Extension News from the West

Turkey tips

Helpful tips for holiday survival

1. The first step in holiday survival is to decide that you are willing to give up perfection. Instead of trying to make your gathering look like the cover of a magazine, put the focus on friends and family instead.

2.Really Plan

  • Plan the menu. Write down all of the ingredients and make two lists of the items you will need to purchase. One list should be nonperishable items that you can purchase several days to a couple of weeks ahead of time, and the other should be the perishable items you must purchase within two or three days of the event. Consider using some good quality convenience foods that will save you time.
  • When planning the menu, take into consideration the equipment that is available for cooking. For example, if you are roasting a turkey, don’t plan for several other items that must be prepared in the oven unless you can make them ahead of time and then reheat just before the meal. Look at how you might make use of your range, microwave, toaster oven, crock pot, etc.
  • Check linens or paper goods. Make sure you have adequate serving dishes and utensils. Consider using heavy paper goods or disposable plastic dishware in place of china. If using silver, check it ahead of time and clean if necessary.

3. Make a cooking “schedule” like they do in most restaurants. Write down the times that items must be started so that you and any helpers can just run down the list and get the job done. The following schedule is just an example:

  • Stuff Turkey, start time 9:45 am
  • Get turkey in oven by 10:00 am
  • Peel the potatoes (cover with water) at 12:30 pm
  • Start cooking potatoes at 12:40 pm
  • Cut broccoli at 12:45 pm
  • Mash potatoes (keep hot in a greased crock pot for hours) 1:05 pm
  • Take turkey out of oven at 1:15 pm

4. Prepare items ahead. If you are using linen napkins and tablecloths, iron them ahead of time so that they are ready to go. Cut the vegetables for the stuffing and cube the bread. Do not mix until just before you are ready to stuff the “bird.” You can also clean, peel, and cut your vegetables the day ahead, and some vegetable dishes can be cooked ahead and then reheated just before serving time. Take advantage of the 20 minute “rest time” that turkey needs between roasting and carving to warm items for serving.

5. Email or call Susan Lednicky, nutritionist, to receive a free Talking about Turkey booklet at 702-222-3130.

The original fast food

Fast foods are convenient, easy and always available. Big Macs, stuffed pitas, tacos, and pan pizzas tempt our taste buds and quell hunger pangs, but are these types of foods the only fast food choices? The answer is “NO.” The original fast food has been available for thousands of years! I’m not talking about the Brontosaurus Burgers of Fred Flintstone. I’m talking about good old fruits and vegetables.

Fruits and vegetables fulfill all the requirements of the common fast food. They are quick, convenient, easy to prepare, flavorful, and filling. They are biodegradable, so they won’t harm the environment. But the greatest part about fruits and vegetables is that they are packed with healthful nutrients that do a lot more than just fill you up.

Foods in the fruit and vegetable groups are valuable for their contribution of energy-giving carbohydrates, dietary fiber, water and significant amounts of vitamins and minerals. There are naturally-occurring components in fruits and vegetables, called phytochemicals, which may have a beneficial effect on health by preventing cancer and other diseases. Due to their high dietary fiber and water content, most fruits and vegetables are low in fat and calories. Fruits and vegetables eaten raw help clean teeth and promote good dental health. Best of all, fruits and vegetables contain no cholesterol. It is recommended that Americans make half their plate fruits and vegetables.

Most fast food restaurants now offer some fresh vegetables and fruits on salad bars or as sides. Intelligent choices from these items can give you everything you need for a healthful diet without all the calories and fat. If you really want a fast food burger, bring along some crunchy baby carrots or some cool, juicy grapes to eat instead of spending money on salty, greasy French fries. Extend the enjoyment by drinking fresh fruit or vegetable juice instead of a soda pop.

Take advantage of fresh fruits and vegetables. Their bright color, vibrant flavor and variety in texture complement any meal. Best of all, fruits and vegetables are nutritious, make easy snacks and desserts, and cost less than the typical fast food fare. Try getting all that from the super value, ultimate grande meal!

Email or call Susan Lednicky, nutritionist, at 702-257-5548.

The nutrient goodies in fruits and vegetables

Eating just about any fruit or vegetable will help you reach the suggested goal of five servings a day, but certain types of fruits and vegetables should be eaten more often because of their nutritional value. Varying choices increases the likelihood of getting all the nutritional advantages of fruits and vegetables. For the best results, the National Cancer Institute suggests choosing:

  • at least one daily serving of a vitamin A-rich fruit or vegetable
  • at least one daily serving of a vitamin C-rich fruit or vegetable
  • at least one daily serving of a high fiber fruit or vegetable

The lists below categorize some different nutrients and some of the fruits and vegetables in which they can be found.

The Nutrient Goodies in Fruits and Vegetables

Vitamin A Vitamin C Calcium
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Yams
  • Carrots
  • Pumpkin
  • Winter squash
  • Mangoes
  • Papayas
  • Cantaloupe
  • Peaches
  • Apricots
  • Nectarines
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Greens
  • Broccoli
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cauliflower
  • Grapefruit
  • Oranges
  • Tangelos
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Strawberries
  • Spinach
  • Greens
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Nopales
  • Prickly pear fruit
  • Broccoli
  • Bok choy
  • Greens
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Swiss chard
  • Rhubarb
  • Figs
  • Navel oranges
  • Tamarind
  • Mulberries
  • Nopales
  • Dry beans
Iron Potassium Fiber
  • Dried fruit
  • Elderberries
  • Mulberries
  • Tamarind
  • Cooked beans
  • Artichoke
  • Cassava
  • Swiss chard
  • Collard greens
  • Hominy
  • Jerusalem artichoke
  • Kale
  • Peas
  • Potatoes (with skin)
  • Oranges
  • Potatoes
  • Bananas
  • Watermelon
  • Dried fruits
  • Lima beans
  • Chinese cabbage
  • Beet greens
  • Head lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes
  • Potatoes
  • Prickly pear fruit
  • Nopales
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Pumpkin
  • Pears
  • Blueberries
  • Apples
  • Carrots
  • Mushrooms
  • Turnip greens
  • Potatoes (with skin)
  • Green onions
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Cooked beans

Take advantage of fresh fruits and vegetables. Their bright color, vibrant flavor, and variety in texture complement any meal. Best of all, fruits and vegetables are nutritious, make easy snacks and desserts, and cost less than the typical snack fare.

Email or call Susan Lednicky, nutritionist, at 702-257-5548.

Nutritious holiday goodies

Although the title of this article may sound like double talk, the holidays don’t have to be “horror days” if you put your favorite holiday recipes through a healthy makeover. First you need to decide what you would like to accomplish. Would you like to reduce calories or fat? Maybe you’d like to incorporate more fiber. Whatever your goal, the second step is to identify the ingredient(s) in the recipe that can be modified. Very few recipes need to be followed exactly to assure a good quality product. The following hints however will increase your chances for success.

Reducing Fat and Calories

Reduce fat by 1/4 to 1/3 in baked products.

Sauté in water or broth instead of fat.

Use the reduced-calorie/fat alternative for whole milk, cheeses, sour cream, mayonnaise, salad dressings, cottage cheese, etc.

Chill soups, gravies, and broth to skim off the hardened fat before reheating to serve.

Replace fat in baked goods with equal amounts applesauce or prune puree. (This will work in many recipes, but not all. The flavor of some products may be altered by this substitution.)

Reducing Saturated Fat and Cholesterol

Substitute 2 egg whites for each whole egg.

If a recipe calls for “melted” shortening or butter, use vegetable oil in place of the solid fat. (Do not try to substitute oil for solid fat measurements.)

Reducing Sweeteners

Reduce sugar by 1/4 to 1/3 in baked goods and desserts. (Don’t reduce sweeteners in yeast breads. It promotes rising.)

Increase the amount of vanilla or cinnamon in the recipe to enhance the impression of sweetness.

Increasing Fiber

Substitute whole grain flours for up to 1/2 the white flour in a recipe.

Add extra fruits and vegetables to recipes and include the peel when appropriate.

Add fruits to muffins, pancakes, salads, and desserts; and add vegetables to quiche, casseroles, and salads.

Reducing Sodium

Omit or reduce by half the amount of salt called for in a recipe.(Salt is needed in yeast bread to control the rising action of the yeast.)

Rely on herbs and spices in place of salt for flavor.

Taste foods before adding extra salt.

Email or call Susan Lednicky, nutritionist, at 702-257-5548.

A dozen years of gardening workshops

Cooperative Extension and the City of Henderson are great gardening partners

Master Gardener volunteers have been educating local homeowners on the what, where, when, why and how’s of productive landscapes and gardens in the Mojave Desert since 2003. Throughout the 12 years, the City of Henderson’s Acacia Park has been a constant partner offering their facility to host these free workshops held on Saturday’s in the spring and fall.

“It amazes me each week,” explained Master Gardener Loretta Oakes, “how many individuals give up their Saturday morning to attend.” The largest workshop attendance since Oakes has been chair has been 46. The instructor was Master Gardener Don Fabbi and the topic was growing cool season vegetables.

“Approximately ten workshops are offered during the spring and fall,” added Oakes. Each workshop offers Master Gardener speakers who focus on tips for individuals who garden at their home. People from every corner of the valley attend.

Topics range from birds, butterflies and bees; to getting your garden ready for fall; to gardening with physical limitations.

“The community loves the topics and the workshops,” commented Chuck Ashby, Outdoor Recreation Supervisor for the City of Henderson. During the three years overseeing the Henderson Parks, he finds the Master Gardeners knowledgeable and easy to work with.

“The most common comment from the residents,” said Ashby “is ‘when will the next class be held’.”

When asked about an unusual person/request, Oakes said a couple from Pahrump attended every workshop for eight weeks and brought product that they grew in their gardens to give away.

Oakes found her niche with Acacia Park. Other areas she has volunteered since she became a certified Master Gardener includes the Junior Master Gardener program, camera crew, Research Center and Demonstration Orchard.

For more information about the gardening workshops, or if you have a gardening question, please email or call the Master Gardener Help Desk at 702-257-5555. Volunteer Master Gardeners staff the desk from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday-Friday.

4-H Turkey week events scheduled

4-H membership is not required

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s Northeast Clark County’s 4-H program has some terrific turkey week events scheduled. All events are open to the public. The schedule includes:

  • Monday, Nov. 16: The 5K Turkey Trot begins 4 p.m. at the Fairgrounds parking lot located at 1301 Whipple Ave., Logandale, Nev. Individual entry fee is $5; Family of 6 (two adults, four children) is $20 and the Buddy Deal is $8 (one adult, one child). Pre-register at the Cooperative Extension office located at 1897 Moapa Valley Blvd., Logandale, Nev.
  • Tuesday and Wednesday, Nov. 17-18: 4-H Science Night begins at 4 p.m. Plan to join in on fun science projects like oobleck and gak at the Cooperative Extension office Building A located at 1897 Moapa Valley Blvd., Logandale, Nev.
  • Thursday, Nov. 19: 4-H Achievement Night begins at 6 p.m. Potluck style. Contests: Interview and Portfolio for prizes like buckles, plaques, trophy and candy. Call the office for the location.
  • Friday, Nov. 20: Turkey Wobble Community Dance beginning at 8 p.m. at the Fairgrounds Outdoor Plaza located at 1301 Whipple Ave., Logandale, Nev. Entry fee is one canned food item or $2., All food will be donated to Cappalappa Family Resource Center. There will be a live DJ and a free hot chocolate bar.
  • Saturday, Nov. 21: Turkey Trap Shoot begins at 7 a.m. Check-in at 7 a.m. at the Overton Shooting Range (AKA Box Wash). Participants must bring their own ammunition. The fee is $30 per person. Categories are youth, 9-18 years of age; men and women.

If interested in sponsorship or donation ideas, and for more information on any of the events scheduled for 4-H Turkey Week, email or call Lacey Sproul at 702-397-2604 x 2.

So. Valley Rose Society Nov. meeting

Demonstration and Test Gardens Rose Garden

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension and the South Valley Rose Society are collaborating and offering educational meetings throughout the fall. Free and open to the public, the November 19 meeting topic is about the General Care of Roses.

Growing roses in the desert can be different and has challenges than growing roses in other parts of the country. Plan to come and learn how to choose a rose, the best time to plant, soil preparation, irrigate, fertilize, protect and prune roses during the growing season from a panel of Consulting Rosarians. Find out also how to care for the roses that came with your newly purchased home.

All educational meetings are held at 7 p.m. at the Lifelong Learning Center located at 8050 Paradise Road, Las Vegas, Nev. (I-215 and Windmill Lane). For more information, email or call the Master Gardener Help Desk at 702-257-5555.

Yoga in jails helps make better fathers

Washington State University Extension News - Thu, 10/15/2015 - 9:28am

WENATCHEE, Wash. – A Washington State University researcher has found that yoga can help fathers in jail be better dads.

A study by WSU Extension educator Jennifer Crawford found that yoga, which can improve physical and mental health, may also help incarcerated fathers improve their parenting skills.

A yoga instructor leads his class at the Chelan County Regional Jail in Wenatchee.

“We would have a class on a specific topic, like child development or setting limits,” Crawford said. “That would last about an hour, then a yoga instructor would come in and give a guided yoga class.”

The study, located at Chelan County Regional Jail in Wenatchee, took place over three years with 14 different groups of male inmates. The program was advertised among the jail population; volunteers, who had to be parents of young children and pass a security screening, were recruited.

The results, published in the August edition of the California Journal of Health Promotion, showed that inmates demonstrated being more aware and accepting of their vulnerability and responsiveness to children, among other benefits. See the article at http://www.cjhp.org/volume13Issue2_2015/documents/1-14_Crawford_CJHP2015_Issue2.pdf.

The program, called “Fit Fathers, Successful Families, Inside and Out,” had a goal of preventing child abuse and reducing recidivism by improving parents’ resilience.

Participants in the Fit Fathers, Successful Families, Inside and Out class during a yoga session.

“Yoga can be physically demanding, and the initial responses we got from the participants confirmed that,” Crawford said. “I believe the yoga practice helped participants become ready to learn and increased their willingness to try new ideas, absorb new information and begin to apply these in their lives.”

Although the yoga instructor for each lesson couldn’t physically touch the participants due to jail regulations, Crawford said the classes didn’t look that unusual.

“It was very similar to what a person would see in a normal yoga gym – other than the security guards entering and leaving the room,” she said.

The instructor started every class with a centering exercise, then taught simple sequences that focused on standing poses; more complicated poses were not used due to potential health issues among the inmates.

Outside of the class setting, the inmates did journaling exercises such as writing about their own upbringing or ways they communicate with their children.

This ring was given to class instructors as a thank you during a graduation ceremony. It was handmade by inmates out of fabric from their clothing, most likely from socks.

The yoga classes were modeled on other programs around the country. The parenting classes followed a curriculum based on an established course taught in other correctional settings called “Fit2bFathers,” developed by Ohio State University Extension.

The study, funded by a grant from the statewide nonprofit Council for Children and Families and the Washington State Department of Early Learning, didn’t contain any control groups; Crawford said she hopes to conduct more rigorous studies in the future.

The heart of the matter

February is a time for love—love of a partner, love of family, and love of oneself. It’s also American Heart Month, a time to love our hearts! Heart disease is the number one killer of Americans and is a major cause of disability. The most common heart disease in the United States is coronary heart disease, which often appears as a heart attack. In 2009, an estimated 785,000 Americans had a new coronary attack, and about 470,000 will have a recurrent attack. About every 25 seconds, an American will have a coronary event, and about one every minute will die from one.1

We can reduce heart disease by promoting a healthy diet and lifestyle. Even simple, small changes can make a big difference in living a better life.

  • Stop smoking. Nicotine, carbon monoxide, and other substances damage the arteries’ linings. Then cholesterol is attracted to the injured site causing plaque to build up. Smoking also causes artery muscles to spasm, reducing the blood flow to your heart. Even smoking just four cigarettes a day increases your risk of a heart attack by 50%! The only way to lower your risk of cardiovascular disease from smoking is to quit.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Several risk factors for cardiovascular disease have been linked to diet. High blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, and overweight can often be managed by eating a healthy diet. Eat grains daily making half of your servings whole grains such as brown rice, oatmeal, and whole grain bread. The fiber in whole grains helps to control cholesterol and enhances regularity. Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are usually low in fat and saturated fat and they’re cholesterol-free. They also contain vitamins, minerals and fiber. Round out your diet by making low-fat choices in moderation from the milk group and meat group. Plan the kinds of foods you’ll eat each day, being careful not to skip whole categories of foods. Eating a variety of foods from the 5 food groups is essential to providing all the necessary nutrients your body needs. Finally, try to enjoy your food with less salt. Season foods with herbs and spices instead of salt, and read food labels to help you keep track of the sodium in the packaged foods you buy.
  • Keep a Healthy Weight. There is a right number of calories for you to eat each day. The number depends on your age, activity level, gender and whether you’re trying to gain, lose or maintain your weight. The calories eaten should balance with the calories used through activity if you want to maintain weight. If you want to lose weight, you may choose to eat less, exercise more, or try a combination of the two for best results. To learn more about the number of calories and servings of foods you need, visit MyPlate.gov.
  • Get moving. Make physical activity a part of your daily life. Go for a short walk before breakfast or after dinner. Walk or bike to the corner store instead of driving. Park farther away in the parking lot and walk the extra distance. Take the stairs instead of using the elevator. Stand while using the telephone. Better yet, walk down the hall to speak to someone instead of using the phone. Schedule your exercise time on your business calendar and treat it like any other important appointment. Look for opportunities to be more physically active and have some fun at the same time. Besides controlling weight, physical activity can help relieve tension and help control cigarette smoking, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and diabetes.
  • Reduce stress. You can’t totally eliminate stress from your life, but you can eliminate some unnecessary stresses. If you can’t tolerate rush hour traffic, work out at the gym during that time and go home when the traffic is lighter. Feeling how you react to stress and being aware of stressors will help you cope with them more positively. Delegate some responsibilities, and learn some relaxation techniques.

You really can make a difference in the health of your heart. Why not start with a few simple diet changes? Or, kick the smoking habit once and for all. Even taking short walks can make your life healthier and help you prevent cardiovascular disease. It’s never too late for a change of heart!

Susan Lednicky is a Nutritionist with University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. Contact Sue by Email or call at 702-257-5548.

1. Lloyd-Jones D, Adams R, Carnethon M, et al. Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics—2009 Update. A Report from the American Heart Association Statistics Committee and Stroke Statistics Subcommittee

The true story of Jack ’o Lantern

During October, the most popular American vegetable is the bright orange squash we know as pumpkin (Cucurbita maxima, or C. moschata). There is even a “world’s largest pumpkin” contest, with a significant cash prize. This popularity is not because large numbers of people suddenly crave pumpkin pie.

We know the reason pumpkins fetch a high price during this month is because many of us are carving jack-o-lanterns, for either fright or delight. Although it is possible to see more ornate carvings than the traditional scary face, they all start with a pumpkin.

Have you wondered how holiday traditions started? A few are apparent, like Christmas trees and mistletoe, which bring a dash of green to places where winters are long, dark, grey and cold. Others are far less likely. One of these is the Jack o’ Lantern. How is it that we have come to carve a face or a scene out of a pumpkin, place a light within it, to create the archetypal Halloween decoration? The answer is a curious story from Ireland, which does not have a tradition of Halloween, nor does it have the climate to grow pumpkins.

This is the story of a terrible man who lived in Ireland many years ago. As with so many legends, it is not clear exactly when or how it began, but the story exists nevertheless. Jack was a mean person, greedy, and friendless, which is exactly how he preferred living. No one would be the recipient of his largesse, since he had none. Few people would deal with him unless there was absolutely no alternative. Although he lived in a place where most people considered good neighbors essential, he saw no need for friends or family. As a result, he had none. It will not be a surprise to learn that he also had no use for religion.

One night, alone in his squalid living quarters, he died and left this earth to meet his maker. No one in the rural village mourned him, and it is not clear where his burial site was located. It was most likely a sad, unmarked spot. The location hardly mattered, since there would certainly not be any visitors to his gravesite. His soul, however, did travel to the afterlife. At the pearly gates, the local authorities looked at the terrible man’s history and realized there was no way he could gain entry into heaven. As a result, Jack was quickly sent down to the devil, where he would stay for eternity.

The devil was delighted at first to have yet another soul whom he could torture, but Jack was a rare breed. Rather than fitting into the misery of that place, he was no less awful in hades than he had been on earth. In a relatively short period, at least by eternal standards, he had made life even more miserable for the rest of the souls in that bleak place. They complained that this new fellow was simply too terrible to be around. That was, of course, not something that the devil had encountered before. Could anyone really be worse than the other wretched souls there? It would seem that Jack was. This put the devil in a quandary; it would be pointless to bother sending this character back up to heaven, which would not have him. On the other hand, Jack could not remain where he was.

It took a lot of thought, but finally the devil announced that he was evicting Jack, who would spend the rest of eternity wandering alone in the darkness. He told his demonic landlord that he was not bothered by this, since he was content to be on his own.

Jack travelled for a long while, but eventually returned to the devil, telling him that he could not continue roaming in the total darkness. He was not looking for companionship, of course, but the darkness was simply too much.

“Give me a bit of light,” he demanded. This was yet another new situation for the devil, who was unaccustomed to responding to commands. After much consideration, however, he decided that it was worth acquiescing to that accursed Jack, simply to be rid of him.

The devil lit a candle and handed it to his unwelcome visitor. “And give me something to hold it!” Jack was nothing if not insistent. A turnip (or a rutabaga, depending on the storyteller) appeared. Jack bored a hole in the vegetable and stuck his candle into it. He continued on his solitary path, with the dim light of the candle for company.

When Irish nights are dark, a faint glimmer might appear on the road. Anyone unlucky enough to encounter this ghostly light knew that was “Jack o’ Lantern”. The story travelled across the Atlantic, where we replaced the turnip with a pumpkin.

Email or call Angela O’Callaghan, Social Horticulture Specialist, at 702-257-5581.

Same day plants

Now that the days are noticeably shorter and cooler, some people are delighted because it means the intense summer heat of the Mojave Desert has passed. Shorter days can also cause a spurt of melancholy for those who dread the coming long nights. What we might want to remember is that for many plants, shorter days mean more flowers.

Many plants cannot flower when they experience long days. We humans consider a long day to be one with more than 12 hours of light and a short day to have fewer hours, but plants do not necessarily follow our clocks. Plants contain specialized light receptors, and these cells are able to respond to the varying amounts of light they experience. When something is a “short day plant”, it requires a certain number of hours of darkness to do some action such as blooming. It could also be called a “long night plant”. The plant itself determines how long that period of dark needs to be — it may be more than 12 hours, but it could also be fewer. The phenomenon is called “photoperiodicity”, an impressive word to describe how sensitive a plant is to length of light or dark.

Important crop plants have this sensitivity to length of nights. Cotton, for instance, will only flower and produce a boll when they experience a certain number of hours in the dark. Soy, an important component of much of our food supply, will only bloom and set seed when nights are long enough. Rice, coffee and tobacco, as well as the ornamental cosmos, all share the same darkness requirement.

However many hours of nighttime are required for blooming, having flowers appear as we approach winter is a welcome event. Those plants that we closely associate with the holiday season tend to need short days.

It only makes sense; who would want a poinsettia that is not in flower? If it were merely green, it would probably not be adorning most households, stores and other business during the month of December. Likewise, if Halloween, Thanksgiving or Christmas cacti were only green, with no blossoms during the holidays, they might not be quite so popular. Sales would likely drop.

Even though it is possible to purchase chrysanthemums virtually any time of year, they are truly short day plants. In nature, they flower in the autumn. They would not be in bloom for Easter, Mother’s Day or the 4th of July, if they were left to themselves.

Of course, most of our favorite plants have not been left to themselves. Human beings have been growing and hybridizing plants since agriculture began more than 12,000 years ago. For most of the time since then, we have adapted our horticulture techniques to maximize yields.

When it comes to light or dark requirements, we have learned that it is possible to trick plants into perceiving whether it is time to flower The discovery of electricity permitted us to go even further, since it is possible to grow plants under lights whose on/off cycles are carefully managed.

When trying to force last year’s poinsettia back in to bloom, people have learned that it needed a fixed number of dark hours for this to happen. Sadly, some people thought that meant placing the defenseless plant in a paper bag, putting the bag in a closet, and taking the dead thing out six weeks later. That does not work.

It is simply that these short day plants should be kept in the dark for a fixed number of hours each day. Even though it is not, strictly speaking, accurate, using a 12-hour night will force many short day plants to flower.

Some are so sensitive to photoperiod that even a brief interruption with light is enough to stop flower induction. Others can tolerate a short burst of light, and will flower as long as the light does not last too long.

Not all short day plants are welcome in our landscapes. Some very problematic weeds also respond to day or night length.

Nutsedge, a weed that plagues Southern Nevada, appears in lawns, golf courses and agricultural lands. It is also called “nutgrass” since the leaves do resemble grass until you look at them closely. When days are long, it produces green, triangular rough-edged leaves, but when days become shorter, a single plant can create 7,000 little tubers (the “nuts”). A tuber contains everything needed for a new plant, including enough carbohydrate to keep the youngster alive until it has a full complement of leaves. If one waits until days are short before pulling out this weed, it is likely that there will soon be an enormous flush of new nutsedges, as the parent plant had kept its tubers from growing.

Knowing a plant’s photoperiod needs can help the gardener not only with flowers, but also with weed control.

Email Angela O’Callaghan, Social Horticulture Specialist, or call at 702-257-5581.

The bone buster

Osteoporosis is a painful and crippling bone disease characterized by structural deterioration of bone tissue. Bones become weak and are more likely to break. Osteoporosis is often called the “silent disease” because bone loss occurs without symptoms. It usually goes unnoticed until it has reached an advanced stage. Until a sudden strain, fall, or bump causes a fracture or a vertebra to collapse, many people do not know that they have osteoporosis. In the United States, more than 40 million people either have or are at high risk for osteoporosis due to low bone mass. Osteoporosis can occur at any age and in both men and women. It is most common in older women.

Certain people are more likely to develop osteoporosis than others. Risk factors include being female; having a thin or small frame; having advanced age; having a family history of osteoporosis; being postmenopausal; eating a diet low in calcium and vitamin D; having low testosterone levels in men; having an inactive lifestyle; smoking; using alcohol excessively; and being Caucasian or Asian, although other ethnicities are at risk as well.

By about the age of 20 the average woman has acquired 98 percent of her bone mass. The teenage years are particularly critical for building bone mass because sex hormones released during puberty increase the rate at which bones are built. Getting extra calcium during the teen years may help lower the risk of fractures from bone loss in old age by adding to mineral stores while bone is still forming. Unfortunately, the teen years are when many girls and boys start to limit their intake of foods that are rich in calcium. To keep your bones and those of your children healthy you can:

  • eat a balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D-containing foods (low-fat dairy products, dark green leafy vegetables, broccoli, almonds, foods with added calcium);
  • get plenty of weight-bearing exercise;
  • lead a healthy lifestyle with no smoking or excessive alcohol

It’s never too early or too late to start a prevention program. Although there is no cure for osteoporosis, there are medications that help slow or stop bone loss, increase bone density, and reduce fracture risk. If you are at risk for osteoporosis, speak with your doctor about a treatment plan.

Susan Lednicky is a Nutritionist with University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. Contact Sue by Email or call at 702-257-5548.

Growing fruit at home workshop

Pear tree located at the Outdoor Education Center’s Demonstration Orchard. Photo courtesy of Cooperative Extension.

Join University of Nevada Cooperative Extension on Saturday, November 21, for a one-day workshop on Gardening in Small Places: growing fruit at home. The class runs from 8 a.m. to noon.

Can you grow fruit trees and berries in the desert? You bet! Figs, nectarines, peaches, apricots, pears, apples, strawberries, cantaloupe, grapes and blackberries are just a few of the fruits you can grow at home. The fruit varieties may be different than what you’re used to but the results can still be spectacular. Let Angela O’Callaghan instruct you on what plant attributes to look for when planning your home orchard. Homeowners and other interested parties are welcome to attend.

Class space is limited to 25 and pre-registration is required. There is a $25 fee per class which covers class materials.

To register for this class, held at the Lifelong Learning Center (8050 Paradise Road, Las Vegas, Nev.), email or call Elaine Fagin at 702-257-5573.

Giant pumpkin contest set for Saturday at Rocky Creek Farm

Montana State University Extension News - Tue, 10/13/2015 - 11:00pm
<p>BOZEMAN - Montana State University Extension and Rocky Creek Farm will host a giant pumpkin competition on Saturday from 11...

Halloween 2015


“From ghoulies and ghosties and long leggedy beasties and things that go bump in the night, good Lord, deliver us!” That traditional prayer was one way that Scottish people dealt with frightening evenings, such as Halloween.

Over the past several years however, you have probably noticed that Halloween has totally morphed. Once, it was the single day when children would race home from school and change into some kind of fantasy character or a monster, with the task of collecting candy and cash from “unsuspecting” neighbors. At least, that is how I remember the day.

What we have now, however, is something more along the lines of a “Halloween season.” Have you sent out your Halloween cards yet? Halloween is second only to Christmas for holiday spending! As if children did not have enough concerns, now they must also pay close attention to getting the right costume; no more torn T-shirts and cheap makeup! No simple jack-o-lanterns, either. People buy patterns in order to carve headless horsemen or other scary scenes into their pumpkins. Trees are festooned with dangling plastic goblins or jack-o-lanterns, and front yards display spooky gravesites dripping with cobwebs. Doors and windows have whole tableaux populated by ghosts and skeletons, and of course, there are many witches.

Witches are reputed to be terrible individuals who try to do frightening things to children, both in fairy tales and in the Land of Oz.

In the world of horticulture, witches can be no less terrifying. Fortunately, while many of the plants that have “witch” in their names are indeed villainous, there are a number of good ones worth mentioning.

Among these “good witches” is witch hazel (Hamamelis) a yellow-flowered shrub that produces a refreshing astringent. Unfortunately, it does not grow well in alkaline, salty, dry soils, so it is not a great choice for Nevada landscapes. An orchid found in North Carolina (Ponthieva racemosa) is known as “hairy shadow witch” but again, it is not ideal for our challenging climate. Witch alder (whose proper name is Fothergilla gardenii) is a pretty shrub that might survive here, but this cousin of witch hazel also prefers rich, well-drained, acid soils.

Hylotelephium telephium, which you might refer to as “witch’s moneybags”, is an attractive succulent that could probably grow in this region. Even foxglove, the medicinal garden plant, was once called “witches bells”. There is a climbing floribunda rose called “Witching Hour” that might be worth trying. It has purple petals that meet at a white center.

Aside from these, and perhaps a couple of other “good witches”, quite a few plants containing the word “witch” in the name are unwelcome, and many of them do indeed survive in the desert Southwest.

Some witch plants are grasses. Two members of the genus Panicum are “witch grass” (P. capillare) and “western witch grass” (P. dichotomiflorum). Even the noxious weed we commonly call “quack grass” or “couch grass” (Agropyron repens) is sometimes known as witch grass. Here is another good reason not to use common names if we have a choice; using proper names can lessen confusion.

We tend to think of witchy things as not being very attractive. Consider the “Wicked Witch of the West”, an unappealing character. That is not necessarily the case. The invasive plant St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) was known as Witch Herb or Devil’s Scourge in English folklore, and witches reportedly used it when they were casting spells! More recently, its attractive yellow flowers have been an herbal treatment for depression. In parts of the world, including the eastern US, grows a genus of root parasites known as “witchweed” (Striga). These are truly bad plants; by sucking out the nutrients of their hosts, these pests devastate desirable plants. Indeed, parasitic plants like this one can be attractive, but that makes them perhaps even more terrible, since we hesitate to remove them.

The Mojave’s difficult climate does not prevent the parasitic plant dodder (Cuscuta spp.), from wreaking havoc. Anyone who has seen something that looks like a tangled mass of orange or yellow string sitting atop wild plants has seen dodder. Some people know this freeloader as “witch’s hair,” and others call it “witch’s shoelaces.”

There is something known as “witch’s broom.” This is not a plant, but actually a phenomenon. When certain parasitic plants (or other organisms) land on a limb, it can cause the plant to respond by wildly producing masses of twigs and foliage. The resulting cluster can look like the business end of an old broom. This is very common on evergreens in this region, but you can also find it on acacia and mesquite. Producing all that extra growth without getting any of the benefit really weakens a plant.

There are many witches out there. Enjoy Halloween, but you might not want to bring most of these witch plants into your garden.

Email Angela O’Callaghan, Social Horticulture Specialist, or call at 702-257-5581.

Summer food safety

America’s food supply is one of the safest in the world, and yet, sometimes the food we eat can make us sick. This may be especially true in the summer, when we often have outdoor barbeques and picnics.Under the right conditions an invisible enemy called bacteria will grow and multiply. Some bacteria can cause foodborne illness or food poisoning. Fortunately, most cases of foodborne illness can be prevented. In the hot summer days ahead, it will be particularly important to get into the habit of using some simple food storage and handling steps like those outlined below.

  • Keep food at the right temperature. Bacteria multiply best between 40oF to 140oF, so keep cold foods below 40oF and hot foods above 140oF. If food is held at room temperature for longer than two hours, throw it away. When shopping, consider taking an ice chest to transport chilled foods and frozen products.
  • Keep things clean. Everyone in the family should wash hands with warm, soapy water before preparing or eating foods. If on a picnic or camping trip, take along antiseptic hand-wipes to clean hands before working with food. Make sure utensils, cutting boards, and surfaces are thoroughly washed before and after use.
  • Don’t mix raw meat, fish, or poultry with other foods unless they are to be cooked together. Bacteria on raw foods can spread quickly to other foods. Wash hands between each contact with raw meat or poultry. Use clean plates and utensils for each food. Never put the cooked food on a plate that just held raw meat, fish, or poultry.
  • Use a food thermometer to check that cooked food has reached the proper internal temperature (this varies for different cuts and varieties of meat and poultry). Color is not a good indicator of doneness.
  • Thaw foods properly. It is not safe to thaw foods on the kitchen counter. Bacteria can multiply to dangerous levels in the outer layers of thawing foods before the inner areas are thawed. Foods should be placed in the refrigerator to thaw a day or two before needed or, food can be thawed more quickly by placing it in a sink or large container and covering it with cold water. The water should be changed every 25 to 30 minutes to ensure safe but effective thawing. It is also O.K. to thaw foods in the microwave—as long as they are cooked immediately after thawing.

By following these simple, safe-handling techniques, you and your family can enjoy a healthy and safe summer season.

Susan Lednicky is a Nutritionist with University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. Contact Sue by Email or call at 702-257-5548.

Sugar confusion

From everything we read on the Internet and see on TV, it’s easy to get the idea that sugar is bad. This is not the message we are trying to send. When someone eats foods that are high in added sugar they often miss out on nutrients that will help their body because foods with added sugar often lack nutrients found in other foods. This is not the case with foods that are high in nutrients but also contain sugar. Foods such as oranges, strawberries, and carrots contain sugar, but they also contain many needed nutrients. And there are some foods, such as flavored milks, yogurt, and sweetened cereals that contain added sugars, but also contain many needed nutrients.

The American Dietetic Association states that “by increasing the palatability of nutrient-dense foods and beverages, sweeteners can promote diet healthfulness.” Additionally, in their scientific statement on Dietary Sugar Intake and Cardiovascular Health, the American Heart Association states, “when sugars are added to otherwise nutrient-rich foods, such as sugar-sweetened dairy products like flavored milk and yogurt and sugar-sweetened cereals, the quality of children’s and adolescents’ diet improves, and in the case of flavored milks, no adverse effects on weight status were found.”

As with all foods we eat, the key is MODERATION and COMMON SENSE. You don’t have to eliminate sugar from your diet, just use common sense when eating. Serve fewer sweet treats as snacks, limit the size of the portions you are eating, and try not to eat sugar-sweetened foods every day. Don’t use sugary foods as rewards, but don’t make them into “monsters” either. Using moderation and common sense you can “have your cake and eat it, too.”

Susan Lednicky is a Nutritionist with University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. Contact Sue by Email or call at 702-257-5548.

Researcher finds way to fight cheatgrass, a western scourge

Washington State University Extension News - Mon, 10/12/2015 - 7:38am
Invasive cheatgrass can be fought with soil bacteria, using methods explored by Ann Kennedy, a USDA-ARS scientist at Washington State University.

After more than a half-century of largely failed efforts to thwart the Sherman’s march of cheatgrass, a researcher may have a powerful new weapon against it.
Ann Kennedy, a soil scientist with the Agricultural Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture, has discovered naturally occurring soil bacteria that inhibit the growth of the weed’s deep root system, its competitive advantage, even as those bacteria leave native plants untouched.

Read the New York Times story here.

WSU lab confirms bluetongue virus killing livestock

Washington State University Extension News - Fri, 10/09/2015 - 4:05pm

The Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory at Washington State University has confirmed bluetongue virus (BTV) in 42 animals submitted from Washington and Idaho this fall.

Most of the samples submitted to WADDL were from white-tailed deer. Other affected species included cows, domestic sheep, bighorn sheep, mule deer and a yak.

The laboratory, part of the College of Veterinary Medicine, detected BTV in animals from Whitman, Spokane, Asotin, Garfield, Pend Oreille and Stevens counties in Washington, as well as Latah, Clearwater, Canyon and Nez Perce counties in Idaho. Samples from cattle and bighorn sheep submitted from Churchill and Mineral counties in Nevada were also confirmed to have BTV.

Read the full story here.

Starting off right with healthy teeth

A lifetime of good dental health needs the right start. Even though baby teeth eventually fall out, good tooth care now sets children up for healthy permanent teeth. If baby teeth are lost or damaged, permanent teeth can be severely affected. Also, children need healthy teeth to chew food easily and to speak properly and clearly. And that smile is worth a million!

The foods we eat play a large role in preventing cavities. Good sources of calcium like milk, cheese, and yogurt (the dairy group) should be included daily. Vitamin C from citrus fruits and juices, strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes and cauliflower is needed for healthy gums. Dark green vegetables, like broccoli, provide calcium and vitamin C. All of these foods need to be eaten often.

The way we eat is as important as what we eat for cavity prevention. Many small snacks a day mean lots of opportunities for cavities to develop. Children usually do not brush teeth after snacks. This allows food to remain in the teeth for bacteria to feed on. The bacteria produce acids that attack teeth and cause cavities. Brushing often and rinsing the mouth with water can be helpful.

There are some foods that make healthier snacks “teeth-wise.” Cheese is a healthy snack that increases the amount of saliva produced in the mouth. The saliva washes away starches and sugars. Raw fruits and vegetables can “scrub” the teeth when eaten. Avoid sticky foods (like candies and even raisins) as these will stick to teeth and cause decay.

Most importantly, make sure your child has a good, soft toothbrush and toothpaste available to use after every meal. Show your child the proper way to brush and inspect their teeth when they have finished. Setting a timer for three minutes per brushing session will help to ensure that the job is being done. Regular visits to the dentist, proper brushing, and healthy foods from all five food groups will help your child grow toward a lifetime of dental health.

Susan Lednicky is a Nutritionist with University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. Contact Sue Email or call at 702-257-5548.