Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Solving the Mystery of Pruning Roses

            February is the month when most modern roses need to be pruned.  Even if your roses have already begun growth, the time has come to prune.  Annual heavy pruning is essential to insure the prolific bloom and long-life of a rose bush.
            Explaining the concept of rose pruning without a live bush to demonstrate on is difficult, so let your mind loose to help visualize the following steps in rose pruning:
·                            Pruning of roses is actually done year round.  Every time you cut off old blooms and remove twiggy growth, you are actually promoting new growth.  There are two times a year when you prune more seriously, spring and fall.
·                            You will need the following items: a good pair of hand pruners (preferably the scissor type, not anvil type), a sharp keyhole saw and large loppers, a heavy pair of leather gloves, a pruning compound and a dull knife.
·                            The first step in spring pruning of Hybrid Teas, Grandifloras, Floribundas and Climbing roses is to remove any canes that are dead or just old and non-productive.  These canes are usually gray in color and scaly.
·                            This pruning will encourage future “basal” breaks which are the life blood of any rose bush.  Basal breaks refer to new shoots, soon to be producing canes, which arise from the graft union.  These should not be confused with “suckers” which arise from the rootstock below the graft union.  Remove all suckers.
·                            Beginning to fine tune the pruning, remove all twiggy growth on the remaining canes (note: the fine tune pruning on climbing roses should be done after they bloom in the spring).  Try to clean out the middle of the bush as much as possible.  This allows for good air circulation to prevent insects and disease.
·                            Now you are ready to prune on the good healthy canes.  If your roses have already flushed growth, it is important to prune each cane back to a dormant bud.  A bud that has already begun growth and is then pruned will simply continue to grow vigorously and bloom very little.  A dormant, non-growing bud will initiate growth after pruning and will produce an abundance of blooms.
·                           One comment used to describe pruning is to “prune to an outside bud.”  This means when picking the point on a given cane to cut back to, make sure there is a good bud on the cane facing toward the outside of the plant.  This will insure the growth of the new bud is to the outside, therefore keeping the center of the rose bush clear and open for air circulation.
·                           Another guideline in pruning back an individual cane is to cut the cane at the point when the diameter of the cane is the size of a pencil or slightly larger.  This is normally at a height of 18 to 14 inches.  If there is the need to prune back to a dormant bud, the size of the cane may be larger and the cane length may be shorter.
           The final product of your pruning should be a rose bush about 18 to 24 inches tall with 4 to 8 canes.  Add some mulch, water and tender-loving-care, and that pitiful looking rose bush will soon give you a shower of flowers.

Shifting to a Healthful Meal Plan

A few weeks ago Wise notes for Consumers pointed out the Simple 7 which is seven easy ways to help control your risk for heart disease.  One of the simple ways is to eat smart by choosing a diet low in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol, and moderate in total fats. One strategy for accomplishing this is to think about where you may need to do some shifting.
       Eating healthier doesn’t mean you have to give up all the foods you love. It doesn’t have to be confusing or complicated either. The 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines has a better approach—make small shifts in the foods you eat. When you can, swap out a food or ingredient for a healthier option. Following are ideas for healthy shifts-
  • Shift from whole milk to low-fat milk in your breakfast cereal
  • Shift from soda with added sugars to water during lunch
  • Shift from a cream-based pasta dish to one with a lighter sauce and more vegetables for dinner.
 To eat more whole grains:
  • Choose whole-wheat bread instead of white
  • Have popcorn for a snack instead of potato chips (just leave out the butter)
 To cut down on saturated fats:
  • Twice a week, have seafood instead of fatty cuts of meat for dinner
  • When you are making chili or stew, reduce the amount of meat and add more beans and vegetables
 To cut down on added sugars:
  • Consumer 100% juice or water instead of fruit punch
  • Have a homemade fruit smoothie instead of ice cream
To cut down on sodium (salt)
  • Switch to unsalted nuts
  • Shift from regular canned soups to low-sodium
 To use oils instead of Solid Fats
  • Dip your whole wheat brad in olive oil instead of spreading on butter
  • Choose an oil-based salad dressing instead of cream-based.
A few more final thoughts for making shifts throughout the day when you:
  • Open a fridge for a snack
  • Shop in the grocery store
  • Stand at a vending machine
  • Pack a lunch
  • Look at a menu in a restaurant
      So what shift will you make today? National Wear Red Day is Friday, February 3, 2017. The purpose of this day is to empower women to take charge of their heart health. I challenge not only women, but men as well to begin making shifts to find a healthy eating pattern that works for your family. Check out ChooseMyPlate.gov or contact the Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Wise County office at 940/627-3341 for additional information.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Food Handler’s Course

Foodborne illnesses can be prevented by following simple food safety practices. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension - Wise County provides a Food Protection Management Training Program that seeks to reduce the risk of food borne illness. 
The “Texas Food Establishment Rules (TFER)” was revised and updated and became effective October 11, 2015.  A major change in the revision now requires all food employees to complete an accredited food handlers training program within 60 days of employment.  The Texas Cottage Food Law also requires that anyone who operates a cottage food business have a food handler card. 
Food service employees and those who operate a cottage food business can attend a two hour Food Handler’s Class, accredited by the Texas Department of State Health Services, on Wednesday, February 8 from 2:00 pm to 4:30 pm at the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension - Wise County office located at 206 S. State Street in Decatur. 
This 2 hour course will now be required for all food service employees to help promote the service of safe food.  The certificate is good for 2 years and is valid anywhere in the State of Texas. Participants will learn about good personal hygiene, cross contamination and time and temperature abuse.
Contact the Extension office at 940/627-3341 to sign up.  The registration fee is $20.00 and covers course materials and an official food handler card.  Registration deadline for the Food Handler certification course is Monday, February 6.  Space is limited. 
Individuals with disabilities who require auxiliary aide service or accommodation in order to participate in the event are encouraged to contact our office within 5 working days prior to the program.  Educational programs of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service are open to all people without regard to race, color, sex, disability, religion, age, national origin or genetic information or veteran status.
The class is taught in English, but Spanish handouts are available if requested in advance.
The Food Protection Management (FPM) Training Program is brought to you by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in cooperation with the Texas Department of State Health Services, and the County Commissioners Court Cooperating.

Private Pesticide Applicator Training Class

A Private Pesticide Applicator Training Class has been scheduled for Wednesday, February 1st at 8:30 a.m. at the Wise County Extension office located at 206 S. State St., in Decatur. The $60.00 registration fee includes the study books. This class is for those individuals who do not currently have a pesticide applicator license, but would like to get one.

Individuals who have a license that has been expired less than 1 year are not eligible to take this class.

As defined by law, a private applicator is a person who uses or supervises the use of a restricted use or state-limited-use pesticide or a regulated herbicide for the purpose of producing an agricultural commodity. The licensed private applicator is responsible for assuring that persons working under his or her direct supervision are knowledgeable of the label requirements governing the use of the pesticides they are using.

Licensing as a private applicator requires practical knowledge of pest problems and control practices associated with agricultural operations.

Licensed private applicators are required to re-certify every five years by obtaining 15 continuing education units (CEU’s) by December 31 of the year preceding license expiration. That includes two (2) credits in laws and regulations and two (2) credits in integrated pest management. Check out the Texas Department of Agriculture’s website for more information. www.agr.state.tx.us/pesticide.

Space is limited for this class, please call the Extension Office or come by to sign up for the class. You can contact the Wise County – Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service at 206 S. State St. or call 940-627-3341.

Women and Heart Disease

A little over half of women know the leading cause of death for women is heart disease. Almost 500,000 women die from cardiovascular diseases, while 270,000 women die from all forms of cancer combined.
Because so many studies are reported in the news—some with conflicting findings—about half of women report being confused about how to reduce their risks for heart disease.
          The American Heart Association suggests aiming for Life’s Simple 7 Which is seven easy ways to help control your risk for heart disease. And by the way, these aren’t just for women; men would do well to follow these guidelines as well. 

1. Do not smoke, and, if you do, quit. Keep trying even if you have tried many times. Ask your doctor about tobacco cessation medications. Visit the American Heart Association’s Quit Smoking website for tools and resources.
2. Aim for a healthy weight. If you are overweight, even losing as few as five or ten pounds can produce a dramatic blood pressure reduction.
3. Become more physically active. Aim for 30 minutes on all or almost all days each week. Walking is a great way to be active, whether walking indoors on a treadmill or outside.
4. Eat smart. Choose a diet low in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol, and moderate in total fats. Healthy foods are the fuel our bodies use to make new cell and create the energy we need to thrive and fight diseases. If you are frequently skipping out on veggies, fruit, low-fat dairy, fiber-rich whole grains and learn meats including fish, your body is missing the basic building blocks of a healthy life.
5., 6., &7.  Know your blood pressure, total HDL and LDL cholesterol, and blood glucose. Ask your doctor to do these tests and to inform you as to whether or not the numbers are within the recommended limits. Ask what you need to do if your numbers are outside the recommended range. 

       Walking is such an important way to reduce cardiovascular risks for both women and men. Every year, Texas AgriLife Extension in Wise County offers an eight-week program called Walk Across Texas to help people get started and establish the habit of physical activity.  This program will be starting March 6, 2017. Watch this news article for specific details.
       To find out more about Walk Across Texas, go to http://walkacrosstexas.tamu.edu
or call the Extension office at 940/627-3341.