This week, Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program participants will be receiving canary melon cups and parsnip coins. If time allows, I will include some additional information about the fruits and vegetables that is for the adults that might be interested in these fruits and vegetables and read the blog. This can supplement your knowledge as the educator and maybe make it more interesting to you. The FFVP focuses on youth trying and eating fruits and vegetables without cooking or adding dressings or sauces, but I frequently have adults involved with the fruits and vegetable programs ask what else can be done with the things the kids are trying. Let me know what you think.
Canary melon is sweet and juicy with a creamy texture. These melons are at their best when they have a bright, smooth skin and is firm with a slight give when squeezed. Due to the naturally high sugar content, chucks will not completely freeze at typical freezer temperatures and are great for adding to smoothies or as a slushy treat. Canary melon is usually just eaten plain, but can be thinly sliced with other melons and dressed with a little balsamic vinegar, a sprinkling of mint leaves and goat cheese for an elegant salad.
Parsnips are a very versatile vegetable. A carrot texture combined with a sweeter, turnip flavor they are a great addition or substitute for any recipes that include carrot, potato, turnip or other root vegetables. Roasting turnips will concentrate the natural sugar and give it a nice caramelized flavor. A quick search online will give you recipes for parsnip chips, mash, fries or salads that will add something different to your dinner routine. Look for firm, white roots. Flexible roots can often be crisped up by soaking in ice water for a few minutes. Smaller parsnips are sweeter, larger parsnips have a higher starch content and are more like potato. Parsnips do grow wild in North America, but do not pick and eat what you think is a wild parsnip, it might be poison hemlock and you will have just picked your last meal.
Lyon County schools will again be participating in the Fresh Fruits and Vegetable Program grant through USDA will begin receiving fresh fruits and vegetables from Bonaza Produce to try to encourage youth to eat more fruits and vegetables, expand the experience of trying new fruits and vegetables, and providing healthier food choices. Schools included in the program are: Yerington Elementary School, Dayton Elementary School, Sutro Elementary School, Fernley Elementary School, and Silver Stage Elementary School.
University of Nevada Cooperative Extension supplies educational support for this program by creating fruits and vegetable flyers with information about the produce to be eaten that week. The flyers are prepared by Lyon County Extension Educator Joy Paterson and includes information about nutrition, history, horticulture, and fun or odd facts to engage the kids in learning about the food they eat to encourage them to try the produce that is presented. While only students at schools that qualified for the program will receive the fruits and vegetables at school, flyers will be posted to the fresh fruits and vegetable section of the Lyon County Cooperative Extension blog. Parents or teachers can use the flyers to create their own tastings or to discuss fruits and vegetables that the cafeteria served. Specific vegetable or fruit flyers can be requested and will be provided if previously prepared.
This weeks produce is grape tomatoes and honeydew. Have you tasted either of these? Have your kids? If you find these in the supermarket, pick them up and host your own tasting. Try it, you just might like it.
Making jelly is fun!
Pressure canning lid is locked into place
A two-part “Food Safety and Beginning Canning” class was taught by Lyon County Extension Educator Joy Paterson. The first part of the course consisted of a two hour long workshop where participants learned the biology of botulism, the science of food selection and preparation for use in canning and the basics of boiling water bath canning and pressure canning. Unsafe or untested methods of canning were briefly discussed with scientific discussion of why some methods are unsafe, unpredictable or untested using the latest information from the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning. During the workshop, participants checked canning jars for safety, handled various canning equipment and looked at canned jars of food. Participants were encouraged to bring their equipment to share with the course and for a safety evaluation of pressure canning equipment. Even veteran canners learned new information that will make grandma’s recipes safer and canning that produce faster.
Are you canning at the right pressure for you altitude?
Afternoon class cuts up garden vegetables for a quick canning pickle
Tomatoes are peeled, cored and placed in the cooking pot for a hot pack
During the hands-on portion held at Holy Family Catholic Church’s community center kitchen, participants canned using a hot pack and a cold pack method with both a pressure canner and boiling water bath equipment. Groups prepared jars, cleaned and prepared produce, followed recipes, filled jars, tightened lids and safely processed the food they prepared. The two groups cleaned, peeled and hot packed tomatoes. Green beans were cold packed and pressure canned by the first group. Jam recipes for blackberries and zinfandel grapes was demonstrated and participants processed the jars. Group two cold packed garden vegetable pickles. Jars of food prepared the day before were cleaned and checked for a proper seal. Information discussed in during the workshop were reinforced and everyone left feeling confident enough to can their own jars of treasure from the garden.
There is interest in a course that focuses on fall canning of fruits and fall garden produce, with potential dates in October. I would like to teach a canning class next summer in your part of the county. We need access to a commercial kitchen with 10-20 paid participants. Classes can be modified to what the group wants to learn. If you are interested in attending a future canning course or can assist in facilitating one, email, call or come by the Lyon County Cooperative Extension Office.
Close-up of a yellow starthistle, showing the star-shaped spines around the base of the flower
Yellow starthistle is an annual plant with yellow flowers with long white spines covering the plant. Under a microscope, the surface of the plant also has thin curly hairs that cover the surface and cause a grey appearance to the stems and leaves. The plant can vary greatly in size from very short, 6 inches, to over 5 feet with stems that appear winged. It has a deep taproot and with many branched stems. Disturbance allows yellow starthistle to rapidly colonize areas. Once established, it is able to rapidly remove the moisture from the soil, preventing other plants from establishing. Ideal habitats are dry and sunny. Flowers are very productive, producing thousands of seeds per plant. Horses should not graze in areas where yellow starthistle is present. It can cause chewing disease, which is fatal for horses that eat the plant.
Side view of the flower head and stem, notice the winged appearance of the stem, long yellow spines and greyish appearance of the plant surface
Distribution of yellow starthistle is broad across the United States. Spreading in our area of Nevada anecdotally follows primarily riverways and weed management work along the Carson river watershed in Carson County has focused on preventing spread further downstream. It has been reported 11 times in Lyon County by EDDMapSWEST and is currently unreported by the USDA PLANTS database. While these reports were in Southern Lyon county, it is likely to spread into Northern Lyon county via waterways or highways. It has been reported to infest between 10 and 15 million acres in California. The photos in this blog were taken in California, where I observed yellow starthistle infesting roadways, fields, irrigation ditches and encroaching into natural areas.
Yellow starthistle growing on dry roadside
Management of yellow starthistle is most effective when weeds are managed prior to going to seed. Frequent scouting in areas of potential spread, repeated scouting in treated areas and removal of plants prior to seeding. Small patches are best handled with hand pulling ensuring that all flower heads are contained to prevent spread at the disposal location. Larger patches have a variety of control options, but without re-vegetation with desirable plants, yellow starthistle can quickly re-establish. Prevention of establishment relies on effective reporting and treatment of infested areas. Email photos of suspected yellow starthistle for identification confirmation.
By Marcia Moffitt
Elm leaves skeletonized by elm leaf beetle turn brown and ugly
Are your elm tree leaves turning brown and dying? An initial reaction might be to water the tree more because we are in a drought and other trees are also loosing leaves. That is unless you are familiar with the elm leaf beetle. If you observe that the brown leaves on an elm look different from other tree species’ brown leaves and have a “lacey” appearance, then additional watering will not solve the problem.
Adult elm leaf beetles hibernate over winter in wood piles, crevices and leaf litter; emerge in the spring and fly to elm foliage to feed. They lay yellowish eggs on the undersides of leaves in double rows. The eggs hatch and
Elm leaf beetle larvae, 3rd or 4th instar, feed on elm leaves
the larvae go through three growth stages over several weeks during which time they feed on and skeletonize the leaves. This is what causes the leaves to turn brown and take on the “lacey” appearance. Once the larvae mature, they crawl down the tree trunk and pupate at the base of the tree. Roughly ten days later, adult beetles emerge fly to the foliage and begin the cycle again. Adult beetles chew through the leaves and this damage appears similar to shot-hole damage. Multiple generations can occur in one year. In the fall, adults beetles begin looking for places to overwinter and can enter homes through cracks and crevices.
Close up of an elm leaf beetle larva
Adult elm leaf beetle
When dealing with elm leaf beetles, it is best to use an integrated pest management (IPM) approach. IPM incorporates a variety of techniques to keep populations of elm leaf beetle to a tolerable level. These techniques involve good cultural practices, conservation of natural enemies, regular monitoring and less-persistent chemical usage. University of Nevada Cooperative Extension and University of California fact sheets are very good references detailing IPM techniques for controlling Elm leaf beetles. Both references incorporate preventive guidelines and cultural, biological, botanical and chemical controls as an integrated approach to dealing with this pest. When choosing a biological control, specifically Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis), be aware that there are varieties of Bt and each is effective against certain insects.
Once a tree is infested with elm leaf beetles, take action to maintain the vigor of the elm tree and reduce other stressing factors. Ensure that the tree is getting sufficient water, don’t compact or disturb the soil underneath the tree and prevent trunk and limb injuries. A healthy elm tree can survive even heavy defoliation if it occurs in late summer and not repeatedly every year.