Month: February 2017

Going Back to Your Roots, or Tubers

Going back to your roots…or tubers…or bulbs…or corms

Diane Wright Hirsch, MPH

Senior Extension Educator


vegetablesCorms? What are corms?

This time of year, those of us who make an attempt to eat seasonally, “root” vegetables are a mainstay. Though most are available year round, roots are something that you can continue to find at your local winter farmers market—grown in Connecticut. At my New Haven market, I have seen carrots, beets, radishes, all types of potatoes and even celeriac or celery root.

But, after doing a bit of research, prompted by an article sent to me, I discovered that what most of us know as root vegetables, may not actually be root vegetables as a knowledgeable botanist could tell you.

True root vegetables include taproots and tuberous roots. Taproots grow downward into the ground. They tend to be drought tolerant, sending out roots 20 to 30 feet long in search of water, if necessary, in dry climates. Typically they are tapered in shape: a main root with other roots that sprout off the sides.

Taproots include beets, parsnips, carrots, turnips, radishes, rutabaga, jicama, salsify, celeriac, and daikon radish. This list is not exhaustive and does include several taproots that appear to be shaped more like a ball than a tapered carrot. Tuberous roots are modified lateral roots, many of which (sweet potatoes, cassava) look just like taproots: others look more segmented such as ginger or turmeric.

Corms, rhizomes and tubers (different from tuberous roots) are really stem structures, not true roots. But many a roasted root vegetable recipe will list them as ingredients. Generally speaking, they are referred to as roots in agriculture as well as culinary uses.   Corms, constructed of vertical underground stems, include Chinese water chestnuts and taro. You no doubt have seen taro chips in the snack food aisle in your local grocery store or fancy food shop. They are often used by higher end restaurants as a garnish as well. They are an off-white color with dark striations and have a nutty flavor. In Hawaii, taro is cooked, mashed and made into poi, a thick liquid, often eaten with the fingers.

Rhizomes are also stems, not roots. Not all rhizomes grow underground, but ginger, ginseng, turmeric and lotus roots do. When growing, they look like a mass of horizontal roots (though, again, they are NOT roots).

Finally, tubers are a class of root-like vegetables that include potatoes, and some varieties of yams. They are formed from thickened underground stems.

Historically, because they are inexpensive to grow and store, root vegetables were often considered to be food for the poor. But the richness of a diet high in colorful beets, carrots, potatoes and sweet potatoes, flavored with garlic or shallots (which are bulbs, not roots), turmeric, ginger or radishes is something we can all benefit from.

One thing that all of these true root vegetables, corms, rhizomes, and tubers have in common is that they serve as storage organs for the plant. They are a major source of carbohydrates, the nutrients that provide energy essential for plant growth and metabolism. Often these vegetables are placed on a do not eat list for those trying to cut down on carbohydrates. This would be a mistake, though. These carbohydrates generally digest more slowly and contribute to the energy needs of the human body, just as they do for the plant. Not only that, but they are also great sources of fiber (for heart health and gastrointestinal system health) and phytonutrients, which are not vitamins, but chemical compounds that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties in humans.

If you have a backyard garden, consider adding root and root-like vegetables to your “to plant” list this year. They are not difficult to grow if you pay attention to soil quality. They grow best in a deep, loose soil that can hold moisture, but is well-drained. Root crops do not grow well in very acid soils. So, don’t forget taking a soil sample so that you will know if you need to treat with fertilizers or lime. Planting of root vegetable crop seeds generally begins early in the season—as early as the beginning of April for most in Connecticut.

For more information on growing, preparing or storing root vegetables, contact the Home and Garden Education Center at or 1-877-486-6271.

Municipal Grounds and Sports Turf Academy

Steve turf talk
Photo: UConn CAHNR

Municipal Grounds and Sports Turf Academy

March 14 & 15, 2017, 8 am-4 pm
W.B. Young Building, 1376 Storrs Road, Room 100
University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT

The registration fee is $180.00.
$20 discount ($160 per person) for groups of 3 or more. Student registration is $25.
Walk-in registrations are welcome, but must be paid by cash or check.
Registration fee includes refreshments, lunch, and an information packet.

Pesticide Recertification Credits – 7 Credits/Categories 3A, 3B, & PA

Program and registration information.
Register online. (Online registration closes at 11:59 p.m. on March 12.)
Or send in a Mail-in registration form.

Questions? Contact: Vickie Wallace, 885-2826

March Lifelong Learning Classes

CLIR group

CLIR classes for March will be held in Vernon Cottage on the UConn Depot campus, all from 1:15-2:45 p.m. except for Memoirs:

Memoir Club                Thursdays, March 2, 9, 16, 23 – 10:15-11:45 a.m.

Water Systems of Rome through the Ages           Wednesday, March 1

Cahokia:  America’s First City             Wednesday,March 8

Why There Can Be No “Theory of Everything” and Why Your Existence Depends

Upon This             Thursday, March 9

How Big Is Your Water Foortprint?    Wednesday, March 15

A Time Economy:  An Opportunity to Learn Skills and Teach Others         Tuesday, March 21

Strangers and Neighbors:  Multiculturalism, Conflict, and Community in America        Wednesday, March 22

New England Dairy Conference Scheduled

dairy barn
Mary Margaret Cole at the Kellogg Dairy Barn on Jan. 16, 2014. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

Join us for the New England Dairy Conference on March 13th:



9:00 am – Registration, Refreshments and Trade Show

9:50 am -Welcome

Dr. Sheila Andrew, Professor, UConn, Department of Animal Science

10:00 am – “New Milk Analysis Technologies to Improve Dairy Cattle Performance’”

Dr. David Barbano, Professor, Department of Food Science, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

11:00 am – “Use of Milk Fatty Acid Metrics to Make Nutrition and Management Decisions”

Dr. Heather Dann, Research Scientist, W.H. Miner

Agricultural Research Institute, Chazy, NY

12:00 noon “Risk Management Program Updates”

Mr. Joe Bonelli, Associate Extension Educator, UConn Extension

12:15 pm – Introduction of Trade Show Participants

12:30 pm – Lunch and Trade Show

1:45 pm – “Harvest for Profit”

Mr. Tom Kilcer, CCA, Advanced Ag Systems, LLC

3:15 pm – Adjourn



Dr. Heather Dann is a research scientist at the William H. Miner Agricultural Research Institute in Chazy, NY. She grew up on a dairy farm in New York where she developed a passion for dairy and an appreciation for research. She received a B.S. degree from Cornell University, a M.S. degree from the Pennsylvania State University, and a Ph.D. degree from the University of Illinois. For the past 12 years, her research at the Miner Institute has focused on dairy cow nutrition and management. In particular, she has investigated different types of diets for transition cows to help control feed costs and minimize environmental concerns while promoting animal health and productivity.

Tom Kilcer grew up on a dairy farm in Columbia County, New York. After receiving a B.S. degree in Fisheries Science from Cornell University, he worked on environmental impact studies for Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station and Indian Point Energy Center. In 1976, he obtained a second B.S. degree in Agronomy from Iowa State University. For 33 years, he was the multi-county Field Crop and Soils Educator and Program Leader at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Rensselaer County, Troy, New York. In 2009, Tom moved to private consulting, with focus on research and education in close cooperation with university and extension specialists. Much of Tom’s effort is to develop crops, rotations, and harvest systems to support high forage dairy diets that enable farms to compete nationally and globally. His innovative work includes wide swath haylage, red clover same day haylage, winter forage production and management, sorghum production and harvest for dairy cows.


Dr. David Barbano is a professor in the Department of Food Science at Cornell University. He received his B.S. degree in Biology/Food Science in 1970; his M.S. degree in Food Science in 1973; and Ph.D. in Food Science in 1976, all at Cornell University. He joined the Department of Food Science as an Assistant Professor in 1980. In 1988, he became Director of the Northeast Dairy Foods Research Center. He is a member of ADSA, IFT, IDFA, AOACI, IAMFES, IDF, and NYS Association of Milk and Food Sanitarians. He is past president of the American Dairy Science Association (ADSA), a fellow of ADSA and the Association of Official Analytical Chemists. He received the Harvey Wiley Award of AOAC in 2010. He is on numerous International Dairy Federation committees for milk analysis.


From Hartford, CT and points South: Take I-91 North. Take Exit 49 to merge onto US-5 N. Use the right lane to merge onto US-5 N. Turn right onto Bright Meadow Boulevard. From Springfield, MA and points North: Take I-91 South. Take Exit 49 for US-5/Enfield Street. Turn left onto US-5 N/ Enfield Street. Turn right onto Bright Meadow Boulevard.

An Equal Opportunity Employer and Program Provider

Issued by the Connecticut Cooperative Extension System, University of Connecticut, Storrs, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914. The university is committed to offering reasonable accommodations to persons who have challenges accessing University services and facilities because of a disability. Please ask for reasonable accommodations by contacting the office 14 days prior to the activity.

Major New CLEAR Programs Underway in 2017

By Chet Arnold

Originally posted on

As 2017 gets underway, CLEAR folks are working hard on the early stages of major new projects that cover all three of CLEAR’s traditional program areas, and actually add a fourth! Each one of these projects will no doubt be the fodder for many blogs to come, but for now, here’s a quick summary of new CLEAR initiatives.

The Water Team is a few months into a five-year effort to support the 121 towns covered under the newly enhanced “MS4” state stormwater regulation. MS4 is a part of the Clean Water Act and stands for Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System. Although only 8 of the 121 towns are entirely new to this regulation, there are important new additions to the requirements and our new program is focused on helping towns navigate these changes. Stormwater management has been a major focus of CLEAR since before there was a CLEAR, dating back to the advent of the NEMO Program in 1991, so we are very excited to have the chance to tackle this issue in new and expanded ways.

The Geospatial Team is working hard on a redesign and expansion of Connecticut Conditions Online, or CT ECO, a partnership with CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection that is the state’s flagship/go-to/one-stop-shopping/cutting-edge online site for natural resource maps and data. First of all, the website is being upgraded with new hardware and software. Second, it’s getting a design facelift, not only to look pretty but also to be more mobile-friendly. Third, in early 2017 CT ECO will be adding new high resolution statewide imagery (3-inch pixel resolution!!!) and elevation (lidar) data, both obtained in the Spring of 2016 (project description here).   This amazing stuff is suitable for any number of tasks. Blogs will no doubt be flying off of Emily Wilson’s desk on these topics in future.

Bruce and students
Student teams led by Bruce Hyde and other CLEAR faculty will work with Connecticut towns as part of the UConn Climate Corps.

Student teams led by Bruce Hyde and other CLEAR faculty will work with Connecticut towns as part of the UConn Climate Corps.

The Land Use and Climate Adaptation Team is working on the launch of the new UConn Climate Corps, a program focused on undergraduates from the Environmental Sciences, Environmental Studies, and Environmental Engineering majors. In concert with the directors of those three majors, we are developing a fall semester class that will focus on local issues and problems associated with climate change; during the following spring semester “practicum,” student teams will work with CLEAR faculty to provide on-the-ground assistance to towns by conducting vulnerability assessments and other studies, developing educational materials, or performing any number of other tasks. We are hoping that this combination of classroom and service learning will become a model that can be adapted to other issues, and possibly other universities.

Lastly, CLEAR now has a fourth Program Area, secondary school STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education. This is a very recent development built upon the Natural Resources Conservation Academy (NRCA) run out of one of the Center’s parent departments, the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment. The NRCA, now in its fifth year, is a program for high school students that combines on-campus natural resources education with community service projects, and CLEAR folks make up much of its teaching faculty. This past fall, a multi-departmental team from CAHNR and the Neag School of Education received two grants to expand the NRCA concept in several ways. The first project, funded by the National Science Foundation, will bring together high school students and adult conservation volunteers (from land trusts, conservation commissions, etc.) in two-day workshops focused on local natural resource management. The second will be a three-day teacher professional development class held on campus, focusing on water resource management and the use of online geospatial tools for teaching within the framework of the Next Generation Science Standards. CLEAR is the home of this new triad of interwoven projects. MUCH more later!

Attending the Inauguration with 4-H

4-H at capitol 4-H at inauguration 4-H at capitol

I recently returned from Washington D.C. where I joined 4 fellow Connecticut 4-Hers to attend the first ever Citizen Washington Focus Presidential Inauguration. It was held in conjunction with the Presidential Inauguration. We were there with 500 4-Hers from all across the country who all shared the same interest in democracy and politics. We stayed at the National 4H Center in Chevy Chase, MD. Throughout the week we attended workshops that focused on the Executive Branch of government, our democracy and our role in it. We visited museums and monuments throughout Washington D.C. We had the opportunity to listen to speakers who played a key role in past presidents administration. On Friday January 20th we attended the Inauguration of our 45th President of the United States. Our Connecticut delegation had a great view of the Inauguration from the front lawn of the Capital building. Regardless of your political affiliation it was an amazing experience to see our country’s peaceful transfer of power. On our last night in D.C. we enjoyed a dinner cruise on the Potomac River.

Thank you Connecticut 4-H for this amazing experience,

Emily Syme

Hartford County 4-Her

It’s Not Too Late for the Spring Bedding Plant Meetings

Rosa Raudales in greenhouse
Photo: Kara Bonsack

You can Register for the Spring Bedding Plant Meetings:  

By  Email: Leanne Pundt, at  or call 860-921-3288

You can pay at the door (cash or check), however, please pre-register by phone or email by

Feb 13 for Feb 16 meeting at the Tolland County Extension Center

Feb 14 for Feb 21 meeting at the Litchfield County Extension Center

You must pre-register to be guaranteed a catered lunch.


Bedding Plants – Spring 2017!

Spring Bedding Plant Meeting

Tolland County Extension Center Vernon, CT

Feb 16, 2017  

Time  Title  Speaker 
9:30 – 10:00 Registration  
10:00 – 11:00 Using Controlled Release Fertilizers in Containers Rosa Raudales, UConn
11:00-12:00 KEEP IT SIMPLE:  Choosing the right media and fertility program for your crops Dan Jacques, Sun Gro Horticulture
12:00 – 12:30 Lunch (catered)  
12:30 – 1:30 Mistaken Identities: Tips on Scouting Leanne Pundt, UConn
1:30 – 2:30 Management of Diseases on Edibles in the Greenhouse Angela Madeiras, UMass


Spring Bedding Plant Meeting

Litchfield County Extension Center, Torrington, CT

Feb 21, 2017 

Time  Title  Speaker 
9:30 – 10:00 Registration  
10:00 – 11:00 Using Controlled Release Fertilizers in Containers Rosa Raudales, UConn
11:00 – 12:00 KEEP IT SIMPLE:  Choosing the right media and fertility program for your crops Dan Jacques, Sun Gro Horticulture
12:00 – 12:30 Lunch (catered)  
12:30 – 1:00 Worker Protection Standard: Overview of What’s New


Candace Bartholomew, UConn
1:00- 2:00 Mistaken Identities: Tips on Scouting Leanne Pundt, UConn
2:00- 2:30 Hot Topics in Pest Control Leanne Pundt, UConn


Four pesticide recertification credits!     


Directions to Programs: 

February 16th, Tolland County Extension Center: Take Exit 67 off I-84. Take Route 31 North to the junction of Route 30. Turn right onto Route 30. Tolland County Extension Center is on the right just after Rockville Bank at 24 Hyde Avenue.  You can link to a map at:  or call 860-875-3331

February 21st, Litchfield County Extension Center:  From Route 8 North, take exit 44, go straight at first traffic light, go left at second traffic light onto Route 4 and proceed 2.75 miles, turn right onto University Drive and proceed 1 mile to Litchfield County Extension Center. You can link to a map at: or call 860-626-6240


Registration Form – Bedding Plants – Spring 2017





Email address____________________________Phone:________________________________

(Required for confirmation of registration)                                  (Required)

No. attending ___________x $25.00/person = $____ at Tolland CES     ____ (please check) on Feb 16 th

at Litchfield CES ____ (please check) on Feb 21st Please make checks payable to University of Connecticut. Return this form and check to Leanne Pundt, Litchfield County Extension Center, 843 University Drive, Torrington, CT 06790-2635.

Included in your registration fee of $25.00:  Handouts, Catered Lunch Beverages.

For more information contact: 

Leanne Pundt, UConn Extension, 860-626-6855,

An equal opportunity employer and program provider. To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326W, Whitten Building, Stop code 9410, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410or call (202) 720-5964. If requested by a program participant at least 3 weeks in advance, every effort will be made to provide special accommodation.

Snow Removal Tips

Photo and Article: West Virginia Extension

1360166144Stay safe from slips and strains by following these recommendations for safe and effective snow removal.

  • Shovel all sidewalks adjacent to your property to the bare pavement. This includes any sidewalks outside your fence lines and to the sides/rear of your property.
  • Clear a path at least 36 inches wide. This allows space wide enough for someone using wheelchair, walker or stroller.
  • Strategically pile snow. Don’t create new problems in the street or sidewalk when clearing your car or driveway.
  • Clear ramps at corners and crosswalks. These strategic spots are particularly dangerous and often overlooked.
  • Chop or melt all ice. Ice is the primary cause of falls; it’s not enough to simply remove the snow.
  • Keep street storm drains clear of snow and report clogged drains. The snow will melt, and effective drainage protects streets from icing over and developing potholes.
  • Clear snow around any fire hydrants near your house. Seconds count when a fire occurs and it’s critical for firefighters to find and access hydrants.
  • Shovel frequently. Don’t wait until the snow piles up. Shovel intermittently – after two (2) inches of snow has fallen – to maintain safe conditions and prevent injury when clearing snow and ice.

Be neighborly. Consider helping those who may have difficulty clearing their own sidewalks.

Important health and safety reminders when clearing snow and ice:

  • Stretch during and after working outside. Gently stretch your back, arms and legs to help prevent injury and muscle strain.
  • Keep dry. Change wet clothes frequently to prevent a loss of body heat. Wet clothing loses all of its insulating value and transmits heat rapidly.
  • Cover your mouth. Protect your lungs from extremely cold air by covering your mouth when outdoors.
  • Wear shoes with good soles. Falling is the most common injury when removing snow and ice.
  • Wear shoes with a good cleat tread and layers of absorbing socks.
  • Separate your hands on the shovel. By creating space between your hands, you can increase your leverage on the shovel.
  • Lift with your legs, not your back. Make sure your knees are bending and straightening to lift the shovel instead of leaning forward and straightening with the back.
  • Push the snow. It is easier and better for your back to push the snow rather than lift it. Never throw snow over your shoulders.
  • Avoid overexertion. Cold weather puts an added strain on the heart. Unfamiliar exercise, such as shoveling snow or pushing a car, can bring on a heart attack or make other medical conditions worse.
  • Stay safe. Walk carefully on snowy and icy sidewalks. If using a snowblower, NEVER use your hands to unclog the machine.
  • Maintain an awareness of utilities when removing snow. Do not cover fire hydrants with snow when clearing sidewalks and driveways. Do not shovel snow into the street storm drains.


Offer to help individuals who may require special assistance. Seniors and people with disabilities can benefit from a thoughtful neighbor, and they often need extra help during snowy conditions.