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Agriculture

  • WICHE: USDA hardiness zones are hot and cold

    The USDA Hardiness Zone Map has long been a guideline for cold hardiness of plants. About every 10 years it is revised in order to provide a bit more detail in our changing climate. The most recent map was revised in January of 2013 and is based on temperature information from 1976 through 2005.

    Climate researchers collected temperatures from more than 4,600 weather stations across the United States. They take the average coldest temperature of a location to come up with an “average annual extreme temperature” to determine an area’s hardiness zone.

  • WICHE: All this cold could be good

    A few weeks ago on Ira Flatow’s Science Friday there was an interview with research biologist Rob Venette from the U.S. Forest Service in Minnesota who addressed the effect temperature has on certain insects.

    The ability of insects to survive winter – when so many of them thrive in summer – has always fascinated me. While we would most certainly root for the bees and butterflies, my enthusiasm would wane for fleas and ticks.

  • Groundhogs cast shadows in Shelby, too

    After suffering through more than one “polar vortex” it’s a safe bet that Shelby Countians are hoping that Punxsutawney Phil and his fellow groundhogs don’t see their shadows on Sunday.

    According to folklore, if it’s cloudy when a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day – Feb. 2, or Groundhog Day – then spring will come early. Or, if it’s sunny, the groundhog sees his shadow and returns to his burrow – resulting in six more weeks of winter.

  • WICHE: Orchids determined by the bloom

    Have you ever wondered what makes an orchid an orchid? Well, it is all about flower parts. In fact, most plants are categorized in the plant kingdom by their flowers.

  • WICHE: Plan ahead for spring garden

    Plant and seed catalogs will be jamming the mailbox any day now. I always feel like January ushers in a clean slate for the garden: Optimism abounds among fresh ideas and promises never to repeat a crop busting mistake are sharp in my memory. Sometimes the slate stays clean; sometimes it doesn’t.

    Either way the next couple of months can be used to plan and prepare for the next growing season. Don’t get over whelmed by (or over indulge in) all the catalogs until you actually decide on what you want to accomplish for the year.

  • Tobacco adjustment to be a big winner

    CAMPBELLSVILLE – Tobacco producers who opted for the 10-year annual payments during the 2004 tobacco buyout will receive the full amount of their final installment after all.

    Last year, United States Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the USDA planned to cut final tobacco payment installments by 7.2 percent as part of budget cuts resulting from federal sequestration.

  • WICHE: Plants, snow and deicing agents

    As I write, we are getting flurries, and the forecast calls for some frigid temperatures (by now we have experienced them).

    We have called to have our old furnace serviced to hedge our bets against frozen pipes as the heat pump struggles to keep up with single-digit temperatures. The firewood is staked and ready to stoke the Buckstove for overnight, and if the sidewalks get slick, we have a stash of deicing agents.

    As the winter season unfolds, consider the effect that deicing agents have on your plants.

  • WICHE: Winter settles in

    The winter slowdown has not happened, but it does seem to be around the corner. Or is that just wishful thinking?

    At any rate winter is a time to regroup and plan for another year for the farm. We have some serious infrastructure planning to do, thanks to a grant from Animal Welfare Approved, which will allow us to add some fox-proof fencing for our free-ranging laying hens and some improvements to our sheep pastures that will allow for more organized rotational grazing and sorting.

  • WICHE: Controlling pests on indoor plants

    Have you noticed a sticky substance on the floor beneath your ficus or philodendron? Are there little scabs on the underside of the leaves of your orchid? Maybe you have noticed that your plants just look a little lackluster.

    Well, we can blame some of the plant puniness on being a tropical houseplant indoors in Kentuckiana during the winter.

    Low levels of humidity and low levels of light trigger a response in plants that slows them down, causing them to shed foliage and leaving them in a standby phase until the environment turns more favorable.

  • WICHE: A gardener’s Christmas poem

    Every couple of years I like to revisit my father’s favorite Christmas poem inspired by Clement Moore’s famous work Night Before Christmas. The writer is unknown, but he or she certainly was a gardener. And you may even get some last minute gift ideas from its verse.

    Fred Wiche, my father and the first Weekend Gardener, started writing this column years ago, imparting gardening advice and humor. When he died in 1998, I took up the pen with a sense of duty and excitement, recognizing this column as both an opportunity to learn and to honor his legacy.