• Make Thanksgiving about the family

    Thanksgiving can be a positive time of year, when families enjoy being together and sharing quality time.  

    Sometimes, in the hustle and bustle of getting ready for the coming holiday season though, the opportunity of taking the time to do things as a family is passed by.  

    Since the holidays are times we think of baking, consider spending time cooking together as a family. Especially when it is too cold to play outside, it is time to get creative inside.

  • Caring for amaryllis

    Amaryllis hippeastrum are sold near the holidays because of their ability to flower any time of year.  

    It is a tender bulb that originates from South America.  Its cousin, the belladonna lily — or as we affectionately call it in Kentucky, “Naked Ladies,” or a nicer version, “Resurrection Lily” — is also an amaryllis, which is native to South Africa.  

    Obviously, the version we grow called “Naked Ladies” is hardy, but sadly, the larger-flowered amaryllis is not.   

  • FSA advises producers to anticipate payment reductions due to mandated sequester

    USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) is reminding farmers and ranchers who participate in FSA programs to plan accordingly in FY2014 for automatic spending reductions known as sequestration.

    The Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA) mandates that federal agencies implement automatic, annual reductions to discretionary and mandatory spending limits.

    For mandatory programs, the sequestration rate for FY2014 is 7.2 percent.

    Accordingly, FSA is implementing sequestration for the following programs:

  • It’s time to prepare rose bushes for winter

    We have had temperatures down in the low 20s to burn rose leaves back and to tell them that winter is approaching and they should go dormant.  

    You can now safely cut them back.

    Generally, we are a few weeks later in the season, but this year, we have had significantly colder weather.

    It seems winter is approaching a little early.

    Before you cut your roses back, you need to know what type you have.  

  • Soil tests and pH are important

    I have had numerous people ask me what to fertilize with and how much.

    I often tell them it depends on the plants they are growing and that I can’t give them an accurate recommendation without a soil test. 

    Granted, we don’t test for nitrogen because it is always present and volatile. However timing and amounts to apply are generally constant for particular plants. 

  • Pregnancy checking pays the bills

    This is an article recently sent from a newsletter Off the Hoof and I wanted to share it with you all.

    From a benchmarking perspective, in a “normal” summer breeding season, it should be expected that 90 percent of your mature cowherd will become pregnant within a 63-day breeding season.

  • 4-H’ers will be able to cure country hams locally

    One of the fastest growing projects in Kentucky 4-H is the country ham project. 

    Last year, over 700 youth statewide participated in the program where they learned the traditional way of either salt curing or smoke curing hams. In central and eastern Kentucky, hams are salt cured and then smoke cured in western Kentucky.

  • Hay bale fires still a threat - check stacks, barns for heated bales

    Recent reports of hay bale fires should remind growers to continue to monitor stacks and storage barns.

    Generally, hay fires occur within six weeks after baling, but have been known to occur even after a year. They begin through a process called “spontaneous combustion, which depends on the initial moisture content of the hay, the ease with which moisture can dissipate from the bales and environmental conditions.”

    Hay fires have increased as more growers have switched to large square bales.

  • Composting diseased plant material

    Now that we have had a killing frost and it is time to put the garden to bed, I have had several questions about composting plant debris with disease infections. 

    Several people have asked me if diseased plant material such as leaves with powdery mildew, black spot, anthracnose or fire blight should or could be placed into a compost pile and decomposed enough that the disease won’t re-infect next year.  And, of course, the answer is that it depends.

  • Lawnmower maintenance tips for fall

    The last lawn mowing of the season is probably upon you (if you haven’t stopped already). 

    This means you should do some winterizing maintenance to your mowers, weed eaters, tillers, and blowers.

    Following a few maintenance rules now will save you time and frustration next spring when you try to start your lawnmower.  There is no bigger frustration in the spring than having an overgrown lawn, time to cut it, and a mower that doesn’t work.  Maintenance now will help your mower run smoother and increase the overall life of the motor.