Q: Do you have any tips on how to prevent weeds from taking over a garden?

A: Weeds can be a challenge to get rid of once they take hold, so the best way to reduce the weeds in your garden is prevent them from getting started in the first place.

One way to reduce the survival rate of weeds in a new bed is to lay down two or more thicknesses of heavy cardboard, or 10 to 20 thicknesses of newspaper. Next, pile organic matter on the paper. Put the coarsest matter on the bottom. For the top few inches, use compost mixed with topsoil. In weedy areas, the deeper the bed, the better. You can then plant in this bed, or sow a cover crop and use the bed the next year. The paper will stop most of the weeds from emerging through the bed.

Planting a cover crop, or “living mulch,” such as winter rye, in a new bed and waiting a season or two to sow new plants can really help with weed control later. Many cover crops interfere chemically with weed growth by excreting substances from their roots and shoots that suppress weeds. Tilling under cover crops also increases the organic matter content of the soil.

Q: What does the “D” in D-Day stand for?

A: D-Day is actually a military term for the day an operation’s exercise starts. Of course, the most famous D-Day is June 6, 1944, when the Allies stormed Normandy, France, in World War II. Most sources reveal that there is no significance to the letter D, other than the fact that it provides a point of reference, D+1, etc. The military also uses H-Hour for the time an operation will start.

Q: How do you keep fresh-cut flowers flourishing?

A: There are several tips, but here are a few of our favorites. Don’t cut flowers that have very tight buds. Wait until they loosen before picking, or they won’t open. Scissors are fine for cutting flowers with woody stems, such as roses, but a sharp knife is better for soft stems. After you snip the flowers from their plants, snip the ends again before placing in water. Try adding a tablespoon of sugar to the water, especially for cut lilacs and tulips. Some believe that a copper penny in the water prolongs the life of all flowers. Change the water every other day. Keep cut flowers in a somewhat cool place.

Q: What is a marshmallow?

A: The National Confectioners Association classifies marshmallows as an ingredient. Candy historians trace marshmallow back to the ancient Egyptians, who made a “candy” using an extract from the root of the marshmallow plant that they mixed with honey. Contemporary marshmallow makers substitute gelatin for the plant.

Write to Farmers’ Almanac, P.O. Box 1609, Lewiston, ME 04241 or e-mail: [email protected]

Q: When is the best time to plant trees?

A: The factor considered most important when it comes to planting by almanac tradition and the moon is the phase of the moon. The best time to plant trees is when the moon is in its third or fourth quarter (decreasing). Many people believe that when you plant during the decrease of the moon, it will enable the plantings to develop the deep root growth necessary for a plant to “winter over” in the soil and build up energy for its next season of growth. This produces stronger top growth, and, as the top growth slows, it is less likely to be damaged by heavy fruiting, high winds, hard freezes, etc. Also, the bark of the tree will be thicker, and therefore protect the tree better from insects, pests and diseases.

The factor considered the next most important is the zodiac sign in which the moon is located. The best signs for planting are Taurus, Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces. For June, the best times will be June 14 and 15.

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