HOM Don't be in a rush to harvest the popcorn
BY KEITH STANGLER
Q:I tried growing popcorn in the garden for the first time this year. When should that be harvested? Do I have to lay it out to dry?
A:Popcorn should be about the last thing you harvest in the garden. Harvest anytime after all the leaves and stalks have thoroughly dried and turned brown. Remove all husks and put ears into onion bags, cheesecloth bags, or the like, and hang them from the rafters in an unheated garage or shed. In early December, try popping a few kernels. If it pops well, shell a quart or two of the kernels for popping. Popcorn keeps best over winter by leaving it on the cob, so just shell enough to use up in a couple of weeks or so.
Q:Can I transplant peonies now? I also have daylilies that are old, thick, and really do not flower well any more. Is this the time to divide those?
A:It is a perfect time to move and/or divide daylilies and most perennials.
Q:I recently saw where a new golf course has moved in some very large shade trees and evergreens. I have a maple about 8 feet tall that I would like to move from the front yard to the back yard, but I want to do it by hand with a shovel and not with one of those big tree spades. Can I do that now?
A:You will have greater chances for success if you wait until all the leaves have fallen from your tree. Those large tree spades take a huge root/soil ball with the tree and that is why they can do that successfully now.
Q:Some of my cucumbers have been so bitter that I have to spit them out. It does not seem to be related to size. Could they have cross-pollinated with my melons and squash?
A:Bitter cucumbers are usually a result of plants that are stressed for one reason or another. Healthy plants do not produce bitter-tasting cukes. These stresses might include hot weather, dry soil, low fertility or diseased plants. Cucumbers do not cross-pollinate with either melons or squash, so you can rule that out.
Q:My New Dawn climbing rose (new last year) is now at the top of the trellis but did not bloom. What is happening?
A:Three possible causes come to mind. (1) Your rose died back to the ground last winter and is now growing below the graft, in which case it never will bloom, or (2) you have a variety of rose that blooms on old-wood -- wood that was produced last year. If you pruned it back last spring or if winter injury occurred, that could cause no bloom this year, or (3) your rose is growing in less than full sun conditions. This would be especially true this year because of cool, wet conditions all summer.
Keith Stangler of Byron is a horticulturist. If you have a question for him, call Post-Bulletin Special Sections Editor Jerry Reising at 285-7739 or (800) 562-1758 or send an E-mail to email@example.com.