Ask the gardeners
My small 10-by-20-foot garden produces a variety of vegetables (lettuce, onions, beets, beans, etc.) in satisfactory quantities, but none with good flavor. What's missing in the soil?
The soil could have something to do with it, although other factors are probably responsible.
We have noticed that any vegetables we've grown in the ''artificial mixes'' in containers (containing peatmoss, vermiculite, and perlite) do not have the flavor of containerized vegetables grown in regular soil, fortified with rotted compost. However, lack of water, cool temperatures, and cloudy days have also affected the flavor.
Chances are, if other years have given you tasty vegetables, that weather conditions are responsible. Cool, wet weather makes tomatoes taste flat; prolonged hot spells can make onions and radishes taste hotter than normal; sudden drops in temperature while cucumbers are making best growth can make them bitter. Lack of sun while fruits and vegetables are growing can also reduce flavor.
I started a nice avocado from a pit, after reading your directions. Will I ever be able to get it to flower and bear fruit indoors? It is thriving in our bay window.
No, your tree would not grow big enough in a home to produce flowers or fruit. They are normally large trees grown in the subtropics and like humidity.
To keep it growing heartily indoors, do not let it dry out, providing humidity during dry-air winter months. Wash leaves off about once a month, and watch out for scale insects. If present, remove with a cotton ball soaked in one part each rubbing alcohol and water.
We have several lovely crab apple trees. Some have fruit which is large enough for pickling. Two trees have very small fruit, attractive for birds, but not really large enough for pickled apples. Is there any other use for them?
They make a beautiful and delicious jelly, as well as juice that can be combined with lemonade for a lucious drink.
Just wash them thoroughly, stems and all. Then put them in a large pan with enough water so it is just visible under the top layer of fruit. Simmer until the fruit is soft, then pour the whole kettleful into a ''jelly bag,'' which can be made from an old sheet, pillowcase, or several layers of cheese cloth. First, hang it above a large saucepan so all the clear liquid will drip out of it into the pan. Do not squeeze the bag or the jelly will turn cloudy.
Measure a cup of sugar for each cup of juice and bring to a low boil. Continue at a low boil for about 10 minutes.
Fruit has plenty of pectin to make it set after this length of time. This juice combined with lemonade and sugar to taste makes a nice pink lemonade.
Is it all right to let our grass grow tall in the fall? We're tired of mowing and it will be brown soon anyway.
No. Keep your grass mowed right up until snow flies. If you let it grow tall, it gets matted. Snow mold may cause it to rot off where it is too thick under ice and snow.
If you have a question about your garden, send it to the Gardening page, The Christian Science Monitor, One Norway Street, Boston, Mass. 02115.