The Savvy Gardener: 'Weed-n-feed' dangerous to ornamentals

'weed-n-feed' dangerous for ornamentals

A lot of homeowners think they're getting more bang for the buck by using a "weed-n-feed" lawn care product that combines herbicide with fertilizer. Experts caution against their use, especially if ornamental trees and shrubs are nearby. The chemicals in these products can cause severe injury — even death — if they're absorbed by the roots of ornamentals, which often extend well into lawn areas. Instead, spot-treat weeds and use a slow-release organic or semi-organic fertilizer to promote healthy soil.

Heirlooms by the thousands

Many retail garden centers sell packets of heirloom vegetables and flowers, but you'll find the world's largest selection at Seed Savers Exchange. This nonprofit Internet and mail-order supplier stocks thousands of seeds and starter plants that have been cultivated through generations. Visit seedsavers.org to order online, plus learn how to harvest and store your own seeds. Write: Seed Savers Exchange, 3094 N Winn Road, Decorah, Iowa 52101, or call (563) 382-5990.

Alert for avocado tree owners

If you have an avocado tree, be on the lookout for a new pest, the redbay ambrosia beetle. This nasty critter from Asia bores into the wood of avocado trees, leaving fungal spores that multiply, prevent water and nutrient flow, and can kill the tree. Although all cultivars are susceptible, Reed, Coquette, Catalina, Florida Hass, Winter Mexican, Hass and Hall are more resistant than others, and younger trees fare better than mature ones, according to a University of Florida study. There is no effective treatment yet. If your tree develops small bore holes with bits of sawdust, dark staining under the bark, wilting of leaves and stems or leaf drop, contact your county extension office for the latest guidance from state officials.

Save on garden supplies

Before you shop at garden suppliers such as Burpee Co., Home Depot, Gardener's Supply Co. or Thompson & Morgan Seeds, check out RetailMeNot (retailmenot.com). This discount coupon service provides coupon and promotion codes that can be used when ordering items online. By entering the codes, you'll get discount prices or extras, such as free shipping. It's easy to search the site for specific items, including seeds, plants, garden tools, outdoor furnishings and more.

Yvonne Swanson, Times correspondent

The Savvy Gardener: 'Weed-n-feed' dangerous to ornamentals 03/06/09 [Last modified: Friday, March 6, 2009 3:30am]

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