Ask the gardening expert

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I have been reading seed packets and noticed the spacing; all seed companies tell me to space the seed so far apart. I cannot find anything that tells me spacing for plants in a raised bed or a container. I’m in an apartment and do not have a gardening space, but want to grow some vegetables on a deck. What can I do to get them?

It’s my understanding that seed companies are using data from test plots done by universities and other qualified groups. The trial growing is done on plots of certain sizes that they feel are typical for homeowners. There is no reason that you need to plant according to that spacing. In fact, for you it’s impossible.

Plant seed close together in beds or containers. As they grow, harvest crowded ones to give room for others to finish growing. Make sure your deck gets plenty of sunshine; vegetables need sun to grow well.

I was surprised to run across a beautiful plant last year called “Fuchsia begonia.” I had never see it before, now I’m seeing them often at plant sales and market vendors. How is it possible to cross a begonia and a fuchsia? They seem so different.

You are right, they are different. In fact they are absolutely different genera and not a cross. I have noticed some of the vendors are calling the plant a fuchsia begonia on plant tags, but the correct name for this easy-to-grow plant is ‘Begonia fuchsiodes,’ which means fuchsia-like, referring to the bloom. They come from Venezuela.

They are gorgeous plants with small, succulent-like shiny leaves and cute, tiny, individual blooms -- and they do slightly resemble a fuchsia. I found myself swept up in the fuss over them and own three colors: pink, white, and a cherry red. I found the cherry red one in a vendor’s booth at the Vancouver Farmers Market just last week. They are so lovely and easy to grow; they never fail to get comments on their beauty from all who see them.

The winter weather damage in my garden is horrible. I am losing my favorite older trees and shrubs each winter. I am just sick about it. What I can do to keep this from happening?

That may be hard to do and perhaps not worth it in the long run. You told me that some of the trees are older and misshapen by age and harsh weather over time. After a landscape has been in for 15 years or more, it may need some serious work to bring it back into shape.

Small garden trees and shrubs are not meant to carry a heavy snow load for years on end. My advice to you it is to replace them. Local nurseries are full of such lovely choices these days.

Celeste Lindsay is a WSU-certified master gardener. Send questions to mslindsay8@gmail.com.

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