Q. What does it mean when a fruit tree is self-fruitful?
A. Self-fruitful means that pollen from the same tree can fertilize flowers and produce fruit. Many varieties of cherries and apples require a variety with different pollen to fertilize the tree. Make sure your fruit tree is self-fruitful before planting it, or you may need to plant two trees instead of one.
Q. I pressure-canned my green beans, and when I took them out, they were only half full of liquid. Why did that happen and are they still safe?
A. The green beans are safe as long as they were processed properly. Liquid loss in a pressure canner generally has to do with canner operation or rapid temperature fluctuation. Proper operation of the canner includes the following: 2 to 3 inches of water in the bottom of the canner (water does not cover jars when pressure canning); venting the canner 10 minutes before building pressure; bringing the canner up to pressure slowly; keeping the pressure steady during processing, and allowing the pressure to drop naturally at the end of the processing time. To help retain canning liquids, bringing the canner up to pressure should take five to 10 minutes. Also, once the canner has depressurized after processing, open the petcock and allow to sit 10 minutes before opening the lid. All of these steps will enhance liquid retention in jars.
Q. At what height should I cut my orchardgrass pasture?
A. Orchardgrass cutting height should be 3 to 4 inches in from the crown. It is important to avoid cutting too close to the ground because the remaining stubble contains stored energy in the form of complex carbohydrates (fructans) the plant uses for regrowth. If you graze or cut hay shorter than 3 to 4 inches, you are stressing the plant and it may affect yield or stand life. I saw one field this year in which stand was greatly reduced because it was cut to 1 inch in height and the heat of summer killed a significant portion of the field. Cutting or grazing grasses too short will cause grasses to stress and will cause weed infestations that will be difficult to get rid of.
To submit a question for this column, please call the WSU Extension office in Kennewick at 509-735-3551.