Tag Archive: Some

August 8 : Sneak some zucchini on your neighbor’s porch day!

Can you believe it is that time of year already to sneak some zucchini on your neighbor’s porch! Honestly, it is a day to celebrate. And celebrate we should! It is the lucky neighbor who profits from the gardeners abundant harvest. Nonetheless, what can one do with all that zucchini?

The late, Julia Child bestows the virtue of ratatouille in many of her books yet it seemed to take an animated rat in the award winning Pixar film to suggest ratatouille might be something to try. Really! Ratatouille, a traditional French Provençal stewed vegetable dish, originating in Nice is a mostly Mediterranean fare, however, we too have all the local produce to adapt this delicious dish.

How? What do you need? Ratatouille can be made just the way you like it but start with the basics: onions, eggplant, zucchini, garlic, tomatoes, red, green or yellow peppers, mushrooms, and fresh or dried herbs and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Ratatouille is typically served as a side dish, but may also be served as a vegetable soup, or a meal on its own accompanied by pasta, rice or bread. Ratatouille is good as a topping for your favorite grilled meat or fish, or as a filling in a simple omelet. Did I mention it can be added to quiche? Or stuffed into a pita pocket?

There is as much deliberation on how to make a traditional ratatouille as there is about how you eat it. Do you layer it and bake it? Is it sautéed? Is it simmered? Is it eaten as a side dish, a main dish or a sandwich filling? I’ve tried them all and even found success using a slow-cooker.

Try your hand at this simple yet elegantly adaptable vegetable dish.

The provided very basic recipe can be adapted to suit your personal/regional taste. Don’t like eggplant? Leave it out! Have a lot of okra or yellow squash? Add it! Like olives, nuts or raisins? Add them to your portion. Rather not use vegetable oil? Don’t! Want to cover it in your favorite spicy olive oil? Do you have some extra zucchini? I think you get the picture.

Ratatouille does not have to look like the vibrant Pixar version yet, it is still going to garner up gracious comments and acknowledgements from those you love and cook for. Whip up your version to savor today!



2 Tablespoons any kind of oil

4 medium onions, chopped – any color, any kind

2 medium eggplant, cut into 3/4-inch cubes

4 garlic cloves, minced

6 medium zucchini, cut into 1-inch cubes

2 large green, red or yellow bell pepper seeded and cut in 1” cubes

8 to 10 ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded coarsely chopped (or use a can of fire roasted diced tomatoes)

3 fresh thyme sprigs (or to taste)

1 fresh rosemary sprig (or to taste)

1 dried or two fresh bay leaves

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper



In a BIG pot over medium heat, warm the oil. When it is hot, reduce the heat to medium, add the onions and sauté until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the eggplant and garlic and sauté, stirring often, until the eggplant cubes are slightly softened, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add the zucchini and bell pepper and sauté, stirring and turning, until softened, 4 to 5 minutes more. Add the tomatoes, thyme, rosemary, bay leaf, salt and pepper, and stir and turn for 2 to 3 minutes more.

Cover, reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft and have somewhat blended together, about 60 minutes. (slow cooker at least 4 hours on high)

Remove from heat. Garnish with minced fresh basil. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve hot, at room temperature or cold. Serves at least 10.


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/2017/08/07/august-8-sneak-some-zucchini-on-your-neighbors-porch-day/

Put Some Thought into Tree Placement

It’s really tempting to buy a tree and plant it in the middle of your lawn or directly in front of your picture window, but instead take some time to choose the best spot first. Several considerations such as maintenance and mature size should be taken into account before the site is selected.

Mowing close to the trunk of this Pindo palm has caused repeated injury to the trunk. Photo: JMcConnell, UF/IFAS

Placing a tree in a lawn area without creating a bed can lead to maintenance issues for both the tree and the turfgrass. It is easy to simply cut out a small patch of turf the size of the rootball and install a tree, however, as the grass grows up towards the trunk over time maintaining that grass will become difficult. It is common to see mechanical injuries to tree trunks because weed eaters or mowers have chipped away at the bark when trying to cut the grass. Other potential problems are irrigation zones calibrated for turf delivering the wrong amount of water to trees and herbicides used on grass that may cause injury to trees.

Over time, as the tree canopy grows, it will create shade and any grass trying to grow in that area will thin and be more susceptible to disease and insect pressure. By creating a large ornamental bed for your tree, you will prevent some pitfalls associated with placing the tree in the lawn.

Another common mistake is planting a tree too close to a house or other structure. It can be difficult to imagine how large a tree will grow at maturity because it is not a quick process. Trees placed close to houses may grow into eaves and shed leaves onto roofs and into gutters. This adds to maintenance and can provide mosquito breeding grounds. Also, some tree roots may interfere with walkways or septic systems and should be sited far enough away to avoid these issues.

These Japanese Maples are planted in a bed separate from the lawn making care for both plant types easier. Photo: JMcConnell, UF/IFAS

Be sure to research any tree you plan to install to find out ideal growing conditions and mature size. If you plan ahead and use good maintenance practices, a tree can become an valuable part of your home landscape to be enjoyed for years to come.


Author: Julie McConnell – juliebmcconnell@ufl.edu

UF/IFAS Bay County Horticulture Extension Agent I

Julie McConnell

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/04/08/put-some-thought-into-tree-placement/

Some Things are Too Important to Say Nothing: Talking with Your Children about Money

Child Talking to Parent

Bindaas Madhavi. (2011) Listen to Your Kids.

Most parents would not allow their child to play in the street or to touch a hot stove because parents understand that these actions have consequences and the consequences are serious. If you don’t talk with your child about money and allow them to observe you exhibiting positive financial behaviors, this can also have serious consequences. One indicator of an individual’s financial capabilities is their credit score. A poor credit score can impact an individual’s ability to get a job, secure housing, purchase reliable transportation and access other forms of credit.

According to FINRA Investor Education Foundation State Financial Education Mandates, three years after Georgia, Idaho and Texas implemented a financial education mandate, credit scores of participants improved. In 2014, Florida also voted to adopt financial education into its social studies standards for students in grades K-12 and financial education is now a graduation requirement. While incorporating financial education into schools is an important step, parents still play an important role in financial socialization (establishing what is normal in terms of financial behaviors). In fact, research shows that time preference patterns and delay of gratification patterns are set by age five or before a child reaches kindergarten. Time preference patterns and delay of gratification patterns are often exhibited by adults through savings and budgeting. In a recent study by Cho, Gutter, Kim and Mauldin, the researchers found the effects of financial socialization had significant effect on the financial behaviors of low- to moderate-income adults aged 24-66, indicating that the time preference patterns children develop in youth could last a lifetime.

UF/IFAS Extension Northwest District Family & Consumer Sciences (FCS) Agents know that, as parents, you want to protect your child or children from things that have negative consequences whether it be an inattentive driver, a hot stove, or a poor credit score. One of the things parents can do immediately, to impact what their child is learning about money and how their child is being financially socialized, is to talk with their child about money. Some ideas to get your family conversations about money started are to discuss:

– Wants versus needs

– The grocery budget

– Household expenses

– How your child can earn/save money

If you are still a little nervous about starting the conversation as a result of concerns about your own financial capabilities, contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Office and ask about our Master Money Mentor Program or upcoming financial classes. If you can’t wait for a class, check out these additional resources:

Talking to Children about Money:  http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/yf/famsci/fs1441.pdf

Are Your Children in the Middle of your Conflict or Divorce? http://goo.gl/lpXwwc

9 Important Communication Skills for Every Relationship  http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/FY/FY127700.pdf


Remember a family conversation about money is one conversation that is too important to wait. Make a money date with your child or children today!



Cho, Gutter, Kim and Mauldin. (2012). The Effect of Socialization and Information Source on Financial Management Behaviors among Low-and Moderate-Income Adults. Family & Consumer Science Research Journal. 40(4): 417-430

Council for Economic Education. (2015). Survey of the States. Retrieved 16 March 2015 from http://www.councilforeconed.org/news-information/survey-of-the-states/

National Financial Educators Council. (2013) Financial Education Impact. Retrieved 16 March 2015 from http://www.financialeducatorscouncil.org/financial-literacy-statistics/


Author: Kristin Jackson – kris88@UFL.EDU

Kristin Jackson is the Family Consumer Science (FCS) agent for Jefferson County Florida. She has been employed with UF IFAS Extension Jefferson County for four years. Her two major program areas are individual/family finance and healthy lifestyles.

Kristin Jackson

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/03/29/some-things-are-too-important-to-say-nothing-talking-with-your-children-about-money/

Halloween is Over, But Retailers Still Have Some Tricks Up Their Sleeves

holiday items and budgetIt won’t be long before you start to smell “holiday scents” and hear “holiday music” almost everywhere you go. These holiday smells and sounds are a marketing tactic. According to research conducted by Spangenberg, Gorhmann, and Sprott, when Christmas music is played in conjunction with an ambient Christmas scent being released, consumers have more favorable reactions to retailers, merchandise, and the overall shopping environment. Despite this retailing trick, consumers can avoid overspending by doing three things: make a budget, make a list, and stick to your plan.


Make a budget

Ideally, budgeting is something that is done in advance and practiced year round. If you already have a budget in place, simply begin to plan how you will spend the money you have set aside for this holiday by category. If you do not have a budget, make a decision about how much money you are willing to spend this holiday season and stick to it. Some categories you may want to include in your holiday budget: Christmas cards, postage/shipping, gift wrapping expenses, decorating, travel expenses, and items for special meals/potlucks. For a printable holiday budget template, click here or visit the University of Maryland Extension website at http://goo.gl/5957ic.

Make a list

Once you have an idea of how much money you have for each budget category, get specific. Under each category, list individuals/groups to whom you want to give cards or gifts, decorative items you wish to purchase, places you will travel to, and food items you may want to prepare that are outside of your normal grocery list. Once you have identified the specifics based on your budget, decide on the total amount you can spend on each item.

Stick to your plan

Stick to your list and do not buy things you cannot afford. The idea seems simple enough, but, ultimately, this is where some will fall short. In 2013, a study conducted by Harris Interactive found that 57% of U.S. adults with children said they would be willing to take on debt in order to make their children happy for the holidays. When you buy gifts on credit or receive refund anticipation loans, title loans, or cash advances, you are taking on debt and may be buying items you cannot afford. Items purchased on credit that cannot be paid off before interest accrues end up costing more.

Tricks are for Halloween. This holiday season, don’t get fooled into unplanned purchases by the ambient smells and sounds retailers use to entice consumers. Shop smart by making a budget, making a list, and sticking to your plan.


Spangenberg, Grohmann and Sprott. (2004). It’s beginning to smell (and sound) a lot like Christmas the interactive effects of ambient scent and music in a retail setting. Journal of Business Research 58:2005 (1583-1589).

University of Maryland Extension (2013). Stop Seasonal Stress with a Holiday Spending Budget. Retrieved 31 October 2014 from http://goo.gl/5957ic

Lexington Law. (2014). With the Holiday Season Nearing, Lexington Law Examines How Important Presents Are and How Much People Spend on Them. Retrieved 31 October 2014 from http://goo.gl/i3KDXm



Author: Kristin Jackson – kris88@UFL.EDU

Jefferson County Family Consumer Science/4H Agent

Kristin Jackson

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2014/11/21/halloween-is-over-but-retailers-still-have-some-tricks-up-their-sleeves/

It’s Time To Hatch Some Chicken Eggs…..4-H Embryology is Fun For All

 Embryology is defined as science that deals with the study and development of an embryo.  In this project, participants will learn how life develops by observing chicken eggs that you will set in your incubator.  The 4-H club leader(s) as well as the youth will be responsible for the daily care of the incubator and eggs throughout the process.


Children have a natural sense of curiosity about living things in the world around them. Building on this curiosity, students can develop an understanding of biology concepts through direct experience with living things, their life cycles and their habitats.  4-H has always promoted “hands on” activities through its many project areas, most specifically embryology.  This project allows its participants to learn by listening, observing, experimenting and applying their knowledge to real-world situations.


How Do You Get Started? If I attempted to list all the steps involved in the 4-H Embryology Project I would eventually run out of room in this posting. The recommended step to take in getting this project off the ground is to contact and partner with your 4-H extension agent.  They may be able to help you get started by securing an incubator, identifying a reliable source for fertile eggs, and provide additional resources in the form of “project and/or record books” for the youth participating in the project.  The agent will also be able assist with planning your calendar, establishing a location for the hatched chicks and to troubleshoot just in case problems arise throughout the project. There are many different types of incubators that can be used to hatch eggs but working with your 4-H professional to make sure you have the right one for your project is essential to having a successful hatch.


What If I’ve Done This Project Before? If you are already familiar with how to set up your embryology project it is still recommended to inform your 4-H extension agent so they can keep an accurate record of the number of youth engaged in the embryology project while at the same time provide the support and additional assistance that may be needed.


So What’s Next? Decide along with your club members where the incubator will be kept, follow your 4-H Embryology Project Book Curriculum and watch in amazement as the youth in your club develop their curiosity, increase the communication with each other,  and deepen their understanding of science, engineering and technology while taking a journey through an unforgettable experience.

4-H Agent Marcus Boston completing 4-H Embryology at daughter's kindergarten class

4-H Agent Marcus Boston completing 4-H Embryology with kindergarten class


Author: Marcus Boston Jr. – marcusb@ufl.edu

Marcus serves as a 4-H Extension Agent for Leon County and places empahasis in programs in the areas of science, leadership development, and civic engagement..

Marcus Boston Jr.

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2014/03/11/its-time-to-hatch-some-chicken-eggs-4-h-embryology-is-fun-for-all/

Some Corn is off to a Slow Start

One can see variability across the field.

You can see variability across the field.

Lingering cool springtime temperatures have been a pleasure for farmers and fieldworkers, but some local corn fields have not fared as well. Below are a few photos from an irrigated field in the western panhandle which had as much attention a corn field could get.

The producer based his pre-plant fertilizer application on soil test recommendations. Generally, he uses a starter fertilizer, but this year he employed another commercially available product. Dr. David Wright concluded the corn was off to a slow start because the fertilizer was not readily available for corn already having a difficult time in cool, damp ground.

Dr. Wright suggested next year returning to the practice of using a starter fertilizer, but to have faith in this year’s corn. He predicts it will develop normally with continued proper care.

So what is starter fertilizer?  dug out plant Small amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur, and micronutrients are often used as a starter fertilizer. The main advantage of starter fertilizer is better early-season growth, earlier dry down, and with many hybrids, higher yield. Corn planted in February, March, or early April is exposed to cool soil temperatures, which may reduce phosphate uptake.

Banding a starter fertilizer two inches to the side and two inches below the seed increases the chances of roots penetrating the fertilizer band and taking up needed nitrogen and phosphorus. Starter fertilizer can also be used in a surface dribble for strip-till planting with the solution applied two inches to the side of the seed furrow for each 20 pounds of nitrogen used.

Currently, the most popular starter fertilizer is ammonium polyphosphate (10-34-0), a liquid. Monoammonium and diammonium phosphates are dry sources and equally effective. There is generally no advantage in using a complete fertilizer (NPK) as a starter, since applying nitrogen and phosphorus is the key to early growth. If soil test levels for P and K are high, a starter with 30 to 40 pounds per acre of nitrogen and 15 pounds per acre of P is adequate for starter application.

Normally, 10 to 15 gallons of a starter fertilizer containing one-third to one-half 10-34-0 and the remainder as 28-0-5 has been effective for early corn growth. Corn will take up around 15 to 20 pounds per acre of N and 5 pounds per acre of P by the time the corn is 15 inches tall. Therefore, high rates of starter P are not necessary unless it is used to supply all of the P for the corn crop in a field requiring the nutrient.

Please see the complete Field Corn Production Guide for more information on fertilization, pest control, and overall management of field corn. The information on pre-plant fertilizer was taken from the EDIS publication, Field Corn Production Guide, written by Drs. David Wright, Jim Marois, Jim Rich, and Richard Sprenkel.

Comparison of a healthy plant to a weaker plant

Comparison of a healthy plant to a weaker plant



Author: Libbie Johnson – libbiej@ufl.edu

Agriculture agent at UF IFAS Escambia County Extension.

Libbie Johnson

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2013/05/24/some-corn-is-off-to-a-slow-start/

Some Vegetables Can’t Take The Heat But Others Thrive During ‘Hot Times’

Robert Trawick
County Agent – Horticulture
Jackson County

When it comes to vegetable gardening in Northern Florida, gardeners should take advantage of our year-round growing season. Yes, even in the torrid depths of summer there are delicious, heat-tolerant vegetables you can plant now to keep your garden productive.

Popular vegetables such as tomatoes, beans, cucumbers and squash generally need warm-but-mild daytime temperatures – in the 70s and 80s – to produce well. The scorching heat we experience in midsummer seriously reduces the numbers of flowers these plants produce, and always remember that it is the flowers that ultimately become the fruit (vegetable). In addition, high populations of many pests, such as spider mites, leaf miners, beetles and caterpillars, are present now and will cause increasing amounts of damage through the summer.

Once they are past their prime and production dwindles, remove early summer vegetables and replant your garden with a wonderful selection of vegetables that thrive in midsummer heat.

The University of Florida – IFAS recommends a wide variety of vegetables that can be planted now. Most of these vegetables are near and dear to Southerners and form an important part of our regional cuisine. Among them are okra, eggplant, Southern peas, hot peppers, sweet peppers and more. It’s also a good time to start growing your own transplants for fall tomato production.

I’ve pulled out a few gardening vegetables that do well here but this is just the tip of the iceburg:


Native to tropical Africa, it never gets too hot for okra to thrive here. Direct-seeded into the garden now, okra will come into production in late August or early September (even sooner if you plant transplants) and produce until the weather cools down in late October or early November.

Reliable okra varieties include Clemson Spineless, Cajun Delight, Emerald and Burgundy.

A common mistake gardeners make is growing okra plants too close together. Once the okra seedlings are a few inches tall they should be thinned to provide 12 inches of space between plants.

When the plants are about knee high to waist high they begin to produce their pale yellow, hibiscus-like flowers. Harvest okra pods frequently when they reach a length of about 3 inches for best quality, although some varieties stay tender if harvested when the pods are larger.


Unlike their relatives, the tomatoes, eggplants thrive in the heat of mid- to late summer, and you can purchase transplants to plant into the garden now.

I generally have found the oriental types, such as Ichiban or Tycoon with long, narrow fruit are especially productive during stressful summer weather. Large-fruited cultivars such as Blackbell, Classic, Midnight and Florida Hi Bush, as well as green, white, lavender and pink cultivars also are recommended.

Plant eggplant transplants 18 inches to 24 inches apart in well-prepared beds. Production should begin in early September and increase through late October or early November.

Do not go by the size of the fruit when harvesting eggplants. Eggplants are eaten immature and should not be allowed to become old and bitter before harvest. The skin should be shiny and tender. Once the skin starts to dull you should harvest the eggplant immediately – no matter what the size – because that indicates it is getting past its prime.


Although it is too hot for reliable production from legumes like snap beans and lima beans, Southern peas such as purple hulls, crowders, cream peas and blackeye peas produce abundant crops during the summer.

Direct-seed these peas in rows about 18 inches apart, and thin young seedlings to stand 4 inches to 6 inches apart. Most cultivars produce short, somewhat bushy vines and do not require a trellis to grow on. Other legumes that could be planted now include yard-long beans, winged peas (these need trellises to grow on) and edible soybeans.


Bell peppers often produce poorly during high temperatures, but hot peppers and sweet peppers such as Sweet Banana, Gypsy and Pimento produce very well despite the heat.

Plant transplants now spaced about 18 inches apart. Bell pepper transplants also can be planted now through August for production this fall when the weather cools down.


Spring-planted tomatoes are about finished with their main crop, and if the plants are in poor condition, they should be removed to make way for heat-tolerant crops. On the other hand, cherry and Roma types may still be producing well and could be left in place.

If you want to grow your own transplants for fall tomatoes, seeds should be planted now. Transplants for fall tomatoes will be available at area nurseries in late July and August and should be purchased and planted into the garden then. Good cultivars for fall production include Hawaiian Hybrid, Solar Set, Heatwave, Bingo, Celebrity and Pelican.


Other heat-tolerant vegetables that may planted now include cantaloupe, pumpkin, watermelon (these three are a bit of a challenge in the home garden), peanuts (easy to grow and a great crop for kids) and sweet potatoes (plant rooted cuttings or “slips” as soon as possible for harvest in November).

Robert Trawick

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2012/07/16/some-vegetables-cant-take-the-heat-but-others-thrive-during-hot-times/