GARDEN FANATIC: Plant Man's November answers

“I once wanted to become an atheist, but I gave up — they have no holidays.”

The election season is finally over, and it leads us to the next one — the holidays. Not to put a damper on the upcoming spirit, but once you pluck all of the political signage from your garden, you may find that your landscape may require some reworking.

November is the month for both cleanup and planting, in preparation for Thanksgiving and beyond. Let’s get back to the garden with the Plant Man and thanks for voting.

Q. What can I do in my garden to minimize the danger of fire?

A. I would recommend that trees adjacent to your home be pruned away from the roof and eaves. Thin all plantings within 100 feet of your house and clear away dead vegetation. Finally, clean up dead leaves and litter that accumulated during the summer. When in doubt, contact the Fire Department.

Q. Would it be OK to store dahlia bulbs in an airtight container with peat moss?

A. The airtight container is not a good idea. The dahlias would eventually “rot” because of the absence of air circulation. I recommend sprinkling the bulbs with a bulb dust, placing them in a plain brown bag and storing them in a dark, dry location.

Q. Just discovered small white “thingees” on one of my houseplants. Can I spray it with soapy water?

A. The white “thingees” are probably mealybugs or oyster shell scale. Soapy water will often dislodge insect pests, but will not kill them. You may apply the “suds” on a weekly basis. Inspect your other plants weekly as well, and make applications as needed.

Q. When can I trim my pine tree?

A. Now is the best time to prune your pines (generally from November until March). Prune for health of the tree, reduce the likelihood of wind and storm damage, and open up views for your neighbors.

Q. Can I grow catnip outside in the winter?

A. Catnip is a perennial that can be grown throughout Laguna; however, it will die back at the first sign of frost in the Canyon. Catharine likes to have a constant fresh supply for Oliver. During the winter she grows it indoors near a sunny window.

Congratulations to Jane Egly and Verna Rollinger, and thanks to Cheryl Kinsman for her years of service to the community. I know that all of them care deeply for Laguna, and there are only winners when it comes to living here. See you next time.

STEVE KAWARATANI is married to writer, Catharine Cooper, and has one cat and four dogs. He can be reached at (949) 497-8168, or e-mail to

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