Screening vegetable garden keeps away beneficial insects

Can I grow veggies in a fully screened-in garden? I want to eat tomatoes without stink bug spots.

Growing vegetables in a screened garden may reduce light, but the biggest problem is the exclusion of pollinators and beneficial insects. Vegetable plants that require insects for cross-pollination, such as cucumber, muskmelon, squash, pumpkin and watermelon, will not produce crops without them.

Of course, you could hand-pollinate the flowers if you have the time. An organic method of excluding insect pests in the veggie garden is the floating row cover, which you drape directly on the plants.

See our publication, GE 005: Floating Row Cover on the Grow It Eat It website: For more information on control of stink bugs, go to the Plant Diagnostic feature on our Home and Garden Information Center website at

I urgently need help getting rid of a snake in my basement. I saw it, but now I don't know where it is! I've heard of sticky boards to catch snakes. Are you familiar with those?

Most snakes are not only harmless, they rid your property of rodents such as rats, mice and voles. Please do not use sticky board traps, as snakes may suffer cruelly on them. The snake does not want to be in your basement. It needs a moist environment and accidentally found its way indoors.

One easy way to remove the snake is to place a wet bath towel on the basement floor overnight to attract the snake. In the morning, place a trash can on its side by the towel and shove the towel and snake into it with a broom or other tool. Release the snake in a wild area.

Be sure to repair any openings in your home exterior where animals can gain access. We have other good tips for you in our snakes publication, available online or by calling us. You can also call the Department of Natural Resources' wildlife hot line at 877-463-6497 for a list of certified trappers who are equipped to remove your snake.

University of Maryland Extension's Home and Garden Information Center offers free gardening and pest information. Call 800-342-2507 or send a question to the website at

Plant of the week

Koreanspice viburnum

Viburnum carlesii

Walk by this well-mannered shrub in bloom in early spring, and the delightful spicy fragrance will draw you in. Pink buds open to produce clusters of white flowers that engulf the plant. Most deserving of a spot where you will encounter the fragrance (though it can perfume an entire yard), use it in a mixed border, foundation planting, grouping or as a single specimen. Leaves are dark green with a lighter underside, and in autumn they change to a beautiful red to soft purple. It adapts to most sites, from sun to partial shade, and can handle any soil type except those with poor drainage. Koreanspice viburnum ranges in height from 4 feet to 8 feet tall and wide, with a rounded growth habit. It requires little maintenance but can be pruned after flowering. Another plus is that it is one of the viburnums that deer tend to leave alone.

— Debbie Ricigliano

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