Ga Dept of Agriculture

 

Consumer Q's February 2011

Q:  I had to go inside the gas station to get my receipt because it did not print at the pump.  Is this a violation of state regulations?
A:  Having to go inside is certainly an inconvenience when you are paying at the pump – an inconvenience that the station will probably want to correct.  However, it is not a violation of any regulation as long as the station does offer you a receipt showing the correct gallons, price per gallon, total sale and the product that you purchased. 

Q:  Are there any chocolate-scented flowers?
A:  Yes.  Your best bet is the chocolate flower (Berlandiera lyrata), also known as the chocolate-scented daisy. It is native to the Southwest and has yellow flowers with maroon centers. The chocolate fragrance is reportedly strongest in the morning.  It likes full sun and well-drained soil.  It is easy to grow from seed, which is available from various seed catalogs and some garden centers. Another option is the chocolate cosmos. This cosmos is sterile (does not set seed) and is available only as plants from garden centers, nurseries and mail-order suppliers. Its fragrance is usually not considered to be as strong as that of the chocolate flower although its maroon flowers have more of a chocolate appearance. Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata) has a bitter chocolate fragrance. All three provide a way to enjoy chocolate without going off your diet. However, do not think you can “kill two birds with one stone” on Valentine’s Day by offering your wife a packet of seeds instead of a box of candy and a bouquet of flowers.  

Q:  How much sunlight do roses need?
A:  Roses require at least six hours of sunlight each day.  It is especially beneficial that the roses get sun as early in the day as possible.  Morning sun will help dry dew from the foliage and reduce fungal leaf diseases.

Q:  When is Arbor Day in Georgia?
A:  Arbor Day in Georgia for 2011 is on Friday, February 18.  The first Georgia Arbor Day was proclaimed by the Georgia General Assembly in December 1890. In 1941, the General Assembly set the third Friday in February as our state Arbor Day. While National Arbor Day is the third Friday in April, it is not the best time of the year to plant trees in Georgia. Trees planted between October and mid-March have a better chance of becoming established before the onset of our summer heat.
     There are a hundred reasons to plant trees including cleaner air, decreased stormwater run-off, cleaner rivers and streams, cooler summer temperatures, homes for songbirds, beauty, noise reduction and increased home value. Here are a few reasons you may not be as familiar with:
•    Customers are willing to pay as much as 10 percent more for certain goods and services if businesses are located on tree-lined streets.
•    Children are better able to concentrate, complete tasks and follow directions after playing in natural settings.
•    Consumer product testing conducted in shopping areas with large numbers of shade trees revealed products were rated 30 percent higher than identical products rated in shopping areas that were barren of trees.
•    Streets with little or no shade need to be repaved twice as often as those with tree cover.
To learn more about Arbor Day and the benefits of planting trees, visit the website of the Georgia Forestry Commission at www.gfc.state.ga.us/communityforests/arborday/index.cfm or visit your local nursery or garden center.

Q:  I heard about a study that stated if Georgians ate more local produce it would help the state’s economy.  Do you have any information on this?
A:  Yes, a recent study reported that if each of the approximately 3.7 million households in the state devoted just $10 per week to locally grown products from Georgia, it would add more than $1.9 billion back into the state’s economy.  While that would help the economy, the best reasons to buy Georgia Grown products are because they are fresher and taste better than those shipped from thousands of miles away.  It can also be fun and educational for you and your family to visit a farm or a farmers market and meet the actual farmers.  The Farmers and Consumers Market Bulletin offers pick-your-own lists to help connect customers and farmers.  The first list of the year will be in March for pick-your-own strawberry producers.  The study referenced in the question was conducted by the University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development.

Q:  I am concerned about lightning striking a large (and beloved) tree on my property.   I have seen a lightning protection system using metal cables on trees at an old garden.  Do you have any information about how to install such a system? 
A: Contact a certified arborist to do this for you.  There are three reasons why you should leave this to a trained professional:  First, is your personal safety.  Climbing into the top of a tall or (not so tall) tree can be dangerous.  Trying to work in such a location when you have no training or experience is even more dangerous.   Second, is the health of the tree.  Using the wrong equipment to climb or to install the system can damage the tree.  Third, an improperly installed system can make lightning damage to the tree worse or more severe than having nothing at all.  The cost of a certified arborist may seem expensive, but if you subtract the cost of hospitalization, the cost of removing a dead tree or the cost of having a tree land on your house, it may seem like a good investment.  Also, if you lose a century-old tree, you cannot purchase another one at any price.

Q:  A friend had a problem at a gasoline pump.  She thinks there was water in the gasoline.  Who does she report this to?  
A:  Notify the station manager and call the Georgia Department of Agriculture immediately if you experience a problem like this.  Our toll-free line is 1-800-282-5852.  This number is on all gasoline and diesel pumps in the state.  Our Fuel and Measures Division will send an inspector to check it out.  If there is a problem with the gasoline, the affected pumps will be locked down until the problem is corrected.

Q:  Is pork considered white meat?
A: Pork is a red meat. When fresh pork is cooked, it becomes lighter in color, but it is still a red meat.

Q:  We have bought a new home.  My wife wants to plant roses.  All I know about roses is that they require constant work with lots of spraying and lots of fertilizing.  I do not want to do that.  Any suggestions?
A:  Roses have a reputation, sometimes undeserved, for demanding a lot of attention.  However, you do have some options that will cut down on the work required. 
      First, plant them in the right spot.  Roses require at least six hours of sunlight each day.  If they don’t get enough, they are more likely to be attacked by fungal diseases such as black spot and powdery mildew.  It is especially beneficial that the roses get sun as early in the day as possible.  Morning sun will help dry dew from the foliage and reduce fungal leaf diseases.  Also, try to plant them in an area that gets good air circulation for the same reason. 
      Second, proper soil preparation will make a great difference in the health and long-term vigor of your roses.  Adding organic matter such as compost will both increase the water-holding capacity of sandy soil and break up clay soil.  A properly prepared bed or planting area will help them take up water and nutrients more efficiently. 
      Third, select durable and disease-resistant varieties of roses.  The new Knock Out series of roses has been getting excellent reviews from gardeners.  Rugosa rose varieties are usually disease resistant.  Both single and double varieties of the chestnut rose are ironclad performers.  A few other durable varieties are Mermaid, Caldwell Pink, Archduke Charles, Cécile Brünner, Charlotte Armstrong, Dainty Bess, Fortuniana, La Marne, Gardenia, Mutabilis  (also known as the “butterfly rose”), Old Blush, Seven Sisters, The Fairy, Zephirine Drouhin and Petite Pink.  A horticulturist at your local nursery will be able to give more suggestions.
     Fourth, don’t freak out and start spraying every time you see a couple splotchy leaves or a few Japanese beetles.  Create a rose garden that looks good as a whole and you, your visitors and your wife won’t focus on one or two minor imperfections.  Every rose doesn’t have to look like the centerfold in the Jackson & Perkins catalog all the time.  Also, you don’t have to keep your roses pumped up with fertilizers.  Too much fertilizer can lead to too much lush growth, which is more prone to attacks from disease and insects.  Many rose varieties produce an adequate supply of flowers with no extra boosts of fertilizer. 

Q:  I am looking for some sources of flower and vegetable seeds.  Do you have any suggestions?
A:  Look in the ads of the Farmers and Consumers Market Bulletin.  There are a lot of good (and very reasonably priced) seeds there, including old-fashioned varieties.  Also, if there is a particular seed you are looking for, you can place a free ad in the Market Bulletin describing it.  Subscriptions for Georgia residents are $10 per year.  To start a subscription, send a check or money order payable to Market Bulletin to 19 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Atlanta, GA 30334.  If you cannot find the seeds you are looking for in the Market Bulletin or your local garden center, here are several seed catalogs to consider:

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange
P.O. Box 460, Mineral, VA 23117
Phone: 540-894-9480
www.southernexposure.com

Plants of the Southwest
3095 Agua Fria St., Santa Fe, NM 87507
Phone: 1-800-788-SEED (7333)
www.plantsofthesouthwest.com
(not just plants, and not just things for the Southwest)

Johnny's Selected Seeds
955 Benton Avenue, Winslow, ME 04901
Phone: 1-877-Johnnys (1-877-564-6697)
www.johnnyseeds.com

TomatoFest
P.O. Box 628, Little River, CA 95456
www.tomatofest.com

Pinetree Garden Seeds
P.O. Box 300, New Gloucester, ME 04260
Phone: 207-926-3400
www.superseeds.com

Seeds of Change
P.O. Box 152, Spicer, MN 56288
Phone: 1-888-762-7333
www.seedsofchange.com

Park Seed Company
1 Parkton Ave, Greenwood, SC 29647
Phone: 1-800-845-3369
www.parkseed.com

Renee's Garden Seeds
6060A Graham Hill Rd., Felton, CA 95018
Phone: 1-888-880-7228   
www.reneesgarden.com

W. Atlee Burpee & Co.
300 Park Avenue, Warminster, PA 18974
Phone: 1-800-333-5808
www.burpee.com

Thompson & Morgan Seedsmen, Inc.
P.O. Box 397, Aurora, IN 47001-0397
Phone: 1-800-274-7333
www.tmseeds.com

Q:  Is there any way to visually tell if kerosene has been contaminated with gasoline?
A: If the kerosene looks cloudy, it could be contaminated and should not be used.  Kerosene should be clear, not cloudy.  This is true for dyed or undyed kerosene.  If it has a gasoline odor, it could be contaminated and should not be used.  But, the only 100% sure way to tell would be to have it tested at the Georgia Department of Agriculture State Fuel Lab.  If you suspect you have purchased contaminated kerosene, take it back to the store and contact our Fuel and Measures Division at 404-656-3605.

Arty Schronce writes this weekly question-and-answer column. If you have questions, please call him at 404-656-3656 or write him at arty.schronce@agr.georgia.gov.