Q. Do I really need to call before digging more than 12 inches on my farm?
A. Farming has has many dangers, so to eliminate this one, remember to call 811 at least two business days before digging. Utilities can locate underground lines. You will need to be able to give the address where the work is taking place, including township, section and range. You will be given a tracking number for your locate request and informed if not all utilities will be marked. If the locate doesn’t happen, is late, inadequate or inaccurate, call the commission at 800-562-6150.
Q. My apple tree is getting too tall. Is it too late to prune it?
A. You can prune an apple tree at any time, but summer pruning is really about removing the tips of the branches to allow more light penetration to the center of the tree and to encourage more fruiting buds next year. To remove excess height, be vigorous with dormant season pruning.
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Q. Isn’t it true that when home canning, the sealed lid is what assures you the canned food is safe?
A. Absolutely not. The sealed lid on a canning jar simply keeps the food safe. Safety of the contents depends on having a recipe that was developed and tested for canning, accompanied by a processing time in either the boiling water canner or pressure canner, which provides the heat necessary to create a shelf stable product. Processing times for foods are determined by scientists under laboratory conditions.
There are several critical measurements done in the laboratory, including water activity, pH, and the rate of heat penetration. All are factors used to determine the thermal death time curve (TDT) for each product. This data is used to establish a processing time for the food. The sealing of the lid simply indicates the oxygen has been vented out of the canning jar and a vacuum seal has been created. In other words, the processing makes it safe, the seal simply keeps it safe.
To submit a question for this column, please call the WSU Extension office in Kennewick at 509-735-3551.