Category: September 2019

Youth Enrichment Offerings

Each school year, the Post Rock District team offers a variety of opportunities to collaborate with educators and community leaders. Our supplemental activities will provide hands-on learning for students and help you meet academic standards. Youth enrichment offerings are scheduled with the presenting agent on a first come, first serve basis throughout the school year. To view the 2019-2020 youth enrichment offerings contact your local Post Rock District Office or visit www.postrock.ksu.edu under 4-H Youth Development.

By: Nora Rhoades

Dividing Peonies in Fall:

Peonies are a favorite perennial of gardeners because of their beauty and low maintenance. In Kansas, peonies provide a beautiful display of flowers each spring around Memorial Day. Though peonies can be left in place indefinitely, many gardeners wish to increase their plantings and use a process known as division to accomplish this. Keep in mind, however, that peonies often take about three years to return to full bloom and size after division.

Fall is the traditional time to divide these plants. Peonies are essentially dormant by mid-August even though the foliage is still green. The first step in division is to remove the foliage. Then dig out the entire plant. Shake and wash off as much soil as possible so that the pink buds or “eyes” are visible. Peony roots are tough, and a sharp knife is needed to cut the roots into separate pieces. Make sure each division has three to four buds. Make sure the location chosen for planting receives at least a half-day of full sun. However, the more sun, the better. Space the plants so that there is at least 2 feet between dwarf types and 4 feet between the standard types.

Follow the same rules for planting these divisions as you do for new plants. Make sure the pink buds are about 1 inch below the soil surface. If they are set more than 2 inches deep, flowering may be delayed or completely prevented. As you set the plants, firm soil often as it is added around the plant. If the soil is not firmed, it can settle and pull the plant down with it. Water in well after planting and water as necessary through the fall and winter to keep the soil moist.

It is often a good idea to add mulch to the new planting to protect it from heaving. The alternate freezing and thawing that commonly occurs during Kansas winters can “heave” weakly rooted plants out of the ground. Add a mulch of straw, leaves, compost or other material after the soil freezes. Remember, it is not the cold that harms these plants but the alternate freezing and thawing of the soil.

By: Cassie Homan

Move More, Feel Great

We were meant to move, and when we do we reap the benefits!  Capitalizing on opportunities throughout our day to maximize movement will help us move more without even realizing that we are doing just that. Take a minute to think about the modern day conveniences we use to reduce the amount of physical activity we do. Cars, dishwashers, automatic car washes, push button garage door openers, TV remotes, riding lawnmowers, the list goes on and on! The more we use these modern day conveniences the less we move, which is detrimental to our health in countless ways.  Let’s challenge ourselves to move more each day. Let’s walk to work or to run errands instead of driving, hand wash dishes, push mow our lawns, and play games with our friends and family that encourage movement. There’s no better time than now to get moving and feeling great!

Want more ideas to increase movement at home, work, and play? https://www.choosemyplate.gov/physical-activity-tips

By: Ashley Svaty

Free Books Available for 0-5 Year Olds

The Dolly Parton Imagination Library is a literacy program for children ages birth to five who are residents of a county with an active program. All counties in the Post Rock Extension District have an active program. These counties include Jewell, Lincoln, Mitchell, Osborne and Smith. Books received through the program are a free gift! There is no cost or obligation to your family. The Dane G. Hansen Foundation graciously provides financial support for the local programs.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a 60 volume set of books. Each month a new, carefully selected book will be mailed, in your child’s name, directly to your home. By mailing high quality, age-appropriate books directly to a child’s home, the Dolly Parton Imagination Library encourages children and their families to be excited about books and to feel the magic that books can create. Reading is a valuable experience for young learners as it promotes positive brain development, helps a child understand the world around them, and enhances positive relationships with the caring adults they rely on.

Information about the program and steps to enroll are outlined at https://www.postrock.k-state.edu/home-family/dolly-parton/.

By: Nora Rhoades

Safe Food Storage Containers

When storing food, it’s important to make sure that you are using food safe containers and not ones that may pose a burden on the environment and potentially to your health. The following are suggestions for choosing and using food storage containers

  • Use the container for its intended purpose. A food grade container is one that will not transfer non-food chemicals into the food, and contains no chemicals which would be hazardous to human health. Plastics designed for single use should be used only once. Plastic breaks down over time and some are not designed to withstand heating and cooling. Most plastics with recycling code number “one” are intended for single use, such as disposable water bottles. In general, they are fine for refrigerating leftovers, but are not designed for heat exposure or long-term use. Remember to reheat leftovers to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Wash by hand. Only put plastics into the dishwasher if they have a dishwasher safe label. If you want to be extra cautious, wash all plastics by hand or use only glass containers. Pay attention to lids that may contain seals, over time these deteriorate, become loosened or could collect pathogens. A tight secure seal is desirable.
  • The microwave and food containers: While a “microwave safe” or “microwavable” label on plastic containers only means that they should not melt, crack or fall apart when used in the microwave, the label is no guarantee that containers don’t leach chemicals into foods when heated. The S. Department of Agriculture also warns against microwaving in single-use containers not intended for that purpose, such as takeout platters and margarine tubs.

For more information regarding which plastics are safe for food storage please visit the following link: https://extension.usu.edu/archive/which-plastics-are-safe-for-food-storage

Source: Michigan State University

By: Ashley Svaty

Hurry Up and Wait…

Bouncing from one activity to the next finds families traveling to ball games, lessons, appointments, and more. Once you reach your destination you may find yourself playing the waiting game. “In between time” can be a great opportunity to get back to the basics of learning with your loved ones. Here’s some gadget-free ideas that will help keep minds learning, loved ones communicating, and time passing with enjoyment:

  • Creative Questions – Come up with unique questions and brainstorm answers. Exploring different responses will help your child use their imagination and think about things from many perspectives. (i.e. What does autumn sound like? What does the letter “R” smell like? What do rocks think about? What shape is happiness? What sound does the color blue make?)
  • Group Storytelling – Create a story together by having one person start by saying a few sentences. The next person continues the story where the first person stopped and so on. Keep it up until the story is fully told and everyone has had a turn.
  • Treasure Bottle – Fill a recycled bottle or jar with uncooked rice or birdseed until it is 2/3 full. Add 20 or more small objects (i.e. safety pin, paper clip, bolt, penny, bead, lego, button). Make a list of the items and challenge passengers to find all of the objects without opening the container.
  • The Name Game – Choose a category (example: “animals”). Start with saying an animal (“snake”). The next person has to share an animal that starts with the last letter of the previous one (“elephant”). Try not to repeat any animals and see how long you can play without getting stumped! Other fun categories are: names, states, countries, fruit, etc…
  • Survival Island – Create a scenario that leaves your group stranded on a deserted island. You only have five items to help everyone survive until the rescuers arrive. Discuss and decide what five items you would like to have. Remember, the whole group has to agree.
  • Plate Weaving – Make cuts in a paper plate from the outside edge toward the center. Cut strips of yarn or ribbon. Tape one end to the back of the plate. Weave the strip over and under the cut sections of the plate. Can you make a shape or design?

By: Nora Rhoades

Harvesting Winter Squash:

Summer squash such as zucchini and crookneck squash are harvested while immature. However, winter squash such as acorn, hubbard and butternut are harvested later, in the mature stage, after the rind is tough and seeds have developed. We normally think September is the time that winter squash is harvested. Harvesting too early leads to fruit that shrivels and rots.

There are two main characteristics that help tell us when winter squash are mature: color and rind toughness. Winter squash change color as they become mature. Butternut changes from light beige to deep tan.  Acorn is a deep green color but has a ground spot that changes from yellow to orange when ripe.  Gray or orange is the mature color for hubbard.

A hard, tough rind is another characteristic of mature winter squash. This is easily checked by trying to puncture the rind with your thumbnail or fingernail. If it easily penetrates the skin, the squash is not yet mature and will lose water through the skin — causing the fruit to dry and shrivel. Also, immature fruit will be of low quality. The stem should also be dry enough that excessive water doesn’t drip from the stem.

Winter squash should be stored cool with elevated humidity. Ideal conditions would be 55 to 60 degrees F and 50 to 70 percent relative humidity. Under such conditions, acorn squash will usually last about 5 to 8 weeks, butternuts 2 to 3 months and hubbards 5 to 6 months.

By: Cassie Homan