Q: Can you settle a tomato disagreement? My neighbor says adding Epsom salts to the soil prevents the black rot that frequently happens on the bottom of tomato fruits. I've heard that it doesn't work. Who's right? - Linda M., Hillsboro, N.D.
Q: I have a question about the potatoes that we grew in our family garden. This year some of our russets and Red Pontiacs have bad spots in the middle of the potatoes. Not all tubers have the problem, but we've had to throw some that were totally unusable. What causes this, and what can we do to prevent it in the future? — Paul Meyer, Fargo.
FARGO — This is the year. Rains will come at just the right times, evenly spaced. The weather will be neither too hot nor too cold. Weeds won't be an issue. Flowers and vegetables will grow large and lush this summer because blights and bugs froze out during the recent cold snap. Our gardens and flowerbeds will be our best ever.
Get ready to adjust your yard and garden habits. The Garden Media Group issued their annual Garden Trends Report, predicting the hot topics, major goals and concerns for the upcoming year in the world of gardening. Even if we don't completely upend our current way of doing things, it still makes for interesting discussion. And I'm happy my old hoe is in vogue again. Adjusting to climate change
Q: The attached photo shows a $3 hibiscus rescued from Walmart several years ago. I'm growing it indoors in front of our deck doors, which face west, giving afternoon sun. — Gail Sjolander Olson, Fargo. A: Thanks, Gail, for responding to my request to share your hibiscus tips, after I noticed your hibiscus photo on Facebook. Gail writes: "I'm growing my two hibiscuses indoors year-round now, because I had insect problems when I'd move them outdoors. I tried them on our west deck, but now grow them inside the deck doors, which gives them the same sunlight as outdoors.
FARGO — If anyone doubts gardeners are a happy bunch, just visit a garden center in May. Shoppers high with spring fever swarm greenhouses, giddy as they fill their carts with the fervor of a rabbit eating a fresh rhododendron. Claiming that gardening improves people's lives is a fine thing to say, but can it be proven? Texas A&M University assembled a list of gardening's positive life effects, and it's based on well-cited research. Following are their fascinating evidence-based findings:
Q: When I read your recent article about making Christmas centerpieces, I thought of some I've made and wish to share a photo of one that has a little story behind it. — Jack Fuller, West Fargo.
Q: I've noticed a lot of potted Norfolk Pines being sold in the chain stores decorated for Christmas, and I see many of them carried outside without covering. Is it OK to do that? I thought they were supposed to be covered. - Lynn Anders, Alexandria, Minn.
Q: My bird-of-paradise plant is 25 years old and began blooming three years ago. A new flower recently started opening, as seen in the photo.—Laura Schumacker, Fullerton, N.D.
Did you hear about the gardener who was so cheap, instead of buying his date flowers, he bought her seeds? Using the evergreens in our home landscape for centerpieces isn't just about getting Christmas decorations on the cheap; it's a fun art to learn.