WSU Extension Q&A: Fall is best time to plant garlic

WSU EXTENSIONOctober 11, 2013 

A. I bought a bouquet of fresh cut flowers at a farmers market on the west side. When my friend saw it, she said the pretty plant with purple stems was a poisonous plant called pokeweed. Do you think she's right?

A. I'd have to see the plant, but we have received two samples of pokeweed (Phytolacca americana) in the office this year that came in similar bouquets. They also were surprised that they had a poisonous plant in their pretty bouquets. Common pokeweed, a plant native to the eastern part of the United States, is a bushy herbaceous perennial that can grow up to 10 feet tall. With its bright red-purple stems and clusters of dark purple berries, it is an attractive plant.

All parts of the plant are toxic to humans, pets and livestock. The berries of the plant are not poisonous to birds who eat them. While the berries are the least toxic part of the plant, infants and children have been poisoned by them. I recommend getting rid of this part of your bouquet immediately, and if you find it growing as a weed in your yard or pasture, it should be removed.

Q. When is the best time to plant garlic?

A. Garlic should be planted in the fall a few weeks prior to the first hard frost.

Q. Can I use canola meal as part of my winter feeding program for my spring-calving beef cows?

A. Yes, you can. Generally, after calves are weaned in the fall, the cows' nutrient requirements are at their lowest for the year. This is because they aren't nursing their calves and the fetus growing inside them is not too large yet. To control costs in winter feeding programs, you can feed low-quality forages such as wheat straw, corn stalks, grass straws, or graze dormant native range, all of which are lacking in protein.

Canola meal, being greater than 35 percen crude protein, can be fed to cows as a supplement to meet their protein requirement thereby maximizing intake and digestion of the low-quality forage. The main thing you need to know is what the cows' nutrient requirements are so that you can calculate how much supplement to feed. There are WSU Extension Livestock personnel available to help you make the necessary calculations to provide a balanced diet for your cows.

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

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