The Magic Garden

Nature is the one place where miracles not only happen, but happen all the time


Can you tell me what veggies would do well in gutter gardening?
William, Mays Landing, NJ

Old gutters are usually about five inches deep. This does not allow for a wide range of plants. Drill holes must be made to accommodate drainage. Consider that for every leave above ground, there is a root below. Many plants succeed with cramped roots, especially ones that flower. This would leave out root vegetables and large fruited plants like Big Boy tomatoes. You could grow herbs, bib lettuce, small eggplants but not much more. Perhaps, you could combine half whiskey barrels and other wooden large planters for a decorative colored array on a patio.

Our soils are very clayey. What amendments will help improve this?
Bill, Locust Grove, OK

Optimum soil is two-thirds organic matter and a third granular soil. You need to add both organic matter and coarse sand. Old shredded leaves, compost, aged sawdust, grass clippings (without herbicide) and aged manures are all excellent annual additions. Till these in every fall or spring until that body becomes healthy. You will be able to smell the good soil.

We have a lot of Creeping Charlie. A lot of target herbicide sprays do not get rid of it. What can we use on the lawn and in the garden?
Rebecca, Blue Mound, IL

Four step programs include herbicide with the fertilizer. This helps fill in the bare spots left after they are killed. Creeping Charlie, with its tiny little blue flower, reseeds very quickly and is often below the cut of the mower. An early application of a pre emergent application will help. Corn starch can be used in flower and vegetable beds as a pre emergent.

The past week or so have had the beautiful weather with warm temperatures. This has made our grass grow quite long and thick. My question is, could we cut the grass at this point? We know it is early and have not put down the first application of fertilizer, but if we wait, the grass will be much longer. Would a light cut hurt the grass at this time?
Anna, Amherst, NY

Temperatures are returning to normal and the grass will be retarded. There is no need for the grass to be cut back until heat resumes. Most grasses can be left to grow tall in the fall to protect the roots. We now recommend to let lawns grow to three inches before cutting. This allows for shaded crowns and a lot less water. When normal weather resumes, you can start your fertilizer program.

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