With Flowers Below
Dear Plant Doctor: I have a
probicrn Wf uiv.il ! hope yOU Ull iiclp
me solve. 1 have a raised bed around
a water oak in my front yard. 1 have
tried mums, bulbs, ivy and impa
tiens in this bed with no luck. The
plants stay small, do not flower
good and usually die prematurely.
I fear the leaves and acorns arc
changing the pH of the soil. 1 have
always heard they arc high in acid.
Do you have any suggestions for
plants or nutrients that would im
prove my success in this area?
Answer: You have a problem that
many gardeners encounter. The poor
performance of your bedding planus
in your raised bed pitinicr is most
likely caused by a combination of
shade, lack of water and poor nutri
The first step is to prune off all
low hanging limbs on that water oak
and the surrounding trees. This will
improve the quality and quantity of
light your flower bed rcccivcs.
Next you will need to incorporate
substantial amounts of good com
post, peat or other organic matter in
to your soil. Organic matter im
proves the soil's ability to hold nu
trients and water.
At the same time, lake a soil sam
ple and send it to the North Carolina
Department of Agriculture for nutri
ent analysis. Your local Cooperative
Extension Service can assist you
with this procedure.
In the event that soil sampling is
not feasible, incorporate 10 to 12
pounds of dolomitic limestone into
every 10() square feet of flower bed.
The soil in your area tends to be
very acidic. Soils which arc too
acidic or loo alkaline will not allow
ihc plant to extract the nutrients nec
essary for growth. A soil pH of 6.0 to
6.5 is ideal for most bedding plants.
Water is the single mcst essential
substance for plant growth. 1 am
sure the roots of the water oak arc
actively competing with your plants
Research has demonstrated that
nearly all trees receive most of their
water and nutrient needs from small
fibrous roots growing in the lop 12
inches of soil. These roots arc most
concentrated directly under the leaf
canopy of the tree but will often ex
tend many feet away from the outer
edges of the canopy. Successful
plant beds need abundant water in
our hot, dry summers. In sandy
soils, watering plants with approxi
mately one-half inch of water every
three to four days will normally en
courage excellent growth. More wa
ter will be needed in hot, dry weath
er and less in cool, wet weather.
Any of the plants you mentioned
should do fine once you provide the
proper growing conditions. Other
plants you may want to consider in
clude Bugleweed ( Ajuga reptans).
Begonia (Begonia sp), Caladiuin
(Caladium x hortulanum), Hosts
(llosta sp.) or violets (Viola sp ).
The limestone you apply will
countcracl the acid-forming tenden
cy of the decaying oak leaves and
Dear Plant Doctor: My lawn
was getting eaten up by something
so I tried the soap and water method
you recommended in a rcccnt col
umn to flush out insects. 1 have en
closed a hunch of little worms that
came out of my lawn when I put on
the soap mixture. What in the world
is eating up my law n and how do I
Answer: Soapy water irritates in
sects, earthworms and many other
soil critters. Insects respond to soapy
water by coming to the surface of
the grass to get away from the solu
tion. This will often allow you to see
the vermin eating up your grass. A
mild soapy water mixture is made
by putting one tablespoon of dish
washing soap in one gallon of water
and applying the mixture to about
one square fool of lawn.
The insects you exposed arc call
sod webworms and this is the earli
est I have ever seen specimens in
eastern North Carolina.
Sod webworms are the caterpillars
of a small moth and can be a very se
rious insect problem in turf grasses.
The caterpillar lewis on young grow
ing tissue and prxluccs silken tunnels
in the thatch layer of your lawn grass.
The caterpillar pupates and soon alter
a small nondescript moth emerges,
mates and lays eggs.
If uncontrolled, the sod webworm
can produce several generations of
young a year, causing large areas of
turf to become severely weakened or
The best control is to use a com
bination of cultural practices and
First, control the insect population
by applying insecticides. Seven (car
baryl), Spectracide (diazinon),
Orthene or Dursban (chlorpyrifos)
arc all labeled for and arc effective
against sod webworm. Be sure to
follow all label precautions and in
structions concerning safety and ap
Next, dethatch your lawn when
the grass is vigorously growing
(May or June). This will help reduce
the thatch layer in which these cater
pillars find refuge. You can keep fu
ture thatch accumulation to a mini
mum by proper fertilization and cul
ling height. In a healthy lawn, sod
webwonns are normally not much
of a problem.
Send your Hardening questions or
comments to The Plant Doctor, P.O.
Box 109, Bolivia, N.C. 28422.
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Dillard. Rhiannon Landcsberg; Jeff
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S ANDFIDD LER
HWY. 13(> KAST * SI IAU.OTTK ? 754 H 1 1??
Married 50 Years
Herb and Pearl Krick of Calabash Acres, Calabash, celebrated
their 50th wedding anniversary April 26 with a reception at the
Calabash fire station attended by more than 150 relatives and
friends. Hosts were Emily and Clyde Millard, Betty Ridgeway, Deb
bie Raines, Frances Todd, Jackie Wigner, Otelia King and Retty
Joyce Formyduval. The Kricks are retired area sales managers for
Stanley Home Products in Westfield, Mass.
A free seminar trom 6:30 p.m. lo
8:30 p.m. on May 12 will focus on
"Dysfunctional Family Syndromes."
The event will be held in the leach
ing auditorium at Brunswick Com
munity College, with Nancy Mc
Carter conducting the workshop.
McCarter is a substance abuse
c r\c \ a/ i i ? _
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counselor with the Southeastern
Center for Mental Health, Develop
mental Disabilities and Substance
For further information call Mc
Carter at 253-4485. Reservations are
not required and the workshop is
open to the public.
35 Oz. - Lasagna With Meatballs/
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| V 17 1T7 I
Monday thru Sunday
7:00 a.m. - 12 midnight
Fresh Ground Daily
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Prices in this ad good Wednesday, May 6 thru
Tuesday, May 12, 1992.