5-Question Gardener's Quiz

Submitted 2 years ago
Created by
Henry Homeyer

What's Your GQ? (Gardener's Quotient)

Test your knowledge on these 5 questions. Get them all right and win a new Mercedes Benz. Well, maybe just bragging rights. For new cars, ask your local dealer. And send me questions for another quiz, please. (henry.homeyer@comcast.net).

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1.     What kills most houseplants in winter?

a.     Not enough sunshine

b.     Too much fertilizer

c.      Not enough water

d.     Too much water

e.      Cyber monkeys

2.     How should you store garlic and onions from the garden?

a.     In a cold basement with high humidity

b.     On the kitchen counter, in a bowl

c.      In a cool, dry location at about 50 degrees

d.     In the vegetable drawer of the fridge

e.      In your left pocket, if you are right-handed.

3.     What does it mean if a tomato seed packet says "80 days"?

a.     The fruit will be ripe 80 days after planting seeds

b.     The fruit will be ripe 80 days after planting seedlings

c.      The plant will produce fruit for 80 days, then die.

d.     The plant will flower 80 days after planting

e.      The seeds expire after 80 days.

Selection of my heirloom tomatoes

4.     Which of these insecticides is rated for use by organic gardeners? Which is safe to use?

a.     Pyrethrum

b.     Malathion

c.      Neem oil

d.     Rotenone

e. DDT

5.     When should you start tomatoes by seed?

a.     Today

b.     Town Meeting Day

c.      April 10 at 10am

d.     Anytime in early April

e.      June 1, outdoors

Answers: First, if you answered “e.” to any of the questions, you need to study up.

#1. D. Too much water is most often the culprit : it rots roots of houseplants and is the most common cause of death. That’s why  garden soil – which does not usually drain as fast – is not recommended for house plants.

Yes, you can underwater and kill a plant, but most houseplants will recover if watered – even after a month instead of a week. I once failed to water a night-blooming cereus (a desert cactus) for about 3 months and not only did it survive, it bloomed for the first time in its long life soon after I found it (in a spare bedroom, forgotten) and watered it. Many houseplants are native to South Africa, which has a long dry period each year.

#2. C. Garlic and onions do not store well with high humidity or temperatures that are too high. Garlic from the grocery store, unless organic, has often been treated with chemicals to keep it from sprouting. But your own garlic will sprout if left in a warm place, or a place with high humidity.

#3. B. I’ve never understood why seed packets don’t explain this better. For plants that you start indoors, like peppers or tomatoes, the days indicated on the package are days to mature fruit from the time you transplant your seedlings outdoors – under ideal conditions. Here in the northeast we often get cool raw days even in late spring or early summer, which delays fruit production. A week of cool, rainy weather can delay fruit production.

To further confuse the issue, things like carrots or beets are not started in the house or greenhouse, so the days to maturity are from the day your seeds germinate- from when you first see them come up. And germination, often listed on the package, varies with soil temperature, moisture and the depth you planted the seeds. Parsnips can take seemingly forever (3 weeks) to germinate but radishes can pop up in 3 days.

#4. C. Neem oil comes from a tree native to India, and is extracted from the seeds. It comes in many forms, but some are approved by OMRI, a rating institution for products used on organic farms. The EPA lists it as safe to use up to the time of harvest, which means it is considered non-toxic for mammals. It can be used a spray to prevent chewing insects from eating leaves and developing into adults, and it can repel insects without damaging beneficials such as honeybees if used properly. It is also used to control many fungal diseases such as powdery mildew.

Both Malathion and DDT are chemical insecticides. Both have been outlawed for use in the USA.

Pyrethrin and rotenone are both derived from plants, so technically could be used by organic gardeners. Rotenone is now banned from any use except to kill fish. Pyrethrin is made from flowers, but is still a strong chemical and it can kill beneficial insects along with the pests, and is harmful to mammals. Avoid it and the synthetic pyrethroids!

#5. C or D. I start tomato seeds indoors in early April and plant them outside in early June, giving me about 8 or 9 weeks of tending my plants. I don’t want my plants to be big and root-bound so I don’t start them in March. To do so would mean I’d need to transplant them from 6-packs to 4-inch individual pots. I do that for a few tomatoes some years, but big tomatoes are more likely to suffer transplant shock.

Snip off extra seedlings to avoid crowding

Whatever you do, be sure to snip off or pull out extra seedlings. I generally plant 2 tomato seeds in each cell of a 6-pack, and, if both germinate, get rid of one early on to avoid crowding.

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