Garden Dilemmas, Delights & Discoveries, Ask Mary Stone, New Jersey Garden blog
a glass dish filled with red, orange, and brownish hot peppers

Growing HOT Peppers into cool Jelly

Hello fellow readers, I interviewed my lifelong friend Russ and his wife, Sara, from Oakland, Tennessee, about their adventure growing hot peppers in pots and turning them into jelly. I watched them grow up!  Remotely that is when they decided to start their hot pepper seeds indoors.
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an elongated center of a mauve coneflower with fasciation

Fascinating Anomaly of Fasciation

Hello fellow readers. I enjoy being stumped by mysterious and sometimes magnificent garden dilemmas. Dorrie of Lebanon, CT, found my previous column about Deformed Flowers on Black-eyed Susan. The culprit— insects and a pathogen named Aster Yellows Disease (link below). But I had neve
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a cluster of Japanese Beetles looking lifeless

Japanese Beetle Time

Hello fellow readers, Caught in the act! I found the culprit of Carolyn’s holy rose dilemma we spoke about last week. As I arrived with Pyrethrin in hand, there they were, the shiny green and rust-colored beetles chomping away. Yes, indeed, it’s Japanese beetle time. Their arrival bri
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a brick walk leading to a front entrance with pink knock out roses

Rose Remedies

Hello fellow readers, Two unsightly rose dilemmas came to my attention, requiring a revisit of suggested rose remedies. We’ve chatted before about the plethora of rose challenges such as spider mites and aphids that often run amok. Never mind the fungus amongst them like black spot an
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a favorite mulch alternative with large heart-shaped silver leaves outlined by a web of green veins and light purple flowers.

Plant Mulch Alternatives

Hello fellow readers, Last week’s chat about remedies of carpenter ants and termites in mulch brings to mind the best solution of all. Plant mulch alternatives instead—groundcovers, which go beyond everyday ones like pachysandra and vinca minor. First, consider cultural requirem
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a closeup of a white mayapple flower with a pale yellow center

Mayapple of my Eye

Hello fellow readers, While walking along the Paulinskill Rail Trail the last few weeks, a low-lying plant that lines the sooty path in the shadier spots has caught my eye. Mayapple is a native perennial, a desirable one, unbeknownst to me while planting my first comprehensive perenni
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Native Tree and Shrub Replacements

Hello fellow readers, The influx of insects killing stands of trees is heartbreaking. But beyond the losses of our much-loved trees is an opportunity to plant beautiful native trees and shrub replacements. We spoke before about how the emerald ash borer is devastating trees. They say
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A selfie of black sneakers on a lawn filled with sunny yellow dandelions

Benefits of Plantain & Dandelion “Weeds”

Hello fellow readers, Have you ever considered plantain, the flat-leaved weed with spikey seed heads that invade your lawn, a beneficial plant? It was news to me to learn that plantain is a valuable herb, though I’ve known for years that dandelions should be considered welcome l
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a woman in jeans and black boots from the waist down behind a broadfork

Starting a No-till Garden

Hello fellow readers, Last week, we learned about No-till Gardening thanks to Patti Doell of Little Big Farm. She began using the system for her flower farm three years ago and has remarkable results of improved soil, fewer weeds, and increased bounty. I asked if a homeowner wanted to
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yellow forsythia in bloom with the ealry morning making it glow

Forsythia not blooming?

Hello fellow readers, Denise from Mt. Tabor, PA, asked why her forsythia aren’t blooming. You’re not the only one, Denise; mine hasn’t either for over two years. Non-blooming forsythia most often has to do with improper pruning. Though deer browse, not enough sunlight, improper
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