, Salem, MA


March 14, 2014

North Shore Gardener: Why did my hot pepper seedlings die?


Most rooting hormones are available in small quantities for home use. Certain easy-to-root plants such as impatiens, ivy or geraniums will root just as easily in water. You still have time to try both ways.

Q: I have some beautiful holly bushes (or at least I used to as many people remarked about them). Now I find there is black on the leaves, and the leaves, even the green good ones, are falling off. This never happened before. Are the plants ruined? Should I cut them way back and hope for the best? They are getting sparse looking. Please help.

A: May I please have some more information — is it a blue holly? Have you seen any scale on the tree?

This Week’s Dirt: Coming to your garden this week: March 20 is the first day of spring! It officially happens at 1:14 a.m. EDT. It’s the end of winter and the beginning of a new gardening season with warmer days as the sun climbs higher into the sky.

The first official day of spring gardening is St. Patrick’s Day on the 17th — that’s when it’s time to plant peas. There’s an old saying that if you plant peas tonight in your nightgown, the peas will be superior. And, if a young woman finds nine peas in a single pod, she will find a boyfriend this year.

Since we’re already on Daylight Stretching Time, as some of us prefer to call it, spring also means more daylight hours each day — it’s going to be a great gardening year!


North Shore Gardener by Barbara Barger of Beverly is a feature of Friday’s Lifestyles section. Reach Barbara by email at or write to her c/o The Salem News, 32 Dunham Road, Beverly, MA 01915. Previous North Shore Gardener columns can be found at

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