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Consumer Qs with Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black
Gary Black web
Gary Black - Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture

      Q: We are landscaping our church. We would like to include some palms so that we will have palm fronds to use in our Palm Sunday service. Are there any palms that can be grown outside in north Georgia?

      A: There are several palms that are winter hardy in much of Georgia. They make beautiful additions to your home or church landscape all year, not just on Palm Sunday. It is also becoming easier to find these hardy palms at nurseries and garden centers.

      Here are some of the best palms to consider: Needle palm (Rhapidophyllum hystrix) is the most cold-hardy palm in the world. It is reportedly hardy to minus 20 degrees F. It would be your best choice if you are in the Georgia mountains. Other hardy palms include windmill palm (Trachycarpus fortunei), dwarf palmetto (Sabal minor) and saw palmetto (Serenoa repens). The windmill palm is the hardiest of all the trunked (grows into a tree) palms. The cabbage palmetto (Sabal palmetto) is another trunked palm that can be quite hardy when established. The other palms mentioned here are shrub palms.

      If you are looking to supply every parishioner with a palm frond to wave during the service, you may want to also consider a few other options since some of these palms have fronds too large to wave indoors in a crowded sanctuary, and for the health of the plant you do not want to cut all the fronds off at one time. Also try growing some houseplant palms such as the lady palm, areca palm or sago palm. (Sago palm is not a true palm but looks like a palm.) These have smaller fronds and could be grown in a sunny room at church or by members of the congregation at their homes. Parishioners can also grow hardy palms in their gardens. On Palm Sunday everyone can bring in a few fronds for themselves and to share with others.

      There are also hardy ferns and houseplant ferns such as sword fern and Boston fern whose fronds can substitute for those of palms. Don't be shy about using them or branches of some other plants as well. Churchgoers outside the "palm zone" have used willows and other branches to commemorate Palm Sunday for hundreds of years without experiencing any loss of joy or faith because they were unable to secure leaves of an actual palm. A horticulturist at your local garden center or nursery can help you with your selections.

      Q: What are banty eggs?

      A: Banty eggs are the eggs of bantam chickens a.k.a. "banty" chickens. A bantam is a small variety of poultry, especially chickens. Bantam breeds are much smaller than standard breeds. A banty egg is small; it takes about three banty eggs to equal one regular chicken egg.

      Q: Can corned beef be frozen?

      A: Drained and well wrapped, an uncooked corned beef brisket may be frozen for one month for best quality. The flavor and texture will diminish with prolonged freezing, but the product is still safe. After cooking, corned beef may be refrigerated for about three to four days and frozen for about two to three months.

      If you have questions about services or products regulated by the Georgia Department of Agriculture, visit our website at www.agr.georgia.gov or e-mail us at info@agr.georgia.gov. To learn more about agricultural issues, get garden tips and find sources for flowers, livestock and other agricultural products, consider a subscription to The Farmers and Consumers Market Bulletin. Subscriptions for Georgia residents are $10 per year. To start a subscription, send a check or money order payable to Market Bulletin at the address above.

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