4-H Summer Evening of STEM

June 16, 2015 in Feature

4H-Girl-Lab-Coat-HughesNet-Thank-You-300X350 (2)Soar with 4-H STEM this summer! Join your fellow 4-H friends as we launch this special one-of-a-kind, statewide event open to all 4-H members and non-members alike! 4-H’ers, that means you can bring a friend from school! The event is made possible through our recent First Place win of the National 4-H Grown Contest sponsored by HughesNet and National 4-H Council, and representatives from each sponsor will be onsite to see how Delaware 4-H soars with STEM!

2015 stem flyer Experience an interactive and engaging evening using Science Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) on Monday, July 13, 2015, 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Delaware Aerospace Education Foundation (DASEF), 585 Big Oak Road, Smyrna, Delaware 19977.

Here’s what’s on the launchpad! Rotating stations that include:

  • Team building
  • STEM careers
  • Rocket construction
  • What’s in the Pond Water? Let’s investigate pond water samples through a microscope
  • Water filtration through soils
  • Investigate “Mystery Soil”
  • Use robotic arms to transport “contaminated” soil to a protected container
  • After dinner we’ll launch and Earth walk, exploring wetlands with and time with a telescope!

Dinner under tents is provided for all participants, and catered by Dover’s Where Pigs Fly restaurant. and a free t-shirt will be provided for all 4-H youth participants!

Cost is free for 4-H and non-4-H youth members statewide! Parents/guardians are welcome to attend! The fee for adults are $5 per adult to cover the cost of food. Remember, youth attendees dine free!

Registration is due July 2, 2015. For questions, please contact the NCC 4-H office at (302) 831-8965 . Please note media coverage is expected at this event. All minor participants need to sign a health/photo release form. We ask that parents/guardians using social media use the hashtag #DE4H so we can follow your images!

Return the 2015 Summer Evening of STEM_Registration Form, payment (for adults, if applicable) and health/photo release form to:

Delaware 4-H
Attention: Autumn Starcher
461 Wyoming Road
Newark, DE 19716

Meet the 2015 Extension Scholars

June 12, 2015 in Cooperative Extension Scholars, Feature

2015 Extension Scholars from left to right: Andrea Davis, Jackie Arpie, Jacqueline Bavaro, Madeline Rouviere, Hunter Murray, Megan O'Day, Rebecca Carrol, and Kathryn Russell

2015 Extension Scholars from left to right: Andrea Davis, Jackie Arpie, Jacqueline Bavaro, Madeleine Rouviere, Hunter Murray, Megan O’Day, Rebecca Carrol, and Kathryn Russel

On Monday, June 8, eight University of Delaware students began their first day as 2015 University of Delaware Extension Scholars, the start of a 10-week summer experience working with Extension research and program outreach in Delaware communities.

Now in its 11th year, the Extension Scholars program offers UD students a unique, hands-on experiential learning environment under the guidance of Extension agents or specialists.

During this summer internship, students will follow Cooperative Extension’s service learning model, implemented through one of Extension’s four program areas: 4-H youth development, family and consumer sciences, lawn and garden, and agriculture and natural resources.

Michelle Rodgers, associate dean and director of UD Cooperative Extension, welcomed the scholars at their first-day orientation and explained how their new role in the Cooperative Extension Service—a 101 year-old system—remains connected today in every state through land grant universities, such as UD, Delaware State University, Cornell University, Rutgers University and Pennsylvania State University.

“I started my career doing something just like this,” Rodgers said, noting that most Cooperative Extension locations throughout the country offer a similar type of summer intern program.

The 2015 University of Delaware Extension Scholars are:

Jackie Arpie: A rising junior at the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR), Arpie will work with her mentor, Michele Walfred, communications specialist based at the Carvel Research and Education Center in Georgetown. Arpie will concentrate on Extension communications and create video and social media content, and integrate Delaware efforts with the national affiliate eXtension.org. Arpie will focus on Extension efforts statewide, including coverage of her fellow scholars.

Jacqueline Bavaro: A rising senior with the College of Health Sciences (CHS), Bavaro will work with New Castle County’s Expanded Food Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) and with 4-H staff as it implements its summer nutrition programs. She will mentor teen health ambassadors and provide overall nutrition education of youth. Bavaro will work with Sue Snider, professor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences (ANFS), and Kathleen Splane, family and consumer science agent, in Kent County. Bavaro’s internship is funded by the ConAgra Food Smart Families grant.

Rebecca Carroll: A rising senior at CANR with a double major in ecology and biology, Carroll will with work with Gordon Johnson, extension specialist, on climate hub research projects involving Delaware crops and climate change. Carroll plans to compile climate resources for farmers and will organize a climate change field day this summer.

Andrea Davis: A rising junior at CHS, Davis is a health behavior science major with a minor in biology. Davis will partner with Mallory Vogl, New Castle County 4-H agent, and will work with 4-H summer day camps, oversee 4-H teen member volunteer counselors, and conduct county outreach programs at the Delaware State Fair.

Megan O’Day: O’Day is a dietetics major and rising junior at CHS. This summer O’Day will work with both Kent and Sussex EFNEP and 4-H summer nutrition programs, as well as mentor teen health and conduct overall nutrition education of youth. O’Day will work jointly with Snider and Splane under the Food Smart Families grant.

Hunter Murray: A rising senior at CANR, Murray is majoring in food and agribusiness. Murray will be based in Kent County and will work with Susan Garey, Extension livestock agent, on a variety of initiatives including 4-H youth development and agriculture program areas and events at the Delaware State Fair.

Madeleine Rouviere: A rising senior majoring in nutrition and dietetics with a minor in psychology at CHS, Rouviere is slated to work with New Castle County’s EFNEP and 4-H staff with summer nutrition programs, mentor teen health ambassadors, and oversee nutrition education of youth. Rouviere will work with mentors Snider and Splane. Her internship is made possible through the Food Smart Families ConAgra grant.

Kathryn Russel: A rising junior at CHS, Russel is majoring in dietetics, with a minor in Spanish and journalism. Russel will be working with Snider and Splane on nutrition communications in both traditional and social media venues. One of the projects Russel will be working on is developing short nutrition, food safety and food buying text messages for a special project aimed at EFNEP clientele.

The Extension Scholars program began in 2004, under the leadership of Rodger’s predecessor, Jan Seitz. The program is funded through endowments, private gifts and Extension program cost-share contributions. Increasingly, scholars are funded through grants, such as ConAgra’s Food Smart Families grant.

The program initially began with an opportunity for three scholars. Rodgers noted that without the gracious gifts of private donors and endowments, the Extension Scholars program would not have expanded to its present capacity. “People who have observed us and what we do have said, ‘this really matters,’” Rodgers said. In addition to the generous gifts, Rodgers said that this year, at least three positions have been funded by ConAgra.

Each Extension Scholar will work a 40-hour week and earn a stipend of $3770. In addition, scholars may select to earn three course credits from CANR, supervised by Rodgers as faculty adviser.

As a capstone to the end of their internship, in mid-August, the Extension Scholars will participate in the University of Delaware Undergraduate Research and Service Celebratory Symposium. The symposium provides scholars an opportunity to meet other summer interns and network across UD’s broad student and faculty community. Extension Scholars present their research or creative work through their choice of a 20-minute presentation or through the Scholars Poster Session. View the 2014 symposium photos.

“It’s wonderful to see the Extension Scholar program expand and supported on so many levels,” Rodgers said. “These young scholars are enthusiastic and ready to do the good work of Extension.”

For updates on the Extension Scholars throughout the summer, follow UD Extension on Twitter @UDExtension and on Facebook.

Article and photos: Michele Walfred

 

 

 

 

 

Pest, Beneficial Insect, and Plant Disease Walks & Workshop in June/July

June 4, 2015 in Feature, Lawn and Garden

DSU Pest Walk 2012 CroppedIf you enjoy getting out in the landscape and doing a little detective work, please join several of the UD Cooperative Extension staff on Wednesday evenings for the 2015 UD Horticulture Short Course Series.  The “hands on” learning experiences help to pull together classroom, reading, and internet information from the University of Delaware and help everyone to remember clues, symptoms and signs!

Pest walks will be offered at two locations in Delaware during June. A pest walk will be led in Kent County at Delaware State University, on June 17th beginning at 4:00 PM. Meet by the Washington Building and park in the gravel facilities lot across the road. Wear comfortable shoes, insect repellant, and bring a hand lens if you have one. A second pest walk will be led in New Castle County in cooperation with the City of Newark Parks Department, along the James F Hall Trail in Newark, on June 24th at 4:00 PM, rain or shine. Parking will be at the NCC Extension Office on Wyoming Road in Newark. Each pest walk will be led by Brian Kunkel, the UD Cooperative Extension Ornamentals IPM Specialist, and Nancy Gregory, the UD Cooperative Extension Plant Diagnostician. Walks will last about two hours as we look for arthropod pests, beneficial insects, and plant diseases.

For those who may want more detailed information from Brian and Nancy, there will be a Disease and Insect ID Workshop on July 8, 2015 in Townsend Hall on the campus of the University of Delaware. Learn about signs and symptoms the Extension specialists use to identify pests and diseases. Learn tips and techniques using fresh and preserved specimens, hand lenses and microscopes. Bring in samples to be looked at.

Sign up for the UD Horticulture Short Courses in advance or at each event. Pesticide and CNP credits are available, and each class costs $15. To sign up in Kent County: please contact Jan Unflat at 302-730-4000, jmunflat@udel.edu, New Castle: Carrie Murphy, 302-831-2506, cjmurphy@udel.edu , Sussex: Tracy Wootten, 302-856-7303, Wootten@udel.edu. Also check out Cooperative Extension’s Commercial Horticulture and Lawn and Garden page: http://extension.udel.edu/lawngarden/commercial-horticulture/

Nancy F Gregory

Avoid … Open Kettle or Oven Canning – Come and Learn How to Can Right

June 4, 2015 in Family and Consumer Sciences, Feature

canning-photoHave you ever heard that some methods of canning are not recommended but don’t understand why? Just last week at Ag Day someone asked me about these methods. Please, keep reading to end the mystery. Or come to one of our upcoming programs to learn to safely can Jellies and Jams (June 6, 9:30am-12:30pm) and Water Bath Canning (June 13, (9:30am-1pm) at the NCC Extension office. Kent county will offer as session August 5 from 6:30-8:30. Preregistration is required and a small fee will cover supplies.

Open Kettle Canning

Since the late 1980’s we have been teaching that open kettle canning is no longer safe. Open kettle canning involves heating the food to boiling, pouring it into the jars, applying lids, and allowing the heat of the jar to cause the lid to seal. Many years ago, it was commonly used for pickles, jams and jellies, and sometimes used for tomatoes and applesauce.

The reason open kettle canning is no longer recommended is that the food is not heated adequately to destroy the spoilage organisms, molds and yeasts that can enter the jar while you are filling the jar, and it does not produce a strong seal on the jar. Processing jars in a boiling water bath or in a pressure canner drives air out of the jar and produces a stronger vacuum seal.

canning-photo-2Open kettle canning is not safe! It is especially dangerous when used for canning tomatoes or tomato products where the acid level may be low enough to allow bacterial growth. Never open kettle can low acid foods (meats, vegetables, soups) that should be pressure canned.

Just because a lid “pops,” it doesn’t mean the contents inside the jar are safe. The time saved with open kettle canning is not worth the risk of food spoilage or illness.

Oven Canning

Occasionally people ask about processing jars in the oven. They claim a friend or neighbor promotes it as a simple method of canning. What they fail to understand is that oven heat is not the same as heat from a boiling water bath or from steam in a pressure canner.

First of all, placing jars in the dry heat of the oven may cause the glass to crack and shatter causing injury to you. The Jarden Company that manufacturers most canning jars in this country states emphatically that it is not safe to heat glass jars in the dry heat of an oven. Jars are not designed to withstand oven temperatures and can break or even explode causing injury from broken glass.

Secondly, dry heat is not comparable to the moist heat of a boiling water bath. Processing in an oven will not heat the contents in the coldest part of the jar in the same way as boiling water.

Thirdly, oven heat will not increase the temperature inside the jar above boiling to be adequate to destroy botulism spores in low acid foods. Only in the enclosed conditions of a sealed pressure canner will you be able to increase the internal temperature to 240°F. So, oven canning is not recommended!

For more information, visit the University of Delaware website or call your local UD Cooperative Extension office. To find out more about the upcoming programs go to: http://extension.udel.edu/fcs/safe-food-from-the-garden/

 

By Maria Pippidis

 

Enjoy Gardening? Become a Master Gardener

May 22, 2015 in Feature

Delaware Master Gardener Training Scheduled for Fall of 2015

Attend special events

Attend special events

Who: Anyone who enjoys volunteering and sharing their gardening knowledge
What: 2015 Delaware Master Gardener Training
When: Wednesday, September 2 – Monday, November 23, 2015 Classes are Monday’s and Wednesday’s 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. (Applications should be postmarked by June 4, 2015)
Where: Local Delaware Extension Offices
Why: The goal of Delaware Cooperative Extension MG Training is to prepare volunteer educators to enhance the ability of Cooperative Extension to provide science-based educational programs in home horticulture to the citizens of Delaware.

The 2015 Delaware Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Training Program is scheduled for Monday’s and Wednesday’s, 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. from Wednesday, September 2 through Monday, November 23.

Most training will be held at your county Extension Office. Some training sessions will require travel to another location to learn with your fellow trainees from the other two counties. Carpooling is encouraged.

As a member of the 2015 Delaware Master Gardener training class, you are expected to complete the course of study, volunteer 40 hours, and gain an additional 5 hours of advanced training by November 1, 2016, to become a Master Gardener.

An application may be emailed to Tracy Wootten at wootten@udel.edu or mailed and postmarked by Saturday, May 30, 2015. If you are accepted into the class you will be required to pay the training fee and complete a background check facilitated by the University (see introductory letter). Applicants will be notified by Monday, July 6, 2015 (by telephone, if possible) whether they will be seated for the class of 2015.

All applicants are encouraged to attend an evening open house event on Thursday, June 11 from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. at the Sussex County Extension Office. This is a great way to meet other master gardeners, ask questions about the program, learn more about current educational outreach programs and see if this is a great fit for you as a volunteer.

Click here>>How to become a Delaware Master Gardener

Keeping Disease Off Poultry Farms Workshop

May 18, 2015 in Feature

delmarva-poultry-farmPoultry Grower’s Disease Control Workshop:
Keeping Disease Off of the Poultry Farm
June 11, 2015

10:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon: University of Maryland Eastern Shore, 2122 Richard A. Henson Ctr., Princess Anne, Md. 21853
2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.: University of Delaware, 16686 County Seat Hwy., Georgetown, Del. (behind DPI)
6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.: Delaware State Fairgrounds, 644 Fairgrounds Rd., Harrington, Del. 19952 (follow blue Pesticide Testing signs to the Commodities Bldg.)

Topics Include:
Avian Influenza Outbreaks in Commercial Poultry in the US
Dr. David Shapiro, Veterinarian for Perdue Farms

Practical Biosecurity Best Management Practices for Broiler Growers
Dr. Jon Moyle, Extension Specialist, University of Maryland Extension
Ms. Jenny Rhodes, Ag Extension Educator, University of Maryland Extension
Mr. Bill Brown, Poultry Extension Agent, University of Delaware Cooperative Extension

Avian Flu Response and Control Plan on Delmarva
Dr. Don Ritter, Veterinarian for Mountaire Farms

REGISTRATION DEADLINE IS June 10, 2015
Please choose your preferred location and register ONLINE BY LOCATION below:
UMES Princess Anne, Md: http://www.eventbrite.com/o/7968136229?s=37998632

University of Delaware, Georgetown, Del: http://www.eventbrite.com/o/7968136229?s=37993356

Delaware State Fairgrounds, Harrington, Del: http://www.eventbrite.com/o/7968136229?s=37999138

For more information, please contact Lisa Collins at lcollins@udel.edu, or call (302) 856-2585 ext.702

This event is hosted by University of Delaware Cooperative Extension and University of Maryland Cooperative Extension, in cooperation with Delmarva Poultry Industry, Inc. and Delaware Department of Agriculture.

Nutrient Management Credits Available : 2.0 for Delaware and Maryland

***PLEASE NOTE: THE POULTRY GROWERS FIELD DAY SCHEDULED FOR MAY 20TH HAS BEEN CANCELLED***

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UD students create app to help area’s Christmas tree farmers

May 13, 2015 in Feature, Lawn and Garden

An interdisciplinary team of students at the University of Delaware has developed a new app called PocketFarmer designed to help Christmas tree farmers in the region diagnose, identify and mark potentially diseased plants.

The PocketFarmer was developed through the Spin In program in UD’s Office of Economic Innovation and Partnerships (OEIP).

Through Spin In, OEIP matches entrepreneurs who are developing innovative early stage technology with a team of UD undergraduate students to further develop both the technology and the marketing strategy.

The student team is mentored by UD faculty members and works side-by-side with entrepreneurs to provide solutions to the challenges that need to be overcome on the path to commercialization.

The idea for the app came about when Michelle Rodgers, associate dean for Cooperative Extension in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, asked agents to come up with app ideas that could benefit Extension clientele as part of an “App Challenge” contest that involved all 13 northeast states in the Extension system. As part of that challenge, the participants would also have to create a YouTube video to go along with their app.

Nancy Gregory, an Extension agent, had been working closely with Christmas tree farmers in Delaware in conjunction with Brian Kunkel, an Extension specialist. They had conducted workshops for the growers and collaborated with them through a three-year grant from the Delaware Department of Agriculture (DDA) to evaluate disease resistant cultivars of Christmas trees.

Christmas tree diseases

The main type of Christmas tree that is grown in the area is the Douglas fir, and Gregory said it can be afflicted by two main diseases – Rhabdocline needlecast and Swiss needlecast.

Both diseases cause premature needle loss, leading to thin foliage, which is especially problematic for Christmas tree growers who need fuller trees to appeal to customers.

Gregory said that to combat the Rhabdocline needlecast, growers have been interested in cultivars from the western United States that have sources of resistance to the fungal pathogen. Unfortunately, local growers have not found trees with growth habits and characteristics that they like.

“In the meantime, Swiss needlecast has come in and become even more problematic and it turns out that all those lines they were looking at that might be resistant to the Rhabdocline needlecast are susceptible to the Swiss needlecast. So that’s become an even bigger problem,” said Gregory.

The two needlecast diseases are especially prevalent on Douglas fir trees in the area because of the coastal climate and humid summers.

Gregory said that both diseases are easily controlled with the use of fungicide sprays but that timing is crucial, and that is where the PocketFarmer could be of a benefit to the growers.

“The control of these diseases usually requires three fungicide sprays, sometimes four in a season, and it’s very dependent on timing. You have to know when the spores are being produced, which is usually in May,” she said. “When those spores are released, they infect the new expanding needles so it’s very crucial when you get that first spray and then traditionally the growers will spray every two weeks after that.”

PocketFarmer features

The PocketFarmer app would help growers know when to spray and also help them keep track of the number of applications.

Michelle Lifavi, a junior majoring in communication and the communications specialist for the team, explained that the app is equipped with a seasonal calendar that will tell the growers how their trees should be progressing and what diseases to look for during particular times of the year.

“We have a GPS pinpointing feature so the trees can be pinpointed on the farm. If one tree has a certain feature on it, the farmer can write notes, can have a picture and can input coordinates so he can come back to it and know the exact location,” she said.

Another way in which the app could help the growers is in identifying and verifying the needlecast diseases early on.

“The growers need to recognize whether or not they have the fungal needlecast disease or whether they might have something else causing spots on the needles,” said Gregory. “There are look-alikes that it might be confused with, whether it’s a scale insect or small specks. There is a small speck called flyspeck, which is not a pathogen, it’s just kind of an opportunist that might grow there. There are a number of things that the growers could confuse.”

With the app, the growers would be able to take a picture of what is afflicting their trees and compare it against images of known pathogens.

“We have the ‘take a photo and diagnose page,’ which is quick and easy,” said Lifavi. “The growers implement all the symptoms that they have – such as where it is on the tree, what’s going on with it – and then the app filters through and picks the disease that they most likely have.”

Gregory explained that these features “could save them time and money because they’d know when that crucial first spray needs to go on and they would know for sure what pathogen they have, or if they have an insect instead of a pathogen – they would know what’s causing the problem.”

The PocketFarmer would also work hand in hand with Extension agents because while it would allow the growers to be more self-reliant, the group still stresses the need for Extension agents to confirm diseases.

“The idea is to give them picture clues and information, but always back it up with the recommendation to either contact your local county Extension office or send a sample in for an accurate diagnosis,” said Gregory.

Lifavi said the app would provide farmers the ability to take photographs of their potentially diseased trees and to share them directly with an Extension agent.

While the app is currently focused on just conifer trees in the area, the group named it the PocketFarmer with the hopes that they could expand it to other crops.

Nathan Smith, a plant science major who worked on the project, said, “The idea behind this app is to create a useful tool for farmers to be able to carry around with them in the field and help them diagnose problems that are occurring with their crop. In this case, it’s Christmas trees. PocketFarmer will give them recommendations on what to do. It’s like carrying a thesaurus with you but it’s faster and caters to the specific needs of the farmer.”

Learning experience

Andrew Seski, a sophomore finance major and the business analyst for the PocketFarmer team, said of the experience, “Throughout my time working in the Office of Economic Innovation and Partnerships (OEIP), I have not only gained a new appreciation for diversity in the workplace, but I have personally grown through experiencing other disciplines focused on accomplishing a common goal. OEIP has offered me both the autonomy to be innovative in my work, as well as offering me lifelong connections.”

Akuma Akuma-Ukpo, a computer engineering student, said he enjoyed the project management aspect of the app development. “The privilege to get exposure to real world project creation while collaborating with an interdisciplinary team with limited resources was a great way to usher us into our respective real world careers,” said Akuma-Ukpo.

Team members include Akuma-Ukpo; Lifavi; Smith; Seski; Jack Sherry, design/graphics; and Rebecca LaPlaca, arts and sciences.

The team is mentored by Reetaja Majumdar, a master’s student in business and economics, and works with Sarah Minnich and Cyndi McLaughlin, both from OEIP.

Anyone interested in learning more about the app can contact Lifavi or Seski for more information.

Click here to check out the video put together by the students and Lindsay Yeager, photographer for the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, which will be entered into the App challenge contest.

Article by Adam Thomas

Photo by Lindsay Yeager

Do you know some young people who would benefit from nutrition and food preparation lessons?

May 12, 2015 in Family and Consumer Sciences, Feature

logoUD Cooperative Extension once again has received funding to bring 4-H Food Smart Families-Kid in the Kitchen out to the community. This program is a 10 hour hands-on nutrition and physical activity program for 8-12 year olds. We are looking for groups that would be interested in having this series of five lessons. We will provide:

  • Staff to conduct the lessons
  • All materials to carry out the lessons. Each lesson will consist of hands-on nutrition education, fun physical activity, opportunity to learn and practice food preparation skills and preparation and tasting of a healthy recipe.
  • Lessons will include
    • The Incredible, Edible Five Food Groups
    • Power Up with Protein – Eat a Variety
    • Live It Up with Fantastic Fruits, Vivid Vegetables
    • Glorious Whole Grains
    • Got Milk?

Groups that are interested need to provide:

  • A facility to carry out the lessons
  • Groups of children 8-12 years old that can attend 10 hours of 4-H Food Smart Families-Kids in the Kitchen programming – no more than 20 per group. The ideal scenario would be 5, 2 hour sessions.

Families of children who attend the lessons will be invited to participate in a family event and will receive groceries to make some of the recipes in the lessons. If you would like more information you can contact Kathleen Splane ksplane@udel.edu or 4-H Food Smart Families Project Director Kimi Moore kamoore@udel.edu or call 730-4000.

Selecting the best plants for your garden

May 7, 2015 in Feature, Lawn and Garden

Hooray! Spring is really here with its rainy days, windy days and beautifully sunny days. So, it is time to visit the garden center and buy new plants for your home and garden. Many people want help in selecting just the right plant for their particular location. Plant selection is tricky and should be based on a number of factors. First and foremost, evaluate your planting site. Does it get full sun, partial shade or is it shady all the time? Is it dry, moist, well-drained? Is the soil sandy or clayey? Are there competitive plants nearby? Are there walkways or buildings close to the planting space? All these factors should be considered when selecting the best plant for any landscape. Remember to learn how large a plant is expected to grow; don’t expect the plant to stay the size and shape it is when purchased. Think about when and how long it blooms or what fall color and winter interest can be expected. It is easy to walk around a garden center and be wowed by the plants that are in bloom, but they are not likely to bloom all season, so you should also enjoy the habit, bark, leaves and branch structure of the plant.

Most people select plants based on ornamental characteristics like flowers, fruit, fall color, bark and interesting branch structure. Those are important and should be considered when choosing a plant to occupy space in your landscape. Think also about how it will be viewed. Is the plant going to be viewed from a distance, where fall color and habit can play a big factor or is it going to be located right next to your patio where fragrance might be most important? Maybe a tree should be selected that will provide shade or screen an unsightly view. Really think about what you want the plant to “do” in your landscape. That will help narrow your choices. Of course, start with plants you like, but then focus on the functions the plant will perform.

Unbalanced plant selection criteria based only on landscape design principles vs. balanced selection including ecosystem services factors.  Graphic courtesy of Doug Tallamy

Unbalanced plant selection criteria based only on landscape design principles vs. balanced selection including ecosystem services factors. Graphic courtesy of Doug Tallamy

So far, we’ve been talking about traditional landscape design principles. But, I propose there is another set of factors you should consider when selecting a plant for your landscape—the ecosystem services that plant will provide. All plants provide some ecosystem services such as taking in carbon dioxide and giving off oxygen; absorbing pollutants from the air; and taking up water, breaking the fall of raindrops and having root systems that allow water to filter into the surrounding soil. But, not all plants are created equally when it comes to some ecosystem services. Especially when it comes to wildlife habitat, native plants are superior to exotic plants. Most plants have evolved defense mechanisms to protect themselves from predation (getting eaten by insects), but plants and insects that have evolved together over many thousands of years have special relationships that allow insects to find food in their native environment. A good example is the Monarch butterfly whose larvae are able to consume milkweed, even though the milkweed contains a chemical toxic to most insects. This relationship is so important to these specialist insects that they won’t survive without the native milkweed they have evolved to eat. So, if you want to support a diverse population of wildlife with your home landscape (and you should), consider including a variety of native plants in your selections this year.

Susan Barton, Extension Specialist

Poultry Growers’ Field Day

April 30, 2015 in Agriculture and Natural Resources, Cooperative Extension Scholars, Feature, Special Events

Click to learn more

Click to learn more about avian influenza

The Poultry Grower’s Field Day sponsored by the Universities of Delaware and Maryland has been cancelled due to the ongoing issues and concerns associated with infection, eradication and control of High Path Avian Influenza in the Upper Midwest.

While these infections don’t have a direct threat to the Delmarva Broiler Industry the association with wildlife can threaten our region. The source of infection is primarily linked to migratory waterfowl and HPAI breaks have occurred along three of the four primary flyways in the U.S.

For more information about HPAI see the following Websites. There will also be an educational series of off- farm meetings planned to help you keep your farm disease free. These are planned for late May early June. You will be encouraged to attend one of these seminars.

***JUST ANNOUNCED***:Keeping Disease off the Farm June 11, 2015

Commercial Poultry Newsletter