Author: kac19013

Maple Syrup Time in Connecticut

The sap is running and sugar houses are boiling. The maple syrup industry is alive and well when the weather cooperates, providing warm days and cold nights to signal the sugar maple trees to make sap. Maple syrup makers will have to collect 40 gallons of sap to boil down to make one gallon of syrup. March is filled with opportunities to visit sugar houses and festivals around the state.

 

For information about Connecticut Maple Syrup events follow the link below.

https://www.ctvisit.com/articles/maple-sugaring-connecticut?inf_contact_key=b3ed6f4a71d5c3886b582dba04ca631b

Some may be offering delivery or other options for products during current closures.

Plant and Seedling Sales

Spring Plant Sale! Pre-orders are open for the 19th Annual New Haven County Extension Resource Council, Inc. Spring Plant Sale! The sale includes a variety of annual flowers and vegetables, hanging baskets, and herbs.  All proceeds Benefit UConn Extension Programs in New Haven County and orders must be placed by April 15 at noon prepaid by check. Pick up will be: Thurs., May 7th, 2-5 or Sat., May 9th, 10-1* at the UConn New Haven County Cooperative Extension Center – 305 Skiff Street, North Haven, CT (corner of Skiff St. & Whitney Ave.). Plant pick up will be designed with social distancing and best practices to maintain the health of everyone involved.

Access the order form here: http://s.uconn.edu/plantsale  Thank you for your support!

The Connecticut Conservation Districts are ready to take your orders for their annual plant and seedling sales, Each district will have some unique plants for their sale, such as bloodroot (shown above), pagoda dogwood, swamp milkweed, highbush blueberry, chokeberry and many others. There are five districts throughout our state so check out the ones near you for their sales brochures and ordering forms on the link below.

https://conservect.org/northcentral/plant-seed-sale/?inf_contact_key=96613844f2127d3e82fbeafbec4f8ae8

Bears will be waking up when warm weather hits

source: PixabayBlack bears will be coming out of hibernation as the weather warms. Their populations have been growing and more bears means increased sightings and potential conflicts with humans. Reduce reasons for them to come into your yard by removing bird feeders and bring in garbage cans promptly.

Follow the link for for more information:

https://www.ct.gov/deep/cwp/view.asp?a=2723&q=325968&deepNav_GID=1655&inf_contact_key=dd6ecf34fdb3772eccef218e16130b43

‘Birds and Bees’ landscaping symposium offered in March

Connecticut Sea Grant and the Rockfall Foundation are co-sponsoring the 2020 Symposium titled “The Birds and The Bees: What Your Mother Didn’t Tell You,” from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 26.

The workshop, at the deKoven House at 27 Washington St., Middletown, will focus on landscaping practices for a sustainable future. Landscape choices, whether for a commercial site plan or a backyard garden, as well as what we plant for pollinators, can influence the viability of our farms and help mitigate climate change impacts.

Sessions include:

  • Landscaping for Birds and Pollinators: the importance of creating a friendly place for nesting and migratory birds (it’s not just for birdwatchers) – Patrick Comins, executive director, Connecticut Audubon Society
  • Planting for Bees: the importance and benefits of bees and of public and private land rich with native plants and nutrition – Dr. Kimberly Stoner, agricultural scientist, Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station
  • Beyond the Birds & Bees: landscape practices that encourage sustainable habitats of all types – Judy Preston, Long Island Sound outreach coordinator, Connecticut Sea Grant
  • Panel – The three speakers will be joined by Mary Ellen Mateleska, director, education & conservation, Mystic Aquarium with a perspective on the role of Citizen Scientists.

The symposium is intended for land use planners, landscape architects, gardeners, land trusts, conservation commissions, birders and butterfly enthusiasts, horticulturalists, engineers, beekeepers and all concerned with plant selection for a sustainable future.

AICP and CAZEO continuing education credits pending.

Registration Information:

Registration fee: $45 / $15 Students
Optional lunch: $15 / Rockfall Members $5

Registration for lunch must be received by March 24.

To register, visit: https://www.rockfallfoundation.org/event/2020-symposium/

Flora in Winter

Posted by uconnladybug under Gardening

Even though this hasn’t been a particularly brutal winter so far, the sights and scents of flowers are a welcome diversion from the muted, bare winter landscape. For me, this usually means a trip to Logee’s Greenhouse in Danielson as well as an excursion to view the spectacular floral displays at Worcester Art Museum’s exhibit, Flora in Winter, which was held this past weekend, January 23-26, 2020.

For those unfamiliar with Flora in Winter, it consists of dozens of fantastic floral arrangements that are created to interpret the museum’s various works of art including portraits, paintings and sculptures. This is the eighteenth year this floriferous exhibit has been held and its theme is ‘Epic Bloom’, influenced by the current museum exhibition entitled, ‘Photo Revolution: Andy Warhol to Cindy Sherman. As you might imagine, very bright colors were encouraged by this theme and brought excitement to typically stoic corridors and common spaces.

Not only could visitors gaze at two dozen of the most gorgeous, and sometimes evocative, floral creations orchestrated by some of the region’s top floral designers but there were several dozen more floral designs created for this event by local florists and garden clubs that were displayed throughout the museum. Even the restrooms were enlivened with flowers.

Every floral creation was awesome. The ability of the floral artists to integrate their containers, flowers, leaves and other horticultural materials while using their creations to interpret a piece of artwork was truly amazing. Each one was a masterpiece and all were my favorites.

Among some of the more intriguing works was this interpretative design by Sandra Tosches of the Greenleaf Garden Club of Milford, MA representing an untitled work by Morihiro Wada (2000) who used natural materials to create contemporary ceramics of intricate abstract patterns.

The yellow lilies and woven leaves give the arrangement by Thelma Shoneman of the Acton MA Garden Club a crowning sensation much like the elaborate crown worn by this Grecian goddess possibly Aphrodite (510-480 BCE). Accessories to the main bouquet in peachy-pink give a feminine touch to this powerful figurehead.

Daintiness and femininity prevails both in this 16th century portrait, Woman at Her Toilette by the School of Fontainebleau (1550-1570) and in Kim Cutler’s (Worcester Garden Club) interpretation of this intimate portrait. At first glance, her arrangement almost appears to be floating in air, a delicate and airy bouquet of old-fashioned roses, calla lilies and ammi. The pussy willows trail down like strings of pearls. As the designer states, “In my design, I hope to capture her delicate beauty as well as suggest her status as a “kept woman”. The glass case illuminates this well.

Vibrant colors demand attention. The black and red battle attire of Benedetto Falconcini, Bishop of Arezzo by Pier Leone Ghezzi (1702-1706) are repeated in designer Mary Fletcher’s (Worcester Garden Club) striking yet somber arrangement. Note the curled flax leaves and the dark blue vase. Golden accents in her floral creation pick up the golden halo while a tipped arrow piercing the arrangement pair with the bow and arrows in the bishop’s hands.

Another dark but alluring piece was the interpretation of Francisco Corzas (1967) Self Portraitby Kathy Michie, also of the Worcester Garden Club. I wish I had been better about noting the flowers and greens used in the arrangements as I believe the large red/white bicolored blossoms to the right are amaryllis but am not sure. Regardless, it is a wonderful interpretation as if you squint to limit your vision, the same colors prevail on both the artwork and the floral creation.

This is but a small sampling of incredulous amount of talent, thought and creativity that goes into this incredible floral and artistic exhibit open to the public each January. Mark your calendars for next January and join me in welcoming Flora in Winter at the Worcester Art Museum.

Dawn P.

Vegetable Production Certificate Course

We’re offering a Vegetable Production Certificate Course, beginning on March 12, 2020. It’s a hybrid format, online and in-person for new and beginning farmers. This year only, we have a special introductory fee of $100 or $150 plus $4 convenience fee depending on the course option you choose.

The course description is available at http://bit.ly/Vegetables2020 and online registration is at http://bit.ly/ExtensionStore.

Registration is due by 5 PM on March 2, 2020.

Please contact the course coordinator, Shuresh Ghimire (Shuresh.Ghimire@uconn.edu, 860-870-6933) with any questions about this course.

Is your water safe to drink?

Posted on December 23, 2019 by Michael Dietz

If you are like most people, as long as water comes out of the tap, you don’t give it much thought. If your water is supplied by a water company, stringent testing is required by law, and you will periodically receive results of the testing. If you are one of the 40% of Connecticut residents who has a private well, the last time you had that water tested was likely when it was built (you can’t move in unless your well water meets certain criteria), or when you purchased it (if you have a mortgage, the bank will often require testing to make sure you have a safe water supply).

Older homes had shallow wells which drew from groundwater close to the surface. These wells are vulnerable to contamination from surface sources. Newer homes have wells that are drilled into the bedrock, and may be hundreds of feet deep. However, even deep wells can become contaminated from surface sources such as nearby septic systems, road salt, leaks from gas stations, or agricultural activities. Other contaminants such as radon, uranium and arsenic are naturally occurring in some parts of Connecticut.

The best way to protect you and your family from possible contamination is to test your water at one of the state’s certified testing labs. For an extra fee they will come to your home and collect the sample for you, or they will give you instructions on how to collect the sample. The Connecticut Department of Public Health has more information about private well testing. A basic potability test will cover a variety of contaminants including nitrate, sodium, chloride, and bacteria. If you leave near an agricultural area, you may also want to test for pesticides.

It is easy to take our water for granted. Keep your family safe and get your water tested!

Journey of A Climate Corps Student

Posted on January 24, 2020 by Juliana Barrett

By Sarah Schechter

Major Choices

I entered UConn as a Natural Resources Major, knowing I wanted to focus on the environment, but unsure of the exact path I wanted to follow. When choosing classes during my orientation session in Summer 2017, it was recommended that I take ANTH 1010: Global Climate Change and Human Societies, taught by Eleanor Ouimet. This was the class that helped me focus on what I wanted to continue doing here at UConn. We spent the class learning about anthropogenic climate change and how that was impacting the world. This became my passion and by the end of the semester, I had declared myself an Anthropology and Environmental Studies double major student.

 Climate Corps

When picking classes for sophomore year, EVST 3100 was brought to my attention as a major elective. This class is titled: Climate Resilience and Adaptation: Municipal Policy and Planning, also known as the Climate Corps. This class was co-taught by Juliana Barrett and Bruce Hyde, both of whom further increased my knowledge of climate change. Throughout the class, we took some time to look at the concepts, but focused more on applying them to real-world-based problems. One project in particular was called the “Cost of Sea Level Rise” and was an exercise in which each group was given a coastal location and the scenario of four feet of sea level rise. My group was assigned Miami Beach-Central and we decided to shift the entire population of the area to another section of Florida that would not be flooded in the same scenario. We created an entirely new layout using “Tempohousing”, which is a company that converts storage containers into stackable apartments. We also accounted for green initiatives such as solar panels, bike stations, and rooftop gardens. By having free reign with regard to our choices, we were able to formulate a radical solution and discuss concepts that we had never approached before. This allowed us to gain a better understanding of how to deal with these big issues and provided us with the opportunity to implement our own solutions. Throughout this class I learned the skills based on theoretical issues that I would later apply to actual scenarios.

Cost of Sea Level Rise Project

CRS

EVST 3100 came with the option of working on an independent study in the Spring 2018, and I decided that I wanted to continue developing the skills I learned in the class. I continued my work with Barrett and Hyde, working on a project with Diane Ifkovic. Ifkovic is the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) State Coordinator with CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). I completed the independent study with her guidance about the Community Rating System (CRS). CRS allows towns to gain points for completing acts such as implementing stormwater management and having higher regulatory standards. Completing these actions gains points that then lead to lower flood insurance premiums for community members. Throughout this independent study I learned how to correspond with state officials and gather research for a real environmental project.

 Internship

After completing the independent study, I learned about an opportunity for an internship with UConn Extension and Connecticut Sea Grant. I applied and was chosen to work on the project with Juliana Barrett and Robert Ricard. I then spent the summer working on two major tasks. The first involved traveling to different locations around Connecticut and Rhode Island including: Davidson, Putnam, Stonington, Groton, and Westerly. I took pictures of flooding and areas that would be susceptible to flooding. I also visited historical societies and gathered images of historic flood events in Connecticut such as the “Flood of ‘55”. These photos were then put together in a photo bank for reference of flood conditions throughout the state. The second task was to create a video, similar to one from a Rhode Island series, about coastal and inland flooding in Connecticut. This assignment provided me with skills in communication with city officials and allowed me to interact with people from my field of interest. The video has been shown to many city officials and the governor of Connecticut; it has been well received. I was also able to attend a Sea Grant Conference and discuss my involvement with them, which was an amazing opportunity!

Sarah Schechter – Evacuation Route Sign in Stonington, CT

 

 Fall 2019

I went into Fall 2019 with the intention of working on a new video, but after talking with Barrett and Ricard, we were unsure of what the next film in the series would be. First, we were looking at making a video about legal aspects of resilience in Connecticut, but that proved to be more complicated than originally thought and has currently been put on the backburner. Instead I have been working on another video about Climate Change in Connecticut, which will be added to the series. Throughout the semester I have been creating an outline by looking at the Rhode Island version, researching climate change impacts in Connecticut, and sorting through a variety of sources. At this point I have a solid outline and will be able to move forward with the next film.

What’s Next?

In the Spring of 2020,

I plan to continue working with Barrett on the climate change script and finalize it by the end of the semester. I will then be able to create the climate change video during Summer 2020. This video will involve a similar process to that of the flooding video, as I will need to travel around Connecticut for pictures and to meet with city officials. I also plan to expand upon this project and base my thesis on my work with the Connecticut Sea Grant and UConn Extension. I am still in the planning process, but I know that I will be sending out a survey to city officials and community members to gather information regarding the content of the videos I’ve made. I will continue to develop this plan with Barrett over the course of the next semester.

 

Do I cut the bare hydrangea sticks or not?

Posted by uconnladybug under Gardening 

During the winter, my hydrangea looks dead. It has lost all of its leaves, as it should, but I am now left with a bunch of bare sticks. Normally when you see this, the urge is to cut them back to the ground. DON’T prune them now. Those dead looking sticks contain the buds for next year’s flowers. If you prune now, you will be cutting off all of the flower buds. Sometimes the deer will come along and eat the tips, producing the same effect as if you pruned them. Other years with very cold sustained winter temperatures below zero, the flower buds will be killed by being frozen. Big leaf hydrangea’s, Hydrangea macrophylla, is only borderline hardy in zone 6.

During warmer winters big leaf Hydrangea fare much better. They also will not lose their flower buds closer to the shore and ocean areas as the climates are more moderated by the ocean temperatures which are warmer than the air.

Bare spring stick just pushing out buds last spring. (Photo: Carol Quish)

So to recap:

Do not prune big leaf hydrangea in fall, winter or spring. Only prune after flowering as flower buds are produced in late summer and carried on the sticks until the following summer bloom time.

Deer may eat the flower buds held at the tips. Use spray deer repellents monthly or cover with burlap. Protect from snow buildup that could break the branches.

Site Hydrangea in a south-facing or protected area of the yard to reduce colder temperature exposure. Hopefully, next summer your hydrangea plant will bloom beautifully.

                                                                                  -Carol Quish

New option for taking nitrogen samples

Posted on January 24, 2020 by Amanda Ryan

There wasn’t a cheap and simple way to take field measurements of Total Nitrogen (TN).  Samples had to be sent to a lab – until now!

To help reduce water quality testing costs, CT DEEP agreed to allow MS4 communities to use less expensive field tests for nitrate and ammonia to estimate Total Nitrogen.  If your TN estimate exceeds 2.5 mg/L then a sample should be brought to a lab to officially determine its Total Nitrogen value. If the results are below 2.5 mg/L, you do NOT have to conduct additional nitrogen testing.

To estimate TN for your sample, plug in your values for nitrate (mg/L) and ammonia (mg/L) into this formula:  TN=1.94 x [(nitrate + ammonia) ^ 0.639]

 When do I have to sample for Total Nitrogen again?

There are a few situations where the MS4 permit requires towns and institutions to sample for Total Nitrogen (TN):

Dry weather baseline screening:

If you see flow during dry weather baseline screening at an outfall that discharges directly to a waterbody impaired by Nitrogen (or ‘Nitrogen and Phosphorus’).

Catchment investigation procedure:

Wet weather sampling of outfalls during the catchment investigation procedure when the receiving waterbody is impaired by Nitrogen (or ‘Nitrogen and Phosphorus’).

Impaired waters monitoring:

If there is a waterbody impaired by Nitrogen (or ‘Nitrogen and Phosphorus’), you need to sample the wet weather discharge from any MS4 outfall that empties directly into that waterbody.

An easy way to see if there is a Nitrogen (or ‘Nitrogen and Phosphorus’) impaired waterbody in your town, go to the MS4 Map Viewer and click on any purple or red waterbody to see what’s listed as its Stormwater Pollutant of Concern in the pop-up window