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Published January 04, 2008, 12:00 AM

Not even rubber snakes or moth balls can keep rabbits away

Q: Rabbits are digging their way under my house and nesting. They have holes all around my home. We filled in the holes, but the rabbits came back a few days later and dug new holes. I have tried rubber snakes, moth balls, dried blood and pepper to keep the rabbits away, but nothing has worked. (e-mail reference)

Q: Rabbits are digging their way under my house and nesting. They have holes all around my home. We filled in the holes, but the rabbits came back a few days later and dug new holes. I have tried rubber snakes, moth balls, dried blood and pepper to keep the rabbits away, but nothing has worked. (e-mail reference)

A: Have-A-Heart live traps are what I would suggest using next. These traps usually can be borrowed from the Department of Natural Resources in your state or purchased from a farm supply store. Once you trap a rabbit, you have to decide what to do with the animal. There are recipes for rabbit or you can release the animal out in the country.

Q: Someone told me that I never should eat apples that have sat on the ground. Is this valid? I often pick my golden delicious apples that fell to the ground. Thanks so much for your time. (e-mail reference)

A: Did he or she tell you why? Some orchards will have wind-drop apple sales, which we have participated in several times without problems. Of course, you don't pick up any that are wormy or rotting. In a nutshell, this is another invalid rumor, so enjoy!

Q: I have discovered the beauty of ornamental grasses. However, the only variety I have is Karl Forrester. I have seen one that is taller and has a white plume on it, but the local gardener could not remember the name of it. The gardener was surprised that it was winter hardy for North Dakota. Do you have any suggestions for any ornamental grasses? Can they be planted now or should I wait until spring? My son is an NDSU student. Last summer, he took a walk through the NDSU test garden. He wrote down the names of several of his favorite flowers. Is there a way he can get seed samples or starter plants of any of the flowers he liked? (Hazen, N.D.)

A: I'm with you 100 percent on the beauty of ornamental grasses. There is no better start than the Karl Forrester! The one you are making reference to is called miscanthus sinensis/silberfedher. We also have it growing at the Williston Research Extension Center. Another easily grown ornamental is native switchgrass/panicum virgatum. For a groundcover type, the feeseys form ribbongrass is hard to beat. I am sorry, but we are not allowed to distribute seeds or plants. Our horticulture club has an annual spring sale that is very popular. The sale usually is around the middle of April.

Q: My sister bought an alstromeria (bulb) that bloomed all summer. She took it inside for the winter and now it has a dozen shoots coming up. What do you know about it? (e-mail reference)

A: Not enough to be considered an expert! The plant probably will not get enough light from normal interior lighting conditions during the winter months. The first thing I would suggest is to get a plant light shining directly on the container for 12 continuous hours a day. Next, be sure it is in a warm location, but not hot. Keep it away from a cold and drafty location. Through the winter months, keep the plant moist, but not soggy. Set it outside again after the spring frosts are no longer a threat. As for fertilization, do so when active growth is taking place. Use a high phosphorus and potassium material. Perhaps a reader will be able to supply more details based on experience.

Q: I have a huge, old silver maple that is very close to my house. It's starting to lose branches and one damaged my neighbor's fence. I had three companies look at it. Two companies said the tree was OK and would charge me $1,200 to trim and cable it. One said it looks bad and should be taken down at a cost of $3,000. My main concern is safety and doing damage to my neighbor's property. What should I base my decision on? Should I take it down to be on the safe side? (e-mail reference)

A: Without a doubt, take it down. Cabling and bracing are done when champion or specimen trees need to be saved and are not a safety threat. Make sure the company taking it down is insured and bonded. While it is being removed, you and your family should stay out of the area. Even people who know what they are doing can be fooled by a tree falling in an unexpected direction.

Q: We have several cottonwood trees on our property. We have a double cottonwood tree with trunks that touch at ground level. Can we safely remove one trunk?

A: This would require an inspection to give you accurate guidelines. Generally, cut anywhere above where the two trunks are joined. Any major tree work of this nature should be done by an certified arborist and not just someone who is handy with a chainsaw.

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