Do you know your seeds and bugs?
Shauna Dobbie has some pointed questions for you. She’s here to clear up a few misunderstandings and propagate a few garden truths. Test your knowledge by answering true or false to the following questions.
1. Seedless watermelons are grown from seed.
2. Packets of seed left over from last spring are definitely no good now.
3. When you start seeds indoors too early, the plants get long and spindly because they haven’t got enough soil.
4. To get your seeds to germinate faster, sow them in rich soil
5. Pick your pansies before they’re spent if you want them to rebloom. 6. Petunias lose their scent after they’ve been open a few days because they’re getting old.
7. Bees are crucial to the production of one-third of our food.
8. Peony buds won’t open if there are no ants to clean the sticky nectar off them.
9. Ants attack ladybugs.
10. If you see a little insect that looks like a six-legged alligator, bluish black with orange spots, stop drinking alcohol in the garden.
1. True. The seedless watermelon plant seeds are a cross between a regular watermelon and a watermelon plant that is genetically unable to produce fruit. The seedless watermelon cannot produce seeds, though.
2. False. They might be okay. Beans, phlox and carrots remain viable for three or more years. Delphinium, corn and parsnips don’t tend to make it past one year. If you’ve got enough space, try sowing the seeds. If you don’t like to take chances, only plant fresh seed.
3. False. The reason baby plants get spindly, or leggy, indoors is because they cannot get enough light; they’re stretching to find the sun.
4. False. Seeds contain all the food they need to germinate. Seedlings don’t need outside nutrients until they develop their first set of true leaves.
5. True. A flower’s reason for existence is to make seeds. If you remove the flower before it has made seeds, many plants will try again. This works with most annuals and biannuals.
6. False. Petunias lose their scent once they’ve been pollinated, not because they’re getting old. The flower produces the scent to attract bees and other pollinators. Once a petunia is pollinated, it doesn’t put more energy into producing a scent.
7. True. Bees pollinate crops such as apples, oranges and squash. Without pollination, those plants don’t produce the fruit that we eat. Imagine the cost of sending farmers out to the fields with boxes of cotton swabs to manually pollinate all those crops!
8. False. Ants do love peonies, and they do crawl all over the buds collecting the nectar, but they don’t seem to do anything beneficial for the plant. On the other hand, they don’t seem to hurt the peonies, either.
9. True. Ladybugs are a natural predator of aphids, which ants herd. Aphids suck the juice out of your plants then excrete a sticky substance called honeydew, which ants love to eat. When a ladybug comes along to eat the aphids, to the ant it’s like a fox in the hen house.
10. False. Whether you’ve been drinking or not, the alligator-like creature is a ladybug larva, and it will eat up to 400 aphids before it becomes an adult. As an adult, it may vacuum up as many as 5,000 more aphids.
8-10 correct: Your mind is fertile ground indeed. 5-7 correct: A little more sunlight and you’ll be growing strong.
Fewer than 5 correct: You wonder how much you have to drink to see those little orange-spotted alligators in the garden.
Did ants cause this peony bud to open?