Sussex Master Gardener workshops feature hostas, insect safari

August 7, 2013 under Cooperative Extension

Fritillary Butterfly in the GardenSussex County Master Gardeners will offer two workshops in August. On Tuesday, Aug. 13 at 1 p.m., Master Gardener Vickie Thompson will conduct a workshop on hostas.  Learn about these easy-to-grow, shade-loving perennials known for their beautiful foliage.  See examples of several different colors, sizes and leaf styles. Also, become familiar with the many uses for this plant in containers and in the landscape. There will be information on how to plant and care for hostas and what to do when insects or disease attack.

Grownups, kids and grandkids will enjoy the workshop scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 22 at 10 a.m., entitled “You Just Have To Look for Butterflies and Other Interesting Creatures in the Garden.”  A lively presentation and a storyteller will lead up to a jungle safari through the Master Gardeners Demonstration Garden. Bring the children or come by yourself.

Both workshops will be held at the Elbert N. and Ann V. Carvel Research and Education Center, 16483 County Seat Highway, Georgetown, Del. Participants must pre-register by contacting Tammy Schirmer at 302-856-2585, ext 544.

These workshops are free. Come early or stay late to enjoy the Demonstration Garden behind the building.

For more information on gardening in Delaware, visit Cooperative Extension’s Lawn and Garden website.

Master Gardeners are working volunteers and are supported by Delaware Cooperative Extension through the University of Delaware and Delaware State University Extension offices. It is Delaware Cooperative Extension’s policy that that no person shall be subjected to discrimination on the grounds of race, creed, color, sex, age, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, veteran or handicap status. If you have special needs that need to be accommodated, please contact the office two weeks prior to the event.


Mark Isaacs receives John Warren Award

July 23, 2013 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

Award-Mark Isaacs_John_Warren_AwardA staff picnic at the University of Delaware Carvel Research and Education Center in Georgetown on July 16 included a surprise announcement for the center’s director, Mark Isaacs. Tom LaPenta, interim associate vice president for human resources at UD, recognized Isaacs with the John Warren Excellence in Leadership and Service Award.

The award recognizes significant accomplishments and notable contributions in leadership by University supervisory staff. The award includes a $1,000 gift.

“I am very proud to name Dr. Mark Isaacs for this award,” LaPenta said. “In my decades here, I have seen how Mark leads with respect and dignity. I can say that there are very few natural leaders, and Mark deserves special distinction. His passion for the mission of the University has motivated the highly skilled staff of the Carvel Center.”

LaPenta quoted from the three nominations letters submitted as a requirement for the award. These letters acknowledged Isaacs’ passion for agriculture and his extraordinary and visionary leadership.

One of the nomination letters read, in part, “He is a remarkable relationship builder and an astute financial manager during very challenging times. Mark leads with a clear sense of direction and purpose.”

The award was a surprise for Isaacs who was at the Carvel staff picnic with approximately 70 full- and part-time staff present. Isaacs received a standing ovation from his colleagues and staff.

“I am honored to accept this,” Isaacs said. “It is a very big surprise. I could not lead without a great group of people to work with.”

Isaacs has been director for the Carvel Research and Education Center since 1992. The Carvel Center serves as the southern campus for the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, where Isaacs is also an assistant professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences. Its 344-acre campus is an agricultural experiment station and home for Sussex County Cooperative Extension and the Lasher Laboratory, a poultry diagnostic center. In 2012, the farm was renamed the Thurman Adams Jr. Agricultural Research Farm in honor of the late Delaware state senator. Isaacs close relationship with Adams helped to foster key support in state funding for the facility’s growth and success in the community.

The Warren Award was established by the University in 2011 to recognized significant accomplishments by supervisory staff in the areas of leadership and service.

A second Warren Award for 2013 will be announced in September.

Article by Michele Walfred

Photos by Evan Krape

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.


Interfraternity Council, 4-H club assist Blue Hens CAN food drive

November 14, 2012 under CANR News

Blue Hens CAN — a joint venture of the University of Delaware’s College of Health Sciences (CHS), the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) and the Food Bank of Delaware — features a UD food collection bus parked at a different campus location each day of this week to accept items donated by the campus community and transport them to the Food Bank of Delaware at the end of the day.

With the Interfraternity Council accepting donations Tuesday at the drop off location at the Laird Campus, several fraternities and individual members of the UD community combined to donate more than 600 canned goods to the Food Bank of Delaware.

In addition to the contributions made by members of the UD community on the Newark campus, members of the UD community in southern Delaware got involved, as well. The Sussex County Clover Knights 4-H Club pooled their efforts and dropped off their donation to Blue Hens CAN collection site at the Carvel Research and Education Center in Georgetown.

The total on Tuesday came to 737 pounds of food donated, according to a representative of the Food Bank of Delaware.

“The fact that we are getting donations not only from the Newark campus but also from UD sites in southern Delaware is phenomenal,” said Adam Thomas, communications specialist in CANR. “It really speaks volumes about the UD community’s willingness to give to those in need.”

Blue Hens CAN continues Wednesday, Nov. 14, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., with the collection bus to be parked at Mentors’ Circle in the same location as on Monday.

The Occupational Therapy Club will be on hand volunteering to collect donations.

Photo by Bo Waller

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.


WEATHER ALERT-Hurricane Sandy

October 28, 2012 under CANR News

For updates and University of Delaware information as it relates to Hurricane Sandy, check the University’s homepage or UD’s official Facebook and Twitter pages.

In addition to what is posted on the UD homepage, all 4-H events, classes and meetings scheduled at UD’s Carvel Research and Education Center in Georgetown, DE are cancelled Monday through Wednesday. And, the UDairy Creamery will close on Sunday night at 9pm and remain closed on Monday and Tuesday.


Weather Alert-Carvel Center in Georgetown

October 26, 2012 under CANR News

Due to the possibility of weather effects from Hurricane Sandy, we post the following information from the Carvel Research and Education Center in Georgetown:

If events or programs have been cancelled, it is the policy of the Carvel Research and Education Center in Georgeown’s policy to notify local news outlets (WBOC-TV, WMDT-TV).

In addition, if the Carvel REC facility experiences a weather related delay or closing, it will be recorded on their main phone number (302) 856-7303. Please be mindful that telephone service may be interrupted.

Cancellations referring to Carvel facility will specifically state “Research and Education Center.”

We do not necessarily follow closing schedules of UD’s Asscociate of Arts program or other UD locations.

Please check with the following news organizations regarding any weather-related closures. There will be no classes at Carvel on Tuesday, October 30.
Master Gardener Demonstration Garden Cleanup scheduled for Tuesday, October 30 is cancelled.

For other University of Delaware storm information, please visit the University’s main website.


UD Extension Vegetable and Small Fruit Program Open House

August 8, 2012 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

The University of Delaware Extension Vegetable and Small Fruit Program invites growers and all those interested in the vegetable and small fruit industry in Delaware to an open house on Tuesday, August 21 from 4-8 p.m. at the Carvel Research and Education Center.

This open house will feature field research projects from the 2012 season in watermelons, processing and fresh market sweet corn, lima beans, pickles, strawberries, blackberries, lettuce, onions, greens, and other crops. Hear information about breeding programs, reduced tillage systems, overwintering production, season extension, and much more. Preliminary results will be presented and there will be a wagon tour. Dinner will also be served at the event, featuring local produce.

Gordon Johnson, vegetable and fruit specialist, and Emmalea Ernest, lima breeder and extension associate, will be leading discussions.

Please pre-register by contacting Karen Adams at 302-856-2585 ext. 540 or

It is the policy of the Delaware Cooperative Extension System that no person shall be subjected to discrimination on the grounds of race, color, sex, disability, age or national origin.


Cooperative Extension, DNLA to hold Summer Turf and Nursery Expo Aug. 16

August 1, 2012 under CANR News

Horticulture industry professionals are invited to attend the 2012 Summer Turf and Nursery Expo held at the University of Delaware Carvel Research and Education Center in Georgetown, on Thursday, August 16, 2012 from 8:15 a.m.-3:35 p.m.

The program is organized by Delaware Cooperative Extension and the Delaware Nursery and Landscape Association (DNLA) and will feature guest speakers, a choice of workshop subjects and an opportunity for industry professionals to earn Maryland and Delaware continuing education credits in Nutrient Management, ISA and Pesticide recertification. It is an opportunity for those in the green industry to increase knowledge and improve skills.

The deadline to register is Wednesday, August 8. Registration fees apply and the cost is $40 for DNLA members and $55 for non-DNLA members. Registration after August 8 and walk in registration will cost $60.

“Events such as this are great forums for education and networking among fellow green industry professionals,” says Valann Budischak, Cooperative Extension agent for UD’s Department of Plant and Soil Sciences and executive director of the DNLA. “This is the third time this event has been held in Sussex County and the first at the Carvel Center.”

Tracy Wootten, Sussex County horticulture agent for UD Cooperative Extension, is excited to be able to offer local arborist’s training. “It’s a great opportunity for ISA recertification here in Sussex,” Wootten said. “Participants will have many opportunities to see demonstrations and live specimens that will improve identification of problems in the landscape and see beneficial insects at work.”

Topics include:

  • Transportation Regulations,
  • Laws & Safety,
  • Pest & Beneficial Insect Walk,
  • Soil Health
  • Intermediate Wall and Raised Patio Construction
  • Business Planning
  • Safe Tree Removal
  • Proper Pruning Techniques and
  • Certified Nursery Professional (CNP) Plant ID Challenge & Potential Pests.

For a full agenda, visit the Carvel Research and Education Center website.

Download the Summer Turf and Nursery brochure here.

Sponsorship opportunities are available. See brochure link above for more information.

Additional questions should be direction to Valann Budischack at (888) 448-1203.


Cooperative Extension Weed Science Field Day 2012

July 16, 2012 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

Cliff Blessing has been coming to Weed Science Field Days since 1989, back when they were a component of the larger Farm Home Field Day held on the University of Delaware’s Carvel Research and Education Center in Georgetown. Blessing joined the  Delaware Department of Agriculture that same  year “when they drafted me to work  two days a week,” he recalls. Blessing’s farm in Harrington grows corn, soybean, lima beans, peas, sweet corn, wheat and barley. Since working for the DDA, Blessing has left the general operation of the 2500 acre family farm to his grandson Dale while he works with DDA’s noxious weed program.

“This is the coolest day I can remember,” said Blessing, who recalls a tradition of much hotter field tours. Blessing was one of more than 60 growers, pesticide applicators, crop advisers and agricultural professionals from Maryland and Delaware who attended the June 27 session to obtain new information on various trial results and best practices in crop and weed management.In addition, attendees could receive continuing education credits for Delaware and Maryland  for pesticide applicators and Certified Crop Advisers. are  conveyed to those who attend the day’s tours. The weather cooperated with a perfect day to examine trial results, take resource photographs and exchange information with others in the ag community.

Weed Science Field Day is organized by Mark VanGessel, University of Delaware extension specialist and professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, and his team of weed science researchers, Barbara Scott and Quintin Johnson and summer students and interns.

Throughout the year UD Extension and research staff conducts unbiased studies on more than 70 trials (which amount to more than 700 comparisons) most are devoted to key agronomic crops, and evaluate their effectiveness of weed management. Chemical, mechanical and cultural practices are evaluated. Their findings are published in an annual guide of trial results that is made available to attendees and the results serve as the basis for educational programs throughout the year and provide the experience to answer questions from farmers and the agricultural industry.

This year, two new weeds, Palmer Amaranth, Amaranthus palmeri and Texas panicum, Panicum texanum, have been added to Delaware’s noxious weed list along with johnsongrass, Sorghum halepense, Canada thistle,Cirsium arvense, bucurmber, Sicyos angulatus and giant ragweed, Ambrosia trifida.

The goal of Weed Science Field Day is to deliver the latest research to the agricultural community. Communication to the industry is a key component in Delaware’s continued agronomic success and is part of Cooperative Extension’s outreach mission. Many of the plots are identified by signage indicating the particular study and methodology.

At the Thurman G. Adams Research Farm,  trials are conducted with the preemergence and post emergence herbicides to carefully evaluate their effectiveness and their usefulness in Delaware crops. “We have to determine if it has a fit for us in Delaware,” says VanGessel on the application of new products.

Timing of applications is crucial. VanGessel toured no-till soybean trials and introduced system trials using reduced tillage organic grain production with a three- year rotation of field corn, soybeans & winter wheat. Tilling only once a year, the trials relies on cover crops with high- residue cultivation for weed control. It is  a  joint project with Penn State , USDA,  and NC State.

Also featured was a processing vegetable trial with a range of management strategies  including conventional tillage growing many- on one extreme  placing reliance on legume crops such as, lima beans, snap beans, soybeans in the rotation and in the other extreme using little or no tillage with range of grain crops. Soil health, crop growth and weed control is evaluated in this  trial. The tour then moved onto corn trials.

Blessing enjoyed the information and the camaraderie of Weed Field Day.  As the self-described oldest employee at DDA, Blessing, age 87, plans to retire this year from government service, but not from farming. He intends to return to the family business, Water Way Farms and keep an eye on things from an air conditioned office. No doubt, future participation at events like Weed Science Field Day will be on his active calendar. ” Cooperative Extension does a lot to help keep us in the know. They show us what to do.” Blessing says. “It gives us a lot to go by.”

For more information on Weed Science Field Day 2012, visit the Carvel Research and Education Center website and for additional images of the event, visit the Weed Science Field Day 2012 Flickr page.


Sussex County Master Gardeners develop accessible gardening program

July 10, 2012 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

Tracy Wootten knows all about the physical and emotional benefits of gardening. A horticulture agent for University of Delaware Cooperative Extension, Wootten maintains large vegetable and flower gardens at her Seaford home. It gives her a boost to be out in the garden, re-charging her batteries after a long day on the job.

But she also has seen how the pleasure of gardening can turn into frustration for those with physical limitations.

“My mother-in-law has arthritis and certain garden tasks can be challenging for her,” says Wootten. “And, as my own parents age, I’ve seen them face difficulties in the garden, too.”

Helping gardeners cultivate their green thumbs despite mobility issues or other limitations is the goal of Garden Smart; Garden Easy, an accessible gardening program developed by the Sussex County Master Gardeners.

“I would hate to have all the good things associated with gardening — physically, emotionally and socially — taken away from my mother-in-law or any other gardener,” says Wootten. “Garden Smart; Garden Easy helps to remove barriers through creative adaptations of tools, techniques and garden lay-out.”

For example, the Master Gardeners might suggest raised beds for a person who has trouble bending or kneeling. These beds can be made with wide ledges so that gardeners can sit comfortably while they work or high enough so that they can stand (great for people with back trouble). Table-top gardens and container gardening can be solutions for people in wheelchairs or those with other mobility issues.

Impediments to gardening aren’t always readily apparent, notes Wootten. A person might have trouble with eye-hand coordination or fine motor coordination; decreased strength, stamina or flexibility; poor balance; chronic pain; or increased sensitivity to heat, sun or cold.

Even gardeners without these kinds of barriers can find inspiration in Garden Smart; Garden Easy. For example, people who don’t have yards can turn to containers or table-top gardening. And the program is a source of ideas for gardeners like Wootten who are simply pressed for time.

“Garden Smart; Garden Easy suggests drip irrigation over hand-watering as a way to conserve your energy,” says Wootten. “I use soaker hoses to keep up with the garden when life gets extra busy. Otherwise, I’d be out there with a hose at 9 p.m., which is not the ideal time to water.”

Garden Smart; Garden Easy was launched in January 2011, says Bob Williams, chair of the Master Gardeners’ accessible gardening committee. The response from the public has been enthusiastic.

In the first six months of this year, the program reached more than 600 people through workshops at senior centers, garden clubs and therapy groups, as well as public events such as farmers markets and community fairs.

And any day of the week, visitors to the Demonstration Garden at the Carvel Research and Education Center in Georgetown can learn more about accessible gardening. Free self-guided tours of the garden are available from dawn to dusk.

The accessible gardening area showcases several types of raised beds, including table gardens that can be moved to suit the needs of the gardener. It also features hanging baskets on pulleys that can be lowered for easy reach; containers filled with lightweight potting soil (sphagnum, moss and perlite reduce the weight); and benches placed in strategic spots for rest and enjoyment of the garden.

An open house will be held at the Demonstration Garden on July 14. Master Gardeners will explain how to use modify existing tools, such as using pipe insulation to increase the diameter of tool handles. Plus, there will be plenty of specially designed products and tools — like wheelbarrows with two wheels in front.

“It’s rewarding to hear how Garden Smart; Garden Easy is making a difference in the lives of area gardeners,” says Wootten. “One gentleman sought our advice on ways to get his mother back into gardening after her physical limitations brought on depression. The Master Gardeners helped him modify his mother’s garden and now she is back to doing what she loves.”

‘A Day in the Garden’ open house 

On Saturday, July 14, visitors can learn all about accessible gardening at this free open house.

Plus, there will be 20-minute workshops on shade gardening, saving money in the garden and how to make herbal vinegar and flavored honey.

A plant sale will feature perennials, shrubs and trees. For children, there will be presentations of Peter Rabbit’s Adventures in Farmer McGregor’s Vegetable Garden” as well as scavenger hunts and other activities.

The event will be held from 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. at the Carvel Research and Education Center, 16483 County Seat Highway, Route 9, west of Georgetown. For more info, call 856-7303.

Article by Margo McDonough

Photo by Michele Walfred

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.


‘A Day in the Garden’ Open House and Plant Sale

July 3, 2012 under Cooperative Extension

The Sussex Masters Gardeners will host “A Day in the Garden” on Saturday, July 14, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. in the Demonstration Garden located behind the Carvel Research and Education Center in Georgetown. The event is free and open to the public.

Cooperative Extension experts and volunteer Master Gardeners will be on hand to provide advice, resources and inspiration for growing flowers and vegetables, and the discovery of nature in Sussex County.

Other highlights include a plant sale, regular showings of the award-winning production of  “The Adventures of Peter Rabbit in Farmer McGregor’s Garden,” a Demonstration Garden labeled with native and non-native plants that are ideal for Delaware’s climate and growing conditions, free tool sharpening, and mini-workshops on topics such as making herbal vinegar and flavored honey.

For more information, visit the website.