Blackberry plants keep well in dormant state

BACKYARD Q&A

February 27, 2000

Q.I ordered blackberry plants recently that will be delivered in a few weeks. What should I do with these plants if the soil is wet when I get them?

A. Keep the plants in an unheated building -- garage, shed, enclosed porch. Surround the roots with strips of moistened newspaper, compost or mulch. Lay your plants down, cover them loosely with plastic, keep them out of direct sunlight, and don't allow the roots to dry out. You can hold your plants in their dormant state for two to three weeks.

Q.Do I have to buy or build an enclosed composter for my food scraps, or can I just pile them onto my compost bin?

A.Uncooked food scraps -- vegetable and fruit peels and cores, eggshells, tea and coffee grounds -- can be safely composted using a variety of techniques: bury in the middle of compost bins, feed to redworms kept in bins indoors or outdoors, bury in garden beds or add to enclosed compost barrels or tumblers. But first check with your county or city recycling office. Some jurisdictions prohibit the composting of food scraps in open bins.

Q.We have no dogs, cats or pets of any kind, but we are being bitten by fleas. Where are they coming from?

A.You probably have a critter or critters living in an attic, crawl space, unused fireplace or some other part of your home. Investigate areas of your house where the fleas are mostly found. You may need to contact a professional pest control company to remove the invaders or wait until they leave in the spring. Determine the entry points into your home and seal them tight once the animals are removed or have left on their own.

THIS WEEK'S CHECKLIST

1. Don't fertilize cool season grasses, like fescue and bluegrass, until May, and only if the turf is weak or if you didn't fertilize last fall.

2. Termites are starting to swarm. They are dark-brown to black and 1/4 -inch long with wings about twice the length of the body. The waist is straight, unlike the pinched waist of ants.

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