Frequently Asked Questions

These are the questions I am asked more often than anything else.

Q: Who takes care of your Website? Was it expensive to make?

A: My lovely and talented wife is the web master of my site. She also has a real job as a Realtor here in Cabot. Yes it is very expensive! I pay dearly - every day of my life!

Q: What do you do in your spare time?

A: What spare time?

Q: I am looking for a short ground cover/grass that will grow in the shade (part shade) that requires little or no maintenance.  I have aggressive deer and the site location has a slight slope and poor soil. I do not want an invasive plant as it will be planted adjacent to a rock bed. It must be a xeriscape plant. I live about 65 miles northwest of Austin, Texas. It would be nice if it blooms, but that isn't necessary. I know this is a tough one.

A: How short is short? Have you tried Vinca Major? It is an aggressive ground cover and covers very quickly if planted on 12 inch centers - also produces attractive blue flower thru spring.  It grows in anything, extremely xeric, practically idiot proof, with just a bit o H2O in the first year. Height to 12" (controlled by lawn mower).

Vinca Minor - sometimes called myrtle (don't ask me why) less aggressive, shorter in height 4-6" same blue flowers very xeric if watered first year.

Deer-proof - not a lot is completely deer-proof - it just depends on how hungry they are and what is of interest to them at the time.

Speaking of Thyme - groundcover thyme is a way cool plant bur can be kind of pricy. Beautiful flowers, about 4" in height. Won't tolerate soggy, cold soils in winter (sho8uldn't be your problem). It does require lots of sun - you said shady, but how much and what time of day.

Best source for ground cover Thyme (yes you can probably season your chicken with it too!) is HighCountryGardens.com.  I've spent boo-koo bucks with those guys, they are great to deal with and have some outstanding selections.  Please let me know how you fare. 

Q:Can I put mushrooms in my compost bin? I have shiitake and morels and want to know if I can put the stems in my composter? - Lynda

A: Yep!

Q: Daughter gave me a gardenia for mother's day - can I put it outdoors? - Florida

A: I am going to hazard to guess that your daughter purchased a "floral" gardenia for you in a fancy pot with bows and ribbons or something to that effect.

Floral gardenias typically don't perform well planted in the ground and are sold as houseplants (although in zones 9 & 10 that isn't always the case) by florists, grocery stores and big-box stores usually around Valentines' Day, Mothers' Day and Easter. Unfortunately, most of these gardenias are horribly root-bound because the growers need them to be nice full and loaded with flowers to sell them at market and they get that way by constant drip irrigation with fertilizer. Once off their steady "diet" they invariably fail unless repotted because they plants are older and their roots are so tightly packed they can't take up nutrients any other way.(You'll need a knife/scissors to open up those roots.)

Floral gardenias don't go dormant so to speak. They like lots of direct sun if possible and don't let them get completely dry. Fertilize with time release balanced fertilizer such as "Dynamite" in the red tube found at Home Depot and a tad of "Ironite" every few months.  When repotting make sure and use a mix with plenty of peat as gardenias like the acid.



Q:  We have a Trumpet plant,. How far do you cut it back for winter, and do you store it in a warm place like a heated shop?? This plant is in a 14 inch pot so should I repot it in the spring? The flowers are about 6 inches long, look like a trumpet, they are white with a lavender hue around the front opening.

A: Angel Trumpet (Brugmansuia) is a South American plant and is a long-lived perennial in zones 8-9. Here in Arkansas it's marginal in zone 7B when place in the ground.  (I lost mine last year after a particularly cold winter)

A container grown plant in your zone must be brought in or the roots will freeze and the plant will die. In do doing you have two options:

1.  Induce semi-dormancy by storing the plant in a cool dark place and watering minimally. Do not cut back until spring

2.  Go ahead and place it in your heated shop but I would add a florescent fixture 12-24" above the plant if your shop doesn't have sunny windows. Do not fertilize until spring.  Keep your watering so the soil dries out a bit, but more water than if inducing dormancy.

In both instances the plant isn't going to be real pretty after winter, but it will be alive. Springtime go ahead and prune as necessary, apply a balanced fertilizer with micro-nutrients and repot.

Keep in mind that Angel Trumpets if pruned and shaped properly will be top-heavy - especially so when loaded with bloom.  Your chosen container must be able to support the plant without it blowing over.