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Mlle. Zabzie

A Gardening Thread

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It's March!  This is exciting because it is no longer utterly futile to be thinking about my garden (only mildly futile...).

1.  Once the snow finally melts (hah!), I want to get some compost and other soil prep in my raised beds.  I also need to assess the damage on everything else perennial.

2.  I can start looking for my bulbs poking up.  I have snowdrops and crocus for early, daffodils, then tulips, then allium and iris.  Next fall, I plan to put in a bunch more iris.

3.  I can start to dream about early spring pots - mainly pansies, and looking hopefully at my peonies.

4.  I can start to dream about my annual beds and my vegetable garden.  (And can watch the bloomset on my blueberries, and keep my fingers crossed on my strawberries and asparagus).

I'm planting in US Zone 6b.  For veggies I've historically planted cucumbers, Okra, tomatoes, peppers, beans, peas, onions, garlic, carrots, squash, melons.  I want to get at least one root crop in the ground in April.  Also am going to try early peas this year.  Other ideas?  I wish I liked to eat eggplant/aubergine more.  Other ideas?

For annual flowers, I tend towards easy, and, if not in my fenced backyard, deer-proof.  I like things that are good for pollinators and birds.  I have had bad luck with impatiens (either are deer snack or I have too much sun).  I have had beautiful zinnias, sunflowers, flowering tobacco, snapdragons, asters, cosmos, poppies, cleome (omg, all the cleome - they aren't kidding when they say it self-seeds)

I want to do better with salvia, ranunculus, marigolds, begonias, nasturtium.

I also want to get better about design.  Sometimes what I do works, sometimes it just .... doesn't.  

Anyone want to trade ideas and discuss?

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I've just had my whole lawn ripped out and replaced with fake grass and a massive patio. The lawn was on top of shit soil and looked awful. Everyone in my estate pretty much has to do the same. I've got some raised beds around the perimeter and have paid an expert to do the planting plan. My request was for minimum upkeep. 

I would love to do something wonderful with the space, but I dont have the skills or the time currently. The only thing I do manage is the herb beds, they are worth the effort. 

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Posted (edited)

I have so many experiments I want to do with merging various hot peppers in different pots. Putting a ghost pepper plant in a pot with other lesser hot peppers seemed to spike them. I hope I get the same affect when I put one in with the banana peppers. And I'm getting better at growing tomatoes in small spaces.

Fresh homemade salsa, here I come (in like three to four months, earliest probably)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Edited by Tywin et al.

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Zabz, do you like beets? Or kohlrabi? Beet greens are better than spinach.

I've become very fond of dahlias. You have to dig them up and store them over the winter, which I can't bother to do. I buy a bag of them at Costco, they sell them with two colors, sometimes shades of the same color, sometimes a white and a color. If what I plant this year turns out to be beautiful, I'll try digging them up for replanting.

I have gotten into the habit of planting one cherry tomato plant. It seems like all the varieties end up with zillions of cherry tomatoes on them and they are good until very late in the season. Sauce made with cherry tomatoes is very nice, full of bright flavors!

And different kinds of lettuce, over the years. Recently leaf lettuce has been my favorite. Sprinkle some seeds early and add more every month.

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I’m embarrassingly ignorant but want to know more and do more.  I grew up with a pretty good garden but my role was mainly as directed labor.  My mom had all the knowledge.  I need to be able to plan our garden or it won’t happen.

Unfortunately my wife is actively hostile to  almost all fauna and flora.  She’d have a full acre of paved patio if I would allow her.  And she only likes cut flowers indoors because living, breathing flowers outside attract insects.  She loves tulips but won’t let me plant any, despite having a deer fence.  She thinks it will just produce more chipmunks.  (She may be right).  Narcissi are critter-proof but she doesn’t like them.  We usually do elevated planters of chrysanthemums in the late summer to early fall.  I could persuade her to do more flowers in planters for short seasons earlier in the summer.

My first spring project is to feed all of my immature trees.  It makes them happy.  I get an enormous sense of well-being when my trees are happy.  We’ll probably make some changes to our shrubs directly in front of our house; the oak leaf hydrangeas at a minimum are too sprawling for my wife’s desire for neatness, and their foliage, color and (lack of) blooms are prettying uninteresting.  The boxwoods, dogwoods, hydrangeas and the ornamental grass are ok, but lacking some bold color.  I’m think of adding a dwarf Japanese maple for some color without getting too tall in that location. 

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47 minutes ago, Fragile Bird said:

Zabz, do you like beets? Or kohlrabi? Beet greens are better than spinach.

I've become very fond of dahlias. You have to dig them up and store them over the winter, which I can't bother to do. I buy a bag of them at Costco, they sell them with two colors, sometimes shades of the same color, sometimes a white and a color. If what I plant this year turns out to be beautiful, I'll try digging them up for replanting.

I have gotten into the habit of planting one cherry tomato plant. It seems like all the varieties end up with zillions of cherry tomatoes on them and they are good until very late in the season. Sauce made with cherry tomatoes is very nice, full of bright flavors!

And different kinds of lettuce, over the years. Recently leaf lettuce has been my favorite. Sprinkle some seeds early and add more every month.

I have failed at beets every time I have tried.  Basically, some critter (I think chipmunk or groundhog) loves the leaves and eats them to the ground.  I may try peppermint oil and some other deterrents this year.  But I’ve never had good luck.

I’ve also historically failed with lettuce (and cauliflower).  I even tried putting straw over my lettuce this year and still, nothing.  I had three semi successful broccoli plants last year, but the pest control was out of control.  Cabbage worms don’t come to play, that’s for sure.  I am trying to be relatively organic in my gardening, but this year hit up some of the spinosads (still technically organic).

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1 minute ago, Iskaral Pust said:

I’m embarrassingly ignorant but want to know more and do more.  I grew up with a pretty good garden but my role was mainly as directed labor.  My mom had all the knowledge.  I need to be able to plan our garden or it won’t happen.

Unfortunately my wife is actively hostile to  almost all fauna and flora.  She’d have a full acre of paved patio if I would allow her.  And she only likes cut flowers indoors because living, breathing flowers outside attract insects.  She loves tulips but won’t let me plant any, despite having a deer fence.  She thinks it will just produce more chipmunks.  (She may be right).  Narcissi are critter-proof but she doesn’t like them.  We usually do elevated planters of chrysanthemums in the late summer to early fall.  I could persuade her to do more flowers in planters for short seasons earlier in the summer.

My first spring project is to feed all of my immature trees.  It makes them happy.  I get an enormous sense of well-being when my trees are happy.  We’ll probably make some changes to our shrubs directly in front of our house; the oak leaf hydrangeas at a minimum are too sprawling for my wife’s desire for neatness, and their foliage, color and (lack of) blooms are prettying uninteresting.  The boxwoods, dogwoods, hydrangeas and the ornamental grass are ok, but lacking some bold color.  I’m think of adding a dwarf Japanese maple for some color without getting too tall in that location. 

Your wife would be appalled at our property.  We let our front yard (which is basically wet meadow) just grow grass - only mowed it once in the middle of the season.  Great wildlife viewing opportunities though.  I have climbing roses rambling over a pergola between the driveway and the back yard.  I planted a huge drift of wildflowers to screen the back yard from the driveway.  Loved it so much I’m going to do it again this year.  I have out bird feeders, which, in fact attract rodents (but keep the feeders far enough away from the house that hopefully that isn’t my particular problem - 100 year old house has holes though).  I am ok with dandelions and clover and don’t let the lawn guys over-maintain our back yard.  We do tick treat though (aggressively).  

We did have ALL THE CHIPMUNKS in 2020.  It was apparently a banner year because of the mild winter and abundance of food.  They were bold.  We also have a family of groundhogs that live in the culvert under our driveway.  We named them Bob and Susan.  I put in more tulips in the fall.  We will see if they lived or if the squirrels/chipmunks dug them up (they were well mulched, so I have some hope?).

My answer to the current problem last year ended up being peppermint oil (which works better than you think), and trying to attract predators (I HATE snakes, but I’m live and let live as long as they are not copperheads or rattlers, stay outside, and eat chipmunks and baby groundhogs).  We have pretty good raptor coverage:  Rowena the red-tailed, the Ravens (who need names; but also their parents), a red-shouldered hawk who is un-named, and theoretically owls (saw a barred owl and have heard them before).  The owl box is to attract more.  There are foxes, coyote and bobcat behind us, but I don’t think they come into the deer-fenced back yard where the bulk of my garden resides (per our trail cam).  

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49 minutes ago, Mlle. Zabzie said:

Your wife would be appalled at our property.  We let our front yard (which is basically wet meadow) just grow grass - only mowed it once in the middle of the season.  Great wildlife viewing opportunities though.  I have climbing roses rambling over a pergola between the driveway and the back yard.  I planted a huge drift of wildflowers to screen the back yard from the driveway.  Loved it so much I’m going to do it again this year.  I have out bird feeders, which, in fact attract rodents (but keep the feeders far enough away from the house that hopefully that isn’t my particular problem - 100 year old house has holes though).  I am ok with dandelions and clover and don’t let the lawn guys over-maintain our back yard.  We do tick treat though (aggressively).  

We did have ALL THE CHIPMUNKS in 2020.  It was apparently a banner year because of the mild winter and abundance of food.  They were bold.  We also have a family of groundhogs that live in the culvert under our driveway.  We named them Bob and Susan.  I put in more tulips in the fall.  We will see if they lived or if the squirrels/chipmunks dug them up (they were well mulched, so I have some hope?).

My answer to the current problem last year ended up being peppermint oil (which works better than you think), and trying to attract predators (I HATE snakes, but I’m live and let live as long as they are not copperheads or rattlers, stay outside, and eat chipmunks and baby groundhogs).  We have pretty good raptor coverage:  Rowena the red-tailed, the Ravens (who need names; but also their parents), a red-shouldered hawk who is un-named, and theoretically owls (saw a barred owl and have heard them before).  The owl box is to attract more.  There are foxes, coyote and bobcat behind us, but I don’t think they come into the deer-fenced back yard where the bulk of my garden resides (per our trail cam).  

It sounds peaceful and bucolic.  

We have a nesting pair of hawks in the neighborhood, but no shortage of chipmunks or squirrels regardless.  There are old Connecticut stone walls on the hillside just above our garden, which have a huge colony of chipmunks to reinvade our garden if we’re ever running low.  I tried peppermint oil to keep the chipmunks away from the shrubs right next to our house, but it didn’t bother them much.  (throwing out my shaving water on the shrub roots seems to bother them more).

We spray for ticks and mosquitoes.  I don’t like having pesticides in our environment but there is too much disease risk now.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Iskaral Pust said:

I’m embarrassingly ignorant but want to know more and do more.  I grew up with a pretty good garden but my role was mainly as directed labor.  My mom had all the knowledge.  I need to be able to plan our garden or it won’t happen.

Unfortunately my wife is actively hostile to  almost all fauna and flora.  She’d have a full acre of paved patio if I would allow her.  And she only likes cut flowers indoors because living, breathing flowers outside attract insects.  She loves tulips but won’t let me plant any, despite having a deer fence.  She thinks it will just produce more chipmunks.  (She may be right).  Narcissi are critter-proof but she doesn’t like them.  We usually do elevated planters of chrysanthemums in the late summer to early fall.  I could persuade her to do more flowers in planters for short seasons earlier in the summer.

My first spring project is to feed all of my immature trees.  It makes them happy.  I get an enormous sense of well-being when my trees are happy.  We’ll probably make some changes to our shrubs directly in front of our house; the oak leaf hydrangeas at a minimum are too sprawling for my wife’s desire for neatness, and their foliage, color and (lack of) blooms are prettying uninteresting.  The boxwoods, dogwoods, hydrangeas and the ornamental grass are ok, but lacking some bold color.  I’m think of adding a dwarf Japanese maple for some color without getting too tall in that location. 

you could try growing tulips in pots then once they are over and have died down you can store them in a shed for the summer.  Get them out when you see daffodils beginning to poke though the ground.  (obviously not your daffodils since your not allowed them).  This may stop the chipmucks destroying them?  it stops our squirrels.

Lillies are also an easy thing to grow in containers, and can be very impressive in the summer.  be careful though as the pollen is poisonous so not good if you have young children or pets.  - I'm guessing the poisonous nature may keep the critters away.   you will need to protect the bulbs over winter,  but you won't need to get these out of the shed (or where ever) unitl after your Tulips have finished.

 

 

You could try male Pee as a vermin deterrent.  Just mark out your territory.  It works with foxes.

Don't use reproductive able female  Pee (we have different hormones and may end up attracting)

Edited by Pebble thats Stubby

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1 hour ago, Iskaral Pust said:

It sounds peaceful and bucolic.  

We have a nesting pair of hawks in the neighborhood, but no shortage of chipmunks or squirrels regardless.  There are old Connecticut stone walls on the hillside just above our garden, which have a huge colony of chipmunks to reinvade our garden if we’re ever running low.  I tried peppermint oil to keep the chipmunks away from the shrubs right next to our house, but it didn’t bother them much.  (throwing out my shaving water on the shrub roots seems to bother them more).

We spray for ticks and mosquitoes.  I don’t like having pesticides in our environment but there is too much disease risk now.

It is very peaceful and bucolic.  We have stone walls too (snakes love them).  We are actually right on the Connecticut border (I can basically hike into Connecticut), so you probably aren't that far from us (we're about 15 min from Ridgefield, 25 min from Stamford and Danbury, and 30 min from Greenwich).  

59 minutes ago, Pebble thats Stubby said:

you could try growing tulips in pots then once they are over and have died down you can store them in a shed for the summer.  Get them out when you see daffodils beginning to poke though the ground.  (obviously not your daffodils since your not allowed them).  This may stop the chipmucks destroying them?  it stops our squirrels.

Lillies are also an easy thing to grow in containers, and can be very impressive in the summer.  be careful though as the pollen is poisonous so not good if you have young children or pets.  - I'm guessing the poisonous nature may keep the critters away.   you will need to protect the bulbs over winter,  but you won't need to get these out of the shed (or where ever) unitl after your Tulips have finished.

 

 

You could try male Pee as a vermin deterrent.  Just mark out your territory.  It works with foxes.

Don't use reproductive able female  Pee (we have different hormones and may end up attracting)

Deer LOVE daylillies.  LOVE them.  They are like extra special deer dessert.  Lillies only live in the deer fenced portion of our yard.  Apparently they don't like Calla Lillies as much?  I dunno, afraid to try....

 

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5 hours ago, BigFatCoward said:

The only thing I do manage is the herb beds, they are worth the effort. 

Indeed. :pimp:

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1 hour ago, Mlle. Zabzie said:

It is very peaceful and bucolic.  We have stone walls too (snakes love them).  We are actually right on the Connecticut border (I can basically hike into Connecticut), so you probably aren't that far from us (we're about 15 min from Ridgefield, 25 min from Stamford and Danbury, and 30 min from Greenwich). 

Yep, we must be pretty close.  We’re in one of the coastal towns of the CT Gold Coast.  I guess that means your gardening choices should all work for me too, although we are so close to the LI Sound that it might change the soil slightly.

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20 minutes ago, Iskaral Pust said:

Yep, we must be pretty close.  We’re in one of the coastal towns of the CT Gold Coast.  I guess that means your gardening choices should all work for me too, although we are so close to the LI Sound that it might change the soil slightly.

Yes - think that is right, and I think you on the one had will get the benefit of the gulfstream, but on the other have the detriment of salt air.  Your hydrangeas, for instance, are probably better than mine.

It's kind of fun.  I grew up a half zone south, and it is interesting the difference in what I can grow.  And my Aunt is a full zone south and that is a huge difference still.  I need to summon @Elder Sister - she's way down in basically the tropics as compared to me and it is SO different.

(The Home Goods in Westport is known far and wide for being amazing, btw.)

 

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, Iskaral Pust said:

 

We spray for ticks and mosquitoes.  I don’t like having pesticides in our environment but there is too much disease risk now.

Ok, I will have more pertinent thoughts about gardening to share in this thread later - but FUCK TICKS. I recently moved back east from Texas and while the mosquitos there were pretty bad we never had an issue with ticks and I kind of forgot about them existing. 

Then, last spring, back on East Coast.... holy shit. With Covid all we could really do was hike and my poor wife would find a tick nearly every time we went into any forested area. I got pretty good at identifying them. There’s a university, Rhode Island I’m pretty sure, where you can submit tick photos and they will identify them for you so you can figure out what diseases you might need to be worried about and I believe they use the data you submit to track activity and whatnot. You can mail them the actual tick too, but I haven’t done that ... yet. :lol:

All of the ones we found were the Lone Star tick. Apparently they are highly aggressive little fuckers, especially in the earlier stages of their lives which coincide with late Spring. Ironically we never got a single tick in the Lone Star State - never even saw one - yet probably removed 6 or 7 Lone Star ticks acquired from Eastern forests over the course of May/June of last year. They are very small and look a lot like a deer tick. If I hadn’t started submitting photos to the tick scientists I would have been 100% convinced they were Deer ticks. The differences are subtle but after enough submissions to URI I could start to parse them out myself. Lone Stars don’t carry Lyme, thankfully, but they can carry a few other diseases, including the bizarre one that makes you allergic to red meat. I think the dog was the main carrier because he would go off in tall grass and stuff and then, I assume, they would jump from him to my wife. Mysteriously I never got a single one. That prompted me to do a little internet research on whether or not ticks might be more drawn to certain people over others. Hormones? Blood type? Don’t think it’s coincidence that she got a bunch of them and I got none but I didn’t find much on the topic.

Anyway, I need to consider my options for spraying my yard and weighing that against how harmful the chemicals might be to the fam. vs getting something like Lyme. Spraying for mosquitos might not be a bad idea either since I’m contemplating a rain barrel and I’m sure that will draw them in if I don’t take every precaution. What did y’all spray? Did you hire someone? We live in town so I’m not sure it’s totally necessary but my wife seems to be a magnet for them and has a penicillin allergy that would make Lyme trickier to treat. And I don’t want to deal w/ the baby getting them either.

ETA - oh yea one more critter anecdote that I find kind of interesting. When in Texas I did a lot of field work in remote parts of Texas - all over the state but mostly central/ west. I was often wandering around in scrubland, out on the llano estacado of the panhandle, up on top of mesas measuring well water depth, kicking over rocks in the Chihuahuan desert, pretty much multiple times a year for 6 years. Never saw one snake. Not one. This summer in Virginia, we must have seen one about every other time we went out into the woods. I nearly stepped on a couple! I guess the environment is less harsh, there’s more shade, more water, more reason for them to not be hiding during the day? But you think Texas, you think rattlesnakes - and they are definitely 100% out there but the only rattler I’ve ever seen in the wild was a Timber rattler in the VA / WV border area. You just don’t seem to casually see them like one might imagine.

Edited by S John

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3 hours ago, Mlle. Zabzie said:

 

(The Home Goods in Westport is known far and wide for being amazing, btw.)

 

Really?  The furniture store on the Post Road?  It doesn’t stand out.  We like modern and contemporary, so RH has been soaking us for shocking amounts. 

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1 hour ago, S John said:

Anyway, I need to consider my options for spraying my yard and weighing that against how harmful the chemicals might be to the fam. vs getting something like Lyme. Spraying for mosquitos might not be a bad idea either since I’m contemplating a rain barrel and I’m sure that will draw them in if I don’t take every precaution. What did y’all spray? Did you hire someone? We live in town so I’m not sure it’s totally necessary but my wife seems to be a magnet for them and has a penicillin allergy that would make Lyme trickier to treat. And I don’t want to deal w/ the baby getting them either.

Our landscaper does the spraying for us.  I think in CT you have to be licensed to be able to buy those pesticides.  That’s true for fungicides too for treating trees.

When spraying for ticks, they use a high pressure spray that reaches 20-30ft beyond our property line.  That gives you a buffer of several months before any ticks will reach your property at the pace they move. 

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What usually does the trick for rain barrels is a tight lid, the larvae need sunlight (it's also a good safety precaution as kids ans even adults who fall head first into a rain barrel can easily drown because they cannot get out. Also, try to attract bats with special nesting boxes, they eat more mosquitoes than any but the worst sprays can kill. 

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9 hours ago, S John said:

I think the dog was the main carrier because he would go off in tall grass and stuff and then, I assume, they would jump from him to my wife. Mysteriously I never got a single one. That prompted me to do a little internet research on whether or not ticks might be more drawn to certain people over others. Hormones? Blood type? Don’t think it’s coincidence that she got a bunch of them and I got none but I didn’t find much on the topic.

Interesting. Ticks are a problem in the Scottish Highlands also. My wife has to be very careful there (she has a special tool for pulling them out of your skin in one piece) but I also have never had one.

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Alright I'm going to need you rich fiends with your hyde park sized gardens/ patios to give me some money so I can also get a garden/ balcony.

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11 hours ago, S John said:

Anyway, I need to consider my options for spraying my yard and weighing that against how harmful the chemicals might be to the fam. vs getting something like Lyme. Spraying for mosquitos might not be a bad idea either since I’m contemplating a rain barrel and I’m sure that will draw them in if I don’t take every precaution. What did y’all spray? Did you hire someone? We live in town so I’m not sure it’s totally necessary but my wife seems to be a magnet for them and has a penicillin allergy that would make Lyme trickier to treat. And I don’t want to deal w/ the baby getting them either.

ETA - oh yea one more critter anecdote that I find kind of interesting. When in Texas I did a lot of field work in remote parts of Texas - all over the state but mostly central/ west. I was often wandering around in scrubland, out on the llano estacado of the panhandle, up on top of mesas measuring well water depth, kicking over rocks in the Chihuahuan desert, pretty much multiple times a year for 6 years. Never saw one snake. Not one. This summer in Virginia, we must have seen one about every other time we went out into the woods. I nearly stepped on a couple! I guess the environment is less harsh, there’s more shade, more water, more reason for them to not be hiding during the day? But you think Texas, you think rattlesnakes - and they are definitely 100% out there but the only rattler I’ve ever seen in the wild was a Timber rattler in the VA / WV border area. You just don’t seem to casually see them like one might imagine.

You should think about it.  Like I said, I'm kind of a hippy dippy organic gardener, I make my own compost, etc. etc., but I do draw the line at tick risk.  And snakes.  I really hate snakes.  We have lots of them.  Most of them are harmless but they completely freak the f*ck out of me every time I see them.

9 hours ago, Iskaral Pust said:

Really?  The furniture store on the Post Road?  It doesn’t stand out.  We like modern and contemporary, so RH has been soaking us for shocking amounts. 

Yes.  It's like a TJ Maxx for furniture (same company even I think), but the Westport one is known for having a lot of good high end inventory (of all styles).

We have some RH, but I adore color, so it's not totally my jam for more than a couple of basic pieces (we are more transitional than fully modern).  Our bed is actually RH, but we reupholstered the back to be colorful rather than beige linen....  Anyhow, CB2 for mass market for us for the color aspect.... 

9 hours ago, Iskaral Pust said:

Our landscaper does the spraying for us.  I think in CT you have to be licensed to be able to buy those pesticides.  That’s true for fungicides too for treating trees.

When spraying for ticks, they use a high pressure spray that reaches 20-30ft beyond our property line.  That gives you a buffer of several months before any ticks will reach your property at the pace they move. 

Same, except it is our tree guy who sprays for ticks.  We do a combination of chemicals and cedar oil so that it isn't all chemicals all the time.  It seems to work.

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