Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Wipe Your Weeds Away

The Watauga County Center of North Carolina Cooperative Extension will host a workshop on invasive plants and weed eradication at the Watauga County Agricultural Conference Center on Thursday, February 19, 2015 from 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM.   The workshop will begin with classroom presentations for Pesticide Credits (G, H, L, N, O, D, X).  The next hour (6:30-7:30) is participatory where attendees have an option to build a custom weed wiper to take home.  Pesticide Credits (A, G, L, N, O, D, X) can be received during this time as well.  According to Eddy Labus, Watauga County Livestock Agent, “getting chemical onto weeds with a wicking device is economical and environmental in that you use less chemical and target species that you want gone.”   A weed wiper is constructed using a specially ordered wicking rope with PVC piping, which allows for a chemical reservoir and a custom handle for easy chemical dispersal.  The workshop is free unless you want to build a weed wiper.  The cost for a hand-held wiper is $20.00, and if you would like a larger (5 foot) weed wiper to attach to a 4-wheeler or tractor it will cost $90.00.
Example of a hand held weed wiper.

 “You can target the species you want to eradicate using this method, reducing overspray and damage to non target plants,” says Paige Patterson.  Patterson will present on invasive species identification and methods of control.  Herbicide selection and use will be discussed.  Invasive species can be a problem on the farm, but are also increasingly found in neighborhoods, roadways, and streambanks. 

Wendy Patoprsty will be presenting on aquatic and riparian invasive weeds and methods of control.  There are many sizes and shapes of weed wipers out there, so depending on your target species and spatial zones, one can customize the size and shape for your specific needs.  In fact, a weed wiper can be a hand held device, or can be attached to a 4-wheeler or tractor.  This workshop will allow participants to build a weed wiper to take home with them for future use.  “Wiping your weeds is a great technique for areas close to water where you cannot get chemical in a creek, pond or river,” says Patoprsty.

If you are interested in attending this workshop, you MUST REGISTER by calling the Watauga County Cooperative Extension Service at (828) 264-3061, and let us know if you plan on building a weed wiper and what size.  Cost is $20 for a hand held wiper and $90 for a tractor or ATV mounted wiper. If you are interested in just receiving pesticide credits, it is free to attend.  For more information or questions please contact Eddy Labus at (828)264-3061, or email at Eddy_labus@ncsu.edu.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Make 2015 the year of “real food”


As a foodie dietitian, I enjoy reading food trend predictions every year. Some seem odd, such as cricket flour being introduced into foods for the protein. Others could have value, like the forecast of no food shaming attached to diets. If this came true, gluten, dairy, carbs or soy would no longer be villains, except for those with allergies, specific diseases, or intolerances. With more pre-prepared, processed foods in stores, another predicted trend that I am in favor of is consumers choosing more “real food”. Food blogs, magazines, and even the food network have been revealing how scrumptious recipes can look when wholesome, unprocessed ingredients are used.
When creatively prepared, food that is close to nature is enjoyable to eat, boosts your immune system, and makes you look your best. You can prepare a PEACE even with limited cooking skills.
P.E.A.C.E: Practical, Easy, and Complete Entrée
Cook your grain: whole grain pasta, couscous, barley, quinoa, or rice.
Cook your protein: any kind of beans, meat, seafood, lean sausage, tofu, tempeh, or nuts.
Add vegetables. Some added fruits are delicious.
Add seasonings and/or sauce/cheese.
Layer in a bowl and enjoy!

Here are a few examples:
Grain
Protein
Vegetables/fruit
Seasonings/sauces

Whole wheat penne pasta
Lean chicken Italian sausage
Onions, bell peppers, fresh spinach
Italian seasoning and marinara sauce
Quinoa
Chick peas
Braising greens
Curry sauce made with ½ light coconut milk and ½ plain almond milk
Couscous
Chicken thigh, toasted walnuts
Bok Choy, pineapple
Seasoning packet in couscous package
Brown rice
Black beans, cheddar cheese
Tomato and pepper salsa
Chili, cumin, oregano
Whole wheat spaghetti
Salmon
Broccoli
Light alfredo sauce
Rice noodles
Peanuts
Carrots, broccoli, green onions
Peanut butter sauce
Whole wheat pasta
Chicken
Mushrooms
Marsala sauce



A recipe is a starting point for a basic cooking concept. Once you have a few concepts down, cooking can be a creative, enjoyable outlet.
To get started or increase the amount of “real food” in your diet, take a close look at your kitchen. Do you have the equipment needed to prepare unprocessed food? Good knives and cutting boards are essential. Make an equipment wish list as you try new recipes and increase your skills. 
The New Year is a great time to clean out your pantry. Out with the processed, junk food and in with the basics, such as beans and lentils, healthy snacks, whole grains, oils and vinegars and healthy sauces.
If you would like to develop skills with a little assistance, take a cooking class. Locally, I offer skill building classes periodically through NC Cooperative Extension. Check the website at http://watauga.ces.ncsu.edu/events/ or e-mail me and I will let you know about upcoming events.
Boone Healing Arts Center also offers cooking classes. http://bhacboone.com/
If you have the funds, week long cooking classes are available as a vacation option. This idea is becoming more and more popular, as classes are usually in beautiful settings and include visits to farmers’ markets, wineries and other outings. Plus you get to eat the delicious meals you cook.
Margie Mansure, M.S., R.D. is a registered dietitian/nutritionist and extension agent with NC Cooperative Extension. She offers personalized classes to improve the health of citizens in Watauga County through worksites, schools and community groups. margie_mansure@ncsu.edu (828)264-3061

Monday, January 5, 2015

Tree Topping: 5 reasons not to top your trees

Tree topping:  Why you shouldn’t top your trees


    During the winter when we can see the limbs of our trees, we begin to start thinking about trimming our trees back.   Maybe you’re worried about limbs or the entire tree falling on your house during an ice storm, blocking your mountain view, or just creating too much shade in the yard.  There are right and wrong ways to go about correcting the problem.  Often people want to “top” their trees.  This is where tress are trimmed back to a few large diameter, older structural limbs. 



                                                        
While done with good intentions, there are several problems with this method:

1. Production of weak wood:  The regrowth that occurs will be numerous fast growing branches that have weak unions with the main limb, later when these branches get heavier they will be prone to easily breaking off.          
                                          
                                                                  
                                                                             These limbs will easily break off






2. Nutrition:  Trees need their leaves to manufacture carbohydrates for transport to the trees root system for growth and  water transport.  Generally you never want to remove more than 1/3 of the leafy part of the tree
3.  Insect and disease issues:  large wounds often to not completely heal, leaving the wound open for insect and disease invasion
4.  Aesthetic value: A topped tree loses the shape and look that is unique to each tree species.
5.  Fast new growth:  Tree will grow quickly t try to get back to it's original height which causes tall spindly growth

What should you do if you have a tree that is too large for an area endangering a structure?

  • Make thinning rather than heading cuts



  • Sometimes it is impossible to effectively reduce the size of a tree and produce an aesthetically pleasing soundly structured tree.  It is often just time to remove the tree and start over.
  • Remember choose the right tree for the right location.  Consider the eventual size of the tree and views you would like to keep.
  • Prune trees from a young age to develop and maintain good structure. 








































Thursday, December 18, 2014

Preserve Your Hunting Bounty



While most of us are scurrying about tending to holiday-induced deadlines, some are more concerned about having a successful deer hunting season, which ends on January 1st in Watauga. Last weekend, Extension livestock agent Eddy Labus and I offered a deer butchery and processing workshop. I was amazed at how much effort it takes to cut edible muscles off of a carcass.

Fortunately, either home butchering or using a local processor yields a good amount of edible protein, averaging 48% from a field dressed carcass. Not only does the meat have a rich flavor, nutritionally, deer meat is lower in fat and higher in iron than even the leanest cuts of beef.

The easiest way to preserve meat is to freeze it. Use a good packaging that prevents air contact, such as freezer wrap, aluminum foil, or butcher wrap. If you choose freezer bags, it’s important to make as air-tight as possible. Vacuum sealers work well. Keep a thermometer in your freezer to make sure it is below zero degrees.

Canning venison is much more time consuming than freezing, but has the advantage of keeping safe in case of a power outage. Meat must be canned in a pressure canner, which makes it really tender. For more information, visit the national center for home food preservation at http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_05/strips_cubes_chunks.html

Meat jerky is convenient to take along backpacking, hiking, climbing, or hunting. Here is an easy recipe that also works well for beef. Boiling the meat in marinade heats the meat to a temperature that kills any dangerous microorganisms.

Deer or beef jerky
Place the meat you plan to cut in the freezer until slightly frozen, to make it easier to cut into thin strips. With a very sharp knife, slice across the grain, 1/8 to ¼ inch thick, 1 to 1 ½ inches wide and 4 to 10 inches long. Marinate in the refrigerator at least one hour, but preferably overnight. This recipe will marinate 1 ½ to 2 pounds of meat:
¼ cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon each black pepper and garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
When ready to begin drying, make more of the marinade to cook the meat in. This recipe makes 2 cups of marinade.
1 ½ cups soy sauce
6 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 ½ teaspoon each black pepper and garlic powder
3 teaspoons onion powder
6 teaspoons liquid smoke
Bring to a rolling boil. Add strips and reheat to full boil. Boil for one minute. Remove the pan from the heat and place strips on drying rack. Make sure there is plenty of air flow by not letting strips touch each other.
Using a dehydrator, set at 155 degrees. Check after 2 hours and if not dry, turn. May take up to 4 hours to dry. Properly dried jerky is chewy and leathery. To see if it’s dry enough, let cool, then bend the jerky. It should crack, but not break when bent. Store in the refrigerator for a longer life, up to six months. Will keep up to two months at room temperature.