Smart Talk

Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

Listen to Smart Talk live online from 9-10 a.m. weekdays and at 7 p.m. (Repeat of 9 a.m. program)

Host: Scott LaMar

Spring Gardening

Written by Rich Copeland - Producer, WITF's Smart Talk | Apr 20, 2017 8:00 PM
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Over the years, you have told us that some of your favorite Smart Talk shows are the ones that focus on spring time gardening and planting.  And why not?  The program reminds everyone that the long winter is behind us, spring and warmer weather are here and you can get a few great tips too.

March and most of April were warmer than usual so the early blooming flowers and trees got a head start - despite super snow storm Stella. 

Early May is a good time to think about annual flowers, vegetable gardens, trees, shrubs, and your lawn.

Pests that can take a toll on your plants are also starting to get rejuvenated too so you may need to think about your strategies for dealing with them as well.

Friday's Smart Talk features Erica Jo Shaffer, the nursery manager at Highland Gardens in Camp Hill who will share her knowledge and expertise on a variety of questions.

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Erica Jo Shaffer

Erica has many tips to pass along when it comes to flowers, gardens, vegetables, trees and grass.

So what questions do you have?  Call 1-800-729-7532 between 9 and 10 a.m. Tuesday.

Also, send photographs or what you've grown to WITF's Facebook page so everyone can enjoy them!

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Wildflower Sugar Cookies / Dandelion Tabouleh

The Lancaster Native Plant and Wildlife Festival will be held at the Manheim Township Public Library on April 29th from 9am to 4pm.


  1. John - "Redbud tree won't give redbud - how do I get it to sprout?" Do you mean the seeds won't start or that it isn't flowering? 
  2. Georgia - "Any help with stopping invasion of garlic mustard?" They are super easy to pull. The trick is to get them before the flowers go to seed.
  3. Asafa - "Apple trees won't flower, bear fruit - what should I do? When are you pruning them? Soil test to check phosphorus levels. Have they been properly pruned? Pruning at the wrong time could be cutting flowers off. Enough sun? Need 6 hours or more.                                   "How to keep groundhogs and squirrels away?" There are various repellents that can help. Ground hogs like to live under sheds and decks, or dig holes to live in. Squirrels like bird seed and acorns. They must have habitat to want to stick around. See how you might be able to discourage them from living in your space to help alleviate this population. 


- I had a landscaper quite a while ago mulch trees like this. Now I have a huge maple tree, at least a foot in diameter that still looks good, but the roots are indeed growing up into the volcano and around the trunk. Should I cut that back somehow at this point to keep it healthy and if so how?                                  - Cindy, Leola

- I have a large patch of the old-fashioned large purple Bearded Iris.

Any insights or advise for the care and maintenance of my old Iris bed?    - Donna, Newville

- I hate moss in my yard, but my wife says moss is a good thing. Is it?    - Audie, Fayetteville

- For years, I've been plagued with two major weeds: chickweed and bindweed (wild white morning glory). With each year, their invasiveness increases. What options do I have to rid my gardens of this scourge? I'm very anti-chemical, but if that's the only option, please advise what weed spray, how often and what time of year to launch the best attack?                                                                        - Dana

- Is it safe to plant impatients again? Is the disease over?           - Susan, Fayetteville

- Our backyard is nearly fully shaded all summer, and ends up being occupied by many mosquitoes. Are there any plants that you suggest to aid in deterring mosquitoes from our backyard?  - Kendall

- We have rhododendron that are very large., 6'.  Can I cut those way back and still have them grow and flower.                       - Imagine

- I thought dandelions were good for bees. True? Not true? Why do we kill them if they are good?                                         - Elizabeth

- How can I get rid of bind weed? Also have a vine growing in my holly bush that cant be killed. Gets a white flower and smells great. People plant them sometimes. Help!                 - Randall

- How does one keep from getting artillery spores when purchasing mulch.  If  indeed where artillery spores came onto property.  How does your remove from glass. I found razor blade only thing that works.                                                          - Jacqueline

- My dogwood tree is very big, but the flowers are not very dense.  The branches are very long and the flowers are at the very end of the branches.  Some branches have no flowers at all.   How can I make my tree healthier and get the flowering to be more dense?                       - Sandy, Mechanicsburg

- Please discuss Roundup overuse, oversales and why we should use alternatives.

At a conservation conf recently, a PA forester said it is literally raining Roundup in PA each time it rains, because we use it so heavily and it is airborne in the atmosphere and highly dangerous.     - Flora

- Can you use grass clippings to mulch vegetable gardens? And if so, do the clippings need to be dried before mulching or applied right after cutting? (our grass is not treated with any chemicals)                                                                - Kendall, Lancaster

- I have wonderful large Hosta beds and just when they get large they become deer candy.  What can I do to protect them?                        - Steve, Harrisburg

- I have ground cover planted by a previous owner that is very invasive, the leaves are heart shaped and variegated. I would like to remove it, however, the roots run everywhere and when I pull up any part of the plant it has a very distinct odor.  Can you please tell me if there is anything I can do to get rid of this ground cover?                     - anon

- I am the founding director of the West York Borough Community Garden.  Last weekend we planted eight Pink Lady apple trees along with blueberry, raspberry and grapes.  What are the most important things we can do to insure their long-term success?           - Lisa

- I have a medium sized rhododendron; gets flower buds but rarely blooms. I suspect my plant does not get enough light; how much light does the average rhododendron need?     - anon

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