Fig identification is easy online

Fig leaves can help narrow down which fig you have. (Walter Reeves for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Fig leaves can help narrow down which fig you have. (Walter Reeves for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Walter Reeves

Credit: Walter Reeves

Q: I recently retired and have begun trying my hand at growing figs. Is there a book on identifying figs? Bob Jones, Decatur, Alabama

A: There are a couple but they are outdated. Over the past year, I have become more and more impressed with Facebook groups that are focused on one aspect of gardening or another. I have learned a lot from North Georgia Mushroom Hunters, Insect Identification and The Garden Professors groups. Rather than looking in a book, use regional fig experts to identify your figs.

Join one or all of these Facebook groups: Fig World, What the Fig, and Fig Addiction. You will get more information about figs and their care than you ever dreamed of having!

Q: Do you have a source for ground pumice? My grown son has propagated a large number of agaves in Florida. Online sources say he needs it to amend his potting soil. Sandy Stacy, email

A: I consulted with two local agave growers. Both said pumice is not essential for agaves. Its only purpose is to increase drainage, and several materials can accomplish that. My friends add expanded slate (Permatill) to help the soil drain quickly.

Q: I’m not sure what to do with my Cape gooseberry pods. Can I dry them out for next year? Theresa Rodriguez, email

A: It’s easy peasy. Cape gooseberry, Physalis peruviana, grows wherever you can grow tomatoes. Collect the golden yellow ripe pods and squeeze the seeds onto a paper plate to dry. Start seeds indoors, in peat pots, six to eight weeks before the end of frost season. Keep the seeds moist and warm. Transplant outdoors when temperatures are warm. You can use these fruits raw or cooked in pies, cakes, jellies, jams and as a raisin substitute.

Q: I think aphids killed my milkweed this year. It came up and immediately orange aphids attacked it. I’ve been rubbing them off of the stems every day, but I stopped in fear of killing the monarch caterpillar eggs. Julie Ridgway, Royston

A: Since your plant could have aphids and monarch butterfly eggs on it simultaneously, I don’t recommend using insecticides at all. The best three alternatives are to rub them off with fingers or a toothbrush, wash them off with a strong stream of water, or plant nearby lots of plants that attract beneficial insects. I see dozens of lady bugs on my bronze fennel and carrot plants when they bloom. Chives, yarrow and sweet alyssum are also great.

Listen to Walter Reeves' segments at 6:35 a.m. on “Green and Growing with Ashley Frasca” Saturday mornings on 95.5 WSB. Visit his website, www.walterreeves.com, follow him on Twitter @walterreeves, on Pinterest, or join his Facebook Fan Page at bit.ly/georgiagardener for more garden tips.

In Other News