Ask the Gardeners Q & A

Q We started some petunia seeds indoors and they germinated beautifully. They were fine for several days but soon turned whitish around the edges and appear to be ``standing still'' rather than growing any larger. This has happened to some tomato seedlings, which show curled leaves also. The ones that seem to be affected most are nearest the heater (which is fueled by gas). We do not think heat is causing it, because we keep the temperature about 68 degrees F. G. S. Peru, Ind. Unburned fuel from gas heaters will cause parching of leaves and a symptom called epinasty (curling of leaves). We suggest you call a heater repair company to check for any leaks or situations which would cause incomplete combustion of the gas. Q We have room enough in our backyard for two cherry trees. We would like to plant one sweet and one sour variety. Will the pollination problem be solved by planting one of each? G. E. Willoughby, Ohio

Sour cherries are self-pollinating, but most sweet cherries need another sweet cherry for cross-pollination. One exception is Stella, which will pollinate itself. There are also ``three in one'' types on the market which have three different varieties grafted on one tree. Not all sweet varieties pollinate each other, and sours do not pollinate sweet varieties, so consult your nursery or read catalogs carefully before ordering. Q Recently I picked some forsythia branches and put them in water, thinking they would flower, but the buds dried and fell off. I have wood heat. Would this cause the buds to dry? B. D. F. Aurora, Ill.

Wood stoves and fireplaces are notorious for making homes as dry as the Sahara desert. To offset the low humidity (if you have no humidifier), soak branches in a bathtub for half an hour before putting in a vase. If air is extremely dry, wrap branches carefully in moist burlap and leave on for 24 hours after branches are in the vase.

If you have a question about your garden, inside or out, send it to the Garden Page, The Christian Science Monitor, One Norway Street, Boston, Mass. 02115.

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