Q. When should I prune my grape plants?
A. Wait until February. That will let you assess if there has been any winter damage and allow you to leave more buds if necessary.
Q. The garden store people recommended that I use the systemic insecticide imidacloprid for controlling borers in my willow tree. The product they have is mixed with water and applied to the soil at the tree's base. Will this work?
A. University of Colorado Extension entomologists say this method would be convenient. However, although the insecticide product containing imidacloprid "reliably controls flatheaded borers that feed just under the bark (e.g. bronze birch borer). It is not effective against any of the borers that develop into moths (e.g. carpenter worms) nor against roundheaded borers that tunnel into the heartwood of the tree (e.g. locust borer)."
Insecticides used as trunk sprays for borer control are limited. Most home garden chemicals do not have a long-term residual affect. Permethrin is one chemical marketed to home gardeners for borer control. Products containing permethrin and labeled for application to the bark are aimed at preventing the insects from re-entering the tree. They will not kill borer larvae already in the wood. If you know there are larvae in the trunk, the best way to attempt to kill them is with a stiff wire poked into the hole.
Q. Is it true that I won't get food poisoning as long as I keep my perishable foods cold?
A. While keeping perishable foods cold is an important step to prevent food poisoning, another step is keeping your refrigerator clean. Some bacteria, like Listeria, can survive and even grow in cool, moist places. To prevent cross contamination, wipe up spills immediately and clean surfaces thoroughly with hot, soapy water, then rinse.
Recent research found produce bins are the germiest place in the refrigerator, containing salmonella and Listeria bacteria. To prevent these bacteria from getting on your produce, clean the bins weekly with hot soapy water, then rinse. Also, be sure to clean refrigerator walls and the underside of shelves.
-- Questions should be called in to the WSU Extension offices in Kennewick at 735-3551 or Pasco at 545-3511.