Q. I think my acorn squash and yellow crookneck squash cross-pollinated. It looks strange, is it safe to eat?
A. Strange shaped fruits will not be unsafe to eat. Misshapen fruit may be caused by several different environmental conditions and may be off-flavored.
Q. My grape leaves have a faint bronze or golden color, what causes this?
A. Around this time of year, a bronze discoloration in the leaves can be indicative of a bud or rust mite infestation. The mites are already protected in the buds and crevices of the plants, so treatment should be delayed until spring when they are active and exposed. Apply a sulfur spray when the temperatures have been above 60 degrees F and white wine grapes are at the wooly bud stage or when red wine grapes are at bud swell. The rate of sulfur should be about 4 to 4.5 pounds per 100 gallons of water. Remember, control measures should not be taken unless you currently see damage from mites.
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Q. When do you plant garlic? My friend said to plant it in the fall, is this correct?
A. Garlic should be planted in the fall a few weeks prior to the first hard frost.
Q. What are these big beetles I see all over? They are fat blackish beetles about an inch long and have lengthwise ridges on their backs.
A. Those are most likely darkling beetles, although an actual beetle is needed for an accurate identification. Darkling beetles are common in this part of Washington state and are one of the most common types of beetles found in the shrub-steppe region we live in. Some years they exhibit a migratory behavior in the fall where legions of them will march from the south. While disturbing to some, there is no reason to fear or hurt the darkling beetles. They feed mostly on dead plant material. To get from place to place, they usually walk instead of flying. If you handle one, you may find they raise up their hind-end and emit a bad smelling dark liquid, it's defense against predators. It's not dangerous, just smelly.
* Questions should be called in to the WSU Extension offices in Kennewick at 509-735-3551 or Pasco at 509-545-3511.