Ask the Gardener: Tithonia seeds, bulb auger, elephant ears and more

Posted on: April 19, 2019 | 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.)

Question 1: Tithonia seeds

Jeannie: I have a ton of Tithonia (Mexican sunflower) seeds from my plants last year. If I direct plant them, should they grow?

Doug: Yes, I would also be tempted to start some indoors, too, just to hedge your bet. I was talking to a gardening couple recently that save seeds every year from the plant and then sow them. I just started some in my little greenhouse.

bulb auger

Question 2: Bulb auger

Susan: I have watched you for years on “Pittsburgh Today Live” and enjoy every one of them! Thank you for always educating us!

I am interested in the Power Planter Bulb Auger you mentioned recently. Where would we find one? Also, how deep do you dig when planting daffodil bulbs? This sure sounds like the way to go!

Doug: That is the best auger I’ve ever used. The length is perfect for planting on your knees with the bulbs beside you. It’s possible to add 100 bulbs in only 15 minutes or so. It makes bulb planting easy and fun. All bulbs are planted three times as deep as the actual bulb. This is a great time to take some pictures and write notes about where they would look good next spring.

You can get the bulb auger at this link.

Question 3: Time to plant elephant ears?

Sherry: I know you are enjoying the warm weather so you can be working in your garden. My question is, is it too early to put in bulbs like elephant ears or canna lilies?

Doug: Yes, it’s a little early. You might be able to get away with it, but I would wait until the second week of May.

Question 4: Compost sourcing

Phyllis: I so enjoy receiving your weekly Everybody Gardens emails and have learned a great deal from them and past articles. In a recent video regarding daffodils and turnip greens, you applied a bag of compost to your bed. I have been looking for quality compost to add to six older raised beds that need a great deal of help.

My husband has suggested mushroom manure/cow manure, etc., and we have looked at what’s available at our local Lowes and Home Depot, but are uncertain as to whether any of those products are worthwhile. Material that we have purchased from those locations in the past has been more than disappointing.

Would you please share the company name of the bag of compost you used in the video, and where I might purchase it? We are willing to travel wherever need be to make a purchase of quality material.

Doug: I’m so glad you like the weekly emails. I have a lot of fun writing them.

The best bet for good compost is going to a local nursery or garden center. One of my favorites is close to you. Bedner’s Farm and Greenhouse is a great place, and they can get you bagged compost for a good price.

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