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WSU extension Q&A: Saturday, June 12, 2010

Q. Last week, you wrote about caleche in the soils. Is hardpan the same as caleche?

A. No, but they create the same problem. Caleche, often incorrectly referred to as hardpan, is a hard layer of calcium carbonate that forms naturally in arid soils. Hardpan is a densely compacted layer of soil that forms when some soils are repeatedly tilled at the same depth. In farm fields it results over time from plowing to the same depth with heavy equipment, but it also can develop in gardens when a tiller is used to till the soil to the same depth each year. A hardpan layer also may be caused by vehicles driving over soil or by heavy traffic from humans or animals. A hardpan layer can restrict root growth and water movement and should be physically broken up with deep tilling or digging.

Q. Why do the undersides of my canning lids sometimes discolor? Is the food still safe to eat?

A. Natural compounds in some foods, particularly acids, corrode metal and make a dark deposit on the underside of jar lids. This deposit on lids of sealed, properly pro-cessed canned foods is harmless.

Q. Can I use a weed-and-feed product around my grapes?

A. While it seems like a great idea to eliminate weeds and fertilize in one step, it can really damage grape vines. Many weed-and-feed products contain 2,4-D. Grapes are particularly sensitive to 2,4-D products, in fact, grapes can be harmed from the fumes if you use weed-and-feed on your lawn.

Q. Why should I use experiential learning in my 4-H group over many of the traditional ways of instruction? The traditional way was the way I learned, and it worked for me.

A. The experiential learning approach allows youth to experience something with minimal guidance from an adult. Instead of being told "the answers," learners are presented with a question, problem, situation or activity that they must make sense of themselves. After the activity, reflective processing takes place. This processing requires assistance, or facilitation. The "teacher" becomes a facilitator of the learning process and often is a co-learner.

* Questions should be called in to the WSU Extension offices in Kennewick at 509-735-3551 or Pasco at 509-545-3511.

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