Q. Is it necessary or desirable to have the soil in my vegetable garden tested every year, or even more often?
A. Testing soils every year is not necessary and testing several times each year can be confusing in view of the pronounced influence of residual fertilizers on the soil PH, according to soil scientists.
How often soils should be tested for a particular field will vary with the farm and crop to be grown. However, once every two or four years is adequate, depending on several factors.
Here are suggestions from specialists for getting best results from soil tests:
Be sure the sample taken is a true composite or representative sample. If the sample is not representative, it would be better if the soil test were not made since an errorneous picture would be presented (there should be a t least 20 individual samples or cores for each composite).
Take samples only as needed, about once every two to four years, preferably in early spring before fertilizers are applied. Sampling too often and at irregular times may be confusing.
Use the soil test as an aid in determining how much fertilizer and lime to apply, not as the complete answer.
Q. We have a beautiful American holly tree, just loaded with berries. How do we go about planting some of the berries?
A. The berries can be planted outdoors immediately. It is not necessary to remove the seed coat. Plant the berry about one-eight inch deep and mulch with leaves.
In nature, American holly seed germinate from one to three years after being planted, but mostly during the second season.
It is important to gather seed from individual trees which have the most desirable characteristics, but there is no assurance that all of the good qualities will be inherited by the new one.
Started from cuttings, American hollies resemble the trees from which they were taken, but when started from seed they can be strikingly different.
An American holly, tree is either male or female. Both have flowers but only the female bears berries, and a male tree must be nearby to provide pollen. You cannot distinguish a male from a female until it blooms. Usually the male blooms when about 8 years old, the female about 10.
Q. Is there a company that keeps records on giant vegetables?
A. Our Graces Gardens, Hackettstown, N.J., keeps records of giant vegetables in both the United States and England.
Q. Our grass is more than 3 inches tall. Is it okay to leave it that way for the winter?
A. It may be better to cut it back to about 2 inches. There are some advantages to letting it stay higher, but the drawbacks outweigh the advantages.
Q. I intended to fertilize my oak tree in early November but failed to do it. Can I do it now or should I wait?
A. It is considered better to fertilize trees either about mid-fall or early-pring. However, if the tree is badly in need of fertilizer, it is best to do it as soon as possible.
Q. I have a snake plant with a lovely flower on it. Is my plant something pretty unusual?
A. It is pretty but not unusual. There are about 34 different species of Sansevieria (which includes snake plant) and all of them have been known to bloom. The ones ones that have seem to bloom more often are the ones that receive good care.