Q -- When is the best time to prune a fig bush !

A -- A fig bush should be pruned late in the winter or just at or just prior to when the buds swell in the spring.

Q -- I took some geranium cuttings in September and would like to know how long it will take, before they bloom ?

A -- Usually it takes six months. Geraniums bloom best when potbound so don't transplant the cuttings into oversize pots.

Q -- I have trouble trying to grow carrots. They get plenty of sunlight, they come up alright, but do not do very much. The soil is rather heavy clay .

A -- With heavy clay soil, it is better to plant a short, stubby variety of carrots. Longer kids can be used on deep, sandy soils; there are many excellent varieities and all can be depended on to yield a good harvest. Plant as thinly as you can. Before covering the row, plant a few radish seed (not more than one seed per inch) directly on top of the carrots. Harvest all the radishes at the same time and place the extra ones in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. The carrots may be harvested while very small, but the entire row will be full grown in early July. Carrots grown quickly in the spring or in the fall are of much better quality than those that have to endure the summer's heat.

Q -- Are the ashes from charcoal good for use around plants as fertilizer ?

A -- The ashes contain potash, the same nutrient supplied by muriate of potash, sulfate of potash, or magnesia. Do not use them around acid-loving plants unless the soil is quite acid and needs to be treated.

Q -- We have a beautiful basswood tree that appears to be dying as a result of recent nearby construction. Are some trees more sensitive to construction damage than others ?

A -- Basswood (Tilia americana /American linden) and other hardwoods are generally more sensitive to environmental changes than the softwoods such as pines. They also die differently. Pines go all at once. Hardwoods normally start dying in the top -- "stagheading," foresters call it. They keep looking more and more bedraggled, and may take as long as five years to succumb entirely.

Q -- We have yews and azaleas in front of our home. They suffered some damage last winter and we would like to keep it from happening again this year. What do you suggest ?

A -- Protecion from wind and sun may be best along with a 2" or 3" mulch. Just how severe this winter will be is still being debated by those who believe in signs; to be on the safe side, why not prepare for the worst? Evergreens lose water through their foliage even when the ground is frozen and the roots cannot replace it. A burlap screen, to divert the wind and provide shade, will considerably reduce moisture loss, and the mulch will keep the soil from freezing deeply.

Q -- Our two pine trees lost a lot of their needles last month. Were they trying to signal us that they need something ?

A -- Evergreens remain green throughout the year because they don't lose all their foliage at one time. Leaf-life ranges from one to six years, depending on the species. New leaves or needles are produced each year, and some of the old ones die and fall to the ground. White pine, holly, laurel and arborvitae drop one-year-old leaves or needles, while fir, hemlock, yew and the pines that have two or three needles in a cluster retain green needles from three to five years. Old needles of pines drop in the fall, those of holly in the spring or early summer.