Q. My vegetable garden is overgrown with crabgrass. Is there a chemical I can use to get rid of it?
A. There is no herbicide recommended for control of crabgrass in a small vegetable garden, but you can try a newspaper mulch. With a sharp hoe, cut the weeds off at the soil surface, then put down newspapers. Wet the newspapers and anchor them with dirt. This will shut off light and prevent new growth of crabgrass.
Q. I have a dozen one-year-old Latham red raspberries I want to transplant to another place in my year. When is the best time to do it
A. After the plants become dormant in the fall, usually about a month after the first frost, is a good time.
Q. I brought home from the wild a white dogwood seedling. It is now about seven inches high. Should it be planted outdoors and remain there this winter, or should it be brought inside and potted?
A. Plant it outdoors and leave it there. During the first winter, protect it from wind and sunlight. If it's in full sun in late winter it may break dormancy during a spell of mild weather and then be killed by later freezing temperatures.
Q. Is there a special process for drying gourds?
A. Use sharp shears to harvest: Never twist gourds from the vine. Handle them carefully so they are not bruised or scratched: A bruise now means decay later. Wash in warm, mild soapy water. Rinse and dry. Remove dirt with a soft brush while washing. Spread gourds on several layers of newspaper in a warm sunny place with good air circulation. When completely dry, coat with flour or furniture wax, or apply shellac or lacquer.
Q. Last year we planted shallots and they were very small. How can we improve their size this year? Should they be harvested when the tops turn brown?
A. Most likely the size of the bulbs (they are called cloves) was due to poor soil, competition with weeds or insufficient sunlight. Cutting off tops to use for seasoning also will prevent normal bulb size. The bulbs should be dug in the fall when the foliage turns yellow or brown. Dry them for two or three days and then cut off the tops and store as you would onions.
Q. Which plants are best to attract hummingbirds?
A. They go after tubular flowers, feeding on them with their long needle-like bills. They appear to like gladiolus, petunias, butterflybush, iris, fuchsia, morningglory, Japanese honeysuckle, beebalm, nasturtium, columbine, canna, mimosa, hollyhock, rose of sharon, larkspur, clematis, lilac, lantana, phlox, rose, portulaca, cardinal flower, black locust and tulip tree.