Garden Plot: Apologies to the deer and cold weather lawn advice

Velveting deer will rut on trees, causing damage. Deer repellent or sensors that spray water will help keep them away. (Photo courtesy Jim in Clifton)
Don't worry about bulbs and spring bloomers

wtopstaff | November 14, 2014 5:27 pm

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Mike McGrath will appear in Rockville from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9 at the Community Home Show at the Universities at Shady Grove. More information is here.

Mike McGrath,

Save $25 at the Gurney Seed Catalog

Twenty-five bucks off an order of $50 or more: that’s what the Gurney Seed and Nursery Company is offering WTOP listeners. Gurney’s carries a full selection of edibles and ornamentals: asparagus crowns, seeds and plants for growing everything from treasured heirloom vegetables to tough modern hybrids, and flowers – even a big selection of native fruits like gooseberries and paw paws (the famed “Banana of the North”).

New this year is “Gurney’s Ruby Monster,” a hybrid tomato perfect for sauce or sandwiches that, they say, has that real old-fashioned tomato flavor. Gurney’s is also offering seeds for early, cool-season edibles like lettuce and spinach at great prices – as low as two bucks a packet – to make it easier to “go green with nutrient-rich crops.” And those tasty crops are ready to be removed by tomato planting time, so you get lots of good eating and make great use of small garden spaces.

To claim your $25 off, just use the code “25FREE” at

Turns out a sapsucker made those marks on that tree

When I reported this one on Saturday, I had to change my opening line to “Garden Editor Mike McGrath with your Mea Culpa of the Day!”

You may recall that last week, I told Jim in Clifton that a series of gouge-like marks about four to five feet off the ground on his holly tree were likely made by young male deer velveting the fuzz off their new antlers.

Well, it turns out that I was wrong, wrong, wrong!

Sharp-eyed listener Peggy in Frederick looked at Jim’s photo of the damage and wrote to say that it sure seemed to match the marks typically made by the yellow- bellied sapsucker, a large and colorful woodpecker, that has a yellow belly and sucks sap from trees, as its name implies.

She also included a link to this photo that shows the bird making the marks – ones that are indeed identical to the ones on Jim’s holly. I alerted Jim to my error and added that he should hang suet feeders nearby. The bird, a relentless carnivore despite its sweet tooth, should go to the suet feeders instead of sucking more of his sap.

His response? “I always thought

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