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Novel ecosystems vs. urban wilderness by Thomas Christopher

I’ve been thinking about a symposium (“The Changing Nature of Nature in Cities”) I attended at the New York Botanical Garden in November.   The topic  of the symposium was “novel ecosystems” – fundamentally, this is the idea that some ecosystems, especially urban ones, have been so radically transformed that it is impossible or impractical to […]

Welcome New Ranter Thomas Christopher! by Susan Harris

We’re all pleased as punch to announce an exciting new addition to our roster of GardenRant partners – Thomas Christopher, a horticultural journalist with 30 years under his belt, contributor to the New York Times, the Journal of the Royal Horticultural Society, Martha Stewart Living and many other publications. Thomas has authored, co-authored or edited some […]

Water Oak – Welts and Blisters

Q: My water oak has welts and blisters on the front and back of leaves and new foliage that appears shriveled. What is it? A: Your tree has oak leaf blister. Most of the infected leaves will fall from the tree. This disease is favored by cool, wet springs; in dry years it isn’t a […]

Bermuda – Homemade Weed Killer

Q: I saw online a recipe for homemade weed killer made from vinegar, salt and dishwashing liquid. I sprayed this on weeds in my bermuda lawn. Have I killed the bermuda grass too? A: You probably haven’t killed the grass. Bermudagrass is a tough plant to kill and the mixture you mention is generally considered […]

Worm – Skinny and Black

Q: I have a plastic half-barrel with water lilies growing in it. On one of the floating leaves I found a skinny black worm, thin as a hair. What is it? A: It’s probably a harmless horsehair worm. Despite their diminutive size, these creatures are bad news for larger insects like crickets, cockroaches, and beetles. […]

Sweet Basil – Stems Turning Brown

Q: I’m growing sweet basil indoors in a pot and I noticed that the stem was turning brown. Is there anything else I can do? A: It’s very difficult to be successful raising basil indoors. The plant needs full sunshine to produce much flavor. In addition, low light leads to low vigor, so the plant […]

Blackberries – Trimming The Cane

Q: The six thornless blackberries I planted last year are yielding beautiful big blackberries but they also each put out a huge cane. Do I just let those go and train them on the wire or should they be cut back? A: The big blackberry cane will eventually generate branches that will bloom and bear […]

Cats – Problems For Raised Beds

Q: Is there anything that will keep the neighborhood cats out of my raised beds? A: I think a well-aimed motion-activated sprinkler would send the cats skedaddling. Look online for the ConTech Scarecrow or the Havahart Spray Away. The cats will be deterred by the blast of water these gadgets emit.

Tomatoes – Baking Soda vs. Fungus

Q: Will a baking soda spray help to discourage fungal disease on tomato plants? A: It might….and it might not. Researchers have worked for several years the use of various bicarbonates to control fungi. Some results have been positive, others not so much. If you want to experiment, use commercial products sold online like Armicarb, […]

Pumpkins – Planting In A Pot

Q: Can I plant pumpkin seeds in a pot and then let them spread and grow for Halloween? A: It will have to be a BIG pot! Pumpkins have a big root system, needed to supply water to their numerous broad leaves. If you want to experiment, put a few seeds in a half whiskey […]

Leamon Tree – Losing Leaves and Flowers

Q: I have a Meyer Lemon tree in a whiskey barrel planter. Every year when I bring it outdoors it drops its leaves and loses its flowers. A: I think it’s possible the lemon leaves are getting sunburned. Light levels outdoors are typically more than 10,000 foot-candles. Even in a bright sunroom there are less […]

Raspberries – Dark Purple Berries

Q: I planted raspberry canes a few years ago. The berries turn dark purple when they ripen. Are they black raspberries? A: There are several varieties of deep purple/black raspberry. They are best suited for gardens in the West and Midwest, not the Southeast. They seem to get viruses more readily than red raspberries. Red […]

Peaches – Picking Your Own

Q: My family and I will be in Georgia at the end of June. Are there any farms where were can pick peaches? A: There are several pick-your-own farms within the greater metro Atlanta area. Most offer bathrooms, containers, and sidelights, like miniature goats or pigs, to pet. Wear light clothing, a hat and sunglasses […]

Mums – Post Winter Care

Q: We planted several mums last fall for late season color. Most survived the winter and the plants are about a foot tall. How should we care for them? A: They will look better in fall if you remove the top 2? of each stem now, making the cut just above a leaf. New sprouts […]

Zoysia – Not As Green As Expected

Q: I have six thousand square feet of Zeon zoysia in my front yard installed 2011. My lawn has been the envy of the neighborhood. Usually by now my lawn is in the 95% greened-up. But, so far it’s only 50% green at best. A: Lots of zoysia lawns in metro Atlanta were zapped by […]

Dogwood – Wilted and Losing Leaves

Q: We have lived in our home for twenty-seven years. For the first time our dogwood trees seem to be in trouble, looking wilted and losing their leaves. What can we do? A: They may be goners. Some tree species are more susceptible to environmental stress than others. In my observation, dogwoods have a typical […]

Perennials – Use At The Cemetery

Q: What would be good plants to use in front of a cemetery headstone where there is no water service? The space is 3.5 feet long and 16 inches wide. A: Assuming the site is in full sun, I think your best bet is to go with tough perennials that can fend for themselves under […]

Fish Water – Use With Plants

Q: I have a koi pond. I replace about 10 percent of the water weekly. Can this water be used safely on lawns? A: Your lawn will love it! Lots of gardeners have experimented with aquaponic systems where “fish water” is used to fertilize vegetables. I foresee no problems using the pond water on your […]

Corn Gluten Meal – Poor Weed Control

Q: I think I did a bad thing. I spread corn gluten meal all over my veggie garden to help control weeds and give the soil a boost. Can I now plant other seeds in this garden or will the gluten kill them too? A: In my experience, corn gluten meal gives poor weed control […]

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