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Georgia Department of Agriculture

Consumer Qs January 2016

Question: I have transplanted some old daffodils from the family homeplace. They were planted there years and years ago. Where can I find out what variety they are?
Answer: Because many daffodils look similar and there are many of them, it can be difficult in some cases to make an accurate identification. To further complicate things, there can even be variability within a named variety. It is best to compare your mystery flower with others and note all its characteristics including bloom size and proportions, bloom time and flower color as well as other traits of the plant such as height, leaf width and hardiness.
     You may find some guidance at the upcoming Daffodil Day at Atlanta’s Oakland Cemetery (www.oaklandcemetery.com) Saturday, March 19. The event is free and lasts from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sara Van Beck, a lifelong gardener widely regarded as one of the country’s foremost daffodil authorities and author of Daffodils in American Gardens: 1733-1940, will be a presenter at the event. Other experts will be giving presentations, and members of the Georgia Daffodil Society will be answering questions. More activities include garden walks, a cut flower display and a craft and story time area for children. Oakland Cemetery is a true garden and is home to rescued daffodil collections from across north Georgia and a perfect place to view historic flowers in a historic setting.
     You should also visit the website of the Georgia Daffodil Society (www.georgiadaffodilsociety.com) and become a member of the group. On the website you will find a handbook, “A Short Field Guide to the Most Common Historic Daffodils in the Deep and Coastal South,” that may help you on the journey to discovering the name of your old daffodil, and the society is filled with knowledgeable daffodil enthusiasts who will want to help.
     Try to attend the society’s annual daffodil show Saturday, March 12, noon to 5 p.m. at the Chattahoochee Nature Center, 9135 Willeo Road, Roswell, where you may see daffodils that are relatively recent introductions and some that were introduced to cultivation decades or even centuries ago.
      Check out suppliers of heirloom bulbs such as Old House Gardens (www.oldhousegardens.com, 536 Third St., Ann Arbor, MI 48103. Phone 734-995-1486). They can supply the introduction dates of varieties and sometimes a dose of history along with the bulbs they sell.
     We also recommend a trip to Gibbs Gardens (www.gibbsgardens.com) in Ball Ground this spring. They have planted more than 20 million daffodils of more than 100 different varieties. Although the garden's focus is not historic daffodils per se, it is impossible to leave without learning something and without a greater appreciation of all daffodils, new and old.
     We are glad you are preserving your old daffodil; if it survived as long as it has, it is a good selection for your area as well as a piece of family history. If you cannot find its name, keep loving it anyway. After all, who doesn’t love a little mystery?

Q: What are chicken backs used for? I saw some for the first time at the grocery store this week. The price was reasonable, but I didn’t know what to do with them.
A: Use them to make chicken stock, broth or soup. If you don’t have time to cook them now, they can be frozen for use later. You can also make stock and freeze it for later use. A handy tip for freezing stock is to freeze it in ice cube trays and then store the individual cubes in a freezer bag. That way you can have small amounts of stock available when preparing dishes without having to thaw an entire carton or trying to chip away what you need.

Q: What exactly is a “hard freeze?” I heard that some plants will tolerate a frost but not a hard freeze.

A: In general, a "hard freeze" implies that temperatures are sufficiently cold for a long enough period to seriously damage or kill warm-season vegetation. In our area, this usually means temperatures falling into the upper 20s or lower for at least two to three hours. For example, a hard freeze will kill unprotected tender annuals or kill back the foliage on some hardy perennials.
     Some weather service offices have established specific criteria for a hard freeze watch or warning that may be more detailed and precise. These notices alert people to the potential damage or danger to water pipes, radiators, pets and livestock as well as to sensitive plants.
     When a reference book or a garden authority says that a plant will not tolerate a hard freeze, they generally mean the plant may tolerate (or at least survive with little damage) temperatures in the low 30s or high 20s for brief periods.

Q: Is it true that there are yellow radishes?
A: Yes. You may want to try ‘Beauty Blend,’ a mix of yellow, white, red, pink and purple radishes, from Park Seed (3507 Cokesbury Rd., Hodges, SC 29653 Phone: 1-800-845-3369, www.parkseed.com) or ‘Mardi Gras Mix,’ a mix of purple, yellow, white and black radishes from Burpee (300 Park Ave., Warminster, PA 18974 Phone:1-800-888-1447, www.burpee.com). Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds (2278 Baker Creek Rd., Mansfield, MO 65704 Phone: 417-924-8917, www.rareseeds.com) offers two different yellow radishes: ‘Helios’ and ‘Zlata.’

Q: Where can I learn more about growing and using our native pawpaw?
A: The website of the Kentucky State University Pawpaw Program (www.pawpaw.kysu.edu/) is an excellent source of information about pawpaw research as well as an archive of news stories about the pawpaw and even offers a few recipes.
     You may also visit the Georgia Department of Agriculture website (www.agr.georgia.gov) to read about our experience. Click on “News” and then “Put a Pawpaw in Your Pocket” in the “Arty’s Garden” section. Those without internet access can write: Georgia Department of Agriculture, 19, MLK Jr. Drive, Room 128, Atlanta, GA 30334, to receive printed copies of information.
     Those really interested in learning more should read Pawpaw: In Search of America's Forgotten Fruit by Andrew Moore (perhaps the most complete and authoritative book on pawpaws to date) published by Chelsea Green Publishing, Inc.85 North Main St., Suite 120, White River Junction, VT 05001, phone 1-800-639-4099, www.chelseagreen.com) and these two books by Lee Reich: Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden and Uncommon Fruits Worthy of Attention.
     When searching for pawpaw information on the internet, please note that some people use the word “pawpaw” to refer to papaya (Carica papaya), not to our native pawpaw (Asimina triloba).

Q: Are you supposed to eat broccoli stems? I was shocked to witness a cook throw some away and only use the tops.
A: There are some recipes that call only for using the florets in order to create a dish that has a consistent look, texture or taste, but broccoli stems are edible, delicious and useful, and it is a shame to waste them.
     Broccoli stems may be steamed, roasted or stir-fried like the florets. They may be eaten raw and used like carrot sticks for dipping into salad dressing or hummus. Some people use them to make slaw, slice them thin for salads or use them in soups. Larger, older stems can have a tough skin and fibrous layer that is easily peeled away to get to the crunchy center. (Young, small stems, especially the very fresh ones you harvested from your own garden, may not require peeling.) The flavor of the stems is milder than the florets, and they may be a good way to introduce finicky, green-vegetable-averse children to broccoli.
     And, by the way, you can eat broccoli leaves, too! Use them in salads and soups or cook them like other greens.

Q: Moss is killing my grass. What do I need to do?
A: Moss is not killing your grass. Moss is growing because conditions are right for it and not right for your grass.
     Moss likes damp, acidic soil. Liming will help make the soil less acidic. Aerating will allow more oxygen into the damp soil and encourage grass roots to grow. Moss thrives in shady conditions, but grass needs sun. Shady areas stay moist longer than sunny areas. Allowing more sunshine and air circulation by pruning trees and hedges will help by providing the sunnier, drier areas grass needs. If your moss is in a sunny area, perhaps you are watering too much.  
     However, you don’t necessarily “need” to do anything. If you are having a constant battle with moss, consider letting it take over and having a lawn of just moss. The Japanese have cultivated moss gardens for hundreds of years. Moss looks and feels like a carpet of green velvet – and it doesn’t need mowing, fertilizing or any pesticides. It also ranges more widely in color and texture than grass does.

Q: I am looking for a recipe for a party mix we called “trash.” Some people called it “nuts & bolts.” It had Chex™ cereals, pecans, peanuts, pretzels and more and was seasoned with garlic salt and Worcestershire sauce.
A: Sometimes it seems there are as many variations of party mixes utilizing Chex™ cereals as there are stars in the Andromeda Galaxy. There are numerous names for these mixes, and the same name may be shared by different recipes. And everyone seems to think their version is the original and the best!
     We cannot find an original recipe named “trash” from a primary printed source although we have heard the mix you describe called that. It was explained to us that it was called that because it consisted of such a wide array of snacks and cereals thrown together.
    On her Deep South Dish website (www.deepsouthdish.com), Mary Foreman posted a copy of a 1952 Chex™ advertisement from Life magazine with this recipe for a “new party mix”: Add 1/2 c. butter in shallow baking pan. Stir in 1 T. Worcestershire sauce. Add 2 c. Wheat Chex™, 2 c. Rice Chex™, and 1/2 c. nuts. Sprinkle with 1/4 t. salt and 1/8 t. garlic salt; mix well. Heat 30 mins in 300 degree oven, stirring every 10 minutes. Cool.
    If you visit the Deep South Dish website you will also find Ms. Foreman’s version of the recipe along with memories and ideas on this very varied snack mix. Like you, some of the people who left comments on the website also call the snack mix “trash.”
      Visit the Chex™ Party Mix website (www.chexpartymix.com) for even more ideas. The recipe listed as the “original” on the website includes bagel chips, which were probably not on the market in the 1950s, and gives directions for a microwave oven, something not found in homes in the early 50s, however.
     Almost all the variations sound good to us. We recommend including Georgia Grown peanuts and pecans and perhaps some of the flavored salts produced here in Georgia.

Q: Is it safe to cook meat in a Crock-Pot?
 A: Yes. Slow cookers or Crock-Pots can safely cook food. These countertop appliances cook foods slowly at a low temperature – generally between 170 degrees F and 280 degrees F. The low heat helps leaner, less expensive, cuts of meat become tender and causes less shrinkage. The direct heat from the pot, lengthy cooking time and steam created within the tightly covered container combine to destroy bacteria and make a slow cooker or Crock-Pot a safe option for cooking foods as well as an economical and winter-warming choice.

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If you have questions about services or products regulated by the Georgia Department of Agriculture, write Arty Schronce (arty.schronce@agr.georgia.gov) or visit the department’s website at www.agr.georgia.gov.
 

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