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Be careful with leaf removal over grass seedlings

For gardeners on the lookout for plants with multiseason interest, this perennial euphorbia merits examination.
For gardeners on the lookout for plants with multiseason interest, this perennial euphorbia merits examination. (Amy Davis, Baltimore Sun photo)

My new grass seedlings are very thin and fragile. Now tree leaves are falling on them. How can I remove leaves without disturbing the seedlings? Will they grow under the leaves? I don't want to walk on the grass yet.

Falling leaves are one reason why it is best to sow grass seed early in fall, even in late August, so it is mature enough to withstand leaf removal. Leaves must be removed because grass (both new and mature) must have sunlight to survive. Don't walk on your grass when it is soggy. For leaf removal, your best option is a leaf blower. You can also try raking gently or, if the area is small enough, covering it with bird/deer netting or similar metal screening and periodically shaking off the leaves.

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This is the first time I've planted Brussels sprouts, and I have no sprouts! The plants are about 21/2 feet high with big, healthy leaves. Should I have planted in spring? Where are my sprouts?

You were correct to grow Brussels sprouts for fall harvest. Cool weather during maturity is essential for good flavor and quality. The sprouts, like miniature cabbages, grow in each leaf axil (where the leaf is attached to the main stem of the plant). You should see some small ones forming by now; the lowest sprouts mature first. To hasten the development of the sprouts, you can remove the lowest leaves, which will direct growth to sprouts instead of leaves. The transplants should be set out in the garden around mid-July in Central Maryland to have time to mature. There is complete information on growing each kind of vegetable on the Grow It Eat It section of the Home and Garden Information Center website.

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Plant of the week

Euphorbia Mrs. Robb's bonnet

Euphorbia amygdaloides 'robbiae'

For gardeners on the lookout for plants with multiseason interest, this perennial euphorbia merits examination. In spring and summer, rosettes of leaves are a shiny, deep green, a good backdrop for sprays of chartreuse flowers. It dazzles with rich purple shades in fall and still provides structure in a winter garden. This 18- to 24-inch euphorbia wants sun to part shade. Give it average garden moisture and soil, not too acid. It will tolerate drought. A big plus is that it's deer-resistant, like most euphorbia. Do be careful of the stem sap, which can irritate skin. Wear gloves when handling it.

—Ellen Nibali

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