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Kay Williams 2017

Kay Williams

Dear Master Gardener: This may not come under the heading of “gardening,” but I have a problem I hope you can help me with.

I have been doing a lot of work in a wooded area lately and I am covered with very itchy little red dots. I don’t think mosquitoes could get into the places I have the red dots. I thought they might be fleas or even bed bugs, but I sprayed my mattress, the dog’s bed, bought new pillows and washed the bedding. My husband sleeps in the same bed and he does not have the same itchy dots. I don’t think I have the measles because I don’t have any fever or any other symptoms of illness. Do you have any idea what could be wrong with me? I need help!

Dear Pauline: Oh, the perils of gardening! Gnats, mosquitoes, insect bites, ticks, falls, minor, sometime major, cuts and abrasions -- even snakes! Yikes! Why do we continue our quest for a beautiful yard? Because we can’t stand to stay inside when we see something that needs to be done outside. We brave the wilderness and endure the perils of gardening. However, you have asked a good gardening question because the answer is on the Clemson HGIC website under “insects and pests.”

You have a malady that many suffer from in the south it is called, Chiggers; my husband and editor says to “please call them Red Bugs” it sounds nicer. Chiggers are little tiny insects that are found in wooded areas, especially in Spanish moss and in old wood. Never sit on a fallen log in the woods or handle Spanish moss without gloves, and always spray it with an insecticide before you use for decorative purposes. A quick trip to your local pharmacy and you can purchase a little jar of cream made especially for ‘red bugs.’ I hope you get some relief because they can be miserable.

As a caveat, if this doesn’t work, a trip to your doctor might be in order. Good Luck and stay out of the woods if you don’t apply lots of bug repellent. This is the South.

Dear Master Gardener: I have an enigma. When I water the plants in my pots on my patio, no matter how long I water, when I dig down into the soil a few inches it is still dry. Where oh where is my little water going?

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Dear Mary: This is a common problem. You are not alone in your dilemma. Frankly, I have no idea where the water is going, but I do have a suggestion that might help. This might take a little effort, but I think it will be a big help in the long run. Take a piece of PVC pipe almost the length of your pot, and cut it slightly above the soil level. Drill holes along both sides of the pipe. Place it down the middle of the pot. Don’t let the soil cover it because It will fill with soil and no longer be useful. Now, water as usual, with also run water down the pipe. The water will seep out into the soil, in the pot.

I like to put a few worms in my pots and feed them a little compost from my kitchen, every now and then. Gardening with worms is called vermicomposting. The worms keep the soil aerated and their droppings are wonderful fertilizer. 

Dear Master Gardener: I have centipede grass do I need to do anything now before winter comes?

Dear Well Organized: According to the team members at Super Sod. Now is the time to fertilize your centipede with 15-0-15. Don’t delay because you should not fertilize your grass when October comes.

This column by Kay Williams (the Flower Lady) is designed to answer your gardening questions. Send questions to or to


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