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.