Ask Farmer Jason Spring 2015

Question: My Mommy doesnâTMt like bugs in the house but Daddy says some bugs are good to have in the garden. Who should I believe? -Darren, age 8, Tampa, Florida

Farmer Jason: Yes, both your Mommy and Daddy are right about this. Bugs are not good to have in the house. If you leave trash around, mean bugs like cock roaches will think your house is a great place to live and move in! You donâTMt want that happening, so help your Mommy keep your room and house clean. Your Daddy is right that some bugs are nice to have in your garden. Have you ever seen a ladybug? They are very beautiful, but also eat bad bugs that eat your garden plants. Bees are another bug that are good to have in your garden. Believe it or not, they help the plants have baby plants! Be careful not to get near bees because they can sting you, but for the most part they are very nice to us.

Question: This year I have decided to do a garden for my science project. When can I start planting the plants? I am excited to get started. -AJ, age 13, McMinnville, Tennessee

Farmer Jason: Here in Middle Tennessee you can start planting your garden around March 1. It is still cold then, and some nights it will frost, but there are several garden vegetables that actually like cold weather. For your early garden you can plant lettuce, radishes, kale, spinach and broccoli. If you plant them March 1, most of these veggies will be ready to pick and eat by May--radishes even sooner than that.

Question: Where does a pickle come from? I donâTMt see any pickle plants in our garden. -Aiden, age 7, Nashville, Tennessee

Farmer Jason: Pickles are simply a cucumber that people have cooked and added seasonings to, to make them into pickles!

Question: I love chickens and want to raise some. We have a pen and house for them already. What breed do you recommend? -Benny, age 15, Nashville, Tennessee

Farmer Jason: I am so happy to hear that you are thinking of raising chickens. They make excellent pets. They never cause problems, rarely get sick or need vet care, and have funny personalities. Some people say âI am a dog person,â others say âI am a cat person.â Well, I say, âI AM A CHICKEN PERSON!â Honestly, any breed will make a great chicken; itâTMs mostly a matter of personal taste. Just make sure to get at least three birds. They love company. You can go to your local farmers co-op and ask to see pictures of the birds they will be selling. Be sure to buy hens, also called pullets. Roosters can be lots of trouble and often bother neighbors with their loud crowing. Hens are better, and they lay eggs with or without that crazy rooster around.

TIP THE FARMER (Useful gardening tips for busy parents.)

When you plant fruit trees, try to find an old section of plastic irrigation or drainage tubing. Cut off a 6-inch section of it; then slit it lengthwise. Put it around the base of the tree to protect it from mowers and weed eaters. When the tree gets large and fills the tube, simply pull it off and discard it. (By cutting that lengthwise slit, it will pull off easily.) At that point the tree's trunk will be tough and durable.