Gardening editor Doug Oster gets asked a lot of questions. A lot. And he doesn’t mind offering gardening advice. But rather than just limiting those answers to the person who asked, we thought it might be a good idea to share that wealth of knowledge with everybody.
There are three ways to send in your questions:
- Email email@example.com
- Submit your question on our “Your Garden” section of our site
- Send us a message on Facebook.
(The questions may be lightly edited for grammar/clarity/etc.)
Question 1: Leaf size
Constance: I value your expertise and hope you can tell me about this amazing oak leaf I found while walking through Oakland near the sidewalk of Heinz Chapel going toward the museum. More interesting than the size was the fact that there were no other leaves like it around! I walked all around and through the grassy lawn, but the others were of normal size. It’s a pin oak, I was told, but I can’t believe that a tree will only produce one leaf of this size! I polyurethaned it so I can keep it for my fall decor next year. Please advise.
Doug: I consulted with Dick Till, a certified arborist for The Davey Tree Expert Company. He confirms that the leaf is from a pin oak and says the huge size of the leaf is a genetic fluke. That’s why you only saw one leaf.
Question 2: No-light plants
Daniel: Are there any plants to grow in a basement without a grow light? What are your thoughts about reusing old orchid potting soil?
Doug: The only plants I can think of that would not need light would be mushrooms. Do you have a big window down in the basement or are we talking standard basement window light? Most indoor plants need at least some nice window light, and most vegetables and annual bedding plants benefit from additional artificial light sources.
The orchid potting soil could be used again. I’ve got a lot of friends who use old potting soil in the garden to grow the next crop of potatoes or to fill a container and grow them, too.
Question 3: Watering trees & grubs
(Note: This question arrived before the recent winter weather.)
Dan: I took your advice and got two pear trees 50 percent off and planted them. It’s supposed to rain tonight and tomorrow. Should I still water them in? My yard is under water as it is with a lot of clay soil. Also I noticed a lot of grubs while I was digging. What organic controls do you recommend to take care of them and when do you apply it?
Doug: I always water the day of planting. If we get a good rain, that will be enough to get them started.
You don’t have to worry about the grubs until the spring. Every garden/yard has grubs. Unless they are causing problems, it’s not a concern. My favorite organic control for them is beneficial nematodes. They are applied when the soil temperatures are 50 degrees or higher. These organisms will hunt out and kill the grubs specifically, but won’t bother the good bugs.
Canna lilies, elephant ears, daffodils/garlic and more
Hibiscus care, tomato seeds, daffodils and succulents
Early garlic, pencil holly, hydrangeas and tree locations
Bellflowers, sweet potato vine, deer/garlic and more
Lemon tree, Knockout roses, soil repair and more
Butterfly weed, tomato seeds, rose bushes and more
Roses, Japanese beetles, planting garlic and more
Artillery fungus, heliotropes, crown gall and more
Skunks, pawpaws and a memorial tree
Mushrooms, harlequin bugs, fall planting and more
Beautyberry, nematodes, tomatoes and more
Pokeweed, bug identification and voles/moles
Caterpillars, mystery flower, onions and more
Seeds, leaf gall, bulb sale and more
Praying mantis, tomato issues, crabgrass and shrubs
Dogwood relocation, tomato issues and garlic soup recipe
Canada thistle, compost, bolting parsley and more
Blossom end rot, bees, butterfly weeds and more
Mystery bugs, lavender plants and watermelons
Strawberry plants, cool-weather crops, pumpkins and more
Tomato issues, zucchini struggles, lilacs and more
Hosta seeds, garlic, Alternaria leaf blight and more
Moving a hydrangea, hibiscus and succulents
Lilies, Brussels sprouts and septoria leaf spot
Garlic harvest, cucumber beetles, spindly tomatoes and more
Bladdernut, fungus gnats, rose black spot and more
Poison ivy, black-eyed Susans and container mix
Cucumber beetles, hot pepper plants and planting potatoes
Zebra grass, pale vegetables and yellow nutsedge
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