Ask the gardening expert

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I have a pink dogwood tree in my backyard. It is very close to the house. It was on the property when I purchased the house in December. I have trimmed it back twice so far this summer to keep it from touching the house. I don't know how old the tree is, but it is obviously in the wrong place, and I have concerns about damage to the house's foundation. There is very little dig room between the foundation and the deck, so I might not be able to get to the entire root of the tree. Should I try to move it and take a chance on killing it, or is damage to the house not an issue?

It's a cute tree, but if there were ever a wrong plant in wrong place, this would be it. There's probably no damage to the house yet, but it could be coming. Your photos show there is not even three feet between the trunk and the house and the deck. Can't help but wonder what the idea was placing it there.

Some dogwood varieties are notorious for being difficult to successfully transplant. But I don't see that you have a choice; it cannot remain there. As you mentioned, limbs have already touched the house. It might survive transplant, but it might not.

It is such a small tree, so it has probably not been there long. The root might not have had time to travel out too far.

Choose a nice, typically sunny spot in your yard. Dig a wide-but-not-too-deep hole. Do not enhance the soil in the planting hole or place fertilizer in the planting hole.

You might not get all the root when you dig up the tree, but you will likely get most of it.

Replant it no deeper than it is now. Run water into the hole as you plant, even if it's raining.

Go ahead and do it now in early fall, as long as you keep it damp.

I hope the transplant works.

We just moved into our first home, and it had a vegetable garden this summer. It looks OK, but we know it will need attention before winter comes on. We both have zero experience at vegetables (a little at flowers), and we wonder what to do with it now ?

Congratulations on becoming homeowners. Because you have some experience at ornamental gardening, you are on your way. A vegetable garden isn't all that much different.

First, check with a master gardener for the best local, timely advice. Email mganswerclinic@clark.wa.gov.

Then, gather information wherever you can: books, TV garden shows, classes, visit with neighbors, and of course, look at advice online.

Here are a few things you could be doing now:

• Weed: Winter weeds are coming on. It's warm and wet -- their favorite condition. It's a slug's favorite, too! Declare war on them! Check with store staff for safe bait.

• Remove exhausted vegetables. Compost them only if they look healthy. Don't compost anything that looks diseased. Burn remaining plants if you are allowed. Or bury diseased plant parts 2 feet deep or more or send them to the landfill.

• Remove spent annual flowers.

• Weed some more!

• Cut back and divide any overcrowded perennial as needed.

• Turn over and loosen compacted soil.

• Add compost to soil.

• Bait for slugs and snails again. Apply often.

• Fertilize the lawn in mid- to late November.

• Seek disease-resistant fruit trees and plant them before leaves begin to grow.

• Apply mulch after soil is cold. Don't allow mulch to touch the trunk of shrubs or trees to discourage insects gnawing and bark damage.

My dad gave me some packages of vegetable seed that he didn't get planted this year. It's all packed for 2012; one is for 2010 and several for 2011. I hate to throw them out, but wondered if they will be worth planting? How shall I store them until spring?

Fresh seed is not that expensive, so you should not rely on these old seeds as the only seeds you plant for your next spring garden.

Some of the old seeds might sprout, but the germination rate will likely be lower. You could test it in the spring by putting 10 seeds in a damp paper towel. Place that in a plastic zipper bag. Keep the bag in a warm location and check it every few days to make sure it doesn't dry out.

Take a look in one week. If seven or eight of the 10 have sprouted, you'll stand a pretty good chance of having a crop. If fewer sprouted, plant heaver to compensate for the lower seed sprout.

Store the old seed in a dry, dark spot that will not freeze. And keep them from becoming damp.


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