FARGO — Are you an adventurous gardener or do you take the safe route? Was Calvin Coolidge in the White House the last time you switched cucumber varieties, or do you throw caution to the wind and explore new types? Plowing up the entire lawn for a do-it-yourself vegetable trial garden would be one way to test all the varieties that fill seed catalogs and seed racks. Or we can try types that others have found successful.
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
Q: I recently received the rubber plant in the photo and am unsure how to care for it. The six-inch diameter pot seems small and the plant is losing some bottom leaves. It's in a bright room with early morning sun. Can you help with suggestions for helping the plant thrive? — L. McGauvran, Langdon, N.D. A: An east window will be ideal, but the pot does seem small for the plant's size. Choose a pot that's one or two inches larger in diameter. It's always best to repot plants gradually, rather than going too large too soon, causing plants to wallow in large soil volumes.
Mother Nature isn't getting many Facebook 'likes' for this year's spring weather pattern. But in her defense, lack of nice weather gives us more time for dormant season pruning. Pruning can be stressful until experience is gained. If I prune wrong, will I kill it? What if I cut off too much, or not enough? What will the neighbors think if they're watching, and my trees end up half dead? There's an old saying in gardening: "Prune until it hurts, and then prune some more." Usually our hesitation results in not pruning enough, until we experience how well it works.
Q: When my daughter was a toddler, we placed a Braeburn apple seed in a window to see if it would grow. I honestly thought this little experiment would last only a few days. Fast forward 10 years and we now have a 3-foot-tall Braeburn apple tree in our house that we'd like to plant outside. Is that possible in Fargo? — Kay Beckermann, Fargo.
FARGO — This spring hasn't exactly been a gardener's dream come true. A snowblower and jackhammer were required to plant potatoes on Good Friday. Any tulips brave enough to peek above ground saw their snowy shadow and swiftly returned from whence they came. There's no need to panic, though. Weather patterns change, and a seemingly late spring can be quickly overcome if consistent warm weather gets our yards and gardens back on track.
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.
Topics for our weekly garden column often originate from what's happening in our own gardening life. My wife, Mary, recently experienced the passing of her mother, Betty Schouviller. At the funeral, Mary received houseplants, a dish garden and a spring bulb garden among the many floral gifts. As we took the live plants home, it occurred to me that many people are similarly faced with how best to care for these houseplants after a funeral or a hospital stay.
Q: We stopped planting impatiens four years ago because they all died, and I read of a disease becoming prevalent. Everything I read indicated not to plant impatiens for a while after. Should we continue to avoid impatiens and are there other precautions or remedies? - Pat McDaniel, Valley City, N.D.