Meteorologist Dave Epstein is our go-to person for pressing weather questions on everything from winter blizzards to summer droughts. He’s also a horticulturist, meaning he’s an expert in anything that grows leaves and flowers. GBH's Morning Edition asked our audience for weather and gardening questions, and Epstein graciously answered them on the air.

Have a gardening or weather question for meteorologist Dave Epstein? Tweet him @GrowingWisdom, email us at, or text 617-300-2008.

We are trying to deal with poison ivy by spraying industrial strength white vinegar on the leaves. I do not think we are winning against the ivy. We are trying to avoid harsher chemicals. Can you suggest a solution? —Peter

Poison ivy can be hard to deal with, Epstein said. But he suggested handling it the old fashioned way with long pants and closed-toed shoes.

“That’s a really tough thing,” he said. “I mean, gloves, a long sleeve shirt, just rip it out and throw it away.”

How do I deal with thorny weeds in my yard?

Thorny plants can be hard to get rid of, Epstein said. Even if you cut them back all the way to the root, they can grow underground and pop up somewhere else.

“But you can put down heavy amounts of newspaper and just really smother that area,” Epstein said. “You can also put down like a black plastic tarp and that will heat it up. And that kind of makes the soil so that nothing can grow there.”

The downside: Nothing else will grow on that ground this year, Epstein said. But the area should be ready for planting again next spring, he said.

“The other thing you can do — you know, it's personal preferences — you can cut it and then paint on just a tiny bit of a weed killer right on there with a little paint brush,” he said. “And that should also stop it. And that way you're not putting that chemical down, which I don't like to use all over the garden.”

What time of day is best for planting?

It’s a great time to start on warm-weather crops, Epstein said: His tomatoes, peppers and eggplants should be going into the ground this weekend.

But not every minute of the day is good for gardening, he said.

“The sun angle right now is getting towards its almost peak,” he said. “The sun right now is as strong as it would be about the last week of July. … It's like a little bell curve. It peaks on June 21 in terms of strength. And so you back up the number of days where we are now. And you can also move forward from June 21st. And they are identical strength.”

That sun can be harsh for people working outside — don’t forget sunscreen and other forms of sun protection — and also on fledgling plants.

“If you can plant in the afternoon late, as late as you can before it gets dark, that's the ideal time,” Epstein said. “That lets them acclimate overnight and then again in the morning until the sun comes up. You don't want to plant like at 10 in the morning, because now they've got to survive that high angle sun throughout the rest of the afternoon.”

Bonus tip: “A cloudy day is a good day to plant,” Epstein said.

Happy gardening.