Ask the gardening expert



I read somewhere that gardeners should get a tetanus shot, I can’t remember where I read it, or even why a gardener would need one. Have you heard that?

Yes, I read it, too. It was in my latest Garden Gate magazine. I quote from the June 2012 issue, No. 105: “Tetanus, or ‘lockjaw,’ is a serious disease caused by bacteria that live in the soil and enter your body through a break in the skin. Since gardeners are prone to cuts and scrapes, be safe and talk to your doctor about a tetanus/diphtheria (TD) vaccination, and remember to follow it up with a booster shot at least every 10 years.”

It is thought that 80 percent of the people in a recent survey had a tetanus-prone injury, such as a puncture wound, cut or other injury, within the past year.

Why is it that when I deadhead my plants, some will bloom again and others don’t. It’s a tiresome job to cut off all those dead flowers if they are not going to send up more flowers.

The biology of some plant species are programmed to continue blooming if they have not been allowed to set seed. These plants will try to keep producing flowers until a frost or you cut them down in fall. Others are not that way, one bloom per year and that’s it. A big share of the perennials will bloom a few more times with deadheading, but some will not. The list of ones that cannot bloom but once a year isn’t huge one, but a few that come to mind are lilies, bee balm, brunnera, astilbe, peony, and pennstemon.

There are so many that will continue to preform that, for me, it makes the time spent with clippers well worth it.

Several of the rhododendrons are blooming in my yard right now, I believe I read that I need to fertilize them. Is it before or after they bloom? Should I fertilize them all now? Some are yet to bloom.

After they bloom is a good time. Wait for the others to bloom. As a matter of fact, I feel you should think of doing a fertilization on all the spring-blooming shrubs after they bloom. Be careful and remember you will be using an acid-type fertilizer on the rhodies and a full-balanced type on most other shrubs.

Rabbits invaded my garden last year. How can I keep them out?

This is a difficult chore you are taking on. Similar to moles and all the other critters that invade, it’s a never-ending battle. You might try fencing, traps or dogs. If you want to try trapping them, nearly any garden, or farm store has several kind of traps in their inventory.

Celeste Lindsay is a WSU-certified master gardener. Send questions to