A peace lily problem, boulevard vs. berm, and tips for storing produce

"Fielding Questions" columnist Don Kinzler says it's possible to enjoy food from our own gardens all winter long — if it is stored correctly.

A reader wonders what caused this problem with a peace lily. Special to The Forum

Q: The spathiphyllum peace lily in the photo belonged to a fellow garden club member. I thought a heat vent might be the problem, blasting hot air on the leaves. The plant was moved, the damaged leaves were cut off, and the problem seemed to be fixed. Then new leaves started growing with the same damage visible even before they opened. What could be wrong? — Meigan C., Bismarck.

A: Peace lilies are very sensitive to salts, minerals and elements that accumulate in the soil. Such elements usually come from the water, causing salts or minerals to build up in the soil over time.

Water often has naturally occurring minerals, or elements like chlorine or fluoride that are added in the treatment process. Water from a softener unit to which salt is added can be very damaging to plants.

Because the symptoms are appearing on new growth, I suspect salty soil is a main cause. Repot into fresh, high-quality potting mix, and examine the water source. Because peace lilies are sensitive, you might use distilled water, or water filtered through the reverse osmosis process.

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Q: Great job on your recent column on gardening’s popularity during the pandemic . You mentioned “boulevard gardens,” but shouldn’t they be called “berm gardens”? — Bob S., Fargo.

A: A great survey question would be “What is the proper term for the space between the sidewalk and street, which usually consists of grass and a tree or two?”

There doesn’t seem to be a definitive term for these areas that line most streets, and naming preferences appear to vary by region. The New York Times in 2013 even conducted a quiz asking, “What do you call the area of grass between the sidewalk and road?” Sixty-four percent of over 300,000 respondents could give no name, and the remainder showed no conclusive agreement.

Names used include curb strip, verge, tree strip, parking lane, utility strip, easement, sidewalk buffer, grass bay, parkway, median strip and tree lawn. Two names used mostly in the Upper Midwest are boulevard and berm. I grew up calling it the boulevard. Others call it the berm, although in many definitions a berm means a raised mound of soil.

Referring to vegetable gardens on the area between sidewalk and street, I repeated the term boulevard that appeared in the city of Fargo's discussions when a gardening ordinance was under discussion. The exact name for the strip is apparently still a topic of debate, not only in our region, but around the nation as well.

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Q: I think it's great that people have started gardening more. I’ve had a good-sized garden since I was a little kid, gardening with my grandfather. However, much of the produce comes in a torrent at the end of the season, and a lot probably goes to waste because people can't eat that much that fast, or they get tired of it.

I don't know how much you've written about this before, but learning how to store produce for the winter can stretch out the enjoyment. There's a feeling of pride of growing it ourselves, and I think everyone has at least a little farmer in them. — Carl Eidbo, Fargo.


A: Thanks, Carl for the great reminder that we can enjoy our garden produce all winter long. Carl continues with some storage tips he’s found useful:

“We dry onions for a while, then store on a shelf in our cool basement. Carrots we leave in the ground until close to ground freezing, dig up, knock off most dirt, then pack in large plastic storage boxes, layering in peat moss and stored at 30 degrees and they keep until spring.

“Apples are put in a plastic bag in the crisper of the refrigerator where most will keep at least a couple months. For the rest, we get apple boxes from the grocery store, insert a large heavy plastic bag and fill, using the layering trays that come with the boxes. Stored at 30 degrees, Haralson, picked in mid-October or later, will keep until April. Honeycrisp, picked in mid-September, stores even longer. It's a good idea to go through the boxes once or twice in the winter, to remove any that are spoiling.

“Tomatoes and peppers are chopped and frozen and used in sauce. Raspberries are also frozen.”

If you have a gardening or lawn care question, email Don Kinzler, NDSU Extension-Cass County, at Questions with broad appeal may be published, so please include your name, city and state for appropriate advice.

Don Kinzler column mug.jpg
Don Kinzler, "Growing Together" and "Fielding Questions" columnist.

Don Kinzler column mug.jpg
Don Kinzler, "Growing Together" and "Fielding Questions" columnist.

Don Kinzler, a lifelong gardener, is the horticulturist with North Dakota State University Extension for Cass County. Readers can reach him at
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