Try Malabar spinach on a trellis

Q: I am looking to expand my options for annual vines to grow on a west-facing trellis. My preferences lean toward edibles. Sue Custance, Athens

A: Malibar spinach, Basella rubra, is not a true spinach but its thick, fleshy, slightly-crinkled, heart-shaped leaves and tender young shoot tips can be harvested as they grow and used as a hot-weather spinach substitute, eaten raw or cooked. ‘Jacob’s Cattle’ bean sports mottled reddish-purple pods among glossy green leaves. Although I consider it only vaguely edible, hyacinth bean, Lablab purpureus, has eye-catching purple leaves and shiny purple pods.

Q: I know October is the best time for overseeding a fescue lawn, but can it be done in the spring? Earl Partridge, North Fulton County

A: Although late fall is the optimum time to plant fescue, mid- to late February is a workable alternate. The key is getting good seed-to-soil contact. To that end, aerate the lawn thoroughly before scattering the seed, then drag a piece of carpet over the area to shake the seeds into the aerator holes. Apply one-half inch of water and pray for warm days.

Q: I would like to plant a pear tree. Could you tell me the variety of pear that is so prevalent throughout the South and makes great preserves? Bela Kenessey, Lawrenceville

A: You’re probably thinking of ‘Kieffer’ pear. The flesh is somewhat gritty and holds together nicely when cooked to make preserves. Several pear varieties grow well in Georgia, excluding ‘Bartlett’. I have a list of good pear varieties at bit.ly/GApear.

Q: I have accumulated a number of lawn and garden treatments like Triazicide, Immunox, Sevin, and assorted weed killers. How long do things like this remain effective? Larry Sullivan, email

A: Freezing and high heat cause some, but not all, pesticides to degrade. If yours haven’t experienced extreme temperatures, they are probably still useful. If you simply want to get rid of the partially-filled containers, triple-bag dry pesticides in heavy-duty plastic garbage bags. Solidify liquid pesticides by pouring them into a sealable container of kitty litter. Wrap empty containers with several layers of newspaper before triple-bagging. Then put the items in the garbage for pickup.

Q: Do you know where Florida 90 Strawberry plants can be purchased? Mike VanZant, email

A: My Dad would buy strawberry plants each year from the local hardware store. I believe he bought them in packs of twenty-five, wrapped in brown paper and a bit of string. Plants are no longer sold like that in local stores but you can order strawberries in bulk online from Ison’s Nursery (www.isons.com) in Brooks or from Nourse Farms (www.noursefarms.com).

Q: I purchased a Meyer lemon plant last spring that had three green fruit on it. They finally ripened in November on my deck. Now the plant is thriving in a sunny location in my home and it has numerous flower buds. Is there anything I can do to ensure pollination of the flowers? William Gohr, email

A: Try tapping the branches near a flower cluster a couple of times each day with a dowel to get pollen to scatter. You could also use an ultrasonic toothbrush to make pollen fly off the anther and go to the stigma of the lemon bloom.

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Listen to Walter Reeves 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 bit.ly/georgiagardener for more garden tips.

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