi Kevin,

    Thank you for having such a great website. I love the email updates I get.

    My question is about container gardening. I am a newbie gardener and have not had a chance to get a planting bed ready. My dad (he does non edible gardening aka bonsai trees) let me have some black nursery style pots in varies sizes so that is what I am working with this season. Oh most importantly I live in zone 6 (Winchester VA). My yard is open and gets a some wind through it. The townhouse shades part of the yard in the afternoon.

    This weekend I went to Southern States and $27 later have stuff to plant. I tease my fiance that this trip was cheater than a clothes shopping or a girls weekend. 🙂

    Anyway I was wondering what I could group together in a pot for maximum space utilization. Here is what i have to work with.

    German Thyme 1 plant
    Kohlrabi 4 plants
    sweet onions 9 plants
    romaine lettuce 6 plants
    red sails lettuce 4 plants
    butter crunch bib lettuce 4 plants
    red cabbage 4 plants
    green cabbage 4 plants
    spinach 1 plant

    When I got these starters home I put them in one of the big nursery pots (probably 2 1/2 tall) and gave them a shot of horse manure tea). I am hoping the pot height protest them from the wind while they adjust to my yard light.

    I do have access to some smaller 1 or 2 gallon pots by way of my dad.


  971. Heather Ballack says:

    Hi Kevin,

    I just discovered your website through Pinterest this winter and did some winter sowing for the first time. I am excited to have sprouts on my thyme, chives, garlic chives, oregano, basil, salad burnett, and cilantro. I was wondering if you recommend spring sowing anything now since it is mid april for zone 5b. I would like to do more but am wondering if it is too late. Do you have any recommendations for any seeds with short “days to maturity”?

    Thanks much for your website! I have been enjoying it a lot!


  972. cheryl belle says:

    Do you have garden tours open to the public? Thank you for expanding my gardening knowledge and my recipe box!

  973. Debbie McClain says:

    I planted some Knock out roses last year and mulched them with store purchased mulch. I put landscaping cloth down first. I began to have stinkhorn and other stuff grow in the same area of my roses. Should I have not used the landscaping cloth or mulch? When I turn the mulch over it is full of white mold. I made sure I had no more than 2 inches deep. I have never had such things in my garden before I bought the mulch.

  974. Hi Kevin,

    I recently got hyacinth in a pot. It has already bloomed but 1) I would like keep it at current state as long as I can and 2) would like to move it to a glass bottle.

    Is there anything I should do specially when I take it out of soiled pot? Is there any chemical I can put in the water to prolong their blooming state? Any caution tips what to do/ not-to-do tips when the hyacinth moved to the bottle? Please let me know. Thanks!!

  975. Hi Kevin,
    I desperately need your help! I am very new to any type of plants and flowers other than ivy. Someone gave me an African violet that they didn’t want and the leaves are very limp and drooping. Basically they are all laying on the rim of the pot. The blooms had died so I removed them. I don’t know where to begin to save plant. Please help!

  976. Hi Kevin! Have you ever heard of “everybearing climbing spinach”? Supposedly, the more you pick, the more it grows, as opposed to regular spinach that is hard to grow.

  977. I’m having problems killing bindweed with the newspaper and mulch method. I have the front yard covered in papers and mulch (completed 3/15/15) but the bindweed keeps coming up through the mulch! Anyone have experience with bindweed or suggestions as to how to eliminate it?

  978. Hey Kevin, I started my seeds 4weeks ago and nothing has it too late to try to start tomatoes and peppers by seeds or should I just buy plants? I live in zone 5

  979. Hello! Can you start seedlings from cuttings of small leaf Japanese style holly bushes using the same method you have described for boxwoods?

  980. just wondering, my neighbor and I would like more milkweed for the Monarchs … does anyone have a source for this ??

  981. Hello! I have planted several african violets in a closed 75 gal aquarium. I have 2 48″ full spectrum lights on top (16 hrs on 8 hrs off). The leaves look very good, but they don’t seem to want to bloom. The humidity inside is good. Any advice would be much appreciated.

  982. Kevin, I’m about to make your Best Lemon Tart in the World. My tart pan is 11 inches, not 9 inches. Will it still come out okay? My mouth is watering to make this.

  983. Hi Deb – I’ve only made the tart in a 9-inch diameter tart pan. Although the dough should fit your 11-inch model, but I’m not sure if the filling will be sufficient. But I’d try the recipe as is, just for the sake of experiment. Who knows — maybe it will turn out perfectly!

  984. Hi Kevin! I’m hoping you can help me. We’ve recently moved to a new home, it has some great trees on the property. As spring has come however I’ve noticed a couple of trees seem to be low in iron. The leaves started as a bright green instead of dark green and kept getting more yellow until some fell off. Do you have a good way of treating this?

  985. I chickened out and bought another tart pan – 9″, just to be safe. My brother can be a tough critic and the tart was for him. He loved it! Thanks for the great recipe.

  986. Hi Kevin…

    I read in one of your posts about Early Girl tomatoes being from Monsanto… This was after I purchased several EG plants last week that are marked Certified Organic by the Montana dept. of AG…

    Whether that means the grower didn’t use any chemicals from when they got the seeds, or if they say the seeds themselves are organic is what I need to know… (Waiting for a response from them)

    All that being said, how is it possible to know what seeds are 100% evil??? Thanks, and without your site, I would have no clue… I’m confused as can be though

  987. Kevin,
    Do you have any recipes for using onion and garlic scapes?

  988. Hi Mitch – Genetically modified seeds are not available to home gardeners. Thus your certified-organic ‘Early Girl’ tomatoes are perfectly fine. (Monsanto/Seminis lists EG seeds in its catalog, but it does not own the variety, and the seeds are not genetically engineered or modified.)

    Hi Linda – You haven’t lived until you’ve tried my Garlic Scape Pesto! Here’s the recipe.

  989. Nina Hedrick says:

    Thank you for sharing your Spring garden. What temperature zone do you live in? I am in East Tennessee, Zone 7A – it seems we have some of the same plants, but I imagine you are in a colder zone since you had a late snow.

  990. Hi Nina – I’m in New York’s Hudson Valley, zone 5-b, where the winters are cold but the summers are hot, hot, hot!

  991. Shannon Finch says:

    Hi Kevin, I’d like to know more about your small frog pond: how you made it, maintenance etc. Would make a good post. Just sayin…

  992. Thanks, Kevin..

  993. Hi Kevin,

    I love the newspaper mulching in my garden but recently became allergic to straw and hay. The newspaper in the garden just flies away if I don’t put anything on top. Any advise?

    I really love your blog. My family begs for the chive blossom vinegar every year. Thanks!


  994. Hi Lisa – I always cover the newspaper with shredded leaves or wood chips. Click here for details.

  995. Cindy Reynaud says:

    As a first time potato grower, I’m trying your system using Lucerne. My question – as the potato plants grow, do I cover them completely, leave some leaves showing ??? Any guidance here would be appreciated.

  996. Kevin, I planted a 3 small sea roses in my condo garden 2yrs ago & now I need to thin out or rid of them they are taking over!!!!!! Please what can iI do without killing other plants & bees?
    Rose in nh

  997. Hi Kevin…we have a “wet yard” with poorly draining clay soil, any plant suggestions? We’ve even lost some trees to wet conditions combined with brutal cold winters the past 2 years. It’s getting expensive to replace plants and trees every year. Thanks!

  998. Hi Cindy – For the first 2 months, I apply mulch (straw is terrific) to cover all but the top 6 inches of the vines.

    Hi Rose – I know what you mean about ‘Sea’ or ‘Sea Foam’ roses. You can prune them drastically, or dig them out. They are aggressive growers!

  999. Margaret says:

    Hi Kevin

    how can I get rid of ants from my garden without harming the plants


  1000. Holly Amora says:

    My back yard is over run with fox tails. They are already drying. Would using your newspaper method be okay if they’ve already spread and seeds/thistles are falling off. My dog has already had one surgery getting one of theses out of his chest cavity. The ground is dry and rocky. I’m wanting to plant and redo back yard but can’t keep up with the every growing fox tails. Please help!

  1001. Hey Kevin – if I am canning my garlic in water, is it ok to use fresh garlic or do I need to let it completely dry? (when pulled from garden, will let it sit for a week).

  1002. Ceal Whalen says:

    Hey Kevin,

    Is there a safe homemade spray that will keep bugs from getting into my baby peaches?



  1003. Hi Kevin,
    My neighbor’s running bamboo is invading my yard. Will vinegar kill bamboo? If so, how do I apply it. Thanks.

  1004. Just found your pages – wonderful. I have a large, city lot kind of garden that covers a great deal of my backyard. The grass area is more like a putting green size and shape with beds all around. I’m getting old and can’t garden the way I used to. I’ve spent 12 years developing a lovely perennial garden I cannot maintain so last summer gave most of the perennials away and planted some lovely large beautiful flowering shrubs. However, the weeds are terrible. In Michigan we’ve had a lot of rain and warm temps and some days I spend all day weeding a small section only to see weeds come back. I have read about the vinegar (and will start spraying sidewalks and driveway weeds) but I don’t have any newspaper and will start getting some. I’m not going to win against the weeds and wondered how to deal with the big tall weeds. Should I pull them (I’m talking thistles, etc) or just hoe the heck out of the garden to get everything down and then put on the newspaper and mulch? Hope you can give me some help with this. Right now I feel like the weeds are winning the battle.

  1005. Hi Lisa B. – Fresh garlic — even after a week of pulling — will have almost no flavor. Heads need to cure for 3 to 8 weeks, as described in this post.

    Hi Ceal – I no longer grow fruit trees because of all the pests they invite. Sorry I can’t help you!

    Hi CeeCee – I’ve no experience with bamboo. Sorry I can’t help you!

    Hi db – If you can’t pull the tall weeds, just cut them close to the ground. Then water the bed deeply, apply thick layers of newspaper, and sprinkle enough mulch to cover the papers (as described in this post.) When I smother my existing weeds this way, they do not return for an entire season. Hallelujah.

  1006. Thanks – things don’t seem quite as overwhelming now. Can I do this every year or is that too much? I’m really hoping that I won’t ever have a weeding project like this ever again.

  1007. My mother is a 90 year old gardener with a 60 year old garden in Florence , SC.
    Two weeks ago she look me out into her flower jungle to show me a volunteer mystery plant that had come up and taken over a gardenia bush. I contacted two botanists with photos
    to find out what it was. It reminded me of your story. It is so beautiful – It was a deutzia in full bloom. Thanks for the info on how to propagate it. I plan on sharing it with friends.
    Mother was delighted to find out what it was but still has no idea where it came from. best Jane z

  1008. Linda Culver says:

    Selling my home. My lupines have done great. I want to dig some up as they have reseeded
    I want to give some to my son in No-east Tenn.
    Can I dig a clump & put in container & take to Tenn via car?