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 firstname.lastname@example.org
• 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: Pokeweed
Patricia: It looks like a berry, and I see it everywhere growing wild. I know I should know this, but what is it?
Doug: That’s something called pokeweed, and the berries are toxic to mammals including people. They increase in toxicity as they mature. Birds though are not affected and will eat the berries.
Question 2: Bug identification
Kelly: I took these two pictures of an asclepias in my garden tonight. One shot shows a butterfly caterpillar (exciting). The other shot shows tons of little yellow moving bugs of some sort. There is also a real or fake ladybug in the shot. What are all the yellow things? Aphids?
Doug: Yes, those are aphids, no big deal. I would use insecticidal soap or horticultural oil to deal with them. That’s the organic control, so you need to cover the insect with the soap or oil. We don’t want to hurt those monarch caterpillars.
Question 3: Voles
Carla: Voles have been a problem in my garden this year. After first noticing their tunnels several years ago, they have steadily spread throughout my yard. They have killed all of my gladiolus, liatris I’ve had for 15 years, a dianthus, and a ghost geranium I had just rescued from an end-of-season sale. What is the best way to control them? My 3-legged cat can’t keep up (but he tries)!
Doug: Voles can have colonies as big as 400 and since they are vegetarians, they can be devastating in the garden. There’s a product call Mole Scram that will get rid of them. It’s not a poison — it uses castor oil and garlic to repel them. Put down a band of the granules close to the house and then add another band each day to force the voles to another area.
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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