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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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Growing Broccoli

Im looking for tips to growing broccoli.....can you suggest resources on the internet where I can research or just list some ways to grow broccoli in the Pacific Northwest.

Sorry, I have not seen any special internet information on broccoli. It is such an easy crop to grow, that there is little need for special instructions. Please note the directions on the back of our packets, which you can read on our web site (Seed Rack link).

Broccoli grows well in raised beds, the open soil or in wide rows. The plants do not produce heads during the hottest summer weather, so, in other words, broccoli is a spring or fall crop. Cut short stems when harvesting and new heads will form lower on the same stalk.

Plants for Containers

Please suggest some shrubs that can remain permanently in large pots on a deck with southern exposure in Portland, OR.

Ceanothus, Stranvaesia, Escallonia, Hollywood Juniper, Cotoneasters, Hebe/Veronica, Heather, Rhapiolepis, Osmanthus delavayi and Cistus.

Hope that helps. There are, of course, many others. Places like Portland Nursery can show you these and many others.

Bitter Carrots

I have watched you on T.V. for years, my question is , last year my carrots tasted a little bitter. I live in Bend Oregon and we have A LOT of ponderosa pines which tend to make to soil very acid, I do not use chemicals in my garden but do you think a little lime would help with the taste and make them sweeter?

Yes, the lime should help. Even more important, is to watch the watering. Stress to the carrots can cause a bit of a bitter taste.

Planting Dahlias

I've recently received some fresh dahlia bulbs and don't know anything about them. How to plant, where, how deep, sun exposure, or even how long the bulbs will last out of the ground. Please help!!!

Plant dahlias in full sun, in well drained soil. Plant the tubers about six inches deep, in soil that is rich in organic matter. Place a stake in the planting hole for support as the dahlias grow. The tubers lay flat in the planting hole...do not set them on end. Slugs love the new growth, so protect them. Tubers need to be dug yearly in cold climates. In moderate climates, tubers can be mulched with bark or sawdust, providing the soil is well drained. Divide the tubers every 3 to 5 years.

Lilac Blight

I have two lilacs that have the same problem. On some of the new growth, the leaves are shrivelled and twisted on the edges. It is as if the outside edge dried out. They also turn a bit red. Could this be a virus? What can I do? I prefer organic if possible.

Sounds like lilac blight. It is a bacterial blight. Spring rains promote the development of this disease. Cut out any diseased parts. Spray with copper, when temperatures are between 45 and 65 degrees. Spray again before fall rains start and again next spring before leaves appear and spring rains start. Lilly Miller makes a copper spray called 'Microcop'.

Delphinium & Larkspur Seeds Not Growing

I'm having a problem starting Delphinium and Larkspur seeds, nothing has happened and I've tried twice. I've never had success with Larkspur seeds, indoor or out. Is there something special I need to do to these seeds (stratification or freeze) for success? Can you suggest a comprehensive book on growing from seeds?

Both delphinium and larkspur seeds lose their viability quickly, so be certain you have fresh (current crop) seed. I recommend freezing delphinium seeds overnight before planting.

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