Q. I'm confused about what kind of lights to use indoors to grow flower and vegetable transplants. Do I need special growing lights?
A. No, all you need are inexpensive cool white fluorescent tubes. Most of the light they produce is in the blue segment of the spectrum, but that's fine for growing foliage. Keep them lighted for at least 14 hours each day and position them only 1 to 2 inches above the tops of your plants.
Q.I was amazed to see my daffodils pop out of the ground in early December. Then they got buried under snow. Will they survive this terrible winter?
A. Daffodils are tough. The green growth that emerged during the early mild weather will not survive into the spring but if your bulbs were healthy they should bloom this spring. The flowers may be smaller and less numerous.
Q.I'm new to apples and pears and read that oil should be applied to fruit trees to control aphids, scale and spider mites. When is the best time to spray and should I spray every part of the tree?
A. Apply horticultural oil at the dormant rate listed on the label anytime prior to bud swell in early spring. The air temperature should be above 45 degrees F. and the temperature must remain above freezing for the 24-hour period after the application. Yes, attempt to cover all branches and twigs for maximum control of pests.
THIS WEEK'S CHECKLIST
1. Test the germination rate of old garden seeds to make sure they are still viable.
2. Check the shrubs and trees in your yard and prune out the twigs and branches broken by this winter's snow and ice.
3. Transplant cramped houseplants into larger containers before they begin active growth this spring.
Garden tips are provided by the Home and Garden Information Center of the Maryland Cooperative Extension. For additional information on these questions, or if you have questions of your own, call the center's hot line at 800-342-2507, or visit its Web site at www.agnr.umd.edu/users/hgic.