Should beans be planted based on phases of the moon? Nope, says Dan Gill. That would be garden lunacy. | Home/Garden

Garden columnist Dan Gill answers readers’ questions each week. To send a question, email Gill at [email protected]

I was wondering when to plant beans. It is the moon phase I am concerned with. I heard that for above-ground crops, seeds should be planted on an enlarging or waxing moon, and for below-ground crops, you plant seeds on a waning moon. Do you agree with this as a rule of thumb? If not, how do you determine when is the best time to plant seeds? — Bob Simon

Science has never been able to show a clear relationship between the phase of the moon when a vegetable is planted and how well it ultimately produces.

Think about it this way. The food on your table was grown by farmers who have no concern what phase the moon is in when they plant. They plant based on the proper season, the weather, when they want to harvest, and other factors, not on the phase of the moon. We always find plenty of food at the supermarket, so the farmers must be doing something right.

They don’t, however, rely on the moon to tell them when to plant, and neither should you.

I have hundreds of worm castings in my yard that make cutting grass a very bump slow process. What can I use to get rid of them? I know they are beneficial to lawns, but they need to go! — Bobby DiBartolo

Since earthworms are so beneficial to soil and lawns, there are no products available that are harmful to them. The small piles of BB-shaped soil pellets (castings) they produce on the soil surface are not noticeable. You definitely would not be able to feel them on a riding mower.

Something else is making your lawn bumpy. Try topdressing the lawn with a sandy fill to even it out and make mowing more comfortable.

Any thoughts on killing and managing Virginia buttonweed? My yard and neighbor’s yard are being taken over. I spray it with MSM but it stresses my carpet grass. In September, with armyworms and the buttonweed, my yard looks terrible. — Jason Rabalais.

MSM is your best option. To minimize the issue with the carpetgrass, try spot-treating by just spraying individual patches of buttonweed when you first notice them and they are small. The more spraying you do this time of the year, the less likely you are to see Virginia buttonweed in September (when it is really too late to get good control).

Treat sticker weeds in the fall with a preemergent herbicide.

I bought a house a few months ago. Just figured out there are sticker weeds all over the yard. What can we do now? — Chris Myers

There is really nothing you can do now. The sticker weed has already made its spiny seed pods, and they will remain in the lawn until they decay sometime in early summer.

The only option would be to get out and physically remove every sticker weed plant along with its stickers — and that’s not practical.

A two-prong approach will work best with burweed or sticker weed. Apply a preemergence herbicide in early October following label directions (ask the staff to help you select the proper product). That’s the first line of attack.

Then, look over your lawn carefully in December, January and February. If you see any young plants that managed to get by the preemergence herbicide application, spray the lawn with a weed killer like Weed B Gon, Weed Free Zone, Atrazine or other brands of lawn weed killers at your local nursery.

If needed, you could make a second application following the label directions. That’s your second line of attack.

Garden tips

ADD TROPICALS: Now that the weather is getting warmer it’s a great time to add tropical plants into the landscape. They include tropical hibiscus, angel’s trumpet, bird of paradise, ixora, gingers, caladiums, bananas and split-leaf philodendron, to name a few.

TIME FOR SOD: Now is an excellent time to plant warm-season grasses such as St. Augustine, centipede, bermuda and zoysia. Except for common Bermuda, solid sodding is the preferred method of establishing a lawn whenever possible. Although more expensive and labor-intensive at the beginning, solid sodding more than makes up for it in advantages.

CHANGING SEASONS: When cool-season bedding plants like pansies, violas, foxgloves, alyssum and dianthus begin to languish in the heat, pull them out (put them in your compost pile) and replace them with heat-tolerant summer bedding plants. Before replanting, remove all weeds and spread a 2- or 3-inch layer of compost and a sprinkling of general purpose fertilizer (follow package directions) over the bed. Thoroughly incorporate the compost and fertilizer into the bed and you are ready to plant.

WATER FEATURED: Spring has been rather dry, so pay attention to watering newly planted bedding plants and vegetables. Also, check container plants growing on decks and patios often and water as needed. As the weather gets hotter, if rain is still lacking, you may need to irrigate established shrubs and lawns.

WAIT FOR TREES: With summer heat right around the corner, it’s best to delay digging up and transplanting young trees and shrubs until fall or winter. They will be far more likely to survive the move if transplanted when they are dormant, and the weather is cool.

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Garden columnist Dan Gill answers readers’ questions each week. To send a question, email Gill at [email protected]


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