Q - I have just brought 50 Darwin tulip bulbs. It's myfirst attempt at growing them. When is the best time to plant the bulbs?
A - Unless you have a suitable place to store them, it's best to plant the bulbs immediately. If kept at a temperature above 65 degrees until planted, the bulbs may lose some of their quality.
Although it appears to be imnanimate, each bulb is a living thing. Food within the bulb is lost through respiration, which occurs to an increased degree with higher temperatures.
Satisfactory storage temperature for tulip, hyacinth and daffodil bulbs is between 55 and 65 degrees, with 63 the the ideal. If you are unable to provide these temperatures, the best place is in the ground. Otherwise you can plant them almost any time during the fall.
The quality of the flowers in the spring depends on the quantity of food stored within the bulb. A full-size bulb contains the maximum amount of food; the smaller the bulb, the less food there is, and the poorer the flower will be.
Q - My azaleas are getting too tall for the place where they're planted. Can they be cut back without hurting them too much?
A - They can be reduced in height by severe cutting back. The best time to do it is before growth starts in the spring. To a lesser degree, the pruning can be done after they finish blooming.
Q - I have a small vegetable garden. It does quite well with most crops, but I have little or no success with radishes. I have tried fertilizing and not fertilizing, but nothing seems to help: I get nothing but top growth.
A - Radishes require a loose soil with plenty of organic matter mixed with it. Unless they are thinned adquately after they come up, there will be little root growth. The soil needs to be kept constantly moist. Specialists recommend watering them every three or four days. The roots simply cannont make normal growth in a tight soil.
Q - Can you plese recommend a variety of grass seed for dense shade?
A - There is no grassthat will grow in dense shade for long. Unless grass gets at least four hours of good light, preferably sunlight, it will soon go bad. You best bet is to use a ground cover such as English ivy or pachysandra.
Q - We want to plant a black walnut tree, mainly for the nuts. There are lots of them growing in the fields around here. Is there anything wrong with diggin one of them and bringing it home to plant?
A - An occasional black walnut tree growing in the wild may bear good nuts but most bear nuts of inferior size, flavor, kernel development and cracking quality. For quality nuts, it is best to purchase a named variety such as Thomas.
Q - Is it best to cut my zoysia lawn grass close for the winter or leave it longer?
A - During the growing season mow zoysia (all varieties) at a heigt of 3/4 to 1 inch. You may raise the mowing height in early fall about 1/4 inch until the grass is dormant, but reduce it again the following spring.