Archive | October 2015

Conservation Field Days

1000 5th and 6th graders attended the 3-day event.

1000 5th and 6th graders attended the 3-day event.

Over 300 5th & 6th graders attended each day of the 51st Conservation Field Days.  That is 1,000 kids during the 3 days of the event which was held on September 22nd through September 24 at Koehnke’s Farm out past the Outagamie County Airport. There were also 5 Master Gardeners who volunteered as Tour Guides for the first year of this Sanctioned Project for us.

Animal skins at the wildlife station

Animal skins at the wildlife station

There were 9 course stations and 9 tour groups.  Teachers and parents also went along with each group to help. The 9 learning stations were Water, Quarry, Conservation Jeopardy, Gardens & Compost, Recycling, Forest Management, Pond & Wildlife, Food Production, and Soils. Everyone seemed to be having fun learning.  Each station was taught by 2 volunteers from County, State & Federal groups including UW Cooperative Extension Service, WI Department of Natural Resources, USDA Natural Resource Conservation, and Goodwill Community Gardens. Each course station included some interactive things which helped to keep all those kids involved and interested.

Pond/Wildlife Station

Pond/Wildlife Station

Outagamie County Master Gardeners were listed in the thank yous along with those other groups. The event is sponsored and organized by Outagamie County Land Conservation Department based right next door to our County Extension. Each day ran from 9:30am to 2:30pm, and was very fun and educational for all.  The weather was beautiful. All of us volunteers were provided a delicious and much appreciated meal for the lunch break and then back to guiding, teaching, etc.

OCMGA Volunteers Jill Botvinik and Sue Mings

OCMGA Volunteers Jill Botvinik and Sue Mings

TV Channel 5 was there on Tuesday and did a broadcast on their 5pm news program that day. I will admit that I went home, sat down on the couch and promptly fell asleep. Fresh air in the country, walking outside in the beautiful fall weather, helping kids learn, and a free lunch! I plan to be there next September.  Hope to see you too!

Written by Jill Botvinik

Posted by Vicki

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Experiences with Growing Onions

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Rich Fischer with his bountiful crop of onions this year!

OCMGA has a diverse group of gardeners, many of whom are vegetable gardeners. I am very passionate about growing vegetables and this blog update shares my experiences with growing onions. I have been growing onions for many years. Initially I was planting onion sets. Sets work, but the resulting fruit is usually on the small side.  Then I had an awakening. I was fortunate to hear Richard Zontag, president of Jung seed Company, speak at the very first OCMGA Garden Expectations conference many years ago. Mr. Zontag told me that onion plants perform much better than sets. Since then I have been using onion plants with better results. I order the plants from Jung’s catalog in January and they arrive about mid-May just in time for planting. They come in a bundle of 60 or more plants.

This year just for fun I tried something different. I ordered a packet of Red Zepplin onion seeds from Jung’s and started them indoors late-March along with my tomatoes and peppers. The little bitty onion sprouts looked so small and wispy like hair. I did not give them much hope, but planted them in the garden mid-May anyway. OMG! Was I ever surprised at harvest time. These little bitty hairs grew into the best looking onions I have ever seen.   Maybe it is a one-off fluke. But I was so impressed with the results that I thought I’d share my experiment with my fellow gardeners who might want to try starting onions from seed for their vegetable garden.

Next year I am going start Copra onions from seed hoping to get a similar excellent result.

Written by Rich Fischer

Posted by Vicki