Thursday, August 20, 2015

Still Time to Grow Your Own Salad

Shorter, cooler days are on the horizon, and gardens are looking tired. As you pull plants and free up garden space, consider planting salad and braising greens.

If you haven’t had a garden or are an apartment dweller, another option is growing in containers. For personal guidance, Extension Agent Paige Patterson is offering a hands-on fall vegetable gardening class, Monday August 31st from 5:30-7:00. Call Paige at 828-264-3061 to register. Attendees will make a fall lettuce planter that they can reuse from season to season.

If you can’t make the class, just fill a planter with a general purpose potting mix and follow seed planting instructions. The plants will need 6 to 8 hours of sun per day. After 3 weeks, your vegetables may benefit from a topping of nitrogen containing fertilizer.
Planting kale, lettuce, mustard greens or radish seeds now will provide you with fresh produce before our expected frost date of October 10th. Other cold tolerant plants, such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, collards, and spinach should be planted as seedlings, as they take longer to mature. Some seedlings are available at area farmers’ markets.
To continue a garden past the frost date, row cover fabric is a simple way to extend the growing season. You can build a structure for the row cover out of plastic pipes. Row covers enhance plant growth by raising day temperatures around the plants and insulating plants at night by trapping heat around them.
Your soil needs to be prepared for planting by tilling or spading to a depth of at least 6 inches.    The pH of the soil should be 6.0 to 6.7, and if you have successfully grown other vegetables, it may be at that level. Fall is a good time to take a soil test, then apply some slow release amendments as needed for spring crops. Soil test boxes are available at NC Cooperative Extension, and the test is free until November.

Fortunately, tomatoes are coming in strong right now. Sally Thiel of Zydeco Moon Farm specializes in heirloom tomatoes and shares this recipe:

Tomato Pie
1 egg
2 pounds ripe tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup plain bread crumbs
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
4 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons chiffonade fresh basil
1/2 cup blue cheese
1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Make or buy a pie crust.  Roll out the pie crust on a lightly floured surface to fit a deep 9 or 10-inch pie pan. Place the pastry in the pie pan and crimp edges decoratively. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes, then line with aluminum foil. Fill with pie weights and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until lightly golden around the edges. Remove foil and pie weights, and return to the oven for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack to cool. Crack the egg in a small bowl, reserving yolk for the filling, separately. Lightly beat the egg white with a fork, then brush the surface of pie crust with a light coating of egg white and allow to cool.
Slice the tomatoes, discarding the stem and root ends, into 1/4-inch slices and lightly season with the salt and pepper.
Sprinkle about 1/3 of the bread crumbs in the bottom of the pie crust. In a small bowl combine the mayonnaise with the reserved egg yolk and stir until smooth. Place a layer of tomatoes in the bottom of the piecrust over the breadcrumbs, using about half of the tomatoes. Drizzle with half of the mayonnaise mixture, half of the thyme and basil, half of the blue cheese and half of the mozzarella cheeses. Top with half of the remaining breadcrumbs then top with the remaining tomato slices, blue cheese, mozzarella, mayonnaise mixture, and remaining thyme and basil. Top with the remaining bread crumbs and drizzle with the olive oil.  Cover with the Parmesan cheese. Place in the oven and bake until bubbly hot and golden brown, about 1 hour.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

North Carolina Stream Guide Now Available

Do you have a stream on your property that is eroding land during or after storm events? Maybe the stream has started cutting deeper into the channel, creating more of a gully. What kind of solutions are available? 
A new guide called, Small-scale Solutions to Eroding Streambanks, gives you the tools to choose the best option for your situation. Created by the NC Cooperative Extension BackyardStream Repair team and funded through the Urban and Community Forestry Grant from the North Carolina Forest Service, Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, in cooperation with the USDA Forest Service, Southern Region

 Click Here to open the guide. 

What’s inside the guide?
·       Options including: Do nothing; Plant vegetation without grading; Grade banks to a stable slope and vegetate!
·       Step-by-step instructions for the option you choose.
·       Who to call for advice.
·       Materials needed and where you can get them.
·       What plants are proven to work.
·       Example planting design.
·       Maintenance tips.

Hard copies will be printed soon. Need more than just a guide to help you decide what to do? We’ve got a hands-on workshop that further enhances your understanding of how to deal with an eroding streambank. Visit the Backyard Stream Repair website to see when the next workshop will be in your area! 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Operation Medicine Cabinet and Hazardous Household Waste Day

October 10, 2015
Mark your calendars and clean out the cabinets and garage! 
Help us keep pharmaceutical and control-substance drugs off the streets and out of the rivers! No questions will be asked, and any prescription and over-the-counter medications and medical supplies can be turned in anonymously. For more information, please call the Watauga County Cooperative Extension 828-264-3061.

Wet Zone Plants Now Available

Whirling Disease Impacts on Trout Populations in North Carolina

RALEIGH, N.C. (July 31, 2015)  Following confirmation of whirling disease in rainbow trout from the Watauga River in North Carolina, biologists with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission are concerned about potential significant impacts the disease may have on other trout populations, in particular native brook trout populations.
The disease, which is caused by a parasite, affects all species of trout and salmon; however, rainbow and brook trout, two species found in North Carolina waters, appear to be the most susceptible. Brook trout is the only trout species native to North Carolina, and it lives mainly in colder waters, which is also the preferred habitat of the parasite.
“The parasite that causes whirling disease has a highly complex life cycle, requiring two hosts in order to spread,” said Doug Besler, the mountain region fisheries supervisor for the Commission. “One of those hosts is a tubifex worm that thrives in colder water, which unfortunately, is the preferred habitat for brook trout, particularly our southern Appalachian brook trout. If the disease showed up in one of those streams, the impacts could be damaging to those local brook trout populations.”
Despite their concern, biologists acknowledge that the presence of whirling disease doesn’t necessarily equate to a dramatic loss of fish, given that other states where the disease has been present in waters for decades have been able to manage the disease so that impacts on both wild and stocked trout haven’t been nearly as devastating as previously thought.
“In the 90s, whirling disease was relatively new to many states and there was broad uncertainty about trout population impacts from whirling disease,” said Doug Besler.  “Some western states, such as Montana, had substantial impacts from whirling disease early on, but many of those populations have since rebounded. On the other hand, some eastern states, such as Pennsylvania, do not appear to have experienced broad scale population level impacts from whirling disease.”
“In waters where whirling disease is found, how an outbreak affects trout populations depends on many factors in addition to water temperatures, such as the species of trout present and the quality and quantity of the substrate where the intermediate host resides,” he added.  
Biologists, however, aren’t taking a wait-and-see approach to how whirling disease will impact North Carolina trout populations. They are taking every precaution to limit the spread of the disease now.
While the diseased fish came from a trout stream that was not stocked with trout raised at one of three Commission-owned hatcheries, Commission staff have suspended trout stockings until they have tested hatchery fish and determined that they are free of the disease. Commission staff are currently collecting trout from the Watauga River and tributary streams to test for whirling disease and to determine its distribution in the watershed.  The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and N.C. State University are working with the Commission to sample commercial aquaculture operations in the area where the infected trout were found.
The disease is spread mainly by infected fish and fish parts. However, it also can be transmitted by birds as well as by anglers who may transfer the microscopic parasite that causes the disease, Myxobolus cerebralis, on their fishing equipment, boots and boats. Anglers moving infected fish from one water body to another may also transmit the disease. 
“Anyone stocking fish in North Carolina is required to have a stocking permit from the Commission, and we encourage anyone considering stocking trout to obtain one,” Besler said. “The primary purpose of that permit system is to allow our biological staff the opportunity to review the stocking application for potential negative impacts to the environment, including the potential to spread invasive organisms. Unauthorized stockings have a much higher potential for serious environmental consequences.”
Besler added that preventing the introduction of unwanted aquatic invasive organisms into North Carolina is the single best approach because control options are often very limited or ineffective once an introduction has occurred.
Younger Fish are More Susceptible
Whirling disease affects trout and salmon by damaging the nerves and cartilage, which may result in abnormal whirling or tail-chasing behavior — hence its name. Other signs of whirling disease are a black tail and deformities to the head or body. These abnormalities in behavior and in the body make the fish more susceptible to predation and make it more difficult for the fish to find food.
A fish’s age can affect the severity of the disease as well. “Biologists have learned that the age of the fish when it is first exposed to the parasite is very important,” Besler said. “Very young fish are highly susceptible with high mortality rates in infected fish; however, older fish are more resistant to the disease.”
There is no known cure for fish infected with the whirling disease parasite. Once it is present in a river system, the parasite is almost impossible to eradicate.
Whirling Disease – A Complex Life Cycle
The parasite that causes whirling disease requires two hosts to reproduce and spread. The first is a small worm, the other a fish. Without these two hosts, the parasite cannot complete its life cycle and will die without multiplying. The worm host of the parasite, called a tubifex worm, is very small, about ½-inch in length and very common in lakes and streams with abundant fine sediment and rich organic material.  It is the only worm that is host to the whirling disease parasite.
While in the worm host, the parasite multiplies, transforming into a spore form that is eventually released into the water, where it floats until it comes in contact with a fish host. The fish host is confined to the salmonid family, which includes trout and salmon species. The spore attaches to the fish’s skin and injects the parasite into the fish’s body, where it travels along the nervous system until it finds the cartilage, which is its food source. Inside the fish, the parasite changes form again. When the fish dies and decomposes, the parasite is released into the environment, and the cycle begins again.
Despite the effects whirling disease has on trout and salmon, the disease does not affect other fishes like bass, pike and catfish, nor does it affect mammals, like dogs and cats. Likewise, the disease does not affect humans, and eating fish infected with whirling disease is not known to cause any harmful effects.
Preventing the Spread of Whirling Disease
The parasite that causes whirling disease is native to Europe and was introduced into North America, likely through frozen fish imported from Europe. It was first discovered in 1956 in Pennsylvania and, since then, it has been reported in more than 20 states and continues to spread.
Along with testing fish at its hatcheries, commercial aquaculture operations, and trout streams, the Commission is asking the public to help prevent the spread of the disease by:
  •  Cleaning and drying equipment, clothing and anything else that comes into contact with water;
  •  Never moving fish or aquatic life from one body of water to another without first obtaining a permit from the Commission;
  • Disposing of fish parts carefully after cleaning fish by putting fish parts in the garbage, burying them deeply or burning them completely.
Anglers are asked to contact the Commission if they observe deformities, strange swimming behaviors, or other signs of disease in trout.
For a list of frequently asked questions on whirling disease, to learn more about whirling disease and its effects on trout, and to report signs of disease in trout visit the Commission’s dedicated webpage, The page will be updated as test results become available.  The Commission also will post information on its Facebook page, Twitter page and enewsletter, N.C. Wildlife Update.

Article from:
Graphic credit Bryant Cole/NCWRC

Project WET Workshop

Project WET Training:  August 28, 2015 from 10am to 4pm 
Where: New River State Park in Ashe County {221 Access}
Cost: This is a FREE workshop 
What is Project WET? Project WET is an interdisciplinary water science and education program for formal and nonformal educators of K-12 students. The keystone of the Project WET program is the Project WET Curriculum & Activity Guide.  The hands-on, supplemental activities are meaningful and relevant to children and are correlated to the North Carolina Essential Standards for Science, Social Studies and Health Education for Grades K-8 and for High School Earth/Environmental Science and Biology.
Details:  hands-on activities to teach about wetlands, rivers, watersheds, water pollution, water conservation, water cycle, and water as a resource.  Each participant will receive a Project WET Curriculum and Activity Guide and teaching resources.  We will have indoor and outdoor activities including the opportunity to tube down the New River for a section to explore hydrology and the critters that live in the New River.  
Registration:  Please register on or before August 24, 2015 by contacting:  Wendy Patoprsty - (828) 264-3061 or email   Space is limited so please register soon!
Camping is available at the New River State Parks {221 Access and Wagoner Access} you can check availability at this link
Co-Leaders: Ranger Tom Randolph, Lead Interpretive and Education Ranger at Mt. Jefferson State Natural Area, Wendy Patoprsty, Watauga County Natural Resources Extension Agent
Sponsors:  New River State Park, Mt. Jefferson State Natural Area, NC Cooperative Extension, Appalachian Water Project, Watauga River Partners.