January "In The Grow" - Indiana Yard and Garden - Purdue Consumer Horticulture

January “In The Grow”

Q. I thought bagworms and webworms were two different worms. Your answer to the question about bagworms in your November column confused me. Please clarify. Also, I have been trying to grow sweet peas in my flower garden. They seem to germinate and come up OK. They grow to about 1 foot tall, then they die. Could you tell me what type of soil and location is best for growing sweet peas? I see them growing wild in many places and I have tried to dig up a start, but I still have had no luck in getting them to grow. –Marilyn Steward, Elnora, Ind.

A. The writer asked about bagworms but she actually had webworms! They are two different insects. Bagworms live inside spindle-shaped bags that they construct from bits of foliage. Webworms make webs that envelope entire branches.

There are more than 100 species of Lathyrus (the sweet pea genus). Some are perennials and some are annuals. The annual sweet pea is the most common Lathyrus in the seed catalogs. It strongly prefers cool weather which may be why yours die. Sweet peas grow best in moisture-retentive soil. Mix in one part organic matter with two parts soil before sowing the seed and then add a few shovelfuls of compost each year.

Keep the soil moist with regular watering. You can sow more seeds in fall for an autumnal season of bloom.

The plant found in the wild usually is the perennial sweet pea. It spreads by seed and can be grown in your garden if you treat the soil as recommended above for annual sweet peas. It has a limited color range compared to the annual sweet pea and lacks fragrance but is a bit more heat tolerant.


Q. Can used clumping-type cat litter be used in the garden as fertilizer? I have seen that when the litter becomes really wet, like after being outside after a rain, it becomes “gooey.” It’s made from ground clay. I assume this would not be good to work into the soil, but how about putting it into a compost pile? Any suggestions? –Joanne Ratcliff, Delphi, Ind.

A. Avoid any type of used cat litter in the garden. Many animal manures are vauable to garden soil, but dog and cat feces can contain parasites that cause diseases in humans. Gardeners can ingest roundworm eggs from soil contaminated with dog or cat droppings. Contaminated soil reaches our mouths by means of dirty hands or on the edible parts of fruits and vegetables. Infection by just a few roundworms isn’t usually a problem but more severe infections can cause fevers, bronchitis, asthma, or vision problems. Cat feces also can carry toxoplasmosis which is a serious concern for pregnant women, people with AIDS and patients receiving immunosuppressive treatments. We’re all trying to reduce the amount of material we send to landfills but cat litter is one thing we should bag up and throw away with the trash.


Q. Several years ago I was given some tomato seeds called Italian Potato Leaf Tomato plant. The plants grew higher than 6 feet tall. The female had seed, the male did not. I save the seeds from year to year, but I get fewer and fewer. I have tried to find these seeds but to no avail. Have you any idea where to get them? –Richard Barrett, Fort Wayne, Ind.

A. Try the Seed Saver’s Exchange. Purchase a garden seed inventory from them by writing to 3076 North Winn Rd., Decorah, Iowa, 52101. For 310 more cultivars, check out Tomato Growers Supply at P.O. Box 2237, Fort Myers, Fla., 33902, (941) 768-1119. They don’t list the Italian Potato Leaf Tomato, but Wanda’s Potato-Top Tomato sounds similar!


Q. I’ve seen an advertisement that showed how to grow the yellow and gray sponge mushrooms in your home. Where can I purchase the seeds or material to do this? These are the mushrooms that come out in the spring only. I think they are called morels. –Louis McGlothlin, Hampton, Va.

A. Try Fungi Perfecti at PO Box 7634, Olympia WA, 98507, (206) 426-9292.

Share This Article
Disclaimer: Reference to products is not intended to be an endorsement to the exclusion of others which may have similar uses. Any person using products listed in these articles assumes full responsibility for their use in accordance with current directions of the manufacturer.
Indiana Yard and Garden – Purdue Consumer Horticulture - Horticulture & Landscape Architecture, 625 Agriculture Mall, West Lafayette, IN 47907

© 2024 Purdue University | An equal access/equal opportunity university | Copyright Complaints | Maintained by Indiana Yard and Garden – Purdue Consumer Horticulture

If you have trouble accessing this page because of a disability, please contact Indiana Yard and Garden – Purdue Consumer Horticulture at homehort@purdue.edu | Accessibility Resources