Question: Where can we get loads of great gardening ideas, information on growing plants and the opportunity to purchase from a spectacular selection of annuals, perennials, vegetable transplants and ornamental shrubs?

Answer: The Twin Harbors Master Builders Home and Garden Show 2003 will provide all of the above, plus a whole lot more! Scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, May 17 and 18, at the Grays Harbor County Fairgrounds in Elma between Aberdeen and Olympia, this year's show promises to have something for everyone. With over 30 garden booths, home gardeners will find not only a spectacular display of plants available for purchase, but also a wealth of gardening information. In addition, builders will have 50 booths focusing on products for the home. Show hours run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is free!

In addition, this year's show will include gardening workshops on an intriguing host of topics. Hour-long Saturday workshops are scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. Topics include successfully growing tomatoes in our coastal climate, growing roses, ornamental grass and lavender, the gardening ventures of Miss Ellen Willmott, great plant picks for 2003, as well as seasonal garden problems.

Sunday workshop topics starting at 11:30 a.m. include: growing the perfect lawn, home composting made easy, butterfly gardening and gardening with children.

WSU master gardeners will be on hand both days to answer your gardening questions and provide ideas and suggestions for making this year's garden your best ever! Plan to attend, bring a friend, and find out what's growing on the harbor!

Question: We planted some vegetable seeds a couple of weeks ago and so far nothing has come up. I am wondering, maybe I planted them too deep?

Answer: Certainly planting depth can be a major factor in seedlings not emerging. Seeds planted too deeply take longer to come up, if they come up at all. Also, weeds may grow up first and crowd out newly emerging seedlings. Conversely, shallow seeds may wash away or dry out before they sprout.

WSU horticulturists plant vegetables with small seeds, such as cabbage, carrots, radishes and lettuce, about 1/2 inch deep. Plant vegetables with medium sized seeds, such as beets and chard, 3/4 of an inch deep. Plant large-seeded vegetables, such as beans, corn and squash, 1 to 1 1/2 inches deep.

Question: After a couple of days of sunny weather, our home is literally crawling with ladybird beetles. Can't we spray them with something to get rid of them?

Answer: No! Despite the fact that they are co-habitating your home at this time, remember that they are beneficial insects that feed on aphids and other insect pests. At this time of year, lady bird beetles are simply trying to get out of your house and into the great outdoors. An easy way to speed their exodus along is to simply place a damp cloth on windowsills. The beetles will be attracted to the moisture, collect on the cloth, which can then be taken outside and vigorously shaken over your favorite plant!

Question: Our neighbor told us that woodpeckers pounding on our house is a sure sign that we have an insect infestation. Is this true? What should we do?

Answer: Woodpeckers might be drilling in your house for several reasons. They could be looking for insects, or they might be using the siding on your house to hide and store food or make nests or roosting sites. Woodpeckers prefer dead wood and that is what your house is made of. Plug any holes these birds make as soon as possible. They may also be using your house to "drum" or proclaim their territories. They drum on metal gutters as well as wood siding. Woodpeckers usually return to the same location to drum on a regular basis.

To discourage woodpeckers, try covering the drumming site with netting placed several inches out from the building to keep them away from it. Hanging strips of foil or cloth near the drumming site has also proven effective. Removing perch areas also helps.

Another way to keep woodpeckers away from your house is to provide habitat for them elsewhere. Leaving dead trees (snags) standing on your property may tempt them away from the house, because woodpeckers instinctively use snags for feeding and to create cavities for nesting. If there is concern about the safety of keeping a dead tree in your yard, have the snag topped and trimmed so it will be less likely to fall over. Keep in mind that woodpeckers are very helpful to humans because they help control forest insect populations including carpenter ants and wood-boring beetles.

Question: We would like to grow some "baby corn" in our garden this year, but we have not been unable to find any seed. Can you give us a specific variety to look for?

Answer: Baby corn - those tiny ears of corn popular in Asian cooking and a favorite in salad bars across the U.S. - is largely imported from East Asia. It is usually processed and sold in cans or jars. According to Dr. Bill Mansour, a vegetable crop specialist at Oregon State University, you can easily grow and harvest your own baby corn from field, regular, sugary enhanced or super sweet corn varieties. Remember however, that sweeter varieties of corn do not produce sweeter baby corn. The corn ears are harvested before pollination and also before sugar has been stored in the kernels.

A few seed companies offer special baby corn varieties, grown solely for baby corn. These varieties are just as big as regular corn plants - they are not dwarf corn plants. If baby corn plants are allowed to mature, they would look like a typical medium-sized ear of field or sweet corn. Test crops of baby corn grown throughout Western Washington showed the varieties baby and jubilee out-performed eight other varieties tested. But most any sweet corn variety will work well as baby corn.

Home gardeners can grow and harvest baby corn by harvesting the tiny ears on regularly planted corn. Any variety will work. Plant corn seed much closer together than usual sow each seed at least four inches apart in the row. Keep the row spacing to the normal 30 to 36 inches apart. Baby corn ears are best harvested when they are two to four inches long and one-third to two-thirds of an inch in diameter, whether grown with a regular or close spacing pattern.

To harvest baby corn at the perfect time takes practice. You might want to harvest a few at different stages each day for a few days to learn exactly when the baby corn is at the perfect stage for you. Start by harvesting ears where silk appears that day. Each ear may reach this stage at a different time on each plant, so you'll have to watch your plants closely.

On a final note, baby corn has fewer pest problems than full-sized ears of corn. Corn earworms and cucumber beetles generally do their damage later, when the corn ear is filling out and maturing.

EDITOR'S NOTE: For answers to local gardening questions, contact Master Gardener Rachel Gana at 642-8723 or e-mail her at: baiter1@pacifier.com.

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