Walter Reeves: Plant Vidalia seeds now

Q: Someone gave me two bundles of Vidalia onion plants, little bulbs with green stems. What should I do with them now? — Christie Cave, Marietta

A: Plant the seedlings in a sunny bed now, 12 inches apart. Feed regularly with fertilizer having a high middle number, such as 10-30-20 or similar. The sweetness of a Vidalia onion depends on a lack of sulfur in the soil. Clay soils inevitably hold more sulfur than sandy soil, so don’t expect your onions to be quite as lacking in lachrymosity as those from Toombs County.

Q: I had a problem last year with slugs munching on my strawberries. What is a safe way to eliminate them? — Mike Carroll, Gwinnett County

A: Several effective slug control products contain iron phosphate, a type of fertilizer. Slugs and snails perish from iron poisoning. Scatter the granules near your plants in the evening onto moist soil. Wayward slugs looking for supper will find a lethal appetizer.

Q: I bought a butternut squash at the grocery and would like to save the seeds to plant later. What do I do with them once they are dried out? — Beverly Roseberry, Stockbridge

A: The fruit you harvest from the saved seeds will certainly be edible but it may not look or taste like the original butternut squash. If the seeds came from being pollinated by a nearby butternut squash, you have no worries. But if pollen came from a different member of the Curcurbita moschata family, the offspring in your garden may look unusual. My advice? Save the dry seed in a paper envelope in your refrigerator until late April and plant them in a sunny spot. You’ll definitely have something to eat and talk about later in summer.

Q: I’ve decided to use drip irrigation for my tomatoes this spring. Any advice on how many gallons per hour, how often, where to locate the drip hose, etc.? — Ronny Rainwater, Cobb County

A: Water specifications depend a lot on your personal observation. A tomato, like any plant, uses water depending on how hot it is, how big it is, how windy it is, etc. Beside that, you have to consider your soil type. Water in clay soils percolates down in a “turnip” shape: wide at the top and narrow at the bottom. In sandy soil, water disperses more in a “carrot” shape. I’d run the main supply hose along the row and put two 1-gallon-per-hour emitters at each plant, one on each side, six inches from the stem. When the plants are less than 18 inches tall, run the system 30 minutes every three days. As they get bigger, increase the run time. By mid-summer, the tomatoes might need two hours every three days. Avoid watering every day: The soil should dry a bit between irrigations. Look for droopy leaves in midafternoon to determine when to increase your watering.

Q: If I put out my fescue grass seed in February, is there a chance birds will eat it before it has a chance to germinate? — Laverine Barrett, Fayetteville

A: University of Georgia turf expert Clint Waltz says the likelihood of all the seed being eaten is fairly small. The seeding rate for rye grass is 8 pounds of seed per thousand square feet, around 2 million individual seeds. Tall fescue is overseeded at around 1 million seed per thousand square feet. It would take an Alfred Hitchcock level of birds to make a big difference.

Listen to Walter Reeves 6-10 a.m. Saturdays on AM 750 and 95.5 FM News-Talk WSB. Visit his website,, or join his Facebook Fan Page at for more garden tips.