Tulips are lovely in bloom outdoors and they're also very nice for cut flowers indoors. They should last a week in a vase if cut at the right time and given good care.

The best time to cut the blooms is when the buds have just acquired full color and no green shows, according to Netherlands Bulb Research Station specialists. The interval between cutting the flowers and putting them into vases of water should be as short as possible.

As a rule it does no good to slit the stem or to cut a bit off the end of the stem. This makes them last longer only if the flowers are from a unheated greenhouse.

Changing the water in the vase or adding disinfectants do not improve the lasting quality of the flowers. The addition of sugar to the water is not recommended.

Tulips in vases will last much longer if the room temperature is kept below 68 degrees F. Putting them in a cool place at night helps a lot. Actually they last best if kept at temperatures ranging from 32 to 41 degrees whenever possible.

Long-time weather data indicate you can set out warm-season vegetables such as tomatoes any time after May 10 in the College Park-Washington, D.C. area with fairly good assurance they won't be damaged by frost.

The frost-free date for Howard County and the Baltimore metropolitan area is May 12. This is for lima and snap beans, cantaloupes, watermelons, sweet corn, cucumbers, squash, New Zealand spinach, eggplants, peppers, pumpkins and sweet potatoes as well as tomatoes.

Some Warm-season vegetables can adapt well to small backyard areas or in containers on apartment house balconies, according to University of Maryland specialists. Tomatoes are a prime example of this. Peppers, eggplants and snap beans can produce sizable quantities of fresh produce in a small space. Cucumbers also can be grown if you have a trellis or railing on which they can climb.

If you are a beginning gardener it is usually not a very good idea to start your plants from seeds sown indoors. This is a very good chance the plants may not be as good as you would need. Or, you can start them and if they are not very good, then buy plants. You will gain a lot of time in getting your first corp by putting out plants rather then seeding outdoor.

When you buy your tomato plants, get sturdy, green medium-size ones because they make little growth for a period of time after being planted in the garden.

Remove any blossom or small fruits on the plants you buy because they check the plant's adjustment to the changed environment. Plant the tomatoes 4 to 5 inches deep, about 18 to 24 inches apart within rows and 3 to 4 feet between rows. If you are not going to stake them, plant them 24 to 36 inches apart.

Do not cultivate your tomato plants to a depth greater than 2 inches. Instead mulch them once the soil warms up. Be sure to see they get at least an inch of water each week.

Allow your tomatoes to ripen on the vine. It is the last stages of ripening that allow the accumulation of sugars essential to good flavor.