Consumer Q’s from the Georgia Department of Agriculture
Thursday, May 3rd, 2012
Q: What are some good baits to use in a rat or mouse trap?
A: Peanut butter, a peanut or nut, dried fruit, hazelnut chocolate spread, cheese or combinations of these come highly recommended.
Q: What is tropical soda apple?
A: Tropical soda apple (TSA) is a noxious, foreign weed that can overwhelm pastures and cropland. TSA is native to South America but has spread to the United States where it has become a major weed problem, primarily in the Southeast. It grows three to six feet tall with thorny prickles on both the top and bottom of the leaves, the leafstalks and the stem. Its flowers have five white petals and white-to-cream stamens. TSA produces berries that are green-and-white-striped when immature and yellow at maturity.
TSA grows on roadsides and in fields, pastures, citrus groves, ditch banks and other areas. It is spread by the movement of livestock and wild animals that feed on the fruits and then pass the seeds through their digestive tracts in new areas. Infestations also occur when manure, hay and seeds are relocated to uninfested areas.
If you have TSA, contact your county Extension agent for suggestions on control measures for your specific situation. Prevent the further spread of TSA by stopping the transfer of livestock that have eaten TSA berries to uninfested areas and stopping the movement of infested items to uninfested areas. The seeds can be viable for years, so prevention is paramount. There are enough weeds causing problems, let’s try to prevent this one from spreading further.
Q: Would you tell me how to get my bird’s eye pepper seeds to sprout? I have been trying to do it ever since February.
A: Hot pepper seeds are slower to sprout and more erratic in their germination than those of sweet peppers. One common problem is cold temperatures. Hot pepper seeds must be kept warm while they are sprouting. Some professional growers use a special heating mat under the trays where they are sown. Some home gardeners keep an incandescent light source close over the trays to provide warmth as well as light. Water the pepper seeds with warm water, never cold. When you sow the seeds, water them several times in the first hour with warm water, each time removing the water that collects underneath the container in which the seeds are sown. This will get the seeds good and warm and start them on their way to absorbing water and beginning the germination process. Then keep the seeds moist by watering them one or more times a day, always with warm water. You do not want the seeds to dry out or sit in water so always remove any that collects under the container in which you sowed them.
Here are some more tips that will help you with all your seed-sowing: Make sure the seed is fresh. Store your seeds in sealed containers in the refrigerator or freezer to maintain freshness. Sow your seeds in vermiculite or in a sterile seed-starting mixture. Do not use topsoil, potting soil or soil from your garden. These can be too coarse, hold too much water, contain diseases that could harm tender seedlings or contain fertilizers that could burn tender roots.
If you have questions about services or products regulated by the Georgia Department of Agriculture, visit our website at www.agr.georgia.gov or write us at 19 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Room 227, Atlanta, GA 30334 or e-mail us at email@example.com. To learn more about agricultural issues, get garden tips and find sources for flowers, livestock and other agricultural products, consider a subscription to The Farmers and Consumers Market Bulletin. Subscriptions for Georgia residents are $10 per year. To start or renew a subscription, send a check or money order payable to Market Bulletin at the address above.