Q: I live in a condo without space to plant a large garden. I love sugar peas and I'm wondering if they could be successfully grown in planters and trained as vines up my patio railing. If so, should I plant them soon and what is the best soil to use?—Gen E., Fargo A: Patio Pride is a great pea variety that won an All-America Selections award for its ability to grow in containers. Sweet, tender pods are ready to harvest in about 40 days from seeding. A short trellis between the pot and patio railing will give good support to the compact vines.
Deciding among apple varieties can be confusing. We all know what happened to Adam and Eve. They obviously chose poorly when deciding which apple tree to harvest. There's a big difference in apples. Once America's most popular variety, the Red Delicious apple is going the way of the buggy whip, sidelined by more flavorful types. We needn't worry, because Red Delicious isn't winter hardy for our region anyway. Besides, we've got better tasting types that are well-suited to our climate. In fact, we've got so many options it's difficult to pick a preference.
No plant says Easter like the lily. Behind each potted paschal plant is an interesting mix of history and culture. Lilies didn't always begin life as potted plants. Did you know: • Although the Bible describes lilies growing in Palestine, the large, white lily we recognize today didn't become common in churches until the 1800s, when popular tradition gave them the nickname Easter lily. • Lilium longiflorum is the botanical species of Easter lily, which is native to Japan's Ryukyu Islands.
According to recent surveys, 18- to 34-year-old millennials are the largest group of new gardeners. Of the six million people who took up yard and garden activities for the first-time last year, five million were in this age group, growing vegetables, planting flowers and beautifying spaces. For a new gardener, there's a whole plant world to discover and much to learn. How does one start accumulating knowledge? By listening, learning and experiencing. Following are lessons that an old gardener might pass along to a new gardener.
Q: I bought dahlia bulbs and want to jump start them in peat pots. How soon do you think I should plant them? If we plant dahlias directly in the ground in May, they barely start blooming when fall frost is near.—Faye Waloch, Gwinner, N.D. A: Dahlias are best started indoors four to six weeks before the desired outdoor planting date. For our region, that means planting the tuberous roots during the first half of April.
Have you ever wondered why Martha Stewart is always so perky? It's because she enjoys gardening. And gardening and springtime go together like Martha and color-coordinated garden hose. Let's take a walk around the yard and plan our approach to spring tasks. Late March • Prune fruit trees before bud-break, which is the term for buds beginning to expand. • Deciduous (leafy) trees and shrubs are best pruned in March and April before new growth begins. Wait to prune evergreens until May and June.
Q: Rabbits severely chewed an evergreen shrub in the corner of our courtyard this winter. Do you think it will grow back?—Jerry Luebke, Fargo A: Your photos show a "before "picture of a beautiful globe arborvitae. In the "after" photo, the evergreen foliage is nearly gone, and the bark has been deeply chewed from all branches. I'm afraid rabbits have destroyed the shrub, and replacement is now the best option.
Q: Why do my cucumber fruits always curl? Even small picklers curl. We had the soil tested at North Dakota State University and they said it was fine, and not to add anything. Any ideas?—Gary Lentz, Moorhead. A: Curling cucumber fruits are most commonly caused by pollination problems. Cucumber flowers are pollinated by insects, mostly bees, that must visit each flower multiple times for complete pollination to produce a normal fruit. Inadequate pollination happens when there are too few bees, or when weather conditions are too wet, dry, hot, cool or cloudy.
Wouldn't it be fun to have a yard that looks like the grounds of Buckingham Palace? Unfortunately, most of us don't have a head gardener with an entourage of laborers at our disposal. Gardening magazines and online sites are filled with low-maintenance yard suggestions and tips for what they term "lazy gardeners." But many of the tips risk turning a yard into something that invites a visit from the local weed-control officer. Instead, let's explore suggestions that reduce work, yet keep our lawns, gardens and flowerbeds looking pleasant and well-tended.
Q: During the fall of 2015, we planted four Colorado Blue Spruce trees that were 18 to 20 feet tall. They were installed by a tree mover, then secured with straps and stakes. Last year we added six smaller ones ranging from 10 to 14 feet tall, and staked them also. How soon can we remove the straps and stakes with confidence that the spruce have established themselves?—John and Jo Ann Miller, Fargo.