The mailman cometh, with compost on his shoes.

Dear Dirt:

Help! Jack Frost is here! What's the best way to extend my tomato-growing season?

James Richardson II


On cold nights, cover each tomato plant with an old bedsheet. Not only does this protect the fruit, it also gives the garden a spooky look for Halloween.

Dear Dirt:

Have you ever stepped on a garden slug barefoot? It's really not as nice as squishing mud through your toes in a pond. Some of the monsters in my sister's yard are 3 inches long.

Sometimes she slices the slugs with a steak knife. Other times she sprinkles salt on them and watches them melt away like the bad witch in "The Wizard of Oz." She even saves the beer from mostly empty cans at a picnic in order to feed her slugs their fatal dose.

I think it might make for a humorous story.

Polly Thornton


Not if you're a slug.

Dear Dirt:

My brother nearly died from lockjaw. The germ that can cause this disease lives in soil fertilized with horse manure, as yours is. Just a scratch can cause an infection, which could prove fatal.

If you haven't been inoculated for lockjaw, I would speak to a doctor. It could save your life.

Alvin Guidaboni

Kingston, Mass.

I saw the doctor, who gave me a tetanus shot. He also told me to lose 20 pounds. Thanks a lot.

Dear Dirt:

I appreciate how you wax poetic over your veggies. I just bet that if your veggies could talk -- which I am sure you already think they do -- they would tell you that they would rather be in your garden than anywhere else on earth.

Your column makes my day. You can see by this confession that my life does not hold a great deal of excitement.

Margot Y. Brilliant


NB Neither does mine. Why do you think I converse with my plants?

Dear Dirt:

The column about vines (Aug. 16) touches on one of my exasperations. Morning glories as good vines? A neighbor planted those pretty-colored vines back when morning glory seeds were regarded as a psychedelic treat. Hybrids, they seed and revert to their basic variety. So what do we have all over the yard? Bindweed, with the small morning glory flower, just like the invader known to Midwest cornfields.

Mary O. Styrt


A5 That's a shame. But I'm glad we're not neighbors.

Dear Dirt:

Some animal has cut off the top of my sunflower! The head was 4 1/2 feet off the ground. Only a few petals and seeds were left. What kind of animal would do this?

Henry Melchionno

Avon, Mass.

Most likely, a hungry squirrel shinned up the sunflower stalk, gnawed off the head and ate the evidence. Either that, or your plant was attacked by Big Bird.

Dear Dirt:

My wife has her heart set on a basement "grow light," with bench for her plant seedlings. I'll not elaborate on the conflict here, other than to state that the sanctity of the basement as "my" space is in jeopardy. But I guess I'll give in.

David Fleckenstein


Sounds like you've been vegetating down there long enough. Time to give something else a chance.

Dear Dirt:

I recycle my newspapers by using them for mulch in my garden. My question is this: Do your gardening columns contain any nutrients not found in the rest of the newspaper?

Janice Rush

Owings Mills

I've been told my stories are full of fertilizer.

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