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Terry’s Tips

Sharp tools make deadheading, digging and many other gardening chores faster and easier. Read my article on "Getting Your Garden Tools in Shape" for tips on how to clean and sharpen your pruners, spades and all the rest of your garden tools.

Mole Assassin Extraordinaire

May 29th, 2011 by Administrator | 2

Last year I tried living with the moles and not trapping them. It didn’t work. See last season’s article for why I quit trapping and also the photos of the debacle, but the bottom line is that I am back trapping and I already have eight moles under my belt this spring. I am truly the “Mole Assassin Extraordinaire”!

How did I get so good at trapping moles? Well, several years ago I hired Mike the Mole Man to come and get rid of the multitude of moles that had taken up residence in my yard and gardens. Mike is legendary and killing moles is his bread and butter. He charges 35 bucks for each dead mole and he is happy to show you each and every one of them before you pony up the dough.

Needless to say, by the end of the summer I had paid Mike almost $500 for dead moles. That was with the discount Mike gave me of only $25 a mole after I hit $245 when Mike was feeling a bit sorry for me. I consider it a great investment though, because I watched the master at work and I learned.

Not that Mike isn’t crafty. He knows that if homeowners learn how to catch the moles themselves he’s out of business, so he steals in at dawn or when he thinks you aren’t there and sets and empties his traps. He even turns his back to the windows of your house so you can’t see what he is doing. I was craftier though. When he didn’t know I was home I was watching from my upper level window to see what he did differently and why he is the best mole killer around.

His biggest secret is that he uses a scissor trap rather than the normal plunger or hoop traps that most of us try and then fail with miserably. I couldn’t find the same traps locally, but eventually found the same ones he uses at Amazon. I bought six of the traps and went to work.

Set Scissor Mole Trap

A Set Scissor Mole Trap

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Do Washers and Dryers Kill Ticks?

May 25th, 2011 by Administrator | 0

Does washing and drying your gardening clothes kill ticks that have hitchhiked into your home? In a word–no. I recently read that ticks will not die when run through the washing machine, but that 30 minutes in the dryer will kill them. Not so. I opened the dryer door a few days ago to remove my gardening clothes and what did I see crawling around on my jeans?  A deer tick alive and well and ready to get to business on me.

In the future I will use the sanitize feature on my dryer for my gardening clothes and hope that cremates the nasty little arachnids.

I have never seen a year for ticks like this one. I try to be as conscientious as possible and always leave my gardening clothes outside so I don’t bring the ticks in with me. As soon as I am inside, I head straight into the shower and use a washcloth to make sure I have rubbed off any ticks that might be trying to attach themselves.  I even use rubber bands around the bottom of my jeans so they can’t crawl up my legs. All that, and I have still had four ticks attach themselves this spring. Four ticks!

I can only surmise that my puppies are bringing ticks into our house and when I have them on my lap the ticks are finding a more amenable host. It sucks–literally! My plan is to wait until I no longer find ticks roaming around the house then visit my doctor for another round of antibiotic. I have heard too many horror stories from other gardeners who ended up with a host of horrible and permanently debilitating symptoms after years of having Lyme Disease without knowing it.

I guess I will also have to bite the bullet and start spraying my clothing with a tick repellent that contains Permethrin before I head out into the gardens.  I might even spend the extra bucks and get the Insect Shield apparel that is treated with Permethrin that stays in the garment even after 70 launderings. Hey, ya gotta do, what ya gotta do.

For more info on tick prevention, visit Read more about my trials and tribulations with ticks HERE.

Deer Tick Bite

My worst deer tick bite

The Macy’s Flower Show

Apr 3rd, 2011 by Administrator | 0

If you live in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area you have to go see the Towers of Flowers Show at the Downtown Macy’s Department Store.  My family always looked forward to going to the Dayton’s Flower Show there every spring, because they would fill the entire 8th floor Auditorium with themed floral displays. Even the kids like going because often there would be themes like Babar the Elephant that they could enjoy, as well. When Macy’s first took over though, they decided that instead of doing the show in the auditorium, they would spread the floral displays all through the store so people would be encouraged to move from floor to floor in order to see everything. Not good. I just wasn’t impressed and haven’t been back for quite a few years as a result.

This year though my daughter asked me if I wanted to try it again with my granddaughter so I decided to give it one more shot. I am so glad I did because it is amazing! I really felt like I was back in the old Dayton’s days when money was no object and anything was possible. If you haven’t gone for a few years, I heartily recommend making a visit soon to the Macy’s Towers of Flowers Show. You will be glad you did.

You can see more photos of the show HERE.

Macy's Tower of Flowers Show

Macy's Towers of Flowers Show runs March 27th to April 10th, 2011

New 2011 Plant Varieties

Mar 26th, 2011 by Administrator | 0

Looks to be a late spring here in MN this year, but it is never too early to start making a wish list for that welcome day when we can begin our frequent forays to the nurseries and garden centers. Here are just a few of the new varieties of perennials, flowering annuals and vegetables that you might look for when you are out and about finding plants to fill your gardens.

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Field of Dreams Ornamental Corn

Field of Dreams Ornamental Corn

Shrub Containers

Mar 24th, 2011 by Administrator | 1

I have not been as successful with container plantings as I would like. I usually end up spending over $30 per large deck container just for the plants and rarely do the containers look the way I had hoped that they would look at the end of the season.  I’ve finally decided that I am container-challenged so when I saw this photo album on the Proven Winner’s Color Choice Shrub Facebook page…I was excited.  They are colorful, much less costly, and a lot less hassle to plant. I can even take the hardier shrubs out of the containers at the end of the season and plant them into my landscape.

I’m sold.

Black Lace Elderberry with chartreuse sweet potato

Black Lace Elderberry with chartreuse sweet potato

You can find many more flowering shrubs for your pots in Monrovia’s .pdf catalog online or Bailey Nurseries New 2011 Varieties Page.