USDA Announces Additional Pandemic Assistance for Farmers

By: Will Snell and Kenny Burdine

two cows

On March 24th, U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack introduced USDA’s Pandemic Assistance for Producers
that will be distributing more than $12 billion to assist agricultural producers and other
agricultural businesses impacted by the Coronavirus. As a review, Congress passed an additional
COVID-19 stimulus package (Consolidated Appropriations Act) last December providing supplementary
funding for crop and livestock producers who had received financial assistance from the first two
rounds of Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) payments (i.e., CFAP 1 and CFAP 2). New
programs were also included to compensate contract growers and producers who had to depopulate
animals who were not eligible for the first two CFAP payments. On Jan. 15, 2021 the outgoing Trump
administration announced that it would be moving forward with programs for selected provisions of
the December 2020 COVID-19 relief bill, but upon entering office, the Biden administration
immediately announced they would be reviewing these payments and programs before issuing
guidelines. Following the review, the announcement on March 24th outlined USDA’s plan to
distribute these funds and introduce new programs which included the following:

• Reopen Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2) for at least 60 days beginning
on April 5, 2021 in an attempt to identify eligible producers (focusing on socially disadvantaged
producers) who did not apply for CFAP 2 and for producers who want to modify their CFAP 2
applications.

Corn, soybean, wheat, sorghum, hemp, alfalfa hay, and other row crops (click here
for the entire list) along with certain fruit, vegetable and other specialty crops (click here for
the entire list) will be eligible for an additional $20 per acre payment. Payments will be based on
2020 acres and for producers who submitted an accepted CFAP 2 application. Eligible row crop
producers do not need to submit a new CFAP 2 application to receive the latest round of payments.
($4.5 billion).

Cattle producers will be receiving an increase in CFAP 1 payment rates based on the
number of cattle in inventory between April 16, 2020, to May 14, 2020 ($1.1 billion). Cattle
producers with approved CFAP 1 applications do not need to reapply as they will automatically
receive these payments. The additional payment rates are:

Eligible Commodity Payment Rate
Feeder Cattle: Less than 600 Pounds $7.00/head Feeder Cattle: 600 Pounds or More $25.50/head Slaughter Cattle: Fed Cattle $63.00/head
Slaughter Cattle: Mature Cattle $14.75/head
All Other Cattle $17.25/head

Contract livestock producers who had to depopulate their animals due to COVID-19
processing disruptions along with non-contract swine producers are eligible for funding under this
current round of payments, but USDA declared in their March 24ᵗʰ announcement, “payments for
contract growers are currently on hold and are likely to require modifications to the regulation as
part of a broader evaluation. FSA will continue to accept applications from interested contract
growers during this evaluation period.”

Tobacco was eligible for CFAP 2, but similar to contract livestock producers, USDA
states that “payments for tobacco producers are currently on hold and are likely to require
modifications to the regulation as part of a broader evaluation. FSA will continue to accept
applications from interested contract growers during this evaluation period.”


• Additional funding to support Specialty Crop Block Grants, Farmers Opportunities
Training and Outreach Programs
and the Local Agricultural Marketing Program ($500 Million).

• Additional funding (totaling $6 billion) to support new programs including
assistance for:

  • Dairy farmers through the Dairy Donation Program
  • Biofuels
  • Specialty crops; beginning farmers; and local, urban, and organic farms
  • Costs for organic certification or to continue or add conservation activities
  • Timber harvesting and hauling
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other protective measures for food/food workers
  • Improving the resilience of the food supply chain
  • Developing infrastructure to support donation and distribution of perishable commodities
  • Reducing food waste
  • Other possible expansion and corrections to the CFAP

For more specific details on USDA‘s Pandemic Assistance for Producers click here. For more specific
details on Food Assistance Program (CFAP), click here.

Spring Household Hazardous Waste Collection Event

HHW Collection will look a little bit different this year. We have modified the typical HHW event in order to serve the community and maintain COVID-19 protocols. We anticipate an increased number of participants this year after canceling the 2020 events due to COVID-19, and in order to maintain our level of service, we’ve added extra days to drop off selected items.

All month long citizens of Warren County households can drop batteries off for collection with our partners at Batteries Plus Bulbs on the Bypass, as well as pick up bags of paint hardener from Sherwin Williams at the Campbell Ln location.

In addition to that, we will have a limited drop off event at the Warren County Salt Barn on Thursday, March 18th and Friday, March 19th for ONLY batteries, electronic-waste, and paint. Any other items brought those two days will not be accepted.

On Saturday, March 20th we will have our typical HHW collection event for the collection of chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, gas cylinders, waste oil, light bulbs, etc.

In order to reduce long wait times, we are urging anyone who can drop off items during any of the other drop off periods to please do so.

Website for details.

ALL MONTH

Batteries Plus – Battery Drop Off

1150 US 31W Bypass

Bowling Green, KY 42101

Sherwin Williams, Campbell Ln – Paint Hardener Pick-Up

1689 Campbell Ln (Beside Five Guys)

Bowling Green, KY 42104

MARCH 18 & 19 – Lauren Avery Drive – 8AM-1PM

Paint

Electronics (no box TVs)

Batteries

MARCH 20 – Lauren Avery Drive – 8AM-1PM

Hazardous Waste

Paint

Electronics (no box TVs)

Batteries

Land Shark – limited availability

Creating Winter Interest in the Garden

Winter time is the perfect time to plan for the garden. Have you ever thought about plants that would be best for creating winter interest? These plants provide beautiful winter interest through exfoliating bark, unique foliage, and interesting berries, fruits, and even cones. In this episode, I am chatting with Dr. Win Dunwell, University of Kentucky Extension Horticulture Specialist who’s area of specialization is Nursery and Landscape. In our chat, he recommends several winter hardy plants that would make ideal candidates for providing winter interest in Kentucky’s garden and landscape. To listen to the full episode, stay with me right here on the Sunshine Gardening Podcast!

Plants with Winter Features:

Ilex species Winter Red Ilex verticillate- still one of the best

Aronia arbutifolia Brilliantissima

Hammamelis virginiana Sunglow

Pinus densiflora ‘Oculus Draconis’ / Dragon’s Eye Japanese red pine.

Remontant azaleas – Autumn Royalty

Tulip tree the left over seeds heads after seed has blown away look like little candelabras can be cut for table settings

Edgeworthia chrysantia zone 7 blooms over long period white creamy fragrant blooms on bare coarse stems.

Barks – lighting trunks

Persimmon bark dark blocks Host plant to Luna Moth

Sycamore London Plane tree cultivars look great in the winter back yard with trunk lighting

Stewartia pseudocamellia

Hardy Camellias

Leave perennials and grasses foliage and seed heads

Rhodea japonica green leaves and fruit (later than Jack in the pulpit or Green Dragon)

Hellebores I have SunShine Selections from Barry Glick’s Sunshine Farm and Gardens in West VA

Yucca Color Guard

Pachysandra procumbens

Lycoris radiata foliage

Arbovitaes turn brown but Eastern Red Cedar cultivars like Greenpoint and Taylor along with Juniperus chinesis Trautman

Snowdrops

Rose Hips Rosa rugosa, Carefree series, even Knockouts

Tips for hips:

Select roses with single, semi-double, or otherwise cupped-bloom form.

Stop pruning around September 1st.

Provide adequate irrigation with good drainage.

Encourage pollinators, like bees and other insects, to visit your roses by creating a naturalized edge or hedgerow.

Allow blossoms to fade and fall off of the plant naturally.

Uses for hips:

Clip single or clusters of rose hips and use in floral arrangements, wreaths, and holiday garland.

Wash, remove stems and coarsely chop for use in recipes to make jams, jellies, juices, and more. (Never use rose petals or hips sprayed with chemicals in any food product.)

https://www.heirloomroses.com/info/care/roses/roses-with-hips/

Walk in the woods the leaves of spring flowering native orchids are showy on the brown leaves of the trees leaves especially the one with green top and purple underside to the leaf, Tipularia discolor, Cranefly orchid, Aplectrum hyemale, Putty-root.  The leaves are more showy than the flower stalks.  Once you have seen the leaves and flowers you will find them very common to the area where they occur.

Early spring

Pachysandra

Cornus mas and C. officinales bloom Feb-March

I hope that you enjoyed our discussion today over Creating Winter Interest in the Garden! To view the show notes for Episode 14, make sure to visit me on the blog at Warren County Agriculture.

A big thank you to Dr. Win Dunwell for being our guest!

Thanks for listening to the Sunshine Gardening Podcast!

Gardeners keep digging into gardening and remember to add a little sunshine!

Winter Lawn Care Practices

It is safe to say that the lawn is no longer actively growing and is in for a long winter’s nap! Even though the lawn is considered dormant, it is important to practice caution with the winter lawn to avoid any setbacks for the upcoming season!

One major area of concern for winter lawns is the physical damage to it. Foot traffic and parking cars on winter lawns should be avoided to prevent further harm to the turf crowns. Leaves should also be removed and mulched to avoid any shading to the lawn.

Be aware and select de-icing materials that will not be harmful to the home landscape and turf. Rocks salts, calcium acetate, magnesium and potassium chloride, and urea are all harmful to turf, trees and shrubs! It is best to avoid these products, but if it can’t be helped, make sure to follow these basic guidelines:

  • Shovel ice and snow away as soon as possible and continue to exercise this routine frequently throughout the winter. Smaller amounts of de-icing material are less likely to wreak havoc to turf and nearby landscape plants.
  • Use deicers sparingly and never exceed the rate listed on the label.
  • Urea containing deicers should be avoided. They are said to be ineffective at lower temperatures, and the runoff sends excess nitrogen into the water supply.

For more information, make sure to contact your local Extension Office in your area.

Participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count!

I have just the activity to help YOU chase away the winter blues! It involves taking 15 minutes of your time and watching the birds in your backyard. This activity my friends is called the Great Backyard Bird Count and it is happening this year on February 12-15th 2021. This activity is coordinated by the National Audubon Society and other organizations to serve as an instant snapshot of birdlife around the world. Since bird populations are constantly changing, the information you collect from the GBBC helps scientist understand how birds are affected by environmental changes. The data collected over the years can display how certain species’ of bird populations are increasing or decreasing. It can also show scientists what kinds of birds are inhabiting cities and suburbs compared to the natural areas.

In this episode, I am visiting with Dr. Matthew Springer, our Assistant Extension Professor of Wildlife Management with the University of Kentucky to get the scoop on what all is involved with this Great Backyard Bird Count!

Dr. Matthew Springer, Assistant Extension Professor of Wildlife Management

Before we dive into today’s content, I have a favor to ask! If you enjoy listening to the Sunshine Gardening Podcasts, let me know with a REVIEW on Apple Podcasts!

Leaving a review is simple! Just pop open that purple app on your phone, share your biggest takeaway from an episode or what you would like to hear featured in the future! As always, thank you for listening and leaving a review about the podcast!  

To listen to the full episode, make sure to see the audio link at the bottom of this blog post.

Remember to mark the calendar for the Great Backyard Bird Count happening February 12th until February 15th because it’s a fun and rewarding experience for people of all ages! It encourages gardeners to venture outside….or they can watch inside from their kitchen window!

If you would like to participate in other bird counts, Dr. Springer also mentioned about the Christmas Bird Count. To find out more about the Christmas Bird Count, please see the link listed here:  https://www.audubon.org/conservation/science/christmas-bird-count

Also below, I have listed more information about the Merlin app and the eBird app that Dr. Springer mentioned in the talk today as well as where to get more information about the Great Backyard Bird Count!

Thanks for listening to the Sunshine Gardening Podcast!

Gardeners keep digging into gardening and remember to add a little sunshine!

Helpful Resources:

Bird Identifying Apps to Use: https://merlin.allaboutbirds.org/, https://www.birdcount.org/ebird-mobile-app/

How to participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count, https://www.birdcount.org/

Paycheck Protection Program Update

The Economic Aid Act reauthorized the Small Business Administration (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) through March 31 and made several modifications beneficial to farmers. It also authorizes second draw PPP loans.

Eligible expenses paid with PPP loans are deductible for tax purposes. And Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) advance grants are not taxable. See your tax preparer for details.

New rule for farmers only. Calculation of PPP loans is now based on gross income instead of net farm income. Gross income comes from Line 9 of Schedule F. The rule applies to sole proprietors and eligible self-employed farmers who report on Schedule F and were in business as of February 15, 2020.

This means farmers who did not qualify before may now qualify. It also means farmers who did not qualify for the maximum amount may request an increase in the original PPP loan if the loan has not been forgiven.

For those without employees the maximum is now $20,833. Those with employees add the higher of 2019 or 2020’s monthly payroll multiplied by 2.5.

Increase in existing loan amount. Borrowers may be able to request an increase in the original amount of the loan under certain circumstances if SBA has not remitted a forgiveness payment to the Lender (the loan is forgiven). This includes the new loan calculation for farmers and partnerships that did not include partner compensation in the application. Contact the lender that made the PPP loan to request the difference.

Other New Rules. Borrowers may use 2019 or 2020 for purposes of calculating their maximum loan amount. And they may now choose a covered period to pay or incur eligible expenses stretching from 8 weeks up to 24 weeks from the date loan proceeds are disbursed.

Eligible expenses for PPP loans have been added including payments for certain business software and services, cost for goods that are essential to the operation, and rent and business interest paid on obligations incurred before February 15, 2020. These eligible expenses apply retroactively to existing unforgiven PPP loans. PPP loans still require that at least 60 percent of the proceeds be used for payroll costs.

There is a simplified loan forgiveness application for PPP loans under $150,000.

New Loans (First Draw). A borrower who did not receive a PPP loan in 2020 may apply for a new loan based on the new rules. This applies to small businesses, self-employed and sole proprietors with or without employees, partnerships, and others in operation on February 15, 2020.

Second Draw Loans. Borrowers who received a PPP loan during 2020 may be eligible for a second PPP loan, even if the first loan has been forgiven. A qualifying borrower:

  • has 300 or fewer employees,
  • will have used all the original loan funds for authorized purposes before the new loan payments are dispersed, and
  • can show gross receipts in any one quarter of 2020 was reduced by at least 25% compared to the same quarter in 2019.

A borrower in operation all four quarters of 2020 need only show that gross receipts for 2020 was reduced by at least 25% compared 2019. PPP forgiveness received in 2020 is not included in gross income.

This is based on SBA guidance through January 13, 2020.  SBA intends to issue guidance on loan forgiveness and the loan review process later.


Author(s) Contact Information: 

Jerry Pierce  |  KFBM Program Coordinator  |  jerry.pierce@uky.edu

2021 Weed Control Options Come into Clearer View

The recent announcements of the EU approval of RR2XtendFlex (RoundupReady 2 XtendFlex) soybean and EPA approval of three dicamba products has brought a clearer view of soybean weed control options available to Kentucky farmers in 2021.   Prior to these two announcements the waters were murky with unknowns of if the flexibility of the RR2Xtendflex system would be available and if any dicamba formulations would be available to spray on any dicamba tolerant soybean acres.   With the recent announcement came answers and clarification, but also prompted a few more questions and restrictions.

Palmer amaranth

The most recent event to occur was the approval of Xtendimax (Bayer), Engenia (BASF), and Tavium (Syngenta) for applications to DT (dicamba tolerant) soybean.   The three labels stayed largely unchanged from previous versions although crops outside of DT soybean and DT cotton have been removed from the labels.  Restrictions of nozzles, tank mixes, sprayer speed, boom height, wind speed, and temperature inversions remain the same as previous labels.  The restrictions that have changed are rate changes for Xtendimax burndowns, application cutoff date/growth stages, increases in buffer requirements, and the new requirements of a volatility reduction agent or buffer agent.  Each change is described below:

  • Xtendimax can only be applied at a rate of 22 fl oz/a per application, regardless of application timing.  Previous labels allowed up to 44 fl oz/a Xtendimax for preplant/burndown applications, but that rate is no longer labeled.
  • All three labels have a federal cutoff date of June 30th and no application can be made after that date.   The Xtendimax label also indicates a cutoff soybean growth stage of R1,  whereas the Tavium label has a soybean growth stage cutoff of V4.   In both cases whichever occurs first (date or growth stage) takes precedent.  The Engenia label does not include a cutoff growth stage, thus June 30th is the cutoff for this product. 
  • Down wind buffers have been extended from 110 ft in the previous labels to 240 ft in the new labels. Similar to previous labels these buffers can be included in directly adjacent roads, mowed grassy areas, corn fields, DT soybean fields, fields prepared for planting, and/or areas covered by a building.   THIS BUFFER IS NOT INTENDED FOR PROTECITON OF DICAMBA SENSITIVE CROPS,  THE LABELS REMAIN THE SAME IN THAT APPLICATIONS CANNOT BE MADE IF THE WIND IS BLOWING TOWARDS A SENSITIVE CROP SUCH AS NON-DT SOYBEAN, TOBACCO, VINEYARDS, AND TOMATOES.
    • These buffers can be reduced with the use of hooded/shielded sprayers or other approved drift reduction technologies (DRT), as outlined on each label website.
    • Areas in which endangered species are present may need a 310ft downwind buffer plus a 57 ft omnidirectional buffer.  A list of these areas can be found on the Bulletins Live 2 website. 
  • The addition of a volatility reduction agent (VRA) or buffer agent is also required for all three labels in addition to drift reduction agents (DRA) that were required by previous labels.   The list of approved VRA or buffers can be found on each respective products label website.

As in the past, dicamba specific training will still be required prior to application of Xtendimax, Engenia, and/or Tavium.  This training will be offed by the registrants and will largely be available online.

The additional restrictions bring some clarification to past issues of the previous dicamba labels, but the additional restrictions certainly do not make their application easier.  The extension of the downwind buffer to 240 ft may cause havoc as many Kentucky fields are surrounded by trees and thus the buffers will have to be placed within the production field being sprayed.   While the distance in necessary to protect our natural resources and endangered species,  240ft can add up to numerous acres very quickly.  In some cases, the area will be large enough for applicators/farmers to question the feasibility of applying the product to a given field.

The addition of the June 30th cutoff date places a hard deadline on applications, whereas past labels in which growth stages were used allowed many applications to continue to occur in the hot and humid months of July and August.  Weather conditions in Kentucky in July and August simply are not ideal for dicamba applications in any crops, not to mention the numerous sensitive crops that are out during those time of year including tobacco.  This cutoff date does however eliminate a lot of possible uses for double crop soybeans that likely will not be planted until late June and early July, so growers may need to seek an alternative herbicide programs for double crop soybean acres.

Despite the increase in restrictions of the new dicamba labels, the announcement of these labels comes on the heels of the approval of RoundupReady 2 XtendFlex soybean by the EU and thus full clearance for commercial production of those soybean varieties.   The availability of RR2XtendFlex soybean varieties brings versatility to the Xtend platform that can be compared to its closest competitors.   The XtendFlex soybean offers resistance to glyphosate and dicamba the same as RR2Xtend, but also offers glufosinate resistance.   The addition of glufosinate offers postemergence flexibility for farmers who are dealing with glyphosate resistant broadleaves such as Palmer amaranth or waterhemp.   The biggest fallacy, in my opinion, of the RR2Xtend soybean varieties was that farmers were largely married to dicamba for postemergence applications when dealing with waterhemp and Palmer amaranth, especially with the increasing incidence of PPO-resistance in these two weed species.   In many cases a farmer/applicator was stuck in between a rock and a hard place when deciding when to apply dicamba under restrictive conditions and a rapidly growing weed.   The addition of glufosinate offers a bit more flexibility and can allow a farmer to make an effective postemergence application of glufosinate if environmental conditions or surrounding crops do not allow for a timely application of dicamba.   It must be said, though, that glufosinate is very capable of drifting the same as any other herbicide and thus if the wind is blowing at high speeds towards a sensitive crop no herbicide application, glufosinate, dicamba, or other should be applied.

As has been the message from University of Kentucky Weed Science in the past, the specific dicamba formulation one wants to apply and/or when to apply glufosinate matters less than the residual herbicide applied.   Anybody choosing to raise RR2Xtendflex soybean who is dealing with Palmer amaranth or waterhemp must remain vigilant and apply robust preemergence herbicides.  Research supported by the Kentucky Soybean Board has shown that even with the flexibility of the RR2XtendFlex soybean platform the use of a residual herbicide with 2 to 3 effective sites of action is more influential on end of season waterhemp and Palmer control than the choice or sequence of postemergence herbicides.   This message applies to all herbicide tolerant soybean systems, and will continue to be the message for these two troublesome weeds.

Up to the recent two approvals of RR2XtendFlex soybean and Xtendimax, Engenia, and Tavium there was a lot of unknowns in weed control going into 2021.  These recent approvals have brought a lot clarification to what farmers will have available for weed control in 2021 and their options are now fairly large which is great for soybean farmers.

AGR-256, Identification of Palmer Amaranth, Waterhemp, and Other Pigweed Species: http://www2.ca.uky.edu/agcomm/pubs/AGR/AGR256/AGR256.pdf

Author: Travis Legleiter, Plant and Soil Sciences

Create a Winter Container Garden

The holidays are literally right around the corner! Have you gotten all your decorating done? You may have answered yes to that question, but have you thought about the outdoor decorations? Have you ever heard of a winter container garden? Yes! You can create a container garden in the winter time. To find out just how to create a winter container garden, stay with me on the Sunshine Gardening Podcast for my secrets on creating a gorgeous winter container garden for this holiday season! 

Remember that pretty container filled with annual flowers that was used all summer and maybe even to fall if you weren’t too tired? Well, the same container can be re-worked and situated in your home’s entryway to welcome close family and friends in for the holidays!

To begin creating a winter container garden, use a hard plastic or wood container that can withstand the harsh winter elements filled with potting soil mix. Make sure the potting soil is a little below the top rim of the container. If not, add more potting soil or use newspaper to bring it closer to the top.

Next, collect clippings from different landscape trees and shrubs growing around your home or neighborhood. Examples of greenery might include southern magnolia, white pine, Eastern red cedar, holly, heavenly bamboo, spruce, boxwood, and Eastern hemlock. Cut varying lengths of greenery when gathering samples. The thought is to use the longer pieces to “spill” out of the arrangement and the shorter pieces to “fill” in around the spiller plants.

Kentucky’s landscape is filled with different varieties of evergreen trees and shrubs that can be cut and used as fresh greenery in a number of holiday decorations for the home! Take a look around your yard to see what greens are available in your neighborhood.

  • White Pine, scientifically known as Pinus strobus, offers a blue green color to arrangements and provides a nice fragrance when situated in the home. Not to mention, it has excellent needle retention.
  • Another readily available greenery item is Eastern Redcedar, Juniperus virginiana, which possesses fleshy blue berries for good color and smells wonderful when brought indoors.
  • Southern Magnolia, Magnolia grandiflora, a favorite among Southerners has glossy, dark green leaves with velvety, brown undersides that give an interesting contrast when placed against other leaf textures.
  • Holly is another traditional holiday green that adds interest depending on the variety that is being used. Some leaves give a blue color while other holly varieties can be variegated. If looking for berries, make sure to collect from the female plant.
  • Eastern Hemlock, Tsuga Canadensis, is one of my favorites to use around the holidays for decorating. This evergreen gives a lacey effect to fresh arrangements. The leaves are flat and the undersides have more of a white appearance on the undersides. At the ends, find small pinecones that look like little ornaments attached.
  • Other types of greenery such as Colorado Blue Spruce, and Boxwood are acceptable, too.

Things to know before cutting. Make sure to use clean, sharp cutters and cut at an angle for better transport of water and nutrients. Before cutting greenery from trees in the landscape, carefully consider which branches need to be cut. It is best to distribute cuts evenly throughout the tree or shrub to preserve its natural form.

The tips to know to ensure freshness! After cutting the greenery, immerse stems into a bucket filled with water and soak it overnight to maximize moisture. An optional step would be to allow the greenery to dry and then spray it with an anti-transpirant such as Wilt-pruf to help seal in additional moisture. However if you are using blue spruce, juniper berries, or cedar avoid using anti-transpirants, since this product can damage the wax coating that gives the plants their unique color.  

Now comes for the fun part—creating the winter container garden! Here are some items that you will need before you begin the process.

Gather up a round tomato cage and turn it upside down where the wire stakes are pointed up. The round part of the tomato cage should be positioned on the bottom with the 4 prongs facing upward to look similar to a Christmas tree. This piece will serve as the thriller in this arrangement and also give the container some height.

For some added cheer, attach Christmas lights to the tomato cage using floral wire. Use a spiral pattern when adding the lights to the tomato cage, or if you prefer more lights, place strands on each wire of the tomato cage. Don’t forget to place the plug-in towards the back of the container and next to a plug-in.

After getting the lights attached, put a block of green floral foam in a sink filled with room temperature water. The floral foam will support the greenery in place and keep it fresh by holding in moisture. Avoid forcing it down in the water where air bubbles form and allow the water to slowly soak into the block like a sponge and sink to the bottom. Floral foam can be purchased at most big box stores or at your favorite craft and floral supply store.

Place the block of wet floral foam in the middle of the container, and put the round base of the tomato cage over the foam. Next, take a roll of clear tape and secure the sides of the cage and floral foam to the container to keep it from falling over.

Cut stems of greenery at an angle and insert them into the wet floral foam. Start on the sides, then the front, and back of the arrangement, so the greenery appears as if it is cascading over the sides of the container. Add smaller pieces of greenery to fill in around the spiller until the foam is no longer visible.

After the greens are placed, for the finishing touch, incorporate natural elements like red berries, magnolia pods, or pine cones for a creative personal touch. Place your arrangement near the entrance of your home and watch how it glows with glamour from top to bottom! Guests will enjoy viewing these fresh arrangements around the holidays, and you will appreciate it more, knowing that you created it yourself using natural materials from around Kentucky’s landscape!

I hope that you enjoyed this episode of the Sunshine Gardening Podcast! For more information about today’s show, make sure to see the show notes on the blog at Warren County Agriculture, https://warrencountyagriculture.com/

To stay up to date on all the latest episodes, make sure to hit the subscribe button wherever you get your podcasts. By hitting the subscribe button, you will be notified of future shows where gardening tips and tricks will be shared to help gardeners reach their gardening goals and to help the sun shine a little brighter over your Kentucky garden.

Find Inspiration at the Virtual Specialty Crop Conference!

Make plans to attend the Virtual 2020 Specialty Crop Conference planned for Thursday, December 10th! This conference is geared toward both new and experienced growers looking to diversify their farming operations.

With the timing of this conference, producers can gain knowledge and inspiration to utilize on their farms! The conference is free and open to anyone who is interested in learning more about growing specialty crops in Kentucky. We have a great line-up of specialty crop growers, Extension specialists, and other speakers planned for this conference! View the photos below to see the specialty crops which will be highlighted at the conference.

To view the entire schedule for the Virtual 2020 Specialty Crop Conference, see the schedule listed below.

Virtual 2020 Specialty Crop Conference Agenda

If interested in attending the Virtual 2020 Specialty Crop Conference, register HERE by clicking on this link:

https://uky.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZEucequrTIpE9ST7CKXdDfV_-2_roqoxpkn

If you have other questions related to the conference, please contact the Warren County Extension Office at (270) 842-1681!

7 Fun Ways to Use Pumpkin this Season!

#1. Eat Them!

Pumpkin is a nutritious food to consume. They are low in fat and sodium and provides an excellent source of vitamin A and fiber. To prepare fresh pumpkin at home, wash the pumpkin and cut lengthwise. Remove the guts of the pumpkin and place it in a baking dish. Bake in the oven on 400 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour or until tender. For some nutritional pumpkin recipes, check out the Chocolate Pumpkin Snack Cake and Roasted Pumpkin Seeds.

CHOCOLATE PUMPKIN SNACK CAKE

• 1 (18.5 ounce) box Devil’s Food cake mix

• 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin or 2 cups fresh pumpkin (cooked and mashed)

1. Mix cake mix and pumpkin in a large bowl. Batter will be thick. 2. Spread batter into a greased 13 x 9 inch cake pan. 3. Bake according to cake mix package directions for a 13 x 9 inch pan. 4. Cool and cut into 15 pieces. OPTION: Try using other flavors of cake mix, such as spice or butter pecan. Cupcakes can also be made with this recipe.

NUTRITION FACTS PER SERVING: 140 calories; 2.5 g total fat; 1 g saturated fat; 0 g trans fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 260 mg sodium; 29 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 2 g protein; 30% Daily Value of vitamin A; 2% Daily Value of vitamin C; 4% Daily Value of calcium; 8% Daily Value of iron

Use fresh pumpkin in the Plate it up! Kentucky Proud recipes for the pumpkin apple muffins for breakfast or make fall spiced pumpkin bread to serve as a bread or dessert.

Pumpkin Apple Muffins

Ingredients: 

  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1¼ cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1¼ teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1¼ cups honey
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1½ cups fresh pureed pumpkin
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 2 cups Granny Smith apples, finely chopped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine flours, baking soda, salt and spices. In a small bowl, combine honey, eggs, pumpkin and oil; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in apples. Fill greased or paper lined muffin cups, two-thirds full. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until muffins test done. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan. Yield: 18 muffins

Note: Can substitute two cups granulated sugar for honey, decrease baking soda by ¼ teaspoon and increase oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
Nutritional Analysis: 200 calories, 7 g fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 35 mg cholesterol, 160 mg sodium, 35 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 20 g sugar, 3 g protein

Don’t forget that the pumpkin seeds can even be eaten too! Take the seeds and roast them in the oven. Add your favorite seasonings and you have a healthy snack or seasonal salad topper.

#2. Decorate Them!

One fall activity that youth look forward to is pumpkin decorating! Take your family to a local pumpkin patch to pick out their own pumpkin. Once you have picked out a pumpkin then your child can select their preferred method on how to decorate their pumpkin, without the hassle of having to carve them too! Options may include painting their pumpkins with acrylic paints or creating their own designs. Parents may want to purchase decorating kits at local crafts stores. The kits can be purchased in all different designs like dinosaurs, cats, Disney characters, or funny jack-o-lantern faces. The best part about these kits is they can be recycled year after year. Another option is fun 3-D stickers where kids can make funny faces on their pumpkin. The last kit used was a cat kit that came with foam parts and pipe cleaners. With the foam Halloween decorating kits, it contains everything that a parent would need to help their child decorate their pumpkin.  If you do plan on carving the pumpkin, carving design books are available where the design is perforated instead of having to use scissors to cut them out. 

#3. Create a Fresh Pumpkin Centerpiece using Natural Elements!

With pumpkins in a huge supply this October, create a fresh do-it-yourself pumpkin centerpiece to brighten up your lovely abode! First, gather a few materials to begin your project — a sharp knife, a big spoon, one block of wet floral foam, clear tape, scissors, a small pie pumpkin, and a variety of seasonal flowers and natural elements from the landscape such as garden canna, dried hydrangeas, purple basil, sedum, and goldenrod.

Begin by soaking a block of floral foam in a sink filled with cold water to get it wet. Allow the water to gradually soak up into the foam and avoid pushing it down in the water where it can gather air bubbles. While the block is soaking, take the pie pumpkin and with a knife carve a circle around the top of the pumpkin’s stem to hold the wet foam of your arrangement. Remove and discard the seeds and pulp.

Next, place the water saturated block of floral foam inside the pumpkin. You may have to cut it with a knife to make sure that it fits in the opening of the pumpkin. This is the perfect membrane for holding the mechanics of the arrangement.

Add the thriller of the arrangement first which would be the tall garden canna to give it some height. Make sure to cut stems at a diagonal so water will easily transport up the stem. Next, add dried hydrangeas to serve as the main flower for the arrangement. Place the purple basil greenery around the hydrangeas to give a nice pop of color. Lastly, add the stems of sedum and goldenrod as the filler flower to fill in the dead space and finish the arrangement.

#4. Make a Gratitude Pumpkin!

Spend time with family by creating a gratitude or a thankful pumpkin. To create this pumpkin, take a black permanent marker and have each member of the family write what they are thankful for each day. Keep the pumpkin on the table until Thanksgiving to serve as a reminder of what your family is thankful for this season!

#5. Assemble a Table Centerpiece using Pumpkins!

Another way to use other pumpkins this season is to create a pumpkin centerpiece! Grab a white plate or tray from around the house, other types of pumpkin whether it be multi-colored ones or small white ones, and collect fall clippings from trees and shrubs around the landscape to create a simple fall centerpiece for the table!

To begin this process, place one type of tree cutting on the bottom of the white plate or tray to serve as the base. In the picture above, we used a deciduous shrub showing bright red berries. In the picture below, we selected heavenly bamboo. Next, place the pumpkins on top of the leaf clippings. Make sure to use an odd number of pumpkins like 3’s or 5’s. Next, add another type of colorful fall foliage around the pumpkins for some accent color like the red maple or even the Northern Sea Oats. For some extra embellishment, place small raffia bows around the stems of the pumpkins. You can also add little tea lights around the pumpkins if you have any extra room. Another added touch would be to personalize the pumpkins with Thanksgiving sayings or blessings for the table. Have fun and be creative!

Other pumpkins used in a centerpiece.

#6. Make a Pumpkin Bird Feeder!                                 

This is a fun project and activity to perform at home and involve the kids. Plus it helps to feed the birds at the same time!

To make the pumpkin bird feeder, use a small to medium sized pumpkin and with a knife cut and remove all the guts of the pumpkin. To make the hanger for the pumpkin bird feeder, take heavy-duty string and attach it to the sides of the pumpkin by drilling a hole. Another option is to place the string around the sides of the pumpkin and in the grooves and secure it down with clear tape. Tie the string together in a knot if using several pieces of string. Place birdseed in the center of the pumpkin, based on the birds you wish to attract. If you want to provide a place for the birds to perch when feeding, add tree branches or small twigs to the sides. Hang up the finished pumpkin bird feeder in a tree and watch the feathery friends from your favorite window.

#7 Lastly, recycle the pumpkin to the compost pile!

It is always good to return nutrients to the soil by composting it. Cut up the pumpkin(s) into sections or quarters and add it to the compost pile. Add water and turn it often with a garden fork to incorporate with other materials from the compost pile. In a few short months, the compost pile will reduce in size and finished compost will smell earthy, feel crumbly, and appear dark in color.