ASK THE GARDENERS. Q&A.
Q. We had excellent results with our herbs this year, growing them in containers near our back door. At this writing our parsley and basil are still lush and green. We've covered the basil each time the temperature drops below freezing, but the parsley is quite hardy. Is there any way to preserve herbs other than by drying them? Our new, smaller house provides no place to hang the stems.
We freeze both parsley and basil, either by stuffing the tops in small plastic bags or by laying them evenly on the center of a sheet of aluminum foil and rolling it up tightly, twisting the ends to seal.
Later on, we can unroll the foil, snip what we need with kitchen shears, roll it back up, and pop it back into the freezer. You can do the same if freezing in a plastic bag.
Q. In a recent column you mention household bleach as an effective alternative to highly toxic commercial snail bait. A nonchemical gardener suggests using shallow containers filled with beer and I find this method very effective.
You are quite right when you say that beer is a very effective slug killer. It was mentioned some time back so it is time to repeat it.
Our July 31 column related to giant slugs so we did not suggest beer in shallow pans as, it appears to be less than effective on the creatures. Smaller-size slugs, however, succumb - and we thank you for mentioning this effective method.
Perhaps if beer were placed in deep containers and placed where the slugs could be induced to crawl in (perhaps by sinking the cans in the soil), they would not be able to get out so easily.
We'd like to hear from anyone who has foiled giant slugs (ours are 5 to 6 inches long) with beer, or any other method.
Q. This year our two grapevines had the largest leaves ever but not a single grape. What went wrong?
It could be one of two things:
* Poor pollinating weather at bloom time causing no fruit to set would allow all available plant food to go into leaf and vine growth.
* Or you may have given the vines too heavy a feeding of nitrogen, which would produce heavy leaf growth instead of fruiting buds.
Another reason might be frost injury to the buds, especially if a hard freeze is preceded by a warm spell in late winter or early spring, causing the buds to swell beyond their protective covering.
Q. First our yard and now our house have become overrun with crickets. Do you know of a biological method of disposing of them? We think they are called Mormon crickets. We've asked at garden stores, but they have only toxic chemicals.
There is a material known as Cricket Spore, a biological preparation especially for Mormon crickets (common in most Western states). It will not harm beneficial insects, including beneficial crickets. You can write to one of the largest distributors of natural, chemical-free controls, including those for cabbage worm, gypsy moth, Japanese beetle, and many other destructive pests. The company even has a good mosquito control.
The address is: Reuter Laboratories, PO Box 346, Haymarket, Va. 22069. Ask for a list of retail outlets in your area. We would be glad to know of other companies specializing in natural controls so we can prepare a list.
If you have a question about your garden, send it to the garden page, The Christian Science Monitor, One Norway Street, Boston, Mass., 02115.