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Get ready for another gardening quiz, autumn style

Remember when teachers explained that tests were a very beneficial learning tool, as though we should greet every exam with enthusiasm instead of ulcers? Well, close your books and take out a sheet of paper, it's time for another in our series of...

Should apples and vegetables be stored together?Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Should apples and vegetables be stored together?Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

Remember when teachers explained that tests were a very beneficial learning tool, as though we should greet every exam with enthusiasm instead of ulcers? Well, close your books and take out a sheet of paper, it’s time for another in our series of garden quizzes, today it’s the autumn version.

I never cared for true and false quizzes because there were always trick words thrown in. Maybe today’s quiz could be an essay, “What Gardening Means to Me in 800 Words.” But I’d hardly earn my keep if I just leave a big blank newspaper space for you to compose. Instead, let’s do short answer. Oh, and keep your eyes on your own paper.

1. When an apple turns red, does it mean it’s ripe?

2. If you only fertilize your lawn once a year, is spring or fall the better choice?

3. Do carrots become sweeter if they’re left in the ground as long as possible?

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4. Should all leaves be raked from the lawn, or can some be simply mowed over?

5. Can tomato plants be tilled into the garden to provide organic matter?

6. Is it better to remove perennial flower tops during fall cleanup or wait until spring?

7. If you don’t get a potted tree or shrub planted in the fall is it OK leave it in the garage during winter?

8. Is it best to leave tree wraps on all year for year-round protection?

9. Should young trees be staked for their first five years?

10. Does deep snow help perennial flowers survive, or does it make them colder?

11. Should fallen apples be picked up, even if it’s in a non-lawn orchard?

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12. If there aren’t many fallen leaves under an apple tree, is it OK to mow over them instead of raking?

13. When does our soil typically freeze solid making digging by shovel nearly impossible: early November or early December?

14. Are potatoes best stored a little under 40 degrees or around 50 degrees?

15. Is there anything wrong with storing apples and garden vegetables together?

16. Can coleus be grown indoors during winter?

17. Why do plants such as begonias do well in shade outdoors, but if brought indoors for winter they need a sunny window?

18. Is it true Brad and Angelina are sharing joint custody of their vegetable garden?

19. Can lawns be power-raked in fall?

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20. Should potting soil from outdoor containers be discarded each year, or can it be reused next spring?

Answers 1. Not necessarily. Most apples turn red before they’re fully ripe. Instead, the background color turns creamy yellow. Seeds of ripe apples are black-brown instead of tan-brown.

2. University research shows fall applications of fertilizer between Labor Day and mid-October are most beneficial and an application around Labor Day is secondary.

3. Carrots do become sweeter as cool autumn temperatures favor sugar accumulation in the roots.

4. Leaves can be chewed up by the mower and left in place to provide soil benefit if you can still see lawn grass through the leaf covering before mowing.

5. Tomato plants should not be left in the garden or tilled under the soil because disease and blight organisms survive winter on and around the old stems and leaves. Same with pepper, potato, squash, pumpkin, melons and cucumber.

6. Tops of most perennials are best left intact during winter to catch insulating snow. Exceptions are peonies and disease-prone perennials. Cut back iris, daylilies and hosta because tops become mushy during winter.

7. It’s best not to keep plants in the garage because fluctuating winter temperatures frequently cause death.

8. No. Tree wraps are best applied in fall for winter protection and removed in spring so the tree trunk can breathe.

9. Trees should be staked for only the first year, if at all.

10. Deep snow insulates perennials, helping them to survive. Open winters are difficult.

11. All fallen apples should be picked up, because they’re a source of next year’s insects and diseases.

12. Apple leaves should be raked up and discarded because they harbor disease organisms.

13. Historically it’s difficult to get a shovel in the ground after the first half of November.

14. Potato storage is best a little under 40 degrees.

15. Apples exude ethylene gas, which can hasten spoilage of vegetables. Store separately.

16. Coleus make a beautiful houseplant in a sunny winter window.

17. Sunshine of winter’s short days is low on the horizon and weak, making it a necessity indoors even for shade-loving outdoor plants.

18. No idea. Just seeing if you were still reading.

19. Fall is a great time to power rake.

20. Potting soil can be reused and refreshed if it’s a high-quality mix.

Don Kinzler, a lifelong gardener, worked as an NDSU Extension horticulturist and owned Kinzler’s Greenhouse in Fargo. Tune in to his weekly radio segment at noon Wednesdays on WDAY Radio 970. Readers can reach him at forumgrowingtogether@hotmail.com .

He also blogs at http://growingtogether.areavoices.com .

Related Topics: FLOWERSGARDENING
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