Question: I kept two poinsettias from last Christmas and have been pampering them all summer. I know they need special periods of darkness to make them bloom. What do I need to do and when do I do it?
Answer: A poinsettia needs an uninterrupted dark period at night to trigger it to form its colorful bracts. For eight to 10 weeks beginning the first of October, the plant must be kept in total darkness for 14 continuous hours each and every night. Keep the plant in darkness by moving it to a closet or covering it with a large box. Any interruption of the dark period with any kind of light such as turning on the closet light or removing the plant’s cover will delay flowering. Even car headlights can disrupt the process. During the weeks the poinsettia is given the dark treatment at night, the plant must also receive six to eight hours of bright sunlight during the day. Depending on the response time of the particular variety, the poinsettia will come into full bloom during November or December.
Q: I was told firewood could only be sold by the cord. What exactly is a cord?
A: According to regulations, wood of any type sold as fuel for fireplaces or stoves must be sold by the cord, fraction of a cord or cubic measure. A cord is defined as 128 cubic feet of wood stacked by the line or row in a compact manner with individual pieces touching. The cord can be four feet high, four feet wide (deep) and eight feet long, or any combination of these measurements (height, width and length) that yield 128 cubic feet of firewood (4 ft. x 4 ft. x 8 ft. = 128 cubic feet). Although consumers easily can measure the height and length of a cord of wood, they should pay particular attention to the width (depth) of the cord. Since it is impractical to cut firewood into lengths of four feet for most uses, consumers likely will want the wood in more manageable lengths of 24 or 16 inches for use in fireplaces and stoves. Therefore, for wood stacked in rows four feet high and eight feet long, it will take two rows of 24-inch wood or three rows of 16-inch wood to provide a width (depth) of four feet (48 inches).
Consumers may find firewood sold in small bundles or shrinkwrapped packages at convenience stores and other retail outlets. However, the Georgia Department of Agriculture requires that the quantity of the firewood be clearly displayed on the package in terms of cubic measure so the consumer will know the exact amount of wood purchased.
Some firewood sellers state in their ads that the selling price includes stacking the wood. If the seller does stack the firewood upon delivery, consumers are advised to check the dimensions of the stacked wood before completing the transaction to ensure they have the quantity of wood they agreed to purchase. Any discrepancies can then be resolved before the sale is completed and the seller leaves the premises.
If a seller does not advertise that he will stack the wood when it is delivered, the consumer should be prepared to stack the wood upon delivery in order to verify the quantity before completing the sale.
Q: I heard on a radio show that gardeners should plant more “minor bulbs” to bloom in spring. What is a minor bulb?
A: Daffodils, hyacinths and tulips are the three spring-blooming bulbs that occupy the most space in gardens, catalogs and garden center shelves. “Minor bulb” is an unfortunate term used to refer to everything else. “Minor” does not refer to the size of the flowers or the impact they can have in your garden.
Some of the springblooming bulbs that are lumped into this group are crocus, scilla, muscari, allium, anemone, camassia, snowdrops, leucojum, dichelostemma and triteleia. Perhaps a better term would be “lesserknown bulbs.” There are not as many varieties of these as there are of the “big three,” but they are certainly worth considering to add more diversity to your garden.
If you have questions about services or products regulated by the Georgia Department of Agriculture, write Arty Schronce ([email protected]orgia.gov).
A poinsettia should be kept in darkness to trigger color.