"Could you recommend some books for greenhouse gardening? My kids gave me a four-shelf plastic greenhouse last summer. They added a smaller three-shelf one this Christmas, plus some vegetable seeds and a few flowers.
"Are there some books I can get from the library on when and how to grow these seeds?
Colleen Lamont, via email
One of the best books for new greenhouse gardeners is In Your Greenhouse (a beginner's guide) by Greta Heinen, published by Birch Publishing. It is one of the books recommended by B.C. Greenhouse Builders.
Another is The Winter Harvest Handbook by Eliot Coleman. It's a book for home gardeners, and focuses on growing vegetables in greenhouses that are heated or unheated.
You can get this one from West Coast Seeds (www. westcoastseeds.com).
Then there's Gardening in Your Greenhouse by Mark Freeman.
It has information about flowers, as well as about vegetables. Lee Valley Tools lists this one.
Some of the best print information you can get on seed-starting vegetables and flowers in this area is the West Coast Seed catalogue, which is offered free at garden centres.
Among general gardening books, Vancouver Island writer Carolyn Herriot has written an excellent book on organic gardening, called The Zero Mile Diet.
She has also written a second book, A Year on the Garden Path.
"My stepdad has a small greenhouse. He would like to know if mason bees would pollinate his tomatoes. If so, would we place the bee house in the greenhouse? It's heated now and the tomato plants are very small."
Barb Bradford, email
Mason bees are unlikely to be effective pollinators of tomatoes, because the timing of mason bees' development doesn't fit with the flowering schedule of tomatoes.
Mason bees usually emerge towards the end of February, when weather begins to warm up. By mid-May, mason bees are beginning to die off.
By early June, the adult mason bees are dead, but they've left eggs which will become larvae. The larvae lie dormant over winter, gradually turning into adults which emerge early in the following year.
But in any case, tomatoes don't need bees for pollination.
All your stepfather has to do is give the tomato plants a good shake every day or two. Almost invisible clouds of pollen will be released from the flowers and pollination will take place.
Not every plant needs to be pollinated by insects. Some, including tomatoes, grasses, and many trees are pollinated by air movement.
But berry bushes and fruit trees do need pollination by bees - and mason bees are ideal for that. Their cocoons are sold in garden centres only in late winter to very early spring.
Because they're in great demand, it's best to place an order well ahead of time.
"Do coffee grounds have any use - either in the compost bin or spread on my lawn with the rest of the stuff I put on there?"
Moira, via email
Yes, coffee grounds can be useful. They contain a low, but significant amount of nitrogen and very low amounts of phosphorous and potash.
But it's better to put coffee grounds in the compost, rather than spreading them around plants.
If they are allowed to rot down before being used, their acidity tends to decline.
Anne Marrison is happy to answer garden questions. Send them to amarrison@ shaw.ca