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What's this mysterious yellow vegetable, when to transplant shrubs and more

Don Kinzler identifies this mystery vegetable as yellow eggplant. Submitted photo

Q: Can you help me figure out what these are? I thought they were tomatoes even though I didn't remember buying yellow ones this year. They're a bit heavier than a tomato, full of flat seeds, and kind of tasteless and punky inside. — Ann Prestrude.

A: Thanks for giving me the chance to recommend Facebook as a great way to exchange gardening information, such as your question. After you posted the photo, friend Charles Elhard, who happens to be the plant protection officer with the North Dakota Department of Agriculture, was the first to correctly identify the vegetable as yellow eggplant.

There are different types of yellow eggplant, and this appears to be the one commonly called Thai Yellow Egg. One source indicated that in Thai it's referred to as "kheun" which means nasty because of its taste.

More's the merrier with our gardening chats, so anyone interested in gardening is free to send a Facebook friend request to me, Don Kinzler, and join the gardening fun we have on Facebook.

Q: I need to transplant a very large Vanilla Strawberry Hydrangea. Can that be done in the spring, or is it better in the fall? — Deborah Haugen.

A: It's much better to transplant shrubs in the spring before growth begins, so usually in April. Disturbing the shrub in fall before the onset of winter is riskier. Some things prefer fall transplanting, such as perennials like peonies and bleeding heart, but most shrubs prefer being moved in early spring. To increase success and reduce transplant shock, prune the hydrangea back by at least half when transplanting.

Q: Is there a tall sedum around 15 inches with flowers in any shade of yellow? I love my perennial sedum, but the only yellow I find is the ground cover type. Sedum are beautiful in fall when many other perennials are finished. — Margaret Brademeyer, Verona, N.D.

A: The most common upright taller sedums belong to the species Sedum spectabile and Sedum telephium, such as Autumn Joy and Brilliant, with their beautiful fall flower colors of rose-pink. Within these same species are white-flowered Stardust and Iceberg, but in searching I find no taller yellow option, only in the low-growing sedums. Some species just don't have the genetics for certain colors. For example, I doubt we'll ever see a blue marigold.

Q: I planted a Dwarf Lilac Tree in the summer of 2017. This spring, I thought it was dead and was about to dig it out when I noticed it was getting suckers. Within a month, leaves started to come out, but only on half the branches. Should I remove the suckers so they aren't stealing nutrients from the actual tree, and is there anything else I can do? — Kathy Leingang, Fargo.

A: Dwarf Korean Lilac Trees are grafted and the rootstock is vigorous, so the suckers at the tree's base do sap strength from the upper part and should be pruned away whenever they appear. Next spring as new growth emerges from the upper tree part, prune away dead branches and hopefully there'll be enough left for a well-rounded tree to continue growth. Next May, apply granular 10-10-10 fertilizer around the root zone to encourage new growth.