Upcoming Events



4-H Announcements!

We hope you are all doing well and that your 2019 is going great.  Shelby County 4-H has a lot going on so please join us.

 

Youth Leadership Conference

The Youth Leadership Conference payments are due Feb. 15th.  YLC is a youth leadership retreat for enrolled 4-H members ages 9-13.  The retreat will be held at the Alabama 4-H Center on March 9-10; registration is $90.00 per person, which covers one night lodging, meals, supplies, and a t-shirt.  Paper Clover credits can be used and $45 of the registration will be reimbursed after members attend.

 

 

Rodeo Concession Stand Fundraiser Shifts

Our annual fundraiser is approaching and we need kids and families to volunteer to help us work the concession stand for the Rodeo.  The dates are Friday and Saturday on Feb. 22nd and 23rd.  Please let me know if you’d like to sign up for a shift and who to expect.  Shifts run both nights from 6:00-8:30 PM and from 8:30-10:30 PM.  Those volunteering will be provided with a meal. 

 

 

 

4-H Summer Camp

4-H Summer Camp registration opens Jan. 14th.  $25 deposits are due to the office by Feb. 11th or the full amount can be paid online with a credit card.  Shelby County will attend session 7 from June 24th-26th

 

Counselor in Training

And youth 15-17 who would like to apply to be a counselor in training for summer camp can apply on 4-H Online.  The deadline to do this is Jan. 21st.

 

 

 

Valentine’s Workshop

We have a Valentine’s Arts and Craft workshop here at the office on Feb. 7th from 3:30-5:00.  We are hoping to make bath bombs (or something similar) and probably a festive snack.  More details to come soon, but if you are interested please let me know so I can put you on a list.  Cost will be $3 per child.  This is a great way to invite a friend to be a part of 4-H.  Only 30 spots available so please call and reserve your spot.

 

 

4-H Online Registration Instructions:

If your child is not already enrolled in 4-H you can do this by visiting the 4-H Online website and starting a family profile. https://www.4honline.com/ This website works best in Google Chrome in case you have issues in other browsers. You will add your son/daughter under your family profile and any other kids in your home that want to join. Parents, don’t enroll yourself as a member unless you are looking to volunteer.

Once you submit his or her enrollment, you can go back to the family member page and scroll to the bottom to register a member in an event.

 

Shelby County 4-H Contacts:

Charity Waldrep, 4-H Foundation REA

Phone: #205-669-6763

Cell: #205-532-1246

Email: caw0046@aces.edu

 

Julie Yocom, 4-H Agent Assistant

Phone: #205-669-6763

Email: jsy0007@auburn.edu

 

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!

 

Backyard Vegetable Gardening Program

Home Gardening

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Shelby County Extension System and the Wilsonville Library will be hosting a Backyard Vegetable Gardening Program.  The program is for anyone that is interested in growing vegetables.  The program will cover Site Selection, Soil Management, Lime and Fertilizer, Cultivation and Irrigation.  There is no cost to attend the program, but please call the Shelby County Extension Office to pre-register at #205-669-6763

 

Date: February 14th, 2019

Time: 1:00pm-2:00pm

Location: Wilsonville Library

9905 North Main Street, Wilsonville, AL. 35186 (the back of townhall)

Phone: #205-669-6180

 

Program Contact: 

Nelson Wynn, REA for Home Grounds, Gardens and Home Pests

Office: #205-669-6763

Cell: #205-438-3725

Email: wynnnel@aces.edu

 

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!

 

 

Can These Foods be Frozen?

Many calls come in on a regular basis to the County Extension Office on whether or not certain foods can be frozen or not.  Here is a just a few that come in frequently:

Can you freeze fresh meats in supermarket wrappings?

Unless you’ll use the frozen meat or poultry in a month or two, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that you add a second wrapping for long-term storage. Overwrap with airtight heavy-duty freezer foil, freezer paper or place the package inside a freezer bag.

While it’s safe to freeze fresh meat or poultry in its supermarket wrapping, this type of wrap is permeable to air. Overwrapping the package helps maintain quality and prevent “freezer burn.”

Foods with freezer burn are safe to eat though they may be in dry in spots. Freezer burn causes grayish-brown leathery spots because air reaches the surface of the food. Cut freezer-burned portions away either before or after cooking. Discard heavily freezer-burned foods for quality reasons.

Can you freeze milk?

While pasteurized milk can be frozen; it may separate or be slightly grainy when thawed. Frozen milk works best for cooking, but you may find it’s still okay for drinking.

Freeze milk in plastic freezer containers or special freezer-proof glass jars. Leave some extra space at the top since milk expands during freezing. If packaged in a wide-mouth container, leave 1/2-inch head space for pints and 1-inch for quarts. If packaged in a narrow-mouth container (such as jars), leave 1 1/2-inch head space for either pints or quarts.

Plan to use frozen milk within a month. Thaw milk in the refrigerator. Stir well before using.

Can you freeze cheese?

Hard or semi-hard cheese can be frozen if cut in 1/2 to 1-pound blocks. Wrap in plastic wrap and then put in freezer bags. After freezing, cheese may become crumbly and mealy, but, it will retain its flavor. It works best for cooking.  Plan to use frozen cheese within 4 to 6 months. Thaw cheese in the refrigerator. Use soon after thawing.

The cheeses that freeze best are brick, Camembert, cheddar, Edam, mozzarella, muenster, Parmesan, provolone, Romano and Swiss. Blue cheeses are more prone to becoming crumbly but they’ll still taste good.   Cream cheese and cottage cheese do not freeze well however if they mixed into foods such as casseroles they do.

Can you freeze eggs?

Eggs can be frozen, but not in the shell. It’s best to freeze eggs in small quantities so you can thaw only what you need. An easy way to do this is to put them in an ice cube tray. Once frozen, transfer them to a freezer container and label. As with any frozen food, it is best to thaw eggs in the refrigerator and use them as soon as they are thawed. Only use thawed eggs in dishes that will be thoroughly cooked.

Whole Eggs:  To freeze whole eggs or yolks crack them into a bowl and gently stir to break up the yolk somewhat. Try not to incorporate air into the eggs. Label the container with the date and the number of eggs. They can be kept frozen for a year, and should be thawed in the refrigerator the day before you intend to use them.

Egg Yolks:  To inhibit yolks from getting lumpy during storage you need add a little salt or sugar according to how you want to use the eggs, then stir gently not adding air.  Once again you can freeze in ice cube trays or small containers then repackage and label the container with the date. Use up extra egg yolks in recipes like sauces, custards, yellow cakes, scrambled eggs, and cooked puddings.

Egg Whites:  Raw egg whites do not suffer from freezing (cooked egg whites are very rubbery). No salt or sugar is needed. Break and separate the eggs one at a time, making sure that no yolk gets into the whites. Pour into trays and freeze until firm then repackage and label the container with the date. Use up extra egg whites in boiled frostings (i.e., 7-minute frosting), meringue cookies, angel food cake, white cakes, or meringue for pies.

For more information on Food Safety, Food Preservation or Food Preparation call Angela Treadaway your Alabama Cooperative Extension System Regional Extension Agent in Food Safety/Preservation and Preparation at #205-410-3696.

 

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!

 

 

February is Heart Health Month. Here are some suggestions to improve your heart health.

It is almost February. Where did January go and all those New Year’s resolutions? You were going to stop smoking and start exercising and eating better, but then life happened and those resolutions went out the door.
Just remember, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life,” and try again. Your heart will appreciate it.
February is Heart Health Month. Here are some suggestions to improve your heart health.

Stop Smoking

No smoking! If you are a smoker – stop. Research shows that a person’s risk of heart attack greatly increases with the number of cigarettes smoked. People who smoke a pack of cigarettes a day have more than twice the risk of heart attack than nonsmokers.

Helen Jones, a regional Extension agent in human nutrition, diet and health offers the following tips to improve your chances of success when quitting smoking.

Support groups. Online support groups are available to help. Contact the American Lung Association for more information at http://www.lung.org/.

Prescribed medications. Several prescription medications are available that when used in combination with support groups have been effective in helping people to quit smoking.

Over-the-counter smoking cessation products. Research has shown that smokers who use some form of nicotine replacement therapy and participate in a support group double their chances of quitting for good.

Making the decision to just quit. The first move has to come from the smoker, but smokers who get support from partners and other people are more likely to successfully quit.

If you are leading a ‘couch potato’ lifestyle – stop. Research has shown that a person’s risk of heart attack increases with a lack of physical activity. Physical activity is defined as any bodily movement that expends more energy than is used when you are resting. Walking to your parked car far from the door or using the stairs are physical activities. Do it more often. Walking is a pleasant activity when done for stress relief and as part of a neighborhood group; it can be called exercise when it is planned and done with the purpose of improving your health. Here are some ways you can increase your physical activity level:

Park the car far away from the door. We all need at least 30 minutes of physical activity daily. Even so, that doesn’t mean we have to do all 30 minutes at once. Three 10-minute walks or the equivalent, add up to our daily requirement.

Cut out one hour a day of television and clean out that closet you have been meaning to do. A bunch of fitness bursts give similar health and weight-loss benefits as one longer session.

Take 15 minutes and take a walk break at work instead of a coffee break. Use a pedometer and keep track of how many steps you take. Studies have shown that people that wear pedometers walk more. The person who gets the most out of the use of a pedometer is the person who has a step goal (i.e. 10,000 steps per day).

Play outside with your children or grandchildren. Adults should be role models for active lifestyles and provide children with opportunities for increased physical activity.

Eat Healthier Foods

If you know you should be eating healthier foods, educate yourself and make some small changes. For example, reduce the amount of bad fat in your diet (bad fats are those that are frequently found in dairy, meat and other animal products). A diet high in fat often leads to high LDL cholesterol. If the body has more LDL cholesterol than it requires, the excess is deposited on the walls of arteries as plaque. Too much plaque and the arteries become clogged — a condition known as arteriosclerosis. When arteries in the heart become clogged, it causes a heart attack. If arteries that lead to the brain are clogged, it can result in a stroke.

Jones offers the following small diet changes that can have a big affect on your heart health:

Try a fruit or vegetable you have never eaten to replace a meat-centered meal. Lots of new apples are on the market today or maybe get some of that red leaf lettuce you have been meaning to try.

Modify a processed food such as macaroni and cheese by adding broccoli florets to the mix. Processed food is often high in salt, sugar and fat.

Plant a garden for spring. Container gardening is a convenient way to grow tomatoes full of that all important lycopene.

Try eggs that have Omega-3 in them. Omega-3 enriched eggs are produced by altering the diet of laying hens. Hens are fed a special diet, which contains 10 to 20 percent ground flaxseed. Flaxseed is higher in omega-3 fatty acids and lower in saturated fatty acids than other grains. As a result, the eggs produced from hens on this diet are higher in omega-3 fatty acids.

Written by: Helen H Jones, Human Science Extension Agent, Human Nutrition, Diet and Health

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!

 

Cold Weather Considerations for Cattlemen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An animal’s energy requirement increases in cold weather and this often means supplemental energy is needed in the diet. Providing additional hay to cattle during cold weather is certainly a good practice. Research suggests that cattle will increase forage intake by as much as 30% under cold conditions. This increase in intake means that the animal is using most of this energy for one thing… increased maintenance requirements. Cattle with a full rumen generate heat and energy that can help the animal achieve a more desirable body temperature. However, remember that forage quality is key every time! Depending on the quality of the forage and the magnitude of the cold, hay alone may or may not meet this increase in animal energy requirements. The best strategy for helping the cow meet her energy needs is to make sure that moderate to good quality hay (> 52% TDN) is available free-choice and provide a 20 to 30% increase in any energy supplement being fed during cold, wet weather to help overcome losses. Even with increased forage consumption during cold weather, it is likely that feeding low quality forage (< 52% TDN) alone will not meet the higher energy requirements of the animal. As cattle consume more low quality forage, the risk for compaction of the digestive tract increases, and can lead to serious health issues. If low quality hay is the only source available, it is important to provide a fiber-based energy supplement to help address nutrient deficiencies (i.e. soyhulls, corn gluten feed, whole cottonseed). Consider feeding cattle in the late afternoon or early evening. Increased heat production by the animal occurs 4 to 6 hours after forage and feed is consumed. Therefore, providing feed before temperatures reach their lowest point for the day can help combat some loss from the cold as well.  Keep in mind the only way to know the quality is to TEST YOUR HAY!

 

Upcoming Animal Science and Forages Programs for Central Alabama

February 1- 7:00 am       Beef Breakfast at the Montgomery County Extension Office

February 1- 11:30 am     2019 Cattle and Timber Outlook at the Sawmeal Restaurant in Brent, AL

March 2 – 9:00 am          Starting From The Ground Up: Know Your Soil Central Alabama! at the Chilton   Research and Extension Center in Clanton

For more information and registration regarding any of these upcoming programs contact your local county extension office or Josh Elmore, Regional Extension Agent Animal Science and Forages.  205-646-3610 or 334-850-7859

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!

ServSafe Courses in Shelby County

 

ServSafe Courses

Date: February 13 & 20, May 16 & 23, August 15 & 22, November 7 & 14, 2019

Location: Shelby County Extension Office

56 Kelly Lane, Columbiana, AL. 35051

Time: 9:00am-3:00pm

Cost: $130.00 online, $140.00 check/cash/money order per person(2-day course)

Contact: Angela Treadaway

Office: 205-669-6763

cell: 205-410-3696

email: treadas@aces.edu

Click here to register:https://ssl.acesag.auburn.edu/payment/fscert/registrationForm.php

 

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!

Turkey Tips

Thanksgiving dinner. Roasted turkey with pumpkins and sunflowers on wooden table

Are you planning on preparing a Turkey for Thanksgiving?  Planning ahead can make the traditional Thanksgiving meal safer and less stressful.  Here are some tips from your local County Extension Office to help make this year’s holiday meal a success.

Before purchasing your turkey, make sure you have ample space in your refrigerator.  Turkeys look smaller at the grocery store, so be careful not to underestimate the size of your bird.  Think about using a cooler to thaw and store your turkey.  The turkey should be kept on ice and should stay 40°F or below to prevent bacteria from growing.  Storing the turkey in a cooler will free up space in your refrigerator and will help keep the raw turkey juices from contaminating other items in your refrigerator.

Thawing and handling

Never defrost turkey on the counter! Turkey can be thawed in the refrigerator or in cold water. The refrigerator method is the safest and will result in the best finished product. Leave the bird in the original packaging and place in a shallow pan and allow refrigerator thawing time at a rate of 4 to 5 pounds per 24 hours. To thaw in cold water, keep turkey in the original packaging, place in a clean and sanitized sink or pan and submerge in cold water. Change the cold water every 30 minutes. The turkey will take about 30 minutes per pound to thaw. Cook the turkey immediately after it is thawed. Do not refreeze. If buying a fresh turkey, purchase it only 1 to 2 days before the meal and keep it refrigerated or on ice.  Once thawed, remove neck and giblets from the body cavities and keep bird and parts refrigerated at 40 °F or below until it is ready to be cooked.

Always wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling the turkey.

Cooking and stuffing

The single most important thing to know about cooking a turkey, no matter the cooking method, is that the turkey must be cooked to the proper internal temperature as measured with a food thermometer. An unstuffed turkey will generally take 14 to 20 minutes per pound to cook and a stuffed turkey will take additional time.

Stuffing should be prepared and stuffed into the turkey immediately before it’s placed in the oven at 325°F. Mix the wet and dry ingredients for the stuffing separately and combine just before using. Stuff the turkey loosely, about 3/4 cup stuffing per pound of turkey. Bake any extra stuffing in a greased casserole dish. Cooked inside or outside the bird, all stuffing and dressing recipes must be cooked to a minimum temperature of 165 °F. (For optimum safety and more even cooking, it’s recommended to cook your stuffing in a casserole dish.)

Take the temperature!  Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, not touching bone. Cook to a minimum internal temperature of 165 °F as measured with a food thermometer.  If the turkey is done and the stuffing is not yet 165 °F, remove the stuffing from the turkey and place it in a greased casserole dish to continue cooking to temperature.

APPROXIMATE COOKING TIMES

Size of Turkey Cooking Time Size of Turkey Cooking Time
Unstuffed  Stuffed
8 to 12 pounds 2 ¾ to 3 hours 8 to 12 pounds 3 to 3 ½ hours
12 to 14 pounds 3 to 3¾ hours 12 to 14 pounds 3 ½ to 4 hours
14 to 18 pounds 3 ¾ to 4 ¼ hours 14 to 18 pounds 4 to 4 ¼ hours
18 to 20 pounds 4 ¼ to 4 ½ hours 18 to 20 pounds 4 ¼ to 4 ¾ hours
20 to 24 pounds 4 ½ to 5 hours 20 to 24 pounds 4 ¾ to 5 ¼ hours

Safe carving and serving

It’s best to let the turkey rest for 20 minutes before carving to allow the juices to set, so the turkey will carve more easily. Use a clean cutting board that has a well to catch juices. Remove all stuffing from the turkey cavity. Make sure your knife is sharp before you start carving. Do not leave any extra turkey, stuffing or other leftovers out for more than two hours.

Storing leftovers safely

Remove the stuffing and carve the extra turkey meat from the bones. Within two hours, store leftover turkey in shallow containers and put in the refrigerator or the freezer. Use cooked leftover turkey, stuffing and gravy within 3-4 days. Cooked turkey keeps for 3-4 months in the freezer. When using leftovers, reheat the foods thoroughly to 165 °F or until hot and steaming; bring gravy to a boil before serving.

For more information:  you can reach USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline toll-free at: 1-800-535-4555, Monday through Friday, from 10 am to 4 pm Eastern Time. It also will be open from 8 am to 2 pm ET on Thanksgiving Day.   Additional food safety information is available on the Web at http://www.fsis.usda.gov  You can also contact Angela Treadaway your Regional Extension Agent in Food Safety/Preservation/Preparation from the Alabama Cooperative Extension System  at #205-410-3696.

Happy Holidays from your County Extension staff!  We hope you have a safe and joyous season.

 

Turkey and Broccoli Quiche

Ingredients

2 (9 inch) ready-made piecrusts

4 eggs

1 cup low-fat or skim milk

¾ cup low-fat cheddar cheese

¾ cup cooked, chopped turkey

1 (10 ounce) package frozen, chopped broccoli

¼ cup carrots, shredded

¼ cup finely chopped onion

¾ cup teaspoon garlic salt

Pepper to taste

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake piecrust according to package directions.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine eggs, milk, garlic, salt and pepper. Mix well.
  3. Cook broccoli according to package directions. Pour off liquid.  Let broccoli cool; squeeze broccoli to remove some more water.  Make sure broccoli is well drained.
  4. Layer the turkey, vegetables and cheese into baked piecrust. Pour the egg mixture over the ingredients.
  5. Bake at 350°F for 30-40 minutes or until top is brown and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Let stand 5 minutes before cutting.

Makes 12 servings | calories 270 | total fat 16 g | saturated fat 6 g | protein 16 g | carbohydrates 17 g | fiber 2 g | sodium 450 mg

 

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!

 

Catfish Recipes – More Than One Way

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When people think of catfish they automatically think of fried catfish. Delicious, fried catfish can become tiring after eating it over and over again. These catfish recipes put a new spin on catfish and give you a variety of options to choose from.

Catfish Gumbo

Ingredients

1 pound skinned catfish fillets, fresh or frozen

½ cup chopped celery

½ cup chopped onion

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

½ cup chopped green pepper

¼ cup vegetable oil

2 beef bouillon cubes

2 cups boiling water

1 1 pound can tomato

1 10 ounce package frozen okra, sliced

2 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper ¼ teaspoon thyme

1 whole bay leaf

Hot red pepper sauce, to taste

1 ½ cups hot cooked rice

Directions

Thaw fillets if frozen. Cut into 1 inch pieces. Cook celery, green pepper, onion and garlic in oil until tender. Dissolve bouillon cubes in water. Add bouillon, tomatoes, okra and seasonings. Cover and simmer 15 minutes longer or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Remove bay leaf. Place ¼ cup cooked rice in each of six soup bowls. Fill with gumbo. Serves 6.

Lemon Pepper Catfish  

Ingredients

1 ½ pound catfish fillets

2 tablespoons melted margarine or butter

1 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning

Salt, to taste

Directions

Clean, wash and dry fish. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place fish in a single layer in an oiled baking dish. Drizzle butter over the fillets and sprinkle with lemon pepper. Bake 16 to 18 minutes. Fillets are done when a fork slices through the thickest part of the fillet with little resistance and the fish flakes easily

Comment: Lemon Pepper Catfish cooks well in a microwave oven. Use a microwave-safe dish. Very thin ends of fillets can be turned under to lessen the chance of overcooking. Cover with waxed paper and cook on high for 5 to 7 minutes per pound. Rotate the dish a quarter turn during cooking.

Grilled Catfish

Ingredients

6 or 8 whole catfish (about ½ pound each, dressed)

1.4 cup oil or melted margarine

Barbecue sauce for the Catfish

½ cup vegetable oil

¼ cup ketchup

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon garlic salt

½ teaspoon dry mustard

Directions

Rinse catfish in cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Place on oiled grill rack four inches above hot coals. Cook 6 to 8 minutes on each side, basting regularly with oil. Larger fish will require longer time. Fish flakes easily when done. Season with salt, pepper and lemon or use the following barbecue sauce. Serve immediately.

Variation: For barbecued catfish, combine ingredients for barbecue sauce and pour over catfish in a shallow glass dish. Cover and marinate in refrigerator and cook as above, basting frequently with marinade sauce. Serve with additional sauce, if desired.

 

Featured Image: msaandy033/shutterstock.com

 

 The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!

Planting Blueberries This Fall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blueberries are a healthy, delicious fruit. They can be baked into muffins and breads, added to cereal or eaten out of hand. They are one of the few plants that offer beauty and taste throughout most of the year. Rabbiteye blueberries are one of the easiest fruit for homeowners to grow.

Planting Blueberries

Being native to the Southeastern United States, the rabbiteye blueberry is tolerant of the high temperatures of the region. It is found growing wild in southern Georgia, Alabama and the Florida panhandle.

The best time to plant blueberries is in late fall through late winter. Around the time the plant blooms, late-season frost or freeze can occur. The plant should be put in a place where it will be the least susceptible to frost damage.

Elina Coneva, an Alabama Extension specialist in commercial horticulture, said cross-pollination is needed to produce a good berry crop and takes place when more than one cultivar of blueberries is planted.

“By selecting several cultivars with various period of ripening, you can spread out the length of your harvest season,” Coneva said. “Blueberries on the same bush do not ripen all at once. One cultivar may have berries that mature over a four-to six-week period.”

Coneva said choosing the right site for planting is important.

“If you want your blueberry plant to produce a lot of fruit, select a site that is in full sun,” Coneva said. “Choose a site with well-aerated, well-drained soil high in organic matter.”

Spacing

Growers should space plants at least 5 feet apart in a row. This will produce a hedgerow or border as the plants mature. If planting several rows of blueberries, growers should space them at least 10 to 12 feet apart. There are a few important things to remember when planting:

  • Plant blueberries at the same depth they were grown in their containers.
  • Do not pile soil on the base of the trunk.
  • When planting an individual plant, make the hole at least twice as wide as the root ball.
  • Add some form of organic matter to the soil in the planting hole or row. Compost is best, but finely ground pine bark will work, too.
  • Thoroughly mix organic matter into the planting hole.

Soil Requirements

Blueberries need an acidic soil with a pH between 4.5 and 5.2.

“If you are planting blueberries as a landscape shrub, combine them with other plants that thrive in acidic soil, such as azaleas, rhododendrons and camellias,” Coneva said.

Watering is crucial after planting, especially during the first year of growth.

“Water the plants thoroughly at planting and twice weekly for the first year until they are established. It is better to water the plants for a longer time once or twice per week than for a short time each day,” Coneva said. “Because blueberry plants have the ability to retract water from berries, adequate moisture, particularly during fruit production, is essential to producing plump, juicy berries.”

More Information

Alabama Extension has the publication Rabbiteye Blueberries that goes into detail about growing rabbiteye blueberries. For further information, contact your county Extension office.

 

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!

Helpful Tips for Gathering and Storing Pecans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall is the time when pecan crops are ready to be harvested. This comes at the perfect time to use pecans to create the Fall recipes that we love. But, before people can use them in recipes, they have to be gathered and stored. An Extension professional offer tips for gathering and storing pecans.

Gathering

“Harvest your pecans promptly for best quality,” said Doug Chapman, an Alabama Extension regional agent in commercial horticulture. “Don’t let them lie on wet ground for extended periods of time. “

This process improves the quality of the nuts until they reach their optimum appearance, aroma, flavor and texture. If nuts get wet after initial drying, the seed coat will darken and the oil in the kernel increases the fatty acid levels. This condition causes nuts to be stale and rancid.

After gathering, take pecans to a dry location inside. Drying is one of the most important steps in assuring a high-quality appearance and flavor in pecans. If possible, spread pecans out in a dry, moderately warm place and dry several days before storing. Refrigerate or freeze pecans when they are dried to a crisp texture.

Crack and shell your pecans as soon as possible. Shelled pecans can also be frozen until you are ready to use them.

Storing

Pecans stored below freezing can keep for two years. Make sure kernels are dried properly before freezing. Lay the nuts out several days in a warm, dry place. Kernels should be crisp and break easily in half if dried properly.

Don’t store pecans in packages with apples or other fruits. Also, don’t store them in rubber-like packages or in rooms that may be musty. Pecans absorb gases from the storage atmosphere, which can change the flavor and the pecan’s stability.

Caring for Pecan Trees in the Fall

If you need to apply lime or zinc to pecan trees, fall is a good time to do so. Soil testing will provide detailed instructions on fertilizing and liming. Clean up and destroy pops, shucks, leaves and limbs to reduce pest problems. If trees have lost their leaves by Nov. 1 because of aphids, downy spot, pecan scab or other damage, expect to see a reduced pecan crop next year.

More Information

Alabama Extension has the publication, Pecans–Keep Them Fresh Year Round, that discusses a variety of topics on pecans. For more information contact your county Extension office.

 

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!