Stir mulch to prevent stinkhorns

A: Stinkhorns are common in mulch when rain and warm weather coincide. Next spring, simply keep an eye on mulched areas near the festivities and stir it up, to dry it out, a couple of times in the week before the event.

Q: I have a very large area of mondo grass I planted to control erosion. It has not filled in very fast. Is there anything I can do to expedite growth? — Joy Lynn Fields, Roswell

A: As with lawn grass, regular fertilization will speed growth. However, don’t use the rates found on turf fertilizer bags. Instead, fertilize now with 8 pounds of Milorganite per 1,000 square feet of mondo grass. In April, spread 4 pounds of 10-10-10 per 1,000 square feet and repeat every six weeks. That should help the mondo grass pick up the pace.

Q: I enjoyed your recent TV program on making potting soil. I found it disheartening that the ingredients came from far away: peat from Canada, perlite from Greece, etc. Are there other ways to make potting soil with materials close at hand? — Ann Hudson

A: Good potting soil contains materials that hold water and nutrients but allows plenty of air space for roots to breathe.

For decades, peat and perlite have been inexpensive and have performed well. Recently, though, transportation costs have raised the prices of raw materials.

To combat that, excellent research is being done on using ground pine trees, not just pine bark, to grow shrubs and trees in pots.

The results are very encouraging, and I hope more locally produced materials can be used in the future.

Listen to Walter Reeves from 6 to 10 Saturday mornings on WSB-AM (750). Go to www.gardening ingeorgia.com for details on his TV show or visit his Web site, www.walterreeves.com.

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