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Published Feb. 4, 2008

Older lawns that have been overfertilized and overwatered are prone to thatch, a layer of dead and living shoots, stems and roots between the soil and the green shoots. Thatch prevents water and fertilizer from reaching the soil. The remedy: having the lawn verti-cut, a job best left to the professionals. Mid February through June is the time to have this done, the Pinellas extension service says.

Separate garden fact from fiction

Should you feed your plants sugar, add vinegar when you water them, use crushed eggshells as a barrier against slugs, or use Brussels sprouts as an herbicide? Urban legends or legitimate remedies? For the answers, turn to The Truth About Garden Remedies by Jeff Gillman (Timber Press, $12.95). Gillman details the practice, the theory, the real story and "what it means to you" for each of more than 100 garden remedies. Find out the truth about slugs and beer, and about insects and hot sauce.

Flower show will have a jazzy flair

This year's Philadelphia Flower Show, March 2 through 9, is dedicated to New Orleans with the theme "Jazz It Up." The hall will be filled with magnolias and oleanders, cast-iron balconies and hanging plants, and the sound of jazz throughout. Read more at and imagine you're there.

Get it clean without chlorine bleach

Here's how to clean your seed-starting containers without using chlorine bleach, from Organic Gardening magazine: Wash containers in warm, soapy water. Then rinse in 2 cups of white distilled vinegar diluted with 4 to 6 gallons of water.

Compiled by Times homes and garden editor Judy Stark