Q. I opened a package of lunch meat and the meat has a greenish, iridescent look to it. Is it safe to use?
A. The greenish or yellowish iridescence sometimes found on the surface of cut, cured meats is caused by the way light is refracted from the fat on the surface of the meat. This can be compared to the way a prism separates a beam of light into different colors. This is not an indication of spoilage or a food safety problem. The lunch meat is safe to eat as long as it has been kept refrigerated and has not passed the expiration date.
Q. I'm anxious to start seeds indoors for growing my own tomato transplants, but grow lights are so expensive. Is there a less expensive type of light?
A. In most situations, plain fluorescent light fixtures work just fine for growing plants. A four-tube reflective fixture is better than a two-tube fixture because it provides more light. Both "cool-white" and "warm-white" fluorescent tubes will work well, but avoid the "white or daylight" ones. The plants need to be close to the lights (only 4 to 6 inches below the fixture) so they obtain the maximum amount of light. As the lights are moved further away from the plants, light intensity decreases severely. Keep the lights on for 16 to 18 hours a day. Putting the lights on a timer will make this easier. As the seedlings grow, raise the fixtures, but keeping them only 4 to 6 inches away from the tubes. Grow lights are needed when there is no red or infrared radiation available, such as a room with no windows. Grow Lights are not needed if your plants receive some natural light or light from any nearby incandescent lights.
Q. Will an almond tree grow and produce nuts in Eastern Washington?
A. They will grow, but because they bloom so early, they are prone to spring frosts and consequently have inconsistent crops.
* Questions should be called in to the WSU Extension offices in Kennewick at 509-735-3551 or Pasco at 509-545-3511.