By Walter Reeves, For the AJC
Troy Warren for CNT #HomeGarden
Q: I have a large raised bed that has become overgrown with weeds. Morning glory vines are everywhere! What is the best way to rid the bed of weeds and vines? I’m not going to plant anything there this year. Sheri Kelly, email
A: There is no way to get them out in one fell swoop. Morning glory seeds can remain viable in the soil for 50 years. So the only way to deal with them is to pull or kill the seedlings every year before they flower to avoid depositing more in the soil seed bank. When I was a kid on the farm, my spring and summer task in our big vegetable garden was to use a hoe to remove small weeds before they set seed. If you’d rather not hoe or pull, you could spray young weeds with glyphosate (Roundup). Just be vigilant to get to them before they flower. Some gardeners might suggest that solarizing the plot, heating it under plastic all summer, would be the solution to your problem. But I can guarantee morning glory and Bermuda seeds will survive summer heat in a Georgia garden. Be vigilant!
Q: I just bought a bird feeder. I read an article that said that spilled birdseed underneath a feeder could attract rats. How can I prevent a potential problem? Rosemary Francis, email
A: Always use high-quality birdseed. Mixes that contain black oil sunflower seed, sunflower kernels and peanuts are guaranteed to be eaten by your birds. They won’t scratch through seeds they don’t like looking for things they do like. Avoid millet and corn. A few birds eat them but they aren’t the favorite seeds of songbirds. Consider buying a seed catcher tray that goes directly under the feeder to keep everything out of reach of chipmunks and rats.
Q: I didn’t realize until six months ago that I am supposed to trim back roses every year. Now mine are really overgrown. The bush is 6 feet high and the branches are spindly. What should I do? Adam Francois Watkins, email
A: Wait until the normal pruning time around Valentine’s Day, then remove dead branches and those that cross through the middle. There will be four to 10 upward-growing branches from the base of your rose. Remove the oldest ones, leaving four to six to grow. Decide how high up you want flowers in summer and make most of your cuts 16 inches below that height. I like my flowers to be about 3 feet from the ground so I prune my shrub roses 20 inches high every time. Make each cut a quarter-inch above a bud that is pointing outward from the center of the rose. I have full details at bit.ly/GAroseprune.