Jack Russell terrier may be best mole deterrent
Ciscoe Morris, Seattle Times garden writer, doesn't advocate noise-making devices to repel moles; offers tips on getting rid of rose-sawflies and on how to water your lawn to keep it green all summer.
Special to The Seattle Times
Ballard's Edible Garden Tour: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Ten gardens show examples of container gardening, parking-strip possibilities, shared plots, raised beds, berries, fruits and vegetables, bee keeping and raising backyard chickens. Tour starts at Whittier Elementary School, 1320 N.W. 75th St., Seattle. All the gardens are within walking distance. Tickets are $10. Information at www.sustainableballard.org
Gardens of Note, Skagit Symphony garden tour: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Tour five country gardens, including the private vegetable garden of Graham and Treena Kerr. Graham Kerr is known for his cooking show "The Galloping Gourmet." Live music at each location. Tickets are $25. Information at www.skagitsymphony.com
Q: Do mole-repellent sticks that give off noises or vibrations really work?
A: Over the years I've met a few folks who swear by one or another brand, but lab and field studies at universities and independent labs have found them to be totally ineffective, and everyone I know who has tried them has been disappointed.
I also have my doubts about the effectiveness of sticking whirligigs in the garden to cause vibration that is also supposed to repel moles.
I once met a gardener in England who successfully repelled moles using gadgets. He buried wine bottles part way into the soil with the mouth aiming in a windward direction. Upon visiting his garden I had to admit it worked, but I doubt the reason for the success was the sound the wind made whistling through the bottles. Rather I suspect the moles got tired of bumping their heads on the thousands of wine bottles buried in his small garden.
Forgo the gadgets and consider using the money you save to help pay for the best mole repellent in the world: a Jack Russell terrier.
Q: What's causing transparent spots and holes in my rose leaves?
A: The culprit is a bee relative known as a rose sawfly. When young, the tiny larvae gnaw away at the skin of the leaves causing a windowpane effect; then as they increase in size, their chewing causes holes in the leaves.
At the first sign of damage, turn the leaf over and look for tiny pale-green, dark-headed caterpillarlike creatures. If your rose is big, spray with neem oil, an environmentally friendly and safe product. It will take care of the problem, but only if the spray hits the larvae directly. Neem can harm ladybugs, so move any that are present to another plant before spraying. Also check that the sawfly larvae are actually present before you spray because they come and go.
Finally, keep an eye out for new damage in case follow-up treatments are needed.
Q: I want to keep my lawn green this summer. Should I water daily during dry periods?
A: It's much better to water less often and to apply more water each time.
Frequent, light watering only wets the surface, keeping it constantly moist. That, in turn, increases weed-seed germination, increases susceptibility to disease and results in shallow rooting.
Infrequent, deep watering, on the other hand, allows the surface to dry between watering and penetrates deeply, which encourages roots to grow deeper in search of moisture.
The general recommendation is to apply about an inch of water once per week. To figure out how long to run your sprinkler, use a permanent marker to draw a line an inch up from the bottom on a few cottage-cheese type containers and put them out on the lawn.
Turn on the sprinkler and time how long it takes to fill the majority of the containers to the mark. That's how long you need to run your sprinkler once a week to provide an inch of water.
Fine-tune your watering technique by waiting a day, and then dig a hole to see how far the water penetrated into the soil. The goal is for the water to penetrate about 8 inches deep. If it only penetrated 4 or 5 inches you have clay soil and need to let the water run a little longer each time until you achieve the desired depth.
If it penetrated more than 8 inches, your soil is very sandy. Run the water for less time, and water every five days or so, as water penetrates and dries out much more quickly in sandy soil.
Ciscoe Morris: firstname.lastname@example.org; "Gardening with Ciscoe" airs at 10 a.m. Saturdays on KING-TV.
About In the Garden
Ciscoe Morris' column runs Thursdays. His show "Gardening with Ciscoe" airs at 10 a.m. on Saturdays on King 5.