Have We Been Helpful?

I consider this column to be a tool to extend UF/IFAS Extension research-based information. The reading audience includes you. The readers are provided with the most current information to assist them with developing and managing their lawns, landscapes and gardens in a Florida-friendly way. In a “nutshell,” this is what any extension agent/educator (sometimes referred to as county agent) does. They take research-based information, mostly derived from the University of Florida and other Land-Grant Institutions, and make that information available to user groups in various ways. This column is one of those ways. The job of any extension educator is to deliver research information to people that can put that research to use.

As I and other Extension educators are working on our end-of-year reports and planning our educational efforts for next year, I could use your feedback. I want to know if this column has been helpful to you.

But first, let’s take a closer look at Extension.

Extension is an informal education organization that provides information in three main areas: Agriculture (which includes horticulture), Family and Consumer Sciences (formerly Home Economics) and 4-H (Extension’s youth program). Community Development, Marine Biology and Energy are associated programs.

In 1862, the U.S. Congress passed and President Lincoln signed the Morrill Act, which established colleges in each state through grants of land from the Federal government. They became known as “land-grant colleges, universities or institutions.” These colleges would emphasize teaching practical subjects such as agriculture and home economics.

In1887, the Hatch Act provided for experiment stations at land-grant colleges to conduct research for those colleges’ agriculture problems.

In 1914, the Smith-Lever Act created the Cooperative Extension Service as a part of these colleges as a means of disseminating the practical knowledge gained through research. The University of Florida is Florida’s land-grant University. Through the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), County Extension offices are the “front door” to the University in all 67 Florida counties.

In Okaloosa County, we work directly with farmers, the fishing industry, horticulture businesses, homeowners and 4-H youth.

Now back to the question, “Has this column been useful to you?” I’d like to know. Please email me at lwilliams@co.okaloosa.fl.us and share any changes that you’ve made in your lawn, landscape or gardening practices based on what was learned by reading this column. Also, let me know if there are topics you’d like me to write about in this column.

To learn more about UF/IFAS Extension visit the below website. http://solutionsforyourlife.ufl.edu/who-we-are

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Taylor Wilken Joins UF IFAS Extension as the 4-H Youth Development Agent

Hello, my name is Taylor Wilken and I am the new UF/IFAS 4-H Extension Agent for Okaloosa County. I was born and raised in Medina, Ohio which is just outside of Cleveland. Growing up I enjoyed camping, boating, and horseback riding. When I graduated high school I moved out to Ames, Iowa where I attended Iowa State University and worked at the university’s child development center. In 2014, my military husband got orders to Florida and we moved to Crestview, FL. I graduated from Iowa State in 2015 with my Bachelor’s Degree in Child, Adult, and Family Services. I just completed a Master’s Degree in Family, Youth and Community Sciences from the University of Florida.

I am very excited to join the faculty in Okaloosa as the 4-H Youth Development agent. There are many exciting things happening over the next several months so if you want to join us, please contact me for further details. Last year Okaloosa 4-H reached over 3,911 youth through school enrichment programs, 5 community clubs and our four 4-H military base clubs. Some of the activities that we provide for our local youth include 4-H summer camp, 4-H day camps and special interest topics throughout the year.  One main goal for 2018 is to recruit and train new 4-H leaders/adults that are interested in starting a
4-H community club.

Florida 4-H aspires to be the leading youth development program that creates positive change in youth, families, and communities.

Our slogan is “To make the Best Better” and our motto is “Learn by Doing.”

4-H is known for experiential learning where youth are both experiencing and processing what they are learning. Youth experience the activity, share the experience with others, process the experience, generalize from the experience, and apply what they have learned. Youth have the opportunity to identify what they have learned from their 4-H experience and apply it to other experiences and situations.

If you would like to find out more about 4-H in our county, I can be reached via email at twilken@ufl.edu or by calling the extension office at 850-689-5850.

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Healthy Holidays — A New Tradition

We all have family traditions that make our holiday celebrations special. From your great-great-grandma’s sweet potato casserole or pecan pie, to your mother-in-law’s sausage stuffing or decadent plum pudding, there’s one thing that always seems to be a common factor among traditional holiday dishes: a massive amount of, fat, sugar, salt, and calories! As the holiday season begins its rapid approach, take time and consider those past eating habits that set your new year off on the wrong foot. Why not make a resolution now to eat healthier this holiday season? Read more

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Selecting and Cooking the Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

According to the National Turkey Federation, 88% of American families eat turkey on Thanksgiving. That’s over 46 million turkeys! Served as the main dish, it is complemented by a variety of sweet and savory side dishes, many of which are family traditions made from recipes passed down through the generations.  When choosing a turkey, there are a few decisions to make. How many people will be eating? Will it be roasted, smoked, or deep-fried? Is frozen or fresh preferred? Read more

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Farm Bureau Survey Reveals Lowest Thanksgiving Dinner Cost in Five Years

American Farm Bureau Federation’s 32nd annual price survey of classic items found on the Thanksgiving Day dinner table indicates the average cost of this year’s feast for 10 is $49.12, a 75-cent decrease from last year’s average of $49.87.

The big ticket item – a 16-pound turkey – came in at a total of $22.38 this year. That’s roughly $1.40 per pound, a decrease of 2 cents per pound, or a total of 36 cents per whole turkey, compared to 2016.

“For the second consecutive year, the overall cost of Thanksgiving dinner has declined,” AFBF Director of Market Intelligence Dr. John Newton said. “The cost of the dinner is the lowest since 2013 and second-lowest since 2011. Even as America’s family farmers and ranchers continue to face economic challenges, they remain committed to providing a safe, abundant and affordable food supply for consumers at Thanksgiving and throughout the year.”

The shopping list for Farm Bureau’s informal survey includes turkey, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a veggie tray, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and coffee and milk, all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10 with plenty for leftovers.  read more

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Pruning Azaleas

by Larry Williams, UF/IFAS Extension Agent

Q: Is there a best or worst time to prune azaleas? I’ve already cut them back twice since early summer and they’re still going strong.

A: The major pruning of azaleas is best done shortly after the flowers begin to fade in late spring. Major pruning after June will interfere with flowering the following spring. Azaleas produce their flower buds during late summer and fall, which open the following spring. You can find the flower buds now tucked away in the leaves at the tip end of the shoots.

Removal of a few unusually long branches to improve the plant’s appearance is okay now. But shearing or severely pruning azaleas after now will significantly reduce next spring’s flower production.


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Treat Tulips as Annuals in Florida

by Larry Williams, UF/IFAS Extension Agent

Q: I’ve seen the beautiful tulips of Amsterdam and would like to grow some here in North Florida. So I ordered some tulip bulbs. Can I plant these in North Florida?

A: Tulips are treated as annuals in Florida. We have two problems with tulips this far south. First, they do not receive enough cold weather to meet their requirements to bloom. Secondly, it gets hot quick enough in the spring to cause the foliage to die prematurely, which does not allow the tulip plants enough time to store sugars in the bulb to resume growth the following year. As a result, the bulbs become smaller and weak and flower poorly if at all the following year. At best you may get one to three years’ worth of blooms out of a tulip in our area no matter what you do. Most tulips will only bloom once in our area and then they are spent. Florida doesn’t provide the right kind of weather for tulips. We may have cold weather for a few nights. Then it warms again. This goes on all winter. Tulips need consistently cold weather in order to initiate flower buds.

You can provide an “artificial cold winter” by placing the bulbs in a refrigerator for about 8 weeks prior to planting. This requires purchasing the bulbs ahead of time in order to provide this chilling treatment and still have time to plant during late fall to mid-winter (late November to mid-January). Some nurseries sell pre-chilled bulbs, most don’t. The above treatment will meet their requirements for flowering but does nothing to offset the fact that it gets warm too quickly in the spring for tulips.

The few people that grow tulips in Florida either buy pre-chilled bulbs or place them in the refrigerator, plant them, enjoy their blooms the following spring and then throw them away. They treat them like annuals.

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