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Gardening Questions Welcomed

It takes a village. Not just to raise children, but also to raise healthy vegetables. Help is available; feel free to ask gardening questions in the comments below.

I was ruminating with a fellow gardener up at the North garden about my most recent blog. I told her I thought it was rather odd that a blog that I had just thrown out there, more as a rambling than a composed thought, had generated more comments than any other contribution to my blog. She had just recently started to read my blog (having suggested to me that I blog, after several conversations with me, and having been told to check out Framingham Patch.) Her theory about why I was getting so many responses to that particular blog was because we're all in the same boat right now.

That comment made me think of all the times that people ask me gardening questions. My FAVORITE example is this: the other night I was cooking supper when I recieved a text from my ex-husband, "Do you have time in about 10 minutes for a gardening question?" This usually means he's going to call me in 10 minutes. I told him I was about to start frying stuff and asked if he could call sooner. He replied that they'd be there as quickly as possible! (He, too, lives in Framingham.)

His timing, as always, was impecable. He arrived just in time to scarf down a jalapeno popper. Hmmmmm ... what's wrong with this picture? He and his girlfriend arrived with a tomato from a plant I had given them (again, what was I thinking?!?!) that was obviously suffering from blossom end rot. There's no mistaking that affliction.

I diagnosed the problem, kicked him out of the kitchen before he ate me out of house and home, and gave them a small quantity of "Serenade", an organic anti-fungal treatment that can be sprayed on tomatoes to cure them of said blossom end rot. Of course, I also lectured him about not watering one's tomaotes too frequently.

So the woman with whom I was speaking about the blog comments had also had a gardening problem, which I was able to diagnose in a general way, and for which problem I was able to give her a small quantity of a cure to spray on and see if if helped. Because sometimes, if the cure helps, that tells you what the problem is.

I have loads of websites to which I go when I have a gardening problem, but I think sometimes people just need a place to start.

So here's the deal. If you're reading this, and you're in "The Ham," and you ever have a gardening problem, you shouldn't hesitate to contact me. I live for this stuff. And, chances are, if you're in Framingham and are experiencing a gardening problem, I've probably experienced it too.

It takes a village, people!

P.S. That bug pictured is one I sent to a help site, to try and figure out if it was the bug eating my plants or something beneficial. They hedged, but it turned out it was a bug that eats a lot of aphids. Works for me. I did NOT try to kill it!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

S. O'Donnell August 01, 2012 at 06:02 PM
Hello Renee, First off, we do live in "The Ham" just off Belknap. Anyway, this year my wife (Amy) started a garden as a project for her and our oldest son to work on together. It was supposed to be a small garden, that is until I got involved and built a 12x16 raised bed. She has been working so hard and doing a ton of online research about gardening. Recently parts of the garden started having problems, plants dying, spotty leaves, etc. How do I submit questions and pictures to you? BTW - Seeing this post from you was just awesome. My poor wife is going crazy trying to fix whatever is wrong, and since it's kinda my fault for building the darn thing in the first place I feel a bit guilty. So please help if you can. Thanks, Scott
Renee Faubert August 01, 2012 at 07:03 PM
Hi Scott, First of all, please know that the first year is by FAR the hardest. You're really flying blind, so to speak. This is my "home" garden's 4th year and it's doing great It's my 1st year up North and I'm having to figure out what works and what doesn't and, even though both gardens are in the same town, they're not at ALL having the same problems! My email is Renee1966@hotmail.com. I'd be happy to talk with you and your wife any time. You could come see what I'm doing or I could stop by. I'm totally addicted to vegetable gardening!
Anuja Mathew August 02, 2012 at 11:39 AM
Hello Renee, I have a couple of hardy hibiscus plants that have been ravaged by some insect. The leaves are "skeletonized". I tried to read up about it and I think it maybe sawfly caterpillars. I cant see them on the leaves. I have tried spraying them with a Bayer insecticide (The guy at Lowe's told me to use). Not sure if there is great improvement; however the new leaves are less ravaged. Please let me know if there is something else I should use. If they survive is there a way I can divide them? The flowers are usually so beautiful. Anuja
Renee Faubert August 02, 2012 at 06:10 PM
Hi Anuja, I'm so sorry to hear about your hibiscus! A friend of mine recently had a similar problem. Although I usually grow vegetables, I have found that a good all-around bug preventative spray is neem oil, and it can be used on almost any plants without harming them or the environment. There are also insecticidal soaps that contain neem oil that work well. You should look for neem oil listed on the bottle. The Bayer products are usually good as well, I just try to stay organic. If the new leaves look less ravaged that means the product is working. It won't heal the old damage, but rather keep the damage from spreading. Next spring I recommend dousing them with neem oil early on, before you see any damage. It can't hurt, and early application can really help prevent the problem from returning. Good luck!
Lesa September 02, 2012 at 11:39 AM
Hello Renee, I know its late in the year, but this will help me come next spring. I have Hollyhocks, that some bug is eating. I have tried to use the dish detergent with water solution, and sprayed the dickens out of them, but the leaves were eaten to skelatons anyway. I have animals and small children so I dont want to use a harsh chemical, any suggestions? Thanks Lisa
Renee Faubert September 03, 2012 at 02:44 PM
Hi Lesa, I'm more of a vegetable gardener than a flower gardener, but to that end I use only safe, organically-approved bug sprays and fertilizers. My favorite one, and one that just came out this year, is "Captain Jack's Dead Bug Dust". His SPRAY wasn't much use, but the dust works great, is safe for us on vegetables up to the day of harvest (so I figure it can't be THAT dangerous to humans!), and it works really well. What I might do if I were you is apply it at dusk, when the small children are in the house. The nice thing about it is it's easy to dust on just where you want it, and you don't have to worry about it going into the air as much as the liquid sprays do. You might want to try applying it this fall, to subdue the bugs before they go dormant and/or lay eggs or whatever they're going to do. Good luck!
Dolores Boule October 20, 2012 at 10:27 PM
I planted a Hinoki false cypress tree in an urn in the spring; will it survive in Zone 5b or do I need to plant it in the ground now?
Sonia Waskin October 21, 2013 at 12:18 PM
Good Morning I presently work at a corporate center and capital spending is being cut so we are eliminating the interior plant care service. Does anyone know of a reliable website to go to so that I can research how to take care of interior plants? Most websites guide me to houseplants. This is a corporate environment and I am sure plant care is different. Thank you for your time and consideration. swaskin@mmgtco.com
Renee Faubert October 21, 2013 at 12:29 PM
Hi Sonia, First of all, most of the issues around how to care for your interior plants would center around what kind of plants are currently growing in the building, rather than focusing on the difference between caring for plants in a home setting vs an office setting. Some of the best chats I've had regarding care of "house" plants were with the manager of my dentist's office, who had some amazingly healthy plants growing that lived for YEARS under standard office conditions. The one thing she told me that most people do wrong when it comes to house plants (and house plants are not my specialty) is that they water them too frequently. In my world, the more I neglect my houseplants the happier they seem to be! Every now and again I might throw them a bit of fertilizer, but other than that I just water them a couple of times a week and wish them the best of luck. If you have any specific questions about any particular type of plant growing in your office, you might just look it up on a site that deals with house plants and assume it'll transfer over. Good luck!


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