Q: Hey Steve, I was wondering what your professional opinion is on the fake/rubber pinestraw. I am so tired of spending $1,000 every 6 months to replace our pinestraw. It does not last in the Mississippi heat and the roaches love it! I looked up the fake pinestraw on-line and it looks very much like the real stuff. What harm could it do to my plants? Thanks! Janie

A: The Grump did a story on the fake pine straw in the November 2006 issue of Southern Living. It's plastic, not rubber (rubber mulch gives your garden that delightful NASCAR smell), and from a distance of 6 feet or more, looks just like the real thing. It's expensive, but according to the manufacturers (who, of course, tell only the truth), it saves you money in the long run because you only have to put it down every 4-5 years.

But here's my question: how do you rake up all the leaves and other garbage that falls on it in autumn without also raking up your expensive fake pine straw?

Whoa -- just read your question again. $1,000 every 6 months for pine straw? You must be the World's Pine Straw Capital. I'm going to contact the World Pine Straw Confederation and suggest they hold their next annual symposium at your place. I think if you used your pine straw to make ethanol, you could power your car for a year. Just thinkin' green.

Now if somebody could just figure out a way to make biofuel from roaches.......


P.S. .......then PETA would complain we're being cruel to roaches.