Home & Garden

WSU extension Q&A: Jan. 22, 2011

Q. My new house is going to be finished this month. Can we lay sod for a lawn in January?

A. It is sometimes done, but it's risky.Certain precautions need to be taken to protect an investment in the sod. Keep in mind that you still need to prepare the ground properly for laying sod. This involves tilling the soil to relieve compaction and then raking the soil to create a smooth surface. You also need water available for irrigation after laying the sod.

When laying sod in winter, you should not lay the sod on frozen ground. If there are severely cold temperatures after laying the sod, the roots will freeze and become damaged before growing down into the soil.

Note that turf is in its dormant stage during the winter and the roots will not grow until the soil and air temperatures warm. If at all possible, I would wait until you can be sure that the worst of the cold weather is past.

Q. My freezer door was left open. How can I tell if the food is still safe to use?

A. To determine the safety of your food, a thermometer is helpful.

If the food is as cold as if it were in a refrigerator (40 degrees), it is safe to refreeze or use. It is not necessary to cook raw foods before refreezing. Discard any foods that have been warmer than 40 degrees for more than two hours. Also, discard any foods that have been contaminated by raw meat juices.

Q. My friend gave me a recipe that uses shallots. What are shallots?

A. Shallots are members of the onion family that are grown for their mild, garlic-flavored bulbs, but belong to a different horticultural group than the onion.

Shallots are in the Aggregatum group, while the onion is in the common group of Allium cepa. The bulbs of the Aggregatum group are smaller than those of the common onion group because the plant quickly divides and forms clusters of bulbs. Shallot bulbs usually are narrow and the plant will grow to be about 18 inches tall and often bear white or violet flowers in the early summer.

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