Q: A friend gave me an Angel's Trumpet plant. She had it in a pot and kept it in her garage in winter. I planted it outside in a sunny southern exposure under the eaves of the house. It barely made it through the last two winters. I cut the dead branches off but it doesn't bloom. It is now just a few inches tall, about six leaves and no flowers. I would like to leave it in the garden, but how can I protect it from the cold?
A: Angel's Trumpet is very frost-sensitive. Chances are it will never do well if it's outside through winter. To keep it alive, you need to pot it up and bring it into the house during the coldest months.
But since you want to leave it in the garden, you should begin nurturing it by keeping it under the eaves of the house and watering it every day in the growing season. This plant needs the sunshine and good drainage of a sunny place, but it also needs lots of water. Lack of water could be the reason it's barely growing.
In fall, you should protect it with a big pile of dried leaves extending almost to the top of the plant and stretching out about three feet (1m) all around so that the roots are blanketed against frosts.
The leaves should be held in with wire so that they don't blow around during high winds.
Then you need a mini greenhouse or sheltering device to block cold winds from this area. Possibilities include an old window leaning up against the wall, or a screen of pliable plastic with a wood surround that's fastened to the wall to keep it in place.
But all this is a lot of work and if the winter is a tad colder than usual, your Angel's Trumpet could still end up dead. Everyone I've ever met who's successfully grown one of these cuts them back in fall and brings them inside during winter.
Q: We are growing radishes and the stem and leaves are huge! And the radishes themselves are long. We took one out just to look at it. Is this normal?
A: The huge leaves don't sound normal for a salad radish. They could be suffering from an overdose of nitrogen. I wonder how you fertilized your radishes.
It's easy to overdo chemical fertilizers (nitrogen is the first number of the three-number sequence on packaging). But even natural fertilizers such as manure, blood meal or fish meal and fish fertilizers can be so rich in nitrogen that giant leaves result.
Or perhaps you've just lucked into very, very rich soil. If the radish root tastes and looks otherwise okay - just enjoy!
The long radish root may be typical of its variety. Most salad radishes are round, but there are a few varieties that are long - not hugely long, but they can stretch three or four inches (7 - 10cm). One is a French kind called 'D'Avignon' another is named 'Shunkyo.'
Is it possible you're growing a winter radish? Sometimes they're called 'Daikon). The winter radishes are very long, often over 12" (30cm) and they're wider too.
The seed packet should tell you what kind you've got.
Anne Marrison is happy to answer garden questions. Send them to her via firstname.lastname@example.org.