Q. I would like to put in a small orchard (a couple of dwarf apple, cherry, peach, etc.) on my property but dont have much clear space. I do have a well spread out grove of fairly large black walnut trees but would prefer not to cut them down. There is enough room beneath the walnuts to put in the fruit trees and they would get a moderate amount of sun. Is it true that the soil beneath a walnut is too acid to grow much of anything?
A. Research at the West Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station has shown that roots of black walnut trees tend to make the soil more alkaline rather than acid. Kentucky bluegrass grows well under a balck walnut and it requires a slightly acid to neutral soil.
The roots of a black walnut, however, seem to have a toxic effect on certain plants if its roots touch their roots. Affected plants may be killed or may grow poorly because of the walnut tree roots. It is believed that juglone, a substance found in walnut roots, is the toxic element.
In many situtions apple trees, tomatoes, potatoes, alfalfa, heaths, balck berries and some other plants have died when they came into contact with balck walnut roots.
ON the other hand, peach trees, sherries, plumsand pears have been seen growing within the root spread of a large balck walnut and apparently were healthy.
Using black walnut bark in soil and water under laboratory conditions, researcher were able to produce wilting of tomaotes.
Grasses seem to thrive under balck walnut trees, the roots apparently do no harm, and the tree does not cast shade enough to seriously inhibit grass growth.
Q. I canned 8 quarts of green beans and the lids are popping off the galss jars. Can I freeze them now?
A. The popping of the lids indicates spoilage microorganisms are present in the beans and they should all the destroyed. Some spoilage organisms or their byproducts could cause illness if the food were eaten.
Insufficient time of too-low twmperature during canning permit spoilage organisms to survive and produce gasses causing the lids to pop.Q. I want to have a vegetable garden this year and unfortunately I do about it. I guess I need a book, something to turn me from a flower-pot gardener into a vegetable gardener. Can you recommend a basic book for a lazy beginner?
A. There are a number of books that are supposed to be foir beginning gardeners, but how useful any one of them can be to an individual depends on that indiv idula.
YOur best bet is to go to the public library where, no doubt, many garden books are avaible for inspection. Look them over and choose two or three that appeal to you. Borrow them and then get a book syore to order for you the ones you would like to own.
Q. I would like to start a wild flower garden and do not know of any place where I can get leaf mold in quantity. Do you know where it can be purchased? I prefer it to peat moss.
A. Leaf mold is a product of decayed and partially decayed leaves. Sometimes it can be found in quantity on the forest floor. I can be produced by composting leaves. I doubt if it can be purchased commercially. Perphaps a gardener in your area has some to sell. peat moss is a satisfactory substitute.