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Joanna talks to Nicole and Jordan from Simple Greens to talk about their farming operation.
Nicole and Jordan decided to use their love of gardening to grow food, educate and advocate for a healthier happier community. What started as a healthy hobby of DIY gardening projects using repurposed materials has turned into lifestyle goals to grow healthy food for their selves and for their community. They are essentially a micro-farm. Every year they continue to gather data, learn from their yearly farming experiments and slowly figure out the best crops for the space they have. They live on 2.71 acres where they grow lettuce, greens, herbs and cucumbers hydroponically in several areas on their property including a 2 car garage. They find greens, lettuce and certain herbs grown hydroponically have better yields and are more ergonomically managed. Lettuce is a great beginning gardener plant. Other produce like tomatoes, sugar peas, root vegetables, most herbs, berries, flowers, etc. are grown in soil. They gather leaves in the fall to use as compost and mulch. They are in their 5th growing season. Their largest challenges? The have 4.
l) They have clay soil
2) On the sunniest spots on their shady property
3) It takes time to build the soil and rotate the right crops while building
“said” terrible soil
4) As you will see they are also operating in a small space.
That may be the most unique thing about them–their size. Big or small, each spot and plot in the yard viable for food production adds up and kicks the butts of the two people living there. Their goal is to keep experimenting and learning how to grow more produce varieties. They will expand at home until they can buy land to further their crazy dream. The idea is it will keep them happy and healthy.
Interested in trying a healthy snack? Check out the video for the Kale Mango Smoothie.
With daffodils, dogwoods, and forsythia in bloom, homeowners get the itch to spend some time in their yards. The following are some do’s and don’ts for spring lawn care on cool-season grasses (tall fescue, Kentucky bluegrass) in Kentucky.
Do: Get your Mower Ready for the Season!
• Having your mower ready to go before the season starts will save you downtime during the growing season.
• Sharpen blade. Having sharp mower blades are very important to turf aesthetics and
health. To learn how to sharpen your blade, check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JMy1j9NR89o&list=UUMFY6zEWe6uJEYakzOofhIg
Don’t: Apply Nitrogen.
• The vast majority of nitrogen fertilizer should be applied in the fall. Fall applications
improve the health of the lawn and result in a greener lawn in the winter, less spring
mowing, and less weeds, heat stress, need for water, and disease problems in summer.
• Nitrogen applied in spring and summer promotes growth of warm-season weeds such as crabgrass, goosegrass, and bermudagrass. Further, high amounts of nitrogen in spring
and summer can result in increased damage from white grubs in the soil. Adult beetles
are attracted to the lush lawns and high nitrogen levels restrict turf rooting which
compounds the damage from the white grubs feeding on the turf roots. More
information on fertilizing lawns can be found in this video:
Do: Apply a Pre-emergent Herbicide.
• Annual grassy weeds such as crabgrass and goosegrass begin to germinate in the spring
and depending on the thickness of the lawn, the amount of weed seed in the soil, and
the environmental conditions, untreated populations of these weeds can out-compete
and take over your desired lawn species. By applying a pre-emergent herbicide prior to
weed germination, weed numbers can be drastically reduced and your lawn can have
the chance to flourish without fighting weeds for space, nutrients, light, and water.
• In western Kentucky, a pre-emerge herbicide should be applied prior to around April 7.
In central and eastern Kentucky, the spray before date is usually around April 15.
• A pretty good indicator plant for knowing when to apply a pre-emergent herbicide by is
forsythia. Generally, a pre-emergent application should be applied before forsythia
drops its blooms (Figure 1).
• Do not apply weed and feed products as we don’t want to be applying nitrogen to our
cool-season lawns in the spring.
• If you miss the pre-emerge window, and weeds begin to germinate, your best bet is to
apply a post-emergent application to small seedlings as most pre-emergent products do
not work after germination. For more information on controlling weeds in your lawn,
check out the following publications:
Don’t: Seed in the Spring.
• The best time of year to seed lawns is in the early fall. The concern with planting in the
spring is that there is significant competition between seedlings and grassy weeds (and
weeds almost always outgrow our desired species) and the immature seedlings can
struggle with summer heat and drought more so than a mature lawn.
• If you have to seed in the spring, plant around the time that forsythia is in bloom (Figure 2), as soil temperatures are adequate at this point for germination of tall fescue or Kentucky bluegrass.
• For more information on establishing or renovating lawns, see:
Do: Mow at Regular Height.
• Once the grass starts to grow in the spring, it will really start to take off. We see most of
the growth in the spring of the year, it slows down in the summer, and then ramps up
again in autumn (Figure 2).
• Because the grass grows at a high volume in the spring, it’s best to not let the height get
too long before mowing. Ideally, never cut off more than 1/3 of the leaf in one mowing.
For example, if you want to maintain your lawn at 3 inches, mow when the height
reaches about 4.5 inches. Removing more than 1/3 of the leaf blade results in a
reduction in root growth.
• Mowing at taller heights has been shown to reduce crabgrass populations without the
use of herbicides. Recommended heights for lawn grasses in Kentucky are:
o Tall fescue 3 inches or taller
o Kentucky bluegrass 2.5 inches or taller
• For more information on mowing your lawn, see the following publication:
By following these basic do’s and don’ts, you can start your lawn off on the right foot this spring and enjoy it more and work on it less throughout the year.
Source: Dr. Gregg Munshaw, Turfgrass Extension Specialist, University of Kentucky
2018 was Kentucky’s wettest year on record, and the new year seems to be more of the same. This means most livestock producers are dealing with less than ideal conditions, and cattle are showing signs of stress.
“It is important to understand this winter has been relatively easy temperature-wise but difficult for cattle in Kentucky,” said Michelle Arnold, ruminant extension veterinarian for the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. “Cows of all ages are losing weight now at levels typically seen in late winter.”
Prolonged cloudy, wet weather with regular bouts of rain has resulted in muddy conditions that require substantially more energy in feed just to maintain body heat.
“Hay quality is also exceptionally poor this year, as much of it was cut very ripe, rained on while curing and baled with enough moisture to support mold growth,” Arnold said.
Winter feeding programs on many farms aren’t enough to support cattle this year, especially those in late pregnancy or early lactation, or their newborn calves, even though bitter cold hasn’t been a factor to this point.
Arnold explained that cattle have several defenses against cold, the first of which is their hair coat. The coat grows longer in the winter and helps conserve heat and repel cold. If an animal’s coat cover is wet and muddy, its energy requirements can easily double, especially if the animal has no wind protection.
“Energy from intake of hay that is adequate for maintenance in normal years is falling far short of the requirement this year,” she said. “Cold conditions are not too difficult for cattle, but when rain and wind are added, heat loss is multiplied several times by the effects of conduction and evaporation. Under these circumstances, the ‘wind chill factor’ referred to by the meteorologist has real meaning to a cow.”
To combat this, producers need to supplement cattle with adequate energy and protein sources. Hay of unknown nutritional quality often does not provide enough nutrition to meet the animal’s basic requirements. This will result in depletion of body fat stores, followed by breakdown of muscle protein and finally death due to insufficient nutrition.
“Typically, near the end of most winters, both veterinary diagnostic laboratories in Kentucky receive older beef cows for necropsy,” Arnold said. “This winter, malnutrition cases include young cows and pre-weaning/weaning age calves, indicating serious nutritional deficiencies in the feedstuffs, especially the hay produced last summer. The producer may first notice a cow getting weak in the rear end. Later she is found down and is unable to stand. Death follows within a day or two after going down. Multiple animals may die within a short period of time.”
At necropsy, the pathologist may find a thin animal with no body fat stores, but the rumen is full of bulky, dry forage material which is poor quality hay. Even the small seam of fat normally found on the surface of the heart is gone, indicating the last storage area in the body for fat has been used up.
Despite having had access to free choice hay, these cattle died from starvation. Although hay may look and smell good, unless a producer tests the hay for nutritional content, he or she does not know the true feed value of that harvested forage.
“It is often difficult for producers to bring themselves to the realization that cattle can actually starve to death while consuming all of the hay they can eat,” Arnold said.
She also encouraged producers to look at their mineral supplementation, as copper and selenium levels have been far below acceptable levels this year. Deficiencies can lead to multiple problems, and it’s best to address them before they get to that point.
“We want producers to understand how important it is to test their hay. It is simple, inexpensive, and the results are easy to interpret,” Arnold said. “Your local Cooperative Extension Service office can help you. Other than that, review your nutrition program, and if your cows are losing weight, consider supplemental feed to get them through the rest of the winter.”
UK beef specialists Kevin Laurent, Jeff Lehmkuhler and Roy Burris created an online supplemental feeding tool at http://forage-supplement-tool.ca.uky.edu/, where producers may enter hay test values and stage of production to help find appropriate supplements for many operations. Producers should still monitor intake and body condition through the winter and make sure cattle have clean drinking water and access to a complete mineral supplement.
Michelle Arnold, 859-257-8283
Kristin visits with Michelle Wheeler of River Bend Family Farm in Scottsville for a session of Kentucky Farms, Kentucky Flavor. In this episode we learn a little more about River Bend Family Farm.
My family has been farming in northern Indiana since they came over from Germany and England in the early years of our nation. I grew up on a grain farm where we grew seed corn, sweet corn, beans, and alfalfa/brome grass hay under center pivots. I am the middle daughter of three girls, and we worked with our parents baling and stacking hay, driving tractors, and doing the daily work of a farm. I was very involved in 4-H and decided to major in Agribusiness Economics at Southern Illinois University. After college I worked in crop protection in the midwest for DowElanco and Zeneca, where I loved being in the field working with my retail and grower customers. Once we had children, our two agricultural career household decided that David would be the primary career and I did contract work in the crop protection business to be able to maintain my skills and contacts, while being able to enjoy staying home with our three children. In 2014, we finally were able to purchase 132 acres of our own, after living in Briarwood Subdivision for 14 years. My love for growing and preserving flowers and vegetables goes back to my Grandmother, so in an effort to try to produce an income stream to offset the debt load we took on, we decided I would try growing vegetables on a small scale to offer to CSA customers. We have added cut flowers and this year our pumpkin patch.
Joanna shows us how to make a delicious Tex Mex Spaghetti Squash Casserole.
Spaghetti squash is low in calories. One cup raw squash contains 42 calories. It contains vitamin C, potassium and calcium. It is naturally free of fat and cholesterol. Choose squash that is a creamy to deep yellow in color. Look for hard skinned, evenly colored squash without blemishes or ridges. Avoid squash that are tinged with green as they are not mature. Spaghetti squash can be stored at room temperature for up to one month. Longer if stored in a cool, dry, dark location. Do not wash before storing. The recipe is as followed:
1 small (about 2 pounds) spaghetti squash, 1 pound lean ground beef, ½ cup chopped onion, ½ cup chopped bell pepper, 1 teaspoon minced garlic, 2 teaspoons dried cumin, ¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, ½ teaspoon salt, 1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes, 1 (4 to 5 ounces) can chopped mild green chilies, 1 ½ cups low fat cheddar cheese, 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare the squash by carefully cutting it in half lengthwise with a sharp knife and scooping out the seeds. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet, cut-side down and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a sharp knife can be easily inserted into the rind. Remove the squash from the oven and cool. Use a fork to scrape out the stringy flesh from the shell and place in a colander. Press out as much liquid as possible. Place squash in a medium bowl and keep warm. In a skillet, cook the ground beef over medium heat until browned. Add the onion, red bell pepper and garlic. Continue to cook until the vegetables are tender. Add the cumin, cayenne pepper and salt. Drain well and set aside. In a small bowl combine the chopped tomatoes and green chilies. Spray a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with non-stick coating. Layer half of the spaghetti squash in the bottom of the pan. Spread half the meat mixture on top of the squash. Layer half of the tomatoes and chilies on top of the meat and top with half of the cheese. Repeat the layers. Bake at 350 degrees F until the casserole is hot all the way through and the cheese is bubbly, 15-20 minutes. Sprinkle with the cilantro and serve.
Grazing forages during the summer months is a great way to reduce stored feed costs. However, there are some risks that come with grazing certain forages and weeds. It is important to be cautious this summer to reduce the risk for prussic acid poisoning, as prussic acid poisoning tends to be worse during times of drought.
Prussic acid poisoning occurs when plants such as sorghum, sudangrass, sorghum-sudan hybrids, Johnsongrass, wild cherry, and others contain cyanide-producing compounds. Wild cherry and Johnsongrass have much more risk than the other forage species listed above. If large amounts of these forages are consumed, especially after frost or during severe drought, then prussic acid (cyanide) is produced and interferes with oxygen utilization and livestock can die from respiratory paralysis. Symptoms appear quickly after the forage is consumed. These symptoms may include cherry red colored blood, staggering, labored breathing, spasms, foaming at the mouth, falling, thrashing, severe convulsions, and death. If an animal is seen showing these symptoms, seek immediate treatment for these animals by a veterinarian.
To reduce the risk of prussic acid poisoning, consider some of the following management tools:
- Incorporate forages that do not produce prussic acid into the diet to dilute the concentration of prussic acid.
- Avoid applying high levels of nitrogen to soils deficient in phosphorus and potassium, as this may cause levels of prussic acid to increase .The amount of nitrogen added should be determined by using a soil test.
- Contact your local county extension agent and inquire about getting your forages tested before placing cattle on these fields.
- Use “test” animals if you have not had high risk forages tested, rather than
- turning the whole herd onto a new field.
- Cut high risk forages for hay, as prussic acid content decreases significantly during the curing process.
- A fair amount of prussic acid also escapes as a gas during fermentation when used for silage. However, be sure to delay feeding silage for six to eight weeks following ensiling.
- Although these practices may reduce the risk of prussic acid poisoning, it is still important to be cautious when feeding forages with possible high prussic acid content.
Joanna visits with Josh Gilpin of VanBuren’s Markets in Morgantown to talk about his family farm.
The farm was developed around 1875 and is now in its sixth generation. Josh runs VanBuren’s Market which a retail side of the farm. The family also run row crops and a livestock side to the farm. At VanBuren’s Market, they provide locally grown food sources for the community that they live in! They have beef, pork, vegetables, and fresh cut flowers that are grown in Butler County. VanBuren Meats, their private labeling for Beef and Pork is farm raised and grain finished. They believe that finishing the livestock on grain provides the added flavor that our customers can never get enough of. Their vegetables and fresh cut flowers will be available seasonally but well worth the wait through winter. All of the produce will be field raised and quality checked before making it to your kitchen. They also look to add fruits and even more flowers to the market in the coming years. Check out this next video for a tasty Fresh Corn Salad using “ambrosia” sweet corn from VanBuren’s Market.
Corn is low in fat and is a good source of fiber and B vitamins, with 90 calories in a one-half cup serving. Look for ears with green shucks, moist stems, and silk ends that are free of decay. Kernels should be small, tender, plump, and milky when pierced. They should fill up all the spaces in the rows. The recipe is as followed:
5 ears of fresh corn, ½ cup diced red onion, 3 tablespoons cider vinegar, 3 tablespoons olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper, and ½ cup freshly chopped basil.
Shuck and remove silks from corn. In a large pot of boiling water, cook the corn for 4 minutes. Drain. Cool by immersing in ice water. When corn has cooled, cut the kernels off the cob. Toss the kernels in a large bowl with red onion. Combine vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Pour over corn and gently toss. Chill to allow flavors to blend. Just before serving, add fresh basil.
Kristin talks with Jonathan Price to discuss the apples at Jackson’s Orchard! Check out our 2014 interview with Bill Jackson, Jon’s grandfather and mentor, at https://youtu.be/X0hClePDK6A and make plans to visit soon to see all that has changes (and all that has stayed just perfect as it was).
“The orchard has been here for 53 years, going on 54. My grandparents bought it as an old run down farm. I’ve been here, I’ve been a part of it most of my life. I haven’t had a job outside of this.”
“To his (Bill Jackson, Jonathan’s grandfather) credit, if I’d spent 50 years building something, I’d be rather hesitant for somebody else to come in. He has very graciously given me plenty of opportunities to succeed and plenty of opportunities to fail. I’ve done both.”
“We were pruning trees one winter. Pruning trees is a long, tedious process. We had a nice day and got asked if a couple of us wanted to go play golf. I snapped back with no and stayed and pruned while the rest went to play golf. Then I’m sitting by myself pruning trees and began to wonder why I decided to stand here and prune trees instead.”
“I have 5 guys that are with me in the orchard everyday. I can’t say enough about them and what they bring to the table. I couldn’t do it without them.”
“We’re teaching the children what a good apple is, and we hope that later on in life they’ll eat apples, remember having them as a kid, and like them.”
Download the recipe for Joanna’s Apple Spinach Salad here!
Do you have a lot of basil growing in the garden this year? If yes, take basil and magically turn it into pesto! Basil pesto is easy to make and only requires a few basic ingredients.
Basil offers gardeners unique flavors and varieties including holy basil, cinnamon basil, purple or opal basil and more. The classic type grown is the sweet basil. To make the best pesto, harvest leaves in the morning when oils are at their peak and take inside to the kitchen to process. Wash freshly harvested leaves under cool running water to remove any dirt and cut leaves from the stem. Put leaves in a salad spinner to remove excess water and spin dry.
Now, it is time to prepare the pesto! Take 1 cup of fresh basil and place it in a food processor. Next, add 3 tablespoons of roasted walnuts or pine nuts, 3 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese, and 2 to 3 cloves of garlic on top of the basil in the food processor. Pulse a few times to combine ingredients and then slowly add in olive oil until a smooth paste consistency.
Use freshly made basil pesto in soup, pasta, fish, or served on top of toasted bread. Store any leftover pesto in a closed container in the refrigerator for one week. Pesto is also good to freeze and then use when needed.
For other ideas on how to use fresh basil this season, check out these recipes from our Plate it Up! Kentucky Proud project that give suggestions on how to use basil as an appetizer, entrée, pasta, salad, and vegetable dish.
Tomato basil bruschetta: https://fcs-hes.ca.uky.edu/sites/fcs-hes.ca.uky.edu/files/tomato-basil-bruschetta-web-card_0.pdf
Mozzarella basil chicken with roasted grape tomatoes: https://fcs-hes.ca.uky.edu/sites/fcs-hes.ca.uky.edu/files/mozzarella-basil-chicken-w-roasted-grape-tomatoes-web-card_0.pdf
Herbed pasta with roasted cherry tomatoes: https://fcs-hes.ca.uky.edu/sites/fcs-hes.ca.uky.edu/files/herbed-pasta-with-roasted-cherry-tomatoes-web-card_1.pdf
Enjoy! Happy Gardening!
Kristin sits down with Diane Button from Button’s Wharf Farm in Glasgow, KY to talk about her high tunnel peppers, cowboy candy, pepper jam, and all her great added value commodities available at the SOKY Marketplace every weekend.
“It’s part of the family farm. My husband was born and raised on this farm.”
“When we built our house over here, in order to get an address for it we had to name the subdivision. So a very good friend of mine suggested that we call it something about a wharf since we were living on Barren River Lake.”
“I start my pepper plants by seed here in the house. I have a plant stand that was recommended to me by my horticulture agent. We seed our trays in February because they do grow slowly. Peppers go really slowly in my opinion. Then, by end of March, we’re ready to place them in the high tunnel.”
“I used to teach school, and I did so for almost 30 years, and that’s public work. Now I like being on the farm. I like taking seeds and putting them in the ground, and I love watching them grow. It never ceases to amaze me.”
Download the recipe for Joanna’s Jalapeño Pepper Poppers here!