After harvesting, air-dry garlic before storing

  • Golden Stars or Lady Fingers cactus is a plant for people who kill plants, because it requires very little care.
Golden Stars or Lady Fingers cactus is a plant for people who… (Ellen Nibali Photo, Baltimore…)
December 24, 2013|By Ellen Nibali, For The Baltimore Sun

Why are my garlic cloves brown? I grow it from certified disease-free heads and rotate the garlic to avoid disease.

We see from your photo that you've cut off the stem and roots. We suspect the garlic is not curing sufficiently before you store it. When you harvest, air-dry the garlic out of doors, out of direct sun, with the leaves, stems, and roots intact, for one to two weeks. Store retaining at least 4-6 inches of the stem and also the root. You can tie them into bunches to hang in your basement and have garlic all winter. See our website vegetable profile on garlic for more tips.

Is it safe to burn wood that had poison ivy on it after the bark has been removed?

As you are obviously aware, all of the residual plant tissue from the dead poison ivy retains the toxin. This raises an interesting question concerning the remaining root material that was clinging to the tree's bark. It seems quite possible that there could be some toxin remaining in the bark of the tree. However, if the bark has been removed from the host tree, there should be no danger of toxic fumes from the poison ivy.

University of Maryland Extension's Home and Garden Information Center offers free gardening and pest information. Call 800-342-2507 or send a question to the website at

Plant of the week

Golden Stars or Lady Fingers cactus

Mammillaria elongata

A plant for people who tend to kill plants, Golden Stars cactus requires little watering and accepts a variety of light levels. Three to four hours of direct sunlight is optimal, though all but a north window should work. Water sparingly; more sparingly in winter. In summer, it enjoys a stint outdoors yet can take temperatures down to 40 degrees. It also flowers easily. The yellowy recurved spines allow Golden Stars to be a safe cactus for homes with curious little fingers. A native of Mexico, this 6-inch cactus pops out offsets from the base. These can be removed to start new plants. —Ellen Nibali

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