Q. I bought two rose plants from a nursery two or three years ago. For the first season they gave beautiful double-shaded flowers, the next year the size of flowers was reduced and there were less of them. This year they didn’t bloom at all although they are watered and fed. The plants are developing more like vines than bushes. Please guide what to do.
A. The original rose bushes were grafted on to desi rootstock to help them grow strongly and quickly. The problem seems to be that the desi rootstock has taken over, hence the vine-like growth. When pruning grafted roses it is imperative that any shoots originating below the original grafting point — this will be at soil level and easily identified by a clearly visible ‘bump’ — are completely removed. The same is to be done with any root suckers it sends up, as these are all desi roses not the fancy grafted ones you purchased: any growth from the purchased roses will originate above the grafting point. It may be too late now to alter the situation but, to be honest, desi roses have their own charm and always exude glorious perfume.
Q. I want to make a garden that is very attractive and beneficial for me and for others. What steps should I take to do this properly and in a short period of time? I live in Sialkot.
All your garding queries answered
A. The first step is to decide what you want to plant and where, followed by marking out growing areas, lawns, footpaths and so on. Next is to bring soil up to a high standard by adding well-rotted manure/compost — organic, if possible — in the growing areas/beds. After this, make the footpaths. Next, get to grips with planting whatever it is you wish to grow, and ensure that all is maintained and watered as needed. Hard work and lots of dedication are the way to go.
Q. Where can I get organic seeds for vegetables and herbs?
A. If your local seed supply store doesn’t have them simply do an internet search for a Pakistani supplier of what you want: there are a surprising number of them selling via the internet now.
Q. What is the correct time to plant Zephyranthes bulbs in Lahore and can they be grown in pots?
A. It is usual to plant Zephyranthes bulbs in late autumn but, having said this, I once planted some in spring and they did fine. Yes, they thrive in pots, preferably in a partially shaded location.
Q. I have a serious slug issue in my Karachi garden. I have tried various ways to remove them, such as applying salt on them and using pesticides, but the effect only lasts a week or two. I have had to use pesticides almost every other month. Can you suggest a permanent solution please?
A. Unfortunately there is no 100 percent solution to slug problems but there are ways to vastly reduce their numbers over time. The most reliably successful of these is slug traps. Sink empty tin cans/plastic containers in the soil, up to their brims, at various spots throughout the garden. Then half fill these with either water in which a few spoonfuls of sugar have been dissolved or with water in which you can float a teaspoon of baker’s yeast; these mixtures attract slugs to feast on them, the slugs fall into the traps and drown. The containers need to be emptied and refilled regularly but if you persist with this, in time the number of slugs will reduce to almost nothing.
Q. I have been growing Aloe vera for a long time and they flourish and flower each year. This time, after flowering, three green pods have appeared. Are they seeds or what?
A. Wow! Lucky you! Seeds indeed. They must be incredibly happy to reward you like this.
Q. I bought a lemon tree which turned out to be a lime but that is okay. The problem is that the fruits are the size of a marble. I currently feed the tree with the water I have washed meat in. What else can I feed it?
A. There are lots of different organic liquid fertilisers available in the market these days, try to select one that is specifically intended for citrus trees and follow the instructions on the label. Otherwise, make your own organic liquid feed by soaking old, pre-used teabags, crushed egg shells and banana skins in a bucket of water, stir daily for seven to 10 days, strain and then dilute the liquid (it will probably smell but not for long) with an equal amount of fresh water and feed to the tree, as much as it needs, every two to three weeks from flower set to harvesting the fruit. Additionally, mulch around the tree with a generous helping of old, well-rotted, preferably organic manure every four to six months and then patiently await results.
Q. I have planted the leaves of a pineapple about three to four months ago. The leaves have not withered but there is no sign of growth. How do I know if the plant is fine or not?
A. Presumably you mean that you planted a pineapple crown — the top part with leaves attached — just to clarify for other readers. The plant is alive — if not the leaves would have withered by now. Do not disturb it in any way. It will begin to grow in its own good time — probably when the weather warms up.
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Published in Dawn, EOS, April 15th, 2018