Dear Sun Spots: I have some lawn and garden questions for you:

I would like to know how to grown my own New Guinea impatiens and bacopa. Would I need to buy seeds or take cuttings? Would I need a greenhouse for success? If I need to buy seeds, do you think you could find out where to obtain these?

How can I keep my geraniums healthy over the winter?

How can I control outside ants in the lawn area without using harmful chemical pesticides? If I use the boric acid/sugar/water concoction will it attract outside animals such as cats, dogs, deer etc?

We have poison ivy on our lawn. I would like to find out how to get rid of it in an environmentally safe manner. – No Name, No Town.

Answer: Sun Journal columnist Jody Goodwin offers the following recommendations: You can also contact her via e-mail at [email protected] for further information or questions.

Geraniums can be kept two ways over the winter. If you have space and southern windows, bring them in before hard frosts begin. Make sure they are free from bugs, spiders and dead growth. Water approximately once a week with half-strength plant food. In March, cut them back. You will have flowers all winter, and they will have new growth and be ready to go outside in May. If you do not have the above requirements. Bring them in as above. Place them in the cellar where it is cool but does not freeze and is dark. Let them sit there and dry out. Cut them back by two-thirds, water very little with no plant fertilizer – just enough to keep the roots lightly damp. Perhaps, once every two weeks. In March, bring them up and put them in a sunny spot. Begin watering regularly. When new growth appears, begin watering with fertilizer as above. They should be ready for the porch in May.

Goodwin says she doesn’t know about the impatiens and bacopa. She buys her seedlings each spring. She says you would need a greenhouse or south-facing window large enough to get light for the seeds to grow to any size to plant in the spring.

Regarding the boric acid: sugar water should work quite nicely unless it is a large area that is infested. It shouldn’t attract animals.

With your skin completely covered – i.e. long sleeves, long pants, socks, high collar, gloves – dig out around the poison ivy root as much as possible and cut it off. You will have to repeat this process perhaps four or five times. You can use Roundup but it is toxic, so would have to be used carefully and according to directions. Make sure that you keep small children and all domestic animals inside until the Roundup totally dries and try to keep them away from the area totally, if possible. It will take about five to seven days for the poison ivy to die. Do not ever burn poison ivy. That puts fumes into the air that are damaging to all living things.

When finished with digging and cutting – immerse all tools used in a bucket of Clorox and water for at least three hours and then rinse thoroughly. Wash all clothing worn including shoes. The oil which causes poison ivy can stay active on clothing and tools for up to one year.

Dear Sun Spots: Hopefully you can come to the rescue yet again. I am looking for the nearest Lenscrafters and Pearle Vision centers. Thanks for your help. – No Name, No Town.

Contact Pearle Vision Express at the Bangor Mall, (207) 947-6591, and Lenscrafters also is at the Bangor Mall (207) 262-8730. Lenscrafters is also at the Maine Mall in South Portland at (207) 761-9016.

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