Fall 2017 Ag Events

The following Agriculture & Natural Resources calendar printed in the Fall 2017 edition of the quarterly Oldham County Extension newsletter.

oldham county agriculture calendar

All activities are held at the Oldham County Extension office unless otherwise noted. Please call to RSVP for classes held at extension offices.

September Ag Calendar

1 Master Gardener classes begin
4 Office closed for Labor Day
7 Growing Daylilies, sponsored by the Oldham County Master Gardener Association, 6:30 p.m.
8 Oldham County Beekeepers Association, 7:30 p.m.
11 Green Thumbs Garden Club, carpool leaves extension office at 8:30 a.m.
16 Oldham County Master Gardener Association meeting, 9:00 a.m.
16 Indoor Tilapia, Shrimp, & Aquaponics, Kentucky State University, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., details/RSVP via kathryn.mitchell@kysu.edu
19 Extension Foundation, 9:00 a.m.
25 Regional Beef Field Day, Todd Rand Farm, Bedford
27-28 Kentucky Grazing School, Versailles, Kentucky

oldham county agriculture calendar

October Ag Calendar

5 Landscaping for All Seasons, Oldham County Arts Center, sponsored by Oldham County Community Education, 6:00 p.m.
9 Green Thumbs Garden Club, contact office for details
12 Extension Council, 9:00 a.m.
12 Extension District Board, 10:00 a.m.
13 Oldham County Beekeepers Association, 7:30 p.m.
17 Kentucky Grazing Conference, Lexington
19 Beef Quality Assurance Training/Certification, 6:00 p.m.
23 Monarchs in Mexico, Creasey Mahan Nature Preserve, sponsored by the Oldham County Master Gardener Association, 6:30 p.m.

oldham county agriculture calendar

November Ag Calendar

9 Beef Quality Assurance Training/Certification, 9:00 a.m.
10 Oldham County Beekeepers Association, 7:30 p.m.
13 Green Thumbs Garden Club, contact office for details
17 Master Gardener Graduation Celebration, 9:00 a.m.
23-24 Office closed for Thanksgiving
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Oldham County Sunflowers

The following Horticulture article printed in the Fall 2017 edition of the quarterly Oldham County Extension newsletter.

oldham county sunflowers

Sunflowers

This year a large field of sunflowers located next to a busy road attracted a lot of attention. Large plantings of sunflowers are not new to Oldham County but most are not as visible. Often considered one of the prettiest crops, sunflowers provide a colorful display, especially when the plants cover several acres. The show lasts roughly 21 to 25 days, so you will have a limited time to get that perfect picture. Note that the flowers face east towards the sunrise, making mornings a good time for taking photos.

In some areas, large sunflower crops are harvested like corn with a specially designed harvester. The seeds’ many uses include oil, food and snack products, animal feed, and of course bird seed. If you grow your own sunflowers, the seed can be harvested by hand. Remove the seed from the flower head by pushing the seed to the side. It should fall right out.

oldham county sunflowers

Written by Michael Boice, Oldham County Horticulture Assistant. Edited by Lauren State Fernandez, Oldham County Extension Staff Assistant.

Summer 2017 Ag Events

The following Agriculture & Natural Resources calendar printed in the Summer 2017 edition of the quarterly Oldham County Extension newsletter.

All activities are held at the Oldham County Extension office unless otherwise noted. Please call to RSVP for classes held at extension offices.

June Ag Calendar

1 Master Cattleman, 6:00 p.m.
8 County Extension Council, 9:00 a.m.
8 Extension District Board, 10:00 a.m.
8 Equine Farm & Facilities Expo, Lexington, University of Kentucky Extension Forages
9 Oldham County Beekeepers, 7:30 p.m.
12 Green Thumbs, contact office for details
15 Master Cattleman, 6:00 p.m.
20 Ag Development Council, 7:00 p.m.
24 Master Gardener Association Meeting and Rain Garden Work Day, 9:00 a.m., Oldham County Extension Pavilion

July Ag Calendar

4 Office closed for Independence Day
6 Master Cattleman, 6:00 p.m., Henry County Extension
6 I Love Roses, 6:30 p.m., Oldham County Public Library, La Grange. Guest speaker Janet Miller of the Louisville Rose Society. Sponsored by Oldham County Master Gardener Association.
10 Green Thumbs, Contact office for details
14 Oldham County Beekeepers, 7:30 p.m.
17 How Flowers Flirt and Flourish, 6:30 p.m., Creasey Mahan Nature Preserve, Goshen. Guest speaker Tavia Cathcart Brown, Wildflower Expert and Author. Sponsored by Oldham County Master Gardener Association.
18 Oldham County Cattlemen, 6:00 p.m.
20 Master Cattleman, 6:00 p.m., Shelby County Extension
31 Ag Exhibits Entry for County Fair, 3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m., (NEW LOCATION: Oldham County Extension office)

August Ag Calendar

3 Late Summer/Early Fall Gardening, 10:00 a.m. Guest speaker Jeff Wallitsch, Wallitsch Nursery and Garden Center. Sponsored by Oldham County Master Gardener Association.
3 Master Cattleman, 6:00 p.m.
8 Extension Foundation, 9:00 a.m.
10 Rinse & Return for Pesticide Containers, 9:00 a.m. – 12 noon
11 Oldham County Beekeepers, 7:30 p.m.
16 Master Gardener/Green Thumbs Outing, Streamcliff Farms

2017 Master Gardener Classes

The following Agriculture & Natural Resources article printed in the Summer 2017 edition of the quarterly Oldham County Extension newsletter.

Master Gardener Classes Begin in September

Master Gardener classes will be offered Fridays, beginning September 1 through November 17. Classes will meet from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at the extension office. The cost for this program is $100 to cover class materials. Registration forms are available in our office as well as online at oldham.ca.uky.edu/OC-Master-Gardeners.

oldham county master gardeners

What is a Master Gardener? A Master Gardener is someone who has successfully completed Master Gardener classes offered by an extension office. Classes provide research-based information on core subjects ranging from botany to soils to plant pests. Trees, turf, and landscape plant growing principles are also covered. Master Gardener volunteers take the knowledge learned through these classes and put it to use in their communities – sharing knowledge informally with others, teaching, and doing various gardening-related work in public areas.

How do I become a Master Gardener? Complete classes offered at the extension office and complete 40 hours of volunteer service within one year of course completion. Volunteers complete 20 service hours annually in subsequent years to maintain active Master Gardener status.

oldham county master gardeners

Where can I volunteer? There are several ongoing volunteer opportunities at Yew Dell Gardens and Creasey Mahan Nature Preserve, plus one-time opportunities that are announced throughout the year. Participants may help with an existing project or begin their own. A project can be as simple as helping plant or maintain your church’s landscape or providing plant recommendations for a neighborhood association common area. The possibilities are endless.

KY Spring Native Flowers

Home to over twenty-five hundred plant species, Kentucky is a veritable wildflower garden. Kentucky native spring flowers include bloodroot, spring beauty, and Virginia bluebells.

KY native wildflower

Bloodroot

Spring Kentucky Native Flower

One of the earliest blooming wildflowers in Kentucky, bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) appears in the late winter and early spring. This native wildflower gets its name from its red-orange rhizome and the red juice that can be squeezed from it. Native Americans used bloodroot to treat fever, ulcers, ringworm, and skin infections. It finds use in dye-making and is also being studied for possible anti-cancer properties. Bloodroot, however, is toxic when ingested, causing vomiting and loss of consciousness.

Bloodroot can be planted from seed or through root division. It can grow in sun or shade as long as rich, moist soil is available. You will find this short wildflower in both Kentucky’s woodlands and open fields. Bloodroot’s white flowers, yellow stamens at the center, are about an inch and a half to two inches across. A single round leaf accompanies each flower.

KY wildflowers in blooms

Spring Beauty

Kentucky Spring Wildflower

Spring beauty (Claytonia Virginica) is another of Kentucky’s early spring wildflowers. Less than a foot in height, the small white to pink flowers emerge before the trees begin to leaf out. Spring beauty opens in the morning to take in the sun’s warmth and closes again each evening. Its inconspicuous leaves blend in with surrounding grasses. Like many wildflowers, its loveliness is fading, blooms lasting only a couple weeks.

Claytonia readily reseeds itself and can be found soaking up the sun across the eastern United States. Gardeners can collect the seeds to bring a little spring beauty to their own gardens.

Spring beauty owes its name to John Clayton, an eighteenth century naturalist who so impressed Benjamin Franklin that the founding father “granted him free mail privileges for shipping his plants and letters.”

KY wildflowers in bloom

Virginia Bluebells

Ephemeral KY Native Wildflower

When traversing Kentucky’s woodlands in the early spring, you may encounter Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica), also called cowslip or mertensia. Virginia bluebells flourish in sandy and loamy soil and can often be found along creeks and other waterways. Nurseries and seed catalogs also carry these spring beauties. The nodding, bell-shaped wildflowers vary from blue to purple to pink. The inch-long trumpets bloom in clusters. Bluebells grow to a height of one to two feet, and if the growing conditions are right, they may quickly spread and naturalize. Bees, butterflies, and moths all pollinate them.

This Kentucky native wildflower springs up after the last hard frost in March or April. A spring ephemeral, Virginia bluebells only bloom for two to three weeks before going to seed. The foliage dies back by early summer. Mass plantings are breath-taking while Virginia bluebells are in bloom, but they are short-lived and may leave a “hole” in your landscape once they have died back. Keep this transience in mind when planting bluebells in your garden.

Virginia bluebells were a favorite of Thomas Jefferson’s and still grow at the Monticello today.

KY Rain Garden Wildflowers

Kentucky Wildflowers

Native Plants Attract Butterflies and Bees

Interested in planting wildflowers for pollinators? Bloodroot, spring beauty, and Virginia bluebells all attract butterflies and bees.

For more information on using native plants to attract butterflies, check out the following resources:

oldham county kentucky gardening

Oldham County Gardening

Upcoming Gardening Classes

Oldham County Extension offers educational classes, the following of which are free and open to the public. RSVP for an upcoming gardening class in Oldham County, Kentucky via (502) 222-9453 or lauren.state@uky.edu. To get notifications of upcoming gardening classes, contact the Oldham County Extension office.

Hellebores
Friday, March 24, 6:30 p.m.
Biologist Anne Cartwright of the American Hosta Society discusses another of her favorite flowers: hellebores. This gardening class is sponsored by the Oldham County Master Gardener Association.

Wildflower Walks With Tavia
Saturday, March 25
Woodland Garden Walk: 10:15 a.m.
Forest Trails Wildflower Walk: 12:15 p.m.
March is a marvelous time to rediscover our scenic landscape and its many inhabitants. Tavia will share share medicinal uses of plants, how they got their names, any fun strategies of how they reproduce, and “flora-lore” and stories that have been told by Native Americans.

Vegetable Gardening
Tuesday, April 11, 6:30 p.m.
Horticulturist Michael Boice will share tips on establishing and maintaining a successful home vegetable garden.

Gardening for Wildlife
Thursday, May 4, 6:30 p.m.
Master Gardener Mike Guelda discusses using native plants to draw in birds, bees, and butterflies. This gardening class is sponsored by the Oldham County Master Gardener Association.

Year-Round Irises
Thursday, May 11, 10:00 a.m.
Bob Strohman, author of the recently published Iris Red, Iris Dead and member of the Louisville Iris Society, shows how to have irises in bloom all twelve months of the year. This gardening class is sponsored by the Oldham County Master Gardener Association.

Photographs by Jennifer Anderson (USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database), Paul Henjum, Christian Hummert, SB Johnny, Ryan Kaldari, Nicholas A. Tonelli, Sudhir Viswarajan. Used under the Creative Commons License.

Written by Lauren State, Oldham County Master Gardener. Reviewed by Traci Missun, Oldham County Agriculture & Natural Resources Agent.

Adapting Your Garden As You Age

Tips For The Aging Gardener

Love gardening but afraid your body can no longer physically handle the work? A few simple adjustments can help make the work easier, allowing you to continue enjoying your hobby.

Like an athlete, the gardener develops gardening skills through repeated activities like digging, weeding, mulching, etc. We learn how to use tools to get the job done with the least amount of efforts and the best results.

gardening tips

Through my wife, an occupational therapist, I have learned a lot about adapting physical activities to fit a person’s ability. Her background includes work with children and seniors.

I have been gardening and landscaping since the late 1970s. Following my back surgery in 1995, I discovered the importance of proper lifting, carrying, and digging techniques for gardening. Recommended habits can be modified. Don’t wait for back surgery to take a look at your gardening habits. I still garden and do strenuous work, but I listen to my body and take a break, change my position, or stop when needed. Well, sometimes I go past my limit — but not far — and when I do, I pay more attention to my posture. Staying active is important to maintain endurance, flexibility, and energy.

The Aging Gardener

When we age, endurance is often the first thing to go. We can’t work as long. We feel weak, unable to lift and move plants like we used to, and familiar tasks take longer to complete. If you’re having these experiences, it might be necessary to reevaluate the size of the garden or change its maintenance requirements. Reduce the overall maintenance of deep perennial beds, for example, by making them narrowing and backing them with shrubs.

The loss of flexibility is also one of the first signs of aging. An injury or development of arthritis are among several things that can cause reduced flexibility. This limits our ability to maneuver in the garden: getting up and down, twisting or changing position while pulling weeds or picking flowers, and cleaning up dead leaves. Of course, gardening does help us maintain flexibility. Reduced flexibility needs to be considered when we decide what needs to be changed to make it easier to maneuver in the garden.

Additional limiting changes include poor balance and persistent back and joint pain. Once these changes start, gardening becomes more of a challenge, so modifying your garden as you develop it could help in the long run.

Adapting Your Garden As You Age

Let’s look at the garden. What is the size and layout of your garden? Is your garden large with numerous perennial plantings and border gardens, or is it smaller, including just the area surrounding your house with maybe a small vegetable garden? The style, size, and area of your garden will determine the approach needed when making modifications so that you can enjoy gardening again.

Note that annual and perennial plantings need a lot of maintenance because of their constant change and growth rate. Lawns, trees, and shrubs also require maintenance but not as often as flower beds.

We don’t want to limit our garden, build expensive raised beds, and, most of all, reduce the size of our garden once it is established because there are always new plants to try. We should look ahead. Look at what has recently changed in your ability to maintain your garden. What are your immediate limitations? Decide what you will be able to handle and still enjoy gardening. Will you be able to have someone available to help (maybe a family member or young gardening enthusiast) to keep your garden as it is?

gardening as you age

Gardens are a collective of plants that we desired to grow at one point or another. Some, though attractive, are not your favorite. Select those plants that are your favorites and reconsider how to handle the rest. Changes based on a landscape plan can be made all at once or over a period of years. If you decide to do the work yourself, start with your most labor-intensive space. Look for plants that need less attention. Reduce the overall maintenance of deep perennial beds by making them narrower then backing them with shrubs. Another solution might be creating a pollinator garden that requires minimum upkeep and can be mown off once a year.

Reduce reaching distance and amount of leaning forward to pull weeds or spread mulch. If you can only access a bed from one side, ensure it is no wider than two feet. Beds accessible from both sides can be four feet in width.

To make the work easier, use quality tools and keep them clean and sharp. A rusty shovel is more difficult to dig with because the soil will stick to it more. A sharp hoe will cut through weeds easier than a dull one. Consider automatic watering and semi-automatic watering systems for gardening to reduce the amount of hand watering. Soaker hoses and single drip emitters are two options.

Making Your Garden More Accessible

Once you have decided what changes to make to your garden, you can make them yourself with family help or hire a landscaper to install them for you.

The design of large gardens will need to provide easy access to all the plants with wide, level walkways on both sides of four-foot-wide beds. Create shaded areas in the garden using trellises, gazebos, and small trees so you can get out of the sun a while. Benches provide a comfortable place to sit and rest.

Walkways should be wide and level enough to accommodate a wheelchair. Turf, smooth recessed stepping stones, or paving stones make a good surface for wheelchair access. Mulch and loose gravel are often hard to push through and can also become a slipping hazard.

Smaller garden areas can be created using a number of large containers grouped together or as single planters.

Container Gardening

container gardening

Container gardening can reducing your gardening stress, and the many different and attractive containers available add interesting focal points to your garden.

You can also turn just about anything into a container garden. From teapots to milk jugs, wooden dressers to wine barrels, let your creativity run wild!

Raised Bed Gardening

Consider installing raised beds that reduce bending over by allowing you to work in a standing or seated position. Standing, you may be able to maintain a three-foot-deep bed, while two feet is manageable if seated.

raised bed gardening

Raised beds can be a very attractive part of a landscape, defining walkways and providing a more formal appearance. Height often varies from six inches to three feet tall. Raised beds can be constructed in many styles using a wide variety of materials, including treated wood, concrete blocks, stone, and more. Various shapes and curves can be included to help blend the raised garden into your existing landscape, making it both attractive and functional.

Vertical Gardening

Unique garden features like vertical gardening with wall planters and trellises allow you to work while standing up. You can buy a premade trellis or build one yourself. Pots can be stacked or arranged on a riser. Like container gardening, vertical gardening is an opportunity to get creative in the garden.

vertical gardening ideas

Growing vegetables using vertical trellises reduces bending and picking. Many vegetables grow well when trellised. Cucumbers, beans, squash, and melons can all climb the traditional store-bought garden trellis.

Straw Bale Gardening

Another simplified gardening method that lifts your garden, making it more accessible, is straw bale gardening. This gardening method can be incredibly productive. It also cuts out all of the digging and cultivating that can be hard on the body. Straw bale gardening does, however, require several weeks of setup. A good guidebook is Straw Bale Gardens – The Breakthrough Method for Growing Vegetables Anywhere, Earlier and With No Weeding by Joel Karsten.

Reduce Your Garden Stress

Every garden and every gardener is unique. Consider your body type and abilities when adapting your garden as you age. Understand that your garden is limited by your physical abilities and personal interests as well as the location of the garden itself.

  • Reduce the overall size of the garden
  • Trade out high maintenance annuals and perennials for lower maintenance shrubs and trees
  • Reduce the amount of reaching, leaning, and bending with raised bed and vertical gardens
  • Garden small with container gardening
  • Keep your tools in good shape so they’re easier to work with

With these tips in mind, make changes that allow you to continue enjoying your gardening hobby without the stress of a high-maintenance landscape.

Written by Michael Boice, Oldham County Extension Horticulture Assistant. Edited by Lauren State, Oldham County Extension Staff Assistant.

Reference: National AgrAbility Project, ‘Arthritis and Gardening: A Guide for Home Gardeners and Small-Scale Producers.’ Purdue University, 2016.

Vegetable Garden Preparation

The following Horticulture article printed in the Spring 2017 edition of the quarterly Oldham County Extension newsletter.

Looking Forward to the Vegetable Garden

Spring is almost here. Take advantage of the last few days of winter to plan your garden. After exploring the seed catalogs and deciding what you want to grow, map out your garden on paper. This is a good way to determine how much seed to order for the vegetables you want to produce. Whether you are growing a new garden or one you have been using for several years, planning will help improve the quality of your harvest this year and future years.

  • Plan your garden on paper before you begin. A map showing where each vegetable is grown allows you to space your plants for good growth. This plan will help determine your crop rotation for following seasons to reduce the carryover of vegetable disease and insect pests in the soil.
  • A good gardening site has full sun for at least eight hours each day and is relatively level, well-drained, and close to a water source. Watch for possible shading as landscape trees mature.
  • Test your soil every two to three years. Prepare the soil properly and add fertilizer and lime or sulfur according to soil test recommendations.

carrot vegetable garden

  • Plan only as large a garden as you can easily maintain. It is easy to overplant and then fail because it is hard to keep up with the tasks required.
  • Grow vegetables that will produce the maximum amount of food in the space available. The bush varieties are best for small spaces and generally yield a lot of vegetables.
  • Plant during the correct season for the crop. Crops are either cool season or warm season types. Choose varieties recommended for your area. Controlling weeds and watering when needed will keep the plants less stressed and improve your production.
  • Harvest vegetables at their proper stage of maturity. Store them promptly and properly if you do not use them immediately.

A well-planned and properly kept garden should produce 600 to 700 pounds of produce per 1,000 square feet and may include many different crops.

ky strawberries

Finally, the closer the vegetable garden is to your back door, the more you will use it. You can see when your crops are at their peaks and can take maximum advantage of their freshness. In addition, keeping up with the planting, weeding, watering, and pest control will be easier.

The 2017 Vegetable Gardening Guides are now available. Contact the Oldham County Cooperative Extension Service office or download the publication “Home Vegetable Gardening in Kentucky” online.

vegetable gardening

Based on article by Richard Durham, Extension Horticulture Specialist, University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service. Edited by Oldham County Horticulture Assistant Michael Boice and Oldham County Staff Assistant Lauren State.

January 2017 Agriculture News/Events

kentucky extension

It is shaping up to be a busy winter season. We’ve added an event – on Friday, March 3, an inspector from the KY Department of Agriculture will be here to check your scales and certify them for farmers market sales. If you haven’t been through this process before, make sure you take a look at the Farmers Market manual to understand what constitutes a ‘legal’ scale.

EXTENSION CLASSES

Reserve your space by calling 222-9453 unless otherwise noted.

  • Industrial Hemp Seminar, February 9, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., Shelby Co. Extension (includes lunch). Call 633-4593 to reserve space for this meeting. Agenda and presenter information available online.
  • Farmers Market Scale Certification, March 3, 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m., Oldham Co. Extension. No registration required. Scale regulations are available in the farmers market manual.
  • Adapting Your Garden as You Age, February 13, 10:00 – 11:00 a.m., Oldham County Extension. Sponsored by Green Thumbs Garden Club and presented by Oldham County Horticulture Assistant Michael Boice.

OC Gardening Classes

  • Grain Crop – Weed Control, February 21, 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m., Henry Co. Extension (includes lunch). Presented by UK Extension Specialist Dr. J.D. Green.
  • Grain Crop – Economics & Marketing, February 28, 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m., Shelby Co. Extension (includes lunch). Presented by UK Extension Specialist Dr. Greg Halich.
  • Grain Crop – 2016 Season Review & Production Fundamentals, March 14, 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m., Oldham County Extension (includes lunch). Presented by UK Extension Specialist Carrie Knott
  • Managing Nuisance Wildlife – Gardens & Farms, March 6, 6:00 – 8:15 p.m., John Black Community Center (includes dinner). Presented by UK Extension Specialist Dr. Matt Springer. He will discuss control measures for deer, raccoons, other small mammals, plus coyotes and black headed vultures.

kentucky water

  • Living Along a KY Stream, March 16 from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. at Oldham County Extension. Registered participants will receive a tree seedling. Presented by Curry’s Fork Watershed Director Jen Shean and Oldham County Agriculture Agent Traci Missun.
  • Good Ag Practices Training, March 20, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m., Oldham County Extension (Sampling Certificate Info Available on Request)

ATTENTION, DOG OWNERS!

If you own dogs, please make sure you keep them properly restrained on your property. This is for the safety of the dogs as well as for neighbors’ livestock. There have been three incidents this month of dogs killing livestock and poultry on farms. Even the most docile and gentle dog is capable of chasing and/or killing livestock.

Under Kentucky Revised Statutes 258.235, “Any livestock owner or his agent, without liability, may kill any dog trespassing on that owner’s property and observed in the act of pursuing or wounding his livestock.” Help prevent these problems by keeping your dogs confined to your property. Problems with dogs running loose may be reported to Oldham County Animal Control, 222-7387.

KY Forests

CONSERVATION DISTRICT TREE GIVEAWAY

Oldham County Conservation District will host their Arbor Day Tree Giveaway for Oldham County residents on March 25 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. (or when all are trees are gone). The event will be held at their office, 700 West Jefferson Street in La Grange. These are the trees they plan to have available: Cypress, Eastern Redbud, Yellow Poplar, Wild Plum, White Oak, Pin Oak, KY Coffeetree, White Pine, Northern Red Oak, Pawpaw, Hazelnut, Chestnut Oak. Any questions should be directed to Andrea at 222-5123 or oldhamswcd@gmail.com.

WHAT DO EXTENSION AGENTS DO IN WINTER?

  • Like many producers, agriculture agents attend classes and conferences to learn new practices to improve production. We also host and teach quite a few programs.
  • Agents still make farm visits in the winter. So far this month I’ve looked at property with new landowners to help them decide potential uses based on their interests. I’ve also visited several farms to pull hay samples for testing.
  • Agents often take leadership roles with different commodity groups, and winter is always a busy meeting season. I have the honor of serving as the Kentucky Forage & Grassland Council president this year. KFGC works closely with UK Extension to offer field days, grazing workshops, and conferences that will benefit producers. There are several coming up that will be of interest. If you would like to join or want to talk more about benefits of membership, just give me a call.
  • Agents like me often eat too much fattening food with the advent of hibernating weather. If you fall in that category, check out some healthy recipe ideas from my co-worker Chris Duncan.

FRUIT PRODUCTION INFO

growing apples

SCHOLARSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

  • Oldham Co. Conservation District is accepting applications for the H. Glenn Watson scholarship – applications must be postmarked by February 1. Contact Andrea at 222-5123 or oldhamswcd@gmail.com to get an application. (For Oldham County high school seniors only)
  • Louisville Agricultural Club is offering scholarships – see their web page for details, guidelines and applications.
  • Kentucky Ag in the Classroom offers a list of several other ag scholarships.

Written by Traci Missun, Agriculture & Natural Resources Agent at Oldham County Cooperative Extension. Traci addresses a variety of topics including farming, crops, pastures, and natural resources such as water and forestry.

Kentucky Native Fruit Trees

Fruit Trees Native to Kentucky

Apples, bananas, oranges, pears, peaches, and grapes ─ we eat these common fruits every day. Local sources for these fruits, however, can be difficult to find due to their preference for a longer, warmer growing season. Kentucky native fruit trees are adapted to grow in our varying soil types and withstand our unpredictable weather.

KY Native Fruit Trees

KY native plum

American Plum (Prunus americana)

The winter-hardy American Plum is a small tree, reaching a mature height of only fifteen feet. It grows wild across the eastern two-thirds of North America, forming thorny thickets that provide habitats for birds and other wildlife. The red to yellow fruit is popular with deer as well as humans. Kentucky plums can be eaten fresh or using in baking and canning. Due to unreliability of fruit production in Kentucky, plums are usually only commercially grown as a secondary crop.

Other names for the American Plum include American wild plum, Osage plum, river plum, thorn plum, wild yellow plum, red plum, August plum, and goose plum.

KY black cherry tree

Black Cherry (Prunus serotina)

The Black Cherry Tree produces Kentucky’s largest cherries which ripen in August and September. The bitter-sweet fruit is popular for jelly and wine making. Birds help spread Black Cherry seeds, but it also readily self-seeds. It can tolerant a wide variety of soils and conditions, the exception being full shade. Mature trees often reach a height of fifty to sixty feet. Black Cherry wood is hard, close-grained, and strong, making it popular in woodworking.

Farmers should note that this tree’s bark, leaves, and twigs are poisonous to livestock. Deer, however, can eat the leaves without problem.

KY native pawpaw fruit

Pawpaw (Asimina triloba)

Found in wooded areas, the Kentucky native Pawpaw is the largest native fruit in North America. Pawpaws are commonly described as tasting like a mix of banana and mango or pineapple. The fruit has high nutritional value, being an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and protein. Pawpaw fruit surpass apples, grapes, and peaches in magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and sulfur. Wildlife such as birds, raccoons, and opossums enjoy the fruit, and zebra swallowtail butterfly larva feed on young pawpaw foliage. With some effort, you can grow pawpaws from seed.

Most pawpaw trees grow fifteen to twenty feet in height but can reach up to forty feet if conditions are optimal. The champion Kentucky pawpaw is in Letcher County.

Kentucky State University, one of Kentucky’s land-grant universities, is home to the world’s only full-time pawpaw research program. In 2009, the horticulture program released ‘KSU-Atwood,’ a new pawpaw variety named after Rufus B. Atwood who served as college presdent from 1929 to 1962. This variety is a heavy producer ─ more than 150 fruits from a single tree!

KY native persimmon

Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana)

Native Persimmon trees grow in Kentucky’s woodlands. Tolerating a range of pH levels, persimmons prefer moist, well-drained soil but can flourish in dry areas as well. Its interesting bark is thick, grey to black in color, and broken up in scaly, square blocks. The wood is very hard and has found use as golf clubs and flooring. When the berry ripens in the fall, the skin turns wrinkly, and persimmons become edible to humans. Persimmons taste similar to dates and can be used in breads, cakes, puddings, and beverages. You can also eat persimmons fresh or dried.

Cooking oil can be extracted from persimmon seeds. During the Civil War, Confederate soldiers boiled the seeds in substitution for coffee.

Winter-hardy and adaptable, Kentucky persimmon trees suffer few pests and diseases. Some trees further south may be susceptible to vascular wilt. It can develop black leaf spot, and tent caterpillars can be problematic.

KY native sassafras

Sassafras (Sassafras albidum)

Common across Kentucky, Native Sassafras is readily seeded by birds which love its fruit. The dark blue berries contrast beautifully to the bright red stems on which they grow. Sassafras trees thrive in moist, well-drained, acidic soil with full sun to partial shade but can also tolerate drier, rockier soil. Filé, a Creole spice used in gumbo, is made by grinding dried sassafras leaves. The fragrant bark and roots have been used to make tea and root beer but contain an oil called safrole, a proven carcinogen in mice and rats. In 1960, the Food and Drug Administration banned direct use of safrole in food although spices are still permissible.

Most sassafras trees mature to a height of thirty to sixty feet with a spread of twenty-five to forty feet. The national champion sassafras ─ located in Owensboro, Kentucky ─ is seventy-eight feet tall with a sixty-nine-foot spread.

KY Native Berry Fruits

KY native elderberry

American Black Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis)

Only four to twelve feet in height, the American Black Elderberry forms thickets that provide habitat to more than fifty species of birds and small mammals. White-tailed deer feed on the twigs, foliage, and fruit. Purple-black American elderberries taste slightly bitter and make a crimson juice, finding use in wine, jellies, and pies. The shrub grows best in full sun but can also be found along streams and on forest floors. Its hard wood can be crafted into combs, spindles, and pegs. The twigs can fruit are also used as dyes in basket-making.

Elderberry trees grow best from seed which must be scarified prior to planting due to the hard seed coat. Without scarification, the seed may not germinate for two to five years after planting. The hard coat protects the seed when wildlife ingest the fruit. If properly stored, elderberry seeds may remain viable for up to sixteen years.

KY native mulberry tree

Red Mulberry (Morus rubra)

Hardy Red Mulberry trees prefer full sun but will tolerate shade as well as a variety of soil and weather conditions. They thrive in moist, deep, rich soil. Birds love the sweet fruit which resemble thin blackberries. Red mulberries can be eaten fresh or used in jellies, wines, and desserts. These native trees can grow over sixty feet tall and require heavy pruning to maintain a suitable height for fruit harvest, so red mulberry trees are not commercially grown for fruit production. Some varieties, however, are grown for their ornamental value.

The mulberry, once known as the “King of the Tree Crops,” is now considered a messy, weedy tree unsuitable for the well-manicured landscape.

KY Native Serviceberry

Downy Serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea)

Of the three Kentucky native serviceberries, Downy Serviceberry is mainly planted as an ornamental. Its wood is both heavy (the heaviest in the U.S.) and hard, making excellent tool handles. Serviceberry trees grow in full sun or partial shade and prefer moist but well-drained soil. The red-purple fruit tastes somewhat like blueberries. Serviceberries can be eaten fresh, baked in pies, or dried like raisins. Forty or more bird species favor serviceberries as well as mammals big and small. It is a common understory tree.

The serviceberry gets its name from funeral/memorial services. Kentucky serviceberries flower in early spring (two weeks before the dogwood) and has been used as an indicator, legend has it, that it is warm enough outside to dig a grave for a funeral service. The nickname “sarvisberry” comes from the Appalachian pronunciation of the word “service” as “sarvis.”

Photographs used under the Creative Commons Attribution License. Photographers: Julie Makin, Homer Edward Price, Rasbak, Phyzome, Scott Bauer, MONGO, Asit K. Ghosh, VasiDgallery, sbmdstock, Franz Eugen Köhler, James Steakley, H. Zell, and Аимаина хикари.

Written by Lauren State, Oldham County Master Gardener. Reviewed by Michael Boice, Oldham County Horticulture Assistant.

KY Native Plants in Bloom

Home to over twenty-five hundred plant species, Kentucky is a veritable wildflower garden. Kentucky native fall flowers include aster, goldenrod, and ironweed.

KY native aster

Aster

Fall Kentucky Native Flower

Several species of aster grow in Kentucky, including smooth blue aster, aromatic aster, New England aster, and white panicle aster.

Kentucky asters bloom from summer to fall in multiple colors: violet, white, blue, and pink. Depending on species and variety, they can grow from eighteen inches to five feet tall. Height can be controlled by pruning during summer, before buds develop. Be careful to remove no more than one-fourth of the total height at a time so as not to overstress the plants.

Asters are prone to powdery mildew and verticillium wilt, especially when overcrowded. Prevent these diseases by providing the plants with good air movement. Asters grow best in full sun but can tolerate partial shade.

KY native goldenrod

Goldenrod (Solidago)

Kentucky Native Flower in Bloom

Goldenrod, Kentucky’s state flower, blooms in the late summer and early fall. Thirty-one species of goldenrod are native to Kentucky, including two endangered species: White-Haired Goldenrod and Short’s Goldenrod.

It is a common misconception that goldenrod is responsible for fall allergies. In truth, it is the inconspicuous ragweed, blooming at the same time, that causes hay fever. Green and weedy in appearance, ragweed blends right into its surroundings. Its tiny, green flowers release waves of pollen into the air, contributing largely to fall allergies. Goldenrod, on the other hand, is insect-pollinated and therefore not the culprit of your allergic reaction.

Goldenrod blooms in full sun from late summer to early fall. Species vary from two to five feet in height. Some varieties will aggressively take over a garden, so goldenrod is not a common landscape plant. They are susceptible to several diseases, but most are easily avoidable if proper air circulation is provided and good watering practices are used.

KY native ironweed

Ironweed (Vernonia)

Kentucky Native Wildflower

From late summer through early fall, ironweed blooms in fields and along roads all across Kentucky. The most common species in the state is Tall Ironweed, but Missouri Ironweed and New York Ironweed also grow in some regions.

Ironweed can grow between four and six feet tall, but pruning in June can help keep the size manageable. It prefers growing in full sun and well-drained, moist soil. Few pests and diseases affect this Kentucky native wildflower. With an aggressively spreading root system, ironweed is perhaps the most troublesome pasture weed in Kentucky. Livestock avoid it due to its bitter taste.

Kentucky Wildflowers

Native Plants Attract Butterflies and Bees

Interested in planting wildflowers for pollinators? Aster, goldenrod, and ironweed all attract butterflies and bees.

For more information on using native plants to attract butterflies, check out the following resources:

Photographs by Greg Hume and SteampunkGypsy. Used under the Creative Commons License.

Written by Lauren State, Oldham County Master Gardener. Reviewed by Traci Missun, Oldham County Agriculture & Natural Resources Agent.