Grow your own sprouts!

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    Cold weather can’t stop you from growing your own sprouts! Mike McGrath discusses the rules of safe sprouting and micro-green growing. Plus: Beloved children’s show host, Gene London, brings historic Hollywood to the Flower Show; and your fabulous phone calls!


    Question of the Week

    “I grow sprouts in the winter as I wait for the Phillies to leave Clearwater and Spring to come to The Garden State. However, I have been warned of the dangers of sprouting. It’s said that sprouting creates conditions that are ideal for the growth of bacteria, including Salmonella, Listeria, and E. coli. I use various methods to grow my sprouts 1) a Mason jar with a cheesecloth top 2) organic soil with seeds in a small tray; and 3) spreading seeds on a moist paper towel in a tray. I get about the same results. Do you know the safest and/or best way to grow sprouts? Any thoughts on sprouting safety?”

    Don in Lawrenceville, NJ

    Growing safe sprouts indoors over winter »


    Highlights from show for February 21, 2015:

    Keeping wasps and pests away

    Ryan from Edmond, OK had been told to paint the celling of his front porch light blue a few years before to keep away paper wasps, birds, and mud daubers from nesting after experiencing attacks of such pests; To his surprise, he has had no problem with either of those in the past two years. Ryan is eager to know whether it was a placebo effect on his porch or is it a scientific fact. When he used to receive much of these mud dauber wasps on his porch, the ceiling had been painted brown. Mike stresses that he thinks mud daubers and paper wasps are very enticed by that color for it is natural and mimics trees and other things that they attach themselves to. Perhaps, the blue isn’t seen by the pests because they believe it to be the sky, Mike proposes.


    Combatting poison ivy

    Bob in Media, PA has a case of poison ivy growing in his yard. The root of the ivy, as Bob describes, is hairy and thick, running up the side of his tree. Bob hopes that Mike can assist him with some information on how to get rid off it. Since there are various kinds of ivy, there are various procedures to follow to get rid of that ivy, depending on the type. Mike suggests to first identify it, and sever it as it runs up the tree and then the ivy above will die. However if it isn’t toxic, all you have to do is “wait a season, and then you pull the dead stuff out of the tree”. If it is a “gigantic poison ivy vine” Mike explains, cautiously identifyit and go to our website, youbetyourgarden.org. and we have a couple of articles there on poison ivy removal. We do address the topic of what to do when there’s a giant vine growing up a tree’.


    Grape leaf hoppers

    Eric in Spokane, Washington had a question about his grape vines. A treasured place to sit and relax under, he is worried that the fact that the leaves are yellowing and falling earlier in the season and that they discovered some bugs might spell destruction for their tree! Mike reassures him that it is relatively easy to protect grape leaves, and that the white bug Eric mentioned, the grape leaf hopper, could also be taken care of. When asked if he had done anything different in the garden, Eric mentioned that they have been killing off a large number of wasps. That’s worrisome. Mike tells Eric, “You’ve killed all the cops in your city, and now you’re complaining that your house is getting broken into all the time!”. Mike tells him that he fears that Eric might have been what killing what had been keeping his tree safe, and if the wasps come back, that he should not kill the wasps.


    Special guest: Gene London

    Mike speaks with Philadelphia’s cherished kid show host, Gene London who was the host of a long-running, Philadelphia local children’s show, Cartoon Corners (aka The Gene London Show). This long running show was on the air from 1959-1977. Now Gene is the owner of thousands of hollywood costumes and is bringing them to the Philadelphia Flower Show From February 28th to March 8th. From Grace Kelly to Marilyn Monroe Gene will have it all and will even be making appearances and talking to fans.


    The four lined plant bug

    Phyllis in Yellow Spring, OH has tried ranges of oils and soaps to obliterate the infestation of ‘the four lined plant bug’ from her garden for the last three years. Phyllis claims she’s followed the procedures correctly that the extension service, that diagnosed her herbs having the four lined plant bug, gave her, but the pest is continuing to devour her plants. Mike encourages her to purchase a row cover with hoops and put it over the herbs, “with edges tucked well down completely surrounded with soil the pests can’t get through to it”. Another piece of advice Mike offers Phyllis is to place bird bath saucers in the ground, sinked all throughout the garden. An area with shade, preferably close to where the infestation is, place bricks on the ground and a board upon the bricks and it is to be covered with something such as carpeting or plant containers. The idea is to keep a moist, cool area where toads will be attracted to and creep in through the night and eat the bugs that are infesting the garden. Lastly, he urges to place a bird bath in the center of where it is all occurring, so birds, when they swoop down into the bird bath, they will notice the bugs all around, and eventually they will help get rid of them as well.


    Uses for horse manure

    Virginia in Berwyn, PA is constantly seeking ways in which to reuse her horse manure. Mike cautions Virginia that horse manure is not a balanced fertilizer , when it’s fresh, before it has composted, you can see that horses have an inefficient digestive system, therefore it tends to be very weedy. Horse manure, for whatever one may want to utilize it, it has to be completely composted. It will reduce in size, no longer be hot to the touch, but rather a cool or normal temperature, and no longer smell of horse manure. He assures her that when it is dry and crumbly, free of heat and smell, “ it is an ultimate food for lawns, lawn grasses, sweet corn, field corn, asparagus, and virtually any other crop that does not produce fruit”. To make a balanced fertilizer, she can use composted horse manure mix it with other organic elements such as rock phosphate, green sand, and bone meal.


    Coaxing your queen’s tear

    Don in Priest River, Idaho seems to have had a queens tear for several years, yet it has never flowered; he wonders if Mike can assist him with some information on the plant, along with some handy-dandy advice. Mike informs Don that this plant in fact belongs to the bromeliad family and is actually said to be the easiest of all to grow. These plants prefer shade, temperature ranging in the seventies in the day an declining to forties, and little watering. If Mike was Don, he would not pot it in potting soil, such as Don did. Mike suggests to pot it up in rough bark and take it outside during the summer to expose it to that ‘preferred’ temperature to provoke it to bloom, but keep it out of direct sun.

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