Letters from our Fellow Gardeners

You, the readers of Forever Young, are truly wonderful! I received nine emails last month with both questions and comments (nice comments, I must say!). I decided to address two of the most pertinent questions, as I believe they would be of interest to many of you.

One reader asked about a yellow slimy substance on wood mulch that appeared to look rather “mushroomy” when it was dry.

This yellow slime is a slime mold, Myxomycetes (slime fungi), which can also manifest as red or orange. It most commonly grows on bark mulch and loves shady, wet places and organic material. You often see it growing on decaying wood in forests. It actually slithers over plants sometimes! The mold reproduces by spores, which wait until the conditions are just right before they open up. Don’t worry about the presence of the slime mold, as it really doesn’t do any harm. When the mulch dries out again, the slime mold seems to disappear, at least until the next time the conditions are right.

Another reader asked if there is anything that will keep rabbits and squirrels from eating plants.

Rabbits and squirrels tend to be deterred by garlic. You can mix garlic and water in your blender and spray it on your plants. This works, but the plants are stinky and rain washes it all away. I bought garlic clips from Gardener Supply Company, www.gardeners.com. One package costs $19.95. The garlic is enclosed in plastic tubes that you poke open and then clip onto plants. So far, this seems to be working in our garden and it does not reek of garlic. Of course, there are also live traps that you can rent or purchase and barbed wire screening.

So how is your garden? I know that the garden books and catalogs suggest you do next year’s planning in the winter, but I advise looking at your gardens now. Make some notes about bare spots, plant successes and failures, as well as ideas from garden walks you visited this year.

Continue watering deeply when the weather is dry to help prepare perennials, trees and shrubs for the winter ahead.

By the end of the month you should start bringing your houseplants back indoors. Be sure to thoroughly wash them off first.

Forever Young Magazine September 2005