Garden Detective

Jessica Damiano's award-winning garden blog gets to the root of things.

Planting tomatoes too early

Here's one from the mailbag that probably will be of help to many of you who got antsy because of all the warm weather and jumped the gun.

Hi, Jessica,

I planted some tomatoes and eggplants in pots, but I am afraid I started a bit too soon. I probably should have waited another week. Any suggestions?  — Loyda Fiorenza, Seaford

If they are outdoors, bring them in and keep them...

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Zipper spiders: the circle of life in Islip

A zipper spider zips her web in reader

(Credit: Handout)

Dear Jessica:

A few weeks ago you published a picture of a zipper spider from one of your readers. A zipper spider was living in my garden a few years ago. When we got up one morning the following June, we got a surprise: baby zippers! The sac had been put in a sheltered corner near our garage and front porch.

There were hundreds of babies. When we got home from work one day,...

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Can hydrangeas be safely pruned now?


Dear Jessica,

My wife did not want me to touch the hydrangeas (macrophylla), and now it is too late to prune. What can I do at this late time? Do I just leave them as is? Or can I cut back a little. I cut them back to the ground last year and only had one flower. Please advise so I don't get in trouble with my wife again. Thanks Gene Okray

Dear Gene,

The most you can do now without...

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Mailbag: When is it best to harvest garlic?

Hi Jessica, have some questions about growing your own garlic. I planted my organic bulbs last fall, and just about every one had sprouted. I cut off the scapes last week and had some amazing roasted-scape mashed potatoes. Some of the leaves are almost all browned, so I figured I'd dig some up to see how they are progressing. Not much of a bulb. Is it too early to harvest? Will they grow more if...

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Mailbag: How to prune evergreens

I have a few English Ilex which are at least 15 years old and are much too large. I would like to cut them way back. When is the proper time to cut them? Also, when is a good time to cut a baby blue spruce? -- Owen Costello Spruce trees seldom require pruning. But if you believe yours does, identify the branches you want to cut back, and trim each to where side buds are visible. This...

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Mailbag: Roses and dahlias

It's snowing today so we're not going to head outside for any gardening. Let's open up the mailbag instead and get some questions resolved before the warm weather returns:

Hi Jessica: Happy Spring :)..I look forward to your article in Newsday every week and follow your monthly calender. But I was wondering when the best time to plant dahlia bulbs, now that it is spring. I took them out of...

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