Are weeds fresh from the sea good for your garden?


    Mike explains how to care for jade plants, why you should call a professional when removing trees, how to care for damaged trees, what to do when your neighbor plants bamboo and why seaweed can be good for your garden.

    Question of the Week:

    “How can we make plant food from seaweed? We have an unlimited supply of a type called sea grass. It comes from the Indian River, which is part of the intracoastal waterway on the east coast of Florida. It seems the stuff should work. The sea cows eat it, so I would be surprised if it wasn’t of use in the garden.”

    — Mike in Fort Pierce, Florida

    When and how to use seaweed in your garden »

    Highlights from show for December 21, 2013:

    Caring for jade plants

    Brian from Kutztown, Pennsylvania jade plant 10 years ago that has long been thriving. Lately, however, he’s noticing that some of the jade “branches” are going soft and almost rotten. Mike explains: “There’s a couple of things that could go wrong. If the plant doesn’t get enough sun in the summertime when it’s outside, it can get leggy and misshapen. If it’s underwatered, it can start to get brown dry spots on what we’ll call the leaves. If it gets overwatered, similar things can happen. But believe it or not, these jade plants that, you know, most people would put them in the bullet-proof range, but they’re really not. They require some care.” Mike continues to explain that jade plants are prone to a specific disease that does cause the symptoms Brian is seeing. The biggest cause of this disease is lack of ventilation or airflow. Mike advises that Brian remove any diseased parts of the plant, repot it with pearlite mixed into the soil and be careful to place the plants in a well-ventilated area.

    Removing trees requires professional planning

    Carlotta from Rolli, North Carolina is clearing trees to make room for a vegetable garden and would like Mike’s guidance in making this move. Mike explains: “When the guys come out to key out the work, they have the mathematical skills to look at your trees and tell you where their shade line is going to be. And their alignment — you know, with East / West / North / South is important too. And that’s where an expert can save you a lot of time and money and mistakes. … They can calculate where the shade it going to go, because don’t forget the shade is going to be variable over the course of a season. As we go through the different seasons, the sun’s going to be in different positions. So they can compensate for that. They’ll be able to tell you exactly how far back you have to go to get the amount of sunlight that you want.”

    Caring for damaged trees

    Hamid from Fairfax, Virginia had been doing some construction behind his house in 2007 and his trees have since been suffering from root compaction. The trees do not appear to be as healthy as they once were, and they are also infested with caterpillars. From his description, however, Mike thinks that the trees just need a little clean-up to give them a boost. His first recommendation is to have Hamid bring in a professional arborist to come out to remove dead branches to thin out and clean up the trees. In the spring, Mike recommends purchasing a safe product called BT to get rid of the caterpillar infestations.

    What to do when your neighbor plants bamboo

    Joan from Bucks County, Pennsylvania next door neighbor planted bamboo and she’s concerned that the plant will move into her property. “The only way to keep the bamboo on his side reliably is to have a landscaper who knows what they’re doing come, dig a trench, and install what’s called rhizome barrier. … The best information you’re going to get is at a website called These are people who love bamboo — mostly the well-behaved clumping varieties — but they also have great advice, very professional advice for containing running bamboo, which is a dangerously invasive plant.”

    Have a lot of crows? You probably also have a lot of grubs.

    Vincent from Wallingford, Pennsylvania has a flock of crows visiting his property every year in the fall and would like to know what he can do to keep them away as they tend to dig around in his yard. “Crows, unfortunately, as you may know or have heard, Crows are some of the most intelligent creatures we have in our environment. In terms of ability to learn — I believe they can even use tools! — they’re the smartest in the bird family. And they have a reputation for being really crafty.” Mike suspects that the crows are attracted to beetle grubs in the soil. And based on this, Mike recommends treating the soil to get rid of the grubs: “The best way to control lawn grubs long term — and fortunately you have a long time to prepare for this — there’s a natural control called milky spore disease. And what this is it’s a naturally occurring soil organism that once the grub ingests it, the grub dies and then it develops this disease and spreads this disease throughout the lawn. But it only effects beetle grubs, it doesn’t even harm earthworms.” Mike explains that milky spore disease is readily available at most garden centers in the spring season.

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