Which veggies to keep, and which to compost

  • Monday, October 21, 2019 1:30am
  • Opinion

The third week of October is a good time to dig in and plant more spring-blooming bulbs. You can also plant garlic cloves that will sprout in the spring and be ready to harvest next fall. Uproot any sad-looking vegetables and add the remains to your compost pile. The veggies that you can leave in the ground for winter harvest include carrots, potatoes, kale, Swiss chard and Brussels sprouts. Even if the weather turns frosty these hardy crops may survive and keep you in home-grown goodness for almost the entire winter. Some gardeners cover their edibles with plastic hoop houses or agricultural fleece to extend the harvest of winter greens and root crops.

Q. I have a complaint. Why have you not written about the beautiful sourwood tree? This small tree has gorgeous autumn color, narrow leaves that are bronze tinted in the spring and fragrant, bell-shaped flowers in the summer. It even looks great in the middle of winter with a graceful, weeping form. I don’t think there is any other tree that offers four seasons of beauty. I even looked up the needs of this tree and found out it does well in cool summer areas with acid soil so Western Washington offers the perfect conditions for this lovely tree. Sorry if I sound like a fanatic, but there is a sourwood tree just outside my window and it is so lovely that I just don’t know why more people don’t plant them. C.L., Tacoma

A. I agree the only thing wrong about the sourwood tree is its ugly-sounding name. It is also called the sorrel tree but to order one from your local nursery you should ask for it using its botanical name, Oxydendron arboretum. Even the botanical name seems unattractive for such a pretty little tree. It should be rechristened the Four Season tree or Tree of Everlasting Beauty, or how about “The Tree that Needs to be Planted more Often.” This time of year the foliage turns intense shades of orange, red and purple with silver-gray seed capsules that hang in clusters. Thanks for complaining about the lack of press on this tree. If just one reader adds one Oxydendron tree you will have made the world more beautiful.

Q. How big does a burning bush grow? I have been admiring the bright red leaves on this shrub every fall and I see that they are used along interstate highways with no added irrigation so I want to assume they are hardy and drought resistant. I have a sunny spot in the front of the house but there is a big picture window that I do not want to block. K., email

A. The bright red shrubs that are in full autumn glory right now are most likely Euonymus alatus and these are one of several plants that have the common name of burning bush. (That is the problem with common names – the same name can be used for entirely different plants.) The good news is that this shrub is sun loving and drought resistant. The bad news for your picture window is that even the most dwarf or compact form of Euonymus alatus will grow 5 feet tall and 6 feet wide in our climate.

If you want fall leaf color for a small space check out the more compact dwarf Nandina or Heavenly Bamboo. Dwarf Nandina varieties that stay around 3 feet high include Fire Power, Gulf Stream and Sienna Sunrise. This is a good time of year to visit a nursery and see the fall leaf colors of shrubs in person.

Q. I planted some bulbs of Eucomis or pineapple lily and they came up with green leaves in the summer and bloomed in August and September. The spiky flowers were amazing. They also lasted a long time in a vase. Now I want to be sure this plant survives the winter. Do I need to dig up the bulbs and store them indoors? A.N., Puyallup

A. The good news is that your Eucomis will most likely survive the winter even if left in the ground. It is wet soil that can rot them so if the bulbs are in a raised bed, container or in soil that is sandy and drains well you have nothing to worry about. If in doubt, cut back the strappy green leaves then cover the tops of the bulbs with sword fern leaves or some other water resistant barrier to keep out the winter rains. Even an overturned plastic nursery pot will offer protection from the constant winter wetness.

The common name Pineapple lily refers to the tubular blooms that look like something that emerges from a pineapple plant. It is not a member of the lily family nor will it form pineapples. The exotic looking Eucomis comes from South Africa and in our climate needs full sun and good drainage. From personal experience I can tell you these bulbs will bloom year after year with little care, adding a tropical flair to the late summer and autumn garden.

• • •

Write to Marianne Binetti at: P.O. Box 872, Enumclaw, 98022. Send a self-addressed, stamped envelope for a personal reply.

Copyright for this column owned by

Marianne Binetti.

More in Opinion

White nationalism comes to Renton

Let’s just get down to brass tacks — Patriot Front is a… Continue reading

Washington State Capitol Building in Olympia. File photo
Despite ruling on Public Records Act, we need to keep a close eye on Olympia

Washington Supreme Court upholds that state legislators are subject to the Public Records Act.

Republicans chose political power over the Constitution

I’m astounded and appalled that members of both parties in Congress were… Continue reading

The people who use SNAP are already working

SNAP and other welfare benefits help working, low-income families while boosting the economy

From left, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif., House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., announce they are pushing ahead with two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — charging he corrupted the U.S. election process and endangered national security in his dealings with Ukraine, at the Capitol in Washington on Tuesday. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Will we feel different when Trump is impeached? Probably not

As a historic vote looms in the House, attitudes of the public are pretty hardened on this subject.

Guest Opinion: Eyman’s run an election wildcard for 2020

We knew it would happen. It’s a wonder it took this long.… Continue reading

Growing up as a Republican

I grew up in a Republican home. My family valued honesty, dependability,… Continue reading

Discerning fact from opinion

It can be more difficult than people first think, according to the Pew Research Center.

Why we need media literacy classes now, more than ever

Education on how to find authentic, factual information in today’s digital landscape is a must for future generations

Letters to the editor for the week of Nov. 15

Reader’s child enjoys stories about community Dear editor, I just read “It’s… Continue reading

George Will and ‘conservative sensibilities’

The journalist is a Constitutional Originalist, but the framers’ sole focus wasn’t solely freedom.

Container math: Divide your roots to multiply your plants

By the month of November gardeners and gardening goals have moved indoors.… Continue reading