Volume 13, Issue 35 ~ September 1 - 7, 2005
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Dr. Gouin's Bay Gardener

Give Cool-Season Crops a Cold Start
Share your AC now for veggies in the fall

The seeds of fall-growing crops generally germinate better in soil temperatures from 65 to 75 degrees. For near perfect germination, sow the seeds in trays and keep them in your air-conditioned home until they germinate. As soon as the seeds have germinated, move them outdoors in full sun.

Seeds of cool season crops also can be germinated outdoors, in a sheltered garden area, providing you keep the soil most by watering them two to three times daily. A wet soil is a cool soil. Once the seeds have germinated, reduce irrigation frequency to once daily for the first week; then water only on alternate days until the plants are sufficiently large to transplant in the garden. The plants are ready to transplant when they are five to 10 inches tall.

Cool season crops are generally heavy feeders. If you are an avid gardener, most likely your garden soils have sufficient residual nutrients to initiate rapid growth in transplanted seedlings. However, as the soil begins to cool in mid September and the plants have new growth, you will need to do some supplemental feeding to grow your plants to maturity.

In the spring, nutrient availability is less a problem because, as soil warms, more nutrients become available. But in the fall, soils cool and decomposing organic matter offers fewer nutrients.

Fruit Depends on Bees

My three-year old Red Delicious apple bloomed this year and started to stretch a stem; then they all aborted. Can you explain why? We did plant two new apple trees, a Gala and another that is compatible, which we understand we need in order to cross pollinate.

Thank you for your attention. I really enjoy your articles in Bay Weekly.

—Barbara Burton, Pasadena

A If the flowers aborted on your apple tree, they were not pollinated. Flowers that do not get pollinated abort, resulting in a flush of growth. Apples, pears and crabapples depend on cross-pollination for fruit to develop. When planting apple orchards, one pollinated tree — such as a crabapple that flowers at the same time the fruit tree flowers — is planted for every 10 fruit trees in the same row. In planting, remember that bees fly in a straight line.

Thanks for your kind comment.

Professor Emeritus Francis Gouin retired from the University of Maryland, where he was the state’s extension specialist in ornamental horticulture. Follow his column of practical gardening and plant advice every week, only in Bay Weekly. Ask Dr. Gouin your questions at [email protected]. Please include your name and address.

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