Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Caring for Holiday Plants

Cassie Homan, Horticulture Agent

For a horticulturist like me, Christmas time means bright colorful poinsettias and other holiday plants to liven up the season. Most of these plants can be enjoyed long past Christmas with the correct care. Here are some simple steps to care for the most common holiday plants.

The poinsettia was named after Joel Robert Poinsett, an amateur botanist and the first American ambassador to Mexico. He sent some poinsettia plants home to Greenville, South Carolina in 1825. Poinsettias are the number one potted flowering plant grown in the United States. The large colorful parts of the plant are not true flowers, they are modified leaves called ‘bracts’. The true flowers are the small yellow/green buds in the center of the bracts.
To keep poinsettias looking beautiful, water when the plant’s soil feels dry. Place in a room with bright light but not next to a drafty window. You can try to keep your poinsettia year round, but they are bred to be large and colorful, not long lasting. It might be a fun experiment to keep the plant till next Christmas but it is also easy to pick up a new one each season. Contrary to popular belief poinsettias are not toxic. They can cause stomach irritation but unless you eat around 600 leaves you won’t get sick.

Holiday Cactus:
There are two types of holiday cactus, Christmas cactus and Thanksgiving cactus. The main difference between the two is the shape of the leaf segments. On the Thanksgiving cactus, the edges of the segments are toothed or pointed; on the Christmas cactus the segments are smaller and have rounded lobes. The Thanksgiving cactus tends to grow more upright, while the Christmas cactus tends to be more drooping. These cacti are called epiphytes because they grow on other plants in nature such as tree branches or decaying humus on the ground.
To get your holiday cactus to re-bloom, you must manipulate the light conditions. They bloom in response to short days and cool temperatures. In the greenhouse or in the home, expose them to nine hours of light and fifteen hours of darkness starting in September. These conditions will cause the plant to set flower buds. Unlike poinsettias these plants are very long lived and are often passed down from generation to generation. They are also easy to propagate by cutting two to three stem segments, letting them dry a few days, then putting them in a rooting mix.

Add some bright color to your holidays by purchasing or gifting a holiday plant. They are fun to care for and may last from season to season. If you would like more details about caring for houseplants contact Cassie Homan, Post Rock District Horticulture Agent, at (785)738-3597 or by email at choman@ksu.edu

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Experience a Low-Stress Holiday Season

Nora Rhoades, Family and Youth Development Agent

As you gear up for the holiday season, take a moment to think ahead about possible stressors. Explore and practice healthy management strategies. Positive strategies can help you find more enjoyment throughout the holiday season and limit the ways stress exhausts your health and wellness. Contact Nora Rhoades at 785-346-2521 or nrhoades@ksu.edu to discuss your experience and to explore healthy strategies that can work for you!

Monday, November 5, 2018

Financial and agricultural resources available for producers with the Kansas Agricultural Mediation Services

Sandra Wick, Crop Production Agent

This has been a really crazy time for farm families with drilling wheat and harvesting fall crops along with financial stresses with the low commodity prices.  Did you know that K-State Research and Extension has a program called, the Kansas Agricultural Mediation services or also known has KAMS that has been available to farm families for over 25 years to help with agricultural legal matters and your financial questions?  KAMS connects producers with the right resources for any of your ag-related issues or concerns.  The initial contact is with a toll free number at 1-800-321-3276 or 1-800-321-FARM!  From this contact the staff will direct your questions and inquiries to the most appropriate specialists depending on your situation.  Email can also be used at kams@ksu.edu and their website is www.ksre.ksu.edu/kams.

So just what are some of the services that KAMS offers?  There are basically 4 areas that KAMS can help farm fam ilies look more closely within their operation including Agricultural financial counseling, Legal assistance, Agricultural credit mediations and Farm Succession.  An important part of working with the KAMS staff is confidentiality.  This assures participants that they may speak openly and may be more willing to discuss their interests and possible solutions.

So let’s start with the Agricultural financial counseling.  KAMS provides financial analysis through the K-State Research and Extension Farm Analyst program and helps producers determine their financial stability of the farm operation along with developing options and other alternatives that might be considered.  The analysis is made available at little or no cost to qualified producers.

The next service is legal assistance where KAMS has an agreement with Kansas Legal Services to provide legal advice and possible representation to Kansas farm families on a reduced-fee basis, depending on that person's level of income. Attorneys help families understand the laws and regulations governing ag issues that may be involved in the mediation process, as well as their legal rights and options.
Agricultural credit mediations is another service available from KAMS and allows farm families to request mediation for their financial concerns.   The program helps clients prepare for mediation to more effectively resolve disputes between ag producers and their creditors.

Last, but certainly not the least, is helping farm families with Farm Succession.  Many Kansas families are facing issues with transitioning the farm. KAMS can assist with transition concerns such as mergers of family farm businesses, passing the farm onto new generations, division or liquidation of farm assets, and resolving conflicts between family members. Often the idea of opening conversation about future plans may be difficult, but a call to KAMS can help family members start the communication process.

Whenever a producer sees potential risks that may have an adverse effect on their family or business, now is the time to be proactive. Not everything can be planned for, but if evaluated and managed properly early on, the risks involved can be reduced. KAMS professionals offer education and assistance from a neutral, non-emotional standpoint.  Remember the toll free number is 1-800-321-3276 or 1-800-321-FARM with the website www.ksre.ksu.edu/kams.

For more information on the Kansas Ag Mediation Services, you can stop by or call me at any of our Post Rock Extension District Offices in Beloit, Lincoln, Mankato, Osborne or Smith Center.

Post Rock Extension District of K-State Research and Extension serves Jewell, Lincoln, Mitchell, Osborne, and Smith counties. Sandra may be contacted at swick@ksu.edu or by calling Smith Center, 282-6823, Beloit 738-3597, Lincoln 524-4432, Mankato 378-3174, or Osborne 346-2521.  Join us on Facebook at “Post Rock Extension”.  Also remember our website is www.postrock.ksu.edu and my twitter account is @PRDcrops.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Are you Getting Enough Sleep?

Ashley Svaty, Nutrition, Food Safety and Health Agent

Sleep has a major impact on overall health and quality of life, including the way you feel, look, and perform on a daily basis.  Sufficient sleep positively affects learning and memory, metabolism and weight, safety, mood, cardiovascular health, and allows your body to fight disease. Even though there are many known benefits of getting a good night of sleep, many people do not get enough sleep or suffer from sleep problems.

Sleep needs vary throughout the lifespan from infancy to adulthood.  According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults should receive between 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. In general, adults are increasingly decreasing their sleep hours, unaware of the ramifications on overall health.  It is normal to experience an occasional problem with sleeping.  It is not normal to feel sleepy during the day, to have problems getting to sleep at night, or to wake up without feeling refreshed.  If you are having trouble sleeping, examine your symptoms to determine if your sleeping problem is just a minor passing annoyance instead of a sign of a more serious sleep disorder or underlying medical condition.

If you experience any of the following symptoms on a regular basis you might be dealing with a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea, narcolepsy, insomnia, or restless leg syndrome and should contact a health-care provider: daytime sleepiness, irritability or moodiness, difficulty staying awake when sitting still, watching TV or reading, falling asleep or feeling tired while driving, difficulty concentrating, told by others that you look tired, slow reaction time, trouble controlling your emotions, feeling the need to take naps almost every day, and if you are dependent on caffeinated beverages to keep yourself going.

If you are looking to get the most out of your sleep, follow these recommendations: use relaxation training to reduce tension, restrict time in bed if you lie awake, go to bed at the same time every night, eat a balanced diet, keep a sleep journal, get treatment for allergies, colds, or sinus problems, and keep your room at a steady temperature.