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Archives for April 23, 2016

Gardening events: Science of plants and bee attraction revealed

National Garden Days are looking for local participants to share or organize activities for your garden, garden centre or in the community over three days on the Father’s Day weekend, June 17 to 19. Register your activity at  

Garden design for evolving realities with the master gardeners of Ottawa-Carleton, April 23, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., for gardeners of all levels, Rideau Park United Church, 2203 Alta Vista Dr. The day includes talks from experts on resilient garden design, growing your own food and more. Cost: $60, includes refreshments and lunch.

Creating Pollinator Friendly Neighbourhoods, a presentation by Marilyn Light suggesting ways to create environments that will attract and sustain pollinators in our neighbourhoods, April 26, 7:30 p.m., Tom Brown Arena, 141 Bayview Rd. Hosted by the Ottawa Horticulture Society.

How plants work: The science behind the amazing things plants do, a lecture by author and horticulture professor Linda Chalker-Scott visiting from Seattle, Washington, April 28, 6:30 p.m., Confederation Education Centre, 1645 Woodroffe Ave.  Tickets: $5.

Wild Garden plant walk, discover edible and healing plants growing wild in Ottawa, April 30, 1 to 3 p.m., 2389 Pepin Crt. Cost: $20, with sliding scale.

Trees and Shrubs in the Urban Garden with master gardener Lee Boltwood, May 3, 7:30 – 9:00 p.m., hosted by the Kanata-March Horticultural Society, Old Town Hall, 821 March Rd. Cost: $5 for non-members. 

Landscaping Inspiration with master gardener Laura Moses, May 8, 7.30 p.m., hosted by the Manotick Horticultural Society, RCMP Campground Hall, 451 Nicolls Island Rd., Manotick. Guests: $5. Talk is followed by friendly gathering with desserts. Info: 613-715-2493.

Plant Guilds: Taking companion planting to the next level with Rebecca Last about the relatively new concept of plant guilds that has emerged from the permaculture movement, May 3, 7 top 9 p.m., Friends of the Farm, Bldg. 72 CEF Arboretum, east exit off Prince of Wales roundabout. Cost: $12-$15.

Grassroot Grannies Perennial Plant Sale, with horticulturalists on hand to offer advice for your garden, May 7, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., 54 Selwyn Place, Kanata. Proceeds will go to the Stephen Lewis Foundation for Grandmother to Grandmother Campaign.

Spring Flower Show, a judged event with spring blooms and decorative arrangements, May 14, 111 a.m. to 4 p.m., Gloucester Centre Shopping Mall, 1980 Ogilvie Rd., hosted by the Gloucester Horticultural Society. 

Gorgeous Grannies Friends 4th Annual Plant Bake sale, May 14, 9 a.m. to noon, 6556 Prince of Wales Dr., North Gower. All proceeds go to the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s Grandmother to Grandmother campaign.

Wild Foraging Workshop, learn to identify wild edible plants safe for eating, the ethics of foraging and how to enjoy wild plants, May 15, 9;30 a.m. to noon, Ferme et Floret, 225 Shouldice Rd. Wakefield. Cost: $30. 

FCEF Rare and Unusual Plant Sale, May 15, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., specialty growers and plant vendors, garden accessories, in the Neatby uilding parking lot, Experimental Farm, at Carling Avenue and Maple Drive. Admission: Free.

Art for the gardeners from the Nepean Fine Art League ART Sale, art suitable for your garden or home from 40 artists, May 20, 6 to 9 p.m. and May 21, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Ukrainian Banquet Hall, 1000 Byron Ave. . Free admission and parking.   819-568-1160

East End Plant Sale, seedlings, perennials and shrubs, May 21, 9 a.m., North Gloucester Public Library, 2036 Ogilvie Rd., annual fund raiser for the Gloucester Horticultural Society. Free admission and parking.

Free gardening advice from the Master Gardeners of Ottawa-Carleton: Telephone helpline: 613-236-0034, Wednesdays and Thursdays (1 to 3 p.m.), all year, email helpline: Monitored daily.

Submit your gardening event to by 8 a.m. Monday morning, two weeks before the event. 

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Outdoors and in, lighting improves living

Photo courtesy of Robuck Homes

Nothing is as appealing as a home enhanced with outdoor lighting, whether spotlighting architectural features or drawing attention to landscaping elements. Indoor lighting adds greatly to the uniqueness and appeal of a home, whether viewed through its windows or enjoyed from the interior. Its functionality and style complete the builder’s design in a way that adds to the value and the charm of the home.

Good lighting design is effective

The tone of a room is achieved with ambient lighting like ceiling fixtures or recessed lighting. Positioning recessed lighting around the perimeter of a room makes it look bigger and is easily controlled by dimmers to accommodate the mood or needs of the homeowner. Accent lighting is

often included to focus on artwork or architectural features. Task lighting is concentrated in work areas like kitchens, offices or bathrooms.

Since home décor is an expression of the homeowner’s personality, style is a major consideration when choosing indoor lighting. Traditional design typically includes items with dark finishes and ornate features like impressive chandeliers. Contemporary designs often include sleek track lighting, silver or nickel finishes, and simple lines. Modern design focuses more on bright colors, exposed light bulbs and bold geometric shapes, a style currently in vogue. Mary Beth Taintor, design studio manager for Robuck Homes, confirmed its popularity.

“Chandeliers and kitchen pendants play an important role in setting the mood and style of any home,” said Taintor. “In today’s trends, we are seeing more geometric fixtures and a wide variety of finishes that include antique finishes with a resurgence of gold and antique brass.”

The period homes featured in Autumnwood, the Sanford development of Preservation Homes, are a perfect example of the influence of lighting fixtures on establishing the style of the house. Tom Bland, president of Preservation Homes, confirmed this. “We build bungalow and arts and crafts style homes, so most of our buyers are attracted to that architecture. Dining room chandeliers, when integrated into a design that sometimes includes authentic bungalow wainscoting, are normally the most visible lighting in a home. We feel that the best investment for a builder and our homebuyers is a dramatic dining room fixture.”

Chandeliers aren’t just for dining rooms. High ceilinged foyers are perfect locations for dramatic chandeliers. Master bedrooms and master bathrooms are frequent locations for smaller chandeliers, now available in a wide variety of styles, colors and shapes. Whether made of crystals, metals, wood or glass, chandeliers become a focal point of any room and will kick up the décor level a notch.

Lighting choices can save money

“Green homes are a major characteristic of True Homes,” stated Shaun McKay, managing partner for True Homes. “For us, being green isn’t just the latest trend or buzz word but rather, green building is at the core of our business philosophy. With our emphasis on energy efficient products that save money and conserve energy, we make use of all types of lighting that fit into this program.”

Green lighting has become popular in many homes. Compact fluorescent lights, or CFLs, are made to fill most home lighting fixtures. Although they are more costly than incandescent light bulbs, they will save money as they require less energy and last longer than traditional light bulbs. The latest trend in light bulb technology is the LED, or light emitting diode, which emits significantly less heat (which helps cut your power bill) and is much more durable than an incandescent bulb.

Halogen bulbs are more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs and, unlike CFLs, have an instant start to a bright, intense light.

Robuck Homes employs several of these categories of lighting, according to Mary Beth Taintor. “All of the recessed lighting Robuck Homes installs today includes LED recessed bulbs,” confirmed Taintor. “CFL bulbs are used in 90% of the installed decorative fixtures. We also offer LED under-counter kitchen lighting.”

Technology has invaded the lighting field. Software programs have made it possible for homeowners to control lighting from their cell phones. No longer is it a problem returning to a dark home when you can turn on outside or interior lights from your phone. Many builders like Robuck Homes offer home automation systems that can control lighting from a smart device as well as other components in the home.

Exterior lighting

Creative lighting highlights outdoor features

It goes without saying that outdoor lighting significantly increases the curb appeal of a house and that it can be as important as the indoor lighting to the homeowner. Not only does it highlight a home after dark, but it emphasizes the design elements of the home and of the landscaping surrounding it.

Backyard lighting provides a dramatic display of outdoor entertainment areas like patios, decks, or pool areas as well of landscaping features. It also encourages late night entertainment as well as family use of patios, pools and outdoor cooking facilities.

Outdoor lighting also fills a need for safety and security around the home.

Low voltage path and step lights are attractive, add to the overall look of the outdoor areas and provide a safe night time guide. Security lights, whether activated by motion detectors or by timers, provide safety and a feeling of assurance for family members after dark. Crime rates are lower for homes that are lit after dark.

Solar powered fixtures are a good choice for outdoor lighting. These lights use the latest LED technology and provide long-lasting, bright lights especially popular for gardens, paths, step lighting and architectural features.

Good community lighting is essential

Developers of planned communities know that good outdoor lighting adds to the attractiveness of a community, promotes safety after dark, and deters crime, helping increase sales and add to the appeal of the community. Homeowners are more likely to take evening walks, go jogging or walk the dog when the streets, walking paths and recreational areas are well lit.

Community light helps to set the tone or theme of a neighborhood like those of Preservation Homes, according to Tom Bland. “Period lighting, consistent with the overall architectural style of the area provides a complete look,” he states. “Well-planned lighting at the front entrance, around amenities, and down to each individual home helps to make a community stand out, and affects the long term appreciation of each home.”

Lighting design

Creative lighting choices make a difference

With so many lighting products in all pricing levels on the market, choosing lighting elements becomes a major component of house design. Good exterior lighting highlights a home’s style and increases the safety and security of the house and its family.

Continue reading this article on New Homes Ideas.  

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Train Depot key piece to Bassett plans

The restoration of the historic former Bassett Train Depot will be a key part of efforts to revitalize the factory town’s business district, according to those involved in the efforts.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced last week that that the Appalachian Regional Commission, a federal-state agency that helps fund community and economic development efforts in localities in and near the Appalachian Mountains, will provide Henry County a $500,000 grant toward restoring the depot.

The money will be coupled with donations from Bassett Furniture Industries and the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp. to assist with the restoration, said county Planning, Zoning and Inspections Director Lee Clark.

A new roof recently was installed on the depot “to help preserve what we have,” said Jeb Bassett, senior vice president for Bassett Furniture’s wooden furniture division.

“We hope to make a lot of improvements” to the building in the coming months, Clark said.

Planned improvements, Clark said, include repairing or replacing 32 windows and six entrance doors; repairing 12 large sliding dock doors that add “tremendous character” to the depot; priming, painting and repairing exterior brick and wood trim; installing heating, ventilation and air-conditioning in the depot’s lower portion; building two restrooms accessible to disabled people and replacing a large, deteriorated wooden deck at the loading dock.

New insulation and some interior priming and painting also are planned, he said. Installation of a kitchen in the depot’s lower portion is being considered, he added.

All of the work is to be done in a way that maintains the historical character of the building, which dates to the 1920s, Clark said.

The depot “already is a focal point among historical structures in Bassett,” he said. “The improvements, I think, will make it more of a focal point.”

Clark hopes design plans for the restoration can be developed and the project be put to bid by Christmas. He also hopes that the project will be completed by next spring, but he emphasized that the pace of any contractors hired will determine how fast it is finished.

The Henry County Furniture Museum, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that Bassett Furniture helps support, is the depot’s current owner.

A farmer’s market in the building is “probably it’s most prominent use,” Clark said.

As part of the Smith River Small Towns Collaborative, a group of community leaders working through The Harvest Foundation to revitalize the Bassett, Stanleytown, Fieldale and Koehler areas, a goal is to expand the market into areas outside the depot as part of Bassett’s revitalization, he said.

The depot could be used for other purposes, too.

“Any kind of use that doesn’t detract from the historical character of the depot but adds to the economic value of Bassett” would be suitable, Clark said.

Ideas mentioned by Clark and Jeb Bassett include restaurant or retail space or a venue for private events.

As a unique building, “it would be a super cool anything,” said Jeb Bassett, who is co-chairman of the Small Towns Collaborative.

The collaborative aims to use money from a $700,000 Community Development Block Grant from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development to create a town square in Bassett. In addition to the depot renovations, work is to include upgrading business facades and landscaping on the Reed Stone block.

The goal is to help existing businesses in Bassett expand and to attract new ones.

When the improvements are finished and the market is able to expand, “there’s going to be tremendous potential for new entrepreneurs” to set up shop in Bassett, Clark said.

“Bassett gets a lot of traffic, and a lot of people live in the area,” he said. “I think it (the area around the depot) is going to be an in-demand section. There won’t be anything like it” in Henry County or Martinsville.

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Beautiful Gardens: Secret garden grows in unlikely setting in Eagan

Editor’s note: This story concludes our series showcasing last year’s Beautiful Gardens winners. We’ll select this year’s winners later this growing season. Watch for a call for entries soon.

Poor soil, scant sunlight and a small enclosed space hardly sounds like a recipe for an award-winning garden.

But that hasn’t stopped Stephanie and Fred Groth from creating one.

“We have very little to work with, but we’ve done the best we can,” said Stephanie of the secluded oasis in their Eagan backyard. “It’s our little sanctuary.”

Their garden isn’t visible from the street or the house next door. It’s their secret — a place where they can enjoy breakfast, a good book or a glass of wine, surrounded by flowers and lush foliage. It’s also where they relax with their family and friends during the outdoor season.

“After those bleak months of winter, it’s so nice to have color,” Stephanie said.

The secret terraced garden in Eagan is small in size but packed with color and points of interest.

Green Thumb: Give edibles some face time, too, gardening expert urges

With gorgeous vegetables like golden chard, carrots and cabbage as well as the edible yellow flowers of calendula, you don't need many ornamental annuals.

Christine Arpe Gang


Photos by Rosalind Creasy Heads of romaine lettuce share a bright blue grid with sedums in Rosalind Creasy's garden in Northern California.

Thornless blackberries share a trellis with roses in Creasy's edible landscape.

Rosalind Creasy wants to put an end to the segregation that has been practiced in American gardens since colonial times.

Ornamentals — plants that have no purpose except being pretty — always get the best beds out front for all to “ooh” and “ahh” over their beauty.

Meanwhile, edibles, the tasty plants that sustain our health, are relegated to beds hidden behind garages and fences.

“We need to get over the notion that edibles are ugly and only ornamentals are pretty enough to grow in the front yard,” Creasy said during a slide lecture presented recently to members of the Little Garden Club.

She’s been singing this song for plant placement equality since the early 1980s, writing about it in more than a dozen books and practicing it in her own garden in Northern California.

“The Complete Book of Edible Landscaping,” first published in 1982 with a revised edition in 2010, grew from her experience in creating a fully integrated garden in her front yard in full view of neighbors and passersby.

At her talks, she is frequently asked whether people steal produce from the garden.

Sadly, she said, many Americans wouldn’t know an edible plant if they fell on it. Walkers who cadge a cherry tomato or two are welcome to them because there are plenty more growing over arched trellises and in bamboo tepees painted red, yellow, orange or blackish purple to match the tomatoes.

Keeping it pretty is important.

“Don’t use old stockings to tie up the tomatoes,” she said. “And don’t plant in boring rows.”

But, she notes, you can plant almost anything within the bounds of a clipped boxwood hedge.

One of her slides showed a contemporary garden with a painted corrugated metal fence that served two functions: a backdrop for a mixed garden and a deterrent to hungry squirrels that find it impossible to walk on.

She also pretties up her garden by planting individual heads of romaine lettuce in a wood grid painted bright blue, a hue also used on other containers for pops of the cooling color here and there.

Why, she asks, would you plant seedy peppers for purely ornamental purposes when you can have Yum Yums — mini bell peppers of orange, red and yellow to eat and a great looking plant?

Want pretty foliage? You could go for coleus or get some Rainbow Swiss chard with its red, orange or yellow veins and stems and glossy green leaves.

Because chard is still being harvested in December in her region, she encourages the chefs she consults with to use matchstick pieces of the red stems in their Christmas salads instead of non-locally produced red peppers.

Because plant pigments contain antioxidants, Creasy notes a colorful plate of food not only entices our eyes but is also better for our health.

Include some purple to black foods such as blackberries, black beans and black tomatoes because antioxidants in their pigments may lower risks of diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

Toscana, a strawberry plant with attractive deep rose blooms, is a pretty plant even without its fruit. Its trailing habit makes it ideal for hanging baskets or other containers.

Yes, we can grow hardy kiwis if we give the vines strong support to climb, a male pollinator and about three years to produce their small red-skinned fuzz-free fruits, which need no peeling.

Ananasnaya, a kiwi developed in Russia, has thrived at Hidden Springs Nursery ( in East Tennessee for 30 years and produces 250 pounds of fruit per season.

Creasy also recommends Pesto Perpetuo, a new basil with attractive variegated leaves that does not flower or produce seeds. It just keeps producing its tasty leaves all summer.

Be sure to keep edible plants well-groomed, she advises.

“The public will put up with sad-looking rose bushes, but they won’t tolerate a wilted zucchini.”

Iris Society show

The hard-working members of the West Tennessee Iris Society once again host their annual show from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Pickering Center, 7771 Poplar Pike in Germantown.

Anyone with a named variety may enter it for judging from 7:30 to 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

Everyone else has to wait until 1 p.m. to see award-winning flowers in various tones and combinations of blue, purple, yellow, white, yellow, pink, orange, brown, red and even black.

Twenty floral designers have been invited to submit arrangements featuring irises as the predominant flower.

More than 150 potted irises will be offered for sale at $5 per pot or five pots for $20. Society members are always happy to dispense growing tips as well.

Christine Arpe Gang;

Christine Arpe Gang Archive

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Save the Date: Lots of ways to get growing with Idea Fair, plant sales, seed swap

This weekend is a great time to find ideas to transform your outside space. Kick it off with the 25th annual Clark Public Utilities Home Garden Idea Fair, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Clark County Event Center at the Fairgrounds, 17402 N.E. Delfel Road, Ridgefield. Be sure to save room for some plant starts. The fair is free, with $6 for parking.

The Wildlife Botanical Gardens will be hosting its Bare Root Trees, Shrubs and Perennials Sale from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. today and Sunday, plus April 30. Tour the gardens for landscaping ideas to attract pollinators and other beneficial wildlife. Admission to the sale is free at Wildlife Botanical Gardens, 11000 N.E. 149th St., Brush Prairie. 360-737-1160 or

Or check out the Seed Swap at the Camas Public Library, 625 N.E. Fourth Ave., Camas, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. today. Bring garden seeds to trade and swap, or visit with other gardeners. 360-834-4692 or

If not this weekend, then make plans for the 19th annual Camas Plant and Garden Fair from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 7 in downtown Camas. Featuring a wide array of plants, trees, garden art and furniture, and other locally made products, plus a kids activity zone.

Or the Master Gardener Foundation of Clark County’s yearly plant sale from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 7 and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 8 at 78th Street Heritage Farm, 1919 N.E. 78th St., Vancouver. 360-397-6060 ext. 5706 or

Re-Imagined Radio will bring one of the longest running radio series, “Gunsmoke” and the famous action hero “The Shadow” to the stage. The radio re-creators will bring to life the “Gunsmoke” episode, “Bloody Hands,” as Marshal Matt Dillon deals with a murder in Dodge City, Kan. The Shadow must find an stop an invisible sniper from taking revenge in “The Silent Avenger.” The performances begin at 7 p.m. May 4 at the Kiggins Theatre, 1011 Main St., Vancouver. Tickets are free.

There’s still time to sign up for the 25th annual Walk/Run for the Animals at 9 a.m. May 7, with all event proceeds benefiting the Humane Society for Southwest Washington. Race day begins at Esther Short Park, 301 W. Eighth St., Vancouver. Registration is $30 to $45, free for ages 12 and younger. 360-693-4746 or

Clark College Theatre will perform “Measure for Measure,” one of Shakespeare’s tonally ambiguous plays. The story follows Lord Angelo, who has been left in charge while the Duke’s away. Angelo enforces stricter morality laws and sentences soldier Claudio to death for getting his wife-to-be pregnant before marriage. Claudio’s sister and novice nun Isabella seeks a pardon, while the real Duke, disguised as a friar, comes up with a plan. Performances run 7:30 p.m. May 13-14 and 19-21 at Decker Theatre, Clark College, 1933 Fort Vancouver Way, Vancouver. Tickets are $13, $11 for seniors, $9 for students and alumni. 360-992-2815 or

Southwest Washington Wind Symphony presents “Exploring the Cosmos” at 3 p.m. May 15 at the Performing Arts Center, Union High School, 6201 N.W. Friberg-Strunk St., Camas. Selections include the American premiere of “War of the Worlds” by Adam Gorb, “Saturn Returns” by Michael Markowski and “Moonscape Awakening” by Joni Greene. The concert is free. 360-574-8386 or

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Garden Club of Petersburg to host annual Historic Garden Day Tour of local homes and gardens

Posted Apr 23, 2016 at 9:09 AM
Updated at 9:10 AM

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This week’s gardening tips: weeds, bulbs and tomatoes

It’s important to pull up cool-season annual weeds, such as henbit, bedstraw and chickweed. These weeds are setting thousands of seeds now that will plague you next winter if not removed.

As much as is practical, continue to deadhead faded flowers from cool-season bedding plants, such as foxglove, columbine, snapdragon and dianthus. This keep the plants looking neat and tends to promote extended flowering.

Plant summer-blooming bulbs, such as crocosmia, gingers, lilies, canna, pineapple lily (Eucomis), elephant ears, crinum, agapanthus and others.

This is the prime planting season for warm-season grasses, such as St. Augustine, centipede, Bermuda and zoysia. With the exception of common Bermuda, solid sodding is the preferred method of establishing a lawn. Although more expensive and labor intensive at the beginning, solid sodding more than makes up for it in advantages.

Tomatoes are staked to keep the plants from sprawling on the ground where the fruit would be more likely to rot. Wait for the first cluster of flowers to appear, and place the stake on the opposite side of the plant’s stem. All of the flower clusters will grow from the same side of the stem, and this will keep developing fruit from getting caught between the stake and the stem.

Love to read about gorgeous gardens? Sign up for’s weekly home and garden newsletter, and you’ll get Dan Gill’s tips as well as stories about gorgeous  landscapes. It’s free. Just click here. And while you’re at it, head over to the’s New Orleans Homes and Gardens page on Facebook.

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Gardening tips for Spring


ORCHARD, Iowa – The sunshine and the spring temperatures have some people thinking about gardening care.

Daniel and Reba Zimmerman, owners of Stillwater Greenhouse in Orchard, Iowa have been busy preparing for planting season and assisting customers with seed orders.

While there are many challenges with plant production Reba says this time of year can be tricky and encourages gardeners to plant with caution.

“Feeding your plants and giving them fertilizer is imperative. A lot of the new plants are very high performance and they need food, their like humans and they like to eat and that’s really important.”

Reba says the mild winter we saw this year created a few more problems when it comes to insects and says they had to be extra diligent to keep their greenhouses protected.

“We try to keep our greenhouses clean when we’re not growing things so that helps.”

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Gardening Q&A: Tips for growing beets and rosemary – Virginian

Q. I have been growing beets for many years and have had great results when I plant in the early spring. When I plant in the fall, the greens do well, but the beets are long and skinny, like a carrot. I have tried planting my fall crop as early as mid-July and as late as Sept. 15, with the same results.

Also, when digging in my vegetable garden, I notice a lot of Japanese beetle larva. Can I use milky spore in the garden?

And, I usually have many bumblebees in my yard, but this past year I saw only a few. The only difference that I can think of is the absence of lamb’s ears, which I didn’t mind losing, but I would like the bumblebees back.

– Kathy Griffin, Virginia Beach

A. You can plant beets in early spring when the soil reaches 50 degrees. For a continuous harvest, plant more every three weeks until the temperatures stay above 75 degrees. Beets do not do well in acidic soils; the pH should be in the 5.5-6 range. Use a fertilizer with a high phosphorus (middle number) level and avoid any with a high first number (nitrogen). Using a fertilizer with a high first number will promote green top growth and result in tiny bulbs under the soil. Sow the beet seeds ½ inch deep and 1 to 2 inches apart. Thin to 3 to 4 inches after the seedlings get about 2 inches high. When thinning, it is best to pinch or cut the ones you are removing. Pulling them out can disturb the roots of the seedlings you want to grow. Beets can be harvested in 50 to 70 days, but don’t forget to eat some of the greens, which are more nutritional than the roots.

Milky spore is safe to use in the garden. It will kill only grubs and will not harm pets, food crops, bees, birds, fish or us. It is not a poison. Apply this product in early spring when the grubs start feeding. This is a natural product that has long-lasting effect. A grub needs to ingest only one spore to become infected, and then it will explode, releasing several billion more spores. It may take a few years for good control, but it will remain in the soil controlling grubs for 15 to 20 years. It is important that you follow directions when using this product.

When asked to name our No. 1 pollinator, most will say the honeybee, but our native bumblebees are actually among the best of all the pollinators. Bumblebees are social insects living in colonies. Their nests often are located in abandoned holes made by rodents. If you are lucky enough to find a colony on your property, please leave it alone. Also, be mindful of pesticide sprays, which can affect the pollinator population.

Q. I planted rosemary last spring but it didn’t get very big, even with this mild winter. It looks rather shabby now. What should I do?

– Pat Magness, Chesapeake

A. Rosemary is slow growing during the first year, but you can expect it to pick up now as long as it is in full sun and has a well-draining soil with a pH between 6 and 7. Now is a good time to cut out any winter damage and add a cup of slow release fertilizer around the base of each plant. Mulching will help to retain moisture and provide insulation during the winter, but do not cover the crown of the plants. Rosemary is a natural mosquito repellent.

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