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Problem & Solution
July/August 2015

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Eliminating Thistle
Problem: What is the best way to get rid of the big thistles with purple flowers?

Phil Johnson

Solution: Of course, you can use a broadleaf killer that is labeled for use on thistle. Just be sure to use a surfactant or dish soap for good coverage. If you just have a few, cut them off with a grubbing hoe just below the first leaf. If you leave just one leaf attached, they are likely to re-sprout and continue to grow. As with any weed, control is easier to achieve when the plants are immature. Once they have begun to flower, they are much harder to kill.

Good Bush, Butterfly
Problem: I recently read online that butterfly bush is invasive and should not be planted. Is this true? Should I pull mine out and get rid of it?

Katrina Lyons

Solution: If you are referring to Buddleia, common name butterfly bush, it is not considered invasive. In fact, it is a beneficial native shrub that attracts butterflies. The only problem with it is it may suffer freeze damage in the northern half of the state. It should survive in your Richmond garden for quite a while and provide a food source for the butterflies and summer beauty for you to enjoy. We say keep it!

Rice Hulls
Problem: Please provide information for using rice hulls for mulch. Can green hulls be used? How long do green hulls have to sit before they are considered ripe/composted? The rice mill said green hulls should not be used for mulch because there is “something” in green hulls that can be harmful to plants and should be used aged/composted. We would like to use the hulls as mulch around fruit trees and blackberry vines.

Ken Sztraky

Solution: Rice hulls should make good mulch, but since we do not know what the “something” in the hulls is that, according to the mill, may be harmful to plants without being composted, we recommend that you find out from the mill what that “something” is before you obtain the hulls. If you do choose to obtain the hulls, we suggest that you follow the recommendation of the mill to compost the rice hulls before using. Another approach would be to locate some hulls derived from organic rice that has not been treated with any toxic chemicals. Rice hulls are used in construction, animal feed, bedding and as a replacement for perlite in growing media.

Armadillo by Morning
Problem: I saw in the new issue that you’ve never trapped an armadillo. I bought a trap at and caught one the first night I put it out. They add armadillo scent to the trap rather than trying to bait it. Works well for me. Thought you might want this info for future reference.

Walking iris.

Joe Ahlers
Valley Mills

Solution: We were a bit skeptical at first, but after viewing the video on the website we ordered a “seasoned” armadillo trap as Joe recommended. We caught an armadillo the second night the trap was set and so far have trapped a total of nine ’dillos in about one month’s time. If you order one from this company, be sure to follow all instructions. They have it down to a T when it comes to trapping armadillos.