Lady Apples


TheGardenLady received this question from John:

I live in the Texas hill country, and have started some lady apples from seed. I am not sure how well they will grow, but how can I give them the best chance, and what are their growing habits.


The Pink Lady apple is from Western Australia and likes weather in the US that is South of the Mason Dixon Line- zones 6 through 9. It grows 9-11 feet in all types of soil. It doesn’t need another tree to pollinate – it is a self pollinator. It needs full sun and takes 3 to 5 years to bear fruit.

If you read TheGardenLady’s column on raising apples from seeds, you will understand that you probably won’t get good apples from the little trees that are growing for you.

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Vermicomposting for everyone – even in classrooms

TheGardenLady received these questions about vermicomposting from Ashley –

I have recently started a barrel composter. It is a modified 55 gallon foodsafe drum/barrel that is working nicely. Can I add worms to this? Because it is off the ground they will not enter natually, and I have been hearing so much about the benifits of worms. I would just love to join in on all the fun. I have yet to read or hear of someone trying out this method; though I’m sure there out there…any thoughts?

Worms are a benefit to composting, so congratulations for wanting to start this excellent endeavor. Some schools are now teaching students how to do Vermicomposting. There are many excellent sites on the computer to learn Vermicomposting. Two sites for teachers that you can use to learn how to start this type of composting are here and here.

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Apple Trees


TheGardenLady received this question from Lisa –

 It seems hard to find a staymen apple tree at the local nurseries anymore (DC area) and planting the apple seeds has never worked no matter how many times/ways we’ve tried.  Do you have to plant the whole apple for the seeds to sprout?  Any other ideas on how to get a staymen apple tree to sprout/grow for our yard?  Thanks for any suggestions!

You can start an apple tree from a seed. But to get an excellent fruit tree, nurserymen usually graft the tree to good root stock. Grafting takes a certain expertise that the Garden Lady cannot teach. So you are probably best off buying a tree from one of the numerous fruit tree specialists that are listed on the computer. Local nurseries might night carry all kinds of fruit trees because they have the plants they think will sell to most of the people who are shopping there. And fruit trees are not that popular to plant in small gardens. Deer love the fruit.  Also, fruit trees often have diseases that are too involved to treat for the average home gardener.

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Preventing Herbs from Getting Leggy

TheGardenLady received this question from Sarah:

My daughter and I planted 3 herbs from a pretty herb kit we got as a gift –
basil, parsley and thyme.  They’ve come up, but are pretty spindly.  Are they
just not getting enough light?  Or, is there anything else we can do?


The Nov. 13th column on Indoor Herb Gardens stresses the need for sun. It says that herbs need a minimum of 4 to 5 hours of sunlight.  But a maximum number of hours of sunlight is preferable for the herbs to really thrive. More information on raising herbs can be found on this website. Many herbs are native to Mediterranean countries where the sun is bright for their growing season. Thus when you keep a plant indoors, you try to give the plant what it likes best. So if you have a sunny southern exposure, your herbs will be happiest.

To get the herbs to grow bushier, you should pinch off the terminal bud of the plants and pinch off any flowers you see. The more you snip off these buds, the better.

Herbs, native to the Mediterranean where it is dry, don’t like their roots to be too wet; so make sure the soil is well drained. You can let the soil dry between watering.

Let TheGardenLady know if you and your daughter can now coax your herbs to grow bushier.

Composting and Worms

TheGardenLady received emails from two people asking questions that are similar. I will try to answer both together as well as saying a few words separately to each.

Laura King wrote:

I wanted to know more about composting and what kinds of things I can put in it. I heard so many different things, I know what not to put in but not everything I could be adding.I also want to know if I can add my used tea bags to my rain barrel? Thanks for your help.I just found your web site, so tomorrow when the ids are gone I’ll be back.Thanks for a great site. Laura your friend in dirt.


Jay wrote:

Heard that putting worms in garden makes the garden grow better. true? How about in flower pots or boxes? inside?


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Caring for Daffodils

Fran asks TheGardenlady the following question:

My mother gave me a (small) pot of gorgeous and very leggy daffodils to take to my office. They have really brightened up my desk, but I am worried that I might have killed them. A few leaves are turning yellow/brown at the tip, and several new flower buds did not bloom, but turned brown and shriveled. I have been good about watering the plant and caring for it. Does it want more sunlight? Do office environments generally kill flowers like daffodils? Thank
you so much for any help you can give!                                                 

Not knowing about the culture of the bulbs before they were brought to you, nor seeing the plant’s condition, I cannot say much about the cause of their dying in your office.  Bulbs that were forced needed good, fertile soil as well as fertilizer in the soil when they were starting to send up shoots in order to have healthy flowers.

When the bulbs are in flower indoors they need a lot of  bright light, some say sunny spot or artificial lights to grow  properly and not leggy.  Office lights can be good for flowers if they are close enough to give light during the day and are shut off at night. Daffodils don’t want light 24 hours.

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Growing Roses in the Garden

Joe asks TheGardenLady the following question:

I would like to try to grow roses in my garden. I’ve heard some varieties are very difficult to grow. Can you recommend a variety that is fairly easy and what suggestions you may have to make them look their best?                                                    

Many roses are high maintenance. They generally want a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight. They like nice loamy soil – use your compost for best results. Roses want water, but the soil should have good drainage. And to avoid diseases, try not to do overhead watering. Water the roots not the leaves.  Roses like to be fed nutrients that might be missing in the soil. Roses get diseases – they like good air circulation, need pruning and need spraying for diseases. They attract insects like the Japanese beetle. And deer love to eat roses in spite of their thorns.

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Hostas: Plants that Need Little Sun

Joshua wrote:

I need a good, medium sized shade plant for a corner that receives very little sun. Any recommendations?

When you have a corner of your yard that does not receive much sun,
consider the Hosta – see pic. There are so many different leaf sizes, variations
in colors, textures and shapes in the Hosta family that you will have fun choosing a favorite. And you might even get them to bloom for you.
One shade garden I will be touring this summer has over 2000 varieties planted.