Tuesday, July 14, 2009


I just read an editorial by Brent Staples in the New York Times. He lives in Brooklyn and is bothered by raccoons. City folks have a real issue with these bad boys and can't shoot them; neither can they trap them, because then what do they do? Drive them to the Catskills?
Anyway, I suggested he try sprinkling capsaicin around the perimeter of his yard. That just might discourage them. Here is the note I sent to him. Perhaps it might help you too if you live in an urban setting.

"I read your article on your raccoon issue. I live in New Hampshire where raccoons are not a big problem. However, I'm also a Master Gardener who is often confronted with questions about "pests" and how to deal with them.
Raccoons are often a problem because other than shooting or trapping, there are few deterrents. However, there is ONE.
Try Capsaicin, which essentially is "hot sauce". It's what makes red peppers HOT. You can sprinkle that around the perimeter of the yard (either in powder form or liquid) and maybe they just might be discouraged from entering your little Eden!"

Friday, July 03, 2009


Don't you love a weather pattern that encourages slugs and snails? It appears the garden gods are against you! There's nothing snails and slugs like so much as damp conditions!
The best way to deal with slugs and snails is probably to trap them. They hide in debris and dark sheltered places, so the idea is to trap them at their own game. You can use boards, grapefruit halves and flowerpots to accomplish this. The snails and slugs will hide under and inside these traps. You have to then remove them from their hiding place and destroy them. Perhaps you can use a tub of ammonia solution or salt water to dump them into.
The other thing that works quite well is diatomaceous earth sprinkled around your vulnerable plants. Here is an explanation given by the University of Vermont Extension:
"Diatomaceous earth (silica) is a naturally occurring mineral made from fossilized remains of marine organisms. These fossilized particles are extremely small in size and have sharp edges. In theory, when insects come in contact with diatomaceous earth, these sharp edges cut and remove the waxy cuticle on their exoskeletons, which leads to their dehydration and death."
You can usually find diatomaceous earth at any garden center. I would say this is the way to go. However, it wouldn't be practical to put it everywhere, so perhaps this in combination with traps would be a good solution for you.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009



Order spring bulbs now for the best selection

Fertilize plants growing in containers

Direct seed kale seed for fall harvest

Sow a fall crop of peas

Pinch basil plants to promote bushiness

Side dress vegetables with nitrogen

If your vegetables are not yielding as much as you'd like, plant some high nectar flowers in the vegetable garden to attract more bees and other pollinators.

Pict the zucchini while it's young and tender.

Put nets over blueberries to protect them from birds. While you're there, give them a little fertilizer as well.

Remove fruiting raspberry canes after you've harvested the berries.

Control the growth of strawberry runners. If you don't trim them back to where you want them, they will be all leaves and no berries!

Dead-head (prune off) all your spent blossoms

It's a good time to sow seed of biennials and perennials

Cut back delphiniums when they are finished flowering. A complete
fertilizer at this time may encourage a second blooming.

Chrysanthemums will give a better fall display if fertilized a
bit now. You can continue pinching them back until mid-July for more blooms.

Try planting a clump of moisture loving Japanese iris where it can catch the water dripping from your air conditioner!

Madonna lilies should be divided as soon as the flowering period
is over.

Oriental poppies may be moved. Summer is the only time of the
year they can be divided successfully. Dig up the roots and cut them into 2 inch pieces and replant them in their new location.

Dahlias require little artificial watering in a normal season,
but should be soaked once a week during drought

Water your roses at least once a week

Floribunda roses will flower all summer if the old flower clusters
are snipped off regularly

This is the time for transplanting iris. Trim back foliage and only replant healthy, firm rhizomes. Set them quite close to the surface!

In fact, this is the best time to divide spring blooming perennials.

Start cuttings of coleus, geraniums, begonias and other plants
you want inside
for the winter.

The snow-in-summer should be pruned hard as it makes such rapid
growth at this time

When you trim deciduous hedges(ie,privot)be sure the sides slope out toward the bottom to be sure that sunlight reaches the base of the plants.

Wisteria's may be pruned now

Be sure that you dead-head all your daylilies. They will attempt do make seeds if you don't do this. You want them to build stronger roots. Daylilies will bloom more profusely next time if you remove spent blooms. Dead heading will also give you the possibility of a "re-bloom"!

This is a good time to attack Poison Ivy! Using discardable plastic gloves, cut the stems and paint the open wound with an herbicide on a HOT, SUNNY day!

Have you got Hosta's? Are there slugs chewing them? Try this solution, if you haven't already.
Combine 9 parts water to 1 part common household ammonia and spray it on the hosta just before dark. When the slugs hit this, they will dissolve!

When you weed, grab the flowering ones first so they don't go to seed and spread! Then go after the tallest ones that are just taking over your other plants. Pick on the little guys last.

Watch for tomato hornworm and hand pick them.