* Q. I love tulips, but they don't seem to bloom for me after the second year. What am I doing wrong? It's expensive to replace them year after year.
* A. Many tulip varieties are very good repeat bloomers. Tulip strains that have been hybridized with the species-type tulips tend to be better repeat bloomers. Look for mid-season Darwin hybrids and Emperor hybrids or ones designated as "naturalizing" or "perennializing." They often will come back for at least a few years.
Cultural factors also can influence the return of tulip flowers. The area should be well drained to avoid bulb rot. Tulips intended for "perennializing" should be planted with the bottoms of the bulbs about 8 inches deep. Be sure to water bulbs during the fall when the weather stays mild and dry. After blooms fade in the spring, cut off the seed stalks immediately but leave the leaves until they start to die back. The leaves feed the bulb for the next year. Cutting off the leaves while still green prevents the bulbs from getting the energy needed to bloom again. Fertilize the bulbs in the fall with a low-nitrogen "bulb" fertilizer.
* Q. Is it OK to use manure in my vegetable garden? My friend said not to use it.
* A. Manure should be aged before applied to a vegetable garden. Manure applied in the early fall usually is not a problem for spring planted vegetables.
* Q. Is it really important to pasteurize apple cider? I really like the fresh taste of cider, so I'm hoping I don't have to heat it.
* A. There always is a risk that fresh cider may contain bacteria such as E. coli O157:H7 or salmonella. The most likely way that apples get contaminated with bacteria is from cow, sheep or deer manure that gets on the apples as they drop on the ground in the orchard. However, dust, irrigation water and birds also can be a source of pathogens, so even apples picked from trees can have bacteria on them.
To be sure that bacteria in fresh cider is killed, pasteurize it by heating to at least 160 degrees. Check the temperature with a thermometer. You can maintain the fresh taste by controlling the temperature. Overheating or boiling the cider causes the cooked taste you're hoping to avoid.
* Questions should be called in to the WSU Extension offices in Kennewick at 735-3551 or Pasco at 545-3511.