Doug’s mailbag: Dogwood relocation, tomato issues and garlic soup recipe

Posted on: August 31, 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 askdoug@535mediallc.com

• 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.)

• • •

Bonnie: I have a question about a dogwood tree. We have one (about 15 feet tall) that is too close to the house and would like to move it. When and how is the best way to do this? I’ve read conflicting things online. Will it be OK if we trim some of the tall branches first? Some of the things I read said it early spring, others to do it in the fall! Thanks for your help

Doug: I once asked a gardening pro when the best time to move a dogwood is, she said never! Fall is best, though.

I would be tempted to have an arborist take a look. They will come out for free and give you a quote. That’s awful big for a regular gardener to move. You need to get a lot of the root ball to assure the plant survives. One more thing: take a look at pruning as an option. The roots shouldn’t be a problem for the house, and dogwoods shouldn’t be able to do any damage if they fall.

• • •

Eleanor: I have a tomato plant in a pot on my porch, and some of them have a black rot on the bottom. Are the other ones good to eat?

Doug: Yes, that’s called blossom end rot. It’s common in container tomatoes. Be sure the soil stays evenly moist. Sometimes the tomatoes will heal themselves, too.

• • •

Linda: Can you give me any idea why my tomato plants have no green leaves but tons of tomatoes. Will they turn red with no leaves on the plant?

Doug: Sure, it’s been a problem this year since it’s been so wet. The tomatoes have either early blight or septoria leaf spot. It doesn’t kill the plant but slows it down. I’ve heard from lots of people in the same situation. At this point, there’s nothing to do except wait for the tomatoes to ripen. Don’t compost the plant at the end of the season.

• • •

Bob: I have two potted tomato plants on my deck. Both are large and full of tomatoes. The only issue is they are all still green and don’t look like they are turning any time soon.

Doug: I’ve heard this from a lot of gardeners. They will turn when they are ready, but there is one thing you can do to help things along. Since we’re at the end of the season, one little trick you could try would be to trim the tops of the plants off, which includes the new blossoms. The plant often times will then go into panic mode and start ripening tomatoes in an attempt to create seed.

• • •

Susan: Doug, will you part with the Ultimate Garlic Lovers Soup recipe? (I hope so.)

Doug: It’s easy. As many garlic cloves you can handle already peeled. Throw them in the food processor and then saute in olive oil until they soften up. Add stock, herbs, salt, pepper and then some half and half or cream and let it cook in a crock pot for a couple of hours. I make it a little different each time.

Previous mailbags

Canada thistle, compost, bolting parsley and more

Blossom end rot, bees, butterfly weeds and more

Mystery bugs, lavender plants and watermelons

Strawberry plants, cool-weather crops, pumpkins and more

Tomato issues, zucchini struggles, lilacs and more

Hosta seeds, garlic, Alternaria leaf blight and more

Moving a hydrangea, hibiscus and succulents

Lilies, Brussels sprouts and septoria leaf spot

Garlic harvest, cucumber beetles, spindly tomatoes and more

Bladdernut, fungus gnats, rose black spot and more

Poison ivy, black-eyed Susans and container mix

Cucumber beetles, hot pepper plants and planting potatoes

Zebra grass, pale vegetables and yellow nutsedge

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Doug Oster is manager and editor of Everybody Gardens with a passion for gardening and a love of sharing is experiences with other gardeners. You will also find Doug’s gardening contributions in the Tribune-Review each week. He’s an Emmy Award winning producer, television host and writer. Oster is co-host of The Organic Gardeners Radio show every Sunday morning at 7 a.m. on KDKA radio in Pittsburgh. Oster’s Outstanding Documentary Emmy was awarded for Gardens of Pennsylvania, a one hour special he conceived and produced for the PBS affiliate WQED. Doug appears every Thursday morning on KDKA-TV’s Pittsburgh Today live at 9 a.m. “Gardening is fun, he says, enjoy every day spent outside tending vegetables, flowers, shrubs and trees.”