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UConn Extension & Wrack Lines Awards

UConn Extension

Bug on flower
Photo: Mallory L.

We are delighted to share that UConn Extension has received three national awards from the Association of Communication Excellence:

Gold Award – Marketing – Budget Under $1000: Bug Week – Kara Bonsack and Stacey Stearns
Silver Award – Marketing – Budget Over $1000: Ask UConn Extension – Kara Bonsack, Stacey Stearns, Mike Zaritheny and Eshan Sonpal
Bronze Award – Writing for Newspapers: Stacey Stearns – “When Did GMO Become a Dirty Word”
Congratulations to our award recipients!

Wrack Lines Magazine: Connecticut Sea Grant

Wrack Lines Spring-Summer 2019 cover

The Spring-Summer 2019 issue of Wrack Lines magazine has received a Grand Award in the APEX 2020 Awards for Publication Excellence. The magazine focuses on climate change issues faced by residents along the coast, highlighting how “People and Nature Intertwine in New Ways”.

Congratulations to all the writers, photographers, editors and graphic designers!

Read the issue here.

Read more about this award: Wrack Lines issue receives APEX 2020 Gran Award 

What is It?

Spotted Pine Sawyer BeetleWhat is it?

The Spotted Pine Sawyer Beetle. It is right on time with adults appearing in June. It’s look alike is the Asian Longhorn Beetle, but the adult stage for the ALB occurs during August, says Carol Quish from our UConn Home & Garden Education Center.

Ask us your question at: http://bit.ly/AskUConnExtension_form

Our colleagues at University of Maine Cooperative Extension have a fact sheet with more information: https://bit.ly/BeetleFactSheet

Photo: Bruce Shay

#AskUConnExtension

Common Garden Mistakes

vegetable sprouting out of soil with words common garden problems written on the photoMistakes are a great learning tool, but they also can dampen any enthusiasm for a new project. When early mistakes compound problems further down the road, they can turn someone away from a pastime that offers great satisfaction, healthy activities and a renewed appreciation of the natural world around us.

So, if you are just starting on the gardening odyssey, let’s look at how to avoid a few common mistakes. Avoiding these trouble spots will make gardening easier, much more productive – and fun!

There are three main components to consider when starting out: sun, soil and water. In simpler terms, location, location, location. If you provide your garden the right combination of these three items, you sidestep many problems that can occur as the growing season progresses. These concepts apply to both vegetable and ornamental gardening, and to any specific type of plant you want to grow.

Let’s start with sun. Different plants have different light needs. Plants are categorized as sun, part sun/part shade and shade – but what do those labels mean? Here’s the breakdown. Full sun means at least six to eight hours of full sunlight a day and you start calculating that after 10 AM. Early morning sunlight isn’t considered strong enough to be included in your calculations.

Part sun/part shade is four to six hours of sun daily and anything less than four is considered shady. Make these calculations after the trees have leafed out in the spring; the sunlight in your yard shifts from winter to summer.

Your soil is the foundation of your garden, both literally and figuratively. It provides support, nutrients and water to your plants. Just like humans, different types of plants have different preferences in nutrition and water. Find out what you can provide and choose plants that will thrive in those conditions. First and foremost, if the site is new to you, or it’s been at least five years since the last one, get a soil test. Find out what you do – and don’t – need to add to your soil. Soil tests are available from the UConn soil lab at http://www.soiltest.uconn.edu/sampling.php

You can amend your soil with additional nutrients and elements, but it’s difficult to significantly change water-holding capacity. The test will help you determine how well your soil holds or drains water, allowing you to choose plants that are happiest in those conditions. Observation will also tell you a lot: how quickly does an area drain after a rainstorm? Is it wet is spring, but dry in the summer? Is it always damp?

A related issue is access to water. While an established plant in the right location may not need any supplemental water, both vegetable gardens and newly planted ornamentals will. Is it easy to get water to this area? Do you need to develop a water storage system, such as rain or water barrels? Or is another location really a better overall choice?

Once you know the characteristics of your space, you can then choose plants that will do well in that location without a great deal of extra work. The old phrase ‘Right Plant, Right Place’ is a valid one. Don’t try to significantly alter the location for a favorite plant that really isn’t right for the spot. It will only lead to frustration and poor results. Instead, find plants that like your location and choose from those. Let your gardening provide a positive experience!

For answers to your gardening questions, go to https://mastergardener.uconn.edu/ask-us-a-question/  . We’ll be happy to help!

Article by Sarah Bailey, UConn Extension State Master Gardener Coordinator

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.

 

Stay Healthy and Safe in Your Home Using CDC Guidelines

family in front of a houseWe are all doing our best to stay safe and healthy during COVID-19. We recommend using these guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help keep you, your family, and home healthy and safe.

Know the difference between cleaning and disinfecting! 

“Cleaning refers to the removal of germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces. Cleaning does not kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.
Disinfecting refers to using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.”

View the complete CDC article.

It’s important to read labels! 

“Labels contain instructions for safe and effective use of the cleaning product including precautions you should take when applying the product, such as wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation during use of the product.”

Note from Healthy Homes Partnership: People and household members with asthma may react to strong fragrances in cleaning products. Use caution and consult your health care provider if you have concerns.

Read the full CDC article.

CDC Cleaning and Disinfecting Tip: Surfaces 

“Wear disposable gloves when cleaning and disinfecting surfaces. Gloves should be discarded after each cleaning.
-If reusable gloves are used, those gloves should be dedicated for cleaning and disinfection of surfaces for COVID-19 and should not be used for other purposes.
-If surfaces are dirty, they should be cleaned using a detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.”

Read the complete article.

Wondering what disinfectant to use?

“For disinfection, diluted household bleach solutions, alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol, and most common EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective.
-Diluted household bleach solutions can be used if appropriate for the surface.

-Follow manufacturer’s instructions for application and proper ventilation.

-Check to ensure the product is not past its expiration date.
-Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser.

-Wear gloves and goggles when using cleaning and disinfectants.

Always label any solution in a childproof container. Store in a locked cabinet where it cannot be accessed by children.”

Read the full article.

Bleach 101

“Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted.”
Check out the CDC’s dilution recipe below:

Prepare a bleach solution by mixing:
5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water or
4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water

Always label any solution in a childproof container. Store in a locked cabinet where it cannot be accessed by children.

Find the complete CDC article.

CDC Cleaning and Disinfecting Tip: Laundry  

“Wear disposable gloves when handling dirty laundry from an ill person and then discard after each use.”
-If possible, do not shake dirty laundry. This will minimize the possibility of dispersing virus through the air.
-Clean and disinfect clothes hampers according to guidance above for surfaces.
-If possible, consider placing a bag liner that is either disposable (can be thrown away) or can be laundered.

Find the complete article from CDC.

A healthy home supports the health and safety of the people who live there. UConn Extension has an educational series of workshops and information on how to make your home a healthy place to be. Your health is impacted by the health of your home. Learn about indoor air quality, asthma and allergies, lead poisoning prevention, carbon monoxide, residential drinking water, mold and moisture, household products, safe and green cleaning, pest control and home safety. For more information visit us at https://healthyhomes.uconn.edu/.

Content curated by Sara Tomis and Mary Ellen Welch

Food Safety Resources for Farmers

farmers market groupAs we understand more about the novel coronavirus causing COVID-19 worldwide, we are constantly updating information and resources to help guide the fruit and vegetable farming community in Connecticut. Please use this resource document with links to information relevant to CT farmers.

It can be easier to adapt to a constantly changing scenario if there are studies or examples to follow. Some farmers markets have changed the way they do business to implement some of the best food safety practices. Here is information from what some farmers’ markets and CSAs are doing. The following was adapted from information compiled by Chris Callahan, UVM.

  • Carrborro, NC Farmer’s Market Case Study – NC State Extension has posted a summary of what the Carrboro Farmers’ Market has done. Briefly, this included communication with market customers, physical distancing by rearranging the market layout, rounding prices for limited use of coins, running a “tab” for customers to minimize cash transactions, no samples, no tablecloths to ease sanitation, and the addition of a hand washing station among other things.
  • Minimize the Number of Touches (CSA) – One CSA has decided to change how they distribute to an urban market.  They have previously trucked larger bins of produce to a distribution site where customers would select their own produce to fill their share. They have decided to pack the shares to order at the farm prior to distribution to minimize the number of people touching the produce. Another alternative would be packing shares to order at the market.
  • Minimize the Number of Touches (Farmers’ Market) – The Bennington Farmers’ Market in Vermont has shifted to online ordering and pre-bagged orders from each farm that are combined into larger collective orders delivered to each customer via a drive-up system. The biggest decision was deciding that they’d actually continue to have the market. The new approach required the addition of an on-line ordering system (Google Forms for now), coordination among farms and some serious organization at the market. Orders are organized alphabetically; pickups are scheduled with a quarter of the alphabet every 30 minutes. People won’t get out of their cars.
  • What are some other farms doing? Some farms have written and implemented specific response plans or taken other measures to mitigate the risk of COVID-19. For example, Two Farmers Farm in Scarborough, Maine have developed a detailed, yet flexible farm plan available online.


If you would like to share what your operation is doing to ensure food safety and have suggestions for the community to combat COVID-19, please feel free to email me at indu.upadhyaya@uconn.edu.

Meanwhile, stay healthy and safe and we will keep you updated with the latest information as we learn more.

By Indu Upadhyaya, DVM, MVSc, PhD

Assistant Extension Educator, Food Safety, UConn Extension

What is that Brown Bug in my House?

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug on wood flooringWhat is that brown bug in my house?
 
“Those are stink bugs, Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs to be exact. They come into homes in the fall to spend the winter in a resting state. They come in through attic vents, cracks and crevices, down chimneys and can crawl under siding making their way inside. They do not damage, nor do they eat or mate or lay eggs. They are just hanging out during the winter in protection inside your home,” says Carol Quish of our UConn Home & Garden Education Center.
 
“We heat and light our houses, which sends artificial environmental signals to the bugs to come out of their winter slumber and we notice them moving about inside.”
 
“To keep them from coming in the fall, seal cracks and crevices, secure window screens and weather stripping around doors and windows. Screen attic vents, too. See the factsheet link for more information.”
 
#AskUConnExtension

Halloween is coming, but you can eat healthy

Halloween can be can be scary time of year for folks trying eat healthy. How do you stay selfish with your health when there are so many temptations?

Change your mind!

Have a plan:

Use apps to track your calories – so you know the true calorie cost of eating candy, or another helping of food.

Start a new tradition:

Butternut squash soup | by zrzka2010 Butternut squash soup | by zrzka2010
Butternut squash soup | by zrzka2010

Eat a healthy meal before trick or treating. Try a hearty vegetable soup with lots of harvest fresh vegetables –

Support your local farmer- give trick or treaters small apples or pears for healthy alternatives to candy

Give trick or treaters non-food items like pencils or stickers

Track your steps around the neighborhood while trick or treating –

Have a Healthy Halloween Dance party instead of trick or treating – make healthy Halloween foods like the Pear Witch Project 

Halloween witch made with a pear and other healthy foods

Try visiting your local farmers markets and farms for the season’s local harvest!

 

For more practical ideas on how to improve your low-income client’s food and nutrition behaviors contact the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program for a series of free nutrition and cooking classes at your agency.

Article by: Heather Pease Nutrition Outreach Educator, Hartford County Extension

Ask UConn Extension: Biodegradable Plastic Mulch

green head of lettuce growing on white biodegradable plastic mulch at Gresczyk Farms in New Hartford, Connecticut
Photo: Stacey Stearns

Farmers: Are you considering biodegradable plastic mulch (BDM) for your crops? Shuresh Ghimire, UConn Extension educator for vegetable crops, visits Bruce Gresczyk Jr. of Gresczyk Farms in New Hartford, Connecticut to discuss biodegradable plastic mulch (BDM), and the advantages and disadvantages of BDM for vegetable farmers: youtu.be/kyvB1QxHAtE

#AskUConnExtension

10 Tips for the October Gardener

  1. Dig and store tender bulbs, corms, rhizomes, and tubers in a cool, dark, place.
  2. Remove plant debris from the flowerbeds. Bag any diseased plant parts and put it in the trash or take it to a landfill but do not compost.
  3. Take a scenic drive to observe the changing fall foliage. The CT DEEP has fall foliage driving routes for Connecticut.
  4. Rosemary is not hardy in most areas of Connecticut. Bring plants in before temperatures drop too low but check plants thoroughly for insects such as mealybugs. Rinse the foliage, remove the top layer of the soil surface, and wipe down containers.
  5. Squash and pumpkins should be harvested when they have bright color and a thick, hard skin. These vegetables will be
    butternut squash stacked on a table at a farm stand in Connecticut
    Butternut squash. Photo: Stacey Stearns

    abundant in farmer’s markets and will make a colorful and healthy addition to fall dinners.

  6. As tomatoes end their production cut down plants and pick up any debris and put in the trash or take to a landfill. Many diseases will over-winter on old infected leaves and stems, so these are best removed from the property.
  7. Remove, bag and trash any Gypsy moth, Bagworm, or Eastern tent caterpillar egg masses or spray them with a commercial horticultural oil to smother them.
  8. Cold-hardy fruit trees including Honeycrisp and Cortland apples, Reliance peach, Superior plum, most pawpaws and American persimmon can still be planted into October. Continue to water until the ground freezes hard.
  9. Outwit hungry squirrels and chipmunks by planting bulbs in established groundcovers.
  10. Drain garden hoses and store in a shed, garage, or basement for the winter. Turn off all outside faucets at the inside shut-off valve, turn on the outside faucet to drain any water left in them, and then shut them off.

For more October gardening tips, visit the Home and Garden Education Center resources, or one of our nine Extension Master Gardener offices statewide.

Article: UConn Home and Garden Education Center