Q: Is Patriots’ Day only a New England tradition?

A: Unless you reside in Maine or Massachusetts, you have probably not heard of Patriots’ Day. This holiday commemorates the citizens of New England who fought for freedom during the Revolutionary War. April 19 is the actual date of Patriots’ Day; however, it is observed on the third Monday of April every year.

Q: What kind of vegetables can I grow in containers on my balcony?

A: As long as you have a sunny balcony with at least six hours of sun a day, you should be able to grow a nice crop of vegetables. If your balcony gets only four hours of sun you can still grow some nice leafy or root vegetables. Two things you must have in order to garden in containers is good drainage and good soil in the pots. Use a commercial garden soil rather than regular garden soil to fill your containers.

Choose pots large enough to accommodate the root mass of the plants you intend to grow. To keep mature plants from toppling over, a pot should be about 1/3 as deep as a plant is high. Lettuce, beans, peppers, spinach and broccoli are good choices for growing in containers. Tomatoes and some squashes also grow well.

Remember that container gardens are very dependent on you to keep them watered. They dry out quicker than regular gardens, so you should plan to water daily in hot weather.

Q: Can a lobster’s big claw be on either its left or its right?

A: Yes, some lobsters are “right-handed,” while others are “left-handed,” meaning that the large crusher claw can be found on either the right or left side. If a lobster loses a claw or an eye, it is able to grow a replacement, although the new one is usually smaller.

Q: What is the Grange?

A: The Grange is an advocacy organization for all rural Americans, not just farmers. Founded in 1867 by Oliver Kelley, an employee of the then newly created Department of Agriculture, and with the aid of William Saunders, Aaron B. Grosh, William M. Ireland, John R. Thompson, Francis McDowell and John Trimble, it was to be an organization composed of farmers from all over the country. Its mission was to help heal the scars caused by the Civil War, and to improve the farmers’ economic and social positions.

Today, the Grange is still a champion of farmers’ rights, but it is also a surprising combination of social, civic, bipartisan political and educational activities. Besides addressing farm-specific issues, the Grange works on ways to improve rural education, healthcare and the deregulation of utilities. This organization also serves as a vehicle for those who want to give back to the community. Activities vary from town to town, but local Granges often adopt roads, clean parks, build bus shelters, visit the elderly, and help disadvantaged children.

Q: How do you measure the height of a wave?

A: A wave is measured from its lowest part, called the trough, to its highest, called the crest. Scientists use special instruments, but the general observer can measure by fixing his or her eye on something stationary, like a sea wall or the side of a ship, and estimating.

Q: Do you have any suggestions on ways to keep ants out of a house?

A: Ant invasions frequently occur when the weather changes, sending the critters in search of food, water or shelter. Ants often build their nests next to or under buildings. To keep ants from invading your home, try some of the following: Caulk cracks around foundations and in the kitchen with a silicone sealant; store sweet foods in clean, tightly closed, ant-proof containers; prevent tree branches from touching your house and allowing ants to crawl into it; repair leaking faucets and pipes, as water attracts thirsty ants; rinse recyclables; and keep garbage outside.

If you have a question for the Farmers’ Almanac write to Farmers’ Almanac, P.O. Box 1609, Lewiston, ME 04241 or e-mail: [email protected]

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