HERE ARE answers to some questions on vegetables, fruits and house plants that readers have written in to me in recent weeks:
Q. Last summer something chewed pieces out of our potatoes. Someone said it had to be moles. We did not find holes or mounds of dirt anywhere. What do you think did it?
A. Moles seldom feed on anything but insects and grubs. Squirrels, raccoons, rats and mice will eat almost anything when they are hungry. Your county extension agent may be able to help you.
Q. Last fall we put tree leaves around our young fruit trees as mulch. My neighbor says rodents made nests in them and chewed the tree roots. What should we do to protect them?
A. Run the lawn mower over the leaves several times to cut them into small pieces, don't let the mulch get more than two inches deep and you'll have no problem.See HOMEGROWN, Page 3, Col. 4 Help ---For the --Garden -HOMEGROWN, From Page 1
Q. I don't have a place to plant tomatoes where they can get full sun, can they be grown with very good light but no sunlight?
A. In general, one-half day of direct sunlight is necessary for tomatoes. Leafy vegetables are best for such a shady area.
Q. How long does it usually take for seed of tomatoes and other vegetables to germinate. Can you supply a chart?
A. Depending on several factors, tomato seed may germinate in 14 to 20 days, beans, cucumber, lettuce, pumpkin, radish, squash, sweet corn, turnip, borage and sorel, 7 to 9 days; onion, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, muskmelon, salsify, basil and chives, 10 to 13 days; beets, endive, eggplant, pepper, swiss chard, watermelon, anise and dill 14 to 20 days; asparagus, celery, okra, spinach and catnip 21 to 27 days; and, carrots, parsley, New Zealand spinach and lavender 28 to 35 days.
Q. I've tried several times to start parsley from seed and the seed never came up. How do you make them sprout?
A. Soaking the seed in warm water (85 to 95 degrees) for six hours before planting will hasten germination. Keep the planting (if indoors) on the dark side until the seed start to sprout and then give it good light, preferably sunlight. It usually takes three weeks or longer for seed to germinate.
Q. Should we put coffee grounds around our outdoor plants and shrubs?
A. They are good for mulching azaleas -- a depth of about three inches is best -- but unless you are providing coffee for a small army you won't have enough grounds to make any difference to the plants.
Q. When is the best time to divide rhubarb?
A. Rhubarb usually needs to be divided when 4 to 5 years old, the best time to do it is in late fall or early spring. The crowns may be cut into as many pieces as there are buds.