Q: My Christmas poinsettia still looks wonderful. What should I do to keep it in good condition and have it bloom again this coming Christmas?
A: Keep it watered until the weather gets warm outdoors, then repot it into a one-inch larger pot, cut it back to six or eight inches and put it outdoors for the summer. Put it in a place where it gets very good light, preferably filtered sunlight.
Fertilize it every three or four weeks with a soluble fertilizer dissolved in water. Follow directions on the label. Keep it well watered.The plant may be seriously damaged if it goes too long without water.
If the plant must be kept indoors, keep it in or near a sunny window.
The plant needs to go back indoors before cold weather. Keep it in a sunny window, otherwise give it the best light possible.
The poinsettia requires 12 hours or more of continuous darkness daily in order to develop flower buds and colored bracts. Give it uninterrupted darkness at night starting about Sept. 20 and continue until early December.
Q: We have bought a home, it is a brick building and has Ivy climbing over it. Does the Ivy do any harm?
A: Ivy on a brick building does no damage, on the contrary, is a good thing because it adds highly effective insulation. During the winter ivy on the north surface will deflect the wind and help keep indoors warmer, reducing the fuel bill. During teh summer ivy on the southern and western walls shelters them from direct rays of the hot summer sun, reducing the need for airconditioning.
Ivy may not be good for wooden walls because the plant stems and tendrils hold moisture that could cause the wood to deteriorate.
Q: Last year the bottoms of my beefmaster tomatoes split open when they started to turn red. What would cause this and can it be prevented?
A: Too much rain or watering when tomatoes are ripening could be responsible. The flesh of the tomato swells faster than the skin expands and the skin splits. There is nothing practical that can be done other than going easy on watering.
Q: I have a wisteria that is trying to wrap itself around a nearby maple tree. So far I have turned it away. Can the plant be harmful to the tree? The flowers would be lovely way up in the tree but I don't want the vine to hurt it.
A: The wisteria vine could seriously damage the tree.
When the vine wraps itself completely around the trunk, as the trunk increases in diameter the vine cuts into it and shuts off the movement of food downward to the roots.
Q: I have an asparagus bed that is five years old. We like to keep cutting it as long as we can but don't want to damage next year's crop. What is the maximum date that we can cut it?
A: A new planting of asparagus must become well established before harvesting any spears. Do not cut any spears until the plants have had two years of growth after planting. During the third season (the first year of harvest) cut spears only for three to five weeks. In the fourth season and thereafter the harvest can extend to six or eight weeks.
Cutting spears too soon after planting or extending the cutting season too long will seriously affect the vigor of the plants and may even ruin them.
After the end of the cutting period, the plants should be encouraged to grow until killed by frost. During this time the plants accumulate food reserves to be used the following season for the production of spears.
Keep the plants watered during dry weather, keep weeds from bothering them and fertilize the asparagus bed once or twice.Using 5-10-5 fertilizer.
Anything that interferes with good growth of the plants during this period will shorten the cutting season next year.
Q: Are the tops of rutabagas good to eat?
A: Are the tops of rutabagas good to eat?
A: The tops of rutabagas are flavorful and nutritious if harvested while young. As they get older they become tough, fibrous and too strong in flavor.
Q: My wife and I recently purchased our first home. What books and pamplhets might be especially useful to a novice gardener new to the responsibilities of land ownership? I would like to leave the land richer than it is now and provide landscaping and a garden which will set off the house.
A: Your best is to go to the-public library and look at several books related to gardening and to landscaping. Borrow two or three of those that appeal to you most and take them home. You can get the library or a bookstore to order for you the ones you would like to own.
Also, write the Extansion Service of your state university, asking for pamphlets on gardening and landscaping.
Q: A proposal has been made to install synthetic turf on the football field at out high school. What are the advantages and disadvantates as compared to grass?
A: There have been inconclusive reports of more injurues occurring on synthetic than on natural turf. Representatives of the synthetic turf industry do not agree with this.
Synthetic turf has better wearability, low costs of maintenance after installation and it costs less to keep uniforms clean. Natural turf costs less to install, is relatively easy and inexpensive to repair and provides the coolest playing surface available.
Q. I want to grow garlic in my garden this year. When is the best time to plant it?
A: Garlic should be planted in the spring about the same time as onions. Use only large cloves as seed. They should be planted as soon as possible after separation from the bulb because they tned to deteriorate after separation.
Plant them 4 inches apart at a depth of about 1 inch. If planted too deep, they may not sprout, or may produce misshapen bulbs of delayed maturity. Do not allow weeds to compete. Garlic is ready to harvest when bulb growth stops and the tops begin to turn brown.