caroline's taking a little break today, so i'm here to share some useful gardening q&a with you! we often get questions from readers, and caroline's answers are just to good to keep from you!
Question: Recently I have noticed that my tomato plants - all 8 of them - are not producing anything. I got a little concerned because they are 3 feet high - they look great and happy - but no fruit! Boo!! So, i asked my gardening girlfriend what she thought I should do and she suggested that my soil may be lacking calcium. Hmmm... since I'm new to this gardening gig I think to myself: "where do you get calcium? Do I give them a little milk?" (kidding) So, i called another friend that gardens and he said to try some osmocote (sp?). I have used osmocote in the past on porch plants and they love it- but is it OK for food?? I don't want to put any chemically stuff on something I'm going to eat. Do you have any tips? Suggestions??
Also, I have an old brick coop in the back - that needs major cleaning up - its sturdy with a tin roof (made probably circa 1930) but the open windows will need some chicken wire - and the door opening has no door (rats!). I'm pretty sure there are black widows in there and there is no way this gal is going in there to tidy it up with those monsters in there. Any tips on how to get them out? - Kristen
Answer: Hi Kristen! Non-flowering tomato plants are usually a sign of too much nitrogen in the soil. Have your soil tested at your local cooperative extension center and let them know you are experiencing non flowering tomato plants. Calcium depletion in the soil usually shows up as tomato blossom end rot - so a calcium deficiency would not be my first guess. I'm thinking they will probably have you add potash or potassium to the soil, but don't go guessing! You can also try stressing the plants a bit - lessen up on the water for a few days. I would not use osmocote on food products - that stuff is pretty toxic to ingest. Don't feed them anything until you get that soil test done. At this time of year it should not take long at all to get results.
Black widows! How timely as well - I found some black widow carcasses in my garage this past week and I'm on high alert now....but I'm not going to do much more than diatomaceous earth, a flashlight and a long broom to clean up the cobwebs. You can spray the chicken coop with water or use a hose end sprayer with some liquid soap mixed in to flood/kill the spiders before you actually go too far inside to clean up. Neem is also pretty effective...but you knew I would say that, I'm sure! Good luck, go in the covered up...no flip flops for you, wear a hat and long gloves. Be careful and be brave!!! -Caroline
Question: I need help! I planted windowboxes, organic, with zinnias, sweetpeas, nasturium and cilantro. And they have bugs! Ugly little buggers, some look like beetles, others fly... but I need to get rid of them pronto. I was thinking maybe a salt water mix, or baking soda? But I really don't want to try without advice. If you can help I would SO appreciate it! :) - Anna
Answer: Hi Anna. Thanks for your question. I would advise you to never ever use regular salt in your garden. Salt is actually really toxic for your soil and not a good idea to spray on plants. Epsom salts are a different story, but they are not effective as bug control. I would recommend knocking the beetles into a bowl of soapy water and then spraying with Neem. Here is a link to a safer, organic Neem product I have found very effective. Beetles are tenacious and you do need to spray every few days to control them." - Caroline
Question: I have something eating the leaves and new buds of one of my pansies and one of my dianthus in my small flower garden...guessing they are slugs since I can't see them during the day (better go out one night to see if I can spot 'em!)...anyway, read to put epsom salt around the plants...did it today...think it'll work? any other tips? (update): Went to the local landscaper today b/c the epsom salts did NOT work AND I caught one of the little buggers this morning…at the other end of the garden! anyway, she is ordering me “sluggo” – said it is safe for kiddos and pets! hope it does the trick…- Jes
Answer: Jes answered her own question! Sluggo is great for slugs and safe around kids. - Caroline
do you have any gardening questions? leave your questions here, or visit the ladybug landscaping facebook page to ask caroline directly!