Q. I have a big maple tree in my front yard and the roots are coming to the surface. They look bad to me and they make it hard to mow. Can I put dirt on top of them?
A. It's not a good idea to put soil over the surface roots of large shade trees. The roots have "surfaced" because they need air.
Instead of soil, put a three to four inch layer of bark mulch on top of the roots, going out three to four feet from the trunk. This will look better and will allow the tree roots to "breathe" and will protect them from the lawnmower. However, don't place the mulch next to the base of the trunk. Leave a six inch mulch-free zone next to the trunk.
Mulch piled against the trunk can lead to rot at the base. Add new mulch every year to keep a three to four inch thick layer.
Q. I used to be in a 4-H club when I was a child, now I would like to contribute to the 4-H program. Are contributions to 4-H deductible by the donor?
A. Yes, but buying things to support 4-H is not normally a donation. For example, if someone donates $100 and does not receive anything in return, the $100 is deductible. However, if they buy an item at a 4-H auction, it is only a donation if they clearly paid more than the fair market value, then only the amount over is deductible.
Q. Where can I find the thickener Clear Jel that is used for home canned pie filling recipes?
A. Clear Jel is a commercial thickener that holds up to canning and baking. Other starches break down with heating. Clear Jel is available in many health food stores, and stores that sell baking and candy-making supplies. It is not available in the regular grocery store. If you cannot find it from a local source, it is available for order off the internet.
* Questions should be called in to the WSU Extension offices in Kennewick at 509-735-3551 or Pasco at 509-545-3511.