Gardentalk – Ed answers your questions on gardening and yard care

Thirsty garlic in a North Douglas garden get a much-needed drink.
Thirsty garlic in a North Douglas garden get a much-needed drink. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)

The warm, sunny weather experienced by Juneau residents this week is a gardener’s dream.

But the current drought conditions also means gardeners should make sure that their garden vegetables and other outdoor plants don’t dry out.

“It’s amazing,” said Master Gardener Ed Buyarski. “Eighty-one degrees at my house in the shade yesterday.”

This season, he’s growing sweet corn, a very non-traditional Alaska crop.

In this week’s edition of Gardentalk, Buyarski reminds Juneau area gardeners to make sure everything is getting enough water.

“Definitely got to be watering hanging baskets,” Buyarski said. “I’m doing those everyday now, and stuff in the greenhouse.” Tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, and other tall and reaching plants also need regular watering.

He suggests adding a light dose of fertilizer to the water to keep those vegetables growing and flowers blooming.

Buyarski also answered some listeners’ questions that were recently sent into KTOO’s Gardentalk page.


“I’ve got a crabapple tree that leafed out nicely, before any of the buds could bloom they rotted, and now the leaves have moldy black spots,” wrote Jane.

Buyarski said it could either be a fungus or more severe damage to the stem or roots.

A solution of baking soda mixed with water and sprayed on the leaves could get rid of the fungus.

Buyarski recommends that Jane scratch through the bark to make sure it is still green underneath. If it is no longer green, then it could be a sign that the tree is dying.


Close up view of horsetail which has invaded a North Douglas yard.
Close up view of horsetail which has invaded a North Douglas yard. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)

“Is there a way to get rid of horsetail?” asks Michele. “It’s taking over a raspberry patch and creeping into a vegetable garden.”

Buyarski said a heavy fabric, sometimes called roadbuilder’s fabric, can prevent the small rhizomes or root fragments from resprouting. The herbicide Roundup is sometimes only marginally effective in controlling horsetail. The most practical method of getting rid of horsetail is simply picking it all out by hand.

Otherwise, he jokes that the best method of controlling the persistent and resilient plant may be “four inches of concrete, lots of rebar, and hope it doesn’t grow back.”


Shirley wants to know the best care for hydrangea. “Soil, sun, water?” she asks.

Buyarski said choosing the right variety, like hydrangea paniculata, is key. Plant in an area with full sun, good drainage, and shelter from coldest north winds.


Listen to the June 27th edition of Gardentalk:

Buyarski also says tickets are still on sale for the Southeast Alaska Master Gardener Association‘s Summer Garden Tour on Saturday, June 29, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

See the poster below for additional details and contact information, and click on the link above to buy tickets.

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