Q - On my lawn I have a Japanese red maple tree thathas grown about three inches within a period of three years. I have given it 5-50-5 fertilizer and it gets plenty of water and sunshine. Please tell me who to make it grow more quickly .
A - Several things could cause the tree to make poor growth. The variegated Japanese maple needs partial shade during hot summer afternoons; it needs little fertilizer; it needs to be watered properly, such as once a week thorougly; it needs good drainage. If planted an inch too deep, it may make no growth for three or four years. If it was growing in a container in which it became root-bound, the root system should have been straightened out before it was planted.
Q - My amaryllis is indoors and is starting to lose its leaves. What can I do?
A - In the fall when leaves start to die, gradually withhold water. Let the bulbs rest in their pots for two or three months, with only enough moisture to stop bulbs from shrinking. The more live roots you preserve, the better flowers will last on the next blooming.
Begin the new growth cycle again by moving the bulbs to a bright warm place and providing more water. Slight bottom heat will speed flowering, but cool nights into the 50s help the flowers last longer.
Amaryllis grows well with daytime highs into the 70s, nights 8 degrees to 10 degrees lower. With a favorable environment and good nutrition, it will bloom for many years.
Q - I want to transplant my young rose bush, planted this spring, to a sunnier spot. When and how should I do it?
A - It can be done in late fall or early spring, but the best time in this area probably is late fall if the weather is not too severe in early to mid-November, when the plant goes dormant.
It will be necessary to cut the rose bush back to six to nine inches to compensate for damage to the roots, which is almost certain to occur. Try to keep a ball of soil around the roots. Thick roots that are broken or torn should be cut back to sound parts.
Mound up soil around the canes for the winter to keep them from drying out.
One big advantages of fall transplanting is the plants can develop new roots much sooner before hot, dry summer weather.
Q - We have a very good crop of potatoes this year. How should I store them?
A - First of all, handle them carefully when harvesting; they're nearly as delicate as apples. If bruised, they won't keep long. If stored properly, general-purpose and baking potatoes will keep for several months; new potatoes will keep for several weeks.
Set aside any that are bruised or cracked and use them first. Don't wash potatoes before you store them. Dampness increases the likelihood of decay. Store them in a cool (45 degrees to 50 degrees F), dark place, if possible, with good ventilation.
Potatoes stored at 70 degrees to 80 degrees should be used within a week. The higher temperature often causes sprouting and shriveling. Potatoes stored below 40 degrees for a week or more may develop a sweet taste because starch turns to sugar. To improve flavor, store for two weeks at a higher temperature.