IMG_5026 (960x1280)

Making jelly is fun!

IMG_4943 (960x1280)

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?

Are you canning at the right pressure for you altitude?

Afternoon class cuts up garden vegetables for a quick canning pickle

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

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.

IMG_5039 (960x1280) IMG_4939 (960x1280) IMG_5031 (1280x1133) IMG_5019 (960x1280) IMG_4983 (960x1280)

USDA canning book coverTwo hours of classroom instruction in food preservation safety and home food preservation on Thursday August 27th from 6-8 p.m. We will discuss the latest food safety recommendations. Bring your equipment for safety checks or to learn what it does. The entire class can learn from the equipment or questions you bring. You do not need to have any equipment to attend the class. You will learn what items you might need to purchase for the type of canning that you want to do during the course.

Canning Green Beans and Carrots

Canning Green Beans and Carrots

Hands-on learning for beginning canners will be on Saturday August 29th with two time blocks 8 a.m.- Noon and 1-5 p.m. Space is limited and reservations are on a first come, first serve basis. You can bring your own produce, but will have to pick up canned food after the seals have set. Each group will get to choose what to can.
We will be using the book “Complete Guide to Home Canning” from the USDA. The contents of the book are available for download to any device that reads .pdf files. I prefer to have a paper copy of the book to have as a reference in the kitchen and to save my electronics from the sometimes sticky or wet canning process. Other handouts will be provided. We will have limited copies available for $15 each. First come, first served.

Raw Pack Whole Tomatoes

Raw Pack Whole Tomatoes

The course is $10 per participant.
Sign Up Today! Email me, call 775-463-6541, or stop by the office.
Like us on Facebook!

Peach leaf showing "shot hole" damage

Peach leaf showing “shot hole” damage

Advanced shot hole damage showing how the disease damage progresses

Advanced shot hole damage showing how the disease damage progresses

Our office has been buzzing with calls regarding problems with trees. These problems have been as varied as aphid infestations, browned leaves, holes in leaves and trees with 20-30% of their leaves turning yellow and falling off. All of these problems are caused by one thing: the unusually cool, wet weather followed by a couple of hot, dry weeks.

Fruit trees in our area have been hit the hardest. First, there were the series of frosts after several warm snaps this spring, leaving most people without any fruit on their trees. Next, it has been unusually wet – excessive rains have caused flooding and road wash outs throughout Lyon county. Cool, moist days have increased the incident of fugal and bacterial pathogens, especially in fruit trees. Normally, these pathogens are latent in our area and only appear when trees are irrigated

Leaf scorch on a redmond lindon tree leaves

Leaf scorch on a redmond lindon tree leaves

with a sprinkler system. All of the rain created the same situation.

We have seen many peach trees with shot-hole, a symptom of a fungal disease caused by Wilsonomyces carpophilus. Bacterial leaf scorch bacteria, Xylella fastidiosa, is very wide spread and can infect plants in many plant families. Non-bacterial leaf

Apricot leaf with mild leaf scorch damage that can appear to be similar to shot hole damage

Apricot leaf with mild leaf scorch damage that can appear to be similar to shot hole damage

scorch occurs when the plant cannot take up enough water to compensate for transpiration leaf drying/browning or leaf die-back. It can be caused by not enough water in leaves or soil, fungi or bacteria clogging the plants vascular system, or damage to the roots including rotting because of too much or not enough water. Sometimes there is sufficient water in the soil but the plant cannot take up enough because of salinity or clay in our soils which inhibits water absorption or if roots have not expanded sufficiently to compensate for the sudden new growth from additional moisture then unusually dry hot weather. Signs of root scorch include browning on the edges of leaf and the leaf surface between leaf veins. As long as it is not severe enough to cause significant leaf die-back and over watering does not occur, though unsightly, the plant usually recovers. At times, shot-hole signs can be confused with leaf scorch. If in doubt, email us pictures or bring samples to our office. Proper diagnosis of a plant problem is the first step to planning plant recovery. While there are some treatments for shot-hole, planting varieties which have natural resistance and properly watering are usually the best tools for the home orchards.

Young apricot tree with branch tips damaged by high aphid density and leaf scorch

Young apricot tree with branch tips damaged by high aphid density and leaf scorch

Aphids have also enjoyed this cool wet weather, which has created ideal environmental conditions for a longer period of time. New growth on trees is often the most susceptible. Aphids can vector plant viruses and cause the plant to be covered in sap, which can be unsightly or a nuisance. For the home gardener, most aphid problems will go away in a few weeks when the conditions are too hot or dry. Aphid populations can be decreased by spraying with a strong stream of water or by placing sticky tape around the base of the plant to trap the ants which herd aphids like tiny cows.

Robed locus canopy with yellow leaves caused by heat stress

Robed locus canopy with yellow leaves caused by heat stress

In my yard is a purple robed locust which responded well to all the rain, blossoming several times and putting out new growth. Then the heat wave hit. Almost 50% of the leaves on my tree turned yellow and fell off. Marcia has helped me resolve other problems with this tree, so I was afraid it was struggling from a split in the trunk it suffered 2 years ago. When I asked about it, we decided to go look in our water wise arboretum at the robed locust there. It was also shedding leaves, but only about 25%. The heat was much harder on my damaged tree than the healthy one at the office.

By Joy Paterson and Marcia Moffitt

Written by Marcia Moffitt

20150713_174711edit

Tomato hornworm larva, can also be black

20150713_180026edit1

Feeding damaged caused by tomato hornworms

I was wondering why I picked 67 hornworms, Manduca quinquemaculata, on just two tomato plants in the last ten days. I notice that leaves were missing and holes were being chewed into my tomato fruits. This is the first year I have had hornworm problems on my tomato plants. Joy Paterson and I discussed this and I described what was planted next to my tomatoes this year.

My vegetable garden is under renovation, so I am gardening in containers in a new location. The realization came that it might not be a good idea to place my tomato plants near my butterfly bush. Why? Because I had created the perfect environment for the hummingbird or hawk moths to complete their entire life cycle within a five foot area. The adult moths were attracted to my butterfly bushes. Hornworm adults are diurnal, with peak activity times at dusk and dawn. Mating occurred and female moths had a very convenient habitat for laying eggs with my tomato plants just feet away. Each morning and evening the females were passing by and laying more eggs. I had multiple generations with larvae of various sizes on both of my plants. They were happily munching on the fruit and leaves of my tomato plants. Look for round holes in the fruit, large round “bites” out of leaves, or dark green clumps of frass (insect feces) to see if hornworms are feeding. If you notice damage, look closely at stems and in the soil around the the base of the plant. Searching at night with a flashlight will also catch them in the act of feeding.

20150715_063033_resized

Round holes are the feeding damaged caused on fruit

The fact sheet Tomato and Tobacco Hornworms is a great resource on the life cycle of this particular pest and control methods. More information on the damaged caused can be found at Grow Your Own Nevada’s  web page on hornworms. These sites provide a good description of what I experienced as the damage was quick and severe to both the plant and fruit. Since they were detracting from my production, I decided to recycle and feed them to my laying hens that scarfed them up as a tasty treat. Squishing them is also an effective way to remove the larva, if you do not have chickens.

If you find these larva, you can also rear them out as a science experiment. The Manduca Project has some great suggestions for rearing them through to adults. Though after the devastation I experienced, I cannot imagine myself rearing these critters despite the beauty of the moth.

20150713_181039

Hornworms have 3 pairs of legs and 5 pairs of prolegs with a red “horn” at the end

Dark green specks are frass (insect feces) on the tomato

Dark green specks are frass (insect feces) on the tomato

Desert Danelion

Desert Dandelion Blooming

Desert Dandelion Going to Seed

Desert Dandelion Going to Seed

This is becoming a more common question as people are interested in creating pollinator habitat and conserving water by using plants adapted for the local climate. At the Lyon County University of Nevada Cooperative Extension office, we are starting our own native plant garden to create a teaching garden and native pollinator habitat. Marcia started by using the native Desert Dandelion, Malacothrix glabrata, that was naturally growing in front of our office. She kept them weeded to avoid spraying herbicide and reduce competition. The building and the trees shade them, so we have small plants. Desert

Desert Dandelion Seed Head

Desert Dandelion Seed Head

Dandelion can be larger when grown in full sun. As they go to seed, we collect the seeds in a small paper envelope to let them dry. Next spring, we will plant the collected seeds to expand our patch.

Native plants are great for Lyon County gardens. In recent University of Nevada Cooperative Extension special publications “Flowers at the Borders” and “Penstemons are for Great Basin Gardens” have recommendations for native plants to include in your garden. Your native garden can also help native pollinators by providing habitat, like native milkweeds, or as pollen and nectar sources. Do not collect seeds from natural areas or areas where you do not have permission to collect seeds. Not all pretty flowers are beneficial, some can be noxious weeds. Make sure you know what plants you are spreading before moving plants or seeds.
Have a native plant that you want to know more about? Send me a picture! patersonj@unce.unr.edu