Seedlings can suffer on the windowsill

Garden Q&A

March 09, 1997

Can I grow tomato seedlings in a sunny window and get good results?

A window with an unobstructed Southern exposure may give you sufficient light. However, vegetable and flower transplants grown windowsills are subject to drafts and temperature extremes. Often the result is a spindly plant.

It's best to grow transplants under 4-foot-long "shop lights," fitted with cool, white fluorescent light tubes. Run the lights 14-16 hours each day, keep the tops of your seedlings only 1-2 inches from the light tubes and don't overwater. Start your seeds over the next two weeks and you'll be rewarded with healthy, stocky transplants, ready for setting out in your garden by May 15.

I had a terrible time with white grubs in my lawn last summer. Are there any nonchemical products or techniques for killing them? Is the milky spore disease any good to use?

There are several formulas for milky spore disease on the market, but they are not effective in killing grubs. White grubs prefer bluegrass, so the best way to avoid most grub problems (without using chemicals) is to replant a bluegrass lawn with turf-type tall fescue grass.

Some 8- to 12-inch-deep depressions appeared in my front yard over the winter. The grass just seemed to sink down. What causes these depressions? Should I fill them with topsoil?

This type of sinking usually is associated with the collapse of roots of dead trees and tree stumps. As the roots die and decompose, the soil around them drops away, causing depressions. Fill the depressions with topsoil, allow the topsoil to settle, then fill again. Reseed sometime this month or in April.

Garden tips are provided by the Home and Garden Information Center of the Cooperative Extension Service of the University of Maryland. For additional information on these or other questions, call the center's hot line at (800) 342-2507.

Checklist

Cut ornamental grasses and fall-bearing raspberry plants to within 2 inches of the ground. This prepares the plants for new growth.

Avoid the temptation to dig in wet garden soil. Premature tilling can cause long-term damage to your soil's structure.

Pub Date: 3/09/97

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