Question: My gardening friend encouraged me to compost my leaves to improve my garden soil. She not only saves her own leaves but collects the leaves from neighbors. Are leaves really as valuable as she says they are?

Healthy, high-energy snack food is the perfect pick-me-up during the work or school day and provides a nutritional boost of energy, which improves concentration and stamina. While nailing the nutrition may be easier to accomplish when preparing a sit-down meal, it's often difficult to achiev…

Question: We recently purchased a home that fits us well. However, the landscape does not fit us. Shrubs have been sheared into thick, artificial-looking boxes and balls rather than the natural look that we like. Some shrubs have lower branches that are bare of leaves. Is there any hope for …

Are you looking for a coleslaw to carry you through the fall season? A slaw you might even consider inviting to the holiday table? This recipe obliges with an autumnal touch to the traditional summery cabbage coleslaw. In place of cabbage, the favorite fall vegetable -- aka the Brussels spro…

Question: I would like to plant some bulbs this fall for the first time. Which bulbs are best adapted to our area? Could you give me some suggestions on how to plant them?

It's the end of summer, so why not go out with a bang and make caponata? Caponata is a Sicilian vegetable stew or compote. It slightly resembles Provencal ratatouille, but while both are tomato-rich stews consisting of a bounty of summer vegetables and aromatics influenced by their geography…

Couscous is an excellent side dish or vegetarian option that is perfect for outdoor dining. It can be served warm or cold, has a satisfying kick of spice, and is healthy to boot. Just a plate of couscous, you think? Well, not quite. Unlike Middle Eastern couscous, which is made with tiny gra…

I receive seed samples of All-America Award-winning vegetables and flowers each year. I start the seeds inside and transplant them in my garden. The varieties that grew the best this year for me are described below.

I am a seafood lover, but this has not always been the case. As children growing up in New England, my younger brothers and I were served swordfish on a regular basis. This may sound luxurious, but in those days, swordfish was a local staple harvested from the nearby Atlantic waters, and my …

Question: My neighbor had a large tree topped by about half because of concern about it damaging her house in a storm. Do you think I should have my trees topped too?

This is my "I can't deal" potato salad. (It's also my favorite potato salad.)

Every berry lover should have a recipe for meringues up their sleeve. Snow white, light as air and egg-shell crisp, meringues will dress up your favorite berries in these easy do-ahead desserts.

Question: My neighbor shares her strawberries with our family. Her plants produce fruit all summer. She volunteered to share some of her runner plants so I can have my own plants. Could you give me some pointers in starting my own strawberry patch?

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Summer's sultry heat invites fresh, simple meals with garden vegetables that require limited effort to prepare. This tomato tart is a light and easy dinner for a warm night that takes advantage of the season's kaleidoscope of cherry tomatoes falling in our gardens and showcased in our market…

Question: My raspberry leaves are turning yellow. I have used Ironite and nitrogen without results. Any suggestions?

It's not fair to say that this recipe is all about the chermoula sauce. After all, shrimp and kale are equal heavyweights in this dish. It's just that the chermoula sauce does something wicked to it.

Question: I am considering doing some major re-landscaping in my backyard. I have a heavy clay soil which is difficult to dig into. Should I add some topsoil or is there a better way?

If you're looking for a condiment that multitasks and tastes stand-alone delicious, then look no further than harissa. Harissa is a smoky red pepper sauce traditionally used in North African cuisine. You may know it as a fiery one-note paste sold in a tube or as a jarred red sauce with a sal…

Question: I have two problem areas in my lawn. The grass is thin and grows poorly under a large tree. I also have a sloping area which is difficult to mow. What could I grow in these two areas that would be better than grass?

It's summer, and I am greedy. The stone fruit is impossible to resist right now. The farmers markets are teeming with peaches, nectarines and plums. I oblige and bring home bags stuffed to the brim, only to return for more the next day. It really isn't a challenge to slurp through the juicy …

Question: I am considering the purchase of a home which has a nicely maintained landscape. However, some of the younger trees have a limited number of small leaves. I noticed what look like cuts on the bark near the ground. Is this damage permanent, or will they outgrow it?

Summer promises a bounty of sun-kissed vegetables — a cornucopia of tomatoes, peppers, squash and eggplant that beg to be put to use. This is not a problem. The trick is to lean in and rely upon recipes that embrace and celebrate the abundance of produce. One tried-and-true dish that does so…

Question: The extreme heat we are having has damaged some of my plants growing in containers. Once a day watering was not frequent enough, and some of my plants look wilted beyond recovery. Is there any hope of rejuvenating them?

If you're looking for a too-easy-to-believe appetizer, then this recipe is for you. It requires a mere three ingredients and just minutes to prepare. The asparagus are easily assembled in advance and ready to pop into the oven or on the grill when you are ready to serve. They make a great ap…

Question: My tomato plants have produced dozens of flowers, but very few fruits have set. I have even shaken the flowers to make sure they were pollinated. Can you tell me what is wrong?

Years ago, we moved from our home in Switzerland to England. Among the mixed emotions, one standout was a relief to live again in an English-language culture.

Question: I just finished my spring planting and everything looked nice, and now weeds are coming up everywhere. How do you keep the weeds under control?

There are so many reasons to celebrate right now. Summer is upon us, more of us are vaccinated, and we can all get outside and carefully socialize.  

Question: I planted my first vegetable garden from seeds this year. I am surprised about how thick the plants are growing. Do I need to remove or replant some of them to make more space for them to grow?

A common mistake made by homeowners is to purchase plants, bring them home and plant them without carefully checking to make sure they will grow in the locations where they are planted.

When spring and summer bring warm days, I keep our meals light and garden-fresh with a minimum of cooking. Cold soups, abundant salads, tapas and antipasti are elevated to dinner course level, providing simple and refreshing nourishment, while greedily taking advantage of the farmers market bounty.

Question: My annual flower beds have not always been as pleasing as I would like. Could you give me some suggestions on choosing flower colors and color combinations?

I am a little late to the ricotta party. For a long while, this Italian whey cheese has been relegated solely to lasagnas and other filled pasta dishes. Aside from that, ricotta has not played a role in much of my cooking. This is likely due to unfortunate first impressions, the ho-hum resul…

Question: I want to plant tubs and baskets for both sunny areas and shady areas. Which plants should I use in these different conditions?

There is more to tuna than the mayo-based sandwich filler. In fact, if there is one fish that can handle a robust marinade and the fire of the grill, it would be tuna. Tuna is thick and dense, and it holds its shape while you take the time to sear it golden brown. The key is choosing which k…

Question: My lawn looks very good right now, but when summer comes, my neighbor’s lawn looks thicker and greener. He says I should raise my mowing height. Does mowing height really make that much difference? The golf course mows fairways shorter than I do, and they always look good.

I work from home, and while it's how I've always worked, it still presents a few challenges. Namely, structure and discipline. One trick I rely on is to schedule a lunch break. Easy to say, but the ritual of leaving the desk, moving into another room, and, most important, stepping away from …

Question: Slugs damaged a lot of my flowers and vegetables last year right after I planted them. They also riddled my hostas. Are there controls that will not be harmful to my children and pets? Are there any other pests which I should be aware of?

Spring is here, and it's time to celebrate by adding a little freshness and lightness to your favorite year-round dishes, such as risottos and pasta. Primavera means springtime in Italian, but pasta primavera, while Italian in name, has American roots. It was created in the '70s in the famou…

The key ingredient in this simple and delicious soup is orzo. Orzo is the Italian word for barley, but names can be deceiving, because orzo is not a grain. And despite its rice shape, orzo is not rice, even though orzo is also known as risoni in Italy.

A glazed ham is an easy way to prepare a celebratory dinner — or any dinner, for that matter. It's also a gift that keeps on giving, yielding a generous portion of meat that can be shared and repurposed in sandwiches, eggs, hash, soups and salads.

Question: I recently purchased begonia, lily, dahlia and gladiolus bulbs. Which can I plant outside now, and which should I wait to plant?

The name of this dessert is potentially misleading. It's not exactly a cake, nor is it a bowl of fluffy mousse. But imagine the two concepts combined in a sublime chocolate confection that literally melts in your mouth. It's flourless, too, which is wonderful for gluten-free diets, Passover,…

Question: My lawn is not turning green as soon as it did last year. What kind of fertilizer would be best to get my lawn green? Is now a good time to fertilize my trees and shrubs? What kind of fertilizer should I use?

Spring is right around the corner, and while the weather might not look like it's received the memo in some areas, this recipe is a bit of spring inspiration that will surely lighten up your dinner plate no matter where you sit. It's a fresh and lovely pasta dish, bright with citrus and brim…

Here is something for your winter dinner rotation: chunky vegetables and slow-cooked beef swimming in a stock of beef and beer. This hearty no-nonsense beef stew is a must-have for a dreary winter night. And, while this stew is indeed simple and humble in ingredients, there are a couple of i…

Question: I plan to plant more perennial flowers this spring so I don’t have to replant every year. Could you share with us some of your favorite perennial flowers? How do they bloom in comparison to annuals?

How do you define comfort food? For me, it's a meal or dish that is easy to make and undemanding, yet deeply flavorful and homey, as though it has been tended to for hours to reap delicious results. Sheet pan recipes often fall into this category.

Question: When I asked my neighbor why her plants grow better than mine, she said it is because she has improved her soil. Can you give me suggestions how I can improve my soil?

Question: I have a problem with the annoying flying gnat-type insects that are on my indoor plants. I have tried several things, some of which have been temporarily helpful, but they are back in a few days. Is there a way to get rid of them forever?