Tag Archive: Keep

An Apple a Day May Keep the Doctor Away

Apples are an ancient fruit, grown for thousands of years, and belong to the Rose family of plants. The Rose family also includes plums, raspberries, cherries, peaches, pears, and almonds.

According to Professor Peter C. Andersen, UF/IFAS Horticultural Sciences Department at the North Florida Research and Education Center in Quincy, the basics of apple growing haven´t changed much over the centuries. Although many homeowners in north Florida can grow apple trees, there is little potential for establishment of commercial apple orchards in Florida. Andersen says apples are difficult to grow in north Florida due to high rainfall, humidity, and insects during the apple-ripening season, which is late May through August. Apples need a chill period in order to set buds in the spring. Without a sufficient chill period, the apple tree will not cultivate. For more information on Florida apple varieties, check out Low-Chill Apple Cultivars for North Florida and North Central Florida.

Luckily, there are more than 8,000 varieties of apples grown worldwide, so you can still enjoy a selection of apples in north Florida, even if you aren’t able to grow them yourself.

Fun Apple Facts:                                                                                

  • Apples are very nutritious, especially when you eat the whole apple. The majority of the apple’s nutrients are in its skin.
  • Apples are a good source of fiber and vitamin C and do not contain sodium, fat, or cholesterol.
  • Apples ripen much faster at room temperature than if they are refrigerated.
  • It takes about 36 apples to create one gallon of apple cider.

Apple Varieties:

Every type of apple has a distinct color, texture, and taste. There are more than 8,000 variations of apples grown worldwide. Here are some of the more well-known apples that are grown in the United States:

Red Delicious This apple is grown in Iowa and is known for its deep red color and mild sweetness. The Red Delicious apple is finest when eaten whole or chopped up into salads.
Granny Smith This variety has a thick, green exterior with a sour taste. It is firm, crisp, and juicy inside and is best used for baking into pies and other baked goods.
Gala This variety has a waxy red and yellow skin with a golden interior. Its tart taste is ideal for baking or just eating.
McIntosh This apple grows abundantly in New England. McIntosh apples are crisp and juicy at their peak, but tend to soften quickly. This variety can be eaten off the tree or made into apple cider.
Golden Delicious This variety has a soft yellow skin and sweet flavor. This is considered an all-purpose apple that is ideal for snacking and cooking.
Empire: Empire apples are named for its home state of New York and is a mixture of a red delicious and a McIntosh apple. The Empire apple is crunchy and has a sweet taste, however, its texture changes quickly with extended storage, so it’s best eaten at its peak of freshness.

Cooper, Emily. “Apples, a Bushel and a Peak of Flavor.” Food and Nutrition, 2017, pp. 28–29.

There are many other varieties of apples, and all are incredibly good for you. For the greatest benefits, eat the whole fruit — both skin and flesh.

To learn more about apples and their health benefits and healthy eating, please visit UF/IFAS Extension Solutions for Your Life or the USDA SNAP-Ed Connection.



Author: Laurie Osgood – osgoodlb@ufl.edu

Laurie B. Osgood is the Family and Consumer Sciences Agent at the Gadsden County Extension office. You can contact her at: (850) 662-3287

Laurie Osgood

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/10/28/an-apple-a-day-may-keep-the-doctor-away/

Keep an Eye on Your Eye Health – August is National Eye Exam Month

Most of us are willing to go to the doctor or the dentist, which are both part of taking care of our health. However, do you go to the eye doctor? If not, you definitely should add it to your healthy lifestyle regime. Eye exams at every age and stage of life can help you keep your vision strong. August is National Eye Exam month; this is the perfect reminder to schedule a comprehensive eye exam.

The Vision Council of America reports that 12.2 million Americans require some sort of vision correction, but do not use any. Nearly 50% of parents with children under 12 have never taken their children to an eye-care professional.

Many people think their eyesight is just fine, but then they get that first pair of glasses or contact lenses and the world becomes much clearer – everything from fine print to street signs. Improving and/or maintaining your eyesight is important – about 11 million Americans over age 12 need vision correction, but that is just one of the reasons to get your eyes examined. Regular eye exams are also an important part of finding eye diseases early and preserving your vision.

Eye diseases are common and can go unnoticed for a long time. Some diseases have no symptoms at first. A comprehensive dilated eye exam by an optometrist (a medical professional with a focus on regular vision care who can prescribe eyeglasses and contacts) or ophthalmologist (a medical eye doctor with a focus on the complete eye health) is necessary to find eye diseases in the early stages when treatment to prevent vision loss is most effective. During the exam, visual acuity (sharpness), depth perception, eye alignment, and eye movement are tested. Eye drops are used to make your pupils larger so your eye doctor can see inside your eyes and check for signs of health problems.

How often should you have an eye exam?

  • A child’s eyes should be checked regularly by an eye doctor or pediatrician. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends vision screening for all children at least once between age 3 and 5 years to detect amblyopia or risk factors for the disease. Amblyopia is when the vision in one of the eyes is reduced because the eye and the brain are not working together properly. The eye itself looks normal, but it is not being used normally because the brain is favoring the other eye. This condition is sometimes called lazy eye.
  • People with diabetes should have a dilated eye exam every year.
  • People with a family history of glaucoma should have an eye exam every year.
  • Adults with good health should have an eye exam at least every 2 years.

Some people are at higher risk for glaucoma and should have a dilated eye exam every 1 to 2 years:

  • African Americans, ages 40 years and older.
  • Everyone older than age 60, especially Mexican Americans.
  • People with a family history of glaucoma.

Early treatment is critically important to prevent some common eye diseases from causing permanent vision loss or blindness:

  •  Cataracts (clouding of the lens), the leading cause of vision loss in the United States.
  • Diabetic retinopathy (causes damage to blood vessels in the back of the eye), the leading cause of blindness in American adults.
  • Glaucoma (a group of diseases that damages the optic nerve).
  • Age-related macular degeneration (gradual breakdown of light-sensitive tissue in the eye).

Other reasons to see your eye doctor: If you have any of the following eye problems, do not wait for your next appointment, schedule your eye appointment as soon as possible:

  • Decreased vision
  • Draining or redness of the eye
  • Eye pain
  • Double vision
  • Diabetes
  • Floaters (tiny specks that appear to float before your eyes)
  • Halos around lights
  • Flashes of light.


Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 10 Tips to Protect Your Vision:

  1. Get a regular comprehensive dilated eye exam.
  2. Know your family’s eye health history.
  3. Eat right to protect your sight. You have heard that carrots are good for your eyes. But eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables—particularly dark leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, or collard greens—is important for keeping your eyes healthy, too.
  4. Maintain a healthy weight.
  5. Wear protective eyewear when playing sports or doing activities around the home. Protective eyewear includes safety glasses and goggles, safety shields, and eye guards specially designed to provide the correct protection.
  6. Be cool and wear your shades. Wear sunglasses that block out 99% to 100% of UV-A and UV-B radiation (the sun’s rays).
  7. Give your eyes a rest. If you spend a lot of time at the computer or focusing on any one thing, you sometimes forget to blink and your eyes can get fatigued. Try the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look away about 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds. This short exercise can help reduce eyestrain.
  8. Clean your hands and your contact lenses properly.
  9. Practice workplace eye safety.
  10. Quit smoking or never start.

Of the estimated 61 million US adults at high risk for vision loss, only half visited an eye doctor last year. Regular eye care can have a life-changing impact on preserving the vision of millions of people. Be sure to make your eye health a priority in your life. Healthy eyes lead to better vision and an overall better quality of life.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Sources: Vision Council of America  https://www.thevisioncouncil.org/      Center for Disease Control and Prevention    https://www.cdc.gov/



Author: Melanie Taylor – metaylor@ufl.edu

Melanie Taylor

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/08/05/keep-an-eye-on-your-eye-health-august-is-national-eye-exam-month/

Keep It Covered with Mulch

Keep It Covered with Mulch

Do you have a bare spot that you would like to see go away? How about a problem getting something to grow in a particular area? I’m not talking about that receding hairline or bald spot, I’m talking about your lawns and gardens. Many residents have these problems, whether it is too much shade under our beautiful oaks, that stubborn orange clay, or that hot, dry sand. Often times, the best remedy for these situations is to use mulch. Mulch is a versatile tool in the home landscape that provides many benefits while adding aesthetic beauty.mulch Mark Tanzig photo

Some of the benefits of using mulch in your landscape include retaining soil moisture, reducing the amount of weeds, insulating the soil (keeps it warm during cold months and cool during the warm season), improving soil health through decomposition, and protecting plants from mower and/or trimmer damage. In addition, mulch can help protect the quality of local lakes and streams by reducing soil erosion and stormwater runoff. Therefore, not only can it improve your yard, but it can also help minimize impacts to our precious natural resources.

When purchasing mulch, there are many options available. Local lawn and garden shops offer many different types of mulch based on their origin (type of wood the mulch comes from), texture (shredded vs. nuggets), color, and, of course, cost. When considering these options, here is some information to help you choose:

  • Origin. Cypress mulch comes from the harvesting of natural cypress wetlands and it not recommended by the University of Florida Florida-friendly Landscaping Program. Pine bark mulch is produced from the paper/pulp industry as a marketable byproduct. Pine needle mulch is harvested from pine tree farms as the trees mature to harvestable size.
  • Plant Needs. Pine mulch (either bark or needles) can lower the pH of your soils as it breaks down over time. This is great for acid-loving plants such as azaleas, gardenias, and blueberries, but may affect species that require a high pH.
  • Texture. The coarser the texture, the longer the mulch will last. Finely shredded mulches breakdown quicker than coarse mulches, such as bark nuggets. As the mulch breaks down, it adds organic content to your soil, thus improving soil health.

If you want to save money, you can often contact local tree trimming companies for their hard day’s work. As they trim or remove trees, the smaller material is shredded into mulch and they are often willing to drop it off in your yard instead of paying for its disposal. It is best to allow this freshly shredded mulch to cure for some time before placing it in your garden beds since freshly shredded mulch can temporarily reduce the availability of nitrogen in the soil.

When using free mulch options, be aware that weed seeds may be present.

Be sure to apply the mulch in a two to three inch layer in your landscape beds or around trees and shrubs. It’s not a bad idea to aerate any old mulch already present to prevent matting or compaction. This can be done with a rake or pitchfork.

So cover up that soil to improve the look and fertility of your landscapes and to reduce erosion and stormwater runoff. If you have any questions about mulch, more information is available at the Florida-Friendly Landscaping website: http://fyn.ifas.ufl.edu.



Author: Mark Tancig – tancig00@ufl.edu

Mark Tancig

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/04/14/keep-it-covered-with-mulch/

Let’s Keep Grilling, but Safely!

Beef, grilling, cooking, meat, BBQ.   UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

Beef, grilling, cooking, meat, BBQ. UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

Summer brings on the craving to grill and that craving continues through the year! Millions of Americans will enjoy grilling as they gather with family and friends. Whether grilling outdoors or indoors, safe food handling is always important.

When shopping, pick up cold foods such as meat and poultry just before you checkout. Put these foods in plastic bags and keep separate from other foods in your cart. It is wise to have a cooler with ice in your car for all perishables but if not, plan to go directly home. Refrigerate or freeze meat and poultry promptly when you get home.

Thaw meat and poultry in the refrigerator and NEVER on the kitchen counter. For quicker thawing, thaw in the microwave and immediately place on the grill. Thaw meats, fish and poultry completely before grilling. If not thawed completely, the food will not cook evenly.

If marinating meats and poultry, do so in the refrigerator. USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service suggests that poultry and cubed meat may be marinated for up to 2 days and roasts, chops, and steaks marinated up to 5 days. If some of the marinade will be used as a sauce on the cooked food, reserve a portion before putting raw meat and poultry in it. However, if the marinade used on raw meat or poultry is to be reused, make sure to let it come to a boil first to destroy any harmful bacteria.

Use separate utensils, platters, and pans for raw and cooked meat and poultry. Raw juices are high in bacteria and could contaminate safely cooked food.

Never partially cook meat or poultry and save to continue cooking later on the grill. If you do pre-cook, cook these foods completely then cool, refrigerate and reheat later on the grill.

Cook meat such as steaks, roasts, and chops to 145°F. Ground meats such as beef, pork, veal and lamb cooked to 160°F. All poultry, whether whole, pieces or ground, should be cooked to 165°F. Fish and shellfish should be cooked to 145°F.

During the past few years, there have been a few concerns about grilled meats causing cancer.

Some research suggests there may be a cancer risk related to eating meat and poultry cooked by high-heat cooking techniques such as grilling, frying, and broiling. Current research suggest eating moderate amounts of grilled meats, fish, and poultry cooked to a safe temperature, without charring, does not pose a problem. Prevent charring by removing visible fat that can cause a flare-up. Meat can also be precooked immediately before placing on the grill, which helps to release some of the juices that can drop on coals.

So, keep on grilling, but keep your food safe!

Please click here to answer a few questions to help us better serve you.


Author: Marjorie Moore – mreem@ufl.edu

Marjorie Moore is the Director/Extension Faculty in Family & Consumer Sciences for Bay County.

Marjorie Moore

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/07/25/lets-keep-grilling-but-safely/

Water Smarts To Keep Kids Safe

Water Smarts To Keep Kids Safe

Photo Credit:  Vicki Vargason

Photo Credit: Vicki Vargason

On June 20, 2015, a two-year-old boy in Bay County, Florida, drowned in his family’s above-ground pool after being able to get out of the house undetected. Drowning is a very real risk for young children, especially in Florida. Drowning is quick and silent. A child can drown in less than one minute in one inch of water. This year, there have been 39 drowning fatalities in Florida. Of those, 69% (24) have been children under three years of age.

In Florida, we love our beaches, pools, lakes, rivers, and creeks. How can we enjoy Florida’s beautiful water and still protect the ones we love? The answer is simple – but not necessarily easy. Injury prevention experts in Florida agree that the key to water safety is establishing layers of protection. There are three primary layers: Supervision, Barriers, and Emergency Protection.

First, establish a method of supervision and always have a responsible adult watching children who are near water. Even at a party where there are lots of adults available nearby, one should always be assigned as the “water watcher” to keep an eye on the kids.

Second, set up barriers that physically block children from entry to an unsupervised pool or body of water. Effective barriers include the following:

  • Pool safety fencing with self-closing, self-latching gates
  • Door, window, and pool alarms
  • Childproof locks
  • Professional pool cover or net (Note: Homemade pool covers may fail and actually trap children in water)
  • Locking pet doors

Of course, YOU are always the most important layer of protection, but secondary barrier methods can literally save a life. The cost for setting up barriers can range from $ 20 to over $ 1,000. Experts advise that you purchase and use the most protection that you can afford.

The third layer is emergency preparedness. There is a small, precious window for resuscitating a child who is drowning – but only if someone knows what to do. It is a good idea for all adults, not just parents, to become CPR-certified in case of a water emergency. A phone should always be kept handy to call 911 in case something happens.

A 2007-2009 campaign called “Keep Your Eyes on the Kids” reduced the number of children ages one to four who drowned by 15% and the overall drowning rate by 18%. By taking a few important steps, we can do a lot to protect the little ones we love.

References: http://dcf.state.fl.us, http://drowningpreventionfoundation.com, http://nova.edu/ichp/drowning/, http://floridahealth.gov, http://waterproofFL.com, http://flsafepools.com



Author: Ginny Hinton – ghinton@ufl.edu

Santa Rosa County Extension Agent with UF/IFAS. Focus areas include nutrition, food safety, injury prevention, and healthy families. Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from University of West Florida. Master’s degree in Public Health/Health Education from University of South Florida.

Ginny Hinton

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/06/26/water-smarts-to-keep-kids-safe/

3 Ways You Can Help Keep Our Bays Healthy

3 Ways You Can Help Keep Our Bays Healthy

Following a previous article on the number of ways you can help sea turtles, this week we will look at ways that local residents can help keep our waterways clean. Poor water quality is a concern all over the country, and so it is locally as well. When we have heavy rain all sorts of products wash off into streams, rivers, bays, and bayous. The amount and impact of these products vary but most environmental scientists will agree that one of biggest problems is excessive nutrients.


Marine science students monitoring nutrient levels in a local waterway.  Photo: Ed Bauer

Marine science students monitoring nutrient levels in a local waterway. Photo: Ed Bauer

Nutrient runoff comes in many forms. Most think of fertilizers we use on our lawns but it also includes grass clippings, leaf litter, and animal waste. These organic products contain nitrogen and phosphorus which, in excess, can trigger algal blooms in the bay. These algal blooms could contain toxic forms of microscopic plants that cause red tide but more often they are nontoxic and cause the water to become turbid (murky) which can reduce sunlight reaching the bottom, stressing seagrasses. When these algal blooms eventually die they are consumed by bacteria which require oxygen to complete the process. This can cause the dissolved oxygen concentrations to drop low enough to trigger fish kills. This process is called eutrophication. In addition to this, animal waste from birds and mammals contain fecal coliform bacteria. These bacteria are used as indicators of animal waste levels and can be high enough to require health advisories to be issued.


So what we can do about this?


  1. We can start with landscaping with native plants to your area. Our barrier islands are xeric environments (desert-like). Most of our native plants can tolerate low levels of rain and high levels of salt spray. If used in your yard they will require less watering and fertilizing, which saves the homeowner money. It also reduces the amount of fertilizer that can reach the bay.
  2. If you choose to use nonnative plants you should have your soil tested to determine which fertilizer, and how much, should be applied. You can have your soil tested at your county Extension Office for a small fee. Knowing your soil composition will ensure that the correct fertilizer, and the correct amount, will be used. Again, this reduces the amount reaching the bay and saving the home owner money.
  3. Where ever water is discharged into the bay you can plant what is called a Living Shoreline. A Living Shoreline is a buffer of native marsh grasses that can consume the nutrients before they reach the bay and also reducing the amount of sediment that washes off as well, reducing the turbidity problem many of our seagrasses are facing.

These three practices will help reduce nutrient runoff. In addition to lowering the nutrient level in the bays it will also reduce the amount of freshwater that enters. Decrease salinity and increase turbidity may be the cause of the decline of several species once common here; such as scallops and horseshoe crabs. Florida Sea Grant is currently working with local volunteers to monitor terrapins, horseshoe crabs, and scallops in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties. We are also posting weekly water quality data on our website every weekend. You can find each week’s numbers at http://escambia.ifas.ufl.edu. If you have any questions about soil testing, landscaping, living shorelines, or wildlife monitoring contact Rick O’Connor at roc1@ufl.edu. Help us improve water quality in our local waters.


Author: Rick O’Connor – roc1@ufl.edu

Sea Grant Extension Agent in Escambia County

Rick O’Connor

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/05/15/3-ways-you-can-help-keep-our-bays-healthy/

Blueberries Likely Early This Year – What You Need To Know To Keep Them Happy

Blueberries Likely Early This Year – What You Need To Know To Keep Them Happy

IMG_0592blueberry1In all North Florida Counties, blueberry jam, blueberry cobbler and fresh blueberries seem to be a staple. This is because there are many home gardeners are able to consistently grow a top quality product. This year blueberries are very large already on plants throughout the panhandle! The increased size may be indicating earlier maturity than in the previous few years.

Backyard gardeners also desire to grow the same type of blueberries grown by local farmers but sometimes struggle to find the correct type. Vaccinium ashei (commonly known as rabbit-eye blueberry) is a species of blueberry native to Florida and adapted to the late frosts we sometimes get in Northwest Florida during the months of February and March. It is recommended that this species be grown in this area, not its sister species the Southern Highbush, Vaccinium darrowii. There are several dwarf cultivars of Vaccinium darrowii that can be used to great effect in the landscape, but will not produce a noticeable crop of fruit most years.

The rabbit-eye blueberry is a deciduous shrub growing to 3 to 6 feet tall and with up to a 3 foot spread. The leaves start out red-bronze that turn dark-green when fully developed. It has small, white bell-shaped flowers. It produces 5 mm diameter fruit, dark blue to black, with a pale gray wax coating.

Rabbet-eyes are self-infertile, meaning that they must have two or more varieties to pollinate each other. Therefore it is advisable to plant two or more cultivars close together to ensure complete fruit set. Recommended cultivars for our area include, ‘Brightwell’,’ Climax’, ‘Beckyblue’, ‘Tif-Blue’, Powderblue, ‘Woodard’, ‘Chaucer’ and ‘Bluegem’. Old, local plants can be found in gardens and in the woods, due to the fact that the WPA planted them under pines in the 1930s. These can easily be propagated by cuttings or by nicking and burying a lax stem under soil for a few month. Once the stem forms roots, it can be severed from the mother plant and transplanted.

Blueberries grow best on acid soil at a pH of 4.0 to 5.2.  Few pests and diseases bother them, with the exception of scale, whitefly and mealybug. These are controlled with a combination of dormant oil sprays, and insecticidal soap.

Blueberries enjoy soil rich in organic matter and benefit to liberal applications of pine bark mulch. Their roots are fairly weak and should not be planted near turf or other weeds which may out-compete them in the race for water and nutrients. Mulching eliminates this grass and weed competition. In soil where organic matter is very low, such as in coastal sand hills, gardeners should grow blueberries in 2 foot deep trenches filled with rotting pine bark. Blueberries enjoy being spoon fed fertilizer, since heavy fertilizer doses stop fruit set and may damage fragile root systems.

When planting, it is advisable to not include fertilizer in the planting hole. “Blueberry Special” fertilizer mixes are available which are made up of ammoniacal or urea based nitrogen sources, with an analysis of 12-4-8 and 2% magnesium. This mixture is available at many local feed and garden stores. New plants should get one ounce per application in April, June, August and October. 2 year plants should receive 2 ounces per application and older plants should receive 3 ounces per application. Fertilizer should be spread in a circle 2-4 feet in diameter around the plant for optimal root uptake. It does no good to just pour the fertilizer at the plant base, since feeder root are further out from the plant.

Feel free to contact your UF IFAS extension agent  for more information about blueberry cultivation


Author: Matthew Orwat – mjorwat@ufl.edu

Matthew J. Orwat started his career with UF / IFAS in 2011 and is the Horticulture Extension Agent for Washington County Florida. His goal is to provide educational programming to meet the diverse needs of and provide solutions for homeowners and small farmers with ornamental, turf, fruit and vegetable gardening objectives. Please feel free to contact him with any questions you may have.

Matthew Orwat

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/04/21/blueberries-likely-early-this-year-what-you-need-to-know-to-keep-them-happy/

Keep Your Love Alive: Preserving Cut Flowers

Keep Your Love Alive: Preserving Cut Flowers

Valentine’s Day has come and gone. You were likely showered with gifts from loved ones; gifts covered in chocolate, gifts of the stuffed variety, and more than likely the kind covered in petals. And as you languish in the afterglow of affection it would be wise to remember that your bouquets will need to be shown some affection if you intend for them to remain beautiful.

White Rose. Photo Courtesy David Marshall.

Duchesse de Brabant, Tea Rose. Photo Courtesy David Marshall.

Fresh cut flowers are a popular gift for Valentine’s Day and a simple, yet elegant way to relay your affections. Flowers have the capacity to brighten up a room and bring a smile to your face. The myriad of colors and scents are admittedly irresistible. However, after a few days your once overflowing vase may seem wilted and despondent. Follow these easy steps to increase the lifespan of your flowers and extend their potent powers!

Pink Rose. Photo Courtesy David Marshall.

Carefree Beauty, Shrub Rose. Photo Courtesy David Marshall.

  • Re-cut the flower stems using a sharp knife or shears. Remove at least one-half inch of stem to expose a fresh surface. Stems, especially rose stems, should be re-cut under water. A freshly cut stem absorbs water freely, so it is important to cut at a slant to avoid crushing the stem and to prevent a flat-cut end from resting on the bottom of the vase.
  • Put flowers in water as soon as possible. Maximum water uptake occurs in the first 36 to 48 hours after cutting flowers. Place stems in 100-110°F (38-40°C) water, because warm water moves into the stem more quickly and easily than cold water.
  • Make sure to remove any leaves from the stem that may be submerged. Because transpiration through leaves drives water flow up the stems of cut flowers, don’t strip all the leaves from the stem.
  • Use a commercial flower food, they work best at controlling microbial populations, hydrating stems, and feeding flowers. Make sure you follow the directions on the floral preservative packet. 
  • Removing thorns from your roses may shorten their vase life. If damaged during the removal process flowers may be opened up to microbes that could slow down water conducting cells.
  • If your vase solution begins to become cloudy, re-cut the stems and place into a new vase solution.
  • Do not place flowers in direct sunlight, over a radiator, or on a television set. Heat reduces flower life since flower aging occurs more rapidly in high temperature conditions. It is important to avoid all drafty locations because warm or moving air removes water from flowers faster than it can be absorbed through the stems.
  • Keep flowers away from cigarette smoke and ripening fruit, because they contain ethylene gas, which is harmful to flowers.
Red Rose. Photo Courtesy David Marshall.

Louis Philippe, China Rose. Also known as the “old Florida rose” since it is found at many old historic Florida home sites and pioneer settlements. Photo Courtesy David Marshall.


Author: Taylor Vandiver – tavandiver@ufl.edu

Taylor Vandiver

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/02/17/keep-your-love-alive-preserving-cut-flowers/

Food Recalls Help Keep Consumers Safe

Handle food safely and stay informed about food recalls.

Handle food safely and stay informed about food recalls.

Have you paid attention to any of the recent food recalls?  In February 2014, both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued consumer food recalls and alerts for a variety of food safety reasons.  Product recalls warned consumers about undeclared allergens, false or misleading labeling, pathogenic contamination, and unsanitary processing conditions, to name only a few of the reasons.

A safe food supply is important to everyone!  Both the USDA and the FDA have responsibility for protecting different segments of the food supply however; there are other food safety agencies involved.  Consumers play an important part in keeping food safe.  In addition, to handling food safely, consumers need to be aware of food recalls.   Watch for food recall notices in the news, at your local grocery store, and online at www.recalls.gov.   If identifying marks on the food product you have purchased match the detailed information in the recall notices, then you can do the following:

  • Return the product to the place of purchase for a refund.  OR  Dispose of the product following the instructions provided in the recall notice to assure it will not be consumed by anyone.
  • Do not eat the product.
  • Dispose of the product carefully.
  • Do not give the product to others (do not give to food bank, your pet, for example).
  • Do not puncture or otherwise open cans.
  • Wash hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds after handling the product.

The Bottom Line is… if you sense there’s a problem with any food product, don’t consume it. “When in doubt, throw it out!”

Share this educational information with family, friends, and neighbors.   Stay informed, stay safe; check for product recalls.

View the following UF/IFAS Extension publications for more information about food regulation”




Author: Heidi Copeland – hbc@ufl.edu

Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Agent, Leon County Florida
Educational Program Focus:
•Food, Nutrition and Wellness

•Child Development and Parenting

Heidi Copeland

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2014/03/11/food-recalls-help-keep-consumers-safe/

Keep Colds Away This Season With One Vital Step

Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds to reduce the spread of germs.

Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds to reduce the spread of germs.

It seems like such a simple solution.  Wash your hands to keep yourself well during this cold and flu season.  Unfortunately, even though most people know how important hand washing is, many still don’t follow important hygiene procedures.  What do we need to do – and teach our kids to do – to stay well this fall and winter?  The answer is: wash frequently and correctly.

Our bodies are covered with bacteria.  Some cause disease, while others are actually helpful.  Some stay on our skin all the time, while we pick up others through contact with objects such as doorknobs, handles, keyboards, and phones.  Those “transient” bacteria and viruses that we pick up can live up to five hours on dry surfaces.  Touch your cell phone or scratch an itchy eye and they’re now living in your body!

A study conducted by Russell Research for the American Cleaning Institute® (www.cleaninginstitute.org) found that, even though an overwhelming 97% of parents and children agree that hand washing is one of the most important things they can do to keep from getting sick, they don’t always follow through on that belief.  At home, only 66% of parents say they have taught their children to spend 20 seconds washing their hands and a full 33% of parents admitted to not always washing their own hands after leaving the restroom.  While many parents have discussed the importance of hand washing with children, the research indicates that they must lead by example and prompt kids every day if the message is going to stick. 

The way you wash your hands is just as important as the fact that you wash them at all.  Just rinsing them for a couple of seconds and then drying them off helps very little.  Soap is important to break up grease and dirt, which can hide thousands of germs.  Antibacterial soap isn’t necessary unless you’re a surgeon.  Any soap that lathers will work.  Wet your hands, soap up, and scrub your hands together vigorously.  It’s the friction you create that removes the viruses.  Take your time to be sure you’ve removed all the germs.  The CDC recommends at least 20 seconds of hand washing.  Although that doesn’t sound like a long time, it’s probably much longer than you think.  Time yourself the next time you wash your hands.  Watch your child to make sure he or she is practicing good hygiene.  Remind him or her daily about hand washing because it matters.  Get your family in the habit of washing their hands before and after caring for someone who is sick, before and after treating a cut or wound, and after blowing their nose, coughing, or sneezing. Lessons learned at home last a lifetime!

Source:  http://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/


Author: Ginny Hinton – ghinton@ufl.edu

Santa Rosa County Extension Agent with UF/IFAS. Focus areas include nutrition, food safety, injury prevention, and healthy families. Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from University of West Florida. Master’s degree in Public Health/Health Education from University of South Florida.

Ginny Hinton

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2013/12/04/keep-colds-away-this-season-with-one-vital-step/

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