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Gardening Q&A

March/April 2017 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.



When shopping at the nursery, I am drawn to the plants in bloom, but they never seem to last long once I bring them home. What am I doing wrong?

You aren't doing anything wrong. Flowers last a certain time, and then they fade. My advice would be to admire those plants in bloom, but select ones that are just starting to produce flowering stalks—ones that aren't quite open, but have lots of buds ready to burst. This way, they will bloom for you and not for customers at the nursery.

The plant tag on my tomato plant says "determinate." I've never seen this before. What does it mean?

Tomatoes come two ways: determinate and indeterminate. Those terms refer to their growth habits. You need to know which types you have because one of them requires a much stronger, taller, bigger support system.

Determinate types have a short main stem, grow fairly compactly, grow to a certain size and stop. They are generally short and close to the ground. They bloom and then bear fruit in one big flush, and that's it. They're finished for the season.

Indeterminate types keep growing and blooming and producing fruit the entire season. They are the ones that need tall, stout tomato cages. They typically produce more fruit than determinate types. 

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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