QUESTION: My peach tree has already started to flower, and I wasn't able to prune it. Can I still prune it now, or do I need to wait until next year?
ANSWER: Go ahead and prune your peach tree now. Your tree will be better off, and so will your crop. One advantage to pruning while the tree is in flower is that you can use some of the flowering stems for bouquets, if you wish.
The best thing about traditional winter pruning is the absence of leaf litter and the easy visibility of the branches and stems.
The main problem with pruning when the tree is in flower is bees. But if you do the job early in the morning when the temperatures are cool, they won't "bee" a bother.
Pruning after the fruit sets avoids the bee problem and simultaneously thins it as well, a practice recommended to home gardeners by many professional fruit tree growers.
Cumin Seeds Like It Warm, Even at Night
Q: The cumin seeds I planted came up but then died. Can you advise me how to grow this herb?
A: This seems to be a common occurence with cumin seeds--even some of the seed suppliers have trouble with it. Apparently one major requirement of cumin is warm temperatures, even at night. So if you want to try it again, wait until night temperatures are over 65 degrees Fahrenheit before you plant the seeds. Good luck!
What Are Best Growing Conditions for Pansies?
Q: I love pansies and wonder when to plant them and what conditions I should give them. I know they bloom in the spring, but how long do they last?
A: You can still plant started pansies (available in flats or "pony packs" or even gallon-size containers) through March or into April and get a pleasing amount of color. However, they will fade away when the weather heats up, usually by late June or early July.
Pansies may actually be planted as early as September in our climate to give several months of cheerful, friendly flowering throughout the winter and spring.
Situate them in full sun where they get afternoon shading. They do best in a rich, cool, moist soil. They also do well and look good in containers. To prolong their blooming, pick the flowers regularly and do not let them go to seed. Plant them soon so you can enjoy your pansies as long as possible.
It's rose pruning time. Order a copy of my easy-to-understand demonstration video, "The Care and Pruning of Your Roses," from Jack Christensen, c/o Rose Pruning Video, P.O. Box 1231, Ontario, Calif. 91762. Enclose a check for $18.99, including tax and postage. Delivery in 7-10 days.