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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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Prunes Dropping

We have an Italian prune tree, and every year about this time, it seems an excessive amount of fruit drops off. Could you tell me what the problem might be? The tree is about 10 years old.

It's not unusual for prunes to drop some fruit. Sometimes this is 'Mother Natures' way of thinning, because the tree is not capable of supporting all of the fruit that has formed. Lack of boron can make the condition a little worse. Feeding the tree in mid-February with a low nitrogen fertilizer that contains boron is advisable.

Bulb 101

How do you care for lilies, gladiolas, and irises after they have flowered, and is it the same as for tulips and daffodils?

Immediately after flower, I think it is a good idea to feed the foliage of all bulbs with 0-10-10 fertilizer. This helps build strength back into the bulbs, roots and tubers for the following year. If you live in the NW or other moderate climate areas, these bulbs can be left in the ground year-round. All you need to do is dig and divide them every few years, then replant them immediately if you wish. Iris and gladiolas need full sun, while lilies need a little shade for best and longest flowering.

See Also: Spring Flowering Bulbs

Squash Not Producing

I have been having a problem with my squash plants. When they finish blooming, the bloom itself falls off without producing a squash. I have taken care of the aphids and ants; however I am still having a problem with all three plants.

Squash vines have male and female flowers. Only the female flowers produce squash. The male flowers will just die and fall away. If neither are producing fruit, that is a pollination problem. Take a small paint brush or feather and go from flower to flower spreading the pollen.

Corn Collapsing

The corn that I planted this year has not done well because of the late start we got here in the Northwest. But my biggest problem is that it keeps falling over and I have to stake it up. Any answers as to why this keeps happening would be appreciated.

Sometimes corn will fall over if the soil is too rich in nitrogen, forcing quick top growth. Also, if the corn is planted in a location where the wind tunnels through the garden it would tend to fall over. This kind of situation occurs because of the location of buildings, fences and/or surrounding plants. The most likely reason your corn is falling over is due to insufficient root development from shallow soil or too much nitrogen.

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