FARGO — Have you ever struggled with a some-assembly-required item, and hours later concluded that whoever wrote the instructions obviously never actually put one together? That's the way I felt the other day when I simply wanted to add fertilizer around our arborvitae. I even decided to read the directions. The bag of 10-10-10 was headlined for trees, shrubs and flowers and said to apply 1 pound per 100 feet of row. But I don't have 100 feet of arborvitae. Just tell me how big of a scoop to sprinkle around each, as in how many cups.
Being sixty-something is a fun age. Young people think you're old and old people think you're young. You now have an excuse for wandering the Walmart parking lot trying to remember where you parked, while acting nonchalant. The ways we receive gardening information have changed greatly over the years, yet plant care itself remains timeless as plants are oblivious to Pinterest, Facebook and the only tweets come from birds perched close by. The same gardening guidelines of past generations serve us well today, as we keep long-time gardening wisdom alive.
Q: What is the best grass seed to use for bare spots in a lawn? Last year I planted some grass seed and it grew, but the grass is dead in that area this year. I think it was a cheaper seed. I'd like something with longevity. - Julie Nelson, Fargo. A: You're right about cheap seed. When surveying grass seed packages and comparing prices, inexpensive types are poor investments because their ingredients aren't best-suited for long-term lawn beauty.
FARGO — I'm not one to question Mother Nature's good intentions, but have you ever wondered how she arrived at some of her rules? An uncharitable person might suggest some of her confusing laws of nature were formulated after a night on the town. Why, for example, is it best to plant tomatoes deeply, burying the stems, but if you do the same with pepper plants, tomato's close cousins, the stems rot? Mastering how deeply to plant is perhaps gardening's most basic secret of success. The following demonstrate how varied the rules of planting depth can be.
Q: Is it possible to grow rutabagas in Minnesota? We love rutabagas, but the ones in the stores are often stringy and old tasting. How do you plant them? - Ayn Locklear, Glyndon, Minn. A: Rutabagas are a root crop that was more popular during the days when every homestead had a basement root cellar, and they grow very nicely in Minnesota, North Dakota and other Midwestern states. Like many nutritious vegetables, rutabagas are enjoying newfound popularity.
Q: My mom has an orchid plant that has bloomed continuously, but the plant is growing up out of the dirt, exposing the roots. The plant is so healthy we hesitate to repot it but wonder if that's what we should do. — Sue and Arlene Gibson, Lisbon, N.D. A: Orchid roots that are growing from the plant outside the potting mix are called aerial roots, or air roots, and are completely natural, used in their native tropical habitats to absorb moisture and nutrients. Aerial roots are a sign the plant is happy, and it's best to allow them to develop undisturbed.
FARGO — Do you enjoy watching what's happening around town? I don't mean peering out from behind the drapes to see what quality of furniture is being delivered to the neighbors. No, I'm referring to the beautiful plantings that grace people's homes, which are a visual gift to all who drive by.
Q: l thought you'd enjoy a picture of my mother's amaryllis. She's maintained several plants for many years. They are such a unique plant and flower. — Dawn Lelm
When I was younger and heard senior citizens talking about time passing ever more rapidly as they aged, I figured it was the Geritol talking. Now that I've become my parents, I've discovered it's true — the sand slips through the hourglass faster than a rabbit racing toward the fresh buds of a high-priced perennial. It's already been five years since our first Growing Together column was published March 30, 2013, and nearly that long for Fielding Questions. That's more than 500 columns that have passed through the hourglass.
Q: Last year powdery mildew spread across most of my garden including my pumpkin and squash patch. Do the spores overwinter in soil? Will turning soil help? Anything that should avoided at all costs? - Jeremy Haug, Grand Forks. A: Powdery mildew is a fungal disease easily identified by its gray-white coating that begins as small, irregular circles on foliage eventually enlarging to cover entire leaves. Powdery mildew fungi attack many plant species including lilac, ninebark, peony, rose and garden vine crops like pumpkin, squash, cucumber and melons.