A: Since chickweed is an annual plant that sprouts from seed each winter, my typical advice would be to apply a pre-emergent herbicide in September. But if you previously had a big infestation, we need to get creative. Don't mow low at the end of summer: Grass foliage will shade chickweed seeds and help prevent germination. Look online and on hardware store garden shelves for the chemical isoxaben (Gallery) pre-emergent. It has the strongest effect on broadleaf weed seeds. Make your first application in early September. Be sure the chemical is applied in the corners and on the edge of your lawn. Put down at least a half inch of water after application. Make another application of isoxaben 60 days after the first. You should get more than 90% control. Any chickweed that pops up later can be spot sprayed with a broadleaf weed killer product.
Q: I know it's customary to wait until mid-April to plant my tomatoes and peppers, but I'm getting antsy. Given the mild winter we've had, do you think it would be okay to go ahead or should I hold my horses and be patient?Greg Malecki, email
A: I'm not going to come out and tie your hands but you won't get much advantage by planting now. Soil temperatures are still pretty chilly. Tomatoes and peppers both prefer to grow in warm soil. My friend Steven Stinchcomb shares an easy test: When you can sit comfortably on the ground wearing just shorts and a t-shirt, you can plant summer vegetables. If you are still antsy, try putting down black plastic and planting through it.
Q: What is your opinion on hydroponic gardening?Donna Justice, email
A: Hydroponic gardening is lots of fun as a hobby but it’s lots of work as a business. There are several methods of suspending plant roots in nutrient-filled water. You’ll be astonished at how quickly plants can grow using hydroponic methods. You’ll also be taken aback at how fast root disease can spread. I have a big list of resources at bit.ly/GAhydroponic.