Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Readers' Questions and Answers

I am sure it is a great mistake always to know enough to go in when it rains. One may keep snug and dry by such knowledge, but one misses a world of loveliness. ~Adeline Knapp

Sorry for my lateness today. It was my daughter's 3rd grade field day and picnic. The weather was perfect and the kids had a blast!

I have in my back yard purple nightshade and have been unable to get rid of it---have tried digging it out but the rootsare very long and strong, don't like to use poison stuff so I was wondering if there is anything else some one could recommend. ~Helen

What's happening is that little pieces of the root, or rhizome is getting left underground and they sprout. Nightshade roots break very easily. Try again to get every bit of the roots-and then remove EVERY part of the plant as well, to a waste bin where nothing will be left behind. Then the area where you dug them up can be covered by black plastic, which may kill anything that is left. Once you've done this, then next season or in the fall, plant hardy native plants that will take over where the nightshade had been. I've had it too so I know what you mean about those roots! As a last resort, Round Up used in the early spring may do the trick too. As I was doing some research, I found a great page with pictures of toxic plants:

How can I keep squirrels from eating oranges on my trees? ~Pat

Living in the Midwest, I've never grown orange trees, and I did some looking but couldn't find anything specifically on keeping the squirrels from the oranges, but I did find a good repellent spray you can make on your own. I'd try spraying it on the branches. Does anyone else have an idea?

Squirrel Repellant Spray

1 oz. Murphy's Oil Soap
1 oz. any brand hot sauce (cayenne type sauce)
1/2 Tbs. cayenne pepper

Mix this together carefully (watch your eyes and wash your hands well afterwards). Place it in a 22 ounce spray bottle and fill half way with water--shake to mix, then fill it the rest of the way with more water. Spray around area where the squirrels are doing damage.

I live in Indiana on a dirt road. The city was kind enough to grade our ditches leaving a steep grade that is hard to mow. Is there an ivy or something that grows low to the ground that will keep out the grass and weeds and still live through the dust generated by cars going down the road? ~Melissa

There are a lot of choices for slopes, depending on your climate and if it's full sun or shade. Some of the ones that are favorites and have a reputation for being tough are ivy varieties like Hedera Helix 'Glacier', which is variegated and will eventually cover the slope. Sedum is another tough ground cover with many different varieties.It should also do well. Daylilies, Hemerocallis, will also do fine on a slope because they are deep rooted and they will actually help the soil against some erosion. I would ask around to friends and family to see if they need some divided. The tough, classic orange variety is perfect for this and multiplies rapidly. The slope is going to get dusty, but using these types of ground covers you should be able to make it look nice and the lilies will add color.

We have tips on growing old fashioned morning glories:


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