“I planted my garlic last spring (instead of October as I usually do) and it has grown very poorly. Can I leave it in the ground and harvest it last year? I also dug my kitchen compost into my garden last year because a bear tore apart my compost bin. Do you think the kitchen composting caused the problems with garlic growth?”
Spring-planted garlic is always smaller than October-planted garlic. Just how much smaller will depend how late in spring you planted it. If you plant as early as January, garlic will have much more time to make roots than if you planted it in April.
Your garlic will survive if it’s left in the garden (critters usually leave it alone). But you need to find out whether you have clusters with small cloves or single bulbs that look like small onions. This will depend how late in spring you planted them.
You could leave the small-onion type right where you originally planted them. They will enlarge and each will split into a cluster with lots of time to develop into a magnificent clove harvest.
If you have clusters of small cloves, you need to separate them and plant them separately. Otherwise each small clove will try to make a small cluster despite having insufficient space. They’ll get congested and probably give you very small cloves again – though you’d probably get lots of them.
I’m quite sure the kitchen composting wouldn’t have caused problems with garlic growth. I dug kitchen compost into my vegetable garden for years and had great results with all those beds.
“Can you tell me how to start new fuchsia plants from the ones I have.”
Fuchsias are so easy from cuttings they can be propagated almost any time of year.
Take a 3 or 4-inch stem (8 or 10cm) and remove any leaves that will be in the soil. Then gently rub a little rooting hormone powder in the area where the leaves were removed. Or, if the hormone is liquid, dip the bottom half of the stem in it briefly.
Plunge the bottom half of the stem into a container of moistened potting soil. I usually add a trace of organic fertilizer into the soil – just enough to nourish the stem as it grows. If you put the stems into a greenhouse or cold frame, humidity should be quite adequate.
If they’ll be inside a house, put the pot with cuttings into a clear plastic bag and fasten with a twist-tie. Condensation will form on the inside of the bag so turn it inside out once daily. If the potting mix starts to look dry, mist the cuttings.
Once fuchsias start growing, gradually open up the plastic bag until you can remove it completely. Don’t let them dry out, but keep them moist, not wet. Don’t let the pot sit in water.
Over fall and winter, the cuttings need to be kept in a shady spot. If they get too tall and lanky, just prune them back. This will help them bush out ready for spring.
“What types of plants love tea leaves and coffee grounds?”
Both are useful for acid-loving plants. This would include rhododendrons, camellias, kalmias, blueberries, African violets, ferns, azaleas and amaryllis.
Anne Marrison is happy to answer garden questions. Send them to her via email@example.com.