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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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How Much Fertilizer is Enough?

A generous neighbor gifted my garden with a truckload of chicken manure which is enough to cover the entire surface of the garden with 6 to 8 inches of the stuff. I've been assured that the manure is highgrade, 2 - 3 year old and full of fat active earth worms. One of my conservative neighbor's has expressed her alarm at the quantity of fertilizer. She is convinced that no amount of rototilling will save my garden from ruin for the next year or two. She advises that I remove the bulk of it before tilling. What do you think? I have put it around my Tulips and other bulbs and they are growing fine, without any signs of burning and it does not have the smell of fresh manure.

The usual recommendation is that only about two to four inches of manure be added at any time. So six to eight inches is quite a bit. Since you already have it spread, and are confident that it is well rotted, try one pass with the rototiller and see how well it mixes with the existing soil. A good tiller will often mix and cultivate to a depth of twelve inches or so, and the mix and texture might be alright.

Keeping Moss Out of the Garden

Is there something I can use to keep moss out of my flower beds? I have been scraping it off and taking it to the dump but it comes back each year.

Most moss killers cannot be used around plants because they will effect desirable plants, too. So it is best to either grub out the moss and compost it or encourage the moss and use it as a natural ground cover. Moss grows because of acid soil, too much shade; tight soils (hardpan/clay) or lack of sufficient fertilizer. Correct the condition that is causing the moss to grow and it should go away.

Moving Clematis

I have Clematis 'Ramona' climbing all over a lattice. It is planted in a pot. We will be moving and I must remove the lattice and therefor the clematis. Do you recommend pruning the Ramona Clematis so it will be easier to move?

Before doing anything you should consider that the cost of a new trellis and Clematis vine is usually quite reasonable, and ask yourself if it is really worth the time and effort to move this vine?  If your answer is, "Yes" then it should be done immediately. Otherwise the vine will be in full growth and it could be too much shock to the plant. Prune it back to about waist height.

Pruning Roses

Is it too late to prune my roses? We have been out of town, and some of the plants already have new growth that is several inches long.

Go right ahead and prune the roses. In fact, it is more important that they be pruned in order to keep them in shape and looking nice. If you let them go, without pruning, they will be too rangy and out of proportion by the middle part of the season.

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