Spring Gardening

Monday, April 20, 2009

With the weather warming up, it’s time to start getting ready for the growing season. Gerald Lordahl is a horticulturalist and Director of the Open Space Greening Program at the Council on the Environment of New York City. He’ll take your gardening questions. You can e-mail Gerald at


Gerald Lordahl

Comments [29]

R. Burden from NYC

I would not suggest using the urine of wild animals as a deterrent to yard and garden "pests."
This urine is collected by capturing and caging wild animals such as wild cats, coyotes, wolves etc.
The animals are usually kept in small cages for life to supply a constant source of the profitable "product."
The animals fight their confinement which often results to serious injury, most often to their jaws and paws.
These injuries are seldom, if ever, treated.
There are much more humane ways to deter the deer and other animals that tend to consume our gardens.
I would advise people to plants that the animal in question tends to avoid.
I have a large herb garden that deer have never sampled.
The herb garden is surrounded by boxwood, a plant that the deer also ignore.
There are many such strategies that are much more humane than the forcible taking of urine from immobilized wild animals.

Apr. 20 2009 10:39 PM
j from nyc

found out about this site from the House&Home section of the Times: you just pay for the shipping of plants and shrubs rescued from gardening centers, that would of been thrown out. This organization is run mostly by the disabled, so it's their livelihood.

Apr. 20 2009 12:47 PM
Amy from Manhattan

On growing different herbs in the same pot, I once had a flourishing parsley plant & then found a rooted stalk in some basil I bought. I added the basil to the pot, & before long both plants died. I don't know if it happened because they weren't compatible or if I exceeded the capacity of the (fairly large) pot. How do you know how much you can plant in a pot of a given volume?

I think Gerard said basil doesn't overwinter? But I've had basil grow again >2 years in a row--is there some other mechanism for this?

Apr. 20 2009 12:43 PM
Mike Freeman from Manhattan

I know of a community garden that lost it's bee colony (they died) and wants to start another but the bee keeper is concerned with current NYC laws that say it's illegal to have a bees because they're dangerous.

What advice can you give?

Apr. 20 2009 12:37 PM
Tom from Westfield, NJ

Can I use salt hay for mulch?

Thanks, Tom

Apr. 20 2009 12:36 PM
Ellie from Brooklyn/Queens

For deer, squirrels...have you tried the sprinkler device with a motion dector (one brandname cat's eye)? I had a huge problem with ferrel cats in my backyard garden (coyote urine didn't even phase them) and the motion dector hooked up to a sprinkler goes off everytime they run in front (even at night). Safe easy and TOTALLY solved my problem : ) They never come in my yard anymore!
Happy gardening

Apr. 20 2009 12:36 PM
peter from brooklyn

PLEASE NOT PEANUTS! Someone in my block puts out peanuts, which the squirrels bring to our yard and bury in our flower boxes. Not only does this leave the boxes dug up all summer long, but when we go to plant in the spring, they are full of half-decomposed peanuts.

Apr. 20 2009 12:36 PM
Linda from ocean

You can kill grubs with beneficial nematodes. these are available in organic gardening catalogs. It is a great alternative to synthetic pesticides and works just as well.

Apr. 20 2009 12:34 PM
nikki from williamsburg brooklyn

I'm hoping to start a fragrant moon garden. Could you recommend some night blooming fragrant plants? My yard is sun & part shade. I've heard of Moon vine but will that take over like morning glory?
Many many thanks!
Love this show and this topic.

Apr. 20 2009 12:31 PM
Joel Hubbard from long island

Housing for Bats,good for gardens?

Apr. 20 2009 12:31 PM
Kim from Morristown NJ

What is a natural way to remove possible pesticides from fruit and vegtables? I get produce from a wonderful friend but they are not grown organically - they use mirale grow spray, and I'm hesitant to eat this -

Apr. 20 2009 12:30 PM
Janet from Jersey City

Is there a variety of jasmine that will also do well overwintering in this climate?

Apr. 20 2009 12:28 PM
Beth Propper from Bronx, NY

Just tuned in...can I put a raised bed on top of untested soil? If so, what depth to avoid the problems with soil?

Apr. 20 2009 12:26 PM
Mary from Park Slope

Any suggestions for how to discourage the thuggish squirrels in my backyard who dig in my flower pots (pansies and non-stop begonias).

Apr. 20 2009 12:25 PM
adam klimaszewski

how do i keep squirrels out of my fire escape boxes without enclosing them??

Apr. 20 2009 12:25 PM
Gregory from The Bronx

Hi Leonard! You had me on a few weeks ago when Ruth Reichl was on to talk about what one does to budget for food. I am looking out my window right now at my window box which I had purchased a few weeks ago at Home Depot for 15 bucks and installed myself. I put in my newly sprouted herb seedlings last week and if they get past this incoming cold front I think they'll be okay. But the one herb from seed that has always given me trouble to hatch is rosemary. Perhaps Mr. Lordahl would care to offer some advice.

Apr. 20 2009 12:24 PM
Alex from ft greene, brooklyn

I had a real issue with squirrels last Summer eating my tomatoes and cucumbers. What can I do to keep them away?

Apr. 20 2009 12:23 PM
Johnny Considine from Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.

This is a site gathering local gardeners and sharing resources.

Apr. 20 2009 12:22 PM
Liz from Mamaroneck

Can I really grow rhubarb here? How?

Apr. 20 2009 12:22 PM
Bob from Manhattan

"Congratulations?" Wow, that was rude. I'm officially done listening to your show, Leonard. I'm tired of listening to you speak rudely to callers.

Apr. 20 2009 12:21 PM
jesse from brooklyn

Deer can jump quite high. Coyote urine can be a very effective deterrent. Just make sure to wear gloves when handling, it stinks

Apr. 20 2009 12:17 PM
Bernard Klevickas from Astoria

With what seems like a strong push for Community Gardens why is the Queens Park Department trying to limit the endeavors of the newest, largest community garden in Astoria?
Please go to:
for information.

Apr. 20 2009 12:16 PM
distractioncascade from Blairstown, New Jersey

Any green/natural suggestions on keeping rabbits and groundhogs out of gardens? Groundhogs climb fences!!

Apr. 20 2009 12:16 PM
Betty Anne from UES

Are there any edible fast-growing houseplants?

Apr. 20 2009 12:15 PM
TK from NJ

Can one grow various herbs in a large pot or should they be separated in individual pots? Basil, cilantro, rosemary, oregano.

Apr. 20 2009 12:13 PM
Toots from Brooklyn

My neighbor has an enormous (and beloved) beloved back walnut in his backyard, the roots extend into my yard ... I know there are many edible crops that can't be grown because of the juglone in the soil, would it be possible to grow a fig tree? I have lots of sun on the other side of the yard.

Apr. 20 2009 12:11 PM

ask mr. lordahl how proposed "natural" gas drilling upstate will permanently destroy the high-quality produce we now enjoy at our greenmarkets.

some upstate farmers are eager to lease out part of their land to let the gas companies get at the gas trapped underneath the marcellus shale. some are already drilling, and this requires using millions of gallons of local water and mixing it 350 toxic chemicals to break up the shale.

from where can we get our produce when that happens??

Apr. 20 2009 12:11 PM
Richard from Westchester

Is it possible to create an English cottage garden feel in a New York suburb? Happy to include edibles and would love some fragrance. Full sun in front, shade in back, tiny plot. I am a disgrace to my Brit heritage when it comes to gardening, but I'm trying to do better.

Apr. 20 2009 12:05 PM

What vegetables require a lot of Sun? I can grow beans, peas and tomatoes. I would like to try tubers, carrots, broccoli.

Are there any really expensive vegetables that one can grow?

Apr. 20 2009 12:02 PM

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