We look forward to seeing you at your local county fair! Individuals of all ages are encouraged to exhibit a prized item, creation, and/or skill in Open Class. The fair is a great place to see local talent on display and to enjoy entertainment with your friends and family. Contact your local Post Rock District Office for the complete fair schedules and exhibiting guidelines. You can also visit http://www.postrock.k-state.edu/4-h/county-fairs/.
If you have a large garden or come across a large quantity of fresh fruit or vegetables, you may want to choose freezing as your method of preservation. When freezing foods at home, remember to:
Freeze fresh produce as quickly as possible, preferably within 24 hours of harvest or purchase. Choose fruits and vegetables that are in good condition, ripe and free of mold. Cut out any portions with insect damage or bruises.
Rinse off all dirt under cool running water.
Choose an up-to-date tested recipe, such as from the National Center for Home Food Preservation website: nchfp.uga.edu/how/freeze.html Or contact your local Extension office for how-to details. Follow the recipe directions exactly. For example:
Follow recommended times for blanching and cooling, if needed. Blanching involves putting certain kinds of vegetables in boiling water or steam for a short time, in order to prevent loss of flavor, color, texture and nutrients during frozen storage.
If recommended, add lemon juice or powdered ascorbic acid or citric acid to prevent darkening. Fruits such as apples, apricots, peaches and pears darken when cut and exposed to air.
If using a sugar substitute, choose a recipe designed for use with it rather than with sugar, in order to be assured of success.
Use food storage containers designed for freezing foods.
Label and date foods. Use them within 8 to 12 months.
Recipe: How to Freeze Ripe Strawberries without Added Sugar 1. Read step number 1, above. 2. Rinse berries and remove stems. Slice or leave whole. 3. Place berries in a single layer in a shallow baking pan. Place pan in freezer. 4. When berries are frozen, transfer to freezer containers. Seal, label and date. Place in freezer. Use within one year.
Telling when a melon is ready to be harvested can be a challenge, or it may be quite easy. It all depends on the type of melon.
Let’s start with the easy one. Muskmelons are one of those crops that tell you when they are ready to be picked. This can help you not only harvest melons at the correct time but also choose good melons when shopping.
As a melon ripens, a layer of cells around the stem softens so the melon detaches easily from the vine. This is called “slipping” and will leave a dish shaped scar at the point of stem attachment. When harvesting melons, put a little pressure where the vine attaches to the fruit. If ripe, it will release or “slip.”
When choosing a melon from those that have already been harvested, look for a clean, dish shaped scar. Also, ripe melons have a pleasant, musky aroma if the melons are at room temperature (not refrigerated).
Watermelons can be more difficult and growers often use several techniques to tell when to harvest.
Look for the tendril that attaches at the same point as the melon to dry and turn brown. On some varieties this will need to be completely dried before the watermelon is ripe. On others it will only need to be in the process of turning brown.
The surface of a ripening melon develops a surface roughness (sometimes called “sugar bumps”) near the base of the fruit.
Ripe watermelons normally develop a yellow color on the “ground spot” when ripe. This is the area of the melon that contacts the ground.
We’re so much more than old-school home economics. Family and Consumer Science Agents help build healthy, vibrant communities, families, and individuals. We are a leading force in your hometown and offer educational workshops for all ages and stages of life.
Nora Rhoades and Ashley Svaty, your local Family and Consumer Science Agents, are building partnerships and planning educational experiences for the fall and winter months. To start the conversation about bringing a life-changing experience to your community, contact a Post Rock District Office!
This time of year, two common leaf-spot diseases appear on tomato plants. Septoria leaf spot and early blight both appear as brown spots on tomato leaves.
Septoria leaf spot usually appears earlier in the season than early blight and produces small dark spots. Spots made by early blight are much larger and often have a distorted “target” pattern of concentric circles. Heavily infected leaves eventually turn yellow and drop. Older leaves are more susceptible than younger ones, so these diseases often start at the bottom of the plant and work up.
Mulching, caging, or staking keeps plants off the ground, making them less vulnerable. Better air circulation allows foliage to dry quicker than in plants allowed to sprawl. Mulching also helps prevent water from splashing and carrying disease spores to the plant.
If you know you have had one of these diseases in the past, rotation is a good strategy. It is too late for that now, but keep it in mind for next year. Actually, rotation is a good idea even if you have not had problems in the past. If you have room, rotate the location of the tomatoes each year to an area that has not had tomatoes or related crops (peppers, potatoes, eggplant) for several years.
If rotation is not feasible, fungicides are often helpful. Be sure to cover both upper and lower leaf surfaces, and reapply fungicide if rainfall removes it. Plants usually become susceptible when the tomato fruit is about the size of a walnut. Chlorothalonil is a good choice for fruiting plants because it has a 0-day waiting period, meaning that fruit can be harvested once the spray is dry. Chlorothalonil can be found in numerous products including Fertilome Broad-Spectrum Landscape and Garden Fungicide, Ortho Garden Disease Control, GardenTech Daconil and others. Be sure to start protecting plants when the disease is first seen. It is virtually impossible to control this disease on heavily infected plants.
If chlorothalonil doesn’t seem to be effective, try mancozeb (Bonide Mancozeb Flowable). Note that there is a five-day waiting period between application and when the fruit can be harvested. You may wish to pick some tomatoes green just before you spray if you use Mancozeb as the tomato fruit will ripen inside.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans encourages increased consumption of plants — whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds — and reduced consumption of solid and added fats, added sugars, and refined grains. However, people are not eating nearly as much plant food as is recommended. Only 19% of Kansas adults eat enough fruits and vegetables. Don’t let a busy schedule keep you from choosing healthful foods. Instead, turn to a diet with more plants, one that is full of flavor and nutrients, low in calories, and very satisfying.
Benefits of Consuming More Plants
Weight control: Weight gain is generally correlated with high daily calorie intake without nutrient-dense foods full of dietary fiber and complex carbohydrates. Fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole-grain foods typically provide a feeling of fullness with fewer calories, compared to other types of foods. Putting more of these kinds of plants on the plate makes it easier to manage appetite and maintain body weight.
High dietary fiber: Only plant foods contain fiber. Dietary fiber is a complex form of carbohydrate. Several decades of studies have confirmed the health benefits of eating a fiber-rich diet. Specifically, diets rich in foods containing fiber — such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains — may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and improve regularity. A healthy elimination system allows bodies to get rid of toxins. Beans and legumes contain more dietary fiber than almost any other food, so they are an integral and versatile part of a balanced diet. The dietary fiber in legumes is both soluble, which is especially useful in helping control cholesterol levels to lower heart disease risk, and insoluble, which improves regularity. Beans are also filling, so they help promote weight management by satisfying hunger.
Chronic disease management: Consuming a diet featuring more plants is good for your health, today and tomorrow. Complex carbohydrates are easy to digest, and the antioxidants in plants help strengthen your body’s immune system. Many people with heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and various autoimmune diseases have been able to alleviate their symptoms by eating more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds, and consuming fewer solid and added fats, added sugars, and refined grains.
Adopting a more plant-based diet requires a change in thinking. It is not easy to change eating habit. But gradually, as more vegetables, fruits, and grains and legumes are added to your daily menu, you will discover how “real food” looks, smells, and tastes.
For more information about adding more plants to your plate, please view our K-State Research and Extension publication MF2977, which is the source of this information.
Slime molds are common on turf and mulch and sometimes on tree trunks. Slime molds are not fungi and are no longer classified as such. They belong to the Kingdom Protista rather than Kingdom Fungi. On turf, you might see large numbers of small gray, white or purple fruiting structures, called sporangia on leaf blades during cool and humid weather throughout spring, summer, and fall. Affected areas are often several inches to 1 foot in diameter. During wet weather, the fruiting structures may appear slimy. As the structures dry out in hot weather, they become ash gray and break up easily when touched.
Homeowners often are concerned that this is a disease organism that will kill the grass, but slime mold feeds on bacteria, other fungi, and dead organic matter. It simply uses the turf as a structure on which to grow. However, slime mold can damage turf by completely covering leaf blades and interfering with photosynthesis. Chemical control of slime molds is not necessary. Use a broom or a heavy spray of water to dislodge the mold.
Slime molds on mulch often attract attention because of their bright colors and disgusting appearance. Common names are often quite descriptive. For example, the “dog vomit” slime mold is a bright, whitish color that resembles its namesake. It eventually turns brown and then into a hard, white mass. Slime molds do not hurt anything, but most people do not find them attractive and want to get rid of them. Simply use a shovel to discard the offensive organism and then stir up the mulch for aeration.
If you fill a water bottle and carry your healthy drink along with you, congrats! But it is important to keep your reusable bottle clean or you could actually make yourself sick. Here are some key points to good clean (healthy) drinking!
Wash and disinfect your water bottle at least every few days, if not more often. It’s simple – just add a few drops of dish soap to your water bottle, fill about half full with warm water, screw on the top and shake! Rinse the bottle thoroughly and leave open to air dry.
If your bottle is in need of deeper cleaning (think – to remove an odor?) after you wash with soap and water, use a vinegar soak of 1/5 white vinegar and 4/5 water. Let it sit in the bottle overnight, then rinse thoroughly with water in the morning.
Disposable plastic bottles aren’t made to be used more than once. By washing and reusing a single-use bottle, you may begin to breakdown the plastic and expose yourself to harmful chemicals.
During the summer our lawns are green and growing. Unfortunately, this is also when weeds thrive, a common weed in Kansas is Little Barley. For more information on controlling Little Barley check out my latest blog post.
If you have vegetables that are blooming but not setting fruit, you may have a problem with flower pollination. There are several possible reasons for this that usually vary by species. One condition that can affect several species at the same time is overfertilization. Too much nitrogen causes the plant to emphasize vegetative growth, often to the detriment of fruit production. Overfertilization can lead to a delay in flower production and a decrease in fruit set among the flowers produced.
Squash, cucumbers, watermelon, and muskmelon can have a couple of other problems. First, the early flowers on these plants are usually all male. The production of both male and female flowers becomes more balanced as time passes. You can easily tell the difference between the two because only the female flower has a tiny fruit behind the blossom. If you have both, have not over-fertilized, and still have a problem, make sure you have pollinators. Look for the presence of bees visiting the plants. If you don’t see any, try hand-pollinating several flowers.
Use a painter’s brush to transfer pollen from the anther of the male flower to the stigma of the female flower. If you get fruit on only those flowers you pollinated, you need more pollinators. Make sure you aren’t killing them with overuse of insecticides.
Tomatoes are wind pollinated and therefore not dependent on pollinators. But they have another possible problem, which is temperature. Tomatoes normally won’t set if the night temperature is below 50 due to sparse pollen production. They also won’t set when nighttime temperatures are above 75 degrees F and daytime temperatures are above 95 degrees F with dry, hot winds.