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WSU extension Q&A: April 10, 2010

Q. How do you harden off transplants before moving them outdoors?

A. Start the process about one week prior to the recommended outdoor planting date. Move the transplants to a sheltered outdoor location for an increasing amount of time each day. Stop fertilizing and water as the soil starts to dry. Each day move the plants to a bit sunnier location. Move the plants indoors or cover when temperatures drop. This process helps acclimate the plants to the outdoor environment.

Q. When is 4-H Camp this year?

A. This year the Benton-Franklin County 4-H Camp is June 9-13. It is open to all youth ages 8 to 18. We are aware that this overlaps with many of the area schools, and we are willing to work with the schools to get the absences excused for this hands-on learning experience.

Q. Is it too late to prune my roses? They already have started to grow.

A. If you haven't pruned your roses yet, do it now! You probably have some damage from December's frigid freeze. The center of the canes will be brown to tan, indicating winter injury. Remove any damaged portions of the canes, down to where you will find white pith in the middle of the cane. You may find that some of your roses escaped without damage, and others may need severe pruning to find white pith.

Q. I cooked some hamburger patties the other night that never lost the pink color in the center after they finished cooking. By the time we ate them, they were tough and rubbery. What happened?

A. Cooks most often use the color of meat to tell them whether the product is fully cooked. However, some very lean ground beef may remain pink at temperatures well above the 160 degrees, which is the final cooking temperature recommended for safety. Since you were waiting for the color to change to tell you the meat patties were done, they became tough and rubbery from overcooking. Using a thermometer would have helped you know when the meat was fully cooked and safe to eat, and prevented overcooking. A word of caution, do not eat ground beef patties that are pink or red in the middle unless a food thermometer is used to verify the temperature.

* 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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