Aug. 25: NCC Day in the Garden

August 22, 2012 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension, Events

Join the New Castle County Master Gardeners and Master Food Educators for a Day in the Garden.  FREE, and for the entire family.  Saturday, August 25, 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm.

Master Gardeners and Master Food Educators will be available in the Vegetable Teaching and Demonstration Garden at the University of Delaware New Castle County Extension Office at 461 Wyoming Road to answer home gardening-related questions and share a taste of the garden harvest.

Displays will offer information on the following:

  • food safety
  • nutrition
  • growing and harvesting summer and fall vegetables and fruits
  • freezing and canning
  • worm bin and backyard composting
  • pollinators
  • seed starting
  • and more….

Samples of fresh salsa, gazpacho, and vegetables, harvested from the garden on that day, will also be available for tasting.

For more information, contact Carrie Murphy, Horticulture Educator, New Castle County Cooperative Extension.  (302) 831-2506, cjmurphy@udel.edu

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For the love of limas

May 5, 2011 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

Pole lima beans are a Delaware staple.

April 20 was National Lima Bean Respect Day but in Ronald Dodd’s eyes, limas deserve kudos every day of the year.

The Georgetown septuagenarian has been growing pole limas since he was a boy and says that his father and grandfather grew them before he did. Dodd’s 55- by 147-foot garden, on land he owns one block off Georgetown’s Circle, features 42 to 45 hills of pole limas each season.

Come harvest time, he’ll enjoy pole limas in succotash accompanied by baking powder biscuits, just like scores of other native Delawareans.

But head a couple hundred miles from the First State, or talk to new state residents, and you may get puzzled looks at the mention of pole limas. “At conferences, I’ve met people in the agricultural industry who have never heard of pole limas,” says Emmalea Ernest, aUniversity of Delaware Cooperative Extension associate who specializes in lima bean research. “But there is a long tradition of growing pole limas here; there is a real lima bean culture in Delaware.

“As a plant breeder, the most interesting thing to me about pole lima beans is that it is still possible to find people in Delaware who are growing local landrace varieties that they have selected themselves or that have been passed down in their families.  For other vegetables, even though there are lots of people out there growing heirloom varieties, they got the seed from Burpee, not their grandmother.”

Lima beans are a big business in Delaware. Limas are grown on more acres in the state than any other vegetable crop. However, the commercial market is made up almost entirely of baby limas and Fordhooks, not pole limas. These baby limas and Fordhooks are grown for processing, which, nowadays, means flash-frozen, not canned.

If you want to eat fresh lima beans this summer, you’ll need to be on the look-out for pole limas at farmers’ markets, particularly markets in Sussex or Kent counties. Or, better yet, you can grow them yourself, suggests Ernest.

She knows, though, that some folks may need convincing that it’s worth the effort to grow limas, pole or otherwise. Maybe they weren’t paying attention on National Lima Bean Respect Day. Or, more likely, they still have vivid memories from childhood of mushy, over-cooked canned limas heaped high on dinner plates or school lunch trays.

There’s nothing worse than a soggy canned lima but these days, flash-frozen baby and Fordhook limas are tasty and have a nice, firm texture, says Ernest.

And there’s absolutely nothing better than a fresh-picked pole lima, she says. “The taste of a pole lima is delicious and the pole lima isn’t starchy, unless you leave it on the vine too long. My four-year-old daughter, Irene, just gobbles them up.”

As an added bonus, pole limas – and limas in general – are nutritional powerhouses. They’re rich in fiber, potassium, iron, copper and manganese.

In her own Ellendale garden, Ernest doesn’t bother growing baby limas or Fordhooks – “I am able to get enough of them at work,” she says. But she has devoted 400 feet of trellis to pole limas.

If you want to grow pole limas this summer, now’s the time to prepare. Pole limas have a long growing season and should be planted between mid-May and early June. Pole limas can be grown on teepees but Ernest prefers trellises because teepees can blow over in windy conditions. Pole limas can tolerate New Castle County’s heavy, clay soils as well as Sussex’s sandy conditions.

Ernest starts her pole lima plants from seed. You can buy seeds online; pole lima plants are available at some independent nurseries and farmers markets. One of the most popular varieties is Dr. Martin, an heirloom that features 16- to 20-foot-long vines bearing large, flat pods. Big Mama and King of the Garden are other local favorites. For something different, try the Christmas Lima, sporting a red and white speckled bean that has a butter-like texture and a subtle chestnut-like flavor.

Pole limas need a lot of room and should be planted four to six feet apart. To keep your pole limas happy, Ernest says to go heavy on the watering and light on the fertilizing. Keep an eye out for spider mites and stink bugs; the two most common lima pests. Pod development should start occurring in mid- to late-August, with mature beans ready to pick about three weeks later. Pods will continue to develop into September.

If you have a bumper crop of pole limas you can freeze them or, like Ronald Dodd, you can give the excess to friends and neighbors. “I have plenty of ‘customers’ who like to get some of my pole limas,” says Dodd. “But last year was not a great season; I didn’t have any extra to give away.”

Plenty of native Delawareans – and Delawareans in the know – will be hoping for better pole lima yields this growing season.

Article by Margo McDonough

Photo by Danielle Quigley

This article can also be viewed on UDaily by clicking here.

 

 

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2011 GAP/GHP Training Sessions Announced

February 18, 2011 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension, Events

University of Delaware Cooperative Extension will offer voluntary food safety Good Agriculture Practices (GAPs) and Good Handling Practices (GH’s) training sessions for fruit and vegetable growers in 2011.

The training includes certification issued by the Delaware Department of Agriculture.

According to Gordon Johnson, extension specialist and assistant professor of plant and soil sciences, “For wholesale growers, this training certification program satisfies some wholesale buyer requirements that growers attend GAP/GHP training. For those expecting to go through an audit this year, this program will help you to know what is covered in an audit and how to develop your farm food safety plan.”

Smaller growers that do not market wholesale are also encouraged to become trained and learn about the best ways to keep produce safe from food borne pathogens.

Limited or no wholesale, mostly direct market growers will need to complete only 3 hours of training, while significant wholesale growers must attend 6 hours of training in order to receive certification.

Training sessions in 2011 include:

Kent County

Wholesale growers: 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Thursday, March 3.

Small growers (limited or no wholesale): 6 p.m.-9 p.m., Monday, April 4.

Both sessions will take place at the Kent County Extension Office, UD Paradee Building, 69 Transportation Circle, Dover, DE 19901.

Call (302) 730-4000 to register, and contact Phillip Sylvester (phillip@udel.edu), Kent County cooperative extension agent, for more information.

Sussex County

Wholesale growers: This will be broken up into two sessions. Session 1 will take place 6 p.m.-9 p.m., Thursday, March 10 and Session 2 will take place 6 p.m.-9 p.m., Thursday, March 17.

Small growers (limited or no wholesale): 6 p.m.-9 p.m., Thursday, April 14.

All sessions will take place at the University of Delaware Carvel Research and Education Center, 16483 County Seat Highway, Georgetown, DE 19947.

Call (302) 856-7303 to register or contact extension agents Tracy Wootten (wootten@udel.edu) or Cory Whaley (whaley@udel.edu) for more information.

New Castle County

Small growers (limited or no wholesale): 6 p.m.-9 p.m., Tuesday, April 26.

The session will be held at the New Castle County Extension Office, 461 Wyoming Road, Newark, DE , 19716

Call (302) 831-2506 to register or contact extension educator Maria Pippidis (pippidis@udel.edu) for more information.

Trainings are also sponsored by the Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association of Delaware.

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