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Ask A Gardener: Your Gardening Questions Answered

By Melody Rose (melodyNovember 10, 2012
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Gardening is both art and science, with some luck and skill thrown in for good measure. A big part of what attracts people to Dave's Garden has always been our forums, where gardeners ask and answer questions for one another. Occasionally we come across a question that we find particularly interesting or intriguing. We hope you find these questions (and answers, penned by our admins and writers) helpful as you grow your gardening knowledge!

Gardening picture

Question #1

ImagePlantPat asks: Is ornamental Kale edible?

carrielamont answers:  Ornamental Kale is a beautiful fall plant, isn't it? Even my husband, who abhors eating Kale, likes to watch the Ornamental Kale get more and more deeply colored as the weather gets colder and colder (although they're only hardy to around 14 degrees Fahrenheit, depending somewhat on variety). They are as edible as any other variety of Kale, although, as you might expect, the younger, inside leaves are most tender and the more decorative outside leaves are also the toughest. Cooking Kale makes it somewhat more tender, but there are questions about whether cooking destroys the considerable health boost allegedly achieved by eating Kale. But yes, you can have your Kale and eat it too! Here is a Dave's Garden article about Kale for eating vs. Kale for looking at, although the author in this case is really talking about the best types of Kale to eat, not whether it's possible to eat ornamental Kale.
"Eat More Kale - But Make Sure It's Edible Kale"

Question #2

ImageSlowJo_Malone asks: I'm currently trying to grow papaver somniferum for the first time. Being from New Zealand, (and just beginning summer) it is till suitably cold for germination. I have sowed some in the ground and a couple in pots for my porch. I sowed the seeds about two weeks ago and as of yet nothing. For the pots, I've put plastic over the pots to increase the humidity, but my worry is that the warm temperatures created by the sun through the plastic will make it too hot for germination. Obviously,
it's not hot during the night, but will the excessive heat in the day hamper germination?

Melody answers: Poppies like cool temperatures to germinate and are sometimes sluggish to sprout in warmer conditions. The optimum temperature range is 55 to 60F (12.7 to 15.5C) Depending on the varieties, germination days can range from as little as 3 days to up to a month. Your instincts were right to keep the soil moist, but they do like well-drained conditions as well, so if the soill starts to get moldy, you may have rot setting in. Did you cover the seeds with soil? Most poppies require light to germinate and if the seeds are covered, they tend to have a high failure rate. You should ligltly sow the seeds on top of the soil and then press them lightly with the flat side of your hoe or your hand to make sure that the seeds come in contact with the soil. Poppies are usually some of the easiest seeds to start, so you might want to make sure that the seeds are fresh and from a reliable source.

Question #3

ImageVictoriaDS asks: I am new so I hope I am following protocol.  I planted a tuberose, and it bloomed successfully until I dead headed it and cut off the part that produces the flower. I live in zone 6, and my question is will it overwinter in Tulsa. How far do I cut it to the ground, or do I did up the bulb completely. Thank you

sallyg answers: Congrats Victoria, so far so good. In zone 6 tuberoses are not expected to fare well if left in the ground over winter. You should dig them up and store them. Dig under the bulbs and excavate with care. Loosen the soil clinging to them, and shake it off. If possible, let the bulbs dry in the sun for a couple weeks. Store tuberose bulbs in warm dry conditions. Place them in dry peat or dry potting mix in an open container or paper bag, and keep them in a place that stays above 50 degrees F. Next year, replant the tuberoses where they will receive full sun and can be kept well watered.
Zone 7 gardeners can leave tuberoses in the garden though winter; mulch is recommended. Zone 8 and warmer regions should have no worries with tuberose winter care.
If you do lose your tuberoses, you may consider replacing them from Tennessee Tuberoses, http://www.tntuberoses.com/tuberose-growing-tips.php, or Old House Gardens, http://www.oldhousegardens.com/howtospring.asp, whose instructions helped me prepare this answer.

Question #4

ImageEos20 asks: My husband and I live in Central Florida (Zone 9a, I believe) and are looking for plants to fill an empty place in our yard.  The area is between a rather large Almond bush and a large, evil Palm tree (large spines--husband loves plants that can hurt him).  It probably gets indirect light at best and is in a dead zone with regards to the irrigation system.  We were hoping for some suggestions on what plants might do well and perhaps provide for native wildlife, like butterflies, caterpillars, or birds as well.  We have several beds of cactus/succulents, so something different would be a bonus.

Melody answers: You might check into some of the Viburnum species. There are several that will do well in central Florida. Viburnums are generally understory shrubs that do well in a wide variety of soils and conditions. They are North American natives and are attractive to butterflies and wildlife. They have beautiful blooms attractive to butterflies and interesting fall colors. The berries are relished by birds and small animals. They like bright, dappled shade and are drought tolerant once they are established.

Remember, if you have a gardening question that you would like to suggest for this feature, post it here.
Our writers and admins will handpick a few of your questions and answer them in an upcoming Ask-a-Gardener, one of our Saturday morning features. Other questions may be moved to one of our other forums so your fellow members can help you

Image credits are; Kale: Melody, Poppy: public domain, Viburnum: growin and Tuberrose: wikimedia commons.


  About Melody Rose  
Melody RoseI come from a long line of Kentuckians who love the Good Earth. I love to learn about every living thing, and love to share what I've learned. Photography is one of my passions, and all of the images in my articles are my own, except where credited.

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Discussion about this article:
SubjectTopic StarterRepliesViewsLast Post
What kind of tree will it be? wscottwst 0 14 Nov 12, 2012 6:52 AM
tuberose picture KanapahaLEW 0 14 Nov 12, 2012 5:25 AM
Walk by the Viburnum and head for... tentance 1 21 Nov 11, 2012 5:37 AM
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