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Ed Hume Answers Your Gardening Questions

Ed Hume cannot answer all of the garden questions he receives, but questions of general interest will be answered here every month.  Email your questions to HumeSeeds@aol.com.  Please note: we do not accept attachments.

Before submitting a question, be sure to check the index of previous questions and answers or search our site using key words.  Many questions have already been answered here on the site.

Other February Links

New Raised Vegetable Beds

Q We just retired and moved to Arlington and have installed our first two 4x8 foot raised vegetable garden boxes. It was set up with nursery mix and a sprinkler system. From reading your web site it appears that we should add some sort of fertilizer. Recommendation?

A Add any type of well-rotted manure, compost or even processed manure. In Arlington, you should be able to find well-rotted manure and it would be best. (Do not use fresh manure at this time. It is only applied in the fall.) Mix about a wheelbarrow in each bed.

Q The sprinkler is tied to our nearby planting beds. I'm afraid that overhead watering may have adverse effects on the vegetables, i.e. mold, mildew etc. Is it something to worry about since the garden gets full sun all day?

A Keep your tomato plants away from the overhead sprinklers.

Q Finally, since this is our first vegetable garden what would you recommend for our first adventure so as not to burn ourselves out and not achieve any fruits of our labor?

A Start with leaf lettuce, spinach, beets, carrots, onions, radishes, squash, pumpkins, potatoes, kohlrabi, chard, cabbage, early corn, beans, peas, cucumbers and herbs. At first, stay away from peppers and tomatoes (other than early varieties).

See Also: Raised-bed Vegetable Gardening  Preparing the Vegetable Garden  Wide Row Vegetable Gardening

Planting a Japanese Maple

Q I am planning on putting in a laceleaf Japanese Maple in my front yard. It will face south and get morning sun-not much afternoon sun. When is the best time to plant one of these?

Japanese Maples could be planted anytime during the dormant season (now). If I were you, I would wait until late February or early March when the nurseries get in their new stock. Right now you would be getting a choice from what was leftover from last season.

A Japanese Maples could be planted anytime during the dormant season (now). If I were you, I would wait until late February or early March when the nurseries get in their new stock. Right now you would be getting a choice from what was leftover from last season.

Composting Grass

Q I have massive amounts of grass clippings. I do not have the brown stuff  to help breakdown the grass. I end up with a pile of slime. It's really wet here. We average over 100 hundred inches of rain annually. Makes the grass grow well in the spring. I would like to compost. Any suggestions.

AThe best browns are leaves from deciduous trees or peat moss. The key is to build the compost pile in layers, so you do not have too much of one material, such as the grass clippings...they will make a big slimy mess. If you do not have leaves from deciduous trees, ask you neighbors to save some for you or contact the parks dept. in town. Coffee grounds are also a great addition to the compost pile.

You may need to cover your compost pile at times because of the heavy rainfall in your area.

Discouraging Squirrels

Q I have problems with squirells. They dig up everything I plant. They dig up bulbs and they dig up plants that I have just planted. Do you have any suggestions on how I can keep the squirells out of my garden.

A Myrna tried a new product in our garden because the squirrels were digging the bulbs out of the newly planted containers. It solved the problem, at least for now. It was called 'Scoot Squirrels'. In the Canadian parks they use Naphthalene flakes over the planted areas. Others claim hot dried pepper works well, too!

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