Doug’s mailbag: Moles, grafting tomato plants, Southern plant and more

Posted on: April 2, 2019 | Written By: Doug Oster | Comments

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
  • 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.)

mole control

Question 1: Mole control

Stephanie: My yard is overrun with moles. Can you offer a solution? I have ramped down the tunnels and they spring up elsewhere. Thank you for any advice you can offer.

Doug: I’ve got a great, organic control for moles and voles called Mole Scram. It’s safe for kids and pets and works as a barrier against the pest. Put a one-foot band of the granular product near the moles, then another the next day closer and then another on top of the tunnels to force them to leave the area. You can get it at this link.

Question 2: Grafted tomato plants

Mike: A few years ago I obtained some Limbaugh tomato seeds from you. I have been growing them every year. I am experimenting this year with grafting some tomato plants. Would you have any thoughts (pros/cons) on grafted tomato plants?

Doug: For me, the jury is still out on grafted plants. I’ve grown them and have not seen the benefits personally, but I know lots of people who have. It might be that I don’t have the sun that tomatoes need. It’s a fun project though.

You’ll need to get special seed to grow the rootstock and then some grafting clips, too. Graft your favorite varieties to the rootstock. It’s supposed to give you a prolific, disease-resistant plant.

Here’s a source for rootstock seeds and supplies, and here’s some great info on grafting tomatoes. Mighty ‘Mato is probably the best known for its grafted plants, not only tomatoes. They do a great job.

Just because I haven’t been as successful as others with grafted plants shouldn’t stop you from giving it a try. I’ll be growing them again this season.

Question 3: Southern plant

Christina: I brought this ‘Recurvifolium’ curved leaf privet plant back from Louisiana. I was wondering if it is OK to plant in New Stanton, Pa. My mom recently passed away, and it was a plant she had planted recently. I would like to keep it with me but if not, I can bring back to live with my sister in Louisiana.

Doug: The only way I think that variety can survive is to be planted in a pot, brought into dormancy in the winter and taken back out in the spring. It’s hardy to zone 7, which is about two zones warmer than our climate.

It can go out in late April or early May. I think the best way to deal with it would be to bring it into an unheated garage and stop watering, let it go dormant. Give it a little water here and there over the winter and bring it back out in the spring.

Question 4: Bug hotel location

Elaine: I bought a beneficial bug hotel last year. Would it be better in a city setting (garden and flowers nearby) or in a woodland setting?

Doug: It would work in both places, but near the woods would probably be better.

Previous mailbags

Rehoming daylilies, butterfly bush, amaryllis and more

Apple tree lichens, kiwi plant, growing pea sprouts and more

Planting grass, starting tomatoes, zinnias and more

Blackberry bush, garlic sprouts and a gardenia tree

Starting peppers, fungus flies and pear tree pruning

Poison ivy, amaryllis troubles, tomatoes and more

Memorial gardens, orchids and tomato advice

Unknown plants, Christmas cactus and raised bed gardens

Christmas cactus, gnats, shredded leaves and more

Leaf size, no-light plants and grubs

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

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Doug Oster is manager and editor of Everybody Gardens with a passion for gardening and a love of sharing is experiences with other gardeners. You will also find Doug’s gardening contributions in the Tribune-Review each week. He’s an Emmy Award winning producer, television host and writer. Oster is co-host of The Organic Gardeners Radio show every Sunday morning at 7 a.m. on KDKA radio in Pittsburgh. Oster’s Outstanding Documentary Emmy was awarded for Gardens of Pennsylvania, a one hour special he conceived and produced for the PBS affiliate WQED. Doug appears every Thursday morning on KDKA-TV’s Pittsburgh Today live at 9 a.m. “Gardening is fun, he says, enjoy every day spent outside tending vegetables, flowers, shrubs and trees.”