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Mustard family relations; sweet Spanish onions

In the Dec. 31 Monitor you committed a real goof. The statement that ''true watercress'' (Nasturtium officinale) and ''peppergrass'' (Lepidium sativum) are ''not in the same family'' is totally false. Both plants are members of the mustard family.

Thank you for your sharp-eyed observation. You are totally correct. They are both in the same family. The error occurred when our rough notes were transcribed in the ''finish typing.''

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What started out to be: ''Watercress should not be confused with peppergrass (mountain cress), which is Lepidium sativum, not the same plant but in the same family,'' turned up on the newly typed page: ''. . . Lepidium sativum, not in the same family.'' We resolve to be more diligent in our proofreading and apologize to our fellow botany students.

Both cresses are available from W. Atlee Burpee Company, Warminster, Pa. 18974; Nichols Garden Nursery, 1190 No. Pacific Highway, Albany, Ore. 97321; and Joseph Harris Seed Company, Moreton Farm, Rochester, N.Y. 14624.

Incidentally, Nasturtium officinale is not related to garden nasturtium, with their large distinctive blooms, although their leaves do have a similar mild pungence. Probably that's why it's called Nasturtium rather that its real name of Tropaeolum.

Translated from Latin, Nasturtium means ''nose twist.''

How can I grow yellow sweet Spanish onions such as those sold in produce departments? I planted seeds last year, but got onions only about two inches in diameter before frost came.

In your geographical location, where temperatures do not permit outdoor planting much before May 30, you should start seeds early indoors or buy the small plants. From seeds, they normally take 120 to 130 days to mature.

The cool climate, plus a first-frost date in early or mid-September, would prevent these large onions from growing to full size.

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Most garden stores have the bunches of small plants. Great quantities are grown in Texas for spring planting in the north.

We cannot find Winsall tomatoes listed in any garden catalogs. We grew the Winsall tomato for many years and would like to grow it again. Can you help us locate either seeds or started plants?

We confess we have not heard of it and do not find it in any of the dozens of catalogs we receive from around the country. Perhaps one of our readers will help.

Favored varieties vary from region to region and newer varieties constantly replace the old ones.

When changing planes recently at a large airport, I saw a display area with large-leaf plants with daisy-like blooms. Some had white flowers bordered with blue, others had pink and lavender blooms, and still others were velvety maroon and white. The plants were about a foot tall. Can you identify them and also tell me if they can be grown from slips (cuttings), or are they started from seeds?

What you saw were Cineraria, a popular pot plant at this time of year. The plants are started from seeds which take from 51/2 to 6 months to produce blooming plants.

After germination, they prefer cool temperatures, the reason plantsmen start them about Oct. 1. The bloom period lasts about 4 to 5 weeks.

The scientific name is Senecio cruentus. Oddly enough, it's closely related to one of our most popular dusty miller varieties, Senecio Cineraria Maritima Diamond, commonly listed in seed catalogs under dusty miller as Cineraria Diamond.

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