Consumer Qs: what’s a dibber?

Published 12:30 pm Thursday, November 10, 2016

Question: I was told the apple tree I am ordering needs a pollinizer. Is that the same thing as a pollinator?
Answer: Some apple varieties (and some other fruits and nuts) may be self-sterile or partially so. That is, their own pollen is incompatible or inadequate in quantity or quality to fertilize its own flowers in order to produce fruit or what growers consider an adequate amount of fruit. These varieties need a pollinizer, a pollen provider, planted nearby to provide pollen to effectively fertilize the flowers.
A pollinizer is sometimes called a pollinator, although pollinator also refers to the creatures (usually insects such as bees) that carry pollen from one flower to another. (And apple trees definitely need those pollinators.)
A good fruit supplier will advise you as to what varieties need pollinizers and what pollinizers are best for those varieties. Your county Cooperative Extension agent will be able to assist you as well.

Q: Are dibbers useful? I saw some for sale at the hardware store.
A: A dibber is a garden tool used for planting seeds, seedlings and small bulbs. The many dibbers (also known as dibblers and dibbles) on the market are modern variations of the primitive pointed stick. Of course, the dibbers of today are vastly improved from that and may be capped with metal, made of steel or aluminum, or have ergonomic handles for easier use. Some are marked with inches to show how deep to make the planting hole.
Dibbers are most beneficial when sowing or planting in loose soil or planting bulbs under a tree or in a wooded area. The narrow hole is less likely to sever a root. Dibbers are difficult to use in hard clay and may be too specialized for some gardener’s needs.
Q: I saw what I tho
ught was a black beet, but it was a radish. Is this new? How is it used?
A: Black radishes are not new, but are less familiar than the well-known red varieties. Black radishes have a rough, black skin with crisp, pungent, white flesh. Give them a try. Grate them or slice them thin and mix them with olive oil and ground black pepper. Try them in a salad with cucumbers, carrots and scallions. Slice them and eat them on toasted bread with mayonnaise.
They are one of the radishes we grow in Georgia.You may see them at the grocery store or farmers market. If you see them at the farmers market, the farmer selling them will probably have more ideas on how to use them.

Q: I saw a bush with baby pomegranates on it and bright orange flowers. Was it an actual pomegranate? Are the fruit edible?
A: There is a dwarf pomegranate. It is like regular pomegranates but is smaller in all aspects. In fact, it is a popular subject for bonsai. The shrub is grown more for its ornamental qualities such as the attractive small fruits, bright flowers and waxy buds. Unlike the larger pomegranates, it blooms all summer, increasing its ornamental value. Technically, the fruits are edible but are generally quite sour and too small to be worth the effort. They are beautiful in decorative fall and winter fruit bowls.

If you have questions about agriculture, horticulture, food safety or services or products regulated by the Georgia Department of Agriculture, write Arty Schronce ( or visit the department’s website at