Feeling Sage? Test Yourself


January 29, 1995|By MIKE KLINGAMAN

Here's a cure for the midwinter blahs: the Real Dirt's First

Annual Mental Olympics. Take this quiz and sharpen your mind -- your best tool for gardening success.


1. Sweet corn tastes best when eaten straight from the garden, before its sugars turn to starch. How soon after harvest does corn start to lose its flavor?

a) Twenty minutes

b) One hour

c) One day

d) The second it reaches the supermarket

2. The first rosebushes were planted at the White House by:

a) George Washington

b) George Washington Carver

c) John Adams

d) Thomas Jefferson

3. Which of the following is not an old wives' tale?

a) Plant corn when oak leaves are the size of a squirrel's ear.

b) Plant carrots when maple leaves appear.

c) Plant peas when daffodils begin to bloom.

d) Plant brussels sprouts when the kids have moved out.

4. According to French legend, basil grows best when planted by gardeners who are:

a) Singing

b) Smoking

c) Swearing

d) Sneezing

5. Herbs are most flavorful when picked:

a) After a storm

b) During a full moon

c) On a sunny morning

d) During a drought

6. The best wood for making garden tool handles is:

a) Ash

b) Pine

c) Redwood

d) Hickory

7. Adding this to one's asparagus bed helps deter plant fungi:

a) Manure

b) Rock salt

c) Seaweed

d) Ladybugs

8. Which vegetable grew purple in the wild and would not be recognized today?

a) Carrots

b) Celery

c) Cucumbers

d) Collards


9. Microwave ovens can be used to sterilize potting soil from the garden.

10. The lighter the color of garden soil, the greater its fertility.

11. Earthworm activity may help destroy potted plants.

12. On its best day, a bee can pollinate up to 100 flowers.

L 13. Most tree roots are found in the top few inches of soil.

14. Composting sick plants kills all diseases in the pile.

15. Plants absorb fertilizer only through their roots.

16. Japanese beetle traps attract more bugs than they destroy.


1. (a). How fast can you run from garden to stove?

2. (c). The others had greener thumbs, but Adams loved roses.

3. (d). Providing you like brussels sprouts, of course.

4. (c). Odd legend, this.

5. (c). Herbs should be harvested on a sunny morning, when the plants are dry.

6. (a). Ash, a light, strong, resilient wood, is best, with hickory second.

7. (b). Check the label to make sure the rock salt is made of sodium chloride, not calcium chloride, which will damage plants.

8. (a). Carrots changed from purple to yellow to orange.

9. True. Cook soil in the microwave at the rate of one minute per pound. But remove all earthworms first.

10. False. Dark soil is richest in nutrients. (No fair watering the garden to make it look richer.)

11. True. Earthworms feed on soil and leave behind rich droppings, called castings. In small pots, these castings become compact and create poor drainage that can kill plants.

12. False. Some bees can pollinate 1,500 flowers daily; wild species are even more proficient than honeybees.

13. True. So keep the area under a tree free of heavy foot traffic.

14. False. While composting at recommended temperatures (140 degrees Fahrenheit) kills most plant viruses, it won't destroy verticillium or fusarium wilt, two diseases fatal to tomatoes.

15. False. Plants absorb some nutrients more quickly through leaves. Therefore, some gardeners spray flowers with organic fertilizers, a practice known as foliar feeding.

16. True. Place beetle traps away from the garden. Better yet, give your lures to a neighbor and watch the bugs make a beeline for next door.

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