WSU Extension Q&A: Beginning of April is good time to plant tomato seeds indoors

WSU ExtensionApril 4, 2014 

Honey Bee Gaillardia

Bob Brawdy | bbrawdy@tricityherald.com A honey bee with bulging pollen sacs and a dusting of yellow pollen hovers around a Franklin County flower garden filled with Gaillardia flowers in the 6400 block of West Court Street in Pasco.

BOB BRAWDY — Tri-City Herald Buy Photo

Q. It's the first of April. Would this week be a good time to start my tomato seeds indoors?

A. Yes, tomato plants can be started indoors in late March or early April for transplanting outdoors later in the spring after all danger of frost has past.

Q. I'm wondering about the soil fertility in my pasture. Should I have it tested?

A. Yes. Soil fertility is a major factor in the maintenance of a strong, healthy, weed-free pasture and should be tested periodically. Pastures need nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and sulfur for optimum forage production. The soil should be tested at least every other year to determine it's fertility status.

Many producers often overlook fertilizing their pastures or just add nitrogen once a year, which is usually not enough. Nitrogen should be added three to four times a year and phosphorus and potassium should be added as needed. A soil test will tell you the status of phosphorus and potassium in your soil, indicating if it is adequate or if you need to apply these nutrients.

Q. What can I do to attract more bees to my garden this summer?

A. Bees are important pollinators of fruit and vegetable crops. There are many native bees that are more efficient pollinators than honey bees. Try to plant a diversity of edible and ornamental plants so that you have flowers through the season. Also, read your insecticide labels carefully and look for warnings on toxicity to bees. If you choose to spray, do so in the evening after bees have stopped foraging and choose an insecticide with a short residual time. You can also use bee boards (nesting block) that will provide a place for solitary bees to nest.

Q. I planted some ornamental grasses last fall, and they haven't started to come up yet. Do you think they succumbed to this past winter's severely cold weather?

A. If the plants weren't hardy, the cold temperatures may have damaged or killed them. However, some ornamental grasses, especially the warm-season grasses such as Miscanthus and Pennisetum, are slow in the spring. The soil is still quite cool. Give them another month or so before you pronounce them dead.

-- Questions should be called in to the WSU Extension offices in Kennewick at 735-3551 or Pasco at 545-3511.

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