MSU Extension

MSU Extension Master Gardener Program

Access to World Class Gardening Knowledge

MSU Extension will be offering its Master Gardening Program this fall at the Kent County MSU Extension office located at 775 Ball Avenue, NE in Grand Rapids.  The classes will be held on Tuesdays from 4:00 – 8:00 p.m. beginning September 5 and ending on December 12, 2017.

The MSU Extension Master Gardener Program connects gardeners across the state to MSU‘s faculty and resources. Participants have access to information generated at one of the nation’s top plant science teaching and research universities and the chance to use this knowledge to improve their communities and enrich their lives.

Extension Master Gardener volunteers will complete14-session practical training course grounded in university research. This training consists of approximately 45 hours of training with classes on plant science, soil science, integrated pest management, diagnostics, annuals and perennials, woody ornamentals, lawns, vegetables, small fruits, tree fruits, household and nuisance pests, indoor plants and gardening practices to protect water quality.

The cost of the course is $300.00 which includes a 1,000 page training manual.  To learn more and to register, visit the website at: http://msue.anr.msu.edu/events/master_gardener_training_course_grand_rapids_kent_county.  The deadline for registration with payment by check is August 21and the deadline for registration with payment by credit card is August 28, 2017.

Please contact Deb Gulick, gulickde@anr.msu.edu, 616-632-7880 x 2 with questions.

Peas and Edible Pea Pods are Great Fresh or Preserved

Pease porridge hot, pease porridge cold,
Pease porridge in the pot nine days old.
Some like it hot, some like it cold,
Some like it in the pot, nine days old.

Mother Goose is cited as the author of Pease Porridge Hot but that is not known for sure. Until I found this poem on line I thought the poem was written using the word peas not pease. Pease means porridge made from peas. When this poem was written many years ago the word pease was treated as a mass noun which simply means more than one pea.

Peas like the cool weather and are sheltered inside pea pods.  Pea pods are botanically a fruit because they contain seeds. There are lots of kinds of peas. Peas with edible pea pods include sugar, Chinese and snow peas. Snow peas, also known as sugar peas, have edible flat pods with small peas inside them. Snap peas also have edible pods but they have full-size peas in them. Then there are garden peas. The pods of garden peas, or sweet peas, are not eaten.

For best quality and to preserve nutrients, only preserve what you and your family can eat in one year. When picking peas, or purchasing them, pick pea pods that are filled with young, tender peas.

To successfully freeze peas they need to be blanched. Water blanching is best for fresh peas. Blanching is simply scalding any vegetable in boiling water to stop the enzyme action that causes loss of flavor, color and texture. Blanching also cleans the surface of dirt and organisms, brightens the color and retard the loss of vitamins.

Blanch peas for 1 ½ to 2 ½ minutes then place them in ice water for 1 ½ to 2 ½ minutes. The rule of thumb when blanching is that you put the vegetable in ice water for the same amount of time that you blanched it. The next step is to dry the peas, laying them on a clean towel and pat dry. Then lay them on a tray and put them in the freezer. After a few hours they are ready to be packed into freezer bags or boxes, labeled with content and date and put in the freezer.

Correct blanching times are critical to ending up with a high quality product. Not blanching vegetables long enough stimulates the activity of enzymes and is worse than no blanching at all. Over blanching causes loss of flavor, color, vitamins and minerals. Always refer to up to date research based information when preserving such as updated Ball Blue Books, So Easy to Preserve, the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning and Preserving and Extension bulletins.

Michigan Fresh  is found on the Michigan State University Extension  website and has many fact sheets on fruits and vegetables that include recommended varieties, storage, food safety and preserving techniques.

How to Start a Successful Cottage Food Business in Michigan

Michigan’s Cottage Food Law allows those with an entrepreneurial spirit the opportunity to sell certain foods made in their home kitchens, to the public. These foods are to be sold face to face at places like farmers markets. If you are an individual with an entrepreneurial spirit and are considering selling some of your homemade food products, you may be interested in a cottage food workshop to be held at the Muskegon Downtown Market, 242 W. Western Avenue in Muskegon, Michigan. The workshop will be held April 30th from 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

This workshop combines both business and food safety aspects of preparing and selling cottage foods safely and successfully. At the workshop you will find out what foods can legally be produced as well as how to label and sell them. You will learn food safety practices to ensure that you are producing a wholesome product that people will want to buy. You will also pick up techniques to develop, and then maintain a successful small business.

Kay Cummings, an educator with the MSU Product Center for Agriculture and Natural Resources will be teaching with MSU Extension food safety educator, Jane Hart. The Product Center, http://productcenter.msu.edu/ is a gateway to generating success for Michigan entrepreneurs for the agriculture, natural resources and bio economy sectors.

At the end of the workshop you will receive a certificate to display when you are selling your cottage foods. This certificate states that you have taken food safety training related to Michigan Cottage Foods. The certificate is not required to sell cottage foods; it is for buyers of your products to see that you have taken extra measures to ensure them safe food.

There is a small fee to attend this workshop. You can register for How to Start a Successful Cottage Food Business in Michigan at http://events.anr.msu.edu/CFLMuskegon2015/ . For more information, call Jane Hart at 231-724-6694 or e-mail her at hartjan@anr.msu.edu.

2015 Great Lakes Hop and Barley Conference Announced

Michigan State University Extension is pleased to announce the dates for the 2015 Great Lakes Hop and Barley Conference.  The two-day conference will be held Friday and Saturday, April 10 -11 in Grand Rapids, MI.

The conference will feature separate basic and advanced sessions for hop growers as well as a barley session and malting tour and is designed for both growers and brewers. Several prominent speakers from around the country will be on hand to discuss: market outlook, horticultural practices, pest and disease control, harvest and post-harvest practices, nutrient management, and more.

There will also be a brewer/grower networking session that focuses on hop quality. The session will provide growers with a better idea of quality requirements and help align the supply of Michigan grown hops with brewer needs.

The conference is sponsored in part by the Michigan Brewer’s GuildISLANDGreenstone Farm Credit ServicesMSU PROJECT GREEEN, amongst others.

Please continue to visit Michigan State University ExtensionMichigan State University Extension Hops Webpage, and the Michigan State University Hops News Facebook page for up to date information.

Finally, please sign up for the new MSU Hop listserv for a lively interactive discussion of all things hop related.  To subscribe:
1. Send an email to: listserv@list.msu.edu
2. Leave the “subject” line blank
3. In the body of the email type: SUBSCRIBE Hops
4. You will receive a confirmation email directing you to click on a link (this is to avoid spammers). Click on the link.

To send an email to the list once you have joined, just send it to: hops@list.msu.edu

Winter Asthma – Don’t Let It Take Your Breath Away

Tips on improving inside air.

For many people, asthma attacks may happen more often in the winter. According to Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Staff Neurosurgeon, Emory Clinic; CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, “almost all asthma is allergic. Early diagnosis and treatment is essential in preventing deaths.”

What does asthma sounds like?

  • Wheezing – you can hear when you breathe.
  • There’s also silent asthma, which is more of a chronic cough.

Common indoor Asthma triggers:

  • Home cleaning products
  • Scented candles and oils
  • Cigarette smoke
  • High indoor humidity
  • Drafty windows
  • Dust mites
  • Pets
  • Mold
  • Smoke from wood burning stoves
  • Changing weather

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), triggers may be different for each individual with asthma. To improve air inside your home look at how energy efficient your home is. A recent study by Oregon State found:

  • Poorly ventilated homes – contribute exposure to biological, chemical and physical contaminants that can worsen asthma
  • High humidity in the home – keep the house cool and dry to avoid dust mites and bacteria, which can affect breathing

Outdoor asthma tips:

  • Cold air – cold air entering the lungs can cause airway constriction and is therefore a common

trigger for asthmatics. Control your exposure, wrap up well and wear a scarf over your nose and mouth. This will help warm the air before you breathe it in.

  • Chimney smoke – avoid areas of heavy pollutants.
  • Have your relief inhaler ready and/or use it before you know the cold air will trigger your asthma.

Since asthmatics may be more likely to need their inhaler during the cold months, make sure to review the Asthma Action Plan and keep it handy. Included in the action planning are tips, including:

  • Run the fan in your bathroom when taking a bath or shower.
  • Use the exhaust fan in the kitchen when cooking or using the dishwasher.
  • Be sure your gas stove is well-ventilated.
  • Fix leaky windows.

With your healthcare provider’s help, you can control your asthma and enjoy winter!

For more information about asthma and other chronic illness, visit your local Michigan State University Extension office and http://msue.anr.msu.edu/topic/info/chronic_disease

MSU Product Center and Mid-America Cooperative Council Conference Upcoming

The MSU Product Center is pleased to announce the Michigan Cooperative Executive Manager and Director’s Conference at the MSU Henry Center for Executive Development on January 27-28, 2015.

This year’s conference topics include effective recruitment and training of young members for leadership roles in cooperatives, “hot” legal topics for boards, and training on policy governance for board members. A special dinner program on effective communication with elected officials will be offered as well. The conference is scheduled for January 27-28, 2015 at the MSU Henry Center for Executive Development and registration is available at http://macc.coop/.

The two-day event features educational sessions that will bring together industry leading experts to help guide attendees in refining and growing their roles as cooperative board members and managers.

More information and conference registration information is available at http://macc.coop/ Those interested in attending can also call Greta McKinney at 517-353-7185 or send an email to mckin134@msu.edu or contact Mollie Woods at willi751@msu.edu or call (517)353-4380.

Beginning Farmers On-Line Training Offered by MSU Extension

Attention beginning farmers!

The MSU Extension 2015 Beginning Farmer Webinar Series is available for you to gain knowledge needed to plan your start-up farming operation, or add a new enterprise to an existing farm. A series of twenty, 2-hour evening webinars covering a wide variety of farm- related topics is available, including:

“Getting started with….”
…Small Grain Production, Jan. 26
…Cover Crops in Organic Vegetable Crop Rotations, Feb. 2
…Integrated Pest Management, Feb. 4
…Manure Storage, Handling and Mortality Management on Small Farms, Feb. 11
…Beekeeping for Pollination and Honey, Feb 13
…Value-Added Agriculture, Feb. 18
…Farm Food Safety, Feb 23
…Sheep and Goat Management, March 2
…USDA Organic Certification, March 9
…Hop Production, March 11
…Season Extension, March 16
…Marketing, March 18
…Small Fruit Production, March 23
…Beef Cow-Calf Production, March 25
…Direct Marketing, March 30
…Managing Soil, Irrigation and Fertilization Interactions, April 1
…Cover Crops in Field Crop Rotations, April 6
…Poultry Production, April 20
…Small Farm Equipment, April 27
…Beef Feedlot Management, April 29

A fee of $10 per webinar is required, or you can register for the entire series for $100. Webinar recordings will be provided to all registered participants. Participate from the comfort and convenience of your own home or office. Registration, a brochure containing details on each individual program, and on-line or mailed payment options can be found at http://events.anr.msu.edu/beginningfarmerwebinars/.

Each program begins at 7pm eastern time and will last about 2 hours. A high-speed internet connection is required. You will receive webinar connection information after you register.

Contact the Alger County MSU Extension office at 906-387-2530 or isleibj@anr.msu.edu for more information.

Dining with Diabetes Workshops

(Submitted by Michigan State University Extension)

“Meijer and Michigan State University Extension are partnering in the efforts to support healthier living,” Pam Daniels, MSU Extension Health Educator says. Meijer has donated $1,000.00 to the Dining with Diabetes workshops.

Class participants will be able to learn about Meijer’s NuVal Scoring System. The American Diabetes Association aligns with NuVal, which scores foods based on nutritional value. Meijer makes it easy by identifying power foods, while providing power-food recipes which will be implemented into the Dining with Diabetes menus.

Dining with Diabetes  is a five-session course designed for people at risk of diabetes or who have diabetes, as well as their family members. Through this class, participants learn the causes of diabetes; tools for managing diabetes; how to prepare healthy meals using less fat; how to make meals using less sodium and sugar without reducing flavor; and the importance of diet and exercise in managing diabetes. Participants have the opportunity to sample a variety of healthy foods and take home recipes to prepare.

To find out more about MSUE’s Dining with Diabetes series, contact Pam Daniels, Michigan State University Extension, at (231) 592-0792 or email danie270@msu.edu.

Registration is required.•

Your stress is showing

Stress can take a toll on your blood sugar and cause other long-term effects, if not monitored.

It is true that we cannot remove all stress from our lives, nor can we eliminate all the fears or anxieties brought on by stress-triggers (finances, relationships jobs and more). Stress can be found in our private and professional lives. The workplace can especially have a major impact on our stress levels.

According to a Princeton research study, “Three-fourths of employees believe today’s worker has more on-the-job stress than a generation ago. Problems at work are more strongly associated with health complaints than are any other life stressor, more so than even financial problems or family problems”.

When we are stressed our bodies naturally increase production of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. This can cause blood sugar to rise, boosting energy as it readies the body for action. For some, this action appears as the need to over eat, or not eat by skipping meals all together.  Food cravings and disrupted steep patterns are also associated with increased stress levels. For those with diabetes, stress can become another factor in maintaining blood glucose levels.

Studies reveal those who practice de-stressing techniques may be able to keep hormones at healthy levels. By adaptive coping mechanisms we are better equipped to gain control of emotions, find clarity to make rational decisions and help alleviate the physical symptoms associated with stress.

What types of coping mechanisms work well to de-stress?
•     Identify- Identify your role in the situation. Some things are out of our control. Why dwell on it? Prioritize and delegate those things that cause stress and those which cause the most anxiety. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) we may have to make a change in our environment to avoid stressors.
•    Prepare – If you know that you are going to encounter stress, try doing some relaxation therapies; breathing exercises or guided imagery. Music may help calm breathing and heart rate.
•     Exercise – Exercise helps reduce stress hormones. Stretches, walking/jogging or yoga may lower stress levels.
•     Time – Meeting deadlines may cause stress. Commit extra time to deadlines that cause you the most stress. Find time for activities that help you unwind and de-stress.
•     Encouragement- The Mayo Clinic suggests connecting with and supporting others as it keeps us from dwelling on our own stress.
•     Communicating – If stress is becoming too much and it seems to be taking over your life, talk with a professional and your health care provider.

Stress not only affects our mental health, thoughts and feelings but our physical bodies as well. If we can recognize feelings and behaviors brought out by stress and stress triggers we can learn how to self­ manage them. If you have excessive worry and stress talk with a professional.

Michigan State University Extension offers many health and nutrition education classes and self-management workshops providing support and evidence based resources.  For more information on chronic illness and healthier living, visit MSU Extension’s chronic disease page.

This article was published by Michigan State University Extension. For more information, visit http://www.msue.msu.edu. To contact an expert in your area, visit http://expert.msue.msu.edu, or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).