ANTS ARE NECESSARY FOR PEONIES TO POLLINATE AND BLOOM!!! (FICTION)  This is a myth and not true. Ants are attracted to the stuff on the peony bud but they have nothing to do with pollination or the flower and are not necessary for the bud to open and bloom. Again, good cultural care such as not planting the roots too deep has a great deal to do with the flowering of the plant. If you are planting or transplanting peonies, put the roots just below the surface of the soil. Do not plant more than 2 inches below the surface or they will not bloom. Again, watering is important and do not water after 2:00 p.m or you will invite diseases. If you have added compost over the years you may want to dig them up, divide them, and then plant them at the right depth.


PUT SALT ON ASPARAGUS TO CONTROL WEEDS!!! (NOT A GOOD IDEA) It is true that salt will kill the weeds, but in time it will also kill the asparagus and will take years before you can grow anything on that soil. Your grandmother or great grandmother probably put salt brine from making pickles and/or homemade ice cream on the asparagus when that is all we had to control weeds. Today there are pre-emergence products that will keep weed seeds from germinating in the asparagus, and products that will kill grass (Sethoxydin-brand name: Grass Getter) but not hurt the asparagus. Do not use Grass-No-More or Grass-Be-Gone (Fluazifop-P-butyl) as they are not labeled for vegetables Also, you can apply Kleen-up or Roundup (Glysophate) on the weeds in the asparagus bed if you do it before the tips appear. Don’t use salt as someday you, or someone else, may want to plant something else in that space but it may be sterile soil because of the salt.


BEST TO PLANT TREES DEEP!!! (FICTION) Most trees do not have what we think of as a deep tap root and planting a tree deep is not good. If you have seen a large tree that has been blown over by high winds or a tornado, most of the roots that kept the tree stable came out from the trunk and have spread out like a dinner plate and were not very deep. 80%-90% of a trees roots, and especially the feeder roots, are in the top 12 to 18 inches of the soil, and extend out way beyond the drip line to provide stability. If you see a tree that comes straight out of the ground like a utility pole, the tree is planted too deep and is under stress. There should be a flare at the base of the tree. Therefore, when planting a tree, find the first major root and put that about 1 to 2 inches under the soil. Start by seeing where the soil line is on the new tree. That may be how deep to plant, but it may have been planted too deep to start or soil has accumulated on top of the ball or container and must be removed.

Trees need air from the soil to survive just like humans need air. If you plant a tree too deep, or if you add soil around an existing tree, you shut off access to air. That is why you should not build a raised bed or add any soil around the tree, at least out to the drip line. If you do, you shut off the trees access to air. Also, do not over water your tree or you will drown the tree by shutting off the air. Remember, different kinds of trees have different water requirements.  


AFTER REMOVING A BRANCH FROM A TREE, I SHOULD PUT ON A TREE WOUND DRESSING LIKE TAR OR LATEX PAINT!!! (FICTION) We used to advocate putting some kind of wound dressing on an injury or when a branch was trimmed. Research has found that letting trees heal naturally, on their own, is better. If there is a disease or insects involved you may just seal them in. Don’t worry about the tree loosing sap. It won’t kill the tree. Do you like maple syrup on your French toast or pancakes? In New England they tap the Sugar Maple trees and then collect that sap and boil the water out for maple syrup. The trees have survived for years, in spite of this deliberate wounding. Just make sure when you prune a tree, you do this correctly. One caution, do not make a flush cut but leave the branch collar. If you don’t know what that is or how to prune, ask someone that does. Staff at most full service garden centers will be happy to explain how.


IF I HAVE MOLES IN MY YARD OR GARDEN, I MUST HAVE GRUBS!!! (FICTION)  According to Jim Pease, Extension Wildlife Specialist at Iowa State University, 90% to 95% of their diet is earthworms. The other 5% to 10% are grubs, crickets, spiders, centipedes, and other worms and soil insects. Therefore, poison peanuts, poison grain, or “Juicy Fruit” chewing gum are not effective. Also the noise makers, electronic vibrators, and high pitch electronic machines have been proven to be not effective on a consistent basis. The only sure way to capture moles, voles, or ground squirrels is with a trap. Moles can be a real problem. It may seem like you have a whole colony, but usually there is only one or two moles per acre, as they must eat their body weight every day. They have a very high metabolism rate. In the process of searching for food they make many food runs out from the main run and use them only once.  

     Therefore, find the main “interstate highway” run by stomping down all the runs. The next day mark where the run re-appears with a small landscape flag. Do this two, or three times, and mark the run that pops up on a regular basis. Place the trap in or over that run for that is their main feeding run and goes back to the nest. Plans for a homemade trap are available from your local County Extension Office or from the internet. Go to In the top box scroll down to “Extension Publications”. In the bottom box type in “moles”. A list of publications will come up. The best for the average homeowner is “Moles and Their Control”. (Publication #G1538, June 8, 2005.)

This same website can be used to access all the NEBGuides and extension publications. In the search box just type in the name of the plant, disease, insect or other problem and the extension publications will be listed. Click on the one you want and read it on the computer or print it.

As a footnote, moles can be the sign of a healthy lawn or garden as you have not killed off the beneficial earthworms, night crawlers, red wigglers, and other earth living creatures. Also, it indicates the soil is not too hard and dry.

Copyright 2007