Dear Sara:

I have a clay strawberry pot, but I don't want to plant strawberries in it. What plants do you recommend? -- Karla, Pennsylvania

Dear Karla:

Hens and chicks will work well. I have some planted in a strawberry pot, and they grow back each spring even after neglecting and leaving them outside in the pot through winter. Herbs, ivy, sedum and flowering annuals will grow nicely and look lovely, too. If you're using it indoors, African violets look lovely in a pocket planter.

Dear Sara:

I have a lot of lily of the valley plants growing along the side of my house. They grow like weeds. I pull them out every year, but they seem to grow back even thicker. How do I get rid of these plants? The foliage looks so ugly! -- Linda, New York

Dear Linda:

I love lily of the valley as a shady area ground cover. Rather than use chemicals, I would take a shovel and turn over the entire area. You need to get the entire root systems. These plants really can become invasive. It can take a couple of years to get rid of them, and even one little stray can be enough for them to regenerate and spread pretty quickly all over again. I suggest after you turn the entire area over and remove as much as you can, cover the entire area with newspaper or cardboard to stop it from growing back. Also, be sure to wash your hands after pulling them out, because they are poisonous.

Dear Sara:

I need a summer snack idea for my kids. I've tried frozen grapes, homemade popsicles and smoothies. I want to give them a treat, but I do not want them to eat a lot of ice cream. Any ideas? -- Jan, Colorado

Dear Jan:

Buy a bunch of bananas. Melt together 1 cup of chocolate and 1 cup of peanut butter. Slice each banana into about 6 pieces. Dip each piece of banana into the melted chocolate mixture. Place on a wax paper-lined baking sheet and place in the freezer. Once frozen, transfer to plastic zip-close bags. When the kids are craving a sweet treat, reach for these.
Yogurt can be frozen into tasty bites, too. Dip fruit such as blueberries or cut strawberries into yogurt and freeze. Or place yogurt and small pieces of fruit into ice cube trays or muffin tins and freeze.

Dear Sara:

My Brownie Girl Scout troop is making mini-worlds to learn about the Earth. Do you have a suggestion for a frugal container that can be used as a terrarium? It has to have a lid. -- Beth, email

Dear Beth:

Try glass jars (mayo, pickle, etc. or Mason) or a plastic 2-liter pop bottle. Even takeout containers can work (think: clear plastic takeout, salad bar or strawberry containers, rotisserie chicken or clear plastic to-go drink containers). You can make a trip to a thrift store and look for all types of glass containers with lids, such as candy dishes, decanters, baby food or candle jars, too.

photo by apple pathways