Califonia Bountiful

Gardening Q&A

Sept./Oct. 2016 California Bountiful magazine

As a California Bountiful reader, you have the opportunity to get your seasonal gardening questions answered by gardening expert Pat Rubin. Here are a few questions from our readers.

The leaves of my squash plants look terrible this time of year. They curl on the ends and get what looks like mildew on the leaves. But they are still producing wonderful squash. I haven't changed the way I take care of them.

You've done nothing wrong; it's just that time of year when the plants are dying. You can't stop Mother Nature from doing what comes naturally. Enjoy the late bounty while you can. When the plants are done, pull them out.

I want to have flowering sweet peas next spring. Someone told me to plant seeds in the fall. Isn't that a bit early? Won't the winter cold kill them?

It's true. If you want to plant flowering sweet peas from seed, you need to get the seeds in the ground in the fall. November is the best month, but if you're a tad early or late, don't worry. You can scatter the seed willy-nilly and let them take their chances and come up where they will, or carefully prepare a spot. Cover the seeds with a bit of soil—don't bury them. The plants will come up when they are ready, and you will have loads of beautifully scented sweet peas next spring and early summer. If you want them to come up again next year, leave some of the flowers to go to seed. You can collect the seed to let it dry, then plant again the following fall. 

About Pat Rubin, California Bountiful's gardening expert

For Pat Rubin, gardening is more than just dirt and plants. "It's about history, romance, adventure and people," she says. "And it should be fun."

California Bountiful's gardening columnist has lived and chronicled this fun, hands-in-the-dirt approach for years—and for additional publications including Fine Gardening, Pacific Horticulture, Christian Science Monitor, Family Circle and The Sacramento Bee. Pat has also volunteered as a Master Gardener, speaks to garden clubs and appears regularly on gardening radio shows.

Need gardening advice? Ask the expert!

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