You can now email your gardening questions
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Gardening questions spring, summer, & fall, houseplant questions,
leaf spots, bugs, no flowers, deer problems fertilizer, lime,
veggies, broken branches, need more colour, brown spots, yellow
spots, plants for birds, slugs, etc, etc..., ! Try me!!
I'll post old and new questions; every
one is interesting, with something new to learn for all of
us. The newest will appear at the top, with the first name
and locale (let me know if you'd rather not be identified
I have a problem with ants in my flower gardens, sometimes
it seems that they are eating my annuals, ie. petunias. Just
wondering if it is true that the red mulch I am using is any
worse for attracting ants than the dark mulch? If so, should
I switch to the dark mulch?
Thanks for your time concerning this matter!
Ants usually get blamed for more than they are actually doing.
I don't know of any instance of them eating flowers. They
may sometimes, but I doubt that it is significant. The chewing
may be happening at night, and the ants are just around in
the daylight when you can see them, on the same plants getting
nectar, and getting your blame! The most likely maker of holes
in petunias is slugs, which come out mainly at night. There's
good non-toxic slug bait now, which uses iron as the lethal
ingredient for the slugs. Its by safers brand. We carry it.
The next most likely chewers would be earwigs, but not nearly
as likely as slugs.
As far as mulch making the area more attractive to ants, I
am not convinced of that either. The main attraction for ants
is the nature of the topsoil. They like it sandy and/or dry
and well-drained. I have absolutely no mulch in my entire
yard, and yet I have my fair share of ants. I dont think it
makes a big difference. I do know that it is very hard to
grow annuals through mulch. I never try it. They never do
as well, because you cant begin to prepare the soil deeply
enough with mulch on top for them to do well. You are better
to grow annuals in beds with no mulch, or just a sprinkling
on top after you have deeply dug the soil with organic matter,
As to whether one colour of mulch would be any more attractive
to ants, I have never heard or observed that, and wouldnt
be able to think of a scientific reason why that would be.
Not to say it doesnt, but I wouldnt be concerned myself.
My husband's mother gave us a lemon tree that she had had
for about 20 years. It did produce lemons as far back as 10
years ago but has slowly been dropping leaves and we have
not had even a blossom in about 4 years. Do you have any advice
for the care of the tree? It literally has only about 6 leaves
left and I would be heartbroken if it dies under my watch.
Kerry Alexander, Saint John, NB
I'll take a couple stabs at it,
though I have never had a lemon tree under my care!
Moving to a new home with much less sunlight would be a bad
factor. That kind of tree needs very much sun to thrive.
Over-watering to compensate for poor health could slowly drown
and kill the tree. That could gang up with the lack of light
to be very bad.
Root-bound condition would result in too few nutrients, and
soil volume that was so low that it would not hold enough
water, and dry out all the time. Repotting into a larger container
would help that situation.
At the point of having very few leaves left, it would take
a horticultural miracle to reverse things and save the tree.
Sounds like you should also check its will, and start thinking
about funeral arrangements!
Read your piece in the T-J this morning, concerning problems
with deer in gardens.
We were successful in keeping them out for 24 years, by using
a "soap fence". You run string lines between stakes
about three feet high, around the garden perimeter. To these
strings you attach small pieces of soap...motel size is fine...by
boring a hole in the soap, attaching a small length of string
through the hole and attaching the other end to the main line.
We put these attached pieces about three feet apart, all around
Now the sad part. This worked very well for 24 years of gardening
here on the shores of theSt. Croix River but one night some
brave...or maybe he had a cold in his nose...deer, munched on
the goodies inside the fence anyway. His buddies saw this and
did the same....the era of the soap fence was over for us. Anyway,
it had had a good run. It might work for some of your customers,
at least for a while.
Ruth and Stan Hart
Hi Ruth and Stan
Thanks for the soapy deer tail!
Typical deer story, in that it involves an evolution of home
invasion bravery on their part. For instance, this winter for
the first time ever, they went through the arbour and into my
secret garden, a very confined space right beside my house.
I think that without any danger in the home landscape (dogs,
guns, etc), they are slowly gaining confidence about entering
our spaces. They are also experimenting with newer plant foods
that they didnt try before, and liking some of them! (eg, my
You may have to go with a tall, physical barrier fence, the
only failsafe method I know of.