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Past Questions and Answers | May 2016

Question #1

Question:  I lost my recipe for making my own soil less potting soil. Do you have the amounts required for peat moss, sand, superphosphate, vermiculite and lime?

  Ted Brydges, North Battleford, Sask


ANSWER:   Start with two gallons peat moss, then add two gallons of vermiculite or perlite, and mix thoroughly. Two teaspoons (about 1/2 ounce or 14.2 grams) of potassium nitrate (15-0-15) and the same quantity of calcium nitrate (15.5-0-0) can be added to supply nitrogen and potassium. To supply phosphorus, 2 level tablespoons (about an ounce or 28.4 grams) of 20% superphosphate (0-20-0) should be added. Mix everything together well. Be sure you wet the soiless medium thoroughly before planting anything in it.

Question #2

Question:  10' peach tree, 4 yrs old, every year lots of blooms and fruits that start falling and leafs start getting rust and weather away. for the last 2 yrs I have been applying fungus solution from the nursery recommendation before blooms and after, same results no fruit, help.

  George R Karaelias, Brea, Ca


ANSWER:   Peach trees do not usually really begin bearing fruit that mature on the tree until they are about four years old. However, this sounds like peach leaf curl. Control is impossible after the symptoms are visible. Fungicides applied before bud break give good control. Usually one dormant application is sufficient. This spray application must be at least a week following a dormant horticultural oil spray for scale and mite control. If disease has been severe enough in the past to warrant chemical control, choose chlorothalonil or a copper fungicide.

Question #3

Question:  My husband died recently and left me with all the garden problems. First the greenhouse is full of pots i.e.Geraniums and begonias.When is it safe to bring them out of the greenhouse please?

  Brenda Cartlidge, Warslow, UK


ANSWER:   These plants can be brought outside when all danger of frost has passed in your area.

Question #4

Question:  Is it OK to move the planted trays from room to room to get more sun. Due to some trees outside and small windows I'm trying to give the plants more hours of sun than just in the morning

  Jerry Graves, Hamburg, NY


ANSWER:   You can safely move the trays to follow the sun. They need at least six hours of sun a day. Be careful not to put them in direct, hot sun, but in indirect sun so they won’t get burned.

Question #5

Question:  Can you recommend a table grape variety to grow in a large pot in a coastal position with a short, hot summer. The vine is intended to be trained over a pergola to provide shade and fruit. 'Flame' seedless was not recommended for a pot- do you know why this might be?

  Ros, Australia Victoria


ANSWER:   Grapes do not grow well in pots. They need to be trained over something and they have extensive root systems that go deeper than a pot can handle. If you want to have grape vines over your pergola, plant them in the ground against the pergola and train them to climb it. You can find more information about the types of grapes that grow in Australia here:

Question #6

Question:  My big leafed hydrangeas started out beautifully but now the new growth is all black. last year the leaves turned all blotchy with brown spots. it looks like another year without beautiful flowers! What should I do?

  Helen K, Stallings, NC


ANSWER:   Your hydrangeas have Botrytis Blight. The only thing you can do is spray them with a fungicide containing copper. Make sure when you water them, you don’t get water on the plant. Water at the roots only. The plants might get well, or they might die. If they die, don’t plant hydrangeas in the same place as they will get it too.

Question #7

Question:  My perennial flower garden is about 20 years old, i want to know if the mulches I have applied over the years is sufficient dressing or should I be dressing it with some organic soil. It measures 20x40 and is a large area to take care of in my later years but i don't want it to go to pot. I was looking for an all purpose fertilizer that I can attach to my hose and spray, can you recommend something that would work for all flower bed. also what is the best way to revitalize a lavender bush, it seems to be dying back of late. It also is 20 + years old. thank you

  Marilyn, New Hampshire


ANSWER:   You should dress it with an inch of compost. As for the lavender bush, you can cut it back by removing the top one third of the plant. That should revitalize it. As for a spray on fertilizer, you would be better off using granules and making sure at least half of them were slow release. You can use a hand spreader to spread the fertilize, then water it in. Spraying hydrangeas can damage them.

Question #8

Question:  I am new to African Violets and am having a very challenging time. I can't understand how the pot within a pot works...and if this is the best way to pot AV's. Thanks!

  Lydia, Colorado


ANSWER:   To do the pot within a pot, you take the smaller pot and thread a piece of wick through one drainage hole. Then you fill that pot with soil and put the African Violet in that pot. Next, take a pot that is two sizes bigger and put pebbles in the bottom of it. Put the small pot in the large pot.. Be sure the wick leads outside the small pot and rests on the bottom of the larger pot. Fill the big pot with enough water to barely cover the pebble in the big pot. Now, the water will draw up the wick and water the small pot. Be sure and put water in the large pot every day so that the pebbles are covered but the drainage holes of the small pot are no covered in water.

Question #9

Question:  We live in MN, and just own a new house. We don't know what kind of grass in our lawn. We would like to top dress it with store-brought compost plus manure since our lawn looks a little brown after snow melted. Is it a good idea?

  Rose, Minnesota


ANSWER:   You can spread an inch of compost over your lawn. Anymore and you will suffocate the lawn. Do not put raw manure on your lawn as it will burn it. The only place for manure is in a balanced compost pile where it is composted by little microbes. Once it is composted, then you can put it on your plants.

Question #10

Question:  Here in Melbourne, now its fall and time to plant Spring bulbs. I dug up my tulip bulbs from last year to replant them. I found quite a number of tiny bulblets about 1cm size, they are already separated from the larger parent bulb and looking healthy. My question is, if I plant these bulblets in a pot with well draining soil, will they gradually grow bigger enough (may take 2-3 years) to produce blooms at the end? Please advise, I am a great lover of tulips. It hurts me to toss any part of them into compost.

  Shaila, Melbourne, Victoria State, Australia


ANSWER:   If you put the bulbets in the ground this fall, they will continue to grow and will flower next Spring.

Question #11

Question:  Put soil & grass seed on some bare areas. How long to see some growth ?

  Ruth E. Carr, Olympia, WA


ANSWER:   Fourteen to twenty-one days.

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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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