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Past Questions and Answers | October 2016

Question #1

Question:  What animal could be eating flowers and fruit on tomato plants?

  Cokie, Bedford, MA


ANSWER:   Practically any mammal will eat tomato flowers and fruit. The most common offenders are opossums and raccoons. Dogs like tomatoes, too, so if your dog has access to the garden that can be a problem. A four foot fence will keep out rabbits if you use small enough mesh as the fence. You can also harvest your tomatoes when they are two or three days away from being ripe and place them in your window to finish ripening away from animals that eat them.

Question #2

Question:  My coconut plant though it give flowers but after a small fruit comes and it becomes brown and dont grow as fruit ,tree is atleast more then five years old first it used to give fruit but not now very often i give manuare fifh meal and fruit manure [home made] what can i do more ???? to get fruits thanks .zehra .

  Zehra, Karachi, Pakistan


ANSWER:   You are putting too much fertilizer on your coconut plant. That encourages it to grow, but it will not produce fruit well. You need to cut back on the manure and add a source of phosphorus, which encourages the plant to bloom and produce fruit. The fact that when it does produce fruit the fruit turns brown and drops off the tree means that the female flowers are not getting fertilized by the male fruit. Instead of growing the coconut, the infertile flowers drop off. You need a second palm tree nearby to ensure that the female flowers from your first palm are fertilized by the male flowers of the second palm.

Question #3

Question:  Hi,

I potted large muscarii (second hand from a hotel pot), but it's been so warm they sent up a second set of shoots now because the basement wasn't cool enough (I didn't have room in a fridge yet).

Can I cut off these shoots and refrigerate the potted bulbs now, or must I plant them outdoors? Will they flower if I force them indoors?

Thanks so much,

  Lydia, Boston, MA


ANSWER:   Once the bulb has produced shoots, you must plant them or they will spend all their energy and not have any to grow in the spring. These plants can be forced.

Question #4

Question:  My cyclamens, growing outside in a window box, have minuscule white worms wiggling on the coums ; the roots have been eaten, and the plants are dying. What are these insects, and how do I irradicate them?

I presume that I should plant a different variety of plant in the window boxes for a few years hence.

  Nancy Jorgensen, Ft. Bragg, CA


ANSWER:   You have Sciarid flies, often referred to as fungus gnats. These actually live in the soil and feed on the root hairs, which can kill the corms. Pyrethrum can be sprayed on the soil to kill the larvae as they emerge as adults. You should not replant anything in this window box until the soil has completely dried out and the soil is free of these flies.

Question #5

Question:  Hello,

On your fertilizer chart you say liquid seaweed is 4-2-3, which is quite well-balanced.

I know it can varies but I have a seaweed extract from Growmore which is only 0.10-0-0.44. So it is very different and much more weaker.

Do you know how come because it should be still pretty close from your chart.

Thank you,

  Raissa, CA


ANSWER:   Different manufactures produce seaweed extract with different amounts of the key nutrients. Because of this, the labels may vary. The seaweed extract you have may be intended for different plants than the seaweed extract we refer to.

Question #6

Question:  Can statice be grown from a cutting?

  Rod Barber, Brisbane, Australia


ANSWER:   Statice can be grown from root cuttings.

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Keep Some Birds Away

When you have worked very hard to grow your grapes, fruits and vegetables, it's hard to not be bothered when birds come in and take the best of everything!

A few tricks that work well are: netting over grapes, mylar strips tied to branches of your fruit trees, even blow up owls work.

If you use a blow up owl, or scarecrow, keep in mind to move them every few days so they appear to "move." Othewise the birds get wise fast and they are no good.

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