If your vegetable garden  or lawn shows signs of pocket gopher or vole infestation, try a fertilizer that include CASTOR OIL MEAL.  This organic but poisonous product enriches the soil and discourages rodents of all sorts.  Distribute several handfuls per square yard and water it in; the effects of the repellant will last for several months.  Repeat every few months and these varmints will lave your area.

You can also discourage these pests  by mixing 1/2 cup castor oil in 2 gallons of water and then drench the raised mounds.

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You can repel these garden pests by spreading sawdust, wood ashes, crumbled eggshells around plants to keep them away.  Gritty sandpaper works as well.  To stop slugs and snails from getting into your potted plants, put used sanding disks around the bases of your pots, making sure that the sand paper is wider than the pot base.

 Spraying leftover coffee onto plants will poison these mollusks as they are easily poisoned by caffeine, which enters their bodies as soon as they touch the leaves


Cute, often friendly, but also a destructive force in gardens and to wood decks too, as, like all rodents, their teeth never stop growing.  Here are some homemade repellants that actually work: 

1.  Make a pepper spray by filling a pot with 1 and ½ quarts of water, bring it to a boil and add cayenne pepper, chopped jalapeno peppers, at least two onions, and two bulbs of garlic. Strain, cool, and pour into a spray bottle. Saturate the areas you want the squirrels to avoid. 

2. Combine these dry spices: cayenne pepper, paprika, and crushed red pepper flakes.  Sprinkle generously on your flower beds, mix in with your planting soil, and even into your bird seed.  Birds don’t seem to mind it, but the squirrels don’t like it at all.

 3.  Put your bird feeder on a metal pole, and grease it with vegetable oil.  Or attach a slinky like spring to the button of the feeder and around the upper part of the pole.  Both keep squirrels from climbing!  They slip or get frightened of the spring action!

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It’s Harvest time, but weeds will be blooming too!  Grab them before they bloom as even a single plant can yield more than 40,000 seeds.

1.  Have a roomy pail, wheelbarrow, or large bag handy to carry away the pulled plants.  If they aren’t holding seeds, you can leave them on the soil surface for mulch.  Otherwise, make sure to scoop up any stray seeds too.  Best to get them prior!

2. Use a digger to ensure you get the roots, and be sure to get it all.  Some weeds, such as quack grass and bindweed, have buds on their roots that can grow into news plants.

3.  Water before weeding as it will be easier to pull and get the plant in its entirety and there is less chance of damaging neighboring plants.

4. For weeds that sprout in paved areas or between brick walkways sprinkle with salt or dilute salt into a spray bottle.  You can also scape them off and then spray with salt.  It’s the roots you want!

Guidelines for Pruning Flowering Shrubs:

General:  Cut at a 45 degree angle. The slope should head toward the center of the plant. Cut at least 1/4” above nodes, or bud eyes.  This redirects the plant’s energy towards the node so a branch can form. Rinse shears in alcohol before and after pruning a particular plant to prevent the transfer of any disease.

1. Prune Spring Flowering Shrubs After Flowering   Early spring bloomers usually produce their flower buds the year before during winter and open in spring.  If you prune these spring bloomers in fall or winter you’ll remove the flower buds and won’t have flowers that year. Just do selective thinning of branches to give them a nice shape. 

2. Prune Summer Flowering Shrubs In Late Winter or Early Spring  Many summer flowering shrubs bloom on the current year’s growth.  Gentle pruning in later winter will encourages lots of new growth during summer and will result in more flowers.  Hydrangeas are the most notable exception.

3. Hydrangeas   Some bloom on ‘old wood’ while others bloom on ‘new wood’.   Hydrangea macrophylla, the ones with big blue or pink flowers, and Hydrangea quercifolia, oakleaf hydrangeas, both bloom on old wood.  Light pruning should be done immediately after flowering.  Hydrangea paniculata, which have white, conical flowers, and Hydrangea arborescens, such as ‘Annabelle’, bloom on new wood.  These produce better flowers if cut back in late winter.

4. Roses  Similar to hydrangeas, some bloom on new growth and should be pruned right after the last frost. Those roses which bloom from the old canes should be pruned after flowering.  Thin or crossed canes should be pruned at the base of the plant. Adjacent suckers, new plant shoots sprouting next to the older plant should be cut to the ground or below. Prune healthy canes to achieve the desired shape.  Deadhead the bush to remove fading blooms regularly.  Cut these just above the first five leaf cluster.

 5. Anytime is a Fine Time!  Go ahead and cut late summer stray shoots and branches. The plant won’t be damaged by removing a branch or two.  Stray and broken branches can be trimmed back at any time. If in doubt, leave it and revisit it in the next day or next week.