You certainly have heard. You've got mail. Well, this summer I received a large number of email questions from readers of this column I'd like to think it's because you like the column but it might be due to the intense heat this summer that made garden plants, weeds, insects, and diseases flourish..

Everyone says I should get rid of the goutweed in my garden. Why should I? It's really rather pretty. How would I get rid of it? This plant is also known as snow on the mountain or bishop's weed.
It belongs to the same family as Queen Anne's lace, carrots, and parsley. You will recognize the relationship when it flowers because all the members of this family have umbrella-like flowerheads. Goutweed is a native species throughout Asia and Europe. It is believed that it was intentionally brought here because of its beauty and its use as a potherb. So what's the problem? Goutweed is an invasive species. Its underground stems (rhizomes) enable it to spread rapidly and most importantly it crowds out native species. To get rid of it dig it up. You can use an herbicide but I personally hate that because you may spray i innocent plants. Also the herbicide must get to the roots for it to work. A little left over piece of root will grow into a new plant. You might consider covering the area of goutweed with cardboard to keep the plants from getting light . Some folks use black plastic to cook the plants. Good luck!

Everyone says zucchini is easy to grow. Well mine flowers but I don't get any zucchini. Help.
This was a commonly asked question for the 2010 summer. There can be several reasons for this. Zucchini plants produce both male and female flowers. The female flowers are the ones that produce the fruit, the ripened ovary. (Yes zucchini is botanically a fruit.) After the male flowers open and the pollen is released the male flowers fall off the plants. Often the first flowers that the plants make are male. When the female flowers appear usually zucchini will follow. However if there is poor pollination there will be few zucchini. The causes for poor pollination include fewer insect pollinators ( especially bees) and high humidity which causes the pollen grains to clump . Some folks have told me that they don't use insect sprays in their vegetable gardens but around them in flower gardens. Bad idea.

I have never had problems growing wax begonias until this year. The buds keep falling off. I haven't gotten any flowers on any of the plants.
Often when this happens the problem is is poorly draining soil. I would advise adding organic matter such as compost to the soil to improve its draining ability. However this has been a hot summer. If begonias get overheated the buds will drop. If possible spray the begonias with water during the hottest part of the day to cool them down.

I could swear that my plants are blooming earlier this year. How can I slow down their flowering time?
You are right. Plants matured about two and a half weeks earlier this year in western New York state. You can slow down the flowering time of many summer and autumn flowering perennials by cutting them back from one-third to one-half their height in early June. Experiment next year to see what works best for your plants.

I love hearing from you.

Forever Young Magazine - October 2010