ASK THE GARDENERS. Questions & Answers.
Q I would like to naturalize my back yard. It is isolated and could offend no neighbor. I have much moss (which I like), some oaks, small shrubs, ivy, and tiny wildflowers. It gets early morning and late afternoon sun and light shade in between. Would daffodils survive there? If so, should fertilizer be added to each one as it is planted? Mrs. U. H. B. Newton Highlands, Mass. Daffodils do well in full sun or filtered sunlight. You appear to have some of both. They are more attractive when planted in bunches or drifts rather than separately. Some drifts could have space between, and others could appear to run together. After soil is worked up, planned areas for specific varieties can be marked out by sifting a line of lime to mark them. When ordering, take note of bloom dates and plant so you will have as long a show as possible. Naturalized bulbs should be planted an inch or two deeper and farther apart than those in the garden. Any fertilizer with a 5-10-5 (N-P-K) analysis is good. Daffodils are not heavy feeders. Apply about 3 pounds per 100 sq. ft. over top of planted bulbs and let rains wash it in, or sprinkle it in if the weather is dry. Q Why is it that so many of my tulips come up with only one leaf? I start out with expensive bulbs and do get some nice blooms, but even the newly planted bulbs often produce only foliage. I always fertilize according to directions in my bulb book. Mrs. A. C. Milford, Mass.
When bulbs produce only foliage the very next spring, you may not be planting deeply enough. Severe cold with lack of snow cover may injure the flower bud. If soil is not well drained this could cause lack of bloom. Another factor may be that rodents could be removing your newly-planted bulbs and the older bulbs in the bed are the ones producing a single leaf. Planting 6 to 7 inches deep in heavy soil and a couple of inches deeper in light, sandy soil will delay the bulbs dividing into smaller bulbs. Tulips, unlike daffodils, have smaller blooms after a year or two and usually ``run out'' completely after 3 years. Q We use many fresh shrimp and fish. Could you tell me how I can make a good compost for the garden using shrimp heads and fish scraps? For example, how would I use them starting with a basic recipe of 5 pounds of scraps? E. L. W. New Orleans, La.
History tells us that American Indians taught early settlers how to use fish scraps for fertilizer under newly planted seeds and plants. Your scraps would be about 7-3-2 ratio (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) when viewed as fertilizer. Compost them with plant refuse. Leaves, grass, etc. (plus shredded newspapers) not only add organic matter but help prevent odor. Also, sprinkle limestone on the ground to hasten breakdown and deter odor.
For 5 pounds of scraps, use 1/2 pound of lime, plus all the organic matter you can muster up. If compost pile is above ground, enclose it to keep animals out. You can use the pit method by digging a wide hole about 15 inches deep. Start with a 3- to 4-inch layer of plant refuse, then a layer of limed scraps, alternating until the last layer is of plant material and shredded paper. It can be covered with a plastic sheet, perforated to let moisture in. You can also use garbage can composters. A handful of redworms added to any composter will hasten breakdown. Our garbage can composter bulletin is still available. Anyone can have one in return for a self-addressed, stamped envelope.
If you have a question about your garden, inside or out, send it, along with a self-addressed, stamped envelope, to the Garden Page, The Christian Science Monitor, One Norway Street, Boston, Mass. 02115. Doc and Katy Abraham are nationally known horticulturists.