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We saw some beautiful hybrid pansies in a city park and asked the attendant if they grew their own. He told us the seeds were started in a greenhouse in January. I have a recollection of my grandfather sowing pansies outdoors in August or September. Since we have no greenhouse, I'd like to know if it is possible to start hybrids in this manner.
Many home gardeners and some commercial growers sow seeds about mid-August in a coldframe. We suggest you start them in a seed flat (box) in a loose soil mix and cover lightly, keep moist, and they will be up within 10 days.
After they are large enough to handle, transplant in a coldframe about 4 to 6 inches apart. In areas where temperatures drop much below the teens (F.) in winter, a light covering of straw is desirable.
We had some fill dirt brought on to our property last fall and this summer and, for the first time ever, we have had Japanese beetles. Could the beetles have come with the dirt? What can we do to eradicate them? We hope you can offer a natural control.
Milky spore disease is a natural control for the grubs. The egg stage probably came in with the fill dirt. Your county extension service can tell you the proper time to apply it in your area.
Beetle traps have been quite effective while a homemade contraption described by a reader has worked for many. Place an opened can of fruit cocktail on a brick in a yellow plastic pail and add water until it is an inch or so up the can. As the fruit cocktail ferments it attracts the beetles which fall into the water and drown.
Skunks, moles, and birds, such as flickers and starlings, are excellent predators.
We have just moved into a house which has a large southwest window and were wondering if it would be possible to grow potted tomatoes and peppers during the winter. If so, when should we plant the seeds and are there any special varieties you would recommend?
If you have no buildings or trees shading your window, there is no reason why you can't grow tomatoes and peppers there. We've had excellent results with Gypsy hybrid peppers, but other varieties also do well.
Sow seeds of both vegetables any time now. For tomato varieties suited to pots, try Burpee's Pixie Hybrid, Patio, Small Fry, and Tumblin' Tom; for hanging baskets try Basket King Hybrid, Goldie (yellow), Toy Boy, and Tiny Tim.
Study the seed catalogs for other container vegetables that can be grown indoors.
For several years we had a beautiful pink hybrid tea rose, but this year something strange happened. In June we did not get pink blooms but small single white blooms. What happened to our lovely rose? In our location we have never used any protection around our roses.
In your area you had some very cold weather in February after an extremely mild fall and early winter.
Many rose bushes around the country did not have a chance to harden off, a process brought on by mild frosts. The stem tissue remained tender and cold temperatures (sometimes below zero F.) froze the hybrid part of your rose, which was budded onto a rootstock of multiflora rose.
Multiflora roses are extremely hardy, but when the budded rose froze, the understock produced canes and flowers.