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Consumer Qs: Sweet honey, sweet life
A sampling of honey varietals from Hidden Springs Farm ( of Williamson, Georgia, being sold at Emory University Farmers Market in Atlanta. - photo by ARTY SCHRONCE/special

    Q: Why are there so many different kinds of honey?
    A: The color, flavor and aroma of a particular honey depend on the flowers from which the honeybee collects nectar. The colors may range from nearly clear to dark brown and the flavor from mild to bold. The aroma may be reminiscent of the flower that provided most of the nectar.
    There are many varieties of honey: as many as 300 in the United States, according to the National Honey Board. They are sometimes referred to as varietals. Varietal honeys may be compared to wines in terms of weather, soil, environment or what foodies call “terroir.” Even the same flower blooming in the same location may produce slightly different nectar from year to year depending upon temperature and rainfall.
    Some dark honeys like tulip poplar are high in minerals and have a strong, heavy flavor. Lighter-colored honeys usually are milder and more delicate in flavor. If you know only clover honey from the Midwest, try a honey produced here in Georgia. Georgia honeybees and beekeepers produce numerous varietals including cotton, thistle, locust, gallberry, sourwood, tupelo and wildflower. (Wildflower honey is the end product of the honeybees collecting nectar from many different kinds of flowers growing wild and in gardens.)
    You can find more information on varietals from the National Honey Board at
    The short answer to your question: Because life is sweet. 

    Q: I bought two almond trees and cut them down before realizing that the seed inside the peach-like fruit was the almond. Are they worth replanting? I don’t know of anyone else growing any.
    A: If you love almonds, love to experiment and have the space, give an almond a try. But don’t count your nuts before they’re shelled. Almonds are not the best nut tree to grow in Georgia. Our climate (especially our humidity, cold temperatures and late freezes) is not ideal for almond production.
    As you probably guessed by looking at the flowers and fruits, almonds are related to peaches. Almonds are attractive bloomers in the spring like peaches are, but they can be prone to some of the same insect pests and diseases, too. Many people find spraying too costly and too much trouble, especially considering the quantity and quality of the almonds.
     "Hall’s Hardy" is a cold-hardy variety that is commonly sold and recommended for our area. However, it has some issues. All the almonds sold under this name are probably not the true variety. Some are quite bitter. Some people report the seeds are difficult to crack. Even the true "Hall’s Hardy" is not supposed to be as sweet as the varieties grown in California and Jordan. Other cold-hardy varieties being sold that may be worth investigating are "All-in-One," "Ne Plus Ultra" and "Non Pariel."   
    If you want a lot of nuts, consider eating readily available Georgia pecans and planting an almond tree for beauty or novelty. If it produces any nuts worth eating, they are the almond icing on the cake. Or you could plant another nut tree that performs well in our area, such as a hickory, butternut or black walnut.
    Q: When will my asparagus sprout? I planted it in the fall. Is asparagus related to Brussels sprouts?
    A: Your asparagus will sprout in the spring. The plants will produce spindly shoots their first year and normally do not produce spears large enough to eat until the third year. Please be patient.
    Although both are green vegetables, asparagus and Brussels sprouts are not related. Brussels sprouts are in the cabbage family along with cabbage, kale, radish, turnip, broccoli, cauliflower, watercress, cress, mustard and the other crucifers. Asparagus is, odd as it may seem from its overall appearance, a member of the lily family and is more closely related to lilies, tulips and hostas than to other garden vegetables.

    If you have questions about services or products regulated by the Georgia Department of Agriculture, write Arty Schronce ( or visit the department’s website at

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