Ask the Gardener: Hosta seeds, garlic, Alternaria leaf blight and more

Posted on: July 17, 2018 | Written By: Doug Oster | Comments

Gardening editor Doug Oster gets asked a lot of questions. A lot. And he doesn’t mind offering gardening advice. But rather than just limiting those answers to the person who asked, we thought it might be a good idea to share that wealth of knowledge with everybody.

There are three ways to send in your questions:

• Email

• Submit your question on our “Your Garden” section of our site

• Send us a message on Facebook.

(The questions may be lightly edited for grammar/clarity/etc.)

• • •

A flowering hosta

A flowering hosta

Leslie: How and when, and how do you know when to harvest hosta seeds? And what exactly do they look like? I have three of them in my yard and I love them. They get bigger every year and look so nice.

Doug: After the flowers finish, often times the plants will put on seed pods. When they dry, the pods will split and you can see the black seeds getting ready to fall.

• • •

Donna: I’ve planted garlic and it never takes. Last bunch died or they don’t have multiple cloves on it.

Doug: When do you plant, where does the garlic come from and what’s the soil like? Hopefully I can help you.

Donna: I got the plant in the spring and bulbs in the fall from Chapon’s. I dig and overturn the soil.

Doug: Hmm, I start with cloves from a place like Chapon’s Greenhouse and plant them three inches deep and six apart in good compost. I give them a nice layer of straw for the winter. In April the greens come up, then the scapes which are removed and harvest in July. Get a couple of bags of compost and just pour it on top of the bed, then plant the cloves.

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Cucumber leaves

Spots on these cucumber leaves have one reader concerned.

Kathy: Can you tell me what is causing this on my cucumber leaves? I got beetle traps since I seem to have problems with them each year. That problem was solved but now I have this. What organic product would you recommend?

Doug: It might be Alternaria leaf blight. Search that and see if it matches what you’re seeing. I’d recommend Serenade Garden Disease Control spray, available here.

• • •

Carole: No blooms on my hydrangea this year. Last year it was full. I never cut it down. Have had it for 6-7 years now. First year no bloom.

Doug: Buds probably froze out; that’s been happening lately with our crazy winters. I’m surrounding my plants with burlap supported by tomato stakes.

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Mary: I would like to use the water from the rain barrel at the back of my house, but it smells bad to me. Is it safe to use?

Doug: Yes, no problem. It’s fine for watering plants, but not too good for people!

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