Friday, January 8, 2010

Reader's Questions: Home & Garden

Use the talents you possess - for the woods would be a very silent place if no birds sang except for the best. ~Henry Van Dyke

I hope you all have recovered from the holiday hustle and bustle. I have some questions and answers today. It's hard to think of gardening when it's 22 degrees (F.) and snowing outside, but I snuggled up to the laptop and managed:)

I planted a couple of bearded iris in individual pots. One of them started to sprout so I placed it under a UV light like the others, but two days later the new green started to turn brown. I've removed it from the light, but if you could get back to me on what I did wrong. ~April

April, my understanding is that Iris need the cold in the winter. If you have it indoors during the time it's suppose to be dormant and kept cold, it's not going to grow as it should. I don't know where you live, but I would keep the pots in a very cool or cold location (garage etc.) until spring. The bulb may have started to sprout because it was inside, but it still wasn't ready to grow and bloom. I could not find information on forcing Iris to bloom early, so I'd store the pots in the cold until spring as I mentioned.

Could you suggest plants and shrubs that the deer won't eat? Even if I can't plant yet I still want to plan! ~Elaine

First thing to remember, nothing is ever 100% deer proof if they are hungry enough. But, many plants are not appealing to them if they have other things to nibble on. You'll notice a lot of herbs in the resistant category: santolina, spearmint, thyme, rosemary, most sage plants, Mexican oregano, tansy, yarrow, and lavender are among them. Some perennials that are also unappetizing to deer are foxglove, joe-pye weed, anemones, astilbe, butterfly weed, bellflower and periwinkle. This should give you a good start on planning!

I live in Roseville, CA, just above Sacrament. I planted bulbs for the first time in November (according to the packages) for Spring. A lot of them have come up and flowered already. Does this mean I won't have a full flower garden in the spring? Is there something I should or shouldn't have done? I was looking so forward to them all be up at once. ~Marta

I'm in Michigan, so our bulbs are still dormant. I looked up a little on California, and found that some bulbs like crocus and tulips aren't really suited to your climate, though there may be some exceptions. Bulbs usually don't come up all at the same time. They are usually classified as late winter, early spring, mid-spring and late spring, plus there are summer bulb varieties too. Each one is triggered by different time lengths and temperatures. Many times when you buy an assortment they will have different bloom times so they are staggered. People often prefer this so the bulbs flower for a longer length of time. What I would do is make a little diary of what bulbs bloomed already and the dates that the other ones end of blooming. Next fall instead of buying an assortment, fill in the bed with bulbs in the various bloom times, so you have a nice selection from late winter to summer.

I have a friend that lives in another country where corn syrup is not available What could be used in a pecan pie instead of corn syrup?. Would you have a different recipe without it? ~Janet

Your friend can make a syrup that will work in the recipe. Use 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar and 1/3 cup water. Mix them in a sauce pan and boil until it becomes thick like syrup. You can also add a little molasses to this too.


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