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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 on the Coast

We've fertilized and added compost, top soil to our garden here in Pacific City on the Coast and nothing grows, particularly our roses and clematis. Also our vegies, zuchini and tomatoes, even our drawf fruit trees had black blight or fungus this year, after spraying this Winter. Any opinions, suggestions.

This has been a tough sumer in many areas along the coast. Blight on tomatoes has been a problem again this year due to the June/July rains. Next year, cover the plants with poly in mid-summer, so the rains do not touch the foliage. Keep the poly at least 12 inches above the tomato vines.

Squash, pumpkins, cucumbers etc. were also affected (with mildew) by the summer rains. Dusting the leaves with vegetable dust may help keep this in check in future years.

It was mildew and black spot that affected roses and mildew on clematis. Treatments using a fungicide will help if similar weather occurs in the future. (The All-American Rose Society recommends 'Funginex'.)

Dividing Pampas Grass

I would like to know when is the best time to divide pampas grass?   Also, after you divide it, will the seed heads develop the first year?

I think the best time to divide Pampas grass is in the spring. Dividing in the fall ruins the beautiful plumes. If, however, the plant is not flowering or you have picked the plumes, it can be divided in the fall. Sometimes Pampas grass will flower the first year after dividing, but generally it will take a year or two for the plumes to develop again.

Dividing Hostas

When is the best time to divide Hosta plants?  Please advise the best method to use (ie; dig up clump and break apart, cut with shovel while in the ground, etc.). Do you have a good book to suggest about Hosta plants?

I think the best time to divide Hostas is in the fall, after the leaves have died back. Then, during the winter, any time the temperature is above 45 degrees the roots will grow. The better the root system, the better the top growth next season.

Simply dig and divide the roots by hand. You may need a knife to make some of the divisions.

There is a new book 'The Gardener's Guide to Growing Hostas' by Diana Grenfell from Timber Press. It is very well written.

Growing Grapes

We have had a grape vine in our yard for the past eight years and it has never had one grape on it. It doesn't even bloom. What do we have to do to get it to bear grapes?

Sounds like the plant is getting too much good care. Grapes thrive on a certain amount of neglect. In fact, the finest grapes I have ever seen were planted around an abandoned house, where the only water they got was from rainfall. When we study the vineyards of France and Germany, we find the rows run up and down the hillsides for quick drainage. In the home garden the vines are too often planted in a spot where they get water whenever the lawn or flower beds are sprinkled. If the vines are growing long and fast, then there is a good chance they are getting too much care. A little vegetable garden fertilizer in mid-February will help, but then go light on both water and fertilizer for the rest of the growing season. If the vines need more water, the leaves will begin to wilt just a little and then it is time to water them.

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