Garden Pest Problem Solving

In this discussion, we talked about fire ants and other pests and how to get rid of them using materials such as diatomaceous earth. Then we discussed different types of teas to harvest.

January 3, 2019

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Audio Transcript


Hadley Growers

Presented by Ed Haines

January 3, 2019

Ed: All right. We are good to go. Hopefully you can hear me. And welcome to Growing with Hadley, and happy new year. So, thanks everyone. We've got 22 participants. That's wonderful. I hope you all are as excited as I am about the coming growing season. We all know what it's like, especially if you live up north where I do, that there's nothing like dreaming about gardens to chase away winter doldrums. And the days are short, but they're getting longer, and all the garden catalogs are arriving, and it's kind of an exciting time because we can visualize what we want to grow in the Spring without having any of the realities of insects and weather to dampen our spirits.

So before we get started with our discussion, I do just have a bit of house keeping, because we have 23 folks with us today, I did mute everyone just to minimize background noise, it happens with a bunch of people in the room. And however, I really hope this is going to be a lively discussion. I really would love it for everyone to have a chance to speak. So to help things run smoothly, here's some information about Zoom, and that's the format we're using for this call that hopefully will be helpful. And you'll have to bear with me as well, this is the first time I've used Zoom for a large meeting also. So if I make some mistakes with the software, please forgive me.

All right, here we go. When you need to mute or unmute yourself, use *6. If you've called in from your phone, it's *6 both to mute and unmute yourself. If you're using a PC, it's ALT A. And if you're on a Mac, it's Command Shift A. Now, there are also apps for smartphones, it depends on the smartphone where that mute button is going to be, so don't be afraid to explore the screen to try to find it.

Also, it just helps keep things from getting too chaotic if folks raise their hand to indicate they'd like to speak, and then I can just call on you. So on the phone, that's *9. So, if you want to raise your hand, it's *9. On the PC, it's ALT Y. And on the Mac, it's Command Shift Y. And again if you're using an app, you'll have to explore your phone to figure out where that is. That's the best advice I can give you. So remember, unmute yourself and mute yourself is *6. Raise your hand is *9. And hopefully that'll work well for you. Please if you can, keep yourself all muted until you're ready to ask a question or make a comment, and then mute again once you're done.

So with that out of the way, let me get things started with today's topic, and we can talk about all things gardening, but I thought it'd be fun to start off with a short topic, and that is my favorite topic at this time of the year: new plants and dreams for 2019. I love looking through the catalogs, I love going on the internet and seeing what's new, because as I said, it's really fun to plan your garden and not have to worry about the realities of gardening when things don't work out so well. Everything just looks in my dreams just as beautiful as it looks in the catalog.

So, I'm going to go ahead and get started with a few of my dreams for 2019, and then we'll open up the floor to whoever else has some plans for their garden. If you've been in our gardening discussion group before, you may remember I live in a northern part of the United States. Not as north as some of our friends up in Alaska who are listening, but north enough so that it's a little difficult to grow stuff. My growing season is short, my summers are already always cool, so I'm always looking. I like to grow vegetables because I like to eat. I'm always looking for vegetables that will thrive in a northern climate.

So, I have three new choices I'm going to be looking at for this 2019 growing season, and I'm really excited about them. The first one the faba beans, and I don't know if any of you have had faba beans, but they can be eaten dried or they can be eaten fresh. The Italians love them. You can even eat them uncooked if they're real fresh, not in their bods, just shelled, skins off, and with a little olive oil, they're fantastic. And they're a bean that really enjoy cool weather. In fact in the Mediterranean region, they're grown in the winter.

So, I plan to try them here in the summer, and I'm really excited about it. You can use them for all sorts of dishes. Again, everything I grow generally related to what I eat, so that's faba beans are it.

Now, I had the opportunity to also earlier this year to visit a relative in Washington D.C., and I went to this incredible grocery store that sells groceries mainly for Chinese and Korean cooks, and they had an amazing selection of vegetables, and they had stuff I hadn't seen before. And two of them are one things called Chinese kale, or Chinese broccoli, and the other are edible pea shoots. And I gotta tell you, these are fantastic green vegetables. I did find a source for them in the United States for the seeds, so I'm going to be looking at that. They both grow in cool weather.

Chinese kale kind of tastes like broccoli, it has a broccoli type of stem with the leaf on top. It blanches really quickly. They're delicious. And then, these pea shoots are unbelievable. They actually are leaves and shoots of what looks like a pea plant, but they're edible, and again they can be steamed, blanched, and stir fried, whatever. They're fantastic. They grow in cool weather.

So, those are my three choices for my 2019 dream, and I will open up the floor to anybody else who's got some ideas for their garden this year.

Anyone want to go first?

Lisa: Okay. This is Lisa in Florida. Is anyone else ready to go? I can get in queue.

Ed: Go ahead, Lisa. I don't see anybody else raising their hand unless I'm not seeing it clearly, so go ahead.

Lisa: Oh, cool. Well, I am in central Florida in Orlando, and I don't want to make people jealous, but it's 82 and gorgeous, and I am still in the fall cleanup phase of my yard. The oak trees are starting to drop their leaves, and within a few weeks they'll start budding out again. But my goal is to continue to organize my butterfly and bee, my pollinator and feeder garden. And I'm also add in some new pollinator plants.

I'm doing real well with milk weeds, and I have a giant milk weed, which is really cool. But my sages and my other plants just take over the bed, so I am going to be looking and talking with the extension service honestly, because I've only been here five years and I'm still learning plants, about what plants will remain compact and will allow me to add more and different plants in my garden, even though my garden is probably 40 feet by 20 feet. So, I'm looking forward to that.

And I love watching my butterflies and my bees, and I have a good time outside, so that is my goal for this spring and then summer.

Ed: Well, that's fantastic, thanks for sharing that. And you know, I am jealous. And you know, we don't all have the opportunity to worry about having too many plants, so that's wonderful that you have that situation. And we have a lot of milk weed up here because we are on a monarch butterfly migratory route, so it's nice to know that someone's growing milk weed down south as well for those same butterflies.

Lisa: Yeah, and I am always certain to get the non-nicatinoid milk weeds. I go to an organic store and buy as many of my plant bearers I can, because I'm not trying to nuke all of the beautiful butterflies and bees that happen to be going through my garden. And if I think I can pull it off, I mat but a beehive in, a real small home beehive in my front yard around in my plant area so that they can be happy and feeding themselves all the time.

Ed: Oh, that sounds wonderful. Wonderful.

Lisa: Thanks.

Ed: All right, I've got a telephone ending in 175 with their hand up first. Go ahead then, let's hear what you've got.

Jim: Good afternoon. Calling from just south of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Ed: Hi there.

Jim: Pardon me?

Ed: I said, "Hi!"

Jim: Yep. I'm not so jealous of my colleague in my Florida whatsoever. It's a beautiful afternoon here in the 40s, and thank god for winter. However, as many of us in the northeast know, there's been so much rain. It's be very, very difficult to clean up this fall with a lot of things and feed the deciduous plants. And two things I want to do is put in another David Austin rosebush in the spring, and I have had two issues with planting.

One, is I had a lady violet butterfly bush, which I put in I attribute to the weather killing it the first time. I put in a second one and had it die on me. And looking for another suggestions, because I too enjoy having the butterflies and the bees involved in the garden as much as possible.

The other issue I have is that my furthest northeastern portion of my house, I get absolutely no sun, so I guess I'll call it my furthers northern portion of my house, and I'm looking for something to put in there. I have three rhododendrons in the front of my home and they're on that same side, and the one that's not all that far away from that corner, but it's flourishing fine. But in the corner, I've lost three bushes, including an inkberry, which I understood would not need a great deal of light.

But, I'm looking for a suggestion of a fern or something I can put there that'll flourish.

Ed: Wow, this is ... and I'll open the floor to anybody that has suggestions, but off the top of my head, I'm thinking maybe for that shady corner if you're looking for a shrub, wandering viburnum might be an option for you there. They're really hardy and they can take lots of abuse and adverse conditions.

As far as the butterfly bush is concerned, I don't know if it died off in the winter or in the middle of the year. If it died off in the winter, maybe it just couldn't stand the freezing and thawing of the-

Jim: I've gone on some sites and the people who do have butterfly bushes, and quite a few people particularly in this area seam to have lost them in the last couple of years, even though they're supposed to be very hardy.

Ed: Yeah. I know you guys had more rain than you've ever had in the month of November and December, so maybe that just the wet had something to do with it.

Jim: Second rainiest year on record here in the Philadelphia area.

Ed: Yeah, it's amazing.

Jim: Over 80 inches.

Ed: Wow. Wow.

Jim: So, I'm ready to try it a third time, I'm a very stubborn person, so I thought I'll do it a third time if necessary. But I think I'll move to something different like a midnight I think it's called dark midnight purple.

Ed: Okay. Or what about a lilac? What about more of a woody shrub?

Jim: I have a lilac in the back, which does beautifully. But I just I've always wanted a butterfly bush. Always wanted one. As a kid, we sued to terrorize our neighbors running around in their yards chasing butterflies. I'm sorry, but what was the name of the shrub you mentioned again? Wandering?

Ed: Wandering viburnum.

Jim: Viburnum?

Ed: Yeah. Viburnum. They're pretty hardy and they can handle shady spots.

Jim: Can I ask you what the foliage on that looks like?

Ed: It's not the most beautiful plan in the world, it does have some white flowers. There's some different varieties. The foliage is just kind of they're small leaves. They're great for filling up spaces where nothing else will grow, that's their major positive. They're not going to be as dramatic a shrug as some of the others.

Jim: That's all right, it sounds exactly what I need. Thank you.

Ed: All right. Why done we open up the ... we've got a bunch of people with their hands up. Phone number ending in 166, go ahead. You've got your hand raised.

And that's phone number ending in 166.

All right, we can move on. We've got more hands up. So, we've got a phone number ending in 641.

And I can unmute you if you'd like.

641 or 166.

Speaker 4: This is-

Sue: Ed, this is Sue.

Ed: Oh, wow.

Sue: And I'm the 166.

Ed: Okay, great.

Sue: I didn't realize that I had to unmute. I thought that it came with once I had my hand raised, it was automatic that you would unmute me, I'm sorry.

Ed: No, that's okay. So just before you begin, let me just say for the benefit of folks who maybe have called in a little late, everyone is on mute, so you can raise your hand by doing *9, but you have to unmute yourself by hitting *6 and mute yourself again with *6. So go ahead, Sue.

Sue: Okay. I just came back from a butterfly presentation, and one of the things that you have to know about butterflies if you want to attract them is that the caterpillars eat a specific kind of plant. So, if they eat a carrot family, that's the only thing they will eat. They won't go and eat a different kind of plant all together. And the same with the butterflies.

So anyway, I got a partridge pea, and that's going to hopefully attract yellow butterflies coming to Alabama. But my question today is I went to my herb garden and my chocolate mint sits on one corner, and it is a big fire ant mound. Now, do you know whether if the fire ants have gotten into the rest of the herb garden, or is it just specific to that area. Because right beside the chocolate mint, I have my winter savory and my chicory. And I want to know if I dare get my hands in there and pull up the plants that I want to save. I may have already lost the cholate mint, but I want to get rid of the fire ants. So, if anybody has-

Ed: You know what?

Sue: What's up?

Ed: Yeah, I was going to say, I will defer to the group here, because where I live, we don't have fire ants. But I know they are a real nuisance and the bite can be really painful and some people are allergic.

Sue: Correct.

Ed: Yeah. It's a good question. I mean, I'm sure we can Google what to do about fire ants, but a lot of it will probably involve insecticide, which you may or may not want in your herb garden.

Sue: I don't want it.

Ed: Yeah. Because I think they'll even float as large masses of ants if they're flooded. You can't flood them out or anything like that.

Linda O'Connell: May I suggest something?

Ed: Yeah.

Linda O'Connell: This is Linda O'Connell from south Texas.

Ed: Hi Linda.

Linda O'Connell: When I had fire ants ... Hi, how are you doing? I found out if you go to your feed store, I don't know the name of it, but it killed mine. It's crushed sea shells, crushed shells, and it's safe for animals. And it's white, and you sprinkle it on the mound, and it'll kill the fire ants. It's safe for the environment and your animals.

Sue: Thank you.

Ed: Oh, that's good to know.

Linda O'Connell: I can't think of the name of it though, but your local feed store will know. Tell them you want the crushed shells. It's organic.

Sue: Thank you so much.

Linda O'Connell: It's organic, and it really helps, okay?

Ed: Do you remember, was the name of that diatomaceous earth? Does that sound right?

Sue: That's correct.

Linda O'Connell: Yeah, that sounds like it might be.

Ed: Okay, well that makes sense. You can use that for slugs and other things.

Linda O'Connell: It's crushed shells.

Ed: Okay.

Linda O'Connell: And even when I put it down, there was a grasshopper, or my friend put it down for me, a grasshopper. As soon as that grasshopper touched it, it just keeled over dead. It kills all kind of critters.

Ed: Wow, okay. Great.

Linda O'Connell: It really works good. And it's organic, and it's from the feed store. Just tell them you want that crushed shells to get rid of the fire ants. That's that they suggestion to me, okay?

Ed: Wonderful. Thank you so much.

Sue: Thank you. Thank you.

Linda O'Connell: Good luck.

Eileen: This is Eileen from Minnesota.

Ed: Hi.

Eileen: It's called diatomaceous earth. It is safe, but it will kill all type of critters. So if they have good ladybugs and things, it will kill them as well. It's a mechanical death for them, it cuts their shell, and they kind of dry out from that. So, it works for cockroaches, it works for fire ants, it works for all of those things, but it also kills your good insects if they're in your dirt area as well. And it doesn't prevent fire ants from coming back.

Ed: Good to know. So, it sounds like that might be a solution, Susan, if you don't mind getting rid of helpful insects in your herb garden.

Speaker 4: I have a suggestions as well, if I may.

Ed: Sure.

Jim: I use a product called Seven, which is not harmful to any vegetation, whether it be vegetables or just shrubs or flowers. And that works very, very well on killing insects such as ants. I don't know the exact results for fire ants, but the main things is to sprinkle it when you know that they are going to be active and trying to get out of the nest or into the nest. And what I've found to be one of the better things about the product is that the raise of the sun disintegrate the product the next day, so it doesn't linger. It doesn't-

Ed: Okay. Okay.

Eileen: Seven's main ingredient is diatomaceous earth.

Ed: Oh, is it? Okay, great.

Jim: We are.

Ed: Wonderful. Wonderful. Okay. Who ... Boy, we've got a lot of hands up, and we'll give ... Let's see. I'm trying to read the password here. I've got someone with their password is NFADZX, and it goes on and on. Do you want to go ahead and speak? You're hand is up.

No? Okay. How about the phone number ending 036? That's the next one in the queue.

Oh, you unmuted yourself briefly. Oh, there you go.

Speaker 8: Yep. I hit the wrong thing. I just wanted to ask the question of the gentleman who was talking about the butterfly bush, and I couldn't remember whether he said he was planting that in shade or sun, because they need full sun.

Ed: Oh, okay.

Speaker 8: And it was interesting about the ants. We have one place here in Maine on the coast who actually has fire ants. It's a very isolated area, and we go over the border into New Brunswick, we visit a garden up there, and they actually have a small area that they've put a big shrub fencing around the area, and they tell you when you're done walking in there to step outside the area and stamp your feet so to make sure there's no ants on your shoes so you don't spread them.

So far, we haven't seen any where I live, and I hope I don't. But I just thought you'd find that interesting, because both New Brunswick and Maine coast are cold.

Ed: Yeah, they're very cold, so that is interesting. That's kind of scary. I guess they're able to move father north. I didn't think they could.

Speaker 8: Yes. Yes. All right, thank you.

Ed: Oh, thanks a lot.

Oh, and folks, after you've raised your hand and you've finished speaking, you can always raise your hand again obvious, it would help me if you would press *9 again to unraise your hand, so then I'll know who's had a chance to speak and who hasn't.

All right, phone number ending in 831, you're next in the queue it looks like.

Lisa: This is Lisa from Orlando.

Ed: Hi, Lisa.

Lisa: Hi. Some [inaudible] about the butterfly stuff, but with the fire ants, I would not get near them, because as I understand, their tunnels can go very deep and very wide, so I would not recommend getting in there with your bare hands, potentially a shovel. And you can Google, they make fire ant iron works where they poor the iron or the steel down into the ant, and it comes looking out beautifully. So it gives you an idea of how they can infiltrate a garden.

I know you don't want to use chemicals, but my lawn service does use a specific fire ant material around where they're seeing them. There's also fire ant powder that I've used with good results, and it strictly, it just says fire ant. Be very careful when you're using the diatomaceous earth, because it is a carcinogen to humans, so don't put your face down near it when you're putting it out. And I would imagine it takes a great deal to give you lung cancer, but it is just something to be aware of.

Ed: Oh, that's good to know. Thanks a whole lot. I didn't know that. I thought it was perfectly safe.

Lisa: Yeah. The people who do our pools all say stay as far away from it as you can when you're pouring it out, because the dust will get in you're lungs.

Ed: Okay. Good to know.

Lisa: Okay. Thanks.

Ed: Thanks.

Kay, it looks like you're next in the queue.

Kay: Okay, am I on?

Ed: You are. I can hear you.

Kay: Okay. I am from south Texas, and I have a fire ant problem here, but I use, and it works very well, is there's a product called Mound Drench, and it's premixed and you just pour it on the mound, and it soaks down in deep to kill the queen of the fire ants. An alternative is you can make your own with orange oil. I don't know the ... I think it's like four tablespoons to a gallon of water, and a little molasses, and it will soak down to get the queen. Because if you don't get the queen, it's going to just come back somewhere else.

And as regarding the diatomaceous earth, there's two types of diatomaceous earth. There is the kind that goes in a swimming pool, but that's not the kind that you get to use with fire ants, which it does work, but it kind of works just on the surface, and it doesn't get down to the bottom where it really is necessary. The kind of diatomaceous earth, you can get it as food grade, you can get it on Amazon.

Ed: Okay. Okay.

Kay: And the type that you'd use with the swimming pool is dangerous, and its should not something you should use, but the other kind, the food grade, is actually used like in dog food and things, in your greens and things to keep out things like weevils, because it's made from a shell like the other lady said that actually cuts the exoskeleton of the different bugs and things. It won't work on something like worms, but it works on grasshoppers, and ants, and all kinds of things like that. So anyway, that's just my take on those two things.

Ed: Well thanks, Kay. I appreciate that. We're definitely having a good discussion about fire ants. And it's obviously a problem. Fortunately, not for those of us so much in the north, but it sounds like we maybe facing that problem ourselves as well, so it's good to know.

I've got, let's see, the phone number ending in 000, you're next in the queue if you want to talk.

Tanya: Hi. It's Tanya from north central Kentucky. And I just wanted to comment-

Ed: Hi Tanya.

Tanya: ... the diatomaceous earth. It actually is not dangerous to humans until you add other chemicals to it. I have bought it at like Lowe's, and eaten it myself. You can totally ... diatomaceous earth by itself is never harmful to humans until other chemicals are added. So, I just wanted to make sure that was clear to everybody, because I didn't want them to think, "Oh no, this is diatomaceous earth, I can't ingest this," because you can. It's totally harmless. Over.

Ed: Okay. Thanks, Tanya. So, I guess my advice would be going forward, we need to do some more research on this because we've got some differences of opinion. I, and this probably as some people pointed out, many different types of diatomaceous earth, and it may be mixed with other stuff as well. I had always heard that it was sea shells, or choral ground up really, really, really to microscopic shards, and that's what penetrates the exoskeletons of slugs, and bugs, and that kind of stuff. But we'll have to do some more research, because obviously it's an important thing to use. I use it for slugs in my neck of the woods, so this is a really good discussion.

How about anyone else, do they have any ideas or things they want to try that are new for 2019? And just go ahead and chime in at this point.

Annalee: Can you hear me?

Ed: Yes.

Annalee: This is Annalee in Florida. I wanted to ask about grubs. Can you use a diatomaceous on grubs as well? Because we have moles that like to eat the grubs, and they make a mess in the yard.

Ed: Oh. I think you probably could, but the grubs you're talking about are probably underground, so you'd have to get that diatomaceous earth in the soil and I don't know how you do that, because once it's exposed to water it kind of gets diluted and it washes away.

Annalee: Because, well, we bought stuff, this was a couple of years ago from Home Depot that you spread on top of the ground, and then you I think we watered the grass so it could penetrate, but I don't want to use chemicals anymore.

Ed: Well, there is an organic solution for grub. It's called bacteria thuringiensis, BT, be as in boy, T as in Tom. And it comes in a lot of different products, and you can use it to kind of inoculate your soil, your lawn to get rid of grubs. It's not cheap if you're doing a whole yard and the grubs will probably come back, but it's probably the only organic solution I know of out there. Anyone else have any ideas?

Male: [inaudible]

Annalee: What was that? Bacteria what?

Ed: Bacteria thuringiensis or BT, something that's more commonly sold as BT.

Annalee: Oh, okay.

Ed: It actually is a live bacteria that in fact infects grubs without harming, but it's not a bacteria that's harmful to animals or humans, et cetera.

Annalee: Okay. And how is that stuff used, or I guess I could find that out.

Ed: Yeah, it's sprayed over the lawn or your plants. You just spray it on top of it and it'll soak in.

Annalee: I'll have to look for that. Thank you.

Male: [inaudible].

Jim: Excuse me, a lady a few phone calls back asked about the butterfly bushes, whether I had it in the sun or the shade?

Ed: Yeah.

Jim: And I just wanted to let her know that I had them both planted in full sun.

Ed: Oh, okay, so it wasn't the sunlight that was an issue?

Jim: No, sir, which full sun being defined as afternoon sun.

Ed: Okay.

Jim: Thank you.

Ed: Yeah, sure.

Tom: Yeah, this is Tom from Sioux City here.

Ed: Hi, Tom.

Tom: Hey. Just advice for the guy from my home state of Pennsylvania. What my advice for the plant on the shade side of the house, maybe would be just see if you can get a hold of your county extension and outreach office. I, at least at last check, I am the only blind master gardener in the state of Iowa, and when I need resources, that's where I go, because I have a north side of my house that's, you know, out here it can get well below zero in the winters, and I just quit planting anything over there and just put rocks in because it's not conducive to growth things in this harsh of a climate. But I would say try your outreach and extension office, and they might be able to suggest something as well.

Ed: That's great advice, Tom, thanks. Yeah, they are an amazing resource. And congratulations on being a master gardener, that's fantastic.

Tom: It's very rewarding.

Ed: Wonderful. I know that the master gardening program, you folks do a lot of community outreach and a lot of community gardening as well. It's a wonderful thing.

Tom: We do. You know, that's one thing I've done in the last few years in my own garden is I have done where I've gone to the store and bought the bags of manure and stuff like that. And I've just noticed my garden has not performed. Well, I gave up on that, and I've got a coffee can sitting on my counter, and any food trash, like onion peels, egg shells, stuff like that. No meat or bones or anything like that, I just throw it out there and all through the winter, and then in the spring, I till it under and when it gets warm enough, I til it under. And I'm thriving. You know, my garden thrives now that I'm doing that.

Ed: So, you're an active composter, that's fantastic.

Tom: Yeah. I mean, why throw the lemon peels and all this other stuff I the trash, you can just throw it in the garden and reuse it? I just say never, ever, ever put any type of meat trash: bones, or fats, or anything like that in your compost, because that will draw rodents and other animals.

Ed: Well, that makes sense. You know, composting is I think definitely a topic we could focus on for a future meeting, because there's a lot to be said about compositing, and there's lots of ways to do it, and it is a really valuable thing to do, so thanks for mentioning it, because that certainly will be on our agenda in the coming year.

Tom: Although I never realized how many lemons and how many eggs we go through.

Ed: Well, it could be worse. Those sounds like pretty healthy ingredients.

Tom: Yeah.

Sue: Tom, this is Sue from Alabama, and I too am a master gardener, and I would like to get in touch with you if you can arrange with Ed to give the okay that I get your email address, I'd appreciate it.

Tom: Certainly.

Ed: Yeah, I think that's fine.

Sue: Thank you.

Ed: I mean, basically if both of you send me an email, and my email address is, I can connect the two of you.

Sue: Thank you.

Tom: Certainly. I'd be happy to do that.

Ed: And Tom, I'm just curious, were the study materials for master gardening, were they accessible, did they provide them in brail? How did you access those?

Tom: I actually had an instructor up here that my local staff at the extension office where they had the classes was absolutely phenomenal..

Ed: Okay.

Tom: Yeah, I didn't have brail or anything, but they read everything to me and they were able to give something at least in a computer format where I could have JAWS read it. So, I make sure that, you know, now with my eyes fallen, I can pull out my seeing AI, and be my eyes and read some things like that as well.

Ed: Well, that is wonderful. That's terrific, and that's terrific that you found an extension office that was willing to be supportive and make sure everything was accessible. That's fantastic.

Tom: Because I used to work at a major retailer in the garden department, and they would come in and talk to me from the extension office, and then I god a hold of one of the managers. And the seeds and stuff that they were going to get rid of at the end of the season, well, I talked to management, and they talked to corporate, and they would give our master gardener program cases of seeds at the end of the year to use in their spring gardens for the schools and everything around here.

Ed: Wow.

Tom: So, I would get a call. You know, "Tom, this is Lorie. I'm going to be coming in." I said all right. So, they have a whole cart load of stuff for me.

Ed: How fantastic.

Nancy: Hi, this is Nancy.

Ed: Hi, Nancy.

Nancy: I too am a master gardener, and it's probably been 17 years or so since I took the class, and my husband and I took it together. My extension office did everything in large print for me that they could. And they did a really good job. I actually served on their board for like nine years, so there was no issue there.

But, I want to change the subject for a minute.

Ed: Sure.

Nancy: I love teas. I've got like three or four different kinds of mint, and I'm also going to be growing camomile, and I'm wondering I guess anybody else has anything they use that they like to drink that would be considered a tea.

Ed: Great question. Great question. Anybody have any ideas?

Bruce: Yeah, this is Bruce from Springfield, Illinois.

Ed: Hi, Bruce.

Bruce: Hey. I grow, it's a tropical plant, but I have to bring it in. It's a sinensis. It's in the same family as like a ... it's the black tea that you grow, and any time I ever have questions, I always call have you heard of Logees?

Ed: Yes, I've got their catalog. Yes. They've handled a lot of tropical for me, yeah.

Bruce: They're very, very helpful. I'm very hard of hearing and blind, so when I became a master gardener, a lot of the time I had an interpreter tactile information into my hands. But I grow about ... It's camellia sinensis is I remembered the plant.

Ed: Okay.

Bruce: You bring it in and out, and you can, the more you harvest the leaves, if you harvest them and use it right away, it's like a green tea. If you let it try just for a little bit, it's like a white tea. And then if you dry it really, really good, it's just a black tea. It all just depends on how you treat the leaf itself.

I do everything by mind mapping everything in my garden and my plants. I have chocolate trees in the house. I have coffee treas. I have hibiscus, bananas, and so, you know, I do everything by feel. And of course, you have to mind map everything.

I grow about 80 to 100 tomato plants. And so, we can it. And then if we have a excess, I just give it to the farmer's market. But you know, there's tons of things you can use for teas.

There's the camomile. You can add even bay, or sage, or lavender to it also, which adds pretty good flavor too, if you wanted to try the different types of flavoring for the teas. And also, I grow the different mints, but I grow the stevia with it. So then when I harvest it, I harvest the leaves of the stevia with the mint. And so then, they dry together, and I crush them up together, so then when you put it in the diffuser and the hot water, you don't have to add sugar to it because the stevia leaves really sweetens it.

Nancy: Oh, that's a great idea.

Ed: It is fantastic. I think that's a fantastic idea. Boy, I'd love to see the garden. Sounds great.

Bruce: Oh, yeah. I'd love to see it too. The local Starbucks in our area, they have grounds for the garden, and they give away their used coffee grounds.

Ed: Oh, no kidding?

Bruce: Oh yeah. If you go to your local Starbucks, they have a program called Grounds for the Garden.

Ed: Okay.

Bruce: And the only reason I knew that is because my daughter brought me home 50 pounds one day. And then after that, I would have the local Starbucks in the area just start calling me, and I would have my friends or the kids pick it up. I've got 200 pounds of it from them, and just put it everywhere in the garden, and it just does wonderful.

So, that's a good resource if you want some good composting coffee grounds. And the worms love it. I raise worms, and I also raise lady bugs, and praying mantises.

Ed: You do?

Bruce: Yeah.

Ed: You must put in a 12 hour day in that garden. That's impressive.

Bruce: Well, you know what though? You don't really have to, because nature kind of does it's own thing.

Ed: Yeah?

Bruce: And you'd have to, you know, do your weeding as much, and sometimes I pull out a plant that I shouldn't because some weeds feel like other tomatoes, you know, or, you know. Or if I drop a seed in the middle of somewhere than it shouldn't be, then it's like, "Wait! How did I get a tomato in the middle of this. Well, you know, I dropped it in there.

But there's all kinds of stores and shops in our area that donate things for people's gardens. You know, like Starbucks does. And I'm a master gardener here in Springfield, Illinois, and one things I've learned that, like the house we live in, there's a corner of that it doesn't work, it doesn't grow things. And what I've found out is that wherever they borrowed the dirt, the dirt had like some poisons in it that were like weed eating poisons or weed killer poisons.

And so, I had to take out some of it. And then put it in a different area of the yard, and then let the sun kind of dissipate the poison. And then, that area grows again. But if the sun's not on it, it's not going to process it. So, you know, you-

Ed: That's really interesting. You know, that reminds me, there could be a lot of construction debris in certain corners of the yards as well. And cement dust. So, that's a very good point.

Bruce: Right. Right. And also, like our community, they give away wood chips at the community garden centers in the city. And the only issue I have with that is I've done that, but you have to really be careful, because sometimes there's poison ivy that had been ground into it off the trees. You know?

And so then you're getting around, and all of a sudden, my wife says, "Honey, your face is red!"

Ed: Oh dear.

Bruce: I go, "Is it sun?" She goes, "No. It's poison ivy."

Yeah, so you just gotta be careful with some of that free stuff. But in general, like Starbucks, they'll even give you tea. What's cool is they'll give you the tea, and sometimes the seeds, some of the tea is unprocessed, and the seeds will sprout in your garden. Or if you compost it. And so, you get some cool plants from it, too.

Ed: Well, you've brought up some really, thank you useful information, and that comment about the wood chips is also really important. Another danger of wood chips where you don't know the source is that they could have pressure treated lumber chips in there. And of course, pressure treated is a misnomer, it just really means they've been treated with arsenic. Not something you really want in your soil, so I'm glad you brought that up.

Bruce: Yeah.

Tom: I've got a question.

Ed: Yeah.

Tom: This is Tom in Sioux City again.

Female: [inaudible].

Tom: I've also connected my extension office on this. I am really getting sick and tired of a plant called thistle. I can't get rid of these stupid things. I've had someone tell me, "Well, put salt in the hole," and that doesn't work. I've tried some of these other, which I don't like using, some of these chemicals like Weed Begone and stuff like that. They just kind of like laugh at it. Round Up, they just like, "Ouch!" And continue to grow. I'm just very frustrated. Any of you guys have any ideas on how to get rid of these stupid thistles? Because their root system is down like 18 inches or more.

Ed: So thistles as in T-H-I-S-T-L-E-S?

Tom: Yes, those little plants with a pokey, jaggery leaves.

Ed: Yep, gotcha. Anybody have any suggestions?

Bruce: This is Bruce in Springfield. I've inadvertently crawled into them before when I'm in my garden or in the yard.

Female: Yeah.

Tom: Or you reach in to grab a tomato and grab a hold of one?

Bruce: Yeah. I understand your pain. So you know what I did, and it seems to work. I had three spots in my corner area that I had to loosen the dirt around it really good and I got gloves, and I got a hold of the root system with the plant above it, and I just slowly pulled. And I loosened the dirt around it, and that pulled up the whole root system. So, you have to loosen the dirt around it. And you know what? They've not come back. So I did the same thing.

I won't do Round Up, because I'm a cancer survivor. And so non-Hodgkin's is a common thing in our area. But like pulling it slowly to get it out, that's what works for me. Because I understand what you're saying.

Ed: So just eliminating the entire plant?

Bruce: Yeah.

Ed: Presumably before it goes to seed.

Nancy: This is Nancy.

Bruce: Right. Right.

Nancy: And that's what I was just going to say. We have three or four places in our yard where they grow, and we try and dig the root up like he was saying, but the other important thing is that if you see some new come up, don't let them go to seed. We just cut them right off as soon as we realized that.

Ed: Okay.

Bruce: And [crosstalk] grab a hold of them if they're small. If they're small, I grab a hold of them and I can pull that whole taproot out.

Tom: Yeah. Yeah. When they get a little bit bigger, yeah. They'll get you.

Nancy: I would use gloves [crosstalk].

Sue: This is Sue, and I want to let Nancy know that you can use honeysuckle. Make tea out of honeysuckle.

Nancy: Okay. I'm making a list.

Ed: And Nancy, I was going to mention lemon balm for tea.

Nancy: Oh, I have a ton of that.

Ed: It makes really good tea if you dry the leaves. And it's a sort of, as you know, it's sort of a citrus-y combination citrus mint kind of flavor.

Nancy: Yes. I have almost like a shrub.

Ed: Yeah, it's pretty invasive actually, like mint.

Bruce: Yeah, I use lemon balm on chicken. This is Bruce.

Ed: Oh, okay.

Bruce: Yeah, it's really good.

Speaker 17: Lemon grass is very good, too, and you can chew on it for health as well.

Bruce: You know, Tom from Iowa, is that right?

Tom: Yeah, Sioux City.

Bruce: I've taken a teapot full of boiling water and had my kids guide me to the spot that I want to kill, and I will pour that boiling water onto, like, if there's poison ivy or if there is a thistle, and that will absolutely just kill it.

Tom: I wonder if that'll work on creeping ginny.

Bruce: You know, and you gotta just be careful because if you do have it and you're dribbling the hot water, your family can find where you went.

Tom: Yeah.

Doug: Hey, Ed? This is Doug in Louisiana. How are you today?

Ed: Hi Doug. Fine, thanks. How are you?

Doug: I talked to you several months ago about a day blooming cereus that would not bloom?

Ed: Yes.

Doug: And you sent em some links, and I starved them for water for three months, and boy, they're doing great. I'm getting blooms all over the place, so I just wanted to thank you.

Ed: Oh, no kidding?

Doug: Yeah.

Ed: It's always great when your advice works out, you know? You never know.

Doug: It is. It is. Well, I'm happy, but my wife is truly happy.

Ed: Oh, I'm so glad.

Doug: And for the lady from Orlando, central Florida, go Tigers.

Patty: This is Patty in Utah.

Ed: Hi, Patty.

Patty: Hi. I have something for the people that have shade and nothing will grow there.

Ed: Okay.

Patty: Columbines, Colorado Columbines, they grow great. I used to live in Leadville, Colorado, and it's 10,500 feet harsh winters, and they would come up every year.

Ed: And they thrive in shade, you think?

Patty: They thrive in the shade. They love the north side of anything.

Tom: Yeah, I used to sell those at work, too. They do love the shade. I forgot about that plant.

Patty: Right. And then, the other things was the people with the ants is cornmeal, just a five pound bag of cornmeal. If you go out and sprinkle it around, they'll take it to their queen and if they drink water, this sounds kind of gross, they just kind of the cornmeal will puff up and the ants will explode and die.

Ed: Oh, okay. Wow, interesting. Exploding them.

Patty: Yes.

Ed: Great idea.

Patty: Thank you.

Ed: I've got a couple comments in the chat box about butterfly bushes and other things. The individual says that they had butterfly bushes that didn't do well, and they spoke to their anything advisor, and they were told to use a fungicide because of this high moisture level and lots of lots of rain, they were prone to fungus. So, they were told to use a fungicide.

And also for the gentleman in Pennsylvania, you might want to try rhubarb.

And then for tea ideas, they mentioned that sassafras tea is great, but it is a blood thinner, so you should speak to your doctor because using.

I also thought I saw somewhere that sassafras is a candia carcinogen as well they found out now, but I'm not sure about that.

Those are our comments in the chat. Thank you for those.

We've got about just a few minutes left. Anyone else want to?

Rhonda: Yeah, this is Rhonda in Wisconsin. Thank you so much for this discussion.

Ed: Hi, Rhonda.

Rhonda: I wanted to second the advice that we just got for you Tom about the cornmeal. My father had the only organic land in Bay County, Florida at the head of a watershed, and he used, he called it grits, but I'm sure it's the same thing. And you just use a bag of it all around the mount and it works just like she said. You just have to maybe keep treating it a few times if you come back and you see a few ants, then you get another bag of grits. But he got that advice from Lowe's.

Ed: Wonderful.

Rhonda: And I had a question, Ed, about the wandering viburnum for Pennsylvania, because in Wisconsin, we have Korean spice viburnum by the bus stops, and in the spring, that's the most delicious aroma. It's maybe second to mock orange. So, is viburnum a general kind of plant? Would that work as a wandering viburnum would?

Ed: Yeah. I think viburnums are a general category of plants, so there are different varieties. Some of them have some pretty white flowers on them during the spring. So what you're describing sounds like a scented. You called it a spice viburnum?

Rhonda: Yeah, Korean spiced viburnum.

Ed: That sounds wonderful.

Rhonda: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. And I've been editing and making accessible for extension the master gardener works in Wisconsin for decades before I lost my vision. That was my job.

Ed: Oh, wonderful.

Rhonda: Yeah. There is a junior master gardener curriculum that I'm very interested in pursuing with our master gardeners in Rock County, which is where the Jamesville school for the blind and visually impaired is in Wisconsin.

Ed: Okay.

Rhonda: They'd had no food for some of the diabetic students. I came for the first time to the adult summer program, which has been cut back to six days in Wisconsin. But there were some days that the people who had diabetes, like all they could eat was the potato chips.

Ed: Oh, god.

Rhonda: So, yeah. And they've got courtyards where they have ornamental plants, and it would be wonderful if they could implement a curriculum like that. And I don't know if it's the same in all sates, but in Wisconsin, it's under the department of Public Instruction.

Ed: Okay.

Rhonda: So, I wish to pursue that with them, the junior master gardener curriculum.

Ed: That's a great idea. And you know, that's another subject for a group discussion, because there's lots of people doing sensory gardens out there as well, not just edible gardens, but sensory gardens for people with vision impairments. Some do it better than others, and so there's lots of great ones, though, out there. So, that would be a right fun topic at some point to talk about, what kinds of gardens specifically for visually impaired people would be fun to explore and fun to talk about. So, thanks.

Rhonda: Thank you so much for this discussion.

Jim: Ed?

Ed: Yes?

Jim: Jim just south of Philadelphia again. I want to thank everyone for your suggestions regarding what to put into the dark side of my house so to speak. And the information on the butterfly bushes. I did want to recommend a product called Clear Choice for the gentleman that's having, all of us, who are having a problem with thistles.

It not only is a very safe product to use, but it will kill pretty much all weeds. Now, it takes time for it to work, but I sprayed it on the thistles and what it does is it basically turns like a white foam when it hits a weed.

And it took about maybe two to three weeks, and I think there was a second application I placed on it, but they never came back.

Ed: And would you say the name of that again?

Jim: Yes, it's Called Clear Choice.

Ed: Clear Choice?

Jim: Clear Choice, and they do sell it at Home Depot.

Ed: Do you know just for everyone who's listening, is that an organic product or not?

Jim: I wouldn't positively say that it's an organic product, it's just that. I know you can use it around other plants without any possibility of harming them. And use it on grass as well, it'll take care of grassy weeds, and it will not harm the grass.

Ed: Okay, great.

Jim: So, it pre-specified to killing weeds.

Ed: Thank you. Thanks.

Jim: You're welcome.

Ed: With that, we've just a few minutes left. Anyone else want to chime in?

All right, well not hearing anyone. I do have a request for all of you. First of all, thank you so much for participating. This was a fantastic discussion, and obviously, there's people joining us today that know a lot more about gardening than I'll ever know, so I'm kind of humbled by the group of people that showed up today.

Male: [crosstalk] recording.

Ed: Thanks. What I'm looking for, then, is if you folks have any idea of topics for next month, please feel free to email them to me. And it's So, if there's things you'd like to talk about, please don't hesitate to share them and send them my way. We'll be making a list and I'm looking for ideas. And obviously we have some people here in the group that are full of fantastic ideas, so please don't hesitate to make suggestions.

Speaker 17: Excuse me.

Tom: I'll be emailing you a little bit for the contact for that lady that wants to get a hold of me.

Ed: Okay, so that's good.

Tom: [crosstalk].

Speaker 17: Hello. I have a question. Is it okay?

Ed: Sure.

Speaker 17: Thanks. It was mentioned that something about how would you know if there's carcinogens in plants? Kind of is there a website or more information about that? What plants are more healthy than others, or getting like a specific medical reasons, maybe like a, who knows, is it for anxiety, stress, or maybe clear thinking, or whatever else there could be? Do you know how to figure this type of thing out? What plants don't have carcinogens and also have health benefits, or what health benefits? Internet sites? Something like this?

Ed: That's a good question, is there like an internet clearing house for the characteristics of edible plants? I'm thinking. It's a good question. I can't think of one off hand. There's kind of multiple sites that will tell you different things about different plants.

Sue: Ed?

Ed: So, you have to do you're due diligence, but maybe someone has an idea. Go ahead.

Sue: Ed?

Ed: Yeah.

Sue: Every land grant university in the country has a state wide extension service. They're not in every county, but that's your best resource for-

Speaker 17: Yeah. Extension office.

Sue: Yeah.

Ed: Good advice, yeah. Those people know what they're-

Speaker 17: Thank you.

Ed: Yep.

Sue: Ed, this is Sue. And I also want to suggest there is a gal named Marjory Wildcraft, and she has presenters, she does a summit every year, and she has presenters that will talk about different kinds of plants for different purposes. And that may be some way of getting ideas that you can then go and check out if you're at all leery or uncomfortable not knowing university sources. I have not gone and backed up some of the claims myself, but you know, when you have doctors making presentations and telling about patients who have been cured, or you know, helped my particular herbs, I tend to give them a lot of credence.

Ed: All right, thanks for that. And you know, there is a lot of information out there about the benefits of herbs and other plants, but I guess I would say the caveat would be always check with your doctor, as well. Because there's a lot of people out there who fancy themselves to be experts and they're kind of self-educated. But this Marjorie Wildcraft is probably very knowledgeable. But I guess in the interest of safety, I will say on behalf of Hadley, we all have to check with out personal physician before we ingest anything we're in doubt about.

We're at the top of the hour, we're over actually just by a minute, so again, thank you everyone. This has been a terrific participation. And I really appreciate it. I learned a lot and I hope you all come back for necessity months' discussion, because like I said, there's some people out there that know a lot more than I do, and so I look forward to learning more from you.

Again, if you have any suggestions, please email them to me for future topics, or speakers, or subjects, whatever. Whatever you're interested in, I'm happy to entertain any ideas that you have. So, thanks so much.

If you're living in the central time zone, have a great rest of the afternoon and we'll talk next month.

Tom: Happy new year to you guys.

Ed: Happy new year!

Lisa: Thanks, Ed! Bye bye.

Sue: Happy new year. Bye bye.