Gardening Daily Tips 121


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Toad Lily (Tricyrtis hirta)

Plant type: Perennial

USDA Hardiness Zones: 5a to 9a

Height: 12″ to 36″

Spread: 18″ to 24″

Exposure: shade to partial shade partial sun

Bloom Color: White

Bloom Time: Early fall, Late fall, Mid fall

Leaf Color: Green

Growth Rate: slow

Moisture: moist

Soil Condition: Acidic, Loamy, Well drained

Form: Upright or erect

Landscape Uses:

Border, Container, Rock garden, Woodland garden

Special Features:

Attractive foliage, Suitable for cut flowers

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Q&A: Asparagus

Question: Can I grow Asparagus in a raised bed?

Answer: You can grow aspargus in a deep raised bed. To prepare the bed, first choose a spot with good drainage and plenty of sun. Dig trenches about 15 inches deep and 4 or 5 feet apart. Asparagus prefers a sandy loam soil so you will probably need to modify your soil bit (you probably already have the sand part!). Add a layer (approx. 6″ deep) of well-rotted manure or compost in the bottom of the ditch. You can also add some bone meal — a good source of phosphorus to encourage root growth. Add back some of the soil you removed, mixing it in with the compost/bonemeal. Form a little mound along the length of the trench. Set out the crowns on the top of this mound, spreading the roots carefully and spacing about 2 feet apart. Bury the roots with about 6 inches of soil, packing it gently around the crowns. Gently water thenewly-planted crowns. As the shoots emerge, keep adding more soil around them, until the trenches are filled to ground level. Ten plants per person should give you plenty of asparagus.

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Q&A: Seedlings Wilt

Question: When I start my seeds, they grow like mad for a couple of weeks and then begin to wilt. Am I overwatering them?

Answer: It sounds like your plants are “damping off”. This is usually caused by poor air circulation, overcrowded seedlings, and/or over-watering — usually in combination. Here are a few tips to minimize the likelihood of damping off. Since the fungus enters the plant at the soil line you can try to make an inhospitable environment for the fungus. When planting seeds, cover the soil with a fine layer of milled sphagnum peat moss or “play sand” (this is sand that has been sterilized; you should be able to find it at a hardware store or lumberyard). This provides a sterile, dry — and therefore unfavorable to the fungus — surface at the point it usually enters the stem. Provide good air circulation (a fan blowing gently in the room — but not directly on plants — is one way), and do not wet the foliage when you water. Be sure not to overwater.

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Q&A: Planting Seeds Through Landscape Fabric

Question: After I prepare the soil for my vegetable garden, I plan to put down landscape fabric then sow the seeds directly through holes I cut into the fabric. My question is does this sound feasible and is there a specific procedure for sowing seeds through landscape fabric?

Answer: Landscape fabric is generally suggested for areas with relatively permanent plantings such as trees and shrubs, and sometimes perennials, depending on the situation. Vegetable gardens are renewed each spring, which often means tilling and adding amendments, both of which would be difficult with landscape fabric in place. You can use landscape fabric under permanent walkways, but within the vegetable beds, you should consider using organic mulch such as straw, grass clippings, or shredded bark.

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Tip: Remove Spent Blooms on Lilacs and Rhododendrons

Snap or prune off the faded flowers from rhododendrons, azaleas, and mountain laurels. Be careful to avoid damaging the growth bud just below the flower cluster. This puts the plant’s energy into new growth rather than seed production. Pinch off the step tips of azaleas to keep plants bushy. Remove faded lilac blooms to improve next year’s bloom.

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Tip: Plant Asparagus

Asparagus is a perennial that will produce harvests for 20 years or more. Set out bare-root asparagus plants in an 8-inch-deep trench, setting crowns atop mounds of soil and spreading roots over them.

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