April 5th, 2011

What's on the Minds of Gardeners

doug

Yesterday I spoke to a garden club in Hershey, Pennsylvania—a fine group of women who were willing to listen to what I had to say about organic gardening. Of course, there were questions from the audience. That’s always my favorite part of any garden lecture because it lets me know what’s on the minds of gardeners. Here are two of the questions asked by club members:

•  How can I keep deer away from tulips?

•  How can I keep Japanese beetles away from roses?

These are questions I’ve heard countless times, and we’ve covered the two topics many times in the magazine. They are difficult, chronic problems without easy solutions. Yesterday’s questioners knew that—they were just hoping that Organic Gardening had come up with cheap, easy, and miraculous solutions to the problems of deer and Japanese beetles since the last time they checked. No such luck. It’s still stinky deterrent sprays for the deer, hand-picking for the Japanese beetles.

Another question, about artillery fungus in wood-chip mulch, led to several cries of protest when I suggested that the problem of artillery fungus was overblown. Artillery fungus is a natural organism that occasionally grows on hardwood mulch and flings its spores onto house siding or anything else nearby, causing indelible spots the size of flyspecks. Several club members corrected me, describing artillery fungus as a scourge just shy of the plague. At least this one has an easy solution: If you want pristine siding, spread a mulch other than wood chips near the house.  —Doug Hall

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