Ask the gardeners

Sometime back you told a reader to use wood ashes on the garden, but nothing was said about quantities, or the possible deleterious effect of lye. How much should one use?

A safe way to tell is to have a simple soil acidity test. If the soil is acid , use wood ashes at the rate of 5 pounds per 100 square feet applied in spring or fall.

You don't need to fear any lye in ashes, but they contain lime (calcium), and if used in large quantities, it can make the soil too alkaline (sweet). Never use ashes for potato soils unless you test the soil, as the excess calcium can cause scab on the tubers. Regular commercial lime will do the same thing.

I read an encyclopedia on old-fashioned rose varieties, but no mention is made of where they may be obtained. One reference said that Damask roses may be found in Bulgaria. I would like to obtain damask, moss, and cabbage roses because they are so fragrant, but surely there must be some place closer than Bulgaria to find them.

Write to: Roses of Yesterday and Today, Brown's Valley Road, Watsonville, Calif. 95076. They sell old, rare, and unusual roses.

Recently on a trip I saw some hanging baskets of strawberries. Were these started from plants or seeds? I would like to grow some in my little window greenhouse this winter. Is this possible?

If the berries and leaves were normal size, they were started from plants or ''offsets'' of regular plants. If the foliage and berries were small, resembling wild ones, chances are they were started from seeds. Either type would grow indoors in a bright window, but do not let them go dry.

Everbearing varieties would be best because you would have some colorful fruit most of the time. Small-fruited, Alpine strawberries are runnerless. Seeds sown in July could give you blooming plants by late fall. They will bloom sparsely through the winter, but will regain their momentum in spring.

Seed houses handling strawberry seeds are: W. Atlee Burpee Company, Doylestown, Pa. 18901; Nichols Garden Nursery, 1190 North Pacific Highway, Albany, Ore. 97321; Park Seed Company, Greenwood, S.C. 29646.

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