Ask Farmer Jason, Summer 2013

Question: Is zucchini an Italian food? - Angela, age 14, Nashville, Tennessee

Farmer Jason: Not exactly, although it is used in Italian dishes sometimes. Zucchini is a wonderful squash grown and eaten in the summer. In fact, it is called a summer squash. People eat zucchini in stir- fried veggie medleys or by themselves, either fried or boiled. They are very easy to grow and rarely get pests or diseases until they get old. They are best grown in hills of good dirt. Plant six seeds to a hill and then thin out the three smallest plants. You should try growing your own zucchini. I bet none of your friends have ever done anything that cool!

Question: Why do plants like the sun? It seems they are always reaching for it. - Brendon, age 5, Sheffield, England

Farmer Jason: Yes, plants do love the sun. Believe it or not, they can turn sunlight into food, so they always grow towards it! When a plant changes sunlight into food, it's called photosynthesis. What a big word that is! I wish we could do that. Imagine saying to the sun,: "Excuse me, Miss Sun, can you please make me a vanilla milkshake?"

Question: I love corn on the cob. Do you grow corn? - Ashton, age 4, Nashville, Tennessee

Farmer Jason: Yes, Ashton, I do grow corn. It grows on big, tall plants- as tall as your mommy and daddy! The plant is called a corn stalk, and each stalk usually grows two ears. Corn is grown all over the world, and helps feed a lot of people. Our country, the United States, is the biggest producer of corn in the whole world!.

Question: We have a turtle in our garden. It lives there. What does it eat? - Earnie, age 6, Burns, Tennessee

Farmer Jason: Chances are that your turtle is an American Box Turtle. They eat mostly plants, which means they are herbivores. Many turtles, though, do eat bugs and worms, which makes them carnivores. Some turtles eat plants and meat (insects or fish), which makes them omnivores.

TIP YOUR FARMER (helpful gardening tips for busy parents) Green beans are an excellent vegetable to grow in Tennessee. If you have the room and some wooden poles laying around, try pole beans for fun and good eating. Just tie up the poles in a teepee and plant the seeds around the poles. Kentucky Wonder is one old variety well suited to the hot, humid summers we have here. Even your grandma probably grew them!.

However, you must pick the beans when they are young, or they will be stringy and tough! If you pick them any chance you get, and never let the beans get too big. they might bear all summer and fall until the frost.