, Salem, MA


September 28, 2012

Have bulbs to plant? Don't just yet



Store them in the original envelopes. Seal any open envelopes with tape or just fold them down tightly. Put the packets in a covered box (not a plastic box that you can see through, but a lightproof box) with a cover, and store the whole thing in a dark closet where it is relatively cool but not freezing — they will do well stored in a cool, dry, dark basement or cool, dry porch. Some gardeners like to put a little rice in the box to absorb moisture.

Seed viability may be slightly less next spring, so test the seed in the spring and plant accordingly. Most flower and vegetable seeds will remain viable for at least a second year, some even much longer. Next spring, consider donating any extra seeds or plants to one of the community gardens or food banks — they won’t go to waste.

Q: I have English ivy that I brought indoors from an outdoor pot several years ago. It has a place of honor on the living room windowsill, where it looks like it’s going to take over the entire room. It is pot-bound — roots are sticking out of the hole in the bottom of the pot — but there is always new growth on it. I go over it every month or so to clip off dead leaves and stringy things that don’t have any leaves on them, but outside of that, I leave it alone. Should I do anything else for it? How often should I feed it? It seems happy, so given that I once killed a philodendron, I really do not want to kill this one.


Your English ivy sounds very happy — you are doing all the right things, especially by keeping it so clean! But it is time to repot it. Choose a pot with good drainage, just one size larger in diameter than your current pot. Slightly loosen the soil around the tight root ball and repot, using a commercially bagged houseplant soil. Use a bought soil instead of garden soil so you don’t introduce some strange new bugs and pathogens to the plant.

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