Tired of Bagging Fall Leaves?

In fall we often have an abundance of leaves in our gardens and lawns. Instead of bagging and hauling them to the local dump, consider a few of these options to get the most out of the great organic matter leaves offer.

  1. Shred leaves and let them decompose in your lawn or garden. Grind your leaves with a lawn mower to reduce the surface area. Then allow them to sift into your lawn or rake them into your garden for some added nutrients.
  2. Add leaves to your perennial garden for a beneficial mulch layer. Leaves act as a mulch protecting the crown and root system from winter extremes.
  3. Leaves make a great addition to your compost pile. Compost needs nitrogen and carbon components to fulfill the decomposition process. Leaves add a great carbon source.

By: Cassie Homan

Donating Safe and Nutritious Food

Donations of safe and healthy food help provide nourishment to hungry families and also reduce food waste.  When organizing or contributing to a non-perishable food drive keep these tips in mind to enhance the health of your local community.

  • Contact the food bank or pantry that you will donate to. They will know what their clients enjoy and what is needed at the time. Keep in mind that cash donations are also greatly appreciated and allow for discounted bulk purchases.
  • Donate nutritious non-perishable food that fits into the MyPlate model. Healthy canned fruit and vegetable options include fruit packed in 100% juice and vegetables canned with no-salt added. Lean protein options include canned or dried beans, canned tuna or salmon, canned chicken, nuts and nut butters. Choose whole-grains when donating pasta, crackers, oats, rice (brown) and granola bars. Non-perishable dairy items include nonfat dry milk, evaporated milk, and shelf-stable (UHT) milk.  If you are wondering if your local food bank or food pantry accepts fresh produce, first contact them to confirm this before donating.
  • Don’t donate repackaged, expired or damaged food. Don’t donate food that is past its “best by, “use by” or “sell by” dates. Only donate food that is in its original packages with the label intact.
  • Don’t donate home-canned foods. Because of the risk of botulism in improperly canned foods and the large variation in the level of safety of the methods used by home canners, food banks and food pantries should not accept home-canned items.

If you are organizing a food drive, it’s important to encourage people to donate safe and healthy foods and also specific foods that are needed, which will decrease food waste.  Potential donors should be provided with a list of suggested nutritious and safe items that suit these needs. A printable list of nutritious and safe foods can be found here: http://hungerandhealth.feedingamerica.org/wp-content/uploads/legacy/mp/files/tool_and_resources/files/healthy-food-donation-list.pdf

By: Ashley Svaty

Join the 4-H Family!

4-H is a community of young people across Kansas engaged in learning leadership, citizenship, and life skills. Caring adults who support our programs are essential for youth to achieve their potential. Adults can share guidance, knowledge and wisdom, as well as model respect and provide skills training. Contact your local extension office to learn about how youth can join 4-H and how you can get involved making a difference as an adult volunteer!

4-H is a nationwide program. Each of the four H’s of the clover represent ways youth can grow and develop.

  • Head, critical thinking, problem solving;
  • Heart, self-discipline, integrity, communication;
  • Hands, serving others; and
  • Health, choosing healthy lifestyles.

By: Nora Rhoades

Fall is the Perfect Time to Plant a Tree

You may have heard the Chinese Proverb “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, the second best time is now.”  Trees offer shade and beauty in our landscapes as well as reducing utility costs and providing food sources and habitat for wildlife. The fall season is an excellent time to plant trees! In the spring, soils are cold and may be so wet that there isn’t enough oxygen for adequate root growth. Fall soils are warm and moist which encourages growth. When planted in fall, the tree becomes established well before a spring planted tree and is able to withstand summer stresses.

To pick the perfect tree for your landscape, consult K-State’s recommended list: https://www.kansasforests.org/community_forestry/community_docs/NW%20Preferred%20Trees122016.pdf

By: Cassie Homan

Fall Mums

Nature always gives us signals as seasons change. When summer starts to shift toward fall, the leaves begin to change colors. Another sure sign that fall is right around the corner is the arrival of colorful and beautiful fall mums in garden centers.

Now is the time to plan how and where to use these plants effectively around your home and landscape. A newer trend for growers is to mix colors in containers, so be ready for even more decisions.

Watch this video for information on how to get your mums to last through the winter:

By: Cassie Homan

E-Cigarettes and Your Health

E-Cigarettes are electronic devices that heat a liquid (containing nicotine or other drugs) and produce an aerosol, or mix of small particles in the air.  They come in many shapes and sizes; some look like regular cigarettes while others are disguised as everyday devices including USB flash drives, pens, credit cards or sweatshirt “hoodie” strings.  Using an E-Cigarette is often called “vaping” or “Juuling.”

Most E-Cigarettes contain nicotine – the addictive drug in regular tobacco products.  Research has shown nicotine to damage the adolescent brain, which keeps developing until age 25.  Using nicotine in adolescence can harm the parts of the brain that control attention, learning, mood and impulse control.  Each time a new memory is created, or a new skill is learned, stronger connections – or synapses – are built between brain cells. Young people’s brains build synapses faster than adult brains. Nicotine changes the way these synapses are formed.  Using nicotine in adolescence may also increase risk for future addiction to other drugs.

Scientists are still learning about the long term health effects of E-Cigarettes.  Children and adults have been poisoned by swallowing, breathing, or absorbing e-cigarette liquid through their skin or eyes.  E-Cigarette aerosol is NOT harmless “water vapor.”  The aerosol users breathe can contain harmful substances including nicotine, flavoring such as diacetyl (a chemical linked to lung disease), volatile organic compounds, cancer-causing chemicals and heavy metals such as nickel, tin and lead.

E-Cigarettes are not legal for youth to use or possess under the age of eighteen.  To purchase a Juul device online, the customer must be twenty-one.  Despite these age restrictions, one in three Kansas youth have experimented with E-Cigarettes.  Parents, schools, health providers and law enforcement can combat the youth E-Cigarette use epidemic by becoming informed, updating public tobacco policies, and setting a good example by being tobacco free.

By: Ashley Svaty