Georgia Department of agriculture answers consumer questions

Published 10:36 am Wednesday, April 19, 2017


Q: I heard on the radio about a peanut that was thought to be extinct but was rediscovered. Can you tell me about it?
A: You are probably referring to the Carolina African runner peanut. It was brought to America in the 1600s by slaves and was thought to be extinct. A few were discovered in the seed archives of North Carolina State University by Dr. David Shields, food historian and author of Southern Provisions. The seed may have been saved as part of a breeding survey in the 1930s. Perhaps you heard about the peanut on NPR’s “The Salt.” The peanut is described as smaller, denser and oilier than other peanuts.
The Carolina African runner peanut is now available for gardeners to try. Growing it could be an interesting history project for schools. These two seed catalogs carry it in limited quantities:
Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, P.O. Box 460, Mineral VA 23117. Phone: 540-894-9480 (
Sow True Seed, 146 Church St., Asheville NC 28801. Phone: 828-254-0708 (

Q: Have you ever seen a ripe tomato that has been on the counter for more than a month and a half, has no dark spots, is firm but has sprouts coming to and through the skin? No one seems to have ever seen this before. Can I plant it whole or what? Friends call it weird and alien. Help!
A: The tomato you describe may look like something out of the movie “Alien,” but you can put your friends’ minds at ease! What you are seeing looks strange and is unusual, but it does happen. Usually the gel around the tomato seeds inhibits germination, but sometimes it doesn’t, especially after a long period in storage.
If you see a few seeds sprouting inside a tomato, you can scrape them out and eat the rest of the tomato. Your tomato sounds too far gone to salvage for eating and should be discarded or added to compost pile. You can gently tease the seedlings apart and plant them if you are curious, but we don’t recommend it. This internal sprouting is looked at as an undesirable trait, and it is one that is more likely to appear in a tomato that has been bred for increased shelf-life and for the ability to withstand shipping. These are also probably not traits you really want in a tomato you grow yourself. If you did grow a long-storing tomato variety in your garden, you’d want to collect the seeds at the height of the tomato’s ripeness before there was any internal sprouting and sow them in a seed-starting mixture. You would probably have a better survival rate doing it that way.

Q: Can I go ahead and plant summer flowers and vegetables now (Feb. 27 – Atlanta)? I don’t think we are going to have any more cold. I have the week off, and I am ready and itching to go ahead.
A: It is easier to predict your schedule and your moods than it is to predict the schedule and moods of Mother Nature. It’s still early but if you want to chance it, go ahead. If what you plant gets killed, there will be more you can buy to replace them with.

Q: When will Vidalia® onions be available?
A: Consumers will be able to get the sweet taste of Vidalia® onions a little earlier this year as a result of Georgia’s mild winter. The official pack date is April 12. They will be available in grocery stores and farmers markets after that date.

Q: What is the silver-leaved plant I see planted with pansies? The leaves are velvety.
A: You are probably seeing dusty miller. While we are not likely to encounter a flour-coated miller today the way our ancestors did, you can understand how the plant got its name if you ever tried to bake a cake with the assistance of your three-year-old.
Dusty miller is an annual that shows a good deal of cold hardiness and may sometimes be planted with violas, pansies and other winter annuals. It may live several years if winters are mild.
It is also planted in the spring. Its silver leaves can make the colors of the flowers near it stand out even more. Dusty miller’s own flowers are gold and are attractive, but the plant is grown for its foliage which shines brighter than its flowers. Branches and leaves of dusty miller are even used in flower arrangements and wedding bouquets.
There are several kinds of dusty miller. They vary in leaf shape with some having lacy leaves and others having leaves like silver kale. All prefer full sun.
Q. Why are foods recalled just because an ingredient is not listed on the label?
A. Food manufacturers must list the ingredients on the product label. People need to know what is in the foods they consume. Some ingredients such as shellfish, nuts, peanuts, eggs, milk, soy and wheat can cause allergic reactions in some people. These reactions can be severe and even fatal.
If you have questions about agriculture, horticulture, food safety or services or products regulated by the Georgia Department of Agriculture, write Arty Schronce ( or visit the department’s website at