Still time to plant spring bulbs | THE COMPLEAT HOME GARDENER

Marianne Binetti answers questions about poor soil quality and eating mushrooms.

The second week of November means there is still time to plant more spring blooming bulbs and this is the time that many vendors will put their bins of bulbs on sale.

If you are lucky enough to find open bins selling lose bulbs of tulips, daffodils and crocus dig in and pick out the biggest, fattest bulbs in the bin. Avoid any bulbs that are soft or mushy or show signs of rot. The dried bulbs are living things so store them in a cold but not freezing spot until you can get them planted in the ground.

Tip: Out of site out of mind. Many gardeners forget to plant their bulbs because the bag is forgotten in a garage or garden shed. Display your newly purchased bulbs in a basket under the cover of a porch or patio. As long as you keep the bulbs cool and dry you have until December to get them into the ground.

Q. My husband and I read with interest your answer about how to discourage cats in the garden. Some years ago we ran across a large nursery selling bags of lavender and rue for use in discouraging cats and dogs from digging in the garden. We decided to save the clippings from our lavender plants and scattered these on top of the soil. We have not had any more cats digging in our garden. As a bonus some of the lavender pruning crumbs even rooted and made new plants. J and P, Covington

A. Thank you for the lovely idea. Using lavender rather than prickly rose canes is a sweeter way to discourage cats and dogs from digging. If you already grow lavender plants then pruning them once or twice a year will provide plenty of crumbs to use a pet deterrents. Add new lavender plants in the spring choosing a sunny site with excellent drainage.

Q. We have a problem with our lawn. Our soil is very poor and it seems all that will grow are weeds. My husband uses weed and feed every spring and we still end up with weeds. We had a company seed it and still we have only weeds, no lawn grass. Are we forced to bring in topsoil and start over? I really want a grass lawn. JB, Bonney Lake

A. My sympathies, but you do live in an area with very infertile soil and this is the reason weeds grow better than lawn grasses. If you really want a nice lawn you will need to bring in four to six inches of topsoil and start over using a starter fertilizer and fresh lawn seed. You will also need to fertilize to keep the grass growing.

Your other option is to use native ferns, shrubs and groundcovers and create walkways through the plant material that had adapted to the lean soil in your area. A landscape company familiar with the soil in your area will be the best source of topsoil and plants that will thrive in the glacial till soil that surrounds your home. Planting berms and raised beds are the most practical solution.

Q. Can I eat the mushrooms I find growing in my lawn? Anon

A. No. Some local mushrooms are deadly poisonous. Some are delicious and edible. Unless you know for sure, don’t take any chances. You can learn more from local foraging classes.

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