Q. Is there a food safety concern about soaking dry beans overnight before cooking? Is the fast-soak method safer than the long-soak method?

A. It is possible that pathogenic microorganisms, if present, could grow to harmful levels when soaking dry beans at room temperature. To be on the safe side, use the quick-soak method. Bring water and beans to a boil, cover and boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 1 hour. Drain and further cook. This limits the amount of time the beans are left at room temperature. The other option is to soak the beans in the refrigerator overnight.

Q. How does calving change the nutrient requirements of my cows?

A. The nutrient requirements of your cows will increase appreciably upon calving. The main reason for this is the cow's need to produce milk for her calf. When comparing the nutrient requirements for an average 1,200-pound beef cow during the third trimester of pregnancy versus after calving, her need for maintenance energy and protein increases about 36 percent and 43 percent, respectively. The need for calcium and phosphorus increases as well. It is important that this increase in nutrient demand be accounted for when feeding cows that have calved and are moving toward peak milk production.

To meet the requirements, feeding higher quality feed after calving is essential. It is beneficial to have your hay and other feeds tested. You need to know the amount of nutrients that are available in your feed so you can compare that with the nutrient requirements of the cows. Printed tables describing the nutrient requirements of cows at various stages of production are available from your WSU Extension regional livestock specialists.

Q. How can I tell the difference between insects that are good for my garden and ones are that eating my plants?

A. The only way is to identify them. This may sound hard, but it just needs a jar and a guide. Trap the insect in an empty peanut butter jar or similar jar with a lid. Then use a common garden insect guide or search for terms on the web like "bugs in the garden."

If you are still having trouble, bring it to a Master Gardener at the WSU Extension office.

-- Questions should be called in to the WSU Extension offices in Kennewick at 735-3551 or Pasco at 545-3511.

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