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Ron Wilson

Gardening Questions


I see a few Carpenter Bees around our deck. How do I get rid of them?

Unless you know for sure they’re causing major destruction (which in most cases it’s not), leave them alone! Just like the other native bees, they are great pollinators and we need them! They are not aggressive, although they will buzz you in the face sometimes, trying to scare you away. But the female would only try to sting if you grabbed her, and the male doesn’t even have a stinger. Now, if they are causing major damages to a wood structure, the most natural way to get rid of them is to take your tennis rack, and practice your forehand / backhand. Knock them down. Really easy, really works and no sprays needed. I love watching them do their thing! Bee Friendly in your garden!

I have had apple scab on my crabapples for the past two years, and black rot on my grapes. What do you suggest for controlling these diseases?

For these and many leaf and fruit diseases, you ‘protect’ them from getting the diseases by starting a fungicidal spray program at leaf bud break – which has happened or is happening on the plants – and spray about every 10-14 days or so thru the spring and into the summer. Again, to protect from the diseases. See our horticulturalists for fungicides to cover the diseases on your plants – for these two issues, I like to use Mancozeb.

I am trying to stay more natural in my gardening practices, and am wondering if there are natural fungicides available?

Yes, there are! Sulfur, Copper, Actinovate, Oils – just a few of the ones available. Baking soda will show up on home-made recipes, and they’re even working with milk as a natural fungicide!

I heard you talking about the Helleborus (Lenten Rose / Christmas Rose) that was being grown for indoor colors during the Christmas Holidays. Is that also for growing outdoors?

Yes, there is an entire series of them now with different colors, that begin flowering at the end of the year and continue into the winter – late winter is when we normally think about and see Helleborus flowering – so planting both species, you can have beginning and ending of winter colors. Helleborus is an evergreen perennial, loves the shade, and the deer won’t eat it! Very cool plant!

We had rose slugs really bad last year. When can I apply the systemic around the bottoms of the roses?

Right now! Go ahead and get that into the soil at the base of the rose plants. Even when using the systemic, I still suggest following up with foliar sprays of Insecticidal Soap or Horticultural Oil to help control them as well. Be sure to spray the undersides of the leaves, not the tops. Remember, they’re called rose slugs, but not a slug at all. They’re sawfly larvae (look like a lime green tiny caterpillar) who feed on the undersides of the leaves.

I’m seeing those webs with those caterpillars in my crabapple trees! How do I kill them before they kill my trees?

First, they won’t kill your trees. They’ll eat quite a few leaves, but it won’t kill the tree. If you can get a garden hose to the trees, simply blow them out of the nests and out of the trees. When they hit the ground, they get eaten by birds, or you can do the BJB Two Step and smash them. Or, put on a glove and smash them in the nest. Kind of gross for some, but it does work.

This is my first spring with my spring flowering bulbs I planted last fall. What care do they need this spring?  

As the spring flowering bulbs flowers begin to fade, if you have time, feel free to deadhead those spent flowers, but leave that foliage alone! If you haven’t fed your bulbs this spring (best to feed before they flower) feel free to feed now as well, but leave their foliage alone. If a few weeds are popping up where they’re growing, hand weed, spot treat with Roundup if you can, even apply Preen to help stop weed seeds from growing, but leave the bulb’s foliage alone. By the way, did I mention leaving the bulb’s foliage alone?  It’s best to let them stay green and grow as long as you can (grow until they begin to turn yellow), for new flowers to appear next year. They need a minimum of 6 weeks or more of just good green foliage, before you should consider cutting them back. And by all means, do not braid their foliage or bend them over and rubber band them together. Over time, these non-recommended practices will take their toll on the bulbs flowering abilities. By the way, once the foliage has yellowed, that’s the perfect time to dig, divide and transplant those spring bulbs if needed.


I’m a new homeowner and have my first lawn to take care of. Any mowing tips for me as we get into the mowing season?  

Sure! Ready? IF IT’S GROWIN’ YOU NEED TO BE MOWIN’! Spring can get a little frustrating, as the grass can be growing at twice its normal rate! Please, mow as the grass needs to be mowed, not when you have time to mow it. In some cases, it may be twice in the same week. This won’t last long, but stick with it while it does. Mowing tips:
-Mow as the lawn needs to be mowed, not when you can mow.
-Mow at a higher level, rather than too short (2 ½ – 3 ½ inches).
-Never remove more than 1/3 of the grass blade each time you mow.
-Throw the grass clippings back into the existing turf (they return valuable nutrients back to the lawn, they’re 85% water and decompose quickly, they do not contribute to thatch, it’s easier on you and time saving, and you help reduce yard waste sent to the landfills).
-Change directions each time you mow.
-Clean the underside of the mower deck after each mowing.
-Sharpen your mower blades on a regular basis.

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