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Georgia Consumer: Take proper steps when planting a live Christmas tree

POSTED: January 20, 2008 5:04 a.m.

Question: My son talked me into buying a live Christmas tree with a balled root and it seemed like a good idea at the time. What do I do with it after the holidays?

Answer: Plant it. But don't take off the decorations and just stick the tree in the ground. Your tree must be acclimated. Store it in an unheated shelter. You will need to dig a hole at least twice the width of the root ball and half again as deep. Don't plant the tree too deep. Cover the root ball with soil no higher than the top of the ball. Water and mulch the tree to prevent water loss. Don't fertilize it until the end of the first growing season. If you have questions or need tips on selecting a good site for the tree, contact your local county extension agent.

Q: Is there a law that requires stores to offer refunds on Christmas gifts?
A: Georgia does not require stores to accept returned items even Christmas gifts. However, some stores have voluntarily set up policies to let customers return unwanted items. Such exchanges, returns for credit or refunds are services offered by stores to encourage consumers to shop there. But you should know that return policies vary from store to store.

Q: I plan to shop for my Christmas presents online. How can I insure that the companies are reputable?
A: One way to make sure that you are dealing with a reputable online company is to look for the Better Business Bureau's (BBB) seal. The "BBB OnLine Reliability Seal" signifies that the online business has agreed to stand behind its goods and services. If a site carries the BBB OnLine Reliability Seal, click on it to confirm participation, to link to the company's profile and other information.

Q: What exactly does the date on an egg carton mean?
A: Egg cartons from USDA-inspected plants must display the date the eggs were packed. Although not required, they may also carry an expiration date beyond which the eggs should not be sold. In USDA-inspected plants, this date cannot exceed 30 days after the pack date.

Q: How long will fresh vegetables last in the refrigerator?
A: Different vegetables require different temperature and humidity levels for proper storage.
Turnips: For storage, wash roots; trim tops to « inch, place in perforated plastic bags and store in refrigerator, cold moist cellar or pit. Storage life is 2 to 4 months.

Broccoli: Store in perforated plastic bags for up to one week in the refrigerator.
Cabbage: Store cabbage in refrigerator, cold cellar or outdoor pit in plastic bags for up to 2 months.
Collards, kale, mustard, and spinach: Greens do not store well, but may be kept in plastic bags in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Consumer alert
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with Specialized Bicycles, of Morgan Hill, Calif., announces a voluntary recall of about 3,000 bicycle helmets. Consumers should stop using the recalled helmet immediately and return it to an authorized Specialized retailer to receive a free replacement or a full refund.

The helmets fail testing required under CPSC's safety standard for bicycle helmets. This can pose a head injury hazard to riders in a fall, though no incidents or injuries have been reported.

This recall involves the Specialized helmets, model 2D. Model "2D" is printed on the sides of the helmet in the rear. The helmets were sold for men and women in matte black, white, silver, blue, pink and team colors through authorized retailers and online stores between July 2007 and October 2007 for about $200.

For additional information, contact Specialized toll-free at 877-808-8154 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. MT Monday through Friday, or visit the company's Web site at www.specialized.com.

If you have questions or problems with services or products regulated by the Georgia Department of Agriculture you may write the Office of Public Affairs, 19 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Room 226, Atlanta, GA 30334 or call (800) 282-5852. This column appears Sundays.



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