Question: How can I get a strawberry bed started?
Answer: Select an area that receives full sun all or most of the day. Strawberries will grow well in many types of soil, but the most desirable soil is fertile, medium-light in texture, well-drained and has good moisture-holding capacity.
Avoid heavy clay, deep sand and wet soil. After selecting the site, have the soil tested to determine lime and fertilizer needs. Your county extension office has information and supplies for making tests. For more information about varieties, planting and cultivation, visit the "Home Garden Strawberries" publication by the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service on the Internet. If you do not have Internet access, write our Consumer Services Office and we will mail you a copy.
Q: How did the "popcorn tree" get its name?
A: The popcorn tree is also known as the Chinese tallow tree and has yellow terminal flower spikes which appear in the spring, followed by brown capsules that burst and fall off. This leaves behind wax-coated, white, berrylike seeds, hence the common name, popcorn tree. This tree is no longer recommended for planting because it is invasive and is crowding out native species.
Q: I’m interested in starting a hog farm. Do you have any information?
A: Building new facilities is a major investment which requires considerable planning and study. Please contact our office for basic guidelines for starting a new production.
Q: How is beef graded?
A: All beef found in retail stores is either USDA inspected for wholesomeness or inspected by state systems which have standards equal to the federal government. The "Passed and Inspected by USDA" seal insures that the beef is wholesome and free from disease. Although inspection is mandatory, grading is voluntary and plants pay to have its meat graded. USDA Prime beef (about 2 percent of grade beef) has more fat marbling, making it is the most tender and flavorful, but higher in fat content. Most of the graded beef sold in supermarkets is USDA Choice or USDA Select. The protein, vitamin and mineral content of beef are similar regardless of the grade.
Q: I sometimes have an allergic reaction to beef. What could cause this?
A: When you have an allergic reaction to food, your immune system is responding improperly to a substance and this is usually not harmful. It is our recommendation that you seek medical advice on determining the cause and solution for the reaction you are having.
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.