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Q. Because our vegetable garden is off to a late start this year, and we love zucchini, we’d like to know how late we can plant and still expect a decent harvest before the growing season ends. We garden on the coast. We have seeds for several varieties on hand.
A. I routinely make a second, summer indoor sowing in early July for young plants to set out in late July or early August and harvesting in September and October.
I do this because by the time the July sown plants are ready to set out into the garden, the spring-sown ones are usually coming down with powdery mildew on their older leaves and are in decline.
Check the seed packages you have for the “days to maturity” number. That number gives a relative indication of the time it will take from planting to harvest. For zucchini, the number is from transplanting. For the July seeding, choose ones that indicate the shortest time to harvest.
Q. I’ve been researching to find the best way to prune and shape my young strawberry tree. What I’ve unearthed is a broad range of conflicting opinions. Can you help?
A. You’ve probably found conflicting advice because strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo) is a versatile plant, with a naturally rounded shape, that can be trained in many different ways to suit the grower’s preference. It can be grown in tree form with a single trunk or allowed to develop as a multi-stemmed shrub. It can be trimmed neatly, or left to range free.
Following a heavy snowfall that broke several branches on my long-established strawberry tree, after removing the broken limbs I decided to maintain the plant in a sort of bonsai form with the lower branch parts kept bare beneath a broad, flattish canopy of foliage. It’s a form that reveals the attractive limbs and allows me to see through to the front garden from the house.
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