Gardens

Ask UConn Extension Your Questions

Indu
Indu Upadhyaya, Food Safety Assistant Extension Educator. Photo: Kevin Noonan

UConn Extension has collaborated with our partners, communities and stakeholders for over 100 years. We are proud to serve all 169 cities and towns in Connecticut. The worldwide pandemic involving COVID-19 (coronavirus) has produced unprecedented challenges in the UConn community and around the world. Our services continue during this challenging time.

We are still delivering the science-based information you need. We are ready to answer your questions. Consult with us by email or on the phone. All of our educators are working and ready to serve you. Ask us a question online.

We are developing virtual programs to offset canceled in-person learning Abby Beissingeropportunities. Our educators are writing and updating fact sheets and other information. You have access to educational materials on our YouTube channel. We are growing our suite of online resources every day to meet the needs of our communities and stakeholders.

UConn CAHNR Extension educators have curated resources related to COVID-19 for our statewide audiences, including families, businesses, and agricultural producers.

Resources for all audiences includes:

  • Food safety and cooking
  • Hand washing and sanitizers
  • Infection prevention
  • Financial advice
  • Listings of open farms/farmers’ markets and school emergency meal distribution

Parents and families with children out of school can use the resources from our UConn 4-H program to provide new educational activities for youth. Activities available will keep youth engaged and learning and are appropriate for a variety of age groups.

Bruce Hyde presenting at Land Use Academy
Bruce Hyde presenting at Land Use Academy.

A list of resources has been collected for Connecticut businesses. It is a clearinghouse of resources, and not an official site. Business owners can connect to the state resources we provide for official and legal advice.

Agricultural producers are still working on farms, in greenhouses and along the coast in Long Island Sound during the COVID-19 outbreak. Extension educators have developed resources for specific agricultural sectors, including fruit and vegetable farms, aquaculture, and nursery and landscape professionals. Links to important updates from the Connecticut Department of Agriculture also are available.

Our Extension educators are updating and adding resources regularly. Please visit http://bit.ly/COVID-19-Extension.

We are also ready to answer your other questions, including:

  • How do I get my water tested?
  • What is wrong with my plant?
  • Can I eat healthy on a budget?
  • How does my son/daughter join 4-H?

UConn CAHNR Extension has more than 100 years’ experience strengthening communities in Connecticut and beyond. Extension programs address the full range of issues set forth in CAHNR’s strategic initiatives:

  • Ensuring a vibrant and sustainable agricultural industry and food supply
  • Enhancing health and well-being locally, nationally, and globally
  • Designing sustainable landscapes across urban-rural interfaces
  • Advancing adaptation and resilience in a changing climate.

Programs delivered by Extension reach individuals, communities, and businesses in each of Connecticut’s 169 municipalities.

We are here. We are ready to serve you.

 

Soil Testing Lab is Open

soil in hand

In light of agriculture (including community gardening) being designated as essential, the UConn Soil Nutrient Analysis Laboratory will remain open utilizing best practices; social distancing and disinfecting are a high priority. No one will be allowed in the lab but essential personnel. Any soil tests need to be mailed or left in the drop box outside the lab. Anyone needing a soil test should go to http://www.soiltest.uconn.edu. Tests will take longer because they are running on essential lab personnel only.

Virtual Extension Programs

man sitting at an Apple computerConnect with Extension – even during COVID-19 social distancing. We have a variety of virtual Extension programs available for you over the coming weeks:

  • Friday, April 3rd – All DayInstagram stories with Abby Beissinger, our Plant Diagnostician
  • Friday, April 3rd – 10 AM – Jen Nadeau, our Extension Equine Specialist will share horse books for adults to enjoy in a Facebook Live session
  • Monday, April 6th – 8:30 AM – Extending the Grazing Season webinar hosted by Rachel Bespuda for our program, Nutrition’s Role in Sustainable Livestock Production Practices. Pre-registration is requested.
  • Monday, April 6th – 1:3o PM – Webinar with Cary Chadwick, UConn CLEARFrom Maps to Apps: Accessible Tech for Field Scientists and Citizen Scientists Alike 
  • Wednesday, April 8th – 1:3o PM – Webinar with Emily Wilson, UConn CLEARStatewide LIDAR Elevation Points in Interactive, Color 3D! 
  • Wednesday, April 8th – Starting at 7 PM – Virtual 4-H Trivia begins – play online as an individual or family
  • Wednesday, April 15th – Starting at 7 PM – Virtual 4-H Trivia begins – play online as an individual or family
  • Friday, April 17th – 10 AM – Jen Nadeau, our Extension Equine Specialist will share what you need to know about model horse shows in a Facebook Live session
  • Wednesday, April 22nd – Starting at 7 PM – Virtual 4-H Trivia begins – play online as an individual or family
  • Wednesday, April 29th – Starting at 7 PM – Virtual 4-H Trivia begins – play online as an individual or family
  • Wednesday, May 6th – Starting at 7 PM – Virtual 4-H Trivia begins – play online as an individual or family
  • Wednesday, May 13th – Starting at 7 PM – Virtual 4-H Trivia begins – play online as an individual or family
  • Wednesday, May 20th – Starting at 7 PM – Virtual 4-H Trivia begins – play online as an individual or family
  • Wednesday, May 27th – Starting at 7 PM – Virtual 4-H Trivia begins – play online as an individual or family

Check back often. We are adding programs from our Master Gardener program, as well as programs on cooking and nutrition from UConn EFNEP.

Recorded Webinars and Video Lessons Available On-Demand

Managing Stress – You and Your Families

stress spelled out with scrabble piecesIn this challenging time, we need to take care of each other and especially ourselves. Self-care is important to our physical and mental health. We all deserve self-care, especially now. Please consider these resources.

The first is a video on managing stress during a pandemic. It was worth the 17 minutes to hear tips on how to care for ourselves and our children. Maybe you are guiding co-workers or elderly parents. We hope this helps:

https://mediasite.video.ufl.edu/Mediasite/Play/bf0a42f96e874778bf47a8517125f1591d

Related Reading Resources: 

English:

How to Cope with Stress https://store.samhsa.gov/system/files/sma14-4894.pdf

Talking to Your Children https://store.samhsa.gov/system/files/pep20-01-01-006_508_0.pdf

Español:

Cómo lidiar con el estrés https://store.samhsa.gov/system/files/sma14-4885spanish.pdf

Cómo hablar con los niños https://store.samhsa.gov/system/files/sma14-4886spanish.pdf

Other Mental Health Resources:

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has a list of five things you should know about stress and you can find that valuable information here:https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/stress/index.shtml.

Additionally, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the Crisis Text Line have trained counselors who are ready to listen.  If you would like to talk to someone related to COVID-19, call the National Suicide Prevention Line: 1-800-273-8255, or text the word SHARE to 741741.  Website links can be found here: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org | https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org

Please take care of yourselves and remember that we are here to help.

Sincerely,

The Connecticut Sea Grant staff

Master Gardeners – COVID-19 Update

Master Gardener logoIn the 40 years of the UConn Extension Master Gardener program, we have never faced anything quite this … unknown. This isn’t a flood, or hurricane, with a clear finish. This pandemic is an onslaught: health, finances, social interactions, and daily routines are all impacted.

What doesn’t change is the incredible value of gardening; of digging our hands into the soil, of the warmth of the sun on our faces, of fresh food and beautiful vistas, of the sounds of the garden and the wild spaces around us.

As a friend, Gary Oppenheimer of AmpleHarvest, said recently, “Gardening has NOT been cancelled”. Our Master Gardener programming and volunteer work will continue as scheduled, although we will have to be creative in some areas.

Here’s where we stand today:

The 2020 Master Gardener class is continuing on schedule. We have moved the remaining five weeks to an all-online format with online discussions replacing the half-day in-class sessions. This allows us to stay on schedule and we will continue to add new content opportunities as we go forward.

As many of you are aware, the CMGA symposium has been postponed until fall. They will update us as more information becomes available.

We are in the midst of arranging Hot Topics. Originally scheduled for May, it is likely that we will now hold a virtual Hot Topics online. My hope is that it will be interactive. Stay tuned….

Outreach and Office Hours:  Many of our outreach projects will not be impacted by the social distancing restrictions, others will. We will adapt as needed to current and evolving restrictions and we will develop new opportunities that best respond to new needs in our communities. If you have thoughts on how we can best respond to the new reality, please don’t hesitate to share them.

Office hours fall within the current recommended group size. Many of our clients may not want face-to-face interactions; we are looking into options such as online “office hours” and promoting the use of email for communication. For anyone who has underlying health concerns (their own or an immediate family member) making face-to-face contact unwise, we will adjust and adapt.

In summary, this is a time of change, adaptation and creative thinking. There are a lot of unknowns, and it’s likely we will be dealing with this reality into at least some of the summer. We are, however, versatile. We are resilient. Gardeners are constantly adapting to the changes in the surrounding environment; this is just one more. Please do not hesitate to share ideas, issues and concerns with me or with your coordinators.

Getting outside into the fresh air and the sunlight is one of the recommendations for offsetting the negative reactions to social distancing. We’re ahead of the curve!

Keep Calm, and Garden on,

Sarah Bailey

State Program Coordinator, Master Gardener Program

sarah.bailey@uconn.edu

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

‘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.

Have Your Soil Tested for Macro and Micro Nutrients

person holding a cup of soil
Photo: Dawn Pettinelli

Send your soil sample in for testing now. Our standard nutrient analysis includes pH, macro- and micro nutrients, a lead scan and as long as we know what you are growing, the results will contain limestone and fertilizer recommendations. The cost is $12/sample. You are welcome to come to the lab with your ‘one cup of soil’ but most people are content to simply place their sample in a zippered bag and mail it in. For details on submitting a sample, go to UConn Soil and Nutrient Laboratory.