Hostas don't need to be divided, because they spread laterally, sending out underground shoots. Maturity enhances their appearance, and digging or dividing only slows their progress. If you have trouble getting them to flower, focus on soil acidity and fertility. They like composted cow manure, or you could add a commercial product. (Avoid granular chemical fertilizers, however.) Dry, shady areas are no problem, but do water the plants regularly, preferably in the morning, to discourage slugs. If you want to move hostas or to restrict their size, dig them up in the autumn before they go dormant. Removing them in June will disturb their feeder roots, so their summer growth might be stunted by the upheaval. The roots can be tough; you'll need a sharp gardener's knife or serrated blade to cut them.
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Last 7 Days
Dig a hole where the dog likes to dig. Blow up some small balloons, put them in the hole, and cover them with dirt. When the dog comes to dig in the loose dirt, he may pop a balloon and scare himself away from the area. It's worth a try.
Can I plant forsythias now, even though they're spring bloomers? Also, is it necessary to prune forsythia shrubs after they bloom?
Yes, you can certainly plant them now, although of course you won't see blooms until next spring. Many garden centers offer good bargains on spring shrubs at this time of year, so take advantage. As long as you keep the shrubs well watered, you should be all set. The root systems will have a good start before the winter months. There is no need to prune newly purchased shrubs unless you notice any damaged parts, which can be snipped away. Next spring, and in subsequent springs, prune for shape after the shrubs bloom. Pruning is an option more than a requirement, but it does encourage bushier growth. One advantage of forsythias, according to some gardeners, is that they let you know when it's time to plant other early crops, such as radishes, peas, sweet pea flowers, and poppies. Once your forsythias are in full bloom, which will vary somewhat from year to year, it should be safe to put those other seeds in the ground.
Leave your tomatoes on the vine as long as possible. If any fall off before they appear ripe, place them in a paper bag and store them in a cool, dark place (never refrigerate or store on a windowsill). The perfect tomato for picking will be very red in color, regardless of size, with perhaps some yellow remaining around the stem. A ripe tomato will be only slightly soft.
Good choices are soybeans, sweet clover, and alfalfa. Plow them under at the end of the season wherever you intend to start a new garden next season.
How can I prevent the return of spider mites, which were a big problem in my beans and melons last summer?
These spiders are most problematic when the weather is hot and dry. Keeping your plants well mulched and misted will help deter them, as they hate cool, moist conditions. You can destroy the webs of these spiders with water bursts from your hose. Spraying with an insecticide is another solution. Do this three times at one-week intervals to kill the mites plus any developing eggs.
I have problems with gophers and ground squirrels. The squirrels eat my strawberries and climb the avocado trees and eat the fruit. Your suggestions?
Cats and dogs are good deterrents to many small animal pests, but this is not always an option. Flooding out the critters burrows repeatedly may work. Poison baits are an option, but please don't use them if cats, dogs, and children are about. Here in New Hampshire our good friend, Peggy, obtained a dead chicken from a local farmer and shoved it in a woodchuck hole. The chuck must have been a vegetarian, because it never came back. Maybe something like that might work. Gopher it! --Gardening experts George and Becky Lohmiller, Hancock, New Hampshire
It is a fungus-type microorganism that grows from spores in the air. (Guest Expert Patricia Wright, Spokane Washington)