Category Archives: Environment

Iowa Youth Livestock Show

Mitchell Miner, 15, of Williamsburg, Iowa and Audri entered the Iowa State Fair’s youth dairy cattle show. They prepared for weeks with Mitchell leading, clipping, walking and bathing Audri nonstop up to the competition. On the day of the show, Mitchell woke up at 3 a.m. his third straight early-morning rise putting the final touches on Audri.

Mitchell and Audri ended up placing fifth out of seven contestants, after hard competition, the two took a nap together.

Garden Bugs, Know Your Enemy!

This is an updated, reworked posting from 2011.

First the Bad News, to make you feel really bad about all the back breaking hours you have spent getting ready for your bumper harvest of vegetables. There are over 350,000 documented species of beetles. To top this off, most of them are not your friends and they or their offspring, will devour your plants, flowers and vegetables. Sometime even before you know that they have made your garden home.

common ladybug beetle


ladybug larva

Identify That Beetle
35 destructive beetles
Beetle control

Now the Good News. Most of this hungry horde of beetles are not a problem in gardens and live their lives out in wooded areas, ranch grass lands and swamp lands. But, don’t be surprised to discover a few beetles in your garden that you and your gardening friends have never seen before and can not identify.

Just because a beetle has spots and is red or orange, does not make this little critter a ladybug beetle! Study pictures of ladybug beetles and learn how to identify the good guy’s from the bad guy’s. In your garden, the hated and feared cucumber beetle will most likely be your biggest bug problem along with the ever present squash bug.

banded cucumber beetle


spotted cucumber beetle

University of Minnesota All about Squash Bugs.
Squash bugs seem to drive many gardeners right to the brink of insanity. They are willing to feed on any member of the cucurbit family and feel free to help themselves to your cucumbers, summer and winter squash and pumpkins. Once they have sucked the juices from these plants, the vines often turn black and die. To add insult to injury, squash bugs will feed on the actual fruit of the plant once they have become bored with feeding on the foliage.

Once squash has finished its season, be sure to clean up after it properly. Tilling your squash patch and removing all the spent squash plants, composting them will bury or kill many of the surviving adult squash bugs and eliminate their winter homes. Some people even resort to burning the old vines or bagging the vines to send to the landfill.

squash bugs

vine bore moth

Black Beetles are good guy’s
carabid beetle This beetle is just one of many species which get the name “Common Black Ground Beetle.”

Ground beetles (Carabidae) are one of the largest and most successful families of beetles in the world. They comprise more than 40,000 named species. More than 30% of species are forest dwellers, the other 70% in general prefer grass lands and gardens, most are flightless and predatory.

Slug Control: Research has found that carabid beetles (adults and larvae) devour large numbers of smaller slugs.
This beetle was introduced to the United states from Europe.
Black ground beetles live under leaves, old logs, and stones. They can be found in moist woods, fields, and gardens.

They can be seen searching for prey, which includes caterpillars, grubs, other species of beetles, fly maggots and pupae, aphids, weevils, earthworms, slugs, snails and other soft-bodied prey.

Common Black Ground Beetles breed in late Summer. The female lays eggs just below the soil surface. Larvae hatch and spend the Winter in the soil.
In early Spring the larvae begin feeding and then turn into pupae. They come out as adult beetles in the Summer.
Some adults may overwinter as well.

Carabidae beetle Hint: Not All beneficial Beetles are Black.

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Flowering Bulbs and Spring Harvested Garlic

Spring and Summer Blooming Bulbs: I will not repeat what so many others have spent so much time putting into print about Fall planting Spring Flowering Bulbs. I encourage you to visit Bulbs & More at the University of Illinois Extension Bulb Basics for a useful and easy to understand fact sheet on Spring and Summer blooming bulbs. This fact sheet covers everything from soil preparation, planting, care before during and after blooming. You will also find info on Planting & Care, Spring Flowering Bulbs to Landscaping with bulbs.

Fall Planted Garlic: The same information applies to your Fall planted Garlic cloves for Spring and Summer harvested crops.

For those of you that live in the Northern, colder parts of the U.S. information provided by the The University of Minnesota may be useful in designing and planning your flowering bulb gardens.

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Preserving (canning) excess peppers

4 peppers For your safety and the safety of your family I Strongly Recommend that you read and understand all safety tips provided by the United Stated Department of Agricultural. National Center for Home Food Preservation.
Canning (using no vinegar) Peppers Hot or sweet, including chilies, jalapeno, and pimiento.
You will need about 1 pound of peppers for each pint of processed peppers.
A bushel of peppers about weighs 25 pounds and will yield 20 to 30 pints.
Hint: Use only firm peppers. Avoid using soft or diseased peppers.

Wear plastic or rubber gloves and do not touch your face while handling hot peppers.
Oven or broiler Place peppers in a hot oven (400° F) or broiler for 6-8 minutes until skins blister.
Range top Cover hot burner, either gas or electric, with heavy wire mesh. Place peppers on burner for several minutes, turning often, until skins blister.

Allow peppers to cool in a pan covered with a damp cloth. This will make peeling the peppers easier. After several minutes, peel each pepper. Flatten whole peppers. {Optional} Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to each pint jar. Fill jars loosely with peppers and add fresh boiled water, leaving 1/2-inch headspace.

Another option is to drop in 1 clove of garlic and pack with peppers fill jar with olive oil leaving 1/2 of headspace. Seal tightly and store peppers in your refrigerator up to 1 month.
Avoid using salt when packing in olive oil.
* For the adventurous, use pepper oil when making vinegar and oil salad dressing.

Table 1. Recommended
process time for Peppers in a dial-gauge pressure
canner.
Canner Pressure (PSI) at Altitudes of
Style of Pack Jar Size Process Time 0 – 2,000 ft 2,001 – 4,000 ft 4,001 – 6,000 ft 6,001 – 8,000 ft
Hot Half-pints or Pints 35 min 11 lb 12 lb 13 lb 14 lb
Table 2. Recommended
process time for Peppers in a weighted-gauge pressure
canner.
Canner Pressure (PSI) at Altitudes of
Style of Pack Jar Size Process Time 0 – 1,000 ft Above 1,000 ft
Hot Half-pints or Pints 35 min 10 lb 15 lb

pickled peppers

Pickled Hot Peppers

Hot long red, green, or yellow peppers
{Optional} sweet red and green peppers, mixed
5 cups vinegar (5%)
1 cup water
4 tsp canning or pickling salt
2 tbsp sugar
2 cloves garlic
{Optional} Pickling Spices

Wash peppers. If small peppers are left whole, slash 2 to 4 slits in each. Quarter large peppers. Hint Peppers can be pickled with or without skins, whole, sliced or diced.
Blanch in boiling water or blister in order to peel. Fill jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Combine and heat other ingredients to boiling and simmer 10 minutes. Remove garlic. Add hot pickling solution over peppers, leaving 1/2-inch headspace.

Adjust lids and process according to the recommendations in Table 1.

Table 1. Recommended
process time for Pickled Hot Peppers in a boiling-water
canner.
Process Time at Altitudes of
Style of Pack Jar Size 0 – 1,000 ft 1,001 – 6,000 ft Above 6,000 ft
Raw Half-pints or Pints 10 min 15 20

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Salsa The Spice Of Summer


Salsa {This is a good basic Salsa}
Prep Time: About 20 minutes
Recipe Yield about 4 cups (2 pints)
Ingredients
4 or 5 large tomatoes, de-seeded and chopped
1 strong yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 to 5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or {1 Tablespoon dried}
1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 tomatillo, diced (optional) {Best roasted}
salt to taste
2 – medium or 1 large size mild green Chili peppers de-seeded and course chopped
1 or 2 green or red jalapeno peppers, minced {de-seed and de-vane peppers for pepper flavor and less heat from the peppers}(Use 1 pepper, taste Salsa, adjust salt and pepper to your taste.)

Directions
In a food processor or blender, combine tomatoes, onion, cilantro, garlic, oregano, lime juice, vinegar, tomatillo, hot pepper, mild chili pepper(s), salt to taste. Chop /blend a scant 20 or 30 seconds.
In a non-aluminum pan, over medium heat, warm until Salsa reaches 165 to 180 degrees. {Use meat thermometer to check temperature} Pack into (2) hot sterilized pint jars, Seal tightly, when cool, this may take several hours, refrigerate Salsa. Salsa will keep safely under refrigeration for 1 or 2 months.
For longer storage, process Salsa for 20 minutes in a boiling water bath. Cool over night, check to insure jars sealed properly. Store in a cool dark place. Salsa will safely keep 1 or more years.

Nutritional Information open nutritional information.
Calories: 53
Total Fat: 0.5g
Cholesterol: 0mg
Sodium: 13mg
Total Carbs: 11.7g
Dietary Fiber: 3.1g
Protein: 2.3g

Avocado Feta cheese Dip
A chunky, savory summer dip that tastes great with tortilla or corn chips or as a topping for corn or flour tacos.
Prep Time: About 20 Minutes
Recipe Yields about 12 servings
Ingredients

2 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 ripe avocado – peeled, pitted and chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon snipped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or {1/2 Tablespoon dried}
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon red or white wine vinegar {replace with fresh squeezed lemon or lime juice}
4 ounces crumbled feta cheese or {Diced / Grated cheese that you like}
(1 de-seeded finely chopped green or red hot pepper to add more spice to your life)

Directions:
In a bowl, gently stir together avocado, pepper, onion, and garlic. Mix in tomatoes, parsley and oregano. Gently stir in olive oil and vinegar. Then stir in feta {cheese of your choice}. Cover with plastic wrap. Best served chilled for 2 hours.

Nutritional Information
Servings Per Recipe: 12
Calories: 66
Total Fat: 5.6g
Cholesterol: 8mg
Sodium: 108mg
Total Carbs: 2.8g
Dietary Fiber: 1.3g
Protein: 1.8g

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Hen House – Controlled Lighting

There is a gland behind chickens eyes called a pituitary gland. When stimulated by light this produces a hormone that is carried via the bloodstream to the ovary which sets egg production in motion.
This makes it possible to give artificial light to laying birds to ‘trick’ their bodies into continuing to lay in the shorter daylight months of Fall and Winter.

Research shows that chickens lay best when they receive about 15 hours of light daily. In the northern United States, natural daylight drops to under nine hours at the end of December. To optimize egg production, supplemental (or artificial) lighting in the coop is a must for the next three to four months until the days get longer.

Extra few hours of light can be added to the morning by using a light and timer. Adding light in the mornings ensures that birds aren’t suddenly caught out in the dark when the lights switch off not having gone through the natural roosting process. The key point to remember is that once the hens are in lay, their daylight hours should not be decreased.
For example, pullets that come into lay when there are 15 hours of daylight should have this ‘top up’ lighting added to their mornings to keep their daylight hours constant.
You need to ensure the timer remains set correctly after a power cut to prevent your pullets going into moult.
A digital timer with a back-up battery is a good investment.
Hint: Beware of dirty bulbs. They can decrease light output by as much as 15 to 20 percent, so clean bulbs once a week.

* Keep a supply of fresh water; heated waterers save time and labor and assure the birds will always be able to drink
* Make sure a high quality layer ration is always available. Your chickens need to eat to enough to stay warm and maintain egg production.
* Check that the coop is free from drafts, but don’t compromise ventilation as excessive moisture in the coop can lead to health problems.
* Put a little extra scratch grain down for your chickens morning and afternoon. The treat will keep winter birds busy pecking and scratching for hours and will help prevent boredom and give them some extra energy for warmth.
* With the chickens spending more time in the coop, bedding will become damp and soiled. Remove and replace as needed. Clean dry bedding will help the chickens stay warm and keep odors down.
* Let the chickens out into their run as chickens enjoy going outside, even if it’s cold.

Common sense care and a little extra light your chickens will keep up their winter egg production.

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Pansies for Cool Fall weather color in your garden

Pansies

Fall, Winter and Spring flowering garden plant worth considering to plant in your Fall garden.

Pansies will bloom Spring through early Summer, with repeat blooming in the Fall. In USDA hardness zones 7 – 9 can grow pansies throughout the winter and there are newer varieties, like the ice pansy, are bred to withstand light snows and may over Winter in zone 6 and with a little protection may even over Winter as far north as zone 5.

Pansies are popular and a recognizable cool weather annuals. Breeding has produced Pansies that are better able to stand up to the cold, but there hasn’t been much luck producing more heat tolerant varieties. Many Pansies are bi-colored, making them striking plants for their small size. Although delicate, they are surprisingly hardy.

Compact, low growers, Pansies are ideal for edging and for squeezing between rock walls and paths, as long as they can be removed in summer. They’re a great choice for early and late season containers and complement spring flowering bulbs, flowering as the bulb foliage begins to fade. If you like the variety of colors but still want a sense of cohesion, select plants from the same series. They’ll be similar in size and markings, regardless of the color.

Pansies are not fussy plants, they will grow best in a loose, rich soil with a slightly acid soil. They flower best in full sun and will get spindly in deep shade. Pansies do not like heat at all and will begin to decline as the days warm up. When buying plants, choose pansies that are stocky, bushy and have plenty of buds. Avoid buying plants with full open blooms. **Growing Note: Pansies can be difficult to start from seed.

You can allow your Pansy plants to remain in your garden and rest during the hottest months, they will probably begin blooming again in the Fall. Shearing the plants back when they start to set seed, will encourage new growth. Dead heading will encourage more blooms.

Chrysanthemums add Fall and early Winter color to your garden

Chrysanthemums

The Garden Helper How to Grow and Care for your Chrysanthemum Plants.

I know it’s hard to think about cooler weather Fall flowers. Believe it or not we will soon be having those wonderful cool sunny days called Fall. Chrysanthemum {Mums} are easy to grow herbaceous perennial that will give you many years of enjoyment.

Chrysanthemums come in a rainbow of colors. Yellow, red’s and white being the most common. Your local nursery, Walmart and other stores will soon have a good selection of Chrysanthemum to select from. Consider buying the smaller 4 inch pots for planting this year. While being less showy this year, they are also ‘much’ cheaper to buy and by next fall they will be large and put on a specular display for you.

It’s Not To Late To Plant Your Fall Garden


Generally speaking, insect pest are less of a problem when planting a Fall Garden.

Meet the mustard family includes cool season crops such as Brussels sprout, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, broccoli, turnips and watercress.
The close kinship of these crops enable diversified usage of plant parts. For instance, Brussels sprout plants are grown by most gardeners for a miniature heads (sprouts) which develop in the axils of the leaves. However, the leaves of Brussels sprouts are considered by some to be milder and sweeter than those of the collard which is especially grown for leaf production. Most gardeners are familiar with the fact turnips can be grown for the greens (leaves) or for the turnip roots.

This group of cole crops enjoy cool seasons and are somewhat cold tolerant. Cabbage for instance can withstand frost down to 20 degrees or even 15 degrees F. Cauliflower and chard are more sensitive to cold than broccoli, collards, kale, kohlrabi, or mustard.

When you plant cole crops in the garden you are investing in a healthful life. Gardeners are in the business of producing health foods even though they may not know it. Vegetables contain essential elements for health and the enjoyment of eating fresh garden vegetables makes health fun. Vitamin C cannot be stored in the body, making a daily supply essential to good health.

Cabbage is high in vitamin C, Broccoli, collards, and other vegetables of the cabbage family are rich in vitamin C, as are leafy vegetables such as kale and turnip greens supply carotene, which the human digestive system converts to Vitamin A.
Hint: Cole crops taste best and will not get that sulpher smell common when cooking Cole crops if you Do Not Over Cook them. They should be tender but still retain a bit of crunch in your mouth.

The edible parts of broccoli and cauliflower are the flower heads which are quite sensitive to environmental and nutritional stress. Cabbage and Brussels sprouts produce leafy heads and can withstand greater fluctuations in weather.

** Planting Dates: Using the days to harvest on your seed package, add 21 days to get your seed to harvest times.
Based on your first hard frost date, count back from frost date days from seed to harvest to get your last chance planting date.

# Example
If your first hard Frost date 15 November and your seed package days to harvest is 60 days add 21 days = 81 days.
Count backwards, Your last chance seed planting date is: 27th day of August
It is OK and even preferred to plant before that date but anytime after that date will likely result in a failed Fall garden crop.
Many Fall gardeners start planting their fall gardens starting in late June and early July.

Broccoli
Days to harvest: 50–65

Arcadia—late (fall production); small heads; domed
Early Dividend—early; reliable yields
Green Comet—early; large center heads and side shoots
Green Valiant—midseason; small firm heads
Gypsy—midseason; heat tolerant
Mariner—midseason; medium-sized compact heads
Packman—early to midseason; uniform; large heads
Premium Crop—midseason; large center heads; few side shoots

Brussels sprouts
Days to harvest: 85–110

Jade Cross—large dark green sprouts
Prince Marvel—mild tasting; small to medium sprouts

Cabbage (green)
Early-season cultivars mature approximately 50 to 60 days

after transplanting. Late season cultivars may require 100 or more days to mature.
Arrowhead—early; cone-shaped head
Blue Pak—midseason; medium to large dark blue heads
Bravo—midseason; uniform round blue-green heads
Dynamo—early; small heads; less likely to split
Gourmet—midseason; medium to large heads
Head Start—early; medium to large heads
Heads Up—early; fusarium yellows resistant
Rio Verde—late; large blue-green heads
Savoy Express—savoy type; early
Savoy King—savoy type; midseason; high yields
Stonehead—very early; small heads

Cabbage (red)
Red Acre—midseason; small round heads
Regal Red—early; medium heads
Ruby Perfection—late; small to medium dark red heads

Cauliflower
Early-season cultivars mature approximately
50 to 55 days after transplanting. Late-season cultivars mature
in 75 to 80 days. Novelty cultivars produce purple and orange heads that change color when cooked.
Candid Charm—midseason
Early Snowball—early
Fremont—early
Snow Crown—early; reliable for spring and fall
Snowball Y—midseason; solid smooth heads
White Sails—midseason

Collards
Days to harvest: 70–80

Flash—non-heading type; slow to bolt; blue-green leaves
Georgia—non-heading type; wavy blue-green leaves Morris—heading type; open pollinated
Top Bunch—deep green, slightly wavy, broad leaves
Vates—non-heading type; compact plants; smooth, dark green, thick-textured leaves; open pollinated

Kale
Days to harvest: 50–60

Blue Ridge—dark blue-green, curled leaves
Redbor—finely curled, red-purple leaves
Vates—finely curled, blue-green leaves
Winterbor—blue-green, finely curled leaves
Kohlrabi
Days to harvest: 50–60
Early Purple Vienna—early, reddish purple with
white flesh
Early White Vienna—early, greenish white with
white flesh
Grand Duke—pale green with mild white flesh

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Want to live for 100 years? Coffee may be part of the answer.

Coffee leads to longer life and better health A study responsible for these findings was led by Veronica W. Setiawan of the University of Southern California. The National Cancer Institute funded study followed 180,000 people of different races for an average of 16 years.

The second study, led by Marc J. Gunter of the International Agency for Research on Cancer, was conducted by European scientists from Imperial College London and looked at more than 520,000 coffee drinkers across 10 European countries.

Two new studies reveal that drinking coffee can have long term health benefits, and the more cups the better.

One study determined that drinking one cup of coffee daily reduced the risk of death from heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, respiratory and kidney disease by 12 percent, and by 18 percent for those drinking three cups a day.

Studies conducted by Harvard University have reported drinking coffee can reduce the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, lower the risk of deadly prostate cancer in men, and reduce the risk of heart failure and skin cancer for people who drank 1-2 cups of coffee daily, according to the San Diego Tribune. The heart failure study showed benefits vanished at five cups a day and paved the way for potential damage. Other studies have found that coffee can protect liver health and reduce the risk of death from chronic liver damage.

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