A very unusual hay year in Johnson County


By Rick Thomason

UT/TSU-Johnson County Extension Director

It was so good seeing lots of hay harvested during the last two weeks of May this year. In the 40 plus years, I’ve been living and working in Johnson County, I’ve never seen haymaking weather as good in the month of May as it was this year.
In Hamblen County, where I grew up, we always started putting up our hay in May. However, in the mountains, the weather usually doesn’t cooperate with us enough to put up hay this early. It is either not hot enough to cure the hay, which means that you have to leave it mowed down in the field for a longer period or it rains every other day which increases the risk for getting the hay damaged.
This year, however, we had two good weeks of hot, dry weather for farmers to get in their hay fields early. I sure hope that you took advantage of this time to put up some of your hay crops. Your livestock will undoubtedly appreciate it this winter when you start feeding them this hay.
Now, why is this so important to get the hay up this early? The stage of growth greatly influences hay quality.
When grasses are in what we call their vegetative or leafy state that is when they are the most nutritious for feeding livestock. Once the grasses start into their reproductive stage (making seed heads), the quality of the hay drops significantly.
Most years in Johnson County due to our weather, the hay crop gets overripe before our farmers have a chance to get it harvested. This makes for some poor quality hay to feed the livestock in the winter. The hay has large sturdy stems and is not very nutritious, which means that the farmers have to supplement it with some grain.
Another good reason to get the hay up early is that with our short growing season in the mountains, this will allow for more re-growth this summer to use for a second cutting of hay this fall. If you were one of the ones who got up some of your hay crops during the last two weeks of May, I would highly encourage you to get the bales out of the field as soon as possible so that it won’t hinder the re-growth of the grasses in your hay field. I don’t like to see rolls of hay left sitting in the fields for weeks and even months in the summer.
It is recommended that you store your hay inside if at all possible to preserve the quality of your hay. Just make sure the hay is dry before storing it in the barn. High moisture will cause the bales to heat up, which increases the chance of barn fires.
If it is necessary to store some hay outdoors, try to keep it off the ground using pallets or large stones and covered with a tarp if possible. Do not store hay in fencerows, under trees or in the shade of buildings as this increases spoilage of your hay. Arrange your hay rolls with the ends facing north to south and if the bales are going to be left uncovered, leave some space between your hay rolls to allow for more air movement. Hay rolls stored outside uncovered will have losses of about 1/3, so feed these to your livestock first this winter.

June is National Dairy Month

Tennessee has approximately 205 dairy farms and Dairy cows in the state to produce nearly 73.7 million gallons of milk per year. Photo by Bill Ward.

By Leigh Anne Shull
Farm Bureau Women

The Johnson County Farm Bureau Women would like to encourage the support and recognition of June Dairy Month.
June Dairy Month began in 1937 as “National Milk Month” to encourage drinking milk.
Today, the state of Tennessee has approximately 205 dairy farms according to the Dairy Alliance of Tennessee.
The top five milk-producing counties in Tennessee include Bedford, Bradley, Loudon, McMinn and Monroe.
Dairy cows in Tennessee provide an average of 1,992 gallons of milk per year, in which the total amount of milk produced within the state is 73.7 million gallons. In the year 2018, 98 percent of all milk produced in Tennessee was used and consumed in the form of fluid milk.
There are many beneficial reasons to support the dairy industry which include: Milk is produced in every state and is the perfect example of a fresh, farm-to- table product. It is also nutritious.
Milk, cheese and other dairy foods are simple, easy ways to get the energy and nutrients that your family needs.
The next time one puts milk on cereal, put cheese on pizza, or eat a cup of yogurt or ice cream, it might be a good idea to think about the dairy farmers who make it possible for all to enjoy these delicious products throughout the year.
Anyone interested in becoming involved in the Farm Bureau Women of Johnson County may email fbwjoco@gmail.com for more information.

Yards to Paradise — Why put trees in yards?

By Max Phelps

Many newly constructed homes look like plastic houses from a Monopoly game—all alike, and all rowed up along the street. (If a large healthy native tree or two could have been left, that would have helped immensely.)
These homes, along with fresh concrete drives, walks or patios, and fresh unpainted decks of treated pine, almost have the appearance of a skeleton with naked bones. It’s little wonder most cities now require a few shrubs or trees be planted. (Unfortunately, most designers or builders are only interested in meeting the technicalities, not in pretty landscaping, so good intentions have not translated into eliminating the Monopoly house look hardly at all. Two maple trees and six shrubs does not a good landscape make!)
Why put trees in yards? And why are two red maples or two callery pears not good landscaping? Some folks just want to get out of where they are and into a new home, and I get that. But, with time, there is the need to make the yard look more natural, like it probably did before the land was cleared and the bulldozers flattened the hills (and the topsoil was scooped up and sold). Most homeowners eventually want to apply their personality, or that of their spouse, to the yard and dress it to compliment the house.
This is really when the trees should be planted; this is where planting trees can be justified. When the owners are ready to make the place look more like an individualized paradise rather than a cookie cutter house.
Trees play many useful roles in the landscape. They can frame the house to show it off better, or they can be planted to hide the house from the street. Moderating the temperature with shade, moderating the wind with a windbreak, creating privacy, screening eyesores, attracting wildlife, producing fruit or nuts, are some of the ways trees can be used to meet our needs as homeowners. Then, there is also simply personal preference or likes.
Well placed and carefully chosen trees can add greatly to the looks and comforts of a home. Be sure to select a tree or two that will age to perfection; most fast-growing trees become problems in 20 or 30 years. Try mixing up the trees, for diversity is good for many reasons.
Specimen trees can add much to a yard’s looks. But, “specimen” by definition, isn’t “several”. Rather, it’s one tree that is outstanding. (Any nurseryman that tries to sell you on several specimen trees at one time is thinking of his next vacation more than how your yard will benefit!)
Shade trees are what the name says; they provide shade. Any large tree can be a ‘shade’ tree. Even evergreen trees—although they typically are recommended for the north or west side of the house.
What are some good shade trees? Well, it depends on where you live. Trees that are planted for shade in Ohio are not the same as those planted in Florida. In in my area, oaks, maples, sweet or black gum, tulip poplar, and the ubiquitous Bradford pear are used extensively. Sycamore, linden, elms, catalpa, buckeye, walnut, hickory, ash (until the borer problem), cypress, willow and zelkova are sometimes chosen. Southern magnolias, America hollies, pines, firs and spruces are evergreen options.
Breaking the wind from hitting your house full strength is best done with shrubbery, trees in the middle, then more shrubbery…a multi-layered planting. True windbreaks are planted some distance from the house…certainly not close enough that they would blow down and damage the home.
Screening either things we don’t want to look at, or to keep others from looking in on us, this is what we mean by planting trees for screening purposes. There are so many possibilities, so I’ll not try to list them. Both big trees, small trees, or shrubbery can be employed in screening. Even large clumps of grass or lawn ornaments or outdoor structures can serve in this function.
Greenery is good at muffling noises. Planting a row of trees or a hedge between you and traffic, the neighbor’s parties, or even between a cozy spot and your own home, can help with enjoying your place. Plus, the greenery cleans air pollution. (Well, some trees contribute pollen which is called pollution at times I suppose. Female trees would be best in that regard, but most people select males because of no nuts or seeds and make pollen problems worse.)
Shrubs (shrubby little trees, really) are useful where something tall isn’t required. Hiding the trash cans, doghouse, or gas tank come to mind. And, in a large lovely layered landscape, tall, medium and short plants create the most luxurious look.
Wildlife prefers less lawn and more trees. For food, shelter, nesting, hiding, and various other reasons.
Trees make our homes prettier, and our neighbors nicer. Another good reason to plant trees.
Spending a few hundred dollars on trees to make your two hundred thousand dollar home look better is a no-brainer! Even the tiny cottage benefits from good greenery around it.
Hiring professional help can get it done speedily and correctly, but if economics is a factor, small trees from a nursery or even those from a mail order house that come in a big box can work out fine. And our grandparents simply went to the woods or roadside and dug up something and took it home and planted it in their yard.
Fleshing out the seleton of your place with trees and shrubs should be a fun adventure. Think of it as putting clothes on a naked body, and it will take on more appleal
if you’re having trouble getting excited about tree

Invasive tick detected in Tennessee

The Asian longhorned tick has now spread to 11 states. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that there is no evidence that the tick has transmitted pathogens to humans or animals in the U.S. Submitted photo

Press Release

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Agriculture, United States Department of Agriculture – Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services, Tennessee Department of Health, and University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture (UTIA) today announced the detection of the invasive Asian longhorned tick in Tennessee.
The Asian longhorned tick has now spread to 11 states. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that there is no evidence that the tick has transmitted pathogens to humans or animals in the U.S.
Two Asian longhorned ticks were recently found on a dog in Union County, and five were found on a cow in Roane County. In the U.S., the tick has been reported on 17 different mammal species.
“Tennessee has a relatively large amount and variety of ticks,” Dr. R.T. Trout Fryxell, Associate Professor of Medical and Veterinary Entomology for UTIA, said. “It is important to be diligent and keep an eye out for all ticks because many varieties can transmit pathogens or cause painful bites.”

Tips to prevent tick
bites in animals and
livestock include:

•Coordinate with your veterinarian to determine appropriate pest prevention for pets and livestock.

•Check pets and livestock for ticks frequently.

•Remove any ticks by pulling from the attachment site of the tick bite with tweezers.

•Monitor your pets and livestock for any changes in health.

If your animals are bitten by a tick, Dr. Trout Fryxell suggests putting the tick in a ziplock bag, writing down the date and where the tick was most likely encountered, and storing it in a freezer. If any symptoms of a tick-borne disease begin to develop, you should bring the tick to your veterinarian.
For additional information about the longhorned tick in the United States, visit www.aphis.usda.gov/publications/animal_health/fs-longhorned-tick.pdf. To find more information on tick-borne diseases, visit www.cdc.gov/ticks/tickbornediseases/index.html.

New rules for Tennessee’s Hemp Program

Farmers in Tennessee have been growing and researching Hemp since the pilot program began in 2015. Submitted photo

Press Release

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) is announcing rule changes for the state’s hemp program to better serve hemp producers.
“Farmers have been growing and researching this crop in Tennessee since the program began in 2015 as a pilot program,” Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Hatcher, D.V.M. said. “The hemp industry and federal laws have changed in recent years, and we’re updating our program rules to be more consistent with how other crop programs are managed.”
The application period for a license to grow hemp is now open year-round. Grower applications can be found online at www.tn.gov/agriculture/farms/hemp-industry.html. Licenses will expire June 30 of each year, and all grower licenses issued in 2019 will expire June, 2020.

Other program
changes include:

•Hemp processors will no longer be required to register through TDA.

•The hemp program will no longer issue licenses for certified seed breeders. However, anyone manufacturing, distributing, or labeling seed should be licensed through TDA’s Ag Inputs section.

•Growers will still need movement permits when transporting rooted plants and are now required to be permitted when moving harvested hemp from their growing site.

TDA has licensed more than 2,900 hemp growers in 2019. In 2018, TDA approved 226 hemp producer applications.
Federal and state laws require Tennessee hemp growers be licensed through TDA’s hemp program. While the 2018 Farm Bill removes hemp from the list of federally controlled substances, it remains illegal to grow hemp without a license through an approved state program.
The Tennessee General Assembly enacted Public Chapter 916 in 2014, tasking the department with development of a licensing and inspection program for the production of hemp in Tennessee. You will find more information about Tennessee’s hemp program at www.tn.gov/agriculture/farms/hemp-industry.html.

Farmers Markets Create Communities Within Communities

Staff Report
CNASHVILLE — Tennessee’s farmers markets are providing more than just a place to find fresh food. They are furnishing an environment that allows the community to flourish. This year, many farmers markets are hosting special events for families and communities to enjoy, while fostering personal connections to those who produce nutritious food across the state.
The Van Buren County Farmers Market is celebrating the week of Independence Day with additional market days and fireworks the evening of July 3. “Right now it’s not quite time for produce in this area, but we are looking forward to
ramping up business during the upcoming harvests,” Van Buren County Farmers Market manager and County Mayor Greg Wilson said.
For 2019, the Henderson Farmers Market plans to have special Friday events, including a kid’s day, a community health day
sponsored by local health companies, a Tennessee Beef Month celebration, and
more.“The Henderson Farmers Market is all about community, and this community has patiently waited for a farmers market for years,” Chester County extension agent and market manager Steve Rickman said. “Our customers come out to
shop and to socialize with their friends. Every Friday is truly a special event in this community. “
The Pikeville Farmers Market in Bledsoe County has grown from hosting 15 vendors to 50 in the last 3 years. The market now has a meat vendor offering
beef, lamb, and pork and
will have live music, cooking demonstrations, and food trucks. “It’s a big deal to have this market,” Pikeville Farmers Market manager Melissa Mooneyham said. “To see what it’s done for our community is something I’m really proud of.”
The Tennessee’s farmers markets directory can be accessed at www.PickTNProducts.org and via the Pick TN mobile app.
Follow Pick Tennessee on Facebook, Twitter, and
Instagram for seasonal
updates and information about farm related
events, activities, and products.

JCFM “Fresh Program” returns

By Sarah Ransom

The pantry is empty, and the refrigerator is bare. You know what time it is . . . time to shop for groceries. You can get groceries at any shopping center, but there is a great way to support your local farmers and get the freshest produce (as well as some other delicious treats).
To help you make the most of the farmers’ market shopping experience, here are some suggestions:
1. Arrive early, but not too early. For the best selection, be sure to arrive early to the farmers’ market. However, do not arrive too early. Many farmers’ markets have strict start times. Vendors may not be able to sell to you before the market officially opens.
2. Bring a bag. It is a good plan to bring a bag or basket with you to the market. Unlike a grocery store, many vendors do not provide bags for your items.
3. Have fun! Farmers’ markets are social, festive events. Take time to talk with your fellow shoppers and the vendors selling your food. Who knows? You may learn a new way to prepare your favorite fruit or vegetable.
4. Bring a cooler preferably one with wheels. Using a cooler helps protect your perishable items (cheeses, meats, dairy products) while you shop. In addition, a cooler will help you get these items home safely.
5. Talk to the vendors. Unlike the grocery store, farmers’ markets allow you the opportunity to talk – in most cases – to the person who grew the food you are purchasing. Use this opportunity to your advantage and ask away.
6. Be prepared for choices – lots of them. At the farmers’ market, you may find more than one variety of the fruits or vegetables you are needing. Deciding on all these choices can be overwhelming. To help, talk with the vendors and the other shoppers. Both can help you make a selection that best meets your food needs.
7. Ask questions. Don’t assume that all the foods at your farmers’ market are organic, grown in your community, or even grown by the vendor selling them. Markets have very different rules governing the types of items that can be sold. Asking the vendor is the best way to find out the information you need.
8. Seek out the information booth. Almost all markets have an information booth where you can ask questions about the market.
So, grab your favorite shopping bag and head out the door – it’s a great way to support your local farmers and enjoy consuming agricultural products from your neighborhood.

Local teen named Johnson County 4-H June Dairy Month Chairman

By Tamas Mondovics


Johnson County High School sophomore, Cindy Jones has been named the 2019 June Dairy Month Chairman for Johnson County.
According to a recent release by the Dairy Alliance, a non-profit organization that works with schools, health professionals, retailers, dairy processors, and the public to promote dairy foods, Jones will be honored on Thursday, May 30, 2019, at the Tennessee June Dairy Month Kickoff Event at Battle Mountain Farm in College Grove.
American Dairy Association of Tennessee president, Celeste Blackburn, will recognize Jones during the event.
Deemed initially “National Milk Month” by American grocers in 1937, National Dairy Month began to promote dairy consumption during peak milk production in the summer. Today, it continues celebrating with the Southeast’s communities and companies through festivals, contests and even a special night dedicated to dairy farmers at the ballpark.
In 2018, an estimated 37,000 Tennessee dairy cows were living on 205 dairy farms producing 73.7 million gallons, or approximately 634 million pounds, of milk.
The official kickoff celebration recognizes Tennessee 4-H member’s efforts to promote June Dairy Month in Tennessee and is co-sponsored by The Dairy Alliance, 4-H, and the Tennessee Farm Bureau.
Officials said that June Dairy Month activities are designed to communicate the value of milk and other dairy products to Tennessee consumers. Chairpersons play a vital role in spreading the dairy’s message in their communities.
“I enjoy getting to do activities with my community in the summer sponsoring June Dairy Month,” Jones said. “Being June Dairy Month Chairman means getting to hold a position further than only sponsoring it.
Chairman would mean making a difference in our county and making sure people know how important dairy is.”
Jones, the daughter of Judy and Kevin Cretsinger and is a member of Shady Valley Church of Christ and her school’s HOSA club and Student Council.
Cindy is an active member of her 4-H chapter, participating in health and fitness, nutrition, and citizenship projects. She also competes in county speech and demonstration contests, raises chickens through Chick Chain and participates in June Dairy Month events.
“We wish Cindy much success in her role of communicating the nutritional benefits of milk and dairy products to the people in Johnson County,” said Blackburn. “Cindy will appreciate the cooperation of the people there.
Her interest and enthusiasm will result in a better-informed community from which all will benefit.”
The top five milk producing Tennessee counties were: Loudon, Monroe, Bradley, Bedford, and McMinn.
This year’s theme, “Dairy is in Our DNA,” encourages families to make milk their first beverage choice due to its unique package of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that are an essential part of a healthy diet.
With local media and farm bureaus, dairy farmers will be working alongside The Dairy Alliance to engage consumers through social media, radio contests, T-shirt giveaways, events, and more.
For more information on how you can celebrate June Dairy Month, please visit us online at www.thedairyalliance.com/june-dairy-month/.

Farmers Market Fresh program is coming back!

Submitted by
Sarah Ransom

We all know the farmers’ market is an excellent place for picking up fresh fruits and vegetables. This summer, in addition to picking up some home grown tomatoes, you can pick up some research-based knowledge as well. The University of Tennessee/Tennessee State University Extension in Johnson County will be at the market offering food samples, as well as selection and storage suggestions for the flavorful fruit and vegetables available at the market. This program is called Farmer’s Market Fresh. The market consumers have enjoyed the delicious treats, free information and prize giveaways in the past years. We are excited to be offering this program in the next few weeks.
According to Dr. Christopher Sneed with UT Extension, the primary objective of the Farmers’ Market Fresh program is to encourage purchasing of fresh fruits and vegetables at the farmers’ markets. “We are particularly interested in helping limited-resource families, especially those receiving EBT/ SNAP have access to fresh fruits and vegetables at the farmers’ market. We hope our presence at the market along with the food demonstrations, tastings, and activities will encourage people to check out all the market has to offer,” states Sneed.
Throughout the summer, members of the local Extension office will have a booth at the market where they will be offering food demonstrations, recipes, and research-based advice on the best ways to select and store some of our favorite summertime items. The best part of the program – each person who stops by the booth will receive a recipe card for the food being demonstrated that day. At the end of the season, consumers could have an entire collection of recipes all featuring items fresh from the farmers’ market. Recipes to be featured include: summer squash salad, corn salad, fruit and nut slaw, tomato and cucumber sandwiches, peanut butter yogurt dip, quick picked beats and a berry spinach salad that will make you want seconds! “We intentionally picked recipes that would be easy to prepare,” states Dr. Janie Burney of UT Extension. “Summer in Tennessee can be hot. So, we selected recipes that did not involve using the stove or oven. We wanted foods that were cool, refreshing, and delicious.” And, it just so happens they are all really good for you as well.
Grown-ups are not the only ones who will enjoy a stop by the Farmers’ Market Fresh booth. The young ones are sure to enjoy a sample of the food prepared. In addition, they will be able to participate in a weekly children’s challenge. Through the challenge, they are able to earn prizes for the fruits and vegetables their families purchase, prepare, and taste at home. There is even some buzz that a special visitor – Rudy the Raccoon – may make an appearance at the market. To participate, all you need to do is stop by the Farmers’ Market Fresh booth for all the details.
“We are very happy and excited to be part of this program,” states FCS Agent, Sarah Ransom of UT Extension Johnson County, “Partnering with the farmers’ market is just a natural fit for our office given our focus on food preservation, cooking skills, and healthy eating. We can’t wait to get started! We can’t wait to see you there!”
For more information about the Farmers’ Market Fresh program including the exact dates and times the Extension office will be at the market, call the local UT/TSU Extension Johnson County office at 727-8161.
This material was funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – SNAP.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides nutrition assistance to people with low income. It can help you buy nutritious foods for a better diet. To find out more, contact your local Department of Human Services Office or call 1-866-311-4287 (toll-free). In cooperation with Tennessee State University Cooperative Extension. The USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. Programs in agriculture and natural resources, 4-H youth development, family and consumer sciences, and resource development. University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture and county governments cooperating. UT Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment.


Staff Report

Despite the wet start to spring, sweet and juicy strawberries are prime for picking in most areas of Tennessee. If you are looking for the freshest berries, you need to go straight to the farm.
“We are seeing more ripe strawberries by the day.” Mitchell Hyde of Hyde Farms in Loudon County said. “The more sunshine, the more berries we will have ready to pick!”
One West Tennessee farmer has already started a reservation list for people who want to pick their own. “We are picking heavily this week—lots of strawberries are ripe and ready,” Timothy Brady of Dixie Chile Ranch in Obion County said. “All you have to do is let us know how many 5 quart buckets you intend to pick and we’ll let you know what times are available.”
In Middle Tennessee, berries are selling fast. “We sold 65 gallons of strawberries within the first hour of opening,” Jon Kelley of Kelley’s berries in Trousdale County said. “The first week in May is generally the best time to visit the strawberry patch. However, we will have ripe strawberries well into June.”
Never picked fresh strawberries before? To learn more about the picking process for the farm you are going to visit, all you have to do is call and ask. Farmers also suggest calling ahead of time to ensure that berries are available. If you want fresh strawberries without the work, many farms provide the option for customers to purchase already-picked strawberries.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the number of Tennessee strawberry farms has increased by almost 4% during the last five years.
The traditional season lasts about four to six weeks, depending on weather—so the best tasting strawberries you’ve ever had won’t last long.
Support your local economy and buy fresh strawberries from your local farmer today. Go to www.PickTNProducts.org or use the free Pick Tennessee mobile app to find a farm near you.
To learn more about seasonal recipes, products, and activities.


Press Release

NASHVILLE – Are you a landowner looking to establish or enhance your woodland or a logger looking to improve your harvesting capacity? The Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry (TDF) is offering cost share programs to assist forest landowners and industry with improving forest health and sustainability.
“More than half of Tennessee is covered in trees,” Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Hatcher, D.V.M. said. “We are working to promote and support agriculture in Tennessee, and our forest resources are a significant part of that. These cost share programs for forest establishment, improvement, and forest industry play a main role in our work to encourage landowners to implement forestry practices.”
Forestry programs under the Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program (TAEP) and Southern Pine Beetle Initiative (SPBI) were developed to promote long-term investments in Tennessee’s forests by providing cost share incentives to qualifying landowners.
The programs promote sustainable forest management practices on family forestland, which provide multiple resource benefits such as timber, wildlife habitat, clean water, and soil protection.
Forest landowners are eligible to receive a 50% – 75% cost share reimbursement for funds spent with a combined maximum reimbursement of $15,000 per year. The landowner cost share sign-up period begins May 1 and ends May 31.
TDF also offers TAEP and SPBI financial assistance for forest industry to help protect stream habitats and overall water quality by utilizing forestry Best Management Practices. Forest industry practitioners, such as loggers and sawmill owners, are eligible to receive a 50% cost share reimbursement for funds spent. The TAEP and SPBI programs each have a maximum reimbursement of $15,000 per year, allowing eligible recipients to receive up to $30,000. TAEP cost share for forest industry is available for sign-up year-round, while SPBI sign-up period is between May 1 to May 31.
Those interested in TDF forestry practices cost share programs should contact their local Area Forester to determine eligibility, implement a plan, and sign-up.
For Area Forester contacts and more information about cost share programs, visit https://www.tn.gov/agriculture/forests/landowners/financial.

Seasonal Gardening – Management Structures

By Sarah Ransom

Gardeners can maintain their gardening environment to enable crops to grow for extended periods of time. With careful planning, crops can be extended a few days or weeks.

There are two main ways of doing this: management practices and structures or materials to alter temperatures. This week, we are going to focus on structures and materials.

Several methods for seasonal gardening may focus on absorbing or trapping the radiation from the sun to warm up the environment for your crops.

Dark mulches absorb light and conduct heat that warms the soil below; clear plastic covers transmit and trap light which increases the air temperature.

Agricultural plastics have made a lot of progress to improve seasonal planting. The biggest question is how much money to invest in materials and how much time goes into each structure and material used.

Passive systems, rely only on natural air movement and natural sunlight. These are the most flexible, most cost efficient and applicable for home gardeners.

Mulch can be used to influence soil temperature by absorbing the light and heat and then reflecting the light. Solid black and woven plastics also help warm the crops environment.

Mulch and plastics can also help reduce heat loss that comes from evaporated water or changing nightly temperatures.

Another structure that can be used is a floating row cover, also known as direct covers. These are plastic films, agricultural fabrics or buckets that can be laid or placed over a crop to hold heat. This type of structure is often secured by the soil, wooden posts or other materials.

These covers often need less irrigation, it depends on the type used, and how long they are placed, one benefit is they can reduce the speed of rainfall, which decreases erosion and crusting and can help protect against insects. Row covers are typically only used for temporary measures in the spring and fall.
Low tunnels are very similar to row covers and can be used to help extend the growing season. Low
tunnels give the appearance of a miniature greenhouse.
These need to be made sure they are appropriately vented to allow enough airflow, so crops do not get overheated.

Shade structures can help reduce the amount of heat in the crops environment, and this can allow for cool-season crops, such as leafy greens, to be grown longer in the spring.

If you are looking for a permanent fix on structures, you can build cold frames, high tunnels, and greenhouses.

All of these structures provide more control over your crop’s environment and can significantly alter the ability to extend your harvest season.

Regardless of how you choose to garden, there are many options for extending your fresh vegetable intake!

To check out additional information on seasonal gardening, read

Farmers Market to open at Ralph Stout Park Saturday

The Johnson County Farmers Market is open every Saturday from 9 AM to noon at Ralph Stout Park in Mountain City.

By Bethany Anderson

This Saturday the Johnson County Farmers Market moves back to it’s “Summer Season” home of Ralph Stout Park in Mountain City. During the “Winter Season” the market moves indoors at the Johnson County Welcome Center so that it can be a real, year-round market. It is a rarity in our area and much appreciated by both the farmers and other vendors who sell their good there as well as the shoppers who frequent the market looking for local goods.

During the Summer Season, the market expands quite noticeably to include many more vendors and fresh seasonal produce. The outdoor venue allows more space to spread out and the season allows for more options when it comes to the produce available.

“I can’t wait for the outdoor season to start!” says one JCFM shopper. “I love that the market is available year-round, but I really look forward to the outdoor season all year.”

When asked what they are most looking forward to this Summer Season, vendor Sharon Springer of Soul Shine Soaps replied, “Seeing everyone, old friends and making new ones.” Market shopper Denise deRibert said, “Friends, food, and flowers!”

This season the market will welcome many favorite vendors from years past as well as new vendors and options for shoppers to enjoy. Grace Hands Massage Therapy joined the market during their “Winter Season” and will continue with the market in the coming season. There will also be a return from semi-retirement from local woodworker Webb Griffith, who has become a market favorite over the many years he’s participated as a vendor.

Each week the market features live music with local musicians. This year there will also be a “Market Cafe” tent for people to sit and enjoy the food and coffee available for sale while they listen to music.

The GoJoCo Kids’ Tent will also be back this year thanks to the generous work by our local GoJoCo Council and the grants provided by their efforts. Just like in years past, there will be a weekly food-related project for kids to get some “hands-on” time learning about healthy eating habits, as well as a physical challenge to get them up and moving. For each time that children participate, they will earn tokens that can then be used to make purchases at the market, which is meant to encourage children to take what they have learned about healthy eating habits and use those skills in a real-life setting.

“My kids just love it,” said a local mother. “They get so excited to earn the tokens and make their own decisions on what to buy at the market.”

The Market’s mission statement includes the fact that their purpose is to “strengthen a sustainable, local agriculture and food economy.” In keeping with this, EBT (Food Stamps) and Credit Cards are accepted at the Market Manager’s Tent, which gives shoppers the flexibility that they are used to getting in other retail environments. The JCFM hopes that it will encourage shoppers to frequent the market in addition to local grocery stores.

The Johnson County Farmers Market will be at the park each Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon, through the end of October, then they will move back to their “Winter Market” home at the Welcome Center. The market is open to new vendors joining as well, as long as they follow the market’s guidelines of “Home-Made or Home-Grown” products.

For more information on the Johnson County Farmers Market, check their website at johnsoncountyfm.org email them at johnsoncountyfm@gmail.com or call the Market Manager at (423) 291-9145.

Seasonal Gardening – Management Practices

By Sarah Ransom

A fundamental fact to gardening is that crops grow, develop and produce based on the temperature and environment. Gardeners must be sure to carefully plant cold and warm season crops in the appropriate times to maximize their harvest. Gardeners can also alter their gardening environment to enable crops to grow for extended periods.
With careful planning, crops can be extended a few days or weeks. There are two main ways of doing this: management practices and
structures or materials to alter temperatures. This week, we are going to focus on the first way of seasoning gardening.
Management practices are going to focus on proper site selection, raised beds and transplanting. Crops close to a body of water tend to stay more moderate throughout the seasons, plants near buildings tend to stay more protected from the wind and cold, crops planted on slopes can assist with draining water away from plants. With raised beds, soil temperatures can impact seed germination, root growth, as well as water and nutrient intake. Raised beds allow for the soil to drain quicker, bringing warm air into
the ground and heating the area faster. It also can increase the exposure to the warming effects from the sunlight.
However, as the seasons change, soil can cool down much quicker in the fall. Raised beds are easy to cover with plastic, low tunnels, mulches or row covers to assist with early and later plantings. Lastly, gardeners can extend their growing season by transplanting their crops. Some of the best crops to start early and transplant include tomatoes, peppers, cabbages, broccoli and more! The conditions after transplanting will affect the growth of the crops.
Pest pressures may also be reduced by early planting, and transplanting later in the season. Planting can also be delayed with the transplant method.
Regardless of how you choose to garden, there are many options for extending your fresh vegetable intake! To check out additional information on seasonal gardening, read https://extension.tennessee.edu/publications/Documents/W346-F.pdf

Include fresh produce in your everyday meals

By Sarah Ransom

We all have grown up hearing about how good it is for us to eat our fruits and vegetables. We know these foods provide a good source of fiber, potassium, folic acid and a variety of vitamins. We have been told that fruits and vegetables show benefits to lowering blood pressure, improving cardiovascular health and helping reduce risks of many chronic conditions, helps with weight management, improves vision and more.
Even with all these reasons to eat fruits and vegetables, we find people are preparing and eating these less and less.
Some quick tips to eating more fruits and vegetables include the following: keep fruit and vegetables where you can see them. Have ready-to-eat fruits and vegetables in a bowl. Grapes, carrots, apples, celery, berries, and broccoli are just a few that are great to have easily accessible and ready for snacking. Explore the produce aisle, or visit your local Farmers Market, and purposefully choose a new food to try.
Variety and color are key to having a healthy diet. Skip the potatoes. We all know how much we enjoy potatoes, and while they provide some vitamins and nutrients, they are high in starch. Step
out and try another vegetable on occasion. Salads,
soups, and stir-fries are a great way to increase vegetable intake.
If you still find you are struggling with including these great foods, especially vegetables, here are some additional ideas of ways to include it with foods you may already be making! Shred those veggies and include them in bread, scrambled eggs, and breakfast casseroles.
In your fruit smoothies, add a few healthy greens, beets or other vegetables of choice to get those vitamins without altering the flavors too much. Add extra chopped vegetables to your spaghetti sauces or pasta dishes, and speaking of pasta – don’t hesitate to try some noodles made from vegetables. Add them to pancakes, chili or baked goodies. Add chopped vegetables to your homemade burgers. Using sliced zucchini, avocado, carrots or green beans, you can make some tasty alternatives to fries. Add vegetables, finely chopped, to your pizza, soups, and stews. When the weather warms up, many fruits and vegetables also turn out great on the grill.
If you would like more ideas on how to include fruits, veggies or learn more about having a healthy, balanced diet – please contact Sarah Ransom at the UT/TSU Extension Office (423)-727-8161 or e-mail sransom@utk.edu for more ideas or recipes you can try. Be sure to visit us at the Farmers Market this summer for some great recipes and samples to try.
Source – The Nutrition Source, Vegetables, and Fruits by Harvard Public School of Health https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/vegetables-and-fruits/; Choose MyPlate

UT Gardens’ April Plant of the Month: Iris

The Iris, genus Iridaceae, is the official state cultivated flower of Tennessee.

By Andy Pulte

In Greek mythology, Iris was the goddess of the rainbow; she was a messenger who brought an arc of color to the sky. In our gardens, the blooms of the iris bring a rainbow of color to our landscape. It doesn’t matter if you live on a country road or on a downtown street; iris are plants that catch your eye when in bloom. For most of Tennessee and the Mid-South this begins in April and persists through May with other iris blooming later in the season. By mid-April, the largest flush of bearded iris flowers are what is taking center stage in most gardens.
There are 200-plus species of iris including some North American natives. Species are separated into two main groups – rhizomatous and bulbous. Bulbous irises form a more typical bulb and include Persian, reticulate and many dwarf irises. Rhizomes are underground stems that grow horizontally and are used as storage for the plant. Bearded iris falls into this group as do both the Japanese and Siberian iris.
The Iris, genus Iridaceae, is the official state cultivated flower of Tennessee. While iris come in several different colors, and the act naming the iris as the state flower did not name a particular color. However, by common acceptance, the purple iris is considered the state cultivated flower.
If you love and enjoy iris you may consider having a secession of iris bloom in your garden comprised of several different species. This could begin with Iris reticulata a small bulbus iris, followed by a dwarf bearded iris like ‘little sighs.’ Next, add classic tall bearded iris to your garden. There are many to choose from, ‘Team Player’ and ‘Gypsy Lord’ are two of my favorites. Follow this up with a Siberian iris like ‘Caesar’s Brother’ and Iris tectorum, the Japanese roof iris.
If you like iris, why not get involved with one of the many iris societies we have right here in Tennessee? These can be great ways to meet new gardening friends, share knowledge and gain insight into gardening in your specific region of the state. There are iris societies in neighboring states as well. To get more information, simply search the internet for any of these iris gardening groups. Or visit the website of the American Iris Society at www.irises.org.

Managing your home garden

Elevated Gardens

By Sarah Ransom

While gardens are very popular in Johnson County, it is essential to take proper care of your garden and to manage it well so that
you can reap bountiful harvests all summer and early fall. Growing some of
your food at home can be a big saver. Take full advantage of these benefits of home gardens – there are some helpful things to know when it comes to gardening besides planting, watering and getting adequate sunlight.
The first is weed management. Weeds take your
crops water, nutrients
and can block out sunlight. Weeds also can attract
insects or hold diseases
that are harmful to your plants.
Annual weeds, germinate, grow, mature, produce seeds and die all in the same season. Perennial weeds typically live for three years or longer; these can be the most challenging.
Prevention is the best way to manage weeds that
appear. Most methods are meant to reduce weeds
over time. Mulching is a process of covering the sur
face of the soil; this helps reduce weed pressure, maintain moisture and moderate temperatures; depending on the type of mulch, you can also improve soil structure. Using solarization is a process of using plastic to trap the sun’s radiation and heat the soil to kill off annual weeds.
Row spacing, and how
you are planting is another way to combat weeds.
Crops like beets, radishes
or lettuce can be planted close together to cover the ground and prevent weeds from being able to grow there. Placing cover crops at the end of the season can help smother and cover the ground to prevent weed growth.
You can also use hand or machine weed management techniques that include hand pulling, hoeing, tilling, and spraying. These can be effective in the short term process, but they are also time-consuming. The amount of water can also affect plants; it is estimated that garden crops need 1-1.5 inches per week of water.
There is much more information about various mulching methods and types, weed management, watering techniques and more in the article Plant Management Practices. Information for this article came from this resource. Visit www.extension.tennessee.edu/publications/Documents/W346-D.pdf

Spring into action with spotlight on Home and Garden

By Meg Dickens

With winter fading it is time to spring into action.
It is the ideal time to beautify and improve your surroundings while taking the term ‘spring cleaning’ to a whole new level with lawn and garden renovations.
It is no secret that Tennessee has a rich agricultural history. Johnson County’s economy has been hinged on agriculture for most of its existence.
It was known as the Green Bean Capital of the World, and current school breaks are a byproduct of planting schedules. Present day agricultural staples continue to put Johnson County in the spotlight.
For starters, the Johnson County High School agricultural facilities continue to draw many visitors from around the world.
The region is also boasting of a real estate boom as realtors report record sales for the beginning of 2019. Agencies around the area are low on inventory, which may increase property prices to reflect the shortage prompting this spring to be the ideal time to sell extraneous properties. Agents agree that spring is a fruitful time for real estate because of the blooming flowers so improving property values with home and garden renovations is a must.
“I would have to say that ‘first’ impressions even in real estate are a big deal,” said local real estate agent Mina Norfleet. “Homeowners can do some very simple things to improve the value of their homes.”
Curb appeal is the first impression. Whether this is positive depends on several factors. Landscaping and hardscaping are essential steps toward improving this impression. They also improve home values quite a bit.
“Landscaping does wonders for curb appeal for a home or business. The return on investment is usually 100 to 200 percent,” said local expert Harvey Burniston Jr.
Outdoor lighting is a commonly neglected way to advance curb appeal. This aspect has a plethora of uses. Outdoor lighting increases property values, and it is also an excellent tool for safety and outdoor events. The easiest way to improve curve appeal is by applying new paint.
Local expert Michael “Red” Jordan declares that this is an excellent time of year to paint. The best window to paint is from late April through July because of the lower humidity. Pressure wash and remove flaking paint before adding a new paint job. Flaking paint prevents new paint from bonding effectively. According to Red, contrast is an essential part of painting.
“A new coat of paint will do wonders,” said Red. “It’s like a facelift.”
Accents and contrasting colors can make a home look more extensive and more open. Two such techniques include accent walls and high contrast exterior walls. Red suggests to paint the base of the house in a lighter color and to pain the eaves in dark colors.
Add a different type of color with great landscaping and gardening.
It is the ideal time to plan your garden. The Farmer’s Almanac lists this year’s last spring frost date as May 7. Without the frost, a plant’s worst nightmare is pests. There are simple ways to protect them with items lying around the house.
Deer are one of the most persistent pests. Despite that, they are relatively easy to deter. Scare tactics such as light tricks only require a reflective surface. Stringing fishing line and planting in levels are also effective. According to a study from the University of Vermont Extension Department of Plant and Soil Science, tallow in soap repels deer as well.
Many renovators use DIY (Do it Yourself) projects to cut costs. This method is useful but not recommended for renovators without experience. Small mistakes can skyrocket budget costs.
“You can’t replace experience, and you can’t beat a man at his own trade,” said Red.
The Tomahawk’s service directory is a renovator-friendly source. Locals offer everything from construction and excavations to lawn care and installations. For those who want to try their hand at DIY renovations, there are three simple steps to follow.
Do your homework. Learn as much as possible about the project. It includes online tutorials. Different sources emphasize different aspects. These tutorials also show possible pitfalls to avoid.
Buy the right tools. Saving cash on less practical or improper tools could actually cost more in the end. Be aware of tool pros and cons before making a purchase. It is also wise to practice before taking on the project. Tools differ per project. For example, a professional landscaper would need a larger rototiller than someone using the machine for personal use.
Find a consultant. Whether it is a professional or just someone knowledgeable in the field, find someone with experience. Experienced DIYers can save money by completing some labor independently. Average labor costs fall between 25 percent and 60 percent.
Timing is everything. Plants have their own preferences and grow accordingly. Soil and fertilizer maintenance, weather, and sunlight are important factors in plant growth. Vegetables planted during their proper time of the year taste better than others. Each plant has its own needs.
Home and garden renovations go hand-in-hand. They are not mutually exclusive, but they are mutually beneficial. Whether the renovations are for personal use or to increase property value, they are well worth the effort.

Equine influenza detected in Tennessee horses

TDA Press Release

NASHVILLE– The State Veterinarian has announced that several horses returning from out-of-state events have been sickened by equine influenza virus (EIV) in Tennessee.
Equine influenza is highly contagious, and the virus is spread by contaminated stable equipment and infected, coughing horses. Symptoms in horses may include fever, nasal discharge, cough, loss of appetite, and weakness. Sick horses cannot directly infect people with EIV.
“With EIV, it is much
easier for horse owners to take preventive measures than to provide treatment,” Interim State Veterinarian Dr. Doug Balthaser said. “Maintaining hygiene procedures with stable equipment and vaccinating your horses is a great start for prevention efforts. Your veterinarian can help you decide the best vaccination plan for your horse.”

Other tips include:
•Isolate newly introduced horses or horses returning from events for two weeks.
•For events or stables, restrict entry to healthy horses only.
•Don’t share equipment or supplies between horses, especially if one spikes a fever, has nasal discharge, or is coughing.
The C. E. Kord Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory now offers a full line of equine disease testing, including WNV, equine infectious anemia (EIA), equine herpes virus (EHV), equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM), eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), and equine influenza virus (EIV). Contact your veterinarian for more information.

Do you have TAEP feedback? Share your suggestions now

TDA Press Release

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) is requesting input on the Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program (TAEP) through an online survey. TAEP has transformed the state’s rural economy by helping farmers make strategic investments to increase their efficiency, safety, and profitability.
With the survey responses, TDA plans to identify opportunities to improve cost share offerings and set the program’s future strategic direction. Farmers and producers, agribusiness affiliates, extension agents, agricultural educators, industry association representatives, and others are invited to participate in the survey.
TAEP provides cost share dollars to agricultural producers for the purpose of making long-term investments in Tennessee farms and communities. Participation allows producers to maximize farm profits, adapt to changing market situations, improve operation safety, increase farm efficiency, and make positive economic impact in their communities.
“TAEP has made a real difference and has been a true resource for rural Tennessee,” Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Hatcher, D.V.M said. “We want to ensure that the program continues to serve producers’ needs by helping them adapt to the rapidly-changing production environment and marketplace.”
The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture’s Human Dimensions Research Lab, the UT Center for Profitable Agriculture, and TDA collaborated to prepare the TAEP survey. The survey is available online at https://tiny.utk.edu/TAEPsurvey and will be accessible now through March 27. It can be completed in less than 15 minutes.
For more information on the evaluation and survey of TAEP, contact Keith Harrison by emailing keith.harrison@tn.gov or by calling 615-837-5336.