Tag Archive | Outagamie County UW Extension Office

Honey Bees

bee-hive1Honey bees are not native to the Americas; they were introduced from Europe in the early 1600’s for honey production. Honey bees are thought to have originated in Asia and expanded to North Africa and Europe. There are two species that are considered to be suitable for apiculture. In recent year there has been concern over “colony collapse” and the risk of not having enough pollinators for our agricultural industry. A hedge against this possibility is to encourage proliferation of native bees. The DNR has published a very good article on what an individual can do http://dnr.wi.gov/wnrmag/2009/06/bees.htm#2 . This year the Outagamie County Master Gardeners will be installing various types of bee houses on the grounds of the Outagamie County Agricultural Extension.

Tom Wentzel

OCMGA chair of The Learning Garden

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Composting with Worms

by Patrick Meyer

worm-compostThe process of worm compost is interestingly different from the regular composting procedure. Worm composting or vermiculture is an easy, affordable, and low-maintenance way of creating compost. It has a lot of advantages. Definitely it requires less work, just let the worms eat up all your scraps and in two months you’ll have rich compost at your disposal. The worms used in composting are the brown-nose worms or redworms. They work best in containers and on moistened bedding. Those night crawlers or large, soil-burrowing worms are not good for composting purposes. Just stick with the redworms and things will work out well. All you need to do is add food waste to the container and soon enough the worms will eat them up and convert compost together with the bedding. Before placing your redworms inside containers, place a nice layer of paper to serve as bedding for the worms. Any kind of paper will do, but it has been observed that the worms will consume newspapers, cardboards, paper towels and other coarse papers faster. The worms will eat this layer of bedding together with the scraps of food to convert them in compost. You can also add a bit of soil on top of the paper and a few pieces of leaves. If your redworm container is located outside the house, try considering adding livestock manure on it. Redworms love them.

Fruits, grain, or vegetables are great for worm composting. The redworms can even eat egg shells, coffee grounds, and even tea bags. Avoid giving them meat, fish, oil, and other animal products. Like the traditional composting, these materials only attract pests to the composting bin and also produce bad smell. The proportion of worms to food scraps will be based on how much scrap you like to be composted in a week. For example, if you want one pound of food scrap to be composted a week, all you need is also a pound of redworms. You don’t need to add redworms into the container unless you want to increase the amount of food scraps you intend to compost in a weekly basis.

For containers, keep it well ventilated to let the air in and let the excess moisture out. You can use plastic bins, and even wooden boxes for worm composting. The time to harvest would be when the container is full. Scoop out the undigested food scraps as well as the worms which are usually on the top few inches of the material. The remaining material inside the container is your compost. To remove the remaining worms from compost, you can spread the compost under the sunlight.

Protect Your Conifers this Winter

Winter burn of conifers occurs when the plants do not have enough water over the winter.Oftentimes in the late winter, or even into the spring, conifers begin to turn brown. This browning is a disorder called winter burn. Winter burn results when conifers (especially yews) do not have enough internally stored water for their needs over the winter. As daytime temperatures become warmer in the late winter and early spring, conifer needles begin to naturally lose water (a process called transpiration) as they attempt to grow. During the summer, this lost water would be replaced by water taken up by the plant’s root system. However, in the winter and early spring, soil temperatures are cold enough that the plant’s root system is not functioning efficiently. Thus the amount of water lost by needles is not replenished by the water taken up by the roots. As a consequence, the needles dehydrate and die.
Water conifers well in fall to help prevent winter burn.The easiest way to prevent winter burn of conifers is to make sure evergreens are well watered into the fall. Established trees and shrubs need about one inch of water per week. If Mother Nature does not cooperate, then you should apply water at the drip line (i.e., the edge of where the branches extend) of any conifers (or more extensively if possible) using a soaker or drip hose. Conifers can be watered up until the time when the ground freezes or there is a significant snowfall.
With just a little effort in the late fall and winter, you can have a big impact on the health of landscape ornamentals next spring and summer. So get back into the gardening mode, and use the remaining snow-free days of this year to prepare your garden for a beautiful and healthy coming year.
– Brian Hudelson, Director, Plant Disease Diagnostic Clinic, University of Wisconsin – Madison/Extension
Posted by Vicki

Storing Apples

Apple harvest, Autumn

Apple harvest, Autumn

The Outagamie County Master Gardener Association is proud and lucky to be affiliated with the University of Wisconsin Extension and the educational resources of The Learning Store. From one of the publications at The Learning Store (“Growing Apples in Wisconsin”) comes information on storing your precious fruit after harvest.

I remember being a child and going into the basement (or “cellar” as we called it then) to get fresh apples, each of which had been individually wrapped in newspaper in the fall to keep the skins from touching one another during storage. Not sure if the generations of today would even understand the concept of gathering and storing apples for the winter, but this publication offers the following advice:

“Fall- or winter-ripening applies, which ripen in September and October, will store well for 1-5 months. If you plan to store the apples, harvest them before the peak of maturity while they are still firm. Discard or use any blemished, diseased, or damaged fruit. Store only the best fruit. Overripe or bruised apples will not only store poorly, but the ethylene gas they produce will shorten the life of sound fruit.

Cool apples promptly and keep them constantly cold. For short-term storage, refrigerate at temperatures below 40ºF. For longer storage, temperatures of 32º-34ºF and high humidity are required. Don’t allow fruit to freeze. Keeping fruit in plastic bags with small holes in the bags will help avoid water loss and shriveling. Check the fruit occasionally and remove soft or damaged fruit.”

The 24-page booklet covers information about growing apples such as site selection, planting, weed management, pruning, insect pests, and diseases, as well as much more information. The publication can be purchased as a pamphlet for $4.00 from The Learning Store, or you can simply download the entire publication as a .pdf file to your computer by clicking here. Take advantage of university-based research and education by utilizing the many publications available through The Learning Store by following this link: http://learningstore.uwex.edu/.

Written by Vicki

Tips to Keep Your Canning Safe!

Remember the old stories about folks getting sick from eating someone’s canned green beans?  I found out that was E.Coli!  Nothing to mess around with. When you have a pile of rhubarb, tomatoes,  or other fruits and vegetables take care to preserve them correctly so you don’t endanger yourself or others and so that you don’t waste your harvest.
The following tips are from a lovely article by B. Ingram written in 2011. The article is from the UW Extension which is a great resource for articles on all kinds of topics to enhance your summer and your garden. Here’s a link to the article if you’d like to view it, http://outagamie.uwex.edu/files/2011/06/Tips-for-a-Successful-Home-Canning-Season2.pdf, but here’s a summary.
First, start with a well tested recipe and there are plenty of resources to find these. You can visit The National Center for Home Food Preservation at http://nchfp.uga.edu/ or in Wisconsin the resource http://www.foodsafety.wisc.edu/.
Use recipes that are up to date and equipment that is in good working order.

If you are using a pressure canner there are resources for having them tested every year which is recommended by the Extension.

Make sure your jars and screw rings are in good shape and sterilize them before use. Discard any jars that are chipped and toss any rings with rust. Purchase new lids every year, don’t ever try to re-use the lids!

And the final tip from the article discourages using our creativity when it comes to canning!  I guess we can save the creativity for the garden where it doesn’t have such a direct effect on our food safety.
Thanks to Mary for bringing the article to our attention!
Posted by Rachel

Preserving some of the year's rhubarb! Chutney and sauce for later this year!

Preserving some of the year’s rhubarb! Chutney and sauce for later this year!

A Flower that Blooms All Year Long!

sunflower 1
It was my pleasure to donate my metal artwork to OCMGA and display it in our garden at the entrance to the U.W. Extension office.
This is number 3 of 3 steel sunflowers that I made in the FVTC “Welding Metal Sculptures” class in October 2014. I gave number 1 to my son to christen his new house. Number 2 I donated to the Wild Center, it is now located near the Wild Center main entrance.
sunflower 2
I cut out the sunflower petals and leaves with a plasma cutter. Then belt sanded and rolled and shaped them with the equipment in the FVTC metal fabrication labs. Then I welded all the parts together with a wire feed welder. Lastly, I spray painted four coats of Krylon clear over the entire sunflower. The paint will eventually wear off and it will begin to rust, but I believe that will give the artwork a whole new dimension of character.
This sunflower does not need watering and it blooms 12 months a year!
sunflower rich
Written by: Rich Fischer
Posted by: Rachel

Herbs for Sale

from Master Gardener Mary Learman

Medicinal-HerbsThe annual plant sale of the Outagamie County Master Gardener Association is this Saturday, May 16. In addition to the many perennial plants, shrubs, and vegetable plants, we’ll also have a very large selection of herbs to add to your gardens and containers:

  • Basil                                    Regular sweet, Purple rain, Minette, Thai, Lemon,                                                                        Cinnamon
  •  Borage
  • Caraway
  • Catmint
  • Cilantro
  • Salad Burnet
  • Sorrel
  • Calendula
  • Chamomile                        German
  • Dill                                       Fernleaf
  • Fennel                                 Florence
  • Lavender
  • Lovage
  • Mint                                     Lemon, Spearmint, Peppermint
  • Nasturtiums                       Various
  • Oregano                              Greek
  • Rosemary
  • Sage                                     Garden
  • Savory                                 Winter, Summer
  • Tarragon
  • Thyme                                 French summer, Mother, English, Creeping

Posted by Vicki