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Originally published Thursday, April 11, 2013 at 5:00 AM

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Divided we fall: Better to transplant, not split, lavender

Garden writer Ciscoe Morris advises against dividing a lavender plant, and yes, you can grow soybeans here.

Special to The Seattle Times

Gardening Events

Ciscoe’s Picks

Arboretum Foundation Early Bloomers Plant Sale: Shop and stroll in the garden, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, Washington Park Arboretum, Graham Visitors Center, 2300 Arboretum Drive E., Seattle (206-325-4510 or www.arboretumfoundation.org).

South King County Flower & Garden Show: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, SeaTac Community Center, 13735 24th Ave. S., SeaTac; $5-$7.

Northwest Perennial Alliance Spring Plant Sale: 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday, North Seattle Community College cafeteria, 9600 College Way N., Seattle (www.northwestperennialalliance.org).

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In the Garden

Q: Is it possible to transplant half of a lavender plant gone huge? I am hoping to split it down the middle and move half to another location in my garden

A: It’s fairly easy to transplant a lavender plant, but you can’t divide them. Lavenders are woody shrubs and if you split one down the middle, it will die.

The best time to move lavender is in late winter and early spring. It can be done now, but you’ll have to watch the watering. Before you decide to do it, take a good look at the base. Most of the faster-growing lavenders tend to develop unattractive bare stems at the base.

Although some experts recommend cutting them back to about a half-inch from the ground to encourage them to branch out anew, my own experiments have taught me that most lavenders are short-lived after such hard pruning.

If your lavender has bare stems, consider buying a new one. Lavenders are relatively inexpensive. Consider planting a dwarf variety, as they don’t only stay much smaller, they also are much slower to form bare stems.

Two outstanding dwarf English lavenders are Lavandula angustifolia ‘Thumbelina Leigh,’ with dark blue flowers and blue-green foliage, and Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote,’ featuring unbelievably fragrant navy-purple wands, and highly ornamental silver leaves.

Every spring, shear your lavender back to within a half-inch of bare wood. That will help increase blooming while significantly slowing the development of bare stems at the base.

Q: I am preparing my vegetable garden right now, and one crop I have never tried is soybeans. Is it possible to grow them here?

A: Territorial Seed Company in Oregon offers a variety of these beans (known as edamame) called ‘Midori Giant’ that is rich in protein, fiber, calcium and vitamin A and B, and is especially well-suited to our short growing season.

Wait to sow directly into the garden until about mid-June when soil temperatures reach 65 degrees. Sow the seeds 4 inches apart and 1 inch deep in premoistened soil. Thinning and staking are not required.

As is true of all beans, overfeeding of nitrogen fertilizer will encourage foliage growth at the expense of pod set. Work a cup of a balanced organic-vegetable food per 10-row feet. All beans are shallow-rooted, so mulch with compost and make sure the soil remains evenly moist, especially during hot weather.

Edamame beans tend to ripen up over a short period, and the beans lose their flavor if you wait too long to harvest. They’re ready to pick as soon as the pods are plump and the beans are almost touching each other in the pod.

For a mind-boggling taste treat, boil the beans in a large pot of water with about 2 tablespoons of salt for 3 to 4 minutes, until they soften. Squeeze beans from the inedible pod directly into your mouth. Indescribably delicious served with beer.

Ciscoe Morris: ciscoe@ciscoe.com “Gardening With Ciscoe” airs at 10 a.m. Saturdays on KING-TV.

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About Ciscoe Morris

Ciscoe Morris' column runs Thursdays. His show "Gardening with Ciscoe" airs at 10 a.m. on Saturdays on King 5.
ciscoe@ciscoe.com

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