Question: When should I start my impatiens and petunias?
Answer: Start your impatiens and petunia plants from seed the last week of February. Starting your own plants give you a wider selection of varieties to choose from and is less expensive than buying transplants. Ten to 12 weeks before the last frost date, sprinkle the tiny seeds on flats and don’t cover the seeds with soil since they need light to germinate. Keep temperatures in the 70s and the soil moist. In two to three weeks your seeds should germinate and you’re on your way to a crop of flowers.
Q: How often should I water my shrubs in the winter?
A: Water shrubs in your landscape throughout the winter, if the soil is dry. Evergreen plants transpire water from their leaves whenever the air temperature is above 40 degrees F.
Q: I have an assortment of weeds in my lawn. I’m not sure what type of weeds they are. Can you recommend a chemical weed killer that will knock them all out?
A: No single weed killer will get rid of all weeds, unless you want to use a soil fumigant — which will not only kill your weeds but your lawn along with it. Any weed killer you use should have the chemical name, the specific weeds it will kill, and the types of grass on which it may be safely applied listed on the label.
Q: When is the best time to plant fruit trees?
A: Fruit trees can be planted any time during the dormant season. Nurseries usually carry a good supply of bare-root trees in late winter and very early spring. Fruit trees are not only less expensive at this time, but the selection is also more extensive.
Q: My grandfather always planted potatoes in his garden using cut-up sections of grocery store potatoes. I have followed the same practice, but my potatoes have had a lot of problems with diseases.
A: In order to insure a healthy crop, start with potatoes that are certified disease-free. These are available at most nurseries and garden centers. Potatoes sold for eating purposes are commonly treated with a sprout inhibitor. Also they can carry diseases that could prove harmful to future crops.
Q: I purchased a two-pound package of chicken thighs from my local grocery store that contained more than one-half pound of fat and skin and in addition some of the bones were broken. Should I ask the store for a refund for the one-half pound of chicken waste I paid for but couldn’t eat?
A: Most grocery stores no longer cut up chickens. Chicken parts, such as legs, thighs, breasts and wings come to them already cut from a processor.These processing facilities are inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Poultry Grading and Inspection Service which is responsible for insuring that only properly processed chicken parts, i.e. no broken bones, feathers, etc., reach retail outlets. We have taken the liberty of registering a complaint with this agency concerning the broken bone in your chicken thighs. However, the skin and any fat adhering to that skin which is attached to chicken parts can properly and legally be included in the net weight of the product according to USDA.
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.