WTOP's Garden Editor Mike McGrath is:
* Host of the nationally syndicated Public Radio show, You Bet Your Garden
* Contributing Editor and columnist for Greenprints magazine
* Former Editor-in-Chief of ORGANIC GARDENING magazine
* Author of books on Tomatoes, Compost, Seed saving and Kitchen Gardening
* Mike makes several appearances around town. Click for more.
* Do you have a question for Mike? Email him at email@example.com. (Please include your name, location and the topic in the subject line)
Evil squirrels (sorry, that's redundant) would laugh at cat hair the way they laugh at my actual cats.
Hang in there, cats and kittens, this heat wave should break by Monday. In the meantime, and during future heat waves, remember the following tips.
WTOP's Garden Editor Mike McGrath has tips for what not to do when it's really hot.
The first heat wave of the season was pretty brutal. And it won't be the last, so let's review hot weather turfgrass rules.
Beneficial nematodes are the safe and effective grub control of choice.
Unless you plant the starter plugs densely, zoysia typically takes a couple seasons to fully establish, while Bermuda starts (or seed) planted in the Spring will fully cover the intended area edge to edge by the end of summer.
As the weather warms up, the Bermuda in your lawn (which isn't killed by herbicides like Roundup which only kills frogs and toads) gets stronger, while cool-season turfs like fescue and bluegrass get weaker. Like it or not, your lawn will probably be all Bermuda by late August.
Jim in D.C. writes: "I know you're a fan of using an inch of compost to mulch tomato plants, ,ut how about zukes, cukes, peppers and eggplant? What's the best mulch for them?"
Alan in Fairfax writes: "I read your suggestion on adding the crushed shells of a dozen eggs to each hole when planting tomatoes to prevent blossom end rot later in the season, but my plants are already in the ground. Is there another good source of calcium I can use?"
Bobby in Fairfax writes, "Mother's Day is right around the corner, and my wife saw a beautiful rose bush growing outside a home in Annapolis we'd like to be able to present as a Mother's Day gift. The flowers were multiple colors: red, pink and white. Please help me with the name and where I can find this particular rose."
If you live in the District or in one of the region's more southern suburbs, tomato planting time can pretty much be here if you want as your ten-day forecast shows the nighttime temperatures staying reliably in the 60s and high-50s.
Mike McGrath, WTOP garden editor
Oscar in Bethesda writes: "I have a plant outside that is currently covered with small black insects. Will they damage the plant? Could you please let me know what they are and how I should deal with them?"
Jan in Annapolis writes: "I have more dandelions in my lawn than anyone else in the neighborhood. They're using treatments that I'm sure aren't good for the Bay, and I'm tempted to do the same. Help!"
Moles make raised tunnels, especially in lawns, but they don't eat plants. Voles make small holes in the ground and eat lots of plants. And really big holes that plants "disappear down" could be a sign of groundhogs. Identifying the pest is job number one.
Tick Tubes are one of my favorite tick-prevention devices. They're cardboard tubes filled with cotton balls soaked in a pesticide called permethrin that's especially deadly to ticks.
The white flowers early in the season are very distinctive, so learn what the plant looks like and pull it slowly out of wet soil right away before those flowers can turn into the explosive seedpods.
You're going to need your winter coat Tuesday morning. Areas to the north and west of D.C. are under a freeze watch. Temperatures could dip into the 20s.
Right now is the time to spread corn gluten meal on your lawn to prevent dormant weed seeds like crabgrass from sprouting as you give the turf a nice gentle spring feeding, Mike. But don't delay.
Happy peas for St. Pat's! That's right, peas. St. Patrick's Day isn't just for wearing green, it's also the unofficial kickoff to growing some delicious green-green peas.