Ask The Gardener

It’s time for another installment of “Ask The Gardener”! Each month we’ll tackle a few burning questions that either you have sent in or that I’ve been asked in the field or out in the community. Got a burning question? Send it on in!

Q: My husband begged me not to toss my tulip bulb after it finished flowering. I thought I was supposed to. Help! I’m confused.

A: You’re both right! If you’re trying to grow tulips in the landscape, to bloom year after year and add color to the garden, there’s no need to dig up the bulb and replant. It will likely bloom for more than one year. If, however, you’re growing it for cut flower production, it’s a different story. When we cut tulips down to the bulb in order to enjoy the flowers in a vase, it robs the bulb of its nutritional availability. So, if you’re growing for production, you should indeed compost the bulb after it’s done blooming.

Q: I can’t seem to get poppies to grow in my garden. What do you suggest?

A: You’re not alone, as poppies can be pretty tricky. For one thing, there are so many types of poppies out there that it boggles the mind. From the ephemeral California Poppy, to the pod-forming breadseed poppy, to the prized Icelandic poppy, there are almost countless varieties and colors out there. I’d recommend taking a look at the Johnny’s catalog and figuring out which variety you’d like to grow based on your needs. Then check out their impressive seed-starting guidelines.

Q: I want to grow sweet peas but putting up a trellis seems like a lot of work. Is there anything else I can use the same trellis for?

A: There are indeed many uses for trellises in the garden. In spring, your sweet peas can share a trellis or fence line with shelling or snap peas. Then come summer, you can take down the spring crops and plant climbing beans, cucumbers, or even melons in their place. I love getting multiple uses out of one structure, and you’ll love it too.