Q: How do you store apples for the winter? We have varieties of Winesap and Idared. I was wondering if these could be successfully stored.
F. L. of Columbia
A: Most of the late-maturing apples such as Red Delicious, Northern Spy, Stayman, Winesap, Rome Beauty, Turley and Idared will store for a longer period than the early ripening cultivars. You should be able to store these apples up to five months.
But you have to be picky with the apples you choose. They should be free of bruises, cuts and other damage. The apples should not be fully ripened. The skin should be a greenish-yellow undercolor. The flesh should be sweet, hard and crisp.
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Apples are best stored at 30-32 degrees with 90 percent humidity and good air circulation. Warmer temperatures cause apples to ripen faster and low humidity causes apples to shrivel.
For the homeowner, the best place to store apples is in the refrigerator, but a frost-free refrigerator dries out the air. You will have to remedy this problem by storing the apples in perforated bags, which will allow for air circulation yet keep the humidity on the high side.
Q: Because of my grandson, I have become interested in germinating tree seeds. I would like some books to find out how to do this.
H. K. of New Athens
A: “The Woody-Plant Seed Manual” printed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1948 is a classic. You can sometimes get lucky and find it at yard sales, book fairs or online sources. It originally was printed for $4. In 1974, the U.S. Forest Service printed an updated version called “Seeds of Woody Plants in the United States,” which sold for $13.60. Even though this second edition gave a little more information, there are many references back to the first book. These two give the basics of growing trees from seed. One of the latest books on seed germination of trees and many other plants is “Plant Propagation — Principles and Practices” by Hartmann, Kester, Davies and Geneve. It is a little pricey, but you also receive a CD-ROM on propagation of tree and other plant seeds. This gives the general seed germination techniques and other more sophisticated strategies.
Most techniques call for freezing the seeds for a short time, then warming the seeds slightly for particular periods. But remember Mother Nature never puts all the eggs in one basket, as the seeds can geminate over two years.
Some seeds are eaten whole by animals and the digestive tract treats these seeds to an acidic environment.
Tree seeds do not usually produce plants exactly the same as the tree that produced the seed.
Charles Giedeman is a local contributing writer. Send your gardening questions to Lifestyle Editor Patrick Kuhl, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427, or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do it now
- GRASS: You can still plant grass seed even though we had our first frost of the season last week.
- MULCH: Collect winter mulch for your roses and other perennial plants, but do not place this mulch on the plants until AFTER THE SOIL FREEZES.