Had Enough of that Squash Vine?

Squash-VinesEvery year I would try a new winter squash variety that was supposed to be compact and every year it took up more room than I allotted for it. I finally decided to trellis the vines, but they don’t like to stay put. When I turn my back, for just a second, the vine reaches out and grabs hold of the hydrangea planted on the other side of the fence. Squash vines are not easy to un-twine, trust me.

So I asked a fellow gardener and squash enthusiast if he ever prunes his vines. He laughed at me, because he has way too many vines to be that particular about them. But he also assured me that it is very hard to kill a squash vine with pruning. Since winter squash can only reasonably be asked to carry 4 – 6 fruits each, once they set those fruits, he said it’s fine to trim away the excess.

How Much is Excess?Continue Reading

Is Poison Ivy Safer in Winter?

Poison-Ivy1I never saw poison ivy in my yard until a few years ago. I guess I didn’t get it all pulled out, because I’ve seen it around ever since. We had some mild winters when it wasn’t killed by the cold.

I’m not susceptible to it – so far – but I know you can develop a sensitivity at any time, so I treat it with caution. I wondered if I could tag it and safely pull it out once it went dormant for the winter.

Is There a Safe Season for Poison Ivy?

Alas, no. This vine has more tenacity than Kimye. Not only is the toxin (urushiol) present in every last fiber of the plant, from the roots to the tips of the leaves, it can even remain on the bark of the tree it latches onto.

Poison-Ivy2

So if you were waiting for a frost before you rip your vines out, keep the gloves handy. Certainly get it out of there before the berries form. The birds love them and will plant vines all over your lawn.

Do Trees Need Fertilizer?

Maple-LeavesMost of us will pamper newly planted trees for their first year, if at all. After that, trees are usually left to their own devices. I have to say, there is very little agreement out there about whether trees need any supplemental feeding and a whole lot of qualifications, even when fertilizing is recommended.

Where Most Experts Do Agree Continue Reading

Ever Wonder How Tiger Lilies Spread So Fast?

Tiger-LilyLove them or hate them, orange tiger lilies (Lilium lancifolium, also known as Lilium tigrinum) are one hardy plant. Unlike fancier hybrid lilies, tiger lilies seem to seed themselves throughout a garden. But it’s not seeds that are dropping throughout the borders, it’s bulbils. Bulbils are baby bulbs and if you look closely at the stems of your tiger lilies, you’ll see small black balls where the leaves meet the stems. These are the bulbils.

Bulbils start forming when the tiger lilies and their hybrids bloom, in late summer. You’ll know they’re ripe when they start to fall off on their own, with a gentle nudge. When they fall, they send out what’s called an exploratory root. This root finds its way into the soil and then pulls the bulbil under with it.

Can You Encourage Them to Sprout?Continue Reading

Tops Down, Dig Up

OnionsThe rule of thumb for harvesting onions is to dig them when the tops have fallen over. However as long as the tops are green, the bulbs will continue to plump up. So when is the ideal time to harvest them. That partly depends on the weather, as do so many things in the garden.

Rainy Seasons

If you’re having a rainy season, onions can re-sprout, even after most of the tops have started turning brown. That may sound like a good thing, but re-sprouting will shorten their storage life.

Of course, that doesn’t really matter if your growing a variety that doesn’t store well to begin with, like a Sweet Spanish. But if you’re growing a lot of onions to keep throughout the winter, don’t wait for the tops to brown. Get them out of the ground when the leaves have fallen over.

H3 – Hot, Hazy, and Humid

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