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Weekly Lawn & Garden Tips

3/20/17- Men are like trees: each one must put forth a leaf that is created in him. Henry Ward Beecher

Question:
I searched your website and found that when planting on transplants into peat posts, that 1/3 sand mixed with 2/3 potting soil should be used. My question is about the potting soil. Would one use fertilized potting soil or should one use potting soil without fertilizer? Verlinda, Lewisburg, WV
Mort's Answer:
There is enough nutrient in seeds to start them. When transplanting to separate pots, some mixes will have enough fertilizer to grow the plants before placing in the garden. For the unfertilized mixes, light liquid fertilizer can be applied when the plants are about six inches tall every other watering.

Question:
I started all kinds of veggies in one inch peat pots. They are up to three inches now. I usually lose a lot because they become too weak. Any suggestions before I move them into four inch pots? Katie, Marquette, MI
Mort's Answer:
You have a running start. Because you are in zone 5, you might be too early for warm weather vegetables like tomatoes, peppers and melons. Cool weather leafy veggies can be put outdoors before the last average frost date. You will need to harden off all of the plants. First you need more light. For the next few weeks, strengthen the stems with grow lights for at least three additional hours per day. Auxin, the growth hormone, will be inhibited by light. We need chlorophyl for growth but darkness produces spindly growth. Take your veggies outdoors on the days that are over 45 degrees. At these lower temps cell growth will be smaller and toughen the plants for transplant to outdoors. Lettuce, kale, cabbage and other leafy vegetables can survive frosts. Tomatoes and other warm vegetables will suffer damage in the frosty weather. The average last frost date in zone 5 is May 30th. It is May 15th in zone 6. You need about 8-10 weeks to grow tomatoes, melons, peppers and other fruit veggies before setting them out. You can slow them up with more light at this time. Your lettuce and other leafy veggies can be put out a month earlier, around April 15-30.

Question:
I have a huge Stephanotis that growing to the ceiling. It has never bloomed. How can get it to bloom? Bill, Warsaw, MO
Mort's Answer:
Stephanotis floribunda is grown as an outdoor plant in Florida. It needs cool temperatures in the winter and a breezy atmosphere in the summer. It also should be cut back in the late summer and repotted each year. Because it also requires shade, I would use it as a patio plant in the spring and summer. Use a planting mix that is 1/3 sand and a clay pot. Cut it back to afoot of the root each late summer and let it stay right up to the night of the first frost. Try to find a cooler spot in the house that will have temps of 55 to 60 in the winter. Each year add a tablespoon of 5-10-10 to the top of the soil, when you bring it out to the patio. In the summer it enjoys temperatures of 70 to 90.

Question:
When I purchased my Swedish Ivy, it had a beautiful aroma. What can I do to get it back? SW, Pawtucket, RI
Mort's Answer:
Plectranthus australis is the most commonly sold Swedish Ivy. P. coleoides marginatus is another scented specie. Both have to be kept in good condition to smell good. Swedish ivy require periodic pinching. They should be kept moist. A humid room , which is cool at 55 degrees is best. A monthly liquid fertilizer with high nitrogen will eventually produce summer flowers. Although the flowers are not scented, they will attest to your diligence in keeping the Swedish ivy healthy. You will be rewarded with scented foliage, if you follow the grooming.

Question:
How can I get your book? "A Face Made for Radio"
Mort's Answer:
You can purchase my book, "A Face Made for Radio".
This autobiography is 11.95 per copy including S&H. It chronicles my first 25 years and the history of radio. Just mail check or money order to:

Whitehouse Productions
484 Wellington Ave.
Cranston, RI 02910.

Allow two weeks for delivery.

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