Q. How can I safely color and decorate hard-cooked eggs for Easter?
A. Eggs are handled more than usual at Easter time, and each time they are handled, it gives them a chance to pick up bacteria. To minimize bacterial contamination, wash your hands thoroughly before handling eggs at each step along the way, including cooking, cooling and dyeing. Hard-cooked eggs are a perishable food and should be kept in the refrigerator. Take eggs out of the refrigerator for coloring, but put them back in once the coloring is complete.
Color only uncracked eggs. If any eggs crack during dyeing or while on display, discard them along with any eggs that have been out of refrigeration for more than two hours. If hard-cooked eggs are kept out of refrigeration for hours or several days for decoration or for hiding, discard the eggs immediately after use. If you hide eggs, consider hiding places carefully, avoiding areas where the eggs might come into contact with dirt, pets, wild animals, birds, reptiles, insects or lawn chemicals.
Q. If I plant a new table grape this spring, how often should I water it?
A. New plants are delicate and do not want soggy soil, but they do not want stress either. Make sure the soil is moist but not dripping. A good idea is to put mulch around the young vine so that less water is evaporated from the surrounding soil.
Q. What is the average amount of soil nutrients removed per acre each year from 8 tons per acre of alfalfa hay produced?
A. Growing alfalfa removes large quantities of nutrients from the soil. Some variations in nutrients are found in hay, especially potassium depending on soil level, as all plants consume potassium, meaning if more is in the soil, then more is taken up by the plant.
On average, 8 tons of alfalfa would remove from largest to smallest: 448 pounds of nitrogen, 432 pounds of potash, 240 pounds of calcium, 64 pounds of phosphate, 48 pounds of magnesium, 40 pounds of sulfur, 0.4 pounds of zinc, 0.4 pounds of boron, 0.16 pounds of copper and 0.004 pounds of molybdenum. A chart showing the average nutrient concentration in percentage of dry matter can be found in the Nutrient Management Guide for Dryland and Irrigated Alfalfa in the Inland Northwest" at http://cru.cahe.wsu.edu/CEPublications/pnw0611/pnw0611.pdf
-- Questions should be called in to the WSU Extension offices in Kennewick at 735-3551 or Pasco at 545-3511.