Looking to your landscape as a source of free holiday greens? Mike McGrath reveals how to healthily harvest holly. Plus: Mike speaks with author Marta McDowell about the gardening lives of Emily Dickinson and Beatrix Potter; and answers to all your growing questions.
Question of the Week
“Every Fall, I yell at you not to prune, because pruning stimulates growth, and you don’t want to do that when your plants are trying to go dormant. But once they ARE dormant, you can prune away! Winter is the perfect time, for instance, to open up the canopy of big trees to let in more light and to prune fruit trees for shape and air circulation.”
Highlights from show for November 29, 2014:
Special guest Marta McDowell
Mike speaks with author Marta McDowell who has written two books dealing with famous poets and their gardens. Her first, Emily Dickinson’s Gardens, talks about the reclusive poet and how her writing reflects her relationship with the garden. More recently she’s written Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life, which tells the story of an eccentric woman growing up in the Victorian age and how her childhood helped shape her amazing talent for drawing animals.
Margaret Ellen in the East Falls area of Philadelphia, PA has a problem with stink bugs coming into her house and garden. She has read they don’t like citrus and mint, but Mike says that since they are already inside it’s a lot harder to get them out of the house and those deterrents won’t work. Mike says he has a couple of options: one is a stink bug trap that she can buy that uses pheromones as a lure. The bugs go into a trap and can’t get out. A second option is a kit with an LED light system because research has shown they go toward lights. Since Margaret Ellen has a black light Mike says put that on and then put a sticky paper or a saucer of soapy water under it and the bugs will drown in the water or get stuck.
Caring for potted plants through winter
Mitch in Greenville, NC has some citrus trees that are in pots and he wants to get them through the winter. In NC they have some days that will get in the 70’s in the Winter, but they will also get cold snaps, which could stress the trees. Mitch wants to know if he could drag them out in the warmer days? Would it affect them adversely in dormancy? Citrus by nature is a tropical plant, Mike explains, and never really goes dormant, so Mike is not quite sure the garage is making the plants go dormant at all. They might just be waiting for a sunny day. Mike suggests putting little dollies under these pants to help Mitch move them around, but he also suggests that Mitch buy some 4 tube shop light fixtures and hang them right over top the plants. Then Mitch should put them on a timer for 12 hours on and 12 hours off and then they will react as if they had artificial light. With that method there is no issue with giving them the real deal a couple days during the winter.
Can you use pine needles for mulch?
Rick in Levittown, PA has a question about using pine needles for mulch. Mike says that shredded fall leaves are the best mulch, but you can use pine needles. Rick is worried that they are too acidic as he wants to grow blueberries, but Mike says that the acidity is actually good for blueberries. Rick wants to use coffee grounds as well, but Mike says just be careful not to use too much to limit fruiting. Mike adds a tip that apparently dog hair is the best mulch for Tulips.