Consumer Q's

Not all tomatoes are red

Consumer Q’s is prepared by the Georgia Department of Agriculture, Gary W. Black, Commissioner.

Q: I saw brown tomatoes for sale at the grocery store. They were not rotting but were brown instead of red. What is going on?

A: All tomatoes are not red. There are tomatoes that are bright orange, yellow, yellowish green, white (ivory) and pink (pinkish red) when ripe. There are even “brown” varieties like the ones you saw. (Actually, they are more of a combination of red and green that gives an overall brownish appearance compared with the familiar red tomato.)

Many of these tomatoes are old varieties, but they are just not as common or familiar as the ubiquitous and uniformly red ones you usually see at supermarkets.

Give some of these different tomatoes a try. You may find them at farmers markets, and they are now showing up in supermarkets, too. You may find you like them as well, or better, than red tomatoes.

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Q: The leaves on my cilantro have gotten thin and threadlike. What is wrong?

A: Nothing is wrong. Your cilantro is going to flower. The leaves change from broad to thin as the plant undergoes this process, which is triggered by hot weather. There is nothing you can do about it but enjoy the lacy white flowers when they appear and collect the seeds. The seeds are called coriander and are used as a spice.

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Q: Someone gave me some perennial heliotrope. It has lavender flowers. What can you tell me about it?

A: It is an attractive, useful, drought-tolerant, easy-to-grow and durable perennial. Its botanical name is Heliotropium amplexicaule, and it goes by the common names of “clasping heliotrope” or “trailing heliotrope.” It is a low-growing plant that produces flowers all summer long. It likes full sun and is a good filler for difficult spaces in your perennial garden or other places in the landscape. In fact, we have even seen it thriving and blooming its little heart out in the sidewalk planting strips where it received no care whatsoever.

Clasping heliotrope was once only available as a pass-along plant, one shared from one gardener to another, but is now being sold in nurseries and garden centers. The variety most frequently offered is called ‘Azure Skies.’

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Q. How can I get rid of gnats (fruit flies) inside my home? All foods and fruits are stored properly.

A. You are correct in making sure foods are covered and properly stored to keep the fruit flies from getting to them. The main way to get rid of the fruit flies is to get rid of what they like or prevent them from getting to it.

Make sure your garbage can is covered tightly. Do not leave food scraps in the house. These insects are especially attracted to ripe and overripe fruits and vegetables. Remove any infested foods. Since some types of flies (including fruit flies) can breed in drains and garbage disposals, make sure they are cleaned and/or covered. Repair window screens and don’t leave doors open for them or other insects to fly in from outdoors.

There are numerous home remedies and traps for fruit flies, but the best advice is to keep them from getting the foods they like and to remove any infested products. If the situation warrants it, you can kill the remaining fruit flies with a pyrethrin-based aerosol or other insecticide labeled for indoor use in controlling fruit flies. 

For more information check out this publication from the University of Georgia: http://apps.caes.uga.edu/urbanag/HOME&GARDEN/indexFS.cfm?storyid=2737 .




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