Question:

I planted two-dozen Gladiolus bulbs this spring. Now that they have finished blooming, I’ve pulled them all up. How should I care for these until they can be replanted? Do I cut off the green leaves?

Answer:

  • Oh my, you’ve removed the Gladiolus Bulbs too early from the ground. Gladiolus Bulbs like all other spring and fall planted bulbs are removed when the foliage turns brown and easily separates from the ground. The ‘after bloom period’ is critical to the success of the bulbs the following year. This is when bulbs store and replace the nutrients necessary for next year’s growth. They’re also fertilized again with Bulb Food to aid in the process.  Unfortunately, I’d start over with a new set of bulbs. 

Question:

Our first vegetable garden included Crookneck Squash along with cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes. We were really excited to pick our first two squashes. They were big and yellow but when I cut into them the skin was hard, thick and tough as a pumpkin skin. They’re inedible. What when wrong?

Answer:

  • This is a simple case of waiting too long to harvest. I’d pick the next squash about a week to ten days earlier than you did with the first ones.
    • Crookneck Squash is the perfect size to harvest and cook when they are five to eight inches long and three to four inches in diameter.
    • When left on the plants to long they take on a warty, gourd like appearance with a rough skin. The inside walls thicken and yes they‘re not edible. The Crookneck Squash tends to be a little harder when mature than Zucchini but that shouldn't matter.
  •  There is a little bit of a learning curve as to when to harvest; however, you’ll learn quickly by looking and feeling the squash. Don't be afraid to pick it at different sizes/stages just to see what works best for you.  In addition, the leaf stems are somewhat fragile, so you need to be a little careful when you harvest. My suggestion is to use a pair of garden scissors when harvesting.
  • Here are a few other growing tips. 
    • You should raise or remove any squash that is going to touch the ground.
    • The immature fruits will rot quickly when they’re in constant contact with moist soil.  You could raise them up with a Dixie cup to allow the air to circulate and keep the skin dry. You need to be careful with the water, as Blossom End Rot is a problem at this time of the year. Blossom End Rot causes the immature squash, to turn yellow and rot soon after they form.
    • Wet conditions or irregular watering is the primary causes of this disease. While the volume of water is constant, the frequency needs to change weekly, base on the weather, more with temperatures over eighty degrees and less when its cooler.  This is not hard to find out since the seven-day forecast is available in the newspaper, on TV or on a smartphone.