Life Outside the City Limits
- November is American Diabetes Month
- Horticulture Blessings and Fall To Do Tips
- Trees From Seeds Are An Option
- Winterizer Lawn Fertilizer
- Where Do Insects Go For Winter?
- Preventing Firewood Insects in Your Home
- Explore Farming Class & Growing Farmers Winter Workshops
- Conservation Buffers
- Water Conservation in the Rural Home
- Preparing for Winter Storm Emergencies
November is American Diabetes Month
By Lisa Franzen-Castle, Extension Nutrition Specialist
Did you know that every 20 seconds, someone is diagnosed with diabetes? That is more than 4,300 friends, neighbors, co-workers, and family members a day. November is American Diabetes Month® and there are many ways to help prevent or delay type 2 diabetes, such as eating healthy, being physically active, quitting smoking, and maintaining a healthy weight. Check out the following tips to help you be healthier this November and form healthy habits for life.
Tips on How to Live Healthier:
- Eating Healthier: Did you know eating healthy is a great way to lower your risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease? Start building a healthier plate by eating more vegetables, fruits, leaner meats, whole grains, and low-fat dairy. Check out MyPyramid.gov to help you focus on the foods you need to eat more of. MyPyramid offers personalized eating plans and interactive tools to help you plan and assess your food choices.
- Shop Smarter: Shopping smarter is one way to eat healthier. Stock up on healthy basics such as brown rice and whole grain pasta. Stick to your grocery list and avoid aisles with high calorie foods including cookies, chips, and sodas. Never shop when you are hungry, this will increase the temptation to buy unhealthy foods.
- Being Active: Physical activity can help lower your risk for pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. It is never too late to be physically active. Find others who are trying to be active, join a group for exercise or support or find a walking buddy, and work together to reach your goals. Aim for 30 minutes on most days.
- Quit Smoking: It is no secret smoking is bad for you; it hurts your lungs and heart, lowers the oxygen your organs get, and raises bad cholesterol and blood pressure. If you do not smoke make a plan to never start and if you do smoke, challenge yourself to quit. Within a few years of quitting your risk of stroke and coronary artery disease are similar to non-smokers. Visit smokefree.gov for a step by step quit guide, tools to help you quit, and other information and resources related to quitting.
- Maintaining a Healthy Weight: Being overweight raises your risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. You do not have to lose a lot of weight. Even 10-15 pounds can make a difference. People that have lost weight and kept it off are physically active most days of the week, eat breakfast, and journal about their food and activity habits.
Nine percent of Nebraskans have been diagnosed with diabetes (type I, type II and pre-diabetes) and increasing medical costs are a concern for all of us. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost 11 million people in the US have elevated blood sugar levels and are undiagnosed with diabetes. This November make your health a priority and take steps to making healthy habits for life.
For diabetes information and resources check out UNL Extension Control Diabetes for Life at food.unl.edu/fnh/controldiabetesforlife. Recordings and printed materials from previous sessions on various topics related to diabetes are available on the site.
November and hot apple cider time! This month we look at winterizing yard equipment, extending vegetable storage, 10 things to do with pumpkins, and planning projects for spring.
November is a great time to think about vegetable storage, so you can use that great produce from the past growing season. Master Gardeners Bob and Amy, and Kathleen Cue of UNL Extension, tell us how.
With cold weather slowing down plant activities, start thinking about planning those structural projects, such as retaining walls. You might have time for some hardscaping using recycled materials before the ground freezes!
Horticultural Blessings and Fall To Do Tips
By Kelly Feehan, UNL Extension Educator
During this month of Thanksgiving as we pause to give thanks for our blessings, here are a few yard and garden blessings to be thankful for too; and few reminders of fall tasks.
Blessing of Fall Rain
We can be thankful for fall rains. Plants going into winter with adequate moisture, especially evergreens, are less likely to become dry during winter. Winter dessication is one of the most common causes of winter injury to plants.
If rainfall missed your acreage, water evergreens and young plants so the soil and plant tissues are moist going into winter. This will reduce browning or even death of evergreens next spring.
Blessing of Warm Fall Weather
We can be thankful for warm fall weather. It allowed us to enjoy blooming plants longer and gave us the opportunity to clean up yards and gardens and prepare them for winter. If you haven't practiced fall sanitation yet, take time to do so to help reduce overwintering pests.
Many flowers bloomed late into the season this year and Chrysanthemums had time to reach their peak before a hard frost killed the blossoms and foliage. That is always appreciated. Once mums stop blooming, protect them for winter by cutting stems close to the ground and placing six inches of coarse mulch over the plants in late November.
Our warm fall allowed late blooming ornamental grasses to produce and mature flower plumes which we can now enjoy all winter. Birds will also appreciate feasting on the grass seed and their twittering of delight will brighten winter days.
Now is a good time to take notes about landscape plant performance. If a plant is not performing as expected, make note of that and have some fun this winter looking for a new plant to replace it.
Warm fall days provided sunny days for raking lawns to remove leaves. The removal of leaves prevents suffocation of turfgrass during winter and decreases the risk of snow mold disease.
Blessing of Fall Leaves
Tree leaves are a good source of carbon material for compost piles. If you do not have a compost pile, it is okay to mow tree leaves into the turf. Mow often and use a mulching mower to shred leaves for a free source of soil organic matter.
While it may be a stretch to give thanks for anything related to Asian lady beetles (ALBs) invading homes, there are three things we can be thankful for. Asian lady beetle bites are harmless, they won't damage our homes, and they do feed on harmful soybean aphids.
Looking for the silver lining reminds us to choose to have a good attitude. We can gripe about the negative aspects of things or look for the positive side of things. This can be true with many plants and landscapes.
To quote Abraham Lincoln, "we can complain that rose bushes have thorns or rejoice that thorn bushes have roses". By the way, late November is the time to protect rose bushes for winter.
Happy Thanksgiving! Take time to count your garden blessings too.
Ohio Buckeye, Aesculus glabra, should be collected as soon as the leathery pods open, and planted in fall
|With autumn foliage reaching its peak display of color, many homeowners and acreage owners may be thinking about adding a few trees to their landscapes. Collecting and germinating seeds can be an inexpensive and fun way to start trees. And it's easier than it might appear.
There are several tree species that reliably germinate, transplant fairly well in small sizes and are well-suited to Nebraska's climate. Some easy-to-grow species that are recommended by ReTree Nebraska include concolor fir, Kentucky coffeetree, northern catalpa, baldcypress and bur, chinkapin and English oak.
Sources for seed can be found all around, but the best sources are healthy-looking, mature trees that have seen - and survived - harsh Nebraska winters and scorching summers. There will assuredly be high-quality genes in those seeds.
In most cases, it's fine to collect seed from public parks and arboretums, but it's always a good idea to ask permission first. A good place to start is the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum, with over 90 affiliate sites across Nebraska listed at arboretum.unl.edu under "Affiliate Gardens."
What makes a good seed? There are many factors, but the most important are maturity and seed health. In general, a seed that easily separates from the tree is mature. Many nut trees in this area are ready in early October. Freshly fallen seeds may be OK to use, but watch out for immature (unfilled) or insect-eaten seeds and for signs of damage such as cracked hulls, weevil holes, soft spots or discoloration. A great way to test large seeds is to dump collected seeds into a bucket of water, wait a few minutes and then discard any floaters. The heavy seeds that sink to the bottom are most likely the healthiest. This works great for most acorns, buckeyes, pecans, hickories, magnolias, tuliptrees and Kentucky coffeetree.
Fleshy seeds, like black walnut, wild plum, dogwood and baldcypress, should be cleaned before planting or storage. Leaving the fruit to soften for several days after collecting will speed the process. An effective but messy method is to soak the fruit in a bucket for a week, then separate the pulpy mess from the hard seeds and rinse several times. Taken from experience, this is work best done outdoors! A note: black walnut pulp has a tendency to stain clothes, hands, tools and anything else it contacts a yellowish brown color, so take care when processing walnuts.
Once seeds have been collected and sorted, they must be stored properly. Some may tolerate long-term storage, but others must be planted right away and not allowed to dry out. When in doubt, consider Mother Nature. If a tree drops its seeds in fall, the seed will likely need a cold, moist treatment (called "stratification") of three or four months in order to germinate; in other words, it mimics a normal winter spent in the leaf litter and soil beneath a tree. Seeds that drop from a tree in spring will probably germinate right away. If intuition fails, another great source for information on treatment of seeds from many species is Michael Dirr's "Manual of Woody Landscape Plants," available at many public libraries.
When planting seeds, a good rule of thumb to follow is that the seed should be planted about twice as deep as the seed is thick. In other words, a half-inch acorn should be planted about an inch or so deep. After planting, it helps to lay chicken wire over the top to prevent squirrels and other hungry creatures from digging up and eating your future tree.
A handy method of getting stubborn seeds to germinate is to use an outdoor seed bunker - a wooden frame with hardware cloth on the bottom, filled with about 6 inches of soil and raised up from the ground on cinder blocks or legs to "air prune" the seedlings so they don't root into the soil beneath the bunker. As seedlings emerge over the next year or two, they can be transplanted to their final location.
Keep in mind that most plants transplant better when they are small and dormant. The more the roots are disturbed, the more "transplant shock" the tree will have. An obvious way to avoid this problem is to plant the seed in its final location - right in the ground. Many fine woodlots have been planted with nothing more than a dibbling stick (for making holes) and a sack of acorns (for making trees). Even if the goal is to plant just one tree, it's sure easier to dig a hole for an acorn than it is to dig a properly-sized hole for a balled-and-burlapped nursery tree!
After the seed has been gathered and germinated, and the seedling transplanted, mulched and watered, one more important step remains - protection from critters. Rabbits, deer and even squirrels can cause damage to buds, stems and bark of trees of all sizes, but small trees are especially susceptible. A cage that surrounds the tree - even over the top for smaller seedlings - is crucial to limit damage by hungry nibblers. Trunk protectors can stave off rabbits, but be careful to allow air circulation around the stem to prevent insects and fungi from wreaking havoc.
Many folks are put off by the notion of starting their own trees from seed, thinking that it will take generations to see a shade tree grow from a tiny nut. On the contrary, these trees may well catch up with and overtake trees that were put in by a tree spade; so don't wait for tomorrow - plant some seeds today!
Where Do Insects Go For Winter?
By Kelly Feehan, Extension Educator
The end of the growing season signals the end of the battle with insect pests in vegetable gardens. But the end of a battle is not the end of the war and new battles will be fought next season.
Where do all those insects retreat to for winter? Some are snowbirds and head south for the winter. Others overwinter in the garden, while some spend the winter in nearby cracks and crevices of structures and on weeds.
The snowbirds include armyworm, corn earworm (also known as tomato fruitworm) and striped and spotted cucumber beetles. Since these insects do not overwinter in the garden, sanitation is not considered a control method for these insects.
However, many insects do overwinter in the garden and cleaning up and destroying plant debris can reduce their numbers. Reducing the population of insect pests limits the amount of damage they cause and provides more control options.
Insects that overwinter on plant debris in the garden include cabbageworm, cabbage loopers, and squash bugs. The cabbage caterpillars overwinter as pupae inside cocoons attached to plant debris, usually the host plant. Squash bugs spend the winter as adults hiding in plant debris.
Insects that overwinter in the soil are the adults of Colorado potato beetles, the eggs of grasshoppers, and the pupae of squash vine borers and onion maggots. Fall tillage of soil reduces these insects by exposing the insects to colder temperatures. Removing plant debris removes an insulating layer that also protects insects from extreme temperatures.
Bean leaf beetles spend the winter as adults in nearby sheltered areas, preferring to spend the winter in the plant litter of windbreaks and woodlands.
Some insects spend the winter on weeds near the garden. Fall sanitation not only includes cleaning up or tilling under vegetable debris in the garden, but control of nearby weeds as well.
When cleaning up plant debris, can it be added to the compost pile? The general recommendation is to not add insect infested plants, diseased plant debris, or weed seeds to home compost piles.
Most plant diseases and weed seeds, as well as some insects, are destroyed during composting when temperatures in the pile center reach 140° to 150°F. However, in many home compost piles, it is difficult to mix materials thoroughly enough to bring all waste to the center where it will be exposed to these temperatures.
Finally, it is often asked if insecticides applied to bare soil in fall will kill overwintering insects. The answer is not very often, if at all. Overwintering insects are often in the pupae or egg stage where they are protected from insecticides. Applying insecticides to soil to try and control overwintering insects is not a responsible or effective use of a pesticide.
Winterizer Lawn Fertilizer
By John Fech, UNL Extension Educator
Put your lawn to bed for the winter with an application of fertilizer. This is the primo time of year to fertilize, because all factors are working in your favor. The lawn is not growing vertically now, which means that the applied fertilizer will be used by other plant parts, not the shoots and leaves. The majority of the value of the application will benefit the root system, which will continue to grow until Thanksgiving, in most years. This is great, 'cause the bigger the root system, the better. The balance of the application will be stored in the crown and rhizomes of turf plants, and utilized next spring for growth.
What should you look for in a winterizer product? The type of nitrogen and the ratio of nutrients are the keys. Start by looking on the back of the bag. The type of nitrogen will be indicated, such as sulfur coated urea, methylene urea or IBDU. At least half of the product should be slow release nitrogen. Then, look on the front of the bag.
The fescue turfgrass in the foreground was fertilized in fall and used stored carbohydrates to green up earlier in spring.
There will be 3 numbers in order, with dashes between them. Typical spring or summer formulations will be in the ratio of 4-1-0 or 5-1-1, with typical numbers of 25-3-3 or 24-2-6. These products are mostly nitrogen, which is fine, as that is what is primarily needed in spring and summer.
In winter, look for a ratio of 1-0-1 or 1 - 0 - 0.5, with typical numbers of 21-0-20 or 19-2-13. This will provide an equal (or at least higher than normal) amount of potassium along with the nitrogen. Studies at several leading land grant Universities have revealed that potassium aids the turf in tolerating stress. In winter we have stress and in summer we have stress. Stress in winter is due to cold winds and low temperatures that dry out crowns and thin turf stands. Stress in summer is due to excessive heat and the drying of the root system.
So, load it up with winterizer. This is so important, that if you only fertilize your lawn once this year, make sure you do it in early November. Your lawn will thank you, and you'll love the look of it in the spring.
Explore Farming Class & Growing Farmers Winter Workshops
By Warren Kittler, Community CROPS
Did your garden do well this year, and you are thinking about selling at the farmer's market next year? Do you have dreams of self-sufficiency and living off the land? Are you a budding entrepreneur?
If any of these apply to you, come to the FREE Explore Farming Class at UNL Extension office in Lancaster County on Saturday, December 3, 2011 at 10 AM. This two hour seminar will help you think through the resources, skills, and time you will need to launch a successful farm. Local farmers and participants in the Growing Farmers Training Program will be on hand to answer questions. Information about and applications for the Winter Workshop Series (see below) will also be available.
Participants should register in advance to reserve a spot. To register, send your name and phone number to email@example.com or call Warren at (402) 474-9802.
"We were able to get our ideas off the ground by attending the classes, and it helped us put steps in motion to save the family farm," said one participant from the 2010 workshops.
Growing Farmers Winter Workshop
Do you have a Small Farm Dream? The Growing Farmers workshops will help you learn the planning and production skills you need to start a market farm business. Learn from experienced growers, extension educators and business experts.
Classes are held Saturdays 9am-4pm, and begin in late January each year and run through mid-April. To see what is covered during the Series, view the 2011 Syllabus. The cost in 2011 was $300/person.
The 2011 Series is complete, but you can join the list for 2012 by calling Warren at 402-474-9802.
Scholarships: Families with limited resources can apply for a scholarship to cover most of the cost of the workshops. We also have scholarships for women to cover transportation and childcare costs. To apply, please fill out the Scholarship Application and send it in with your workshop registration.
Comments from past participants:
- "It was encouraging to be around other people who still have a lot to learn about the process of starting a farm, and know I'm not alone. Thank you!"
- "I feel I know more about CSAs, farmers' markets, organic practices and business information for farming."
- "The speakers and farm tours were all very helpful. This is practical, useful knowledge for my farm."
- "This course helped me be able to plan and get organized."
- "It gave me lots of good, common sense knowledge for future farming."
- "Awesome series."
Here's a great article about one of the families that attended the 2010 Growing Farmers workshops. Keep up the good work, Fox Run Farm!
Please contact Warren at 402-474-9802 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Funding for the 2011 Winter Workshops was provided by the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service's Farmers' Market Promotion Program Grant Agreement #12-25-G-0957 and Specialty Crop Block Grant Grant Agreement #18-13-092. Funding for transportation and childcare scholarships for women is provided by WealthSpring Fund.
Preventing Firewood Insects in Your Home
By Nicole Haxton, Extension Educator
With the changing of the seasons, we look to the imminent future that lies ahead of us, winter. When the winter winds start blowing, we start preparing our wood piles for our winter stoves to heat our homes throughout the long cold winter. When we do start our piles, we need to decide where to pile it for easiest and quickest access to the home. We also need to take into consideration the insect pests that may lie inside those logs of wood.
There are many different insects that may be overwintering in the wood and some others that are using it as a food supply during the winter months. Insects that may be found in the wood you pile for your wood stoves include: bark beetles, termites, carpenter ants, wood boring beetles, and many other insects. These insects may not be active due to the cold winter temperatures, but once inside may become active again, in your home. Typically, they will only be a nuisance pest inside your home because they cannot survive in your home. A few tips to remember when making your wood pile for the winter are to not stack your wood pile directly on the ground and only bring in wood as needed.
The first tip, to not stack your wood pile directly on the ground, is an important reminder for any time of the year. This tip is to avoid termite damage. Termites can get into, and feed on, any type of wood that comes into direct contact with the soil. If you pile wood up against your house with the pile starting directly on the ground, termites can sense the wood pile and work their way through the wood to your home.
You also want to only bring inside the wood that you will be using right away to avoid insects getting into your home and flying around. Wood boring insects will not come out of the wood and begin feeding on your furniture or any other wood material, but they will be moving around in your home, if you let the wood warm up too much. Wood that remains at a temperature of less than 50 degrees Fahrenheit will keep any insects inside of it at a dormant stage, meaning that they will be overwintering with no real action from the insect. If you bring too much wood into your home at a time, the wood will warm up and the insect could emerge from the wood and move around your home. If you bring only a few pieces of wood into your home at a time, you will be placing it into the fire before the insect is able to emerge and it will die in the fire.
Having a fireplace is a wonderful way to warm up and to save money on the heating bills in the winter time. However, we all need to make sure that we are not stacking our wood in a manner that harbors insects and allows them to enter directly into our homes.
American Hazelnut, Corylus americana, is a good large shrub for use in conservation plantings throughout Nebraska.
What are Conservation Buffers? A conservation buffer is a narrow strip of land consisting of a permanent vegetation type, such as grass, trees, shrubs or a combination of the three, planted along the edge of a stream or pond. The benefits of these buffers are multiple and can have a positive impact on your property. Listed below are several of the advantages associated with conservation buffers.
Two helpful publications are available through University of Nebraska- Lincoln Extension to plan, design and install your riparian buffer. Find them at http://www.ianrpubs.unl.edu.
- Planning Your Riparian Buffer: Design and Plant Selection, G1557
- Installing Your Riparian Buffer: Tree and Grass Planting, Post Planting Care and Maintenance, G1558
The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) offers an annual rental payment for establishing or improving conservation buffers in cropland areas, field margins, and marginal pastureland suitable for use as a riparian buffer. Land under consideration must have been owned for at least 12 months prior to an offer being submitted.
The Conservation Reserve Program Continuous Sign-Up (CRP) assists with 50% of the average cost of establishing these buffer strips. The program also provides an annual payment based on soil rental rates determined for each county, approximately $120 - $150 per acre per contract year. The contract length is from 10 to 15 years. There is also a one-time signing incentive payment of $100 per acre for eligible participants who enroll certain practices.
Continuous CRP is an open enrollment program. A landowner or operator may sign up for the program at any time with their local FSA office. For more information on the CRP program, contact the Lancaster County Farm Service Agency, (402) 423-9683. Program guidelines are also available online at http://usda.gov, 'Conservation Reserve Program.'
The State of Nebraska, Local Natural Resources District (NRD) and other non-profit groups may have additional programs to help get conservation buffers planted along streams and ponds.
Water Conservation In The Rural Home
By Sharon Skipton, Extension Educator
When you have your own drinking water well and your own septic system, conserving water is important. Of course, it saves water, but it also saves money by reducing pumping costs. Just as important, it reduces the amount of wastewater that needs to be treated which will help protect and extend the life of your septic system.
Most people in the U.S. use 60 to 100 gallons of water per person per day. Since much of the water used indoors is used in the bathroom, it is a good place to start water conservation efforts.
- A leaky faucet can waste 10 to 20 gallons or more per day and may damage the house structure. Repairing a faucet is usually as simple as changing an inexpensive metal washer or O-ring.
- Leaky toilets can waste many gallons per day. To find out if your toilet leaks, put a little food coloring in the tank as long as it will not stain your toilet. If, after 15 minutes without flushing, color appears in the bowl, you have a leak that should be repaired. Often, the leak can be repaired by replacing the flapper in the tank. The flapper seals water in the tank and allows water to flow into the toilet bowl when you flush
Toilet Water Usage
- Do not use the toilet for a trash basket. Instead, put facial tissues, wipes, and other trash in the wastebasket for disposal. If you do not have a low-volume flush toilet, reduce the flush volume by adjusting the float rod downward or by purchasing special devices for the tank that reduce water usage.
- A quick shower usually draws less water than a bath. If you do not have a low-flow shower head, consider installing one. This reduces the flow rate but usually will maintain the velocity of the spray.
- Turn off faucets while brushing teeth or shaving. Install a flow control device on your faucet. Insulate hot water pipes to reduce the amount of water run while waiting for hot water.
In addition to conserving water, it's important to spread out water use to even out wastewater flow into your septic system. The most important step you can take is to wash one or two loads of laundry a day, rather than three or more loads in one day.
If you have holiday guests who are not familiar with private drinking water and wastewater systems, spend some time educating them so they, too, will understand the importance of conserving water.
As Nebraskans, we take winter storm warnings in stride but these storms can often disrupt your usual routine. Winter storms can leave you without power or prevent you from getting to the grocery store.
Planning ahead for winter weather can eliminate a major source of stress for you, your family, or others you care for, such as an elderly relative or neighbor.
Planning ahead for winter storm emergencies can range from a well-organized 7-day emergency food supply to a few basic items to keep on hand. Regardless of where you are on the range of planning activities, keeping food safe in an emergency can help you plan what you'll need.
Always keep meat, poultry, fish and eggs refrigerated at or below 40 degrees F. and frozen food at or below 0 degrees F. This may be challenging if there is no power! Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature. Once the power goes off, the refrigerator will keep food safely cold for about four hours if it's unopened. A full freezer will hold the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it's half full) if the door remains closed.
Be prepared by stocking up on staples that don't need to be refrigerated. Either they are precooked and can be used cold, or only require the addition of hot water. Here are some examples to keep on hand.
- Water- one gallon per person per day
- Ready-to-eat canned foods vegetables, fruit, beans, meat, fish, poultry, pasta
- Soups, canned
- Smoked or dried meats, i.e.- commercial beef jerky
- Dried fruits and vegetables raisins, fruit leather
- Juices (vegetable and fruit) bottled, canned or powdered
- Milk powdered, canned, or evaporated
- Staples like sugar, instant potatoes and rice, coffee, tea, cocoa mix
- Ready-to-eat cereals, and instant hot cereals
- High energy foods peanut butter, nuts, trail mix, and granola bars
- Cookies, crackers, candy, chocolate bars, soft drinks, other snacks
- Ready-to-use baby formula for infants
- Pet food
- Manual can opener
Consider what you can do ahead of time to store food safely in an emergency. For example, keep an insulated cooler on hand to keep food cold if the power is out for more than four hours. Keep frozen gel packs or blocks of ice in your freezer and use these to keep perishable food cold in the cooler.