The Magic Garden

Some sand is a good foundation


We have the calcified soil here in Austin. How deep does the good soil have to be for vegetables? We have a drained area that collects top soil. Elizabeth, TX

You can have raised beds, if the good soil is not at least eighth inches. Raised beds should be at least 18 inches deep, especially for root vegetables. If your decide to use the drained area, you can rototill the soil to mix with the hard soil. Both the newly tilled soil and the raised bed should have at least two-thirds organic material. Aged steer manure, grass clippings (if no herbicide has been used), aged compost, shredded leaves and aged sawdust are all good as well and good loam.

I have had little success growing corn in pots from seed indoors. They seem to rot before I can put them outdoors. Andrew, Long Beach, NY

You could plant corn outdoors directly into mounds with three to four seeds in ear mound. Most problems occur indoors, when too much water is used. Start the seeds in four inch peat pots with three seeds per pot. A mix of sterile potting soil with a third sand is best with a thin layer of sand at the top. Mist the seeds every day. Do not let the water puddle. When the plants are six inches ,you can add a little liquid fertilizer to every other watering. Start the seeds indoors around mid March for planting outdoors in May.

We have a 25 foot pecan tree that produces a lot of nuts. When they fall to the ground, they are being eaten by some critter. They are hallowed out. What could it be? Dave, Taylorville, IL

It could be a ground worm. It is most likely nut case worm that has been growing in the pecan. You need to spray with an oil spray each fall and spring. You also need to spray with Bordeaux Mix at least seven times in the spring and summer. Do not use any spray, when the flowers are on the tree. If you cannot get Bordeaux, spray with a Home Orchard Mix. Follow directions on the packages. You can also put vaseline on the trunk at the bottom every year.

When is the best time to start seeds indoors? ur growing zones are predicated on frost dates. In zone six the average last frost is May 15th. Some warm weather vegetables are better planted about two weeks later. Indoor seeds vary for time span indoors. Most take six to eight weeks prior to setting outdoors. Large seeds like cucumbers, melons and corn can be planted in doors or out in zone six south. These are generally planted outdoors in zone 7. Cool weather vegetables like broccoli,kale, lettuce and cabbage require less time indoors (three to four weeks).

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