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Other Advice

209 Total Found

Question: 197-5201
How do you get rid of Bamboo? Nancy, Essex, CT

Mort's Answer:
Some folks mistake Knotweed for bamboo. Simply digging out bamboo will work. This is not the case for Knotweed. You will have to dig out all the small fibrous roots of the Knotweed. It is definitely a weed and the herbicides just knock it down without a permanent solution. It may take years to eliminate it. Dig it out as soon as the little red tops appear of the surface of the soil.

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Question: 798-3212
What is the best way to get rid of fast growing bamboo? I have tried everything under the sun. Tried also to kill by cutting it down. Holly, South County, RI

Mort's Answer:
Some people call it Japanese Bamboo or Mexican Bamboo. It is neither Mexican or Bamboo. Knotweed is definitely a weed and it is invasive. It is very difficult to remove. There are some systemic chemicals that will kill it. Vine-X comes in a ketchup type squeeze bottle with a brush at the end. You paint it on the crown of each plant. Ortho also makes a systemic herbicide. Follow directions on the labels . They will kill any plant that they touch. Polygonum cuspidatum compactum is a dwarf variety that grows to two feet for those folks that like the flower that it grows. Most folks do not like either.

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Question: 965-2713
Should I pick my basil before it blooms? Should I take the flower off? Glen, Norwich, CT

Mort's Answer:
When you plant basil, folklore says that you should curse. When you pick it, you should smell it. It is true that there are more oils proportionally just before it blooms. Some people like myself take off the flowers, when they appear, to allow more leave growth. I take a few leaves at a time and not the whole plant. Some folks use the flowers as a garnish. It is edible. Pick the basil in the morning and hang it upside down. You can store the leaves in olive oil or in a pesto sauce for six months.

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Question: 1333-4815
I understand that I need to have a bird house with wood shavings inside if I want woodpeckers to use it. Can you also tell me about bat houses. Karen, Townsend, MA

Mort's Answer:
Bat houses are best placed under eaves of barns and tool sheds. If placed on trees, they need to be at least ten feet off the ground. Shady locations are best but not necessary. Both housing situations are tricky. Hollowed holes in trees are best for woodpeckers but not all types care for houses with or without wood sawdust or shavings. Woodpeckers love drilling for insect eggs and bats will pick up plenty of flying insects at night as they fly.

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Question: 358-1616
I have raised beds and have a hard time growing garlic and was wondering if you have any tips? Welder, Westerly,RI

Mort's Answer:
Garlic can be planted in the spring or fall. Cloves need to be planted in light soil about four inches deep or two and a half times the size of the bulb in depth. You can add sand if your soil is clayey. They should be point up at least two inches above the point. Larger bulbs over an inch can be split into cloves to make more plants. Fall plantings should be covered with a mulch of straw for best results.

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Question: 198-5201
I am getting stung by bees in my flower garden. What can I do to prevent this? Delores, Quaker Hill, CT

Mort's Answer:
Apply protection to yourself in a spray or spray the plants. Sevin will kill bees but will also injure the flowers. Sevin can be applied before the flower buds open. Timing is of the essence to avoid the sons of bees.

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Question: 1436-2717
With a third of bees being killed, are there plants I can grow to help them multiply? My property abuts the woods. Bill, Ledyard, CT

Mort's Answer:
Mountain Laurel, your state flower, and other broadleaf evergreens like rhododendron, azaleas and hollies can adorn your property and help create an environment for their attraction. Bee Balm,lilies, milk weed and bell shaped flowers in your gardens can supplement their need to pollinate. Think about adding feeders and baths for the birds. It will make the bees feel at home with their compatriots.

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Question: 199-5201
We have been getting red beetles on our storm door glass in the late summer. There are mulched beds not to far away and we live not too far from woods. What are they and how can we get rid of them? Jean, Garrison, MN

Mort's Answer:
There two dominant kinds of beetles that show up in the fall. Soldier and Asiatic beetles eat wood and breed in soil. Your nearby mulched beds can be protected by putting a barrier between the soil and the mulch. Black plastic or landscape matting will provide the needed divider. A downside is the beetles are breaking down the wood mulch to create a richer nitrogen based soil for your plants. Ammonia glass cleaner will drive them away temporarily. Spraying the area with a insecticide will kill them. Sevin or malathion applied to the surface of the mulch will work. Follow directions on the labels.

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Question: 588-3111
I researched on the internet what the common method was to mitigate early blights. As you know early blight is a fungus and so fungicides were recommended. Some camps said daconil, others said copper concentrate, still others said neem oil and sodium bicarb. So I used them all. The result was a very bad "burn". I sprayed strawberries, blueberries, squash, cukes, canteloupe, pole beans and the tomatoes. All of them had negative reactions, the worst being the strawberries, blueberries, pole beans and the tomato plants. I do not think I have killed them, but I have injured many leaves. Will they come back? Did this alter the pH? I also sprayed the honeysuckle hoping to kill it but no dice. Adam

Mort's Answer:
If they survive they will be the hardiest plants you could have, as evidenced by the honeysuckle. Blights are caused by a multiple of diseases including fungi. Most often irregular watering on tomatoes in particular will cause a blight to start on tomatoes. Your cure has been more harmful than the disease. Blights can be outrun by most plants. Your only choice now is to wait and see.

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Question: 815-3612
I lived in Fall River and was amazed at the bogs and how they were built in the Cape. I know it probably cannot be done here in Austin, TX. Buzz

Mort's Answer:
I know that there are mesas in parts of Texas that have large apple orchards. Bogs require huge amounts of water. They are generally built in swamps near lakes. Trenches are carved out to allow for irrigation and flooding for harvesting. Your soils would require a great deal of modification. Cooler nights in the fall help the fruit ripen. If there are mesas with lakes on them, you might stand a chance.

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Question: 897-913
I noticed a lot of buds this winter. Is this a result of global warming? Robert, Charlestown, RI

Mort's Answer:
Plants that bloom early like forsythia, PJM rhododendron and witch hazel set their buds in the fall. They may swell in a January thaw, which often happens in any growing zone. The USDA has recently upgraded the growing zones. Charlestown and other parts of the RI shore are now in zone 7A. There is a general movement of the lines northward. This is good evidence of global warming. It's not a bad thing for plants. It extends the growing season. You could grow watermelons for instance. We have seen more and more plants, like Mimosa, which are becoming hardy.

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