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Marjorie Harris; Have a look at my book HOW TO MAKE A GARDEN (Random House and you can check it out on my web site ). It's full of ideas about how you can scale a large garden into manageable proportions. The first things is: don't get overwhelmed. Take it one section at a time and learn how to look after that. You might be wise this first year to get some help in general maintenance. You do not want to let weeds go.

J DM from Milton ON Canada writes: Hi Marjorie - we have a very mature spruce tree in our back yard (gets southern and western exposure) which is surrounded by maple trees on one side and a shademaster locust tree on another. The branches are dying a few at a time every year. We're wondering if it is getting enough light on the lower branches? Also, I've noticed a steady stream of ants making a regular trek up and down the trunk of the tree. Could they be killing our spruce tree? I'm going to estimate that it's about 25 yrs old and is about 25 - 30' high. Thanks for any advice you can provide.

Marjorie Harris: The ants are probably attracted by the sap that's running from the wounds of the lower limbs. Get a certified arbourist in to have a look at it and check out the tree's health. There may be just too much competition for food. Add lots and lots of compost or a combination of compost and manure around the bottom without touching the actual trunk. Try to boost its immune system this way and you may have to sacrifice on of the deciduous trees to save the evergreen.

Sydney Dyck from Toronto Canada writes: I have a problem with 'creeping charlie' on my lawn. What do you suggest is a remedy for this to rid our lawn of this pest?

Marjorie Harris; It is indeed a pest. Apart from pulling it out on a regular basis, you can always cut it back to the ground with a whipper snipper and cover it with a layer of dampened newspapers covered with plastic held down by bricks. This will starve it out along with anything else growing next to it. You might want to do it in sections.

Adeline Cheng from Toronto Canada writes: Hi Marjorie- I have two quick questions - 1. I started my first container garden on my back porch this year as it is the only spot in my backyard where we get partial light. I have a tomato plant, a rhubarb (that seems to have been a bust), assorted lettuce, peas and herbs. Can I plant any other types of vegetables that are okay with partial light, can be planted in a container box and do I have to wait until next year to plant them from seeds? 2. We bought a beautiful Japanese maple for our front yard and we used an organic fertilizer when we planted it which turns its beautiful purple leaves into a vibrant green. Is this permanent? Is there anything we can do to restore the colour? Or do we wait until next year?

Marjorie Harris; 1. VEGETABLES AND HERBS NEED SIX HOURS OF SUN A DAY. You can still buy plants from nurseries and supermarkets so it's not to late to put them in. There is a store on Queen Street West which specializes in container vegetable gardening try and track it down and see what she's growing. But don't bother if you don't have the right light. The rhubarb probably needed a lot more space, and very sandy soil.

2. It depends on what kind of Japanese maple tree you have. Find out the name and do some research. Many Japanese maples have leaves that turn different colours in different season and it's more than likely this is what's happening not the kind of fertilizer you used.

canice leung from Canada writes: What fool-proof plants and gardening techniques would you recommend for an apartment dweller and renter in downtown Toronto? I've already started a small herb garden on my balcony, but want to start growing other veggies and fruit. Ideally I'd be able to bring them indoors in the winter, easily movable for when I move, and also be non-toxic to my cats and dog. Thanks so much!

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