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Fielding questions

May 6, 2010
By Stephanie Bethke-DeJaeghere

There are times that I get calls from my older readers. The conversation starts out the same each time, "Do you remember me?" Of course, they like to leave me guessing who they are while they start talking and asking questions about whatever it is that they have a concern about. So far I have not had it wrong - yet. I usually know after they talk to me for a bit who it is on the line. What surprises me is how often they know more about me and my family than I do know about them. These favorite gardeners of mine are getting older and as the caller stated last night, he is 92 years old now. I am usually astonished they are calling me because they usually know way more than I will at this time in my life. They have much more practical use of gardening knowledge but from them I have been able to learn more about certain things. I also love a good story.

I have had others ask me what kind of questions I get every week. So, here is a sampler of what has come in recently. There is always some sort of story behind most of these questions.

Creeping Charlie mixing in with horseradish is always a problem. As most of us know, creeping Charlie likes to take over everything. It also takes up a lot of moisture. So, what do you do when Charlie is creeping into your perennial plants? Well, the news isn't always so easy to take. You have to get down and start to pull it out with your hands. You can probably spot spray it with roundup around the edges but unfortunately the plants weaving in and out of your other plants will need to be hand pulled.

The next question that I had was actually identifying poison ivy that was found in a garden. Poison ivy can be tough to get rid of. You shouldn't burn it because the smoke can be just as bad as touching it. Roundup will eventually kill it but it will take time and you might have to use more than just one treatment.

The next question or I should say questions are in regard to soil testing. This is the time of the year that most gardeners will send in soil samples from their lawns and gardens to see if they can improve the conditions of their soil. These tests are taken pretty simply and can be either sent to the U of M Soil lab or to the SDSU soil lab in Brookings. There is a small fee, usually around $12-$15, payable when you send in the sample. It generally takes about one to two weeks to get results back. They often come with some recommendations for what and how much fertilizer that you might use, depending on what the application is for.

And the last question that I have been fielding has been regarding whether or not there will be a gardening seminar coming to Marshall. This one is easy. Yes, and here is the information. The Lyon County Master Gardeners are sponsoring a Garden Day and Plant Sale May 15 at Adult Community Center in Marshall noon -4 p.m. Topics are Emerald Ash Borer, Modern Food Preservation, Rain Barrels, Water Conservation and Rain Gardens. Admission is $3 or $2 with a food item for the food shelf.

For more information on gardening, you can reach me at



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