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Use lime to deter squirrels from tomatoes

How can I keep squirrels off my tomatoes?

A very simple old-fashioned way to discourage animals, including deer, from taking a bite out of your tomatoes is to sprinkle a little lime on the fruits. Use powdered agricultural lime. It washes off easily when you harvest. You'll have to reapply after rains, so don't overdo the lime because you don't want to raise your soil pH too high. This method also can be useful on a short term basis to keep deer from eating foliage.

My hedge has gotten completely bare at the bottom over the years. How can I get it to fill in again? I shear it to a V shape twice a year.

Hedges must be wider at the bottom than the top, otherwise the bottom branches and leaves gradually get shaded out. Try to change the shape of your hedge over a few years by careful pruning. Unfortunately, the bottom of your hedge probably will not regenerate foliage.

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

Red-Veined Dock

Rumex sanguineus

With a preference for damp soils, this dramatic foliage plant can be a terrific accent in mixed containers, borders, and along pond margins, but its best use is a container plant in water gardens and ponds. Lance-shaped leaves with striking burgundy veins provide excellent color and texture, so site it where the unique color can be appreciated close up. Dock prefers light shade and grows about 15 inches tall and wide and requires little care other than removing spent foliage and the insignificant flower spikes. This short clumping perennial is usually grown as an annual but, with USDA hardiness to zones 6-8, it can overwinter if given protection. In boggy soils it has been known to take over. — Marian Hengemihle

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