Q. Now that it is getting so cold, I am concerned about keeping my horse warm. Should I put a horse blanket on him?
A. It really isn't recommended. Nature provides horses with a winter coat designed to keep them warm without a lot of human assistance. A horse's winter coat is designed to trap body heat between the hair fibers. Placing a blanket on a horse actually compresses this winter coat so that it eliminates the air layer and reduces the protection from the cold.
Horses start to grow their winter coats when the days begin to shorten and evenings become cool. Extremely cold temperatures will not affect healthy horses; however, cold, soaking rains, muddy conditions or cold drafts can create cold stress and cause illness. Therefore, it is important that your horses have either natural windbreaks or constructed shelter to furnish protection against wind, rain, and snow.
Q. I didn't get to plant the bulbs I bought back in September. Is it too late to plant them now?
A. They won't keep until next fall, so plant them now. If the weather stays somewhat mild for a while, they'll probably still bloom. Water them after planting and make sure they are watered when the soil is dry, if the soil isn't frozen.
Q. Is it possible to propagate a grapevine from my neighbor's seedless grape? He doesn't have any idea what kind it is.
A. You can propagate from your friend, but it can be a bit of a process. Also, grapevines are notorious for carrying diseases and viruses that are spread from cuttings. You are better off to go to a nursery and buy a certified disease-free plant. The small $15 investment is hardly anything over the entire 20-year lifespan of the grape.
Q. What are heirloom seeds?
A. An heirloom plant variety is an old cultivar that is maintained by gardeners, seed companies and farmers typically in isolated communities. These may have been commonly grown during earlier periods in human history, but are not used in modern large-scale agriculture. They are now used more for niche markets or sectors for specific characteristics.
-- Questions should be called in to the WSU Extension offices in Kennewick at 735-3551 or Pasco at 545-3511.