ASK THE GARDENERS. Q & A
Q My wife and I are enthusiastic gardeners, and we have tried to convey this enthusiasm to our two children, who are in elementary school. Last year they planted peach pits in a corner of the garden which subsequently sprouted. Some are now big enough to move to a permanent spot. How long will it take to get peaches? Should they expect good-tasting peaches? If they planted apple seeds, would they eventually get some good-tasting apples like the ones they got the seeds from? J.W.L., Portland, Ore. First, we want to commend you for cultivating the love of plants in your children! Contrary to the results obtained from planting seeds of most fruit, the peach is one that will often produce good-tasting fruit. You will probably get some fruit in the third year.
Apples are not so likely to produce good fruit from seeds. Any seedling is the result of random cross-pollination with any nearby apple trees - even crab apples. It can take from eight to 12 years for the trees to bear. Apple breeders tell us that chances are one in 50,000 that a seedling will have fruit qualities that would be accepted by the public. Explain to them that fruit trees sold by nurseries are produced by grafting a bud from a known variety onto a rootstock. You may want to get a book on grafting from your library. Q I have finally moved from an apartment with only a single north-facing window into one with both east and south windows suitable for houseplants.
I also acquired two house cats. Would you please suggest some indoor plants that will not be harmful if ingested by cats? E.P., Dubuque, Iowa
Chlorophytum (spider plant) and spiky-type Dracaena such as Dracaena marginata and D. sanderiana will do well in your new environment and are also kitty pleasers.
You can also grow catnip from seed, available from most seed catalogs. You can use seeds of any of the grains found in organic food stores. These have not been treated for any pesticides, because they are used for edible sprouts. Cats like green leaves of oats, wheat, and alfalfa. You can even pot up any lawn grass that has not been treated with chemicals and bring it indoors.