Q: Will rain lilies grow in Georgia?
A: Many rain lilies will grow in Georgia. The most common is the white rain lily (Zephyranthes candida). This late summer to fall bloomer is beautiful as well as easy to grow. Two other popular species are the yellow Zephyranthes citrina and the pink Zephyranthes rosea. They are available from finer bulb suppliers and garden centers. Some garden centers and mail-order sources may sell them potted instead of as dormant bulbs. For an extensive description of Zephyranthes and other bulbs, check out Garden Bulbs for the South by Scott Ogden.
Q: What is the difference between the chestnut rose and the chinquapin rose?
A: They are both common names for the same rose: Rosa roxburghii. The names come from the bristly hips (fruits/seedpods) of the rose which resemble the bur of a chestnut, horse chestnut or chinquapin. Chestnut/chinquapin rose comes in a single-flowered form and a double-flowered form, with the double being more common. The flowers are pink. Some people detect a slight fragrance. The double ones look like tissue paper constructions while the single form resembles a wild rose. It is a pretty and undemanding rose – no spraying is needed. Although bristly hips may not sound appealing, even those are interesting and attractive when they turn pale greenish yellow.
Q: I have been reading about bed bugs, and I am concerned. I am traveling abroad this summer. How can I prevent an infestation, and what should I do if I my house becomes infested?
A: Although bed bugs have not been a serious problem in the United States since the 1940s, the past few years have brought a resurgence in the insect’s population, especially in hotels and other areas where many people use the same beds.
Bed bugs can best be treated by pest control companies, but the insects are very resilient and often require extensive, and perhaps multiple, treatments. If you suspect a problem it is best to consult with a professional.
Because extensive treatment can be expensive, it is best to take preventative measures when traveling or staying where beds may be infected.
Here are a few tips to keep bed bugs out of your home:
- While staying in a hotel, check mattresses, headboards, box springs and other upholstered furniture for spotted stains that could be dried blood or bug excrement. Any hotel – from four-star to flophouse – could have bed bugs. If you suspect a problem, immediately ask to change rooms.
- Unpack/check luggage outside after a trip before bringing it into the house.
- Do not keep luggage stored underneath a bed.
- Use mattress covers designed to protect against bedbugs.
- Avoid bringing used furniture, particularly mattresses, into the home.
Q: What is a bumper crop?
A: “Bumper crop” is a term used to describe a particularly large harvest for a given year. “Bumper” is sometimes defined as something “unusually large.” The term “bumper crop” originated as 1700s slang, used to describe the way results from a large harvest would swell the containers used to carry it to the market.
Q: My new home has a retaining wall in the front yard. What are some plants that will spill over the wall and have a cascading effect? The wall gets full sun.
A: Try thrift (Phlox subulata), creeping raspberry, winter jasmine, creeping rosemary, candytuft and weeping lantana. Visit your local nursery or garden center to learn more about these plants as well as other possibilities. Take along a photograph of the wall and surroundings to assist the horticulturist at the nursery in making recommendations.
Q: What are the easiest fruits to grow in Georgia?
A: Figs and blueberries are two of the easiest, most reliable and popular fruits to grow. Oriental persimmons are one of the easiest tree fruits. Muscadines require yearly pruning (an easy task compared to pruning a tree) and a trellis, but are undemanding otherwise. Pawpaws are an option if you have the space. Crabapples (if you like preserves) are another possibility. Strawberries may require replanting and bed renovation and weeding, but at least they do not need to climb a ladder to prune them or pick them. Also consider jujubes, mayhaws and feijoas. Warning: once you start growing fruit and enjoying the harvest, you may stop viewing what you have to do as “work.”
Q: What is the difference between cool-season grasses and warm-season grasses?
A: Cool-season grasses grow well during the cool months of the year. They may go dormant or be injured during the heat of summer. Cool-season grasses include tall fescue, perennial ryegrass, annual ryegrass and Kentucky bluegrass. Warm-season grasses grow best during the warmest months of the year. They grow vigorously during this time and become brown and dormant in winter. Warm-season grasses include Bermuda, zoysia, St. Augustine and centipede.
Q: Numerous products containing hydrolyzed vegetable protein are being recalled. Can you give me more information about the recalls? What is hydrolyzed vegetable protein anyway?
A: All of the powder and pastes of hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP) manufactured by Basic Food Flavors since Sept. 17, 2009, have been recalled due to possible Salmonella contamination. Salmonella can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.
Hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP) is a flavor enhancer used in processed foods. HVP is used in a wide variety of food products. Only products made with HVP from Basic Food Flavors are being recalled.
Although the HVP is used in numerous processed foods, no illnesses associated with the product have been reported. For the full up-to-date list of products recalled and for all the information on the investigation, go to:
You can also get information on this recall and others at www.foodsafety.gov, the site for all food recalls and associated reports and investigations by FDA, USDA and the CDC. The homepage of the Georgia Department of Agriculture website (www.agr.georgia.gov ) contains a link to the recall information. The link is titled FDA Recall Alerts and is under the “Featured Items” column on the right-hand side of the homepage.
Q: Someone told me that the time to check my house for termites is in the spring when I see a “swarm” of insects. Is that when I should check?
A: Termite inspection and control is one project that is best left to the professionals. Most homeowners do not have the expertise to properly identify and control termites themselves.
While termites in Georgia usually swarm from late winter to late spring they can, under certain conditions, swarm all year long. If you see a swarm of insects or other signs of termites you should seek professional assistance.
You can find a list of licensed operators and other information on pest control on our web site at www.agr.georgia.gov. Look under “Divisions” for the “Plant Industry Division,” then “Structural Pest Control.”
Q. I would like to convert my small farming operation to organic, but the cost of pursuing organic certification is just too much for my business. Where could I get some help?
A. Some funds from U.S. Department of Agriculture are now available in the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program to help finance organic certification. Organic producers, handlers and processors must be certified by a USDA accredited certifying agent.
The Georgia Department of Agriculture has entered into an agreement with The National Organic Program of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) to administer the funds available in Georgia. Only $25,000 is available in our state and certification costs must be incurred between October 1, 2009 and September 30, 2010.
If you are interested in the program, contact Dr. James Sutton, Organic Program Manager for the Georgia Department of Agriculture by e-mail at James.Sutton@agr.georgia.gov or by phone at 404-656-1264.
Q: What is a plumgranny?
A: A plumgranny or plum granny (Cucumis melo Dudaim Group) is a small melon grown because it is very fragrant. It is also known as known as “Queen Anne’s Pocket Melon.” It is about the size of a small-to-medium apple and has smooth skin and orange stripes when ripe.
It has been grown for many years; some think at least 1,000 years. In the days before perfumes and deodorants, plumgrannies were carried in pockets and purses to mask body odor.
Plumgrannies are edible, but they are mostly grown for their fragrance. One or two can fill a room with their perfume. Think of them as potpourri.
Plumgranny seeds are sometimes are offered for sale in the Farmers and Consumers Market Bulletin and in various seed catalogs, especially those specializing in heirloom vegetables.
Q: Is butter safe at room temperature?
A: Butter is safe at room temperature. However, if butter is left out at room temperature for several days, the flavor can turn rancid so it is best to leave out only what you can use within a day or two.
Q: Why is it hard to grow a lawn in the shade?
A: There are several reasons. Turfgrasses are not shade-loving plants. Shade reduces the amount of light available for photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is how plants manufacture food. If plants, especially sun-loving plants like turfgrasses, don’t get enough light, they starve. Fallen leaves exacerbate the problem by practically smothering the grass.
Shady conditions encourage fungal diseases because the grass blades stay wet longer since the sun cannot dry the grass blades and because the air does not circulate as readily under the shade of trees as it does in the open.
Trees prevent some of the rain from reaching the plants beneath them. Tree roots also compete with the plants for water and nutrients in the soil.
If your property is shaded, consider having mulched areas instead of a lawn, drifts of shrubs such as azaleas, a bed of shade-loving perennials or swaths of shade-loving groundcovers like dwarf mondograss. Stop trying to fight nature and, instead, plant the things that want to be in the shade.
Q: Are powdered egg whites pasteurized?
A: Egg white powder is dried egg white (albumen). Dried egg whites are pasteurized by heating in the dried form for a specified time and at a minimum required temperature. The powdered egg whites can be reconstituted by mixing them with water. The reconstituted powder whips like fresh egg whites and, because it is pasteurized, can be used safely without cooking or baking it. Although pasteurized, for optimal safety, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety Inspection Service says it is best to start with a cooked base, especially if serving high-risk persons, such as the elderly, young children and individuals with compromised immune systems.
-- Arty G. Schronce