Q. Large areas of my lawn have turned brown. I did some research on the Internet, and based on the symptoms, I am wondering if chinch bugs are the problem?
A. Chinch bugs are seldom a problem in our region, but their damage resembles drought stress caused by inadequate irrigation or excessive thatch. Check your irrigation system and make sure enough water is reaching the areas of turf that have turned brown. You can do this by putting straight-sided tin cans, such as tuna or cat food tins, in areas of the lawn while you irriate, then you can see how much water is delivered to the brown areas compared with the greener areas. Also, dig down into the lawn and check to see how much thatch is in your lawn. If the thatch is thicker than a half-inch, it is too much. When your lawn dries in hot weather, it often is difficult to re-wet and can lead to drought-stressed areas like you are describing. If you are unsure what thatch looks like, bring a 4-inch-square sample of your lawn into the WSU Extension office in Kennewick and we will take a look at it.
Q. When canning, is it possible to put two layers of jars in the canner at the same time for processing?
A. Yes, in either the boiling water canner or pressure canner. Place a small wire rack between the layers so water or steam will circulate around each jar. In the boiling water canner, make certain the water covers the tops of all jars by at least 1 inch. The pressure canner should have 2 to 3 inches of water in the bottom.
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Q. I heard there is an official state grass of Washington. Is that true?
A. Yes, it is Bluebunch Wheatgrass. Pseudoroegneria spicata is indigenous to the dryer areas of Eastern Washington. It fed the horses and cows of our state’s pioneering families, and remains an important food source for wildlife and livestock to this day.
To submit a question for this column, please call the WSU Extension office in Kennewick at 509-735-3551.