Q. Finally, my tomatoes are ripening, but they’re only turning orange. What’s wrong?
A. The hot weather is the problem. When our daytime temperatures are above 95 degrees, the tomatoes stop producing red pigment. So your “orange” tomatoes may already be ripe. Give them a squeeze to see if they feel ripe. When it’s hot, with daytime temperatures of more than 100 degrees and night time temperatures staying in the 80-degree range, the ripening process slows down.
Once the tomatoes are mature and show some color, they don’t need sunlight to ripen the rest of the way on the vine. If the weather is hot, pick and ripen them indoors where it is cooler, and they will more likely turn the expected red you want.
Q. What is silage?
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A. Silage is a fermented, high-moisture feed that can be fed to ruminants such as cattle. It can be made from crops such as corn, alfalfa, sorghum and cereal grains. The entire green plant is chopped and placed in an airtight container such as a silo or plastic bags. It also can be tightly packed into a large pile (bunker). The exclusion of air from the container allows for microbial anaerobic (absence of oxygen) fermentation, which takes at least two or three weeks to complete. The resulting reduction in pH (increasing acidity) inhibits bacterial growth and thereby preserves the feed. It is a highly nutritious feed for livestock.
Q. Sometimes when canning beets, the color changes from red to pink or even white. How do I prevent color loss?
A. Leave 1 to 2 inches of the taproots and stems on the beets. Boil beets until the skins easily slip off. Drain beets. Remove skins and trim away the taproots and stems. Now, the beets should retain their distinctive red color when canned. They may be canned whole, sliced or diced.
Q. The local coffee shop gives away coffee grounds. Can I mulch my garden plants with the grounds?
A. Yes. The grounds are particularly good for worms. Alternatively if you are vermicomposting, you can add them to your worm bin.
-- Questions should be called in to the WSU Extension offices in Kennewick at 735-3551 or Pasco at 545-3511.