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“So you plant your garden and decorate your own soul, instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.” — Jorge Luis Borges

Is everyone having a problem keeping up with the weeds? It seems like it never ends since new weeds crop up every day. They are really getting ahead of me. When I get out in the garden, I usually head for the weeds that are blooming first so they do not set seeds, then I try to get the babies.

Crabgrass is popping up all over the yard. I used crabgrass preventer and it is not working as well as I thought it should. Now I try to spend about one hour a day sitting on the lawn and pulling by hand.

Most of the nurseries are having plant sales on perennials, so if you are in the market for more plants, now is the time. Be sure they have been well cared for. If they do not live, it is a waste even if they are half-priced.

I often talk about adding Epsom salts to soil for tomatoes, but there are many more uses for Epsom salts. Epsom salt is a natural compound. For organic gardeners, it is necessary to produce the best fruits, vegetables and flowers. Add Epsom salts to transplanting solution or mix it in to the soil to prevent transplant shock.

For plants that have curling leaves or are turning yellow, add about two tablespoons of Epsom salt to one gallon of water to help. Apply about every two weeks. To deter insects, spray plants with one cup of Epsom salt to five gallons of water. To grow sweeter fruit, tomatoes, peppers, etc., add two tablespoons per gallon of water. To increase pepper yields, add one to two tablespoons mixed in the soil around pepper plants. For large and abundant roses, mix Epsom salt with soil at planting time. If your roses already are established, add two tablespoons mixed in the soil every two weeks or at least monthly.

Epsom salt is pH neutral and very safe. Another little known use is to remove stumps. Drill a hole or two in the stump of a tree and fill with Epsom salt. In a few weeks, you should see the stump start to rot. Lawns also will benefit from about three pounds every 1,250 square feet. If you are not sure how to treat all your garden plants, the rule of thumb is one tablespoon per square foot.

Another remedy from your kitchen is baking soda. Baking soda will kill cabbage worms. Use one cup of flour and one cup of baking soda. Dust brassicas with this recipe. It also kills slugs under hostas, marigolds, cabbages and anywhere slugs are a problem. Baking soda kills small weeds if sprinkled generously. It also sweetens tomatoes when worked in the soil. You can even test the pH of soil by sprinkling the soda on wet soil. If it bubbles, you have acidic soil and you need to incorporate lime. For blueberries, azaleas, rhododendrons or potatoes, you do want a lower pH level.

A new Master Gardener class will be held this fall. For a weekly class that meets 12 times, the cost is $175 with a $25 rebate after the certification process is complete. This class is for gardeners and anyone who would like to be a better gardener or open to someone very new to gardening. Participants must register by Aug. 1. Classes will be held from 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays from Aug. 25 to Nov. 17 in Baraboo. There will be no class Labor Day weekend. For an application, call 608-355-3250.

Contact Phyllis Both by email at pboth@charter.net or by telephone on Monday mornings at the Sauk County UW-Extension office, 608-355-3253.