by Bill Graham, Missouri Department of Conservation
The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and the Missouri Prairie Foundation (MPF) will host a native plant sale from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 15, at the Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center in Kansas City. Visitors can peruse the plants that vendors bring, but they can also pre-order online or by phone from participating vendors and pick them up at the event.
Native wildflowers and grasses offer lovely blooms, colors, and textures in landscape garden plantings. Many will benefit from some tender care in the days after planting, such as watering and removing weed competition. Kansas City’s up and down weather can stress new plantings. But once established with deep roots systems, natives can often survive weather variances better than non-natives. Using a variety of plants can extend blooms in the garden from spring into autumn.
Another benefit from native plants, shrubs, and trees is that they benefit songbirds, butterflies, and other urban wildlife. Many non-natives do not host insects that are vital food for songbirds during spring nesting season. They also are not host plants for butterfly and moth larvae.
At the May 15 event, visitors can talk with MDC staff, MPF volunteers, and vendors about natives. Knowing what plants work best in soil and sunlight types can make a big difference in growing success. COVID-19 safety protocols such as physical distancing and face masks will be followed.
The participating vendors and their contact information for preordering:
GALLENA'S GARDEN: View the plant list here and email your order to email@example.com(link sends e-mail) by Thursday, May 13. After ordering, they will send an invoice for the purchase.
OZARK SOUL: Order via email or phone by noon on Friday, May 14: firstname.lastname@example.org(link sends e-mail); 816-809-4062, Please visit https://www.ozarksoul.com/availability.php for a current availability list. In your email or voicemail, please include your phone number and note the date and location. After your order has been placed, Ozark Soul will email you to give you the payment details.
MISSOURI WILDFLOWERS NURSERY: Order by calling 573-496-3492, by email at email@example.com(link sends e-mail), or online here by Wednesday, May 12: https://mowildflowers.net/
ALLENDAN SEED COMPANY: Please email firstname.lastname@example.org(link sends e-mail) to request current prices and available mixes. https://www.allendanseed.com/.
COLONIAL GARDENS: More information coming soon. Visit https://colonialgardenskc.com/.
CITY ROOTS, LLC: Order online by Thursday, May 13: https://www.cityrootsnursery.com/plants-for-sale.
GREEN THUMB GARDENS: Order and pay online by Thursday, May 13: https://store.dtekc.com/.
To learn more about the Missouri Prairie Foundation, visit Home - Missouri Prairie Foundation (moprairie.org). For information about using native plants in landscaping, visit https://short.mdc.mo.gov/Zc8.
by Denise Sullivan, Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, MU Extension
Outside of lettuce or other types of leafy greens, peas are one of the early season garden goodies I look forward to every year. While some people might find the shelling of peas a tedious task, I prefer it to snapping beans and find it rather satisfying to ‘zip’ open the pod to get to the treasure inside.
For most purposes, peas may be classified as garden or English peas, snow peas, and sugar snap peas. English peas are further divided into smooth or wrinkled seed varieties. Smooth-seeded varieties are starchier, while wrinkled varieties are sweeter and are commonly used for home and commercial growing.
Snow peas are meant to be harvested as flat, tender pods before the peas inside develop at all. Sugar snap peas have been developed from garden peas to have low-fiber pods that can be snapped and eaten along with the slightly mature peas inside. The starchier smooth-seeded varieties are used to produce ripe seed kernels that are fractured to be used to make split-pea soup. The Southern pea, or cowpea is an entirely different vegetable that is planted and grown in the same manner as beans and legumes.
In the mid 1900’s, studies by Gregor Mendel working with seven characteristics of pea plants (plant height, pod shape and color, seed shape and color, and flower position and color) laid the foundation for modern genetics by identifying dominant and recessive traits in organisms.
Peas are the seed of the Pisum sativum plant, which originated in the Mediterranean region of Greece, Syria & Turkey. They are a frost-hardy, cool-season vegetable grown wherever a cool season of sufficient duration exists. Today, most production occurring outside of the United States is in colder regions like Canada, Russia, England, and France. The highest producing states in the US are Washington, Montana, and North Dakota.
No matter how you roll them, peas are nutrient-dense packages of carbohydrates, protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals (especially iron, potassium, folate and vitamins A and K). A half-cup of cooked green peas contains 4 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber, 12 grams of carbohydrate, and 641 IU of vitamin A.
On the flip side, peas also contain phytic acid and lectins, which are often referred to as anti-nutrients, that may interfere with nutrient absorption and promote bloating in some people. To minimize these effects keep serving sizes to around 1/3 to ½ cup, eat them fully cooked instead of raw, and try sprouted or fermented preparations.
Peas can be enjoyed alone as a side dish, or added into soups, stews, or salads. Green peas can even be baked (tossed with a little olive oil and spices) on a baking sheet for a healthy, crunchy snack. Combining fresh peas with grape tomatoes, the pasta dish below can be served warm as a hearty main dish or chilled as a salad by thinning the cheese mixture with lemon juice.
Denise Sullivan is a Nutrition and Health Education Specialist for MU Extension in the Urban West Region, serving Jackson and Platte Counties. For research-based nutrition and food safety information and programs, visit https://extension.missouri.edu/counties/urban-west-region
by Cathy Bylinowski, Horticulture Instructor, University of Missouri Extension- Jackson County
I’m always looking at other people’s yards and admiring their gardens, trees, and flowering shrubs. If I see an attractive plant that is new to me, I try to figure out what it is, if it will grow in my yard, and where I can get one.
This spring, take some time to enjoy the flowering trees and shrubs in your neighborhood, nearby parks, even in the woods and green spaces around you.
If you see some you like, now is a great time to figure out what they are and if they will grow in your yard. Spring is also a good time to plant new flowering trees and shrubs to enjoy for years to come. Here are several spring-flowering trees and shrubs that grow well in western Missouri:
Serviceberry- (Amelanchier arborea)
Serviceberry, native to Missouri, is an attractive small tree with smooth gray bark, that grows on wooded slopes. The snowy white flowers appear in early spring before anything else in the woods has leafed out. Tasty berries appear in June and leaves turn pink and orange in the fall. Unfortunately, invasive, non-native Callery Pears (Bradford Pear being one type) are moving into Missouri natural areas. Do not mistake the white flowers of Bradford Pear for Serviceberry!
(Photo credit: Pixabay by deniseellsworth)
Flowering dogwood- (Cornus florida)
The flowering dogwood is a popular native flowering tree. Johnson County, Missouri is its nearest natural range to the KCMO region. It can be grown in our region, if it is put in a protected, partly shady site in the yard. Growth is fairly slow. Their branching is open and horizontal, with a rounded mature shape. They can get up to 30 feet tall.
Their spectacular white bracts appear before leaves. Small, red fruit persist in fall and attract songbirds. It has lustrous, scarlet foliage in fall, too.
They can be used as specimens, in masses or naturalized under larger trees, preferring moist, humus rich, slightly acidic soils. Avoid planting in hot, dry exposures. Use an organic mulch under the tree. Dogwoods need water during drought. Old or injured specimens are subject to borer damage.
(Photo credit: C.Bylinowski)
Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis)
Redbuds can get up to 30 feet tall. The clusters of purplish pink small flowers clusters appear before leaves emerge. Heart-shaped leaves turn yellow in fall. Plant redbuds as specimens, in masses, or naturalized at edge of woods. They are hardy in sun or part shade and tolerant of a wide range of soils.
(Photo credit: C.Bylinowski)
Lilac (Syringa vulgaris)
Lilac is one of the best known and most commonly planted of all the introduced, flowering shrubs. Lilacs are worth having in your yard or garden for their once-a-year display of incredibly fragrant flowers. For the classic lilac fragrance, plant Common Lilac or one of its hybrids.
Lilacs get up to 9 feet tall.
Lilacs perform best in well-drained soils in full sun. Plants should receive at least six hours of direct sun each day for maximum bloom.
Proper pruning is necessary to keep the plants attractive and to promote flower production. After the plant becomes established, about one-third of the old stems should be removed each year. Older lilac stems may be attacked by borers.
(Photo credit: Pixabay by deniseellsworth)
Flowering Magnolias (Magnolia soulangiana)
These magnolias look like beautiful pink clouds in the spring. The only drawback is that the flowers can be damaged by spring freezes. You might enjoy the scented flowers so much that you are willing to take the of risk flowers turning brown some years, after a freeze. There are cultivars that bloom later in the spirng with pink, purple, or yellow flowers. They are worth investigating. Some magnolias can get to 30 feet tall. Plant in protected parts of your yard away from southern exposures.
(Photo credit: C.Bylinowski)
These are some of the many ornamental trees and shrubs, native and introduced, that offer beautiful spring color. Contact me (email@example.com) if you want more information on flowering trees and shrubs.
You can also explore University of Missouri Extension’s website for more information on gardening- https://extension.missouri.edu/.
by Bill Graham, Missouri Department of Conservation
Trees with white blooms are too common this spring in many Kansas City area fence lines, parks, and meadows, because non-native Callery pear cultivars planted as ornamentals have hybridized and become very invasive. They invade where they’re not wanted and choke out valuable native trees, shrubs, and wildflowers that nurture songbirds and butterflies.
The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) urges gardeners and landscapers to consider planting native trees with colorful spring blooms as ornamentals.
Missouri’s state tree, flowering dogwood, provides white blooms and is attractive in lawns, given shady locations. Serviceberry provides early white blooms but also red berries that are edible for people, although birds also love them. Other choices include red buckeye, yellowwood, redbud, blackhaw viburnum, hophornbeam and chokecherry, said Wendy Sangster, MDC community conservation planner.
A mix of tree species will provide a variety of blooms and benefits. Native trees host valuable insects that are important food sources for backyard birds. They boost colorful moths and butterflies.
Invasive Callery pear cultivars host few if any native insects. They do provide berries, which birds eat and then spread the seeds, furthering the invasion. But those berries have very poor nutritional value for birds.
Cultivated varieties of this plant available for sale include Aristocrat, Autumn Blaze, Bradford, Capital, Chanticleer (also known as Cleveland Select), New Bradford, and Redspire, among others. All are invasive and should not be planted.
“Callery pear cultivars are also poor choices in landscaping because they are weak trees and break easily in wind or ice storms,” Sangster said.
MDC offers information about home landscape trees that help people and wildlife at http://www.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/trees-work.
The Heartland Tree Alliance, an MDC partner in the Kansas City metro area, provides information about trees that do well in urban settings, https://www.bridgingthegap.org/heartland-tree-alliance. Another useful source for information about native wildflowers, grasses, shrubs, and trees is available at http://www.grownative.org.
by Jill Pritchard, Missouri Department of Conservation
Clean out those feeders and fill them with nectar – hummingbirds will soon arrive in Missouri. The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) encourages the public to learn more about these tiny fliers during their spring migration.
“It’s time to prepare those feeders! Hummingbirds will start to make appearances in Missouri in mid-April,” MDC State Ornithologist Sarah Kendrick said. “Some have already been reported in Arkansas.”
Ruby-throated hummingbirds spend the winter in Mexico and Central American and begin their spring migration north as early as March. Kendrick explained hummingbirds can lose up to half their bodyweight during their journey.
“During migration, many fly non-stop over the Gulf of Mexico from the Yucatan Peninsula to the Gulf Coast of the U.S. – and then they do it again in the fall,” she said. “That’s why so many use feeders in the spring – they’ve just arrived, and they’re hungry!”
The diet of a hummingbird consists of flower nectar, tree sap, and even small insects. Those who would like to put out feeders are urged to steer clear of adding red dye to sugar water.
“Adding red dye to hummingbird nectar is completely unnecessary – the birds are still attracted to the red of the feeder and the dye could be harmful to the birds,” Kendrick stressed.
“Hummingbirds drink the sugar water without the coloring. May as well save yourself a step and err on the side of caution.”
To make your own sugar water, dissolve one part sugar with four parts boiling water. Cool the mixture before filling the feeder and replace sugar water before it gets cloudy. In hot weather, feeders should be emptied and cleaned twice per week with hot water and a weak vinegar solution. In cooler weather, feeders can be cleaned once per week.
The ruby-throated hummingbird is Missouri’s smallest nesting bird and the only hummingbird that nests in the Eastern United States. Despite their petite size, they make a big impact in the ecosystem.
“Hummingbirds are important pollinators for many plants that require a long-billed pollinator and they also eat numerous insects,” Kendrick noted. “They bring a lot of joy to many people who feed and watch them, and draw people in to learn more about other birds and nature.”
In addition to putting out feeders, growing native plants is another great way to help hummingbirds and other migratory birds.
by Cathy Bylinowski, M.S., Horticulture Instructor, University of Missouri Extension
Are longer days and warming temperatures making you think about gardening? March is the beginning of the outdoor gardening season in many parts of Missouri. Here are some gardening tips from Donna Aufdenburg, MU Extension Field Specialist in Horticulture and from me, Cathy Bylinowski, MU Extension Horticulture Instructor, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are you lucky enough to have an asparagus bed? March is time to clean up the asparagus bed before new spears emerge: remove weeds, the old, dead stalks of last year's growth and remove mulch that protected crowns over the winter.
For more information, see MU Extension Guide g6405 Growing Asparagus in Missouri https://extension.missouri.edu/g6405.
Cultivating wet garden soils can destroy soil composition. Delay planting if garden soil is wet. When a ball of soil crumbles easily after being squeezed together in hand, it is dry enough to be safely worked.
Plant cool season crops such as peas, lettuce, spinach, various greens, radishes, carrots, beets, kohlrabi, turnips. These crops can be directly sown into moist crumbly garden soil. Transplants of leeks and onions can be planted outdoors now, as well as onion sets (small bulbs).
Plant broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts and cauliflower transplants into the garden. For suggested planting dates, see MU Extension Guide g6201 Vegetable Planting Calendar https://extension.missouri.edu/g6201.
While some people plant potatoes on St. Patrick’s Day, the ground can still be wet and cold on March 17. Potatoes benefit from slightly warmer temperatures.
Plant potatoes in late March through late April. The ground will be a little warmer and the potatoes will start growing vigorously in a matter of weeks.
Here’s a link to an informative article on potatoes: https://extension.missouri.edu/news/st.-paddy-s-day-is-a-dud-for-planting-spuds-in-missouri-3347
More March vegetable gardening tips:
Start tomatoes indoors now for transplanting in early May. You will need a window with a clear southern exposure or shelving with fluorescent light fixtures that can be raised as seedlings grow. This will help you produce healthy and sturdy transplants.
Now is also the time to start peppers and eggplant seeds for transplanting outdoors in May. Like tomatoes, these warm weather crops need warm air and soil temperatures for success.
Monitor May temperatures and cover your transplants if the temperatures approach freezing. For more information, see MU Extension Guide g6570 Starting Plants Indoors from Seeds https://extension.missouri.edu/g6570.
Crocus, snow drops, and hyacinths will bloom soon. Daffodils and tulips will be next on your spring flowering bulb schedule. If do not have any in your garden, think about planting some next fall. They are wonderful late winter signs of spring.
If you have a partly shady area in your yard or garden, think about planting some of our beautiful spring flowering native wildflowers such as bluebells, Dutchman’s Breeches, yellow violets, or Wild Sweet William.
Leave the wild ones in the woods to enhance natural landscapes and natural communities. Purchase Missouri native wildflowers from a growing number of retail sources. Grow Native! is a program of Missouri Prairie Foundation-https://grownative.org/.
The website lists companies that sell native plants in Missouri, a list of upcoming workshops and, under the Events tab, a list of upcoming native plant sales.
More March ornamental gardening tips:
Clean up flower beds by removing all weeds and dead foliage.
Tree, shrubs and perennials may be planted as soon as they become available at local nurseries, garden centers and retail stores.
Loosen winter mulch from roses after the danger of frost has passed.
To help control iris borer and foliage diseases, clean up and destroy the old foliage before new growth begins.
Prune spring flowering shrubs such as forsythia and weigelia, after they bloom. That way you can enjoy their attractive flowers this year and give the plants time to develop flower buds for next year.
See MU Guide g6870 Pruning Ornamental Shrubs https://extension.missouri.edu/g6870
Cut back ornamental grasses. For more information, see MU Extension Guide g6661 Ornamental Grasses https://extension.missouri.edu/g6661.
If you have more gardening questions, contact the Gardeners’ Hotline, 816-833-TREE (8733) or MU Extension- Jackson County, 816-482-5850, for more information.
by Cathy Bylinowski, M.S., Horticulture Instructor, University of Missouri Extension
It might be hard to believe now, but the icy, freezing winter weather will be over in the weeks to come. It will be time to start thinking about spring vegetable gardening! Begin the garden season with some planning.
You can use the MU Extension Vegetable Planting Calendar to help guide you to success-
This publication will help you know what to plant when and other helpful gardening planning information.
If you want to start your own cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, or Brussels sprouts transplants, now is the time to begin. These cold tolerant cole-crops (cabbage-related crops) take about 5-8 days to germinate when in a warm (75-77 degrees) conditions.
As soon as they germinate, move the seedlings to a well- lit location. You will need a sunny south window, fluorescent lights set up on shelving units to create a bright propagation area, or a greenhouse.
Seedlings that do not get enough light, get too tall and often fall over. They will not mature into plants that produce good crops.
If you do not have adequate light to start your own transplants, you can wait and purchase cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower transplants at garden center stores soon. In Central Missouri, transplants for cole-crops can be planted outside in a sunny spot in the vegetable garden, from mid-March through mid to late April.
If temperatures well below freezing are predicted, you can cover them with newspaper, sheets of plastic, even bed sheets overnight for protection. Or you can cover the plants with floating row cover that can be kept on to help keep insect pests out.
Floating row cover is a spun polyester fabric that lets light and rain in and creates a microclimate underneath next to the soil that is several degrees warmer than the outside temperatures.
When the snow and ice melts, and garden soil is moist and crumbly, you can direct-sow cold tolerant crops such as arugula, lettuce, radishes, and sugar snap peas outside.
Onions are a good spring crop, too. They will be available at garden centers in early spring, as onion sets, which are small onion bulbs, or as onion plants.
Early spring is also a great time to plant ornamental cabbage and kale, pansies, and violas. These visually attractive plants love the cool weather and can be planted along flower bed borders, among the vegetables, and in containers. They will provide a wide range of color until the temperatures get hot in late June and July.
Do you have more gardening questions? Field Specialists in Horticulture will hold the next free Horticulture Town Hall on March 10, 2021. Here is the link to register- https://ipm.missouri.edu/townHalls/
Choose the horticulture option to join in an informative discussion on many gardening topics.
The Gardener Hotline is another way to get reliable gardening information. It is staffed by trained Extension Master Gardener Volunteers of Greater Kansas City. The phone number is 816-833-TREE (8733). You can also email gardening, landscaping, and other horticulture questions to them at email@example.com.
Feel free to contact Cathy Bylinowski, MU Extension Horticulture Instructor, firstname.lastname@example.org, if you have more gardening questions or need more information on MU Extension Horticulture programs.
by Cathy Bylinowski, M.S., Horticulture Instructor, University of Missouri Extension
Weeks 1-4: To clean heavily encrusted clay pots, scrub them with a steel wool pad after they have soaked overnight in a solution consisting of one gallon water with one cup of white vinegar added. After the deposits are removed rinse the pots in clear water. A brief soak in a solution of one gallon of water with one cup household bleach added will help sanitize the pots.
Weeks 1-4: Some plants are sensitive to the fluorine and chlorine in tap water. Water containers should stand overnight to allow these gases to dissipate before using on plants.
Weeks 1-4: Wash the dust off of houseplant leaves on a regular basis. This allows the leaves to gather light more efficiently and will result in better growth.
Weeks 1-4: Set the pots of humidity-loving houseplants on trays filled with pebbles and water. Pots should sit on the pebbles, not in the water.
Weeks 1-4: Allow tap water to warm to room temperature before using on houseplants.
Weeks 1-4: Fluffy, white mealy bugs on houseplants are easily killed by touching them with a cotton swab soaked in rubbing alcohol.
Weeks 1-4: Insecticidal soap sprays can be safely applied to most houseplants for the control of many insect pests.
Weeks 1-2: Quarantine new gift plants to be sure they do not harbor insect pests.
Weeks 2-4: Amaryllis aftercare: Remove spent flower after blooming. Set the plant in a bright sunny window to allow the leaves to fully develop. Keep the soil evenly moist, not soggy. Fertilize occasionally with a general-purpose houseplant formulation.
Weeks 1-4: Gently brush off heavy snows from tree and shrub branches.
Weeks 1-4: Limbs damaged by ice or snow should be pruned off promptly to prevent bark from tearing.
Weeks 1-4: Check stored summer bulbs such as dahlias, cannas and gladioli to be sure they are not rotting or drying out.
Weeks 1-4: To reduce injury, allow ice to melt naturally from plants. Attempting to remove ice may damage plants further.
Weeks 1-4: Use sand, bird seed, sawdust or vermiculite to gain traction on icy paths. Avoid salt or ice melting chemicals as these may injure plants.
Weeks 1-4: Make an inventory of the plants in your home landscape. Note their location and past performance. Plan changes on paper now.
Weeks 2-4: Sow pansy seeds indoors now.
Weeks 1-4: Avoid foot traffic on frozen lawns. It may injure turf grasses.
Weeks 1-4: Keep records of your garden this year.
Weeks 1-4: Store wood ashes in sealed, fireproof containers. Apply a dusting around lilacs, baby's breath, asters, lilies and roses in spring. Do not apply to acid-loving plants. Excess ashes may be composted.
Weeks 1-4: Check all fruit trees for evidence of rodent injury to bark. Use baits or traps where necessary.
Weeks 1-4: Cakes of suet hung in trees will attract insect-hunting woodpeckers to your garden.
Weeks 1-4: Brightly colored paints applied to the handles of tools will make them easier to locate in the garden.
Weeks 1-2: Seed and nursery catalogs arrive. While reviewing garden catalogs, look for plants with improved insect, disease and drought-tolerance.
Weeks 1-2: Old Christmas trees can be recycled outdoors as a feeding station for birds. String garlands of peanuts, popcorn, cranberries, fruits and suet through their boughs.
Week 1: Christmas tree boughs can be used to mulch garden perennials.
Week 1: If you didn't get your bulbs planted before the ground froze, plant them immediately in individual peat pots and place the pots in flats. Set them outside where it is cold and bury the bulbs under thick blankets of leaves. Transplant them into the garden any time weather permits.
Weeks 2-4: Try sprouting a test sample of left-over seeds before ordering new seeds for spring. (Roll up 10 seeds in a damp paper towel. Keep moist and warm. Check for germination in a week. If fewer than half sprout, order fresh seed.)
Week 4: Swap seeds and information with gardening friends.
Gardening Calendar supplied by the staff of the William T. Kemper Center for Home Gardening located at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, Missouri. (www.GardeningHelp.org)
Call MU Extension in Jackson County, 816-482-5650, for more gardening information.
by Cathy Bylinowski, Horticulture Instructor, University of Missouri Extension
Hello Gardeners! Perhaps some of the leaves have been raked up and other garden chores have been completed. Hopefully now you can set aside some time for rest and recharging during the winter days ahead.
It has been a challenging year. Gardening provides a special kind of relaxation. It also provides the benefits of exercise, visually attractive plants and landscapes, and nutritious berries, fruit, herbs, and vegetables. Reading up on gardening ideas for 2021 is a good way to get ready for spring.
University of Missouri Extension is a good source of reliable gardening information and provides a great deal of information for free on the website- https://extension.missouri.edu/
You can build your own profile and account based on your interests or you can start exploring the website by using the search bar in the upper right corner or by clicking on the blue “Find Your Interest” bar on the left side of the webpage.
Another way to gain gardening information is to read the free, monthly online newsletter called The Garden Spade. It is a collection of articles, pictures, and lists of garden activities appropriate to the season, put together by MU Extension Field Specialists in Horticulture.
The December edition has articles on winter blooming house plants, winter crafts, and many other garden-related winter features. Here is a link to subscribe to the MU Extension Garden Spade newsletter- https://tinyurl.com/yybrjrx3
If you are interested in growing vegetables and fruit for profit, you might be interested in a new commercial horticulture newsletter. To register for the biweekly MU Extension Commercial Horticulture video newsletter, go to this link- https://tinyurl.com/yxlk2wja
MU Extension Field Specialists in Horticulture are still conducting free Horticulture Town Halls during the winter once a month. To register for the MU Extension Horticulture Town Hall, go to- https://ipm.missouri.edu/townhalls/
For Horticulture Town Hall video snippets (consider subscribing to this MU channel) go to- https://www.youtube.com/user/MUIPM
MU Extension provides another free, monthly newsletter via the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) page called Missouri Environment and Garden. Here is a subscription link which also includes links to past issues- https://ipm.missouri.edu/MEG/
If you would like to explore more horticulture topics in depth and have an interest in volunteering, consider enrolling in Extension Master Gardener Training. Missouri Extension Master Gardeners’ motto is “helping others learn to grow”. After twelve or more training sessions on a wide range of horticulture topics, graduates agree to volunteer at demonstration gardens, with children’s gardening projects, public education, and other Extension Master Gardener volunteer activities. It is also possible to enroll in training for personal enrichment if you are not able to volunteer.
This year, due to COVID 19 precautions, MU Extension- Jackson County offered Extension Master Gardener Training live on an online platform called Zoom. For more information on Extension Master Gardener Training in 2021 please contact our office at 816-482-5850. We have not made a final decision on how it will be offered in 2021 yet- in-person, virtually, or a combination of both, but we can add your name to a list to be contacted in the spring.
Extension Master Gardener Training is also facilitated online twice a year by University of Missouri Horticulture faculty on campus. Here is a link for more information about that option:
Both Extension Master Gardener
Training options offer a reduced fee for those who volunteer after training. A limited number of scholarships are also available. For people living outside of Jackson County, MO, we suggest you contact your local county MU Extension office for more information on Extension Master Gardener Training and the volunteer program in your area.
Here is link to help you find your county’s MU Extension office- https://extension.missouri.edu/locations
Relax when you can and enjoy the winter season. Please feel free to contact me if you have any gardening questions, questions about the resources listed above, or questions about Extension Master Gardener Training. Happy Holidays!
Cathy Bylinowski, Horticulture Instructor, email@example.com, University of Missouri Extension, 816-482-5850.
by Denise Sullivan, Field Specialist, Nutrition and Health, University of Missouri Extension
Sweet potatoes or yams…which one lands on your holiday menu? Wait…aren’t they the same thing? Though the names are often used interchangeably, the plants are most definitely different. Yams, a member of the lily family, are monocots, and are native to Africa and Asia.
Sweet potatoes, a member of the morning glory family, are dicots and are native to Central and South America. It also bears mentioning that sweet potatoes are not related to Irish potatoes either, which belong to the nightshade family.
Yams grow as a vine, which produces an underground tuber with a tough, hairy/scaly skin and flesh that ranges from white to bright yellow to purple or pink. Yams can range from the size of a normal potato to weighing over 100 pounds!
Yams are also much starchier and drier than most varieties of sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes produce a root that has a smooth, thin skin with flesh that ranges in color from white to orange, red, purple, or brown. Sweet potatoes tend to be more ‘normal’ in size, though I have seen friends brag on 10 pound-ers at harvest!z
Sweet potato varieties are classified as either ‘firm’ or ‘soft’. Firm sweet potatoes remain firm when cooked and are dry and crumbly, much like a standard baking potato. Soft varieties become more soft, moist, and sweet upon cooking.
Freshly harvested sweet potatoes are often referred to as “green” potatoes and are best to go through a curing process to allow the starches to break down into sugar. Curing happens by holding them for about 10 days at 80-85 degrees F with 85-90 percent humidity with good air circulation, or at lower temperatures of 65-75 degrees F for two to three weeks.
Both firm and soft varieties are a rich source of Vitamin A, potassium, magnesium and fiber, all of which are beneficial for heart health and blood pressure management.
So, why the naming dilemma? According to the Library of Congress and the Louisiana State University Ag Center, the confusion came with the introduction of soft varieties. Southern growers would call the softer potatoes ‘yams’ to differentiate from the firm potatoes, and the term has been used interchangeably ever since. Today the U.S. Department of Agriculture requires labels with the term ‘yam’ to be accompanied by the term ‘sweet potato.’ Unless you specifically search for yams, which are typically found in international markets, you are probably eating sweet potatoes!
When it comes to Thanksgiving dinner, sweet potatoes are a common element of the traditional holiday meal. I must admit though, I wasn’t a fan until I was well into adulthood, primarily because how they were presented to me as a child.
Though I typically enjoy sweet things, a squishy vegetable doused in brown sugar and marshmallows wasn’t at the top of my list of favorites. Then, while at a conference in North Carolina (producer of about half of the sweet potatoes in the United States) I had my first baked sweet potato.
This was the defining moment when I totally changed my mind about this nutrient powerhouse of a vegetable! If you ‘think’ you don’t like sweet potatoes, consider the recipe below as a compromise on your holiday table. You might just change your mind too!