Q&A

Q As I was turning the dial on my radio a few days ago, I caught some references to successive planting. The term intrigues me. What does it mean? Successive planting means planting another crop where one has matured and been removed, thus making maximum use of available gardening space.

It takes advantage of the fact that some plants produce crops faster than others. Also, some vegetables thrive in cool temperatures, hence can be started earlier in the season or planted so they grow in the fall.

Peas, radishes, many lettuce varieties, and most onions can be planted as soon as the soil can be worked in the spring and will produce crops in time to be pulled up and be replaced by beans, summer squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, pepper transplants, and the like.

Cold-tolerant vegetables such as turnip, kale, spinach, and Swiss chard can replace harvested bush beans, summer squash, and early corn. Second and third crops of lettuce, radishes, scallions, and other fast growers can be fitted into the picture as well.

A good idea is to plan your program on paper, using catalogs that give the number of days each crop can be expected to mature. Use catalogs suitable for your geographic area because these mention hardiness factors and planting dates that are pertinent to your location.

Q When I brought my gift ivy geranium indoors before frost, it had beautiful pink blooms. The plant bloomed well all summer, but now is getting sprawly and some of the leaves are turning yellow. What am I doing wrong?

While ivy-leaved geraniums (Pelargonium peltatum) are even used for ground covers on the West Coast, in the East they are primarily hanging-basket plants. However, ivy geraniums do not do well indoors unless kept in a greenhouse or other area with lots of winter sunlight and where the temperature can be kept between 55 and 60 degrees F. Our modern homes are too warm and dry.

Some folks prune them back to 6 inches (you can use root cuttings). Then put them in a basement window away from the heating unit and keep them from drying out completely.

In February bring them out of the basement into the brightest window and as cool a spot as possible. At this time, they could be transplanted, using a soil mix of one part each of garden loam, sphagnum peat moss, and sand; or you could use one of the peatlike mixes (from garden stores) at the rate of 2 parts to 1 of garden soil. They can usually be nudged along until the time to move them outdoors again.

Feed the geraniums every three weeks a liquid fertilizer.

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