Q: I heard you talking about coffee beans on the radio, but I didn't hear whether we can grow them in Georgia.-- Thom Lucas, Atlanta
A: There are dozens of species of coffee plants, several of which yield beans from which coffee can be brewed. The plant I saw on my recent garden trip to Costa Rica was Coffea arabica. There, I viewed hundreds upon hundreds of acres of 6-foot-tall evergreen shrubs having branches lined with small red and green fruit. The red "cherries" could be squeezed to yield a sweet pulp and one or two seeds (beans). Coffee plants do not tolerate freezing temperatures, so you won't get your morning java from a backyard shrub. I've seen ads for coffee plants to grow as houseplants, but they yield too few beans to make them worthwhile for your daily brew.
Q: Four years ago I installed Tifblair centipede sod. Last summer I noticed bermudagrass in it. How do I eliminate the bermuda in the centipede?-- J.C. Shiver, email
A: There are only two choices: dig out the offending bermudagrass or spray repeatedly with glyphosate (Roundup, etc). My personal choice would be to dig it out since glyphosate usually doesn’t kill bermudagrass completely with one application. Make the excavated area the same size as a piece of sod to make repair easy.
Q: I recently purchased a pair of hardy kiwi, which have a smooth skin. This appealed to me for an experiment in making jam. How are they grown?-- Pat Griffin, Monroe
A: Hardy kiwi is different from the fuzzy kiwifruit, Actinidia deliciosa, commonly available at groceries. In fact, there are two kiwi vines that are completely hardy here. Actinidia arguta has hairless fruit about the size of a grape. ‘Issai’ and ‘Anansnaya' are sold by mail-order nurseries for garden planting. A. kolomikta, ‘Arctic Beauty’ kiwi, is grown as an ornamental vine for its pink and white variegated younger leaves. A. kolomikta is particularly cold-hardy, with small but sweet fruit, very rich in vitamin C. All need a lot of space. They are usually cultivated on a wire arbor, like you’d build for grapes, with plants 20 feet apart.
Q: We have some huge oakleaf hydrangea that need to be cut back. When is the best time to do it?-- Fran Ryals, email
A: Oakleaf hydrangea doesn’t usually require pruning, but if it’s too big for a spot, you can perform selective pruning now. Cut back the longest stems, but try to leave as many untouched as you can. They bloom on last year's twigs, so the best time to prune is immediately after flowering, when the white petals begin to fade.
Q: I have heard that there is a sunlight calculator on the market that measures the amount of sunlight that a specific garden spot gets. Have you heard of this?-- Tony Wright, Suwanee
A: Getting a handle on how much sunlight an area receives is one of the basic keys to garden success. Daily observation is sometimes adequate, but there are devices that do the work for you. One is the SunCalc meter (www.lusterleaf.com). Simply put it in a garden spot and check it after a day’s exposure. A more accurate but more expensive version is the LightScout (www.specmeters.com). It measures photosynthetically active radiation for a 24-hour period.
Listen to Walter Reeves on Saturday mornings on AM 750 and 95.5 FM News-Talk WSB. Visit his website, www.walterreeves.com, or join his Facebook fan page at xrl.us/wrfacebook for more garden tips.