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Weed-identification book is a handy tool

Q: My wife is looking for something that would help her identify weeds and tell her how to get rid of them. She would prefer a book so she can have it with her while she’s in the yard. Bill Brown, East Cobb

A: I think she would like “Weeds of the South” by Charles Bryson, et al. Get the edition with the flexible cover so she can stuff it in her garden tote. I’ve collected some of the best online weed-identification sources at bit.ly/GAweedid. In addition, she can peruse my Pinterest photos of common weeds at bit.ly/PINweed.

Q: I have 20 Japanese plum yews that are infested with cottony scale to the point it looks like snow on the branches. Should I dig them up and toss them? Sheila Colbert, email

A: Don’t give up yet! I have gotten control of this scale on my plum yews with a single drench of imidacloprid (BioAdvanced Tree & Shrub). The plum yew doesn’t attract pollinators so there’s no worry you’ll affect bees.

Q: I have an area in the yard that I call my “healing area” where I keep plants I’ve purchased before I decide where I’ll plant them. I now have some little gardenias and tea olives that are not ready to be planted. How should I protect my spot during winter? Diane Cagle, email

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A: One solution would be to make a mini hoop house. Drive several 2-foot long pieces of half-inch rebar on opposite sides of the planting area, angled 45 degrees toward the bed. Space them 18 inches apart down each side of the bed.

Go to a hardware store and buy some three-quarter-inch diameter black flexible plastic plumbing pipe. Cut the pipe to lengths that will go over two opposing rebar pieces so each piece curves over the top of your bed. This makes the “ribs” of the hoop house. Put chicken wire over the ribs and use plastic zip ties to attach it to the plastic pipe.

Over this you can put sheet plastic or polyester floating row cover, depending on how cold you predict it will be. Leave the ends of your hoop house open or closed, again depending on your weather forecast. This should protect the small cuttings easily during winter. If you cover with plastic, you’ll need to water them occasionally. Next spring, you can remove the covering system and store it to put in place next fall.

Q: It looks like there’s a shortage of Milorganite. I use it almost exclusively in my landscape. Is there any other all-in-one fertilizer that comes close to it? Betsy Ludlow, Woodstock

A: Milorganite fertilizer is made from composted sewage sludge in Milwaukee. In the short term, you’ll just have to call local nurseries to check shipments. In the long term, if you have friends up there, remind them to eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Until supply equals demand you could substitute Espoma Holly-tone or Dr. Earth All Purpose Fertilizer for Milorganite on all your landscape plants.

Listen to Walter Reeves Saturday mornings on News 95.5 FM and AM750 WSB. Visit his website, www.walterreeves.com, follow him on Twitter @walterreeves, on Pinterest, or join his Facebook Fan Page at bit.ly/georgiagardener for more garden tips.

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