Thursday, May 27, 2010

Gardening with Wood Ash

Fireplace wood ash is not only excellent in controlling icy sidewalks in the winter time, but for pest control in the spring and summer months too! But, do not use wood ash burned from wood that has been treated with chemicals!

We’ve talked about adding plants to control pond algae, but sprinkling wood ash in the water will also control algae buildup in the pond.

These destructive creatures do not like wood ash at all. Sprinkle around the perimeter of the garden as preventative measures, or…

Wood ash will raise the pH levels in your soil. Some gardeners swear by adding it to the compost pile and other say to keep wood ash out of the compost pile. Tomatoes, Azaleas, Roses, bulbs, and vegetable gardens love wood ash. Do not use wood ash on acidic-loving plants like rhododendron, blueberries or azaleas. Apply sparingly as to not disturb the alkaline levels in the soil.

When the ash has cooled, apply 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch to the garden.

Fertilizer Levels = 0-2-10 (nitrogen – phosphorus – potassium)

Calcium 10-25%
Magnesium 1-4%
Potassium 5-15%
Phosphorus 1-3%

Levels will vary depending on the type of wood burned. Hard wood (such as oak) will produce 3 times more ash and 5 times more nutrients than soft wood. No not apply wood ash when regular fertilizer has been applied. Wait 2 months after fertilization to add the wood ash to your garden.

Wood ash helps to prevent ice buildup. When preparing your garden plants for the winter, cover with wood ash and compost. In severe cold conditions; cover garden with a plastic tarp during the long winter months.

Wood ash will neutralize acidity in the soil often present in forested climates.

See more garden tips and videos at my website at:

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


HOW TO KILL APHIDS Aphids are the head lice of the plant world. They will infest any plant and there are over 4,000 green, yellow, or black species. They will stunt plant growth and even kill your house and garden plants. Aphids are attracted to high nitrogen soil. So if you use a fertilizer high in nitrogen, it is best to take preventative measures. HOT TOBASCO SAUCE This is always a good choice for multi-pest problems. Mix 4 teaspoons hot sauce with 18 ounces of water. Add 4 drops Ivory liquid dish soap. Apply to the under side of leaves with a paint brush or basting brush. This solution can clog the pores in leaves. To prevent further damange, only apply to one side of the leaves. LADY BUGS & Green Lacewings Lady Bugs and Green Lacewings (Dobson Fly) are an excellent preventative measures to kill off the aphid population. They can be purchased online or ordered in a commercial nursery. USE YOUR BUTTS Mix tobacco or cigarette butts and garlic powder in with your compost. COOKING SPRAY I DO NOT RECOMMEND! This is the easiest no fuss method. Cooking spray (such as Pam) will suffocate aphids! But it can also suffocate your plants! Also see my websites for more garden tips and videos too.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


KILLER HOT TOBASCO SAUCE: After a miserable failure with my first batch which nearly made my husband puke in the waste basket due to the aweful smell, I made a simple hot sauce insecticide soap spray which has cleaned out my army of snails and destructive cabbage worms.

Ha Ha HAAA!!! Soft skinned insects hate hot sauce. Mix 4 teaspoons of fire hot sauce with about 18 ounces water. Strain with a coffee filter into a clean water bottle. (If not strained the thick hot sauce will clog the sprayer.) Add 4 drops Ivory dish soap (Dawn will also work.) Shake well and spray! Don't forget to spray the under side of your leaves. For herbs and veggies. Do not apply to pond plants.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

How to Save Wilting Artichoke Transplants

Q: Gail, I just planted both artichokes in the garden today. They had been in a half bushel basket for the last week in the shade and they were doing great. The spot I put them in, in the garden, gets full sun almost all day. I just checked on them and all of the growth has completely laid down, almost flat on the ground. When I planted them I water them pretty heavy and then put grass clipping around the base. I'm hoping that is a little normal since they are just getting full sun today but I don't want it to be a shock to them. Any thoughts? Is there anything special I should do other than the directions on your website?

Steve - Nashville, TN

A: This also happened to me! Sounds like the plants needed a little more time in the shade. Leave them where they are. Pound some stakes in the ground and hang a sheet canopy over the plants for a little more time of shade. Pound in a thin stake next to the plants and gently bind them up for a little support. I usually use a plastic grocery bag to stake up plants. The artichokes will look a little sad for a while, but they will come back. Don't worry if the plants shed some of its leaves. This is how artichokes generate energy to the more important part of the plant; such as the center and the roots.

The pic on the left is an artichoke that I bound up to help it through its transplanting shock. See: B-1 can also help give a plant the boost it needs for recovery. This can be purchased at Lowes or Home Depot. Let me know how it goes!

It seems as though they needed a little more water. It's almost 5pm here and still holding steady at 91 degrees so I gave them another good soaking. After about 10 minutes they began to perk back up. I'm going to run a slow drip soaker hose through the garden in about an hour so and then water the whole garden just after dusk so they'll get a little more water then too. I think I just underestimated exactly how much water they need. I'll keep you posted. Steve

Pond Fish and Algae Control


Q: I would love to do some pond stuff, but winter...etc Tyler, Tx and such....can I have a pond here with out a lot of trouble and algae, would like to put some koi or gold fish in it..... the east side gets morning to noon sun against the house....any ideas?

Steven - Tyler, TX

A: Pond algae can easily be taken care of with the right mix of plants: such as pennywort, hornwort, primrose creeper, water lettuce, and parrot feather. I keep a pond near my driveway where it gets to 120 degrees in the summertime. No algae problems so far! The hot afternoon sun definitely can promote algae growth. Your plants, however, will need at least 4 hours of sunshine per day.

Koi and goldfish are both from the carp family. I wouldn't put koi in your pond if you want to add
plants... because koi will eat the plants. Regular feeder gold fish actually look very nice in a pond and will grow to about 6 inches long. They are more hardy than koi and do not have problems with disease like the koi do. Shebunkins are another good choice for a water garden. They are also from the carp family, but are like a calico goldfish. I have goldfish and catfish in my pond. I also have some small koi, but luckily have not had a problem with them eating all my plants. I believe it is because the pond is very shallow.
Check out my videos about ponding at:

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Planting Artichokes with Bananas

Artichoke Planting Tips

1. Do not disturb the roots

2. Water the hole before planting the artichoke

3. Put an old banana in the hole before planting the artichoke

These few tips will get your artichoke plant off to a great start!