Transplant birch trees in the spring
Plant of the week: Arugula (Jon Traunfeld, Special to The Baltimore Sun / October 25, 2007)
In general, you can transplant until the ground freezes. Go ahead and transplant the crape myrtle. The birch, however, is on a short list of trees that are exceptions to the rule. It should be transplanted in the spring.
Suddenly I have a new weed everywhere in my beds and lawn. It has green clusters of flowers on stems coming out of the joints. Leaves have jagged edges. Seems to be an annual, and I pull it repeatedly, but how did it get here?
From the picture you submitted, this looks like mulberry weed, which once was relatively rare but seems to be coming in on nursery plants. Whenever you purchase a plant, pull any weed seedlings in the pot. Watch the base of the plant carefully for the first season at least, and immediately pull up any seedlings that you do not recognize.
A spider made a huge web outside my window. I looked on the Internet, and I think it's a poisonous brown recluse. What should I do?
Don't panic, because it's not a brown recluse. The last thing a shy recluse would do is venture into an exposed location like a window. Plus, it doesn't spin a web. Brown recluse spiders live typically in the Midwest and Southwest, but as far east as Tennessee. Their body is a mere quarter-inch with a unique violin-shaped spot on the body part behind the head. It's a tiny spot but not often seen, because a brown recluse strenuously avoids being around any human activity.
Maryland spiders have feasted on many insects this season, especially brown marmorated stink bugs. Be glad your spider helps to intercept them before they get into your house. We have a nice fact sheet on Maryland spiders with color photos on the HGIC website: hgic.umd.edu/_media/documents/hg9.pdf.
Plant of the week
Arugula, Rocket Salad
Arugula has "rocketed" to popularity in recent years. An easy late-season crop for home gardeners, the spicy, peppery leaves are often described as "nutty." They add a zesty punch when raw in salads or cooked. Maybe that's why ancient Egyptians and Romans considered arugula seed oil to be an aphrodisiac. Plant seeds every few weeks in either early spring or early fall. Thin seedlings to 6-9 inches apart. Harvest the green, deeply cut, compound leaves when plants reach 8 to 10 inches, about six weeks after planting. To encourage more leaf production, continuously harvest young leaves. — Jane Talarico