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In this issue:
Fungus gnats or water?
Overwatering is a plant killer -- learn its
Simple recipe to water any plant
Grow tomatoes from last year's saved seed,
pages 3-4 (excerpt)
Sprout seeds with paper towel, plastic bag and 'fridge,
pages 4-5 (excerpt)
Cut ornamental grass any time now, use for mulch,
Have fun and also save shipping costs on plant orders,
Be glad now for snow and warmth from the soil below,
Read all excerpts from this issue:
pdf to read the complete issue.
Other topics and keywords in this issue:
beef steak tomato
chilling requirement before sprouting
cold treatment for seed in moist paper towel
come true from seed
refrigerator for seed chilling period
saving money on mail orders
seed comes true
seedling like parent
snapdragon from seed
test seed in moist paper towel
pdf to read this issue
Excerpt from this issue:
gnats but answer may be to correct watering
I have a problem with what I believe are fruit flies. I
purchased a couple of small house trees -- a cane plant and a fig
(Ficus) -- about 4 months ago. I repotted them. In my area
many people I had talked to said they also were having problems
with fruit flies.
My problem still exists and is driving me crazy!I ended
up putting the Ficus in the garage -- dead. Now my cane
leaves are turning brown and there are many, many fruit flies
around it. I have tried apple cider vinegar, wine, dish soap
bubbles and Ortho insect spray. I'm assuming the flies are laying
eggs in the soil of this plant and that my next step is getting rid
of all the soil and starting fresh? - B.K. -
This article Sponsored by an Anonymous
We think the real problem is water, not insects, B.K. It's rare
that a gnat infestation kills any plant bigger than a seedling.
Furthermore, in your letter you write three things that point to
Signs point to overwatering
- One, plants can die relatively quickly from overwatering.
Subjected to sogginess, even a tree-size plant can keel over in a
month or so.
- Two, it's all too easy to overwater plants that have been put
into bigger pots during no-grow periods. That's because their roots
are surrounded by sopping wet soil that can't be tapped by roots
until the plant does resume growth. (Read about Jade tree
as a specific example.)
- Three, soil-breeding insects often proliferate in constantly
moist or overly wet potting soil.
So check your watering. Most plants do well if they periodically
receive just enough water to moisten the entire root zone and then
are left alone until most of the moisture in the top inch of the
potting soil is gone.
Water only when you feel nothing but dry, warm soil in the top
inch-- that plant's ready for water. The speed with which this
happens depends on how many leaves and how much light the plant
has. With more leaves and more light, the plant pulls water up into
its roots more quickly.
Roots die, then the tops
If you overwater by treating plants in low light or subdued
winter growth as if they are in summer growth and high light, the
lowest part of the plant's root ball will be constantly wet. That's
where most of a potted plants' root tips congregate. That space may
be so full of water that there is no room for air.
The problem and symptoms accelerate from there:
- Without air, root tips die.
- Then, rot invades that dead root tissue. If you happened to
take the plant from its pot you would not see firm, white root tips
but discolored, mushy tissue very like the celery, bean sprouts or
other vegetable matter you throw away after too long in the
- Now rot begins to spread from its toehold on the tips,
infecting marginally healthy and damaged spots on the roots.
- Next, upper parts of the plant wilt and die, usually tip-first.
Ironically, that leaf loss and branch death is caused by lack of
water, since dead roots can't take up water. With fewer leaves the
plant needs even less water but the gardener may water even more in
response to the wilted foliage. The problem escalates.
Avoid getting into that trouble. Water more carefully. As a
bonus, the gnats will disppear, too, since they can thrive only in
continually damp soil.
Excerpts from this
pdf to read the complete issue illustrated below:
Mouthwatering tomatoes from
seeds saved last summer?
If you plan to collect seeds from your garden this year to grow
more plants next year, read the label, seed package (below,
left) or catalog description when you buy the original seeds
What kind of plants you can expect to have in future years
depends on the terms "F1 hybrid" and "open pollinated" in those
For instance, there are many kinds of tomatoes grown for making
paste, such as the luscious fruit shown here. Among them are F1
hybrids such as 'Franchi' and open-pollinated 'Roma.' While F1
'Franchi' fruits yield seeds that may not grow up to produce
paste-type tomatoes, open-pollinated 'Roma' seeds will reliably
produce 'Roma' bearing plants (below, right).
Download the pdf to
read the complete issue illustrated here:
Below: Spread seeds that need stratification (a moist
chilling period) on moist paper towels, fold the toweling, slide it
into a plastic bag, label the package and hold it in a refrigerator
for a couple of months. The seeds will sprout more quickly and
evenly when sown in a garden or pots in spring.
Above: Some perennial seeds that need stratification in
order to germinate are beardtongue (Penstemon), clematis,
columbine (Aquilegia), globeflower (Trollius),
tall phlox, and pasqueflower (Pulsatilla).
pdf to read the complete issue illustrated below:
Talk to friends about new plants
Below: There is no better way to make time fly by than
to talk new plants with friends. We spent such a day one summer
with plant breeding specialist Kevin Hurd (then hybridizing for
Walters Gardens in Zeeland, Michigan).
Among other wonders he showed us were new plum-flowered, dark leaf
and pest resistant hardy hibiscus varieties we couldn't wait to
Yet wait we did! Walters Garden is a wholesale supplier so it
took a year or so before its releases appeared in retail catalogs.
You can now find them at retail outlets.
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