Slow-to-bloom dogwoods may have mixed parentage

Q: I have two small dogwood trees I got from the Keep Madison County Beautiful Christmas Tree Recycling event seven years ago. They have never flowered but look healthy. Any suggestions? — June Starkey, Danielsville

A: Your dogwood trees probably came from the Georgia Forestry Commission, which raises millions of different trees from seeds in big fields in South Georgia. Seed-raised trees of any kind have differing genetic parentage. If your seedlings came from parents that were slow to flower, that might explain why you haven't seen any blooms yet. If your trees seem healthy, they will eventually bloom.

Q: Please help me rescue my Bermuda lawn. The past couple years of raising young kids has left it in a state of neglect, full of weeds. It has not been fertilized. I'm confused about what to put down, and what order it needs to be applied, and the time in between application. — Jeff Langston, Dallas

A: Let's get the Bermuda grass growing vigorously before you try chemical weed control. Wait until the grass is at least 50 percent green (preferably 80 percent green) and fertilize it with any lawn fertilizer that does not have weed killer in it. Repeat two more times at eight-week intervals. If you mow regularly, the lawn will look pretty good, even with the weeds. I have lawn care calendars for all Georgia lawns at Add weed control to your fertilizer schedule next year.

Q: I would like to fertilize young azaleas on a sloping bank next to a pond. How do I do it without creating algae-filled water as I did last year? When is best? — Tom West, email

A: Azaleas don't really need a lot of fertilizer, but if you want them to get bigger, you can poke 1/2-inch diameter holes 3 inches deep in the ground and fill each one with Milorganite fertilizer. You'll need three to six holes per plant, depending on size. Use a rebar rod to make the holes on a day after it has rained, when the soil is soft. Not much fertilizer will wash out of the holes, and the job needs doing only once a year.

Q: We are starting an edible schoolyard garden in raised beds at a middle school. It gets a good amount of light. What fruits and vegetables are best? — Christine Callaway, Augusta

A: This is a terrific project! Much of your success will depend on the soil, so let's start there. I've been trialing bagged soil for raised beds and have had no problems with Nature's Care Raised Bed Soil, Kellogg's All Natural Raised Bed Soil and Dr. Earth Motherland Planting Mix. I have not been satisfied with the bagged topsoil that costs a couple of dollars per bag. I have collected a huge amount of useful school gardening information for you at