Doug Oster chat transcript
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Welcome to the garden chat, I'm ready when you are.
ljrpclady: Hello Doug! I am thinking about replacing some turf grass on a hill with a ground cover next year. I was wondering if you know of any good websites I could research ground covers on or if you have any suggestions you'd like to offer?
Doug Oster: Is it sun or shade?
ljrpclady: Full sun, on either side of my driveway, fairly steep hill, ok soil.
Doug Oster: This site is pretty good, will give you a lot of information. http://www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/groundcovers/ I would stay away from the invasives and look for something that blooms. Some people even use daylilies as a ground cover, even though they are tall. What do you think?
ljrpclady: I do love daylillies, one of my personal favorites, but I was concerned about the long flower stocks falling over since they would be on a fairly steep hill? Do you know much about Wintergreen? It looked very pretty, something that would nice all year through, but I read that it's a very slow grower?
Doug Oster: The daylilies wouldn't fall over, they would be fine on the slope. Wintergreen is a shade lover, I don't think it would be happy in the sun.
ljrpclady: Thank you for the website suggestion!
Doug Oster: You're welcome.
Doug Oster: I've seen lots of stuff on sale at the nurseries, this is a good time to get bargains.
ljrpclady: Thank you for the daylily & wintergreen info. Would you still suggest planting things so late? I thought maybe due to the usually cold weather that it might not be a good idea to plant anymore this year?
Doug Oster: No I think there's time. I'm always planting stuff late. I plant bulbs all winter and perennials and shrubs up to the hard freeze.
ljrpclady: Really? Thank you! What about still transplanting some hostas I have that need moved?
Doug Oster: No problem, you can't kill them. Another thing I like to do is harvest the seeds from varieties that have big seed pods. They never grow true, but can make interesting plants.
ljrpclady: Well, I never thought about harvesting seeds from my hostas? Thanks! I'm certainly glad for the info on transplanting my hostas, it would save me loads of time next spring.
Doug Oster: You can't kill them. I like to save seeds from lots of plants. They are fresh and have a high germination rate in the spring.
lbhumes: Would like to save my dahlias for planting next Spring, they are still blooming, when do I want to dig them up and what do I do to save them over the winter?
Doug Oster: Dig them after the frost blackens the leaves. Here's a link to an article that will give you all the details. This also works for Glads, Caladiums and Cannas. One trick is to cut them, leave them in the ground a couple weeks (with the stalks covered). Then you can see the eyes when you cut them apart. http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/04263/380485.stm
ljrpclady: What do you think about using compost when transplanting? I seem to have a bunch left over this year, and I keep reading various things that maybe you shouldn't use too much compost when backfilling?? Personally, I never thought it was possible to use too much compost?
Doug Oster: That's right, you can never use too much compost. When planting trees the new conventional wisdom not to improve the soil and let the trees live in the dirt that's there.
Doug Oster: I did not get the frost, di you guys. It's been nice to enjoy the flowers just a bit longer.
ljrpclady: Thanks for confirming my thoughts about compost and the info on planting trees. I live in the N. Hills of Pgh & have already received at least 3 heavy frosts. My cannas are all black & waiting to be pulled.
Doug Oster: What do you store them in, everyone does it differently.
Doug Oster: Funny, I live in the North Hills too, but was spared!
ljrpclady: I'm embarrassed to say just a plain old box! Sure, I lose some of them, but there are always plenty left for me & to give some away. This year, I'd like to dust them with fungicide & store them wrapped in newspaper, but time will determine that.
Doug Oster: Try to use an organic fungicide if possible, the chemical version can be pretty nasty. If you put dry vermiculite around them, it works pretty well.
ljrpclady: You're very lucky if you were spared the heavy frosts. The frost I received last Friday night was very heavy.
Doug Oster: Still waiting to pick the last beets too!
lbhumes: What is the best way to shorten or groom pachysandra?
Doug Oster: The only thing you can do is cut it back hard. Don't worry it will come back, but eventually will reach the same height. Plants all have a certain size they want to reach and will try to get there no matter what we try to do.
ljrpclady: Do you know of any organic fungicide that you like?
Doug Oster: Lime sulpher would probably work, but I don't think you need to use it. If the right medium most of the moisture is taken up by what's around the tuber.
lbhumes: we are working on changing a previously well used dog pen into a garden, how much lime should we use to counteract the dog urine?
Doug Oster: You should get a soil test. You can get them at the Penn State Cooperative Extension. You can reach them at 412-473-2540 Then you will know how much you need.
lbhumes: At what time of the year should we cut back the pachysandra?
Doug Oster: Wait until spring, that's the best time.
ljrpclady: Ok, thanks, maybe I'll skip the fungicide AGAIN this year & try the vermiculite.
Doug Oster: I think you'll find that works. Try to store them in a cool but not freezing area. lbhumes: Thank you so much, we moved back to the area a year ago from Texas and are not used to season changes, so have to learn this stuff all over.
Doug Oster: Glad to help, must be quite a change. How long were you gone? You should plant some bulbs now.
ljrpclady: Thanks for the chat Doug! Always a pleasure. Take care!
Doug Oster: Thanks for stopping by, hope to see you next week.
lbhumes: We were in Texas since 1976. Planted some bulbs last year as weren't sure what previous owners had planted, need to plant more though.
Doug Oster: They are on sale right now, find some weird stuff at the nursery. I love these daffodils called Sir Winston Churchill. I've seen them at a nursery in the North Hills called Hahn.
lbhumes: We are in the North Hills, have seen that nursery. Thanks again for your help.
Doug Oster: thank you, any more questions?
lbhumes: not right now, you have really helped.
Doug Oster: Hope to see you next week.
lbhumes: oh, one more question - when is a good time to move crocosmias?
Doug Oster: hmmm, I guess right now assuming they are hardy and you can find them. Usually we move bulbs in the spring right after they are done blooming so we can see where they are.
lbhumes: maybe we should leave them alone until next year, thanks again.
Doug Oster: That's what I would do.
Doug Oster: We're done for the day, thanks everyone for being part of the chat. Remember you can ask gardening questions any time at www.post-gazette.com/garden click on the Garden Forum button.
First Published October 19, 2006 12:00 am