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Past Questions and Answers | June 2018

Question #1

Question:  On top of your homepage is a photo of a very attractive fruit. What is it?

  Petra, Falls Church VA


ANSWER:   I do believe it is a Japanese Pink Flowering Cherry tree.

Question #2

Question:  Is it ok to use leopard tree wood chips as mulch? We have recently done a big trim of our gorgeous leopard tree and can't seem to find any information on whether or not the chips will be ok to use on the garden as mulch. Thanks.

  Claire Ormond, Oxley


ANSWER:   Well, my answer to your question is two-fold. First, freshly cut trees in general are too high in tannic acid to be used for mulch. It is better in this case to let the wood age for a year and then use it as a mulch. On the other hand, if the part of the tree you cut was dead then yes you can use the chips as a mulch.

Another issue that I would like to bring up when it comes to using “green” tree trimmings is the fact that if there is a lot of sap then you will find that you have made a few new friends-flies, bees, etc. This is another reason why you should only use seasoned wood chips.

Question #3

Question:  Cleaned out my spice cabinet today and ended up with several outdated specimens! Can I mix them all together and spread them as a fertilizer for my flowers?

  Patty, Cincinnati, OH


ANSWER:   Ok, the answer is a yes and no. Since I do not know what spices you have, I would say no. Yes, the material is organic and yes it can be composted but some spices like cayenne pepper or dried red pepper can burn plant material if not used properly. To play it safe, do not sprinkle the outdated spices around your flowers instead add it to the compost pile. After they have decomposed the spices can no longer burn plants.

Question #4

Question:  I bought Greenskeeper All Purpose Lawn Fertilizer 12-12-12 and put it on my vegetable garden. Have I made a major mistake and would it be unsafe to eat the vegetables that I plant in the garden? Thank you for your help.

  Kevin, Dow, IL


ANSWER:   To answer your question, the answer is yes and no. Since the fertilizer is labeled ‘lawn fertilizer” I would say yes using this fertilizer is going to make your vegetables unsafe to eat. If the term “all purpose fertilizer” had been on the bag and that was it, you would have been fine. The other issue comes from the formulation, which is 12-12-12. If you were growing greens or herbs by which you were going to only eat the leaves then an “all purpose fertilizer” with that formulation would be fine but……if applied to vegetables that you plan on eating the fruit then you will have a problem. The balanced formula will not stimulate bloom production but will encourage a lot of vegetative growth.

Question #5

Question:  Please tell when to plant runner beans out doors.

  Eddie, Farnborough


ANSWER:   Since I do not know what state you live I cannot give you an exact date but the golden rule is to plant warm season crops after your local frost free date. If you do not know this you can look it up on line but to clarify what this date is it is the last time your area can expect to get a frost prior to the fall.

Question #6

Question:  I have St. Augustine grass. When I rake leaves I inadvertently pull up the "runners". I'm now hesitant to do any further raking. Does this kill the grass or do the runners lay back down and re-attach to the ground?

  Mike, Ft Pierce ,FL


ANSWER:   You will cause more damage if you do not rake the leaves. In a way, you are thatching your lawn. Do not worry the runners will reattach and/or the grass will send out new runners.

Question #7

Question:  I found some 11 yr. old tomato seed that I planted indoors and got about 50% germination, 4 yr. old watermelons were 85%, but 4 yr. old peppers were 0%. I also have some peas and was wondering how long they stay viable?

  Roger Semmler, Eau Claire, WI


ANSWER:   It depends on the environment. Seeds have been found in tombs that are thousands of years old and when planted they germinated. In general, if kept in plastic, the seeds are not viable for very long. If kept in paper, the longevity of the seed is longer. If they are exposed to heat, the germination rate decreases with the length of exposure. If the seed is kept in a cool, dark location your seeds can be viable for a long period of time.

But there is a simple test that one can do to test seed viability. Take the seeds and place them in a glass of water. Allow them to sit for 15 minutes. Seeds that float are NOT VIABLE but seeds that sink are. If I were you I would test the seed prior to planting.

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Planting Depth

As a general rule, most bulbs are planted at a depth that is equal to 3 times their diameter at their widest point.

Tulips like to be planted about 6 inches (15.2 cm) deep and 4-6 inches (10.2-15.2 cm) apart.

Always plant bulbs as soon as possible after purchase to prevent them from drying out.

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