For bountiful beans, plant in warm soil

Bean seeds require very warm soil to sprout well. They simply rot in cool soil. (Walter Reeves for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
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Bean seeds require very warm soil to sprout well. They simply rot in cool soil. (Walter Reeves for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Walter Reeves

Credit: Walter Reeves

Q: I have tried over and over this spring to grow pole beans but only a few seeds sprout. Any ideas why? Debbie Johnson, email

A: I think the soil has been too cool to plant green beans until now. When the soil is 65 degrees or lower, you’ll get sporadic germination. When the soil is 75 degrees or above, you’ll get close to 100% germination. Buy more seeds and try again. You can check your local soil temperature at Georgiaweather.net.

Q: My lawn maintenance company is telling me that zoysia only needs one pass with an aerator. Is this correct? Thomas Buechner, DeKalb County

A: No, one pass with a lawn aerator accomplishes very little. The purpose of aeration is to make lots of holes in the soil to relieve compaction. A compacted layer of soil as thin as 1/4 to 1/2 an inch can greatly hinder water infiltration. It also prevents the release of harmful gases the grass roots make. If your company is using a typical aerator, the machine will not make enough holes to make a difference. Liquid aerator sprays are useless as well. Their main ingredient is soap. Gypsum is useful to relieve compaction, but only in soils high in sodium, which don’t occur in our area. I hope I don’t have to tell you what I think about “aerator sandals.” I have more details on lawn aeration at bit.ly/GAaeration.

Q: I need more blackberry plants. Is it better to dig up new shoots (including some roots) when they are young, or wait till the canes get several feet high, cut the canes into several sections and root the canes? Mike Childers, Clayton County

A: Both would work. If you have a lot of rooted sprouts coming up now, transplanting them would be the fastest way to get mature fruiting plants.

Q: I have several elephant ear and caladium bulbs in pots on my patio. When winter comes, can I just cut the stems off at the base and leave the bulbs in the pot, or must I pull the bulbs and store them in vermiculite? Robert Radics, email

A: It is fine to leave the bulbs in their pots as long as they are kept dry. However, remember that the potting soil will be somewhat broken down into smaller particles this summer. This means the soil will not drain quite as well next year as your bulbs might like. Leave them in the pots this winter but plan to repot them in fresh soil next spring.

Walter’s email address is georgiagardener@yahoo.com. Listen to his comments at 6:35 a.m. on “Green and Growing with Ashley Frasca” Saturday mornings on 95.5 WSB. Visit his website, www.walterreeves.com, or join his Facebook Page at bit.ly/georgiagardener, for his latest tips.