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Japanese Pickling Herb Can Be Home-Grown

April 04, 1993|BILL SIDNAM | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Sidnam has written garden columns and features for The Times since 1975

QUESTION: I would like to know the English name for the Japanese herb chi soi . This herb is used when they pickle plums to make umi . Also where can I get the plants or seeds?

ANSWER: The name of the herb is perilla. In appearance, it resembles basil and comes in both green and purple-leaved types. The growing culture is similar to basil. Some local nurseries may stock the seeds or plants. If not, seeds for perilla are available from Nichols Garden Nursery, 1190 N. Pacific Highway, Albany, Ore. 97321 (free catalogue).

Potting Soil Doesn't Crust Like Garden Soil

Q: When I plant rows of flower or vegetable seeds in my garden, the soil crusts over and many of the seeds don't germinate. I have to replant the parts of the rows where the seedlings don't make it through the soil. Any suggestions?

A: Yes, here's an easy way to ensure that most seedlings will make it through the soil. For each row, dig a shallow trench one-inch deep and one-inch wide. Fill the trench with a commercial potting soil and plant your seeds in it. The potting soil will not crust over like garden soil and you will have much better success.

Blotchy Begonia May Have Fungal Leaf Spot

Q: The leaves on my tuberous begonias are covered with unsightly blotches and spots. What is happening?

A: It sounds as if the plants are infected with fungal leaf spot. This disease usually will not kill the plants, but it does make them unattractive. Pick and destroy the infected foliage and keep the area around the plants free of weeds and debris. If the condition persists, wettable sulfur will help control leaf spot; follow label directions carefully.

Peach Trees Need Infrequent Watering

Q: How often should I water my peach trees?

A: It all depends on what type of soil you have. During the growing season, mature peach trees require adequate moisture, but they react poorly to over-watering. Heavy soils require less frequent watering than sandy soils. In a sandy soil a deep watering every two weeks will probably work; in a heavy clay soil once a month will probably suffice.

Mature trees should be watered when the top layer of soil has dried to four or five inches; check with a shovel. Young trees need more frequent irrigation until they become established.

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