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We have a very sandy soil, so sandy that we sometimes have to water it every other day. I've been adding weeds, grass clippings, buckets of old cow manure, and leaves. There are pine trees nearby, and the neighbors tell me these make the soil acid, so I have added lime to the soil. I plan to add more next spring. Am I doing the right thing? You didn't tell us whether your crops grow well or not. However, adding organic matter to any soil is good business because the humus acts like a sponge, holding the moisture for thirsty crops. It also adds nutrients.

As far as pines causing the soil to be acid, this isn't necessarily so. A simple soil test (either by you or your county extension agent) can quickly tell if your soil is acid enough to justify another application of lime in the spring. Too much lime is worse than none at all. Lime is not a fertilizer or a cure-all.

Before you apply another dose of lime in the spring, check to see if the soil really needs it. If the soil-test reading is around pH6, do not add lime. Garden stores have simple soil-test kits.

For years we've pruned our Dorothy Perkins rose after June bloom. Last summer and fall it grew very tall and now extends beyond the trellis. Every time the wind blows it scratches against the house. Would it do any harm to cut it back part way right now? Not at all. Although old-fashioned ramblers, such as the one you have, are usually pruned in late June, removing some of the older canes right after bloom, it does no harm to cut overgrown canes off to where they can be tied to a trellis.

Rain and mild weather into the fall caused roses in many areas to become overgrown.

I want to start some geraniums from seeds this year and so planted seeds about 14 days ago. To date there's not a smitch of green showing and I'm afraid the seed is no good or else I have not planted them properly. I am using a heating cable and the temperature has been kept at 70 degrees F. in the germinating box. I sub-irrigated the starting mix with warm water, as you suggested some months ago, and I covered the seeds with about one-eighth inch of mix as directions called for. It sounds as though you're doing everything right except expecting the seeds to germinate too soon. They take almost three weeks to sprout at 70 to 75 degrees F.

It's important to use warm water (about 80 degrees) when adding to the sub-irrigation pan. Tap water in most areas this time of year can be as low as 35 to 40 degrees F.

Sow seeds in mid-February for flowering plants by the last of May.

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