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Fertilizing Grapes,
Caring for Prickly Pear Cactus,
and Feeding African Violets

May 9,1998
Rose
Mike wrote: Wine grapes....What is the best fertilizer for them in the spring?
Beginning with the second year of growth, you should scatter 4 to 6 ounces of 5-5-10 or 5-10-10 fertilizer around the base of each plant, but be certain to keep the fertilizer about a foot from the trunk. Each year after that, double the rate of application until you have reached a maximum of 3 pounds of food per plant. If soil is naturally rich, less fertilizing is needed. Many times, grapes can be grown successfully by fertilizing only every two to three years. The soil pH is also important, so add enough lime to bring the pH up to 6.0 to 6.5.

April wrote: Hi. I'm April from Georgia & I have planted me a garden this year with a few different beans, peas, some Squash, cantalope and watermelon. Everything so far has begun to spout fine (except for my white acre peas, & I think they didn't make it because we had so much rain for quiet a while. My problem is that all of the new veggie growths are turning a bit yellow on the leaves. I am worried that something is wrong & I don't know what it might be. This is only my 2nd year of gardening. I water only once a day because we have had a lot of rain. They get plenty of sunshine. Is the yellow normal? Or may there be something wrong? Any advise would help. Thanks so much!
Give your plants a chance to dry out slightly before you water them. Over watering can be more hazardous to your plants health than making them go without water, especially when they are only seedlings. If you are receiving rain on a regular basis, you probably don't need to be concerned with watering at all!

Kristen wrote: I purchased a cactus about a year ago. I've noticed recently that it looks shriveled in some areas - not terribly, but a little. I believe it a prickly pear cactus (or at least it looks like one). I keep it in a window that has a northern exposure (the only window I have in my office) but there is large overhang right above my window. I water about every two weeks and only about 1/8 to 1/4 cup each time. What am I doing wrong?
I have a jade plant in a window in my office that has a northern exposure. When I first purchased the plant it did fine. Then, over the winter, it began to drop leaves like crazy; I suspect because I was over-watering during its more dormant period. Now, it has new growth at the tops of the plant, however, some of the lower, larger leaves look droopy and shriveled... What am I doing wrong?
Your Prickly pear (Opuntia) is thirsty! Cacti, especially pad type cacti need more water than what is commonly assumed. In their natural habitat they will survive with very little water, but they won't thrive. When you water cactus, give them a thorough drink by allowing the plant to soak up water from the bottom for a few hours, then allow the soil to completely dry before you water again. My 'rule of thumb' on watering my own succulents has always been to water once a week when actively growing and once a month when dormant. You will have to watch your plants reaction to this timing, because temperature and light can change the plants water consumption considerably, and then adjust the schedule accordingly. The situation is basically the same with your Jade plant (Crassula argentea) but it will probably take even more water than the cactus. The nodes where the leaves have fallen from will usually produce a new branch on your plant, if the plant is healthy. Keep in mind that Jades are a southern hemisphere plant, and if it is growing in the northern hemisphere it might tend to be a bit confused as to when it's suppose to be dormant. Don' try to force dormancy by cutting back on the water, let the plant tell you when it is time for a break (when new growth slows or stops for a period of time). Don't forget about feeding succulents during their growth periods either, but always use half strength of the normal recommended solution. Your Prickly pear would prefer full sun, and your Jade would do better in partial sun, or at least bright light. They would both do much better if you provided extra light to them by using a gro light.

Kristen wrote: I grouped a 2 yr old african violet in a large pot with two new ones. The 2 yr old would flower for me about once a month or every 6 weeks. Ever since I potted it with the two new ones, it won't flower. Actually, the new ones have stopped flowering also. I keep it in a window with a northern exposure and water twice weekly, but only enough to moisten the soil. I fed once with all purpose food; that was about 3 months ago. Why would the older violet stop flowering all together? I also changed it's location from a window with a western exposure. Please help! :-( African violets (Saintpaulia) must be fed with a specific fertilizer formulated for African violets (0-10-10). They require certain trace elements which aren't available with an all purpose food, as well as a soil acidifier. The violet food will take care of these needs. African violets need about fourteen hours of bright light a day. It may be necessary to provide supplemental light for them, by using a Gro light, especially during the winter months. Spent flowers should be removed as soon as they begin to fade. This will allow the plants energy to be used to produce new blossoms rather than seeds.