Gardens

Learn Gardening Fundamentals in New Online Course

FANs gardenInterested in how plants grow? Do you want a healthy, productive, and sustainable landscape for your home?  UConn Extension now offers the Fundamentals of Home Gardening, an asynchronous online series of classes covering a wide variety of gardening topics. These classes explore the foundation of good gardening practices, and help explain the “why” of successful gardens.  Taught by UConn Extension educators and specialists, and drawing on the Extension Master Gardener curriculum, this four-part, online series can be taken at your own pace, at times that work for you. Choose just the segments you’re interested in or complete all four components and earn a certificate of completion in the Fundamentals of Home Gardening.

The four modules cover Core Fundamentals, Environmental Factors, Ornamental Plants and Growing Your Own Foods. Each module is independent and does not require any prerequisites. All modules will be available by the end of April, and a registrant will have six weeks to complete the three or four classes contained per module.

Modules are $150 each. A flyer with more information is available. Registration is at https://uconnmastergarden-ers.gosignmeup.com/  or for more information, contact sarah.bailey@uconn.edu.

The Low Down on Selecting Tomatoes

heirloom tomatoes
Heirloom tomatoes grown by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation. Photo: Noah Cudd

Vegetable gardening is very popular these days, and even more so since the COVID outbreak.    Anyone new to this hobby is quick to hear some terms being thrown around when describing different types of vegetables. Knowing the meaning of these terms gives prospective gardeners some key information that helps them pick varieties of vegetables most suited to their needs. All living creatures, known to man, are classified according to species and genus. So for instance, all tomatoes are classified as Solanum lycospersicum.

To start off, I already used the term “variety”. This term is used rather loosely in horticulture and is incorrectly interchanged with “cultivar”. Both refer to the differences in the species of plant you have chosen. Varieties refer to naturally occurring deviations from the original species. They typically come true to seed. Cultivars have been purposely cross-bred from two or more different species. Plants must be either vegetatively propagated or started from hybrid seed each year. These varieties or cultivars have names and are associated with specific characteristics.  For example when I say “Sweet Millions” tomatoes, a person familiar with this cultivar knows that they are cherry tomatoes, indeterminate, very flavorful, and highly productive. For the sake of this article, I will stick with tomato examples, but these terms could apply to many vegetable species and cultivars.

Our tomato plants contain both male and female flower parts. Because of this, they are easily pollinated by wind or bees. This is problematic for greenhouse tomato growers, so they will hand pollinate the tomatoes with paint brushes or even special electronic devices that shake the flower to accomplish pollination. Fortunately for us outdoor gardeners, we do not need to do anything special for pollination to occur. 

Probably the best place to start is talking about “open pollination.” This is essentially how Mother Nature does things. There is a large population of organisms that have genes for individual traits, or characteristics. If we stick with our tomato example, think of: size, color, growth habit, disease resistance, plant height, etc. In my example, the population of tomatoes living in the wild in a certain area would have a lot of genetic diversity. As we all have experienced, the weather can vary from year to year. Genetic diversity in the population is nature’s way of ensuring that some organisms will survive and reproduce. Likewise, different parts of the country (or the world) will have different weather, climates, and microclimates.  Certain traits or characteristics are an advantage or a disadvantage depending on where you are living.  Over time, a population of tomatoes will see an increase in the genes that help it survive in the local environments. These would be considered different varieties of tomatoes.   

Some growers like to have open pollinated plants. They see which tomatoes produce the best and then save seeds from those plants to be planted the following year. In this way, the gardener is essentially developing a variety of tomato that is perfectly suited to living, growing, and even thriving in that particular area of the world. In addition, the gardener may also select for certain traits he or she prefers, like low acid, yellow tomatoes for example. Over time, the gardener may select and replant only the seeds of the plants that conform to certain pre-determined criteria.  Eventually the plants will breed true, or have the same set of characteristics, year to year.

Click here to read more.

Job Opening: Evaluation Specialist/Academic Assistant II

venn diagram of Extension programs with food, health and sustainabilityPosition Location: Storrs, CT

Position Description: Reporting to the CAHNR Associate Dean for Extension, the Evaluation Specialist works with an interdisciplinary team of faculty and staff in UConn’s College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources (CAHNR). The Evaluation Specialist provides leadership to build Cooperative Extension’s capacity to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of Extension’s instructional programs in achieving desired results and to contribute to individual, community and organizational learning and performance improvement. Capacity building includes initiatives such as conducting evaluation studies, facilitating professional development opportunities, supporting program accountability and reporting functions.

Duties and Responsibilities:
• Conduct program evaluations for multiple purposes, i.e. reporting requirements for granting agencies, and audiences on an ongoing basis.
• Provide leadership for Cooperative Extension’s internal efforts to build individual, team, and organizational evaluation capacity to improve program effectiveness through professional development including technical assistance, training, resource development and dissemination.
• Lead CAHNR initiatives specific to evaluation to programs.
• Collaborate and provide technical support to Extension faculty and staff delivering programming to local and statewide communities, groups, agencies, organizations and individuals.
• Independently travel to and carry out field work throughout the geographic region including urban, rural and remote locations and work and/or programming sites.
• Provide leadership for annual planning and reporting of Extension programs to federal funding partners.
• Advance CAHNR’s commitment to equity and inclusion by 1) considering sources of bias and structural inequity based on race, ethnicity, disability, gender, and sexual orientation, and 2) facilitating and evaluating programs that address the burden these injustices impose on members of the campus community and residents of the state where appropriate.
• Write, publish and share articles, curricula and program designs that contribute to understanding and support the scholarly practices of evaluation.
• Cooperate with other research and Extension personnel to develop strong, integrated programs.
• Collaborate on and submit grant proposals for initiatives consistent with and in support of the purpose of this position.
• Provide relevant information to public officials, legislators, the general public, and other interested parties to communicate Extension’s value.
• Develop and use an appropriate system for reporting and evaluating programs to UConn Extension and to clients, colleagues and other Extension collaborators as needed.
• Research, gather and compile information from multiple sources utilizing various systems and techniques to conduct qualitative and quantitative data analyses and reporting.
• Attend and participate in state and national program activities as appropriate, meetings, committees and local, state and national conferences; represent and serve as a representative of the Department of Extension.

Read more information, including application instructions – search 495055.

Compost Sale

compost facility

Spring 2021 UConn Compost Sale Details

Pick-up date: Friday, April 16th 1-4 PM and Saturday, April 17th 10 AM – 3 PM
Rain date(s): Friday, April 23rd and/or Saturday, April 24th

$25 per yard. Customers must purchase a minimum of ½ yard.

Payment must be made online by credit/debit card only.
*Payments must be received by 5 PM on Thursday, April 15th.*

Pick-up Location: UConn Compost Facility, 1396 Stafford Rd., Storrs, CT 06269.
Please follow the signs.

Make online payments here!

IMPORTANT RULES:

– Please bring Proof of payment (A picture of your payment receipt or the actual printed receipt.) Those who have not prepaid online will be turned away.
– Customers must wear a mask and stay in their vehicles.
– No boxes, pails, buckets or bags.  Compost will not be loaded by hand (shovel) by customers or UConn Staff.
– Trucks and trailers only. Compost will be loaded by a UConn tractor.

You will be asked to leave if you do not follow these rules.

Please contact Mary Kegler at 860-486-8567 with any questions.

Bug Month

Bugs are crucial components of many ecosystems. Unfortunately, many people are unaware of the significant role they play in maintaining our environment. The UConn Extension Bug Month program provides educational resources and activities to help expand knowledge about insects.

The program will host its 6th annual Bug Month virtually in July. You can learn more about Bug Month and find additional resources and activities at https://bugs.uconn.edu/.

All Paws In – Join Us for UConn Gives

UConn Gives All Paws In logo

In a time of extraordinary circumstances, UConn has adapted by seeking new opportunities and new ways to keep UConn Nation connected in a socially distant world. Through all the change and uncertainty, there has been one constant—our commitment to providing an exceptional education to our program participants. During this year’s UConn Gives, a 36-hour giving initiative, you can celebrate this commitment to excellence through giving. We invite you to join us on Tuesday, March 23rd and Wednesday, March 24th in supporting one or more of our initiatives:

Extension programs cover the full spectrum of topics aligned with CAHNR’s strategic initiatives:

  • Ensuring a vibrant and sustainable agricultural industry and food supply
  • Enhancing health and well-being locally, nationally, and globally
  • Advancing adaptation and resilience in a changing climate
  • Designing sustainable landscapes across urban-rural interfaces

Our educators faced the unprecedented challenges of 2020 and pivoted programs to offer life transformative education despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Programs delivered by Extension reach individuals, communities, and businesses in each of the 169 municipalities across the state.

Undergraduate Summer Internships with UConn Extension

photos of three of the summer interns

Applications are being accepted for UConn Extension’s undergraduate summer internship program.

Students: Get paid and gain valuable in-the-field experience in your chosen discipline at an in-state Extension office location.

• Food • Health • Nutrition • Sustainability • Research • Agribusiness • Youth Education • Community Development • Marketing

Learn where Extension offices are located across the state here so you can apply to an internship.pdf that is close to where you will be living this summer.

Get paid while learning and working in a career-oriented role. Most of these roles are for an average 18-20 hours per week over the 10 week summer period with some requiring a bit of weekend and/or evening hours, although these circumstances vary by position. Some of these positions for employment are contingent upon the successful completion of a pre-employment criminal background check.

UConn Extension is the premiere public engagement program at the University of Connecticut. Extension has eight offices in strategic locations statewide as well as the Sea Grant office at the Avery Point campus and the administrative office on the Storrs campus. Extension programs cover the full spectrum of topics related to food, health and sustainability. Programs delivered by Extension reach individuals, communities, and businesses in each of the 169 municipalities across the state. Extension has approximately 100 faculty and staff in the Department of Extension with another 20 faculty and staff with partial Extension appointments in the academic departments of the UConn College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources.

Applications are due April 5th, 2021

Learn more at http://s.uconn.edu/interns

Virtual Connecticut Master Gardener Association Symposium

flower in pot on porchOn Saturday, March 20th starting at 9:00 am, Connecticut Master Gardeners, guests and the public will have the opportunity to hear national and regional experts talk about  “Gardening Any Time, Any Place”  by virtually attending the Connecticut Master Gardener Association (CMGA) 28th annual garden symposium.   Registration and information about the virtual event is available at ctmga.org/symposium-event-2021  The cost for the two featured  speakers and a choice of two of five breakout session speakers is $60 for CMGA members and guests; $90 for non-members and includes a “virtual event bag” with coupons, promotions and special offers from symposium sponsors.  Contact: symposium@ctmga.org

Extension Impacts – 2020

cover of 2020 Extension impact flyerExtension is a part of UConn’s College of Agriculture, Health, and Natural Resources (CAHNR). We have over 100 years of experience strengthening communities in Connecticut and beyond. Extension programs cover the full spectrum of topics aligned with CAHNR’s strategic initiatives:

  • Ensuring a vibrant and sustainable agricultural industry and food supply
  • Enhancing health and well-being locally, nationally, and globally
  • Advancing adaptation and resilience in a changing climate
  • Designing sustainable landscapes across urban-rural interfaces

Rising to the Challenge

Our educators faced the unprecedented challenges of 2020 and pivoted programs to offer life transformative education despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Programming moved to virtual environments through online certificate programs, virtual field days, podcasts, WebEx meetings, and YouTube videos. Our educators created and released 318 new videos on YouTube in 2020. These videos reached 305,200 people and had 39,501 viewers that watched 1,200 hours of Extension instruction.

Programs delivered by Extension reach individuals, communities, and businesses in each of the 169 municipalities across the state (see map on last page). The By the Numbers 2020 highlights some of our key impacts from these initiatives.

Connecting Connecticut: A New Podcast from UConn Extension

 

Land-grant universities have provided communities, organizations, farmers and individuals with practical knowledge rooted in research through the Cooperative Extension System since the passage of the Smith-Lever Act in 1914. Over the last 107 years a lot has changed with our Extension systems. The program has expanded beyond its agricultural production origin to encompass a wide variety of resources ranging from nutrition to environmental issues and technology.

UConn Extension is no exception to this evolution that the Cooperative Extension System has seen. However, one thing has not changed, in more than a century of working with Connecticut residents, producers, and communities; UConn Extension has always been about connection. Across the board, UConn Extension educators and programs strike at the very core of our 169 cities and towns to make each one of them a better place. Connecting Connecticut, our new podcast, showcases each of our programs through the eyes of those impacted by them.

Connecting Connecticut teaches individuals throughout our state about the programs in their communities. By talking to extension educators, volunteers, researchers, and community members each episode dives into the goals and impacts our programs have here in Connecticut. From learning about coastal resilience and the Connecticut Sea Grant program, looking into the impact 4-H has on the state’s youth and communities, to discussing the importance of volunteers across the Constitution State it is our goal to share the work of UConn Extension, and ultimately our impact on Connecticut.

Join us as we hop from Salisbury to Stonington, visit all eight counties, and talk to all of the wonderful people in between that truly make this state great. Our goal to reach every community, people from all walks of life, and strive for a better tomorrow and we have been fulfilling that mission since 1914. We are chronicling that journey and the people who make it
possible everyday. It is only fitting that in telling our story we do so by Connecting Connecticut.

Article by Zachary J. Duda