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Don Kinzler, Published January 31 2014

Fielding questions

Q I know it’s still a little early, but I have been mentally planning my garden for this summer. Are there varieties of spinach and lettuce that you recommend?

– Steven Spanier, Fargo

A Browsing seed catalogs and planning is my favorite winter pick-me-up.

The following varieties, based on test results from more than 500 regional gardeners, are contained on a list of vegetables recommended for 2014 by North Dakota State University and compiled by Horticulturist Tom Kalb.

Spinach varieties include Bloomsdale long standing, donkey, melody, Olympia, red cardinal, space, and Tyee.

Leaf lettuce types are deer tongue, new red fire, red sails, red velvet, red salad bowl, salad bowl, Slobolt, and Tropicana. (Salad bowl is my personal preference, but all these are fine choices).

Bibb and crisphead types are buttercrunch, Nancy, Nevada, Red Cross and Sierra. Romaine types include crispmint, green forest and Parris Island.

Look for the list at www.ag.ndsu.edu/horticulture/vegetablevarietyrecommendations2014.pdf

Q About whether rabbits chew through laundry basket plastic (from Jan. 25 column), they can. A couple falls ago I surrounded three 7-inch arborvitaes with green plastic fencing, and in the spring I saw bits and pieces of the fencing laying around the area.

Rabbits had eaten heartily during winter on not only the branches but the bark up to three feet, ruining the arborvitaes.

– Marlys Herring, Casselton, N.D.

A Thanks for passing along the experience. It sounds like metal fencing is still a preferred option.

Arborvitaes are especially tasty to rabbits. They not only consume the foliage, but also gnaw on the inner bark and branches. If enough bark and wood is destroyed, these branches remain green for a while but during summer turn crispy brown, with the only remedy being the pruning shears. We had a beautiful globe arborvitae that I neglected to fence and didn’t realize there had been winter rabbit damage until branches became dead-dry in summer. The globe survived, but has a big empty hole on one side.

If any readers have favorite rabbit remedies please let me know and I’ll pass them along. Rabbits have become a serious problem in the home landscape, along with deer, destroying shrubbery at a much faster rate than insects or diseases. Too bad we can’t get rabbits and deer to attack one another.

If you have a gardening or lawn care question, email Don Kinzler at ForumGrowingTogether@

hotmail.com. Questions with broad appeal may be published, so please include your name, city, and state for appropriate advice.