Ask Farmer Jason Summer 2015

Question: Are honeybees made of honey?

-Brian, age 7, Cookeville, Tennessee

Farmer Jason: That is a great question. Honeybees are not made of honey but they do make honey. They fly around from flower to flower and collect a liquid from the flower called nectar. From this they make the honey, which they use as a food.

Question: What is a root?

-Karsen, age 5, Nashville, Tennessee

Farmer Jason: A plantâ€TMs root is sort of like our feet; it connects the plant to the earth like our feet connect us to the ground. With plants though, roots are even more important than our feet. Plants get their food and water from the ground. Their roots are like our mouths! The roots absorb this food and feed it to the plant. In your garden, these plants will then produce fruits or vegetables made from that plant food.

Question: Why do cows say moo?

-Andrew, age 4, Raleigh, North Carolina

Farmer Jason: Cows say moo for the same reasons that we talk to each other. While they donâ€TMt have a language like we do, by mooing they can tell other cows or their farmer friend how they are feeling. Some cows moo to get attention or let other cows know they are lonesome. Other cows might moo to say that they are upset about something, like flies being pesky, or that they are out of water. Mommy cows will often moo to call their children (calves) back home from playing to eat dinner, which is their mommyâ€TMs milk.

TIP THE FARMER (Useful gardening tips for busy parents)

It is so important in the heat of the summer to keep those weeds pulled. Weeds rob precious water from your plants, and eat up the soilâ€TMs nutrients. Even when your garden has sections not in cultivation, pull the weeds or bury them in mulch. Weeds can quickly destroy the fertility of your soil, much more than people realize. They also harbor insect pests and plant diseases.

If you grow tomatoes, you probably have noticed that after the first wave of fruit, the production drops off in quality and quantity very dramatically. There are several things you can do to change this trend. First, keep that plant watered in the summer heat, every other day if possible. Also, donâ€TMt ever let the fruit hang and rot on the vine. That sends a signal to the plant that it has done its job. If you keep the fruit picked, it will “think” it needs to keep producing. Another great way to keep fresh tomatoes happening all season long is this: If your plant is an indeterminate variety, clip off a long branch early in the summer and simply stick it in the ground with good potting soil or compost around it. Water it every day and shade it during hot spells. As often as not, that branch will root and form a new plant and start producing fruit about the time the original plant starts to give out. It is a great way to get fall tomatoes, and the plant is 100% free!