Growing Concerns 751: Cold water for houseplants, mole control, gardeners' fitness


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In this issue, these topics:

Cool water is fine for houseplants... all plants, page 1-2

Giving the cold shoulder to moles, page 3-5

Tree lovers' advisory: In-ground edging may create in-grown trees,  page 5

In our garden: Cover icy bare ground but not with de-icer, page 4

Assign time on the calendar for gardening, page 4

Stay in shape by weeding under the couch, page 5

Water houseplants as much but less often in winter, page 6

For an overview via photos and excerpts from this issue:


In this issue, we debunk advice that's so often repeated it seems like law.

That is, we tell you that cold tap water is not only okay for houseplants but can be preferable to warm water.

We don't go lightly into argument with standard advice. We dig for the real story. At times we find legitimate reasons behind advice but sometimes we find misunderstandings, outdated information or just inexplicable errors. In our reports to you we include scientific support. You'll see links to this end in Water OK from cold tap.

Today, many other gardeners are questioning standards. You can join this effort to move home gardening up a notch.

Have questions but no time to delve?

Look into questionable old saws that you identify. Let the sound of rote and lack of specificity be your cue to put a maxim to the test. Much hearsay and half truth have been perpetuated by repetition alone. However well intentioned, it's not up to current levels of plant science.

We welcome it if you send the old lore to us along with your questions. or 248-681-7850.

It takes time and exposure to correct misinformation that's been so widely reported. However, we are seeing it happen on many garden and landscape issues. So we feature in our writing whatever useful information you report or we find. Then we should all share it around - begin fighting repetition with repetition.


  Excerpts from Growing Concerns 751


Download the pdf to read the entire issue.

Help for a WWII Marine in pitched battle with moles

"...tried drowning, ...moth balls... just can't beat this underground enemy!"

Below: If mounds of soil like this appear on your lawn, suspect moles. They push loose soil from their tunnels up to the surface. March and April are excellent times to apply that most effective mole control -- trapping. Until then, rake mounds level and watch to see which are most quickly renewed. That will indicate good places to set traps.



  Tenacity and a year-round presence give moles
  their edge .

  A mole patrols its tunnel network at
  a 4 mph run, slows to 2.5 mph to dig.

  Mole's diet consists mostly of earthworms,
  insect larvae such as beetle grubs
  and adult insects.

  Still most effective: well-placed traps
  and in-ground barrier.


Download the pdf to read the entire issue, with details on placing and setting traps.

Underground fencing vs. underground invaders


Right: In-ground barrier stops moles.


The method shown in this illustration works to keep moles out of an individual garden. (The garden is A, in this example). Trench along the perimeter to a 12 inch depth (B). Increase that depth to 18 inches if moles have pushed up mounds of soil within that bed in winter, indicating deeper runs occur below the garden.

Insert fine-mesh metal hardware cloth or aluminum flashing vertically into the ditch (C) and fold over what's left above ground so it lays atop the soil outside the garden (D). That surface sheet prevents a mole digging along the outer edge from popping up and over the sunken wall.

Overlap seams by a foot. Replace the excavated soil to bury the fence. Peg down the bent-over top and let the sod grow through it. That will keep moles out of the garden.

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In-ground barriers not recommended around trees.

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Staying fit in the off-season

...It doesn't feel so much like work or calisthenics if we think about reaching to pull weeds as we kneel and stretch to collect the household's scatterings from under couch or bed...

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 Winter watering regimen for indoor plants

...Always carry the same amount of water to each plant but do it less often in winter. Moisten the entire root ball whenever you water, but don't repeat until you can feel by pot weight that much of what you last gave is gone...

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