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Ed Hume Answers Your Gardening Questions

Ed Hume cannot answer all of the garden questions he receives, but questions of general interest will be answered here every month.  Email your questions to HumeSeeds@aol.com.  Please note: we do not accept attachments.

Before submitting a question, be sure to check the index of previous questions and answers or search our site using key words.  Many questions have already been answered here on the site.

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Other December Links

Moving Peonies

I live in Vancouver, B.C. and have a question regarding peonies. We planted a peony in May of this year. It really never grew and never flowered. Now that winter is coming we are wondering if we should dig it up, leave it in or provide it with some protection from frost? Any suggestions would be appreciated.

If you are satisfied with the peony's location, leave it. It shouldn't need any special winter protection, unless it is a tree peony. If it is a tree peony, cover the base of the stock with a mulch of straw, peat, sawdust or bark. Make the mulch covering about 6 inches deep. Remove the mulch in late February or early March.

Fertilize with a rose type fertilizer in late February. Water thoroughly after application. Of course, apply according to label instructions. Peonies are quite hardy, except for the tree types.

Storing Squash

My Blue Hubbard squash do good each year but I have trouble storing them for winter. I loose several from rotting each year. I do keep them in an un-heated room, under the house. Do you have to do anything with them before storage?

Handle with special care, so as not to bruise them. If the fruit has marks or bruises where it has touched the soil, use them right away. Leave the fruit on the vine until it is ripe. Usually the stems begin turning brown and shrivel, when it is ready. Wipe and dry the fruit with a cloth. Condition the fruit outdoors in a sunny dry, frost free area for about ten days to two weeks. Dry again with a cloth. Then put the fruit in the storage area. Storage area temperatures should not get below 50 degrees or over 60 degrees F, and have good air circulation. Keep the fruit on a dry surface.

Wintering Plants Indoors

What do you recommend to put on the soil of flowers and plants that I plan to bring indoors for the winter?

Usually Soil and Bulb dust is the product used to treat the soil. Safer's products are also good to use, because they are considered safer to use indoors.

Watering Stored Fuchsias

I have wintered my Fuchsias in the basement. They have been cut back and seem to be doing fine. But, how often should they be watered?

This is an almost impossible question for me to answer. Watering depends upon the size of the pot; soil type; room temperatures; location in the room and humidity. So I think you will have to experiment a little. There are several ways to do this. One is to simply lift the pot, if it's heavy there is still plenty of moisture in the pot. Second, feel the soil, if it's dry it probably needs water. Third, insert a wooden toothpick or wooden match stick into the soil, if it comes out with soil on the wood, then it is still moist. If the wood surface is dry with no soil on it, then it needs water. Fourth, if the leaves show any sign of wilt this will give you an indication of how long the plant can go between watering.

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