Jan 2017

The Winter Landscape, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights January 2017. http://acreage.unl.edu/enews-jan-2017#TheWinterLandscape
Evergreens, especially those with variegated leaves like this Euonymus, add interest to the winter landscape. 

The Winter Landscape

By John Fech, Nebraska Extension Educator - Horticulture

At times, winter in Nebraska can be described as well…drab.  The brown lawns and empty flower beds don’t do much to bring much appeal to the landscape.  As such, now is a good time to take a hard look at gardens, windbreaks and borders to see what can be improved upon. 

Following leaf drop, large (and even small to medium-sized) plants that usually comprise the background for foreground specimen plants, groundcovers and annuals become more visible in the winter landscape.  At this point, colorful twigs, evergreen needles, retained fruits and forms with strong silhouettes become the dominant features.  These landscape elements provide structure and rhythm, and though they are less perceptible in the spring and summer months, they can make a big difference between a winter presentation that is magnificent and one that is hum-drum.

Assessing Winter Views
The first step in bringing the winter landscape to life is a perception assessment.  First, look at it from a comfy, prominent viewing point in the house.  Keep in mind that most appreciation of the winter landscape will take place from the indoors looking outside.  One approach is to look at the familiar scene to see if there is a winter focal point with eye appeal.  Possibilities include a piece of sculpture, a set of bird feeders, a grouping of attractive shrubs or a singular specimen tree with special distinction such as exfoliating bark, persistent fruit, colorful stems or a sculptural habit of growth.  If one is lacking, simply make a note of it and plan to incorporate one in the spring.

Adding Winter Interest
Next, consider ways to complement it with other features such as a grouping of low lying evergreens or whispering ornamental grasses that move with the wind and offer cover for songbirds.  A common mistake is to smatter “winter interest plants” all around the landscape in every nook and cranny, creating a diffused and confusing effect.  Identification of a focal point and a few enhancements go a long way in making sure that the view is punctuated and highlighted.

Plants that offer winter appeal in color, form or texture:

  • Red Twig Dogwood – red stems
  • Winterberry Holly – red berries
  • Blue Meserve Holly – green leaves and red berries
  • Oregon Hollygrape – green/mahogany leaves and blue berries  
  • Kentucky Coffeetree – stark, structural growth habit, interesting bark
  • River Birch – exfoliating bark
  • Concolor Fir – blue-green foliage
  • White Pine – green, soft foliage
  • Little Bluestem – reddish stems and seedheads
  • Switch Grass – tall stems with panicled seedheads
  • Whitchhazel – yellow flowers on brown stems`1234
  • Crabapple – yellow or red fruit
  • English Ivy – green broadleaf leaves
  • Wintercreeper Euonymous – small, multi-color evergreen leaves


Be Water Focused, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights January 2017. http://acreage.unl.edu/enews-jan-2017#WaterFocused
Turn irrigation systems off until dry conditions warrant their use. 

Be Water Focused

By Kelly Feehan, Nebraska Extension Educator - Horticulture

As we begin a new year and will soon be thinking about lawns and landscapes, here is a reminder to focus on water. A limited resource we cannot live without. A New Year’s landscape resolution can be to conserve and protect water resources.  

Now is a good time to analyze past growing seasons and make a few simple changes to conserve water in your landscape. For example, when the weather was dry, were there plants that needed more frequent irrigation to prevent them from wilting? Could these be replaced with drought tolerant plants?

Here are more simple changes you can implement in your landscape.

  • Did landscape plants or the lawn appear yellow or spindly despite regular watering? Maybe they were watered too often. Conserve water by checking the soil before watering to make sure the soil is dry and irrigation is actually needed.
  • For homeowners with automatic irrigation systems, is the ‘set it and forget it’ method used? Does the system run even when the soil is moist, or worse yet, during rainfall? Ideally, turn irrigation systems off and only turn them on when irrigation is needed.
  • When watering, does the water soak into soil or run off of the area needing water? Audit the system and check into ways to reduce runoff and increase infiltration into soil. If the soil is compacted, consider core aeration or tillage, if feasible, to improve infiltration.
  • Does irrigation take place during early morning hours? A large percentage of irrigation water is lost to evaporation. This percentage increases if irrigation takes place during the hottest, windiest part of the day. The most efficient time to water is from 4:00 to 10:00 AM.
  • Are landscape plants planted in groups and irrigated apart from lawn irrigation? For example, perennials and shrubs should not be irrigated along with or as often as bluegrass turf. If they are, the ornamentals are likely overwatered. This wastes water and is not healthy for the ornamentals.
  • When planning landscapes, and installing irrigation systems, group plants by water needs. Ideally, use drought tolerant plants whenever possible. Once established, these plants typically survive fine on average rainfall; only requiring irrigation when there is below average rainfall.
  • If drought tolerant plants are used, group them together and avoid planting one or two higher water using plants in the group. Be sure lawn irrigation systems are not hitting these beds. Or consider watering the lawn less frequently.
  • Are landscape beds mulched with an organic mulch like shredded wood? If bare soil is showing, soil moisture is being lost to evaporation. Maintain a two to three inch layer of organic mulch over bare soil.
  • If gravel, white rock or crumb rubber is used as mulch, consider replacing it with organic mulch. The temperature around plants in beds with inorganic mulch is much higher than those with organic mulch. The higher temperatures cause plants to use more water and to lose more through transpiration.

As plans are being made for the upcoming season, consider amending some of the above water wasters. When considering new plants, look for plants listed as drought tolerant. If installing a new landscape bed, find a source of organic matter to add to the soil. Be sure the new bed will not be watered whenever the turf is irrigated.

And consider installing a cistern or rain garden to help make the most of rainfall when it is received.


2017 All-American Selections & Perennial Plant of the Year Announced, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights January 2017. http://acreage.unl.edu/enews-jan-2017#AAS
'Twizzle Purple' Penstemon is one of this year's All-America Selections

2017 All-America Selections and Perennial Plant of the Year Announced

By Nicole Stoner, Nebraska Extension Educator - Horticulture

The winter months are sometimes very difficult for a horticulture enthusiast. There is nothing for us to grow and we can’t go outdoors and do much in our garden beds, so we start to get a bit of cabin fever. However, there is always something to do in January for our gardens because the plant catalogs have begun to arrive. Hooray! We can start planning our gardens for the next season. A great listing of plants to utilize in your garden would include the All American Selections and the Perennial Plant of the Year.

All-America Selections
In 2017, All-America Selections (AAS) celebrates 83 years as "the only non-profit plant trialing organization in North America", according to their website. AAS is unbiased on their plant recommendations because all proceeds go into the trials and promoting AAS winners. Each year the group works with many judges and trial garden sites across the country. These judges are professional horticulturists who volunteer their time to evaluate plants for their growth, flowering or fruiting, and how well they adapt to different environmental conditions. Often times, Universities and public gardens are potential judging sites, which keeps the results impartial.

Selection as an AAS award winner recognizes a flower or vegetable for significant achievements, proven to be superior to all other similar plants on the market. Often AAS winners, such as 'Celebrity' tomato or 'Sensation' Cosmos, become long-term standards in the gardening industry due to their excellent characteristics. The All-America Selection program is a good way to test new cultivars throughout North America and enable gardeners to trust the plants they purchase will perform well in their gardens.

Each year AAS chooses multiple annuals, perennials, and vegetables to be All-America Selections. For 2017, one perennial plant was chosen called 'Twizzle Purple' Penstemon. Penstemon are great plants for any garden; they grow tall and upright, and have flowers similar to snapdragons because they are in the same plant family. 'Twizzle Purple' is a new penstemon with vibrant purple flowers. The judges liked the upright habit of the plant and the overall great flowering performance. This penstemon grows up to 35 inches high and is a great pollinator attracting plant.

2017 All-American Selections & Perennial Plant of the Year Announced, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights January 2017. http://acreage.unl.edu/enews-jan-2017#AAS
Butterfly milkweed, Asclepias tuberosa, is the 2017 Perennial Plant of the Year. 

Perennial Plant of the Year
Another plant program worth watching is the Perennial Plant Association (PPA) Plant of the Year. PPA is a professional horticulture trade organization - made up of growers, retailers, landscapers, educators and others in the herbaceous perennial industry - dedicated to improving the perennial plant industry by providing education to enhance the production, promotion and utilization of perennial plants.  Each year PPA selects and promotes the Perennial Plant of the Year.  Selection of plants is simple; PPA members nominate plants for consideration and then vote for the best plant, usually with three or four plants on the ballot. 

Plants are nominated based on several criteria, such as suitability to a wide range of climatic conditions, multiple seasons of ornamental interest, low maintenance, pest resistance, availability, and ease of propagation. Past winners include ‘David’ phlox, ‘Karl Foerster’ feather reedgrass and ‘Goldsturm’ rudbeckia, all landscape staples due to their great attributes!

This year's winner is another great pollinator plant - butterfly milkweed; chosen as the 2017 Perennial Plant of the year to “celebrate an excellent plant known for its ability to support insects and birds and serve as the primary caterpillar food for a beloved North American native butterfly”. That butterfly would be the Monarch butterfly.

Monarchs have been decreasing in their population over the past few years due to many different factors, but lack of food is one. Milkweed is the primary source of food for Monarch butterflies and that plant is now reduced in our environment due to the way that we garden and the fact that people regard milkweeds as weeds. Planting pollinator plants will help with the populations.

Butterfly milkweed is a native plant with small, bright orange colored flowers that are held in bunches throughout the plant. This is not the common milkweed that most people find to be a weed, although it is another great pollinator plant. Butterfly milkweed is a unique and interesting plant that will attract many pollinators to your garden. It grows 2-3 feet tall and wide. Butterfly milkweed plants are a great addition to any landscape, but especially in a prairie, native grass area, or naturalized planting.


Four Tools for Gardeners, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights January 2017. http://acreage.unl.edu/enews-jan-2017#Tools
A hori-hori or Japanese gardener's knife is a very useful tool in the garden or landscape. Photo by Weston Miller, Oregon State University.  

Four Tools for Gardeners

By Sarah Browning, Nebraska Extension Educator - Horticulture

Good tools make the work in my landscape much easier. I get the majority of my work done with just four tools.

Hori-Hori - Garden or Soil Knife
The tool that is absolutely indispensable to me is a Japanese gardener’s knife or hori-hori. It works better than a trowel or hand rake for digging, planting and weeding. And it’s great for dividing plants and planting bulbs.

It’s a simple tool, basically a blade and handle. One side of the blade is serrated and I use it to cut through perennial roots when I’m dividing plants or cut away the roots of a root-bound plant. The other side of the blade is smooth.

Some garden knives have a notched tip, called a dandelion fork, which is used to pop dandelions out of the ground. However, after trying several models myself, I prefer a knife without the notched tip. I find it gets in the way when I’m digging and gets snagged on roots, bits of mulch or other things in the ground. I prefer a knife with a solid pointed tip.

For a great review of several soil knife models and links where you can purchase them, take a look at The Garden Tool Review by Genevieve Schmidt.

Hand Pruners
For my birthday last year, I bought myself a really high quality pair of bypass hand pruners. They are a thing of beauty with wooden handles and carbon steel blades. I guess it’s official – I’m a garden nerd!

Bypass pruners are much preferred by serious gardeners because they are less damaging to plant stems than anvil-type pruners, which crush the stem as it is cut. 

Four Tools for Gardeners, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights January 2017. http://acreage.unl.edu/enews-jan-2017#Tools
Bypass pruners and loppers cause less damage to plants during pruning and are much preferred by serious gardeners. 

Long-handled Loppers
Hand pruners are best for making small cuts, on stems around ½ inch or less in width. Loppers should be used for medium sized branches ½ to about 1 ½ - 2 inches in width. (For anything larger than 1 ½ - 2 inches in width, you really should be using a handsaw.) Again, bypass loppers are preferred over anvil-types. 

Loppers have a couple great advantages – the long arms make it easier to reach into the center of large plants and they give you better leverage for removing larger branches. Telescoping loppers have adjustable length handles, making them flexible for a variety of pruning jobs. 

My next garden purchase will be ratcheting loppers. These allow you to perform a cut using several compressions of the handles. Each time the ratcheting mechanism maintains its grip as you reposition your hands or get a better grip.

I use two types of shovel in my landscape – a standard round-headed shovel and a straight-blade tile spade. The pointed tip of the round-headed shovel makes it easier to dig into hard soil or dense organic matter (which is common in my zoysia grass lawn), while the straight-bladed tile spade works best for me to edge my landscaping beds. But I’m now looking at new shovel designs to try in my landscape – the Earth Talon and HERshovel.

The head of the Earth Talon shovel looks like a bear’s claw to me. It was awarded the Golden Shovel Award in 2015 by Gardening Products Review, as an outstanding new garden product. It features a two-inch pointed tip meant to focus your efforts and make digging in hard or rocky soil easier. 

Another great alternative, especially to save wear and tear on women’s arms or wrists, is the HERshovel. The head of this shovel is a standard rounded-head, but it has a shorter handle and a large D-shaped grip, which allows gardeners to use both hands at once or any grip that is most comfortable. Check it out on the Gardening Products Review

Reference to commercial products or trade names is made with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by Nebraska Extension is implied. Use of commercial and trade names does not imply approval or constitute endorsement by Nebraska Extension. Nor does it imply discrimination against other similar products.


Checking Your Water System as Part of Your New Year Resolutions

Checking Your Water System as Part of Your New Year Resolutions, Acreage Insights January 2017. http://acreage.unl.edu/enews-jan-2017#CheckingYourWater
Annual testing of private drinking water systems, like this home well, is a good plan to monitor your water quality.

By Meghan Sittler, Nebraska Extension Domestic Water & Wastewater Educator

The new year is a time where we all make goals and a plan of attack for the upcoming 12 months.  We often think of things we will do to improve our health, save money or be more organized in all or part of our daily lives. One way to take steps to be more organized and also protect your and others’ health, as well as the environment, is to get reacquainted with your water system - both your drinking well and your on-site wastewater system - and to establish a testing and maintenance schedule for the upcoming months. 

Testing Your Drinking Water
Unlike municipal or community water systems, there are generally not requirements for regular tests for drinking water quality in private drinking water supplies.  Your water supply may have been tested when your well was dug or when you purchased the property but quality can change through time.  Because of that potential for change, you should set an annual testing schedule for contaminants such as nitrate and total coliform/E.coli.   You also should consider testing for any other specific contaminants such as naturally occurring metals which may have been indicated in prior testing.  

Wastewater System Maintenance
Care and maintenance of your on-site wastewater system is a major component of safeguarding your health, your water supply and the environment.  Regular care and maintenance can also help protect your bank account.  If you have a septic system and your system has not been pumped within at least the last 3 years (systems can vary greatly dependent upon the number of people, system design, and use) you should contact a certified professional to have the tank emptied and system evaluated.  

Site Plan
It is also a great time to make sure you have a copy of your site plan readily available. A site plan shows where your wastewater system, well and other features of your property are located and is key for professionals who assist you with system evaluation and maintenance.  It is also important for you to reference as you make landscaping decisions or changes to features of your property.

For more information on testing, care and maintenance of your water system, visit Water.unl.edu - Treated Water.


Keeping Animals, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights January 2017. http://acreage.unl.edu/enews-jan-2017#KeepingAnimals
Before buying livestock for your acreage, consider these important points. 

Keeping Animals On Acreages - Things to Consider

By Monte Stauffer, Nebraska Extension Educator - Livestock

Raising animals on an acreage can be very rewarding or a nightmare. Some reasons for raising animals or poultry could be to generate some income, produce healthy food for the family, give the kids some chores to develop responsibility, or to reduce the amount of mowing required by grazing livestock.

Following is a list of things to think about before you jump into a livestock enterprise.

  • Why do you want to raise animals?
  • Is the animal you want to raise adaptable to your climate?
  • How do zoning laws affect  you (i.e., Does you county limit the number or kind of animals?)
  • Do you have a market for what you produce?
  • Is there adequate feed available?
  • Do you have a way to dispose of manure?
  • How many animals will your acreage handle?
  • What kind of fences do you have or need?
  • Do you have a good supply of water?
  • Is there a history of soil-borne or other diseases on your acreage?
  • Can you use or remodel existing buildings, or do you need to construct new buildings?
  • Do you have the labor and financial resources to begin a livestock enterprise?


Winter Management Practices for Goats

Winter Management Practices for Goats, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights January 2017. http://acreage.unl.edu/enews-jan-2017#Goats

Frequent scratching may indicate your goats have lice, which needs to be controlled.

By Brett Kreifels, Nebraska Extension Assistant - Livestock

With all animals, winter is a stressful time. We, as livestock owners, can help reduce that stress by providing our animals with the proper care, feeding and management practices to help ensure our animals thrive during the cold winter months. Goats, while hardy in nature, do require specific care during winter to get them through. Here are a few management items to consider when raising a goat herd through the winter.

Goats do not require elaborate housing during the winter months. The single most important issue regarding housing is to block the harsh, cold north wind. With their thick coat of hair, goats survive the winter with minimal housing very well. A structure with the opening facing the south provides protection from the north wind, while allowing the infiltration of the warm southern winds and direct access to the warm sunshine. Make sure there is plenty of clean, dry bedding available and easy access to food and water. Frequently change the water to eliminate ice build-up or provide a heated water source using a tank heater or bubbler to keep the water open and accessible.

Feeding your goats during the winter is not a complicated process. During the winter, more energy is needed to maintain body temperature and there is less of an emphasis on growth and protein needs at this time; unless your goats are pregnant or lactating and require an increase in their nutritional needs. In that case, see the article below on Feeding Does and Ewes During Late Getation for more information.

The addition of corn or oats can help increase the energy content of feed. Make sure to slowly introduce new feed items to your goats, since a sudden change in a ration can cause acidosis or bloat. Both conditions are potentially fatal to your goats if not caught early.

Always provide a source of roughage in the form of grass, brome or other types of hay. Alfalfa is a great course of protein and energy although care should be given to avoid feeding too much to bucks and wethers for fear of urinary calculi formation. Furthermore, always provide a good salt and mineral source and most importantly, an abundant source of water.

Goats should be wormed multiple times a year to guard against stomach and round worms. Worm your goats in November or December, and in the cases of high parasite load, worm again 30 days later to break the lifecycle of the stomach worms and round worms. Using the Faffan Malan Chart (FAMACHA) scoring system will help determine the need to worm. Common wormers approved for goats are Fenbendezole and Morantel. There are many other Extra Label wormers but they need approval by a veterinarian for their use.  

Goat lice and mites are increasingly prevalent during the winter months. Mites and lice are irritating to the goat and in some cases, high infestations can cause anemia, poor coat and skin quality.  There are a number of drenches, pour-ons, and sprays that will help combat these annoying pests. In some cases, your veterinarian may help by administering an injectable de-lousing medication.

Work with your veterinarian to determine which medication best suits the needs of your herd. Common delousing chemicals include: permethrins, pyrethrins, cyflurins, etc. Signs your goat may have lice include, 1) frequent rubbing up against posts or fence, 2) scratching using the horns or teeth and in some cases, 3) dry flaky skin.

Winter Management Practices for Goats, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights January 2017. http://acreage.unl.edu/enews-jan-2017#Goats

Trim the Hooves
Quarterly hoof trimming can go a long way in terms of preventing hoof problems. With the cold, wet conditions of winter, it is paramount to keep the barn dry and regularly trim the hooves to avoid problems such as foot scald or foot rot. By trimming the hooves, you prevent mud from adhering to spaces in or on the hoof.

Foot scald and foot rot are caused by bacteria that infiltrate the hoof. Foot scald and foot rot both cause lameness in animals but fortunately these conditions are treatable.

Foot scald is an inflammation of the skin between the hooves. Often, allowing the goat to step in a pan of zinc sulfate is a common treatment. I have had first-hand experience with foot scald and found a 7% tincture iodine sprayed on the hoof and in between the hoof is an effective treatment. 

Foot rot is an infection of the hoof wall and its treatment is more extensive. Removal of all the diseased tissue is required and antibiotic injections may need to be administered.

Goats who continually develop foot scald or foot rot should be eliminated from the herd.


Feeding Does and Ewes During Late Gestation, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights January 2017. http://acreage.unl.edu/enews-jan-2017#EweGestation
Proper feeding of pregnant does and ewes is critical to good fetal development. 

Feeding Does and Ewes During Late Gestation

By Randy Saner, Nebraska Extension Educator - Livestock

Feeding the doe and ewe the last 6 weeks before kidding and lambing are critical due to approximately 70 - 80% growth by the fetus.  The ewe should gain 10 - 30 lbs. by the time she lambs.  Ewes or does in late pregnancy require 50% more feed if bearing a single and another 5 to 10% more for a twin. Overall, that's 75% more than required during early gestation. During the month prior to kidding and the following 3 months (assuming a weaning at 12 weeks of age), the doe or ewe will eat nearly as much as in the remaining 8 months of the year. 

When feeding a high roughage ration it is advisable to supplement with 1 pound of grain during the last 3-4 weeks of pregnancy.  If they are expecting a large number of twins and triplets, it is often desirable to begin graining ewes and does as early as 6 weeks prior to lambing.

Balancing Rations
When balancing rations for sheep and goats, rations should be balanced for protein, energy, minerals and vitamins. Calcium and phosphorus amounts and ratios (2 Calcium to 1 Phosphorus) should be calculated and supplemented.  Moreover, a trace mineralized salt should also be provided (micro minerals).  A commercial mineral will provide both of these.  Be careful with sheep who are copper sensitive.  They should only be fed a sheep mineral.  There are several good feed balancing programs for sheep and goats on the web; below I have one listed for each species.

Feeding Does and Ewes During Late Gestation, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights January 2017. http://acreage.unl.edu/enews-jan-2017#EweGestation

Water Is Important, Too
Total water intake of ewes or does carrying twins is about 20% greater in third month of pregnancy, 25% greater in the fourth month of pregnancy and 75% greater in the fifth month than for ewes or does carrying a single. 

Feeding of Young Kids and Lambs
Milk production of the doe and ewe begins to decrease after the 6th week of lactation and is quite low by the 12th week. Because of this kids and lambs may be creep fed (fed grain separately using a creep feeder) while nursing to increase growth rate of kids and lambs and reduce demand on the doe or ewe for milk production.  A creep feed should be at least 16% crude protein and may contain a coccidiostat to control coccidiosis.


All About that Spice, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights January 2017. http://acreage.unl.edu/enews-jan-2017#Spice

Add a little extra flavor to your next meal with spices. 

All About That Spice!

By Nicole Busboom, EFNEP Extension Assistant

What are the main factors in determining what we eat? Look and taste of course! Spices provide color and flavors to our food.  Do you like your food spicy, sweet, bitter, nutty, citrus, or savory? There are many different combinations to add flavor to your food.

Make your own spice mixes
Making your own spice mixes helps you limit sodium and other preservatives added to pre-made mixes. You can also use the spices right in your pantry instead of buying a new mix you may not use up!

Here are some common spices, taste and suggested dishes to flavor your meal.

Spice Taste Great for...
Allspice Strong blend of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove, hint peppery German & Caribbean cuisines, cakes, cookies, stew, lamb, fruit pies and pickles
Cardamom Warm, spicy and sweet Scandinavian and Indian Cuisine, Chai Tea
Cayenne Hot, Smoky Mexican and Southwestern cuisines, chili, eggs, fish and vegetables.
Cinnamon Sweet, hot Mexican and Greek cuisines, grilled fruit, curries, cakes and oatmeal
Clove Aromatic, sweet Caribbean and Indian cuisines, pineapple, meats, soups, pork, mulled wine and chutneys
Cumin Earthy, warm, nutty Mexican and Asian cuisines, beans, stews, soups, tacos, and sauces
Ginger Spicy, sweet, slight citrus flavor Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern cuisines, marinades, squash, desserts, oats, hot tea, gingerbread, pickled ginger
Nutmeg Warm, sweet, nutty, spicy Cakes, sauces, spinach, cookies, milk or cream-based dishes like custards or puddings, eggnog
Turmeric Earthy, slightly bitter Indian and Moroccan cuisines, poultry, lamb, curries, stews, rice dishes

Tasty Tips
If you are just starting to use spices, add a little at a time; you can always add spice, but it’s difficult to remove it. When adding spices to your meal, add them near the start of cooking so they have time to soften and release their delicious favors.  Flavor intensity is reduced in cold dishes, therefore more spices may need to be used when preparing them.

So the next time you are looking to add a little ‘flavor’ to your meal try a new spice in your food.

All About that Spice, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights January 2017. http://acreage.unl.edu/enews-jan-2017#Spice

Spicy Apple-Filled Squash 

Spicy Apple-Filled Squash

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 1hr 15mins
  • Difficulty: easy


  • 1 acorn squash (about 1 pound)
  • 1 Golden Delicious apple, peeled, cored, and sliced
  • 2 tsp. melted butter or margarine
  • 2 tsp. brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg


  • Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Grease a 1-quart baking dish. Halve squash and remove seeds; cut into quarters.
  • Place quarters, skin side up, in baking dish and cover; bake 30 minutes.
  • In a medium bowl, combine butter or margarine, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir until mixed. Add sliced apples and stir until coated.
  • Turn cut sides of acorn squash up; top with apple mixture. Cover and bake 30 minutes longer or until apples are tender.


Recipe credit: fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org. This post was reviewed by Morgan Hartline MS, RD, LMNT, Extension Educator. Photos by Morgan Hartline. 


Do You Really Have the Flu?

By Susan Harris-Broomfield, Nebraska Extension Educator - Rural Health, Wellness & Safety

Do You Really Have the Flu?, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights January 2017. http://acreage.unl.edu/enews-jan-2017#Flu

We hear it often – “I had the flu and I was in the bathroom all day!”  But is that really the flu?  Probably not.

Myth #1:  Having the flu means you are sick to your stomach, vomiting, and experiencing diarrhea.

Truth:  Many people tend to label stomach or intestinal issues as “the flu”, when really the flu is a respiratory disease, meaning it is in your lungs.  Symptoms include fever, chills, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, cough, muscle aches, headache, and extreme tiredness.  A few individuals, mostly children, might experience vomiting and diarrhea, but most people will not.

How do you know your illness isn’t just a bad cold?  The difference between the flu and a cold is that the flu hits you suddenly and forces you to alter your normal life.  It might have you so tired and achy that you won’t even want to get out of bed.  With a typical cold, life goes on with the inconvenience of cold symptoms.

Influenza (the flu) is a serious illness.  It is responsible for billions of dollars in medical costs and thousands of deaths each year in the United States, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.  It is not something to take lightly.  If you can take precautions to avoid it, why not do so?

Myth #2:  The flu shot can make you sick with the flu.

Truth:  The flu vaccine cannot cause you to be sick with the flu.  Rarely, what can happen to some people is mild side effects like soreness from the shot, low-grade fever, muscle aches, or nausea that all go away within a few days.  This is not because the shot gave you the flu, but could be caused by a variety of reasons like being exposed to the flu virus before or during the two-week period it takes the body to gain protection, being exposed to another flu-like illness that a flu vaccine does not protect against, or you may be one of the unlucky few whose body does not respond to a flu vaccine.  While the vaccine is not a sure bet you won’t get the flu, it can reduce your risk.

Those with an allergy to eggs will experience more potentially serious side effects and should consult a physician before getting a vaccine.  There are several different flu vaccines available to people of various ages and conditions.  It is best to ask your doctor which is right for you or your child. 

Viruses in the shot’s vaccine are killed or a particle is designed to look like a flu virus to your immune system.  In the case of a nasal spray vaccine, the virus is weakened or changed in a way that cannot cause infection.  If you are wondering how a dead or fake virus can possibly protect you, imagine it as a disguise to gain entrance to a place you are not allowed to be, like soldiers dressing in enemy uniforms to enter enemy territory.  Once the enemy realizes they are there, they begin to protect themselves by fighting back.  When the body “sees” the enemy viruses in its system, it begins to form antibodies in a couple weeks.  Later, if those same viruses enter the body in live form, the body has already built a defense system to kill them on site.

Myth #3:  Going outside in the cold and getting chilled can give you a cold or the flu.

Truth:  The actual reason more colds and flu happen during winter is that people stay inside.  As people are in closer proximity to each other, there are more chances of viruses spreading.  The flu virus is mainly spread through droplets from coughs and sneezes, not from cold weather.  The best ways to avoid getting the flu are to avoid those with the flu, get a flu vaccine, and wash your hands often, not touching your face with your hands until they are washed.  If you do get the flu, there are antiviral drugs your doctor can prescribe to help lessen symptoms, if given within a day or two of the onset of symptoms.  However, it seems like a lot less hassle to just get the vaccine!  In many cases, it is free – paid by your insurance provider. 

Contact your local health department, clinic, hospital, or visit www.cdc.gov for more information.


2017 Tree Care Workshops, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights January 2017. http://acreage.unl.edu/enews-jan-2017#TreeCareWorkshops

2017 Tree Care Workshops - Save the Date!

You already know that trees are great. Landscape your home with one here, build a sweet tree house for the kiddos there. When you think about it, there isn't much trees can't do for us.

What you may not know is that the numb er of trees in the Arbor Day State is steadily declining. Across Nebraska, for every four trees that we have removed, only one was replanted.

Develop specifically for public works employees, landscape managers, tree board volunteers, arborists, nursery and green industry professionals and landscape enthusiasts, these workshops comver emerging issues in tree and landscape care.

  • February 29, Knight Museum, Alliance
  • March 1, West Central Research and Extension Center, North Platte
  • March 2, Lower Loup NRD Office, Ord
  • March 3, Harmon Park Activity Center, Kearney
  • March 7, UNL Agricultural Research Development Center, Mead
  • March 21, Lifelong Learning Center, Norfolk

Cost is $45.00 per person, lunch included. Workshops are eligible for commercial arborist CEUs.

For more information, contact Graham Herbst, (402) 444-7875, or Amy Seiler, (308) 633-1173. Or send us an email for more information.

The Tree Care Workshops are a partnership between the Nebraska Forest Service and the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum.