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Make 'lasagna' in your yard

I want to do a lasagna garden. Will that work over a zoysiagrass lawn?

Garden author Pat Lanza popularized this method of soil preparation and gardening and has coined it "Lasagna Gardening." This is a great time to start a new garden for next year, using this method of alternating layers of newspapers, glass clippings, shredded leaves and compost. Yes, when you cover your present lawn with the layers of the "lasagna," it will kill anything growing below that needs sunlight to survive. For more on this easy method of starting a garden, go to HGIC's website"s "Grow It Eat It" tab, then to Food Gardening 101 — Step 3.

I recently grabbed a weed and my hand felt like it was on fire. I couldn't see any insects. Was it the plant itself? I'm still smarting.

Stinging nettle is a nasty surprise. When you touch the leaves or stem, the hollow hairs inject histamine and other chemicals into your skin that feel like burning. Use gloves to pull it out, roots and all, then bag it. It produces seeds on the stem this time of year. Be sure to remove it before the seeds mature and fall off. Memorize the look of its serrated, corrugated, tapered leaves, so you don't be surprised again.

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


Gossypium herbaceum

This one will stump your gardening friends. The hibiscus-like blooms are available in a variety of pastel colors, and the cultivar 'Red Leaf' grows purple foliage to contrast with the white cotton bolls. Cotton seeds can be soil-sown when soil temperatures approach 55-60 degrees, but, with a maturity date of 160 days, it is suggested that seeds be started indoors in early March. After the last frost date, transplant seedlings in-ground in full sun, or pot for a patio conversation piece. By late summer, colored flowers appear on a 3- to 5-foot plant. Slowly they turn white, followed by a green boll that blackens as it matures. As fibers expand inside the boll, it bursts open exposing white cotton. Dried bolls are great for dried arrangements. — Bob Orazi

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