HERE ARE some answers to questions about vegetables, fruits and gardening that readers have written in:
Q. Which vegetables are the best to try to grow during the winter on a sunny windowsill?
A. There are five kinds of vegetables that can be grown indoors on a sunny windowsill during the winter: chives, parsley, pepper, cherry tomatoes and radishes. Tiny Tim tomatoes and peppers should provide some fruit in about 10 weeks after planting, radishes should be ready to eat in about four weeks, parsley and chives in 10 to 12 weeks from seed.
Q. I have a dozen one-year-old red raspberries I want to transplant to another place in my yard. When is the best time?
A. When the plants are dormant in late fall is a good time, usually about a month after the first frost. Spring also is a good time.See VEGETABLES, Page 2, Col. 1 Garden -Answers -VEGETABLES, From Page 1
Q. I have a black walnut tree that is eight years old. This year it had its first bearing, two nuts. The tree needs to be pruned; when is the best time to do it?
A. Walnut trees old enough to bear nuts can be pruned any time during the winter dormant period if the weather isn't too severe. Prune in moderation. Cut out deadwood, thin crowded or crossing branches, and any that are lower than desired. Avoid cutting out the short twigs that grow on the limbs.
Q. Gypsy caterpillars were in our area this past summer; what do the eggs look like?
A. The buff-colored eggs may be on tree trunks, shrubs, campers and other vehicles. Any egg mass you suspect of being gypsy moth can be taken to your county extension office for positive identification.
Q. Our heads of lettuce were nowhere as large this fall as they were last spring. What would cause that?
A. You get big lettuce when you fertilize and you may get dinky ones when you don't. You can put down compost and that is fine; but it isn't the same as fertilizer.
Q. Is there any danger of the Mediterranean fruit fly becoming established in Maryland and Virginia?
A. According to specialists, the lowest survival temperature range is 34 to 38 degrees F for adults, 28 degrees for pupa, larva and eggs. Therefore, if the pest came though in infested fruit, it could not survive.
Q. I have a problem with the weeds in my vegetable garden, especially in a small section I did not plant last year. Any suggestions?
A. Using a weed-killing chemical would also kill the vegetable plants. An easy solution is to use black plastic. Cover the area with black plastic and anchor the plastic with stones or something similar. Weeds cannot grow under black plastic because there is no light. Pull up the weeds that are there before you put on the plastic. You can plant vegetable plants through slits made in the plastic.
Q. I was born and raised in an apple-growing area where no spray was used because there was none available. Many apples fell to the ground with worms, but those left on the tree were healthy and good. Today, it appears that unless you spray regularly, there will be no good apples. Do you know of an alternative?
A. Apples (and peaches) today are almost certain to be attacked by a number of insects and will be ruined unless protected by sprays at regular intervals. Some of these pests are present in damaging numbers every year, others appear from year to year, and still others may be numerous for a year or two and then decline to a point where they are no longer pests. Apples need to be sprayed 8 to 10 times and peaches 6 to 8 times with an all-purpose fruit tree spray mixture at 10-day intervals starting in the spring when the trees get their leaves.
Q. A friend grows cattails -- claims they are good to eat. What are the facts about this?
A. Cattails were a mainstay in the diet of American Indians. They may be eaten at various stages of their growth cycle and taste different every time.
Q. I have three bell pepper plants in my garden. My problem is, 3 to 5 days after the bloom drops, the fruit drops also. What causes this?
A. Almost invariably it is caused by hot, dry weather at the time the blossoms occur. Plants that bloom before the hot weather will be loaded with fruit while those that bloom later may have none at all.
Q. I have two Bartlett pear trees, 6 and 10 years old, 20 feet apart, that are loaded with blossoms each year but produce no pears. What could be wrong?
A. Pollination is the problem. Bartlett pears bear little or no fruit unless cross-pollinated with another variety. Duches d'Angouleme is considered good as a pollinator for Bartlett.