Ask The Gardeners. Q&A.
Q. We were away this spring when we normally plant a garden. Now we have put in fast crops such as lettuce and radishes, and they are up already. We wonder if it would be possible to start other crops - beets, carrots, corn, and broccoli, for example. Our first frost is usually the first part of October.
If you can get seeds planted before mid-July you can get a respectable crop of beets and broccoli. They germinate quickly in warm soil and appreciate the cooler nights of late August and September. Both tolerate mild frosts. Carrots take longer to germinate (12 to 18 days) and need a longer growing season (more than two months). Corn needs warm nights, a week or more to germinate, and 2 1/2 to 3 months to form full ears. Thus, it is too late for corn.Tokyo Cross Hybrid turnip requires only 30 days and produces tasty tops and roots. There are some good bush-bean varieties that provide a crop within 40 to 45 days, which is well before your frost date.
Q. I have just finished building some frames in which I want to make some raised beds for herbs. My brother-in-law tells me I should treat the wood with something so it won't rot. He suggests a product which has creosote in it, but I want to be sure this will not adversely affect the plants. What is your recommendation?
Creosote is detrimental to plants so you should use a product such as Cuprinol instead. If this trade name is not available in your area, ask for a compound which contains copper and zinc naphthenate.Our greenhouse benches were painted with Cuprinol more than 20 years ago and they are still solid.
Q. I was given a handsome gloxinia for Mother's Day which had five large blooms and 16 buds. I put it in a window that does not get direct sun, following the instructions of the florist. He also said the plant must be moist all the time so I have kept it in a saucer to which I add water each day. The buds have all turned brown and I'm puzzled.
Even though gloxinias must be kept ''just moist,'' they cannot be left sitting in water. This causes the buds to ''blast.'' Wet conditions and stagnant air allow spores of a fungus known as botrytis to settle on the buds and cause rot.Greenhouse operators run fans constantly to keep the foliage dry and prevent spores from settling on the plants.Water each day or two, but allow the water to drain through the soil quickly. The soil must be well drained. Air that is too dry will also cause browning of the buds due to desiccation, but your problem is obviously from overwatering.