Shrubs that attract feathered friends; blueberry culture
Q Some time ago we asked for a list of shrubs to induce birds to stay around our property. In response you sent an attractive and useful folder. We planted many of the shrubs and now have 43 species of songbirds nesting here. We've used it to help children learn about birds. A fact that intrigues them is that a brown thrasher can eat more than 6,000 insects a day. May we have another folder?
We're happy to send a copy to you and to anyone else who will send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to us. Send your request to the address at the bottom of this column and mark the envelope ''Shrubs.''
The Garden Club of America Conservation Committee, which wrote the pamphlet, deserves the highest credit for drawing attention to the importance of birds. Besides their gifts of music, beauty, and mirth, they help us win the battle against bugs.
Humankind relies on birds more than most people might think.
Q Our blueberry bushes had a huge crop, but we got only one picking of ripe berries. The rest stayed small and did not ripen, hanging on the branches until frost came along.
Insufficient pruning will cause overbearing, which, in turn, causes a demand for moisture that the plant cannot provide, even under normal rainfall. Thus the berries cannot fill out and complete their normal growth.
Blueberries need a heavy mulch of sawdust, woodchips, or similar organic matter to help retain moisture around the shallow root system. If possible, irrigate the plants during dry spells. Most important, prune heavily in the winter or spring before the buds show much swelling.
Your state college should have a bulletin on blueberry culture which will mention varieties especially for your state, along with pruning instructions and other pertinent information.
Q About a year ago I read your article about starting seeds. You gave a list of flower seeds that need light to germinate, hence should not be completely covered by a medium and should have a sheet of clear plastic over the seed box. Could you repeat the list?
Tiny seeds should not be covered at all with a starting medium. In other words, merely sprinkle the seeds on the medium.
Commonly grown flowers needing light for good sprouting are ageratum, balsam, begonia, browallia, coleus, Gloriosa daisy, strawflower (Helichrysum), impatiens , nicotiana, petunia, salvia, snapdragon, and stock.
Q While in Florida, we saw plants with brilliantly colored daisylike flowers at a nursery. We were told they were Gerberas and were started from seeds. Could we also start some to grow in our garden during the summer?
Gerberas (Transvaal daisy from South Africa) can be grown as a perennial in frost-free areas and can be started from either divisions or seeds.
In your area (Ohio) you would need to sow the seeds in December or January to have them as annuals in your summer garden. You also could grow them as pot plants indoors or as cut flowers if you have a greenhouse. To have blooms during the fall and winter, sow the seeds about six months beforehand.
Ours blooms well on our sun porch, which gets almost no direct sun during the winter months.
Q We want to be prepared to handle a problem concerning our roses each spring. Before we get hardly any blooms, small green worms appear on the leaves and chew them to smithereens. How can we get rid of this condition?
You have what are commonly called rose slugs (sawfly larvae). The adult is a transparent winged, black fly that lays its eggs under the leaves.
You can spray with malathion or you can do what one of our readers does. She uses a spray of 1 tablespoon of hot pepper sauce to 2 quarts of water, applied every 7 days after the roses leaf out, until late June. She says it discourages the sawfly and eliminates any worms that do hatch.
Be sure to spray both the tops and bottoms of the leaves. If you have a question about your garden, send it to the Garden Page, The Christian Science Monitor, One Norway Street, Boston, Mass. 02115.m