Consumer Q’s 02-16-12
Thursday, February 16th, 2012
Q: I saw solid white turnips at the farmers market. I am used to the ones with purple tops. Can these white ones be used the same way?
A: The most popular and familiar turnip in America is the white ones with the purple top that has the unglamorous but fittingly descriptive name ‘Purple Top White Globe.’ There are numerous solid white ones grown and sold in Georgia as well, however. They can be used the same way as the old reliable purple-topped ones.
Q: What are ornamental peach trees? Do they bear fruit?
A: Ornamental peach trees are varieties of peaches selected and grown for their beauty rather than for their ability to bear fruit. They are also commonly called “flowering peaches.” Some may bear a little fruit, but that is not their purpose, and their fruit is usually inferior to fruiting varieties. Flower colors on ornamental peaches include white, pink and deep rose red. Some even have variegated flowers. The flowers may be single, semi-double or double. With a little searching you may find weeping or red-leaved ornamental peaches. Dwarf “patio peaches” are really grown as much for their ornamental qualities as much as for fruit. The narrow, drooping leaves of a small peach tree can add an almost tropical flair to a planting of shrubs and perennials.
Q: Are beet greens edible?
A: Certainly, and they are tasty and good for you as well. Sauté them or use them in salads or omelets. Cookbooks and cooking websites will offer other ideas as well.
Q: A flock of birds that looked like small cardinals but were brown and gray with yellow on the chest and with red-tipped wings and a bright yellow band on their tails came into my garden this week (Feb. 12). There appeared to be hundreds of them. They were beautiful. What are they and is there anything I can plant for them to eat?
A: They are cedar waxwings. They are indeed handsome little birds with their crests, subtle color changes between gray, brown and soft yellow and distinctive markings on the face, wings and tail. They get their names because their wings look like they have been dipped in red sealing wax and because they like to eat the berries of Eastern red cedar.
They like to eat fruit. Some good choices other than Eastern red cedar include yaupon, American holly, Carolina cherry laurel, Southern arrowwood, possumhaw, winterberry, hawthorns, dogwoods, aronia, blackhaw viburnum and elderberry. They also eat Chinese privet, but it is an invasive weed that is overtaking our forests; do not plant it.
Cedar waxwings are gregarious birds, so when you see one you are likely to see others nearby. They will sometimes pass berries to one another as they perch in a line on a tree branch – how’s that for group cooperation!
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Georgia Department of Agriculture