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Ed Hume Answers Your Gardening Questions

Ed Hume cannot answer all of the garden questions he receives, but questions of general interest will be answered here every month.  Email your questions to HumeSeeds@aol.com.  Please note: we do not accept attachments.

Before submitting a question, be sure to check the index of previous questions and answers or search our site using key words.  Many questions have already been answered here on the site.

Other April Links

Pruning a Lace Leaf Maple

My lace leaf maple is getting quite large at 30 years old. I have observed that when I prune it, it doesn't sprout out new growth on the lower branches, it just gets a little taller. When and how should I prune it?

This is one plant that really requires only minimal pruning. Try to keep your pruning cuts in the younger growth. Cutting back older, larger branches generally will not result in the development of new growth from those points. The best time to prune is during the winter dormant months of November, December, January and February. Pruning can also be done in June.

If height is a problem, weigh down upper branches with rocks or tie them down to stakes.

Herbs and Flowers for Shady Areas

Any suggestion of plants which would grown good in a shady area?

Herbs for the shade: Angelica, Chervil, Sweet Woodruff and Sweet Cicely.

Herbs for part shade: Catnip, Chamomille, Rosemary, Parsley, Mint, Dill, Thyme and Fennel.

Annual Flowers for the shade: Impatiens, Pansies, Viola, Begonias, Fuchsias and Coleus.

Perennial Flowers for the shade: Hosta, Primroses, Astilbe and Trollis.

Ant Problems

My question is I have an ant problem very close to my garden.They are more of a pest than a problem but they do work with aphids. So I need to get rid of them and I don't want to hurt my garden area.

Pepper dusts are often used to help repel ants in the garden. If the ants are placing aphid in trees or shrubs, you can wrap masking tape (in a 4 inch wide band) around the trunk of the tree/plant, then paint a band of "Tanglefoot" over the masking tape. As the ants climb the shrub they get stuck in the sticky substance.

The Dangers of Spagnum Moss

I saw your show on "Northwest Afternoon" about spring flower container gardening. You mentioned the harmful bacteria that is ascociated with shagnum moss. I would love more information regarding this issue because of a suspicious medical problem on my three of my fingernails that my doctor has been trying to treat.

A reader sent me an article from the January 1984 issue of "Organic Gardening" titled "Handling Spagnum Can Be Risky". Spagnum moss - not to be confused with its decomposed counterpart, spagnum peat - can carry a potentially serious disease, Sporotrichum schenckii. Usually gaining entry through a scratch or cut, the fungus first appears as a swelling and becomes a blister that doesn't heal, and the area around it is tender. The disease affects the lymph system, and if not treated promptly, can spread to internal organs, bones and other skin areas. Since many doctors are not familiar with the disease, diagnosis can be a problem. If it is caught early, though, it is not dangerous. It is treated with doses of potassium iodide, continued two to three months after the symptoms disappear.

Spagnum moss (green moss) is often used as a liner in hanging baskets or as a seed starting medium. In whatever instance you are handling it, wear gloves or wash your hands thoroughly and often to avoid infection.

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