Ask Rosie: August 2022

Posted on Jul 22 2022 in Backyard

Longtime Indiana Connection contributor B. Rosie Lerner, a Tipmont REMC consumer, is a retired Purdue Extension consumer horticulturist. Questions about gardening issues may be sent to “Ask Rosie,” Indiana Connection, 8888 Keystone Crossing, Suite 1600, Indianapolis, IN 46240-4606, or use the form at

Here she answers some of your backyard-related questions.

Tough Beans?

Green beans

Here are possible solutions to green bean problems.

Question: I have planted White Half Runner green beans in the same location in my garden for decades. For five years or more, I have experienced growth issues with my beans. I buy my seed from local farm supplies. My beans are not maturing to a full bean. I have thin, tough beans that are hard to eat. They break up, but the edges of the break are ridges. Some beans are just plain thin. — Robie Beverly, Jennings County

Answer: Do other plants grow in the same garden area and, if so, how do they perform? It’s difficult to be certain, but I suspect your beans may have inadequate nutrients. Have you applied any fertilizer to the bean plants? If not, I recommend applying a fertilizer product labeled for vegetable garden use. Be sure to follow label directions for application rate.

If you have tried fertilizer in the past without success, you might try another garden location. You could make a raised bed or container garden using good quality soil mix and see if that improves performance. 

For more information on vegetable gardening, check out Purdue Extension Home Gardeners Guide at

Control weeds among perennial plants

Question: What is the best way to keep weeds out of a flower garden filled with perennials? — Becky Williams, Fulton County

Answer: It is a challenge to control weeds among perennial plants, a challenge shared by most gardeners! For new gardens, it is critical to start with a clean bed before planting. Once the garden is established, you’ll use a combination approach to reduce weeds as much as possible. But there will always be weeds to battle.

Applying a mulch can be super helpful in suppressing weed seed germination. Mulch makes weeds that do sprout easier to pull and helps conserve soil moisture. Hand pull or dig weeds while they are young and before they set seed. A pre-emergence herbicide in spring can help reduce many weed species by killing weed seedlings as they germinate. These products usually need to be applied to soil and watered in before mulch is applied and early enough before weed seeds germinate.

A general rule of thumb is to apply pre-emergence herbicide around the time that forsythia shrubs in are bloom.

More information on weed control can be found in this Purdue Extension article: