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  • Author or Editor: Edward Bush x
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University-based horticulture departments and extension agents have explored the relationship between gardening programs and consumer knowledge and preferences. Studies have established positive correlations between garden participation and increased science scores and heightened environmental stewardship. The objective of this research was to determine if participation in “Lettuce Grow” garden workshops cohosted by the Louisiana State University Agriculture Center (LSU AgCenter) and Volunteers of America Greater Baton Rouge (VOA-GBR) had positive effects on child care providers’ garden knowledge and willingness to implement garden programming with children aged 5 years and younger. Participation led to a 67% increase (P ≤ 0.05) in horticulture knowledge for participants and resulted in 76.2% of the child care providers actively engaged in growing a garden with youth aged 5 years and under. Based on this experience, we highly recommend universities partner with local nonprofits to engage in deeper meaning, science-based garden extension projects.

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A small inexpensive (less than $1000) container yard, measuring 10 × 10 ft square, with an automatic irrigation system was designed for schools participating in the Louisiana State University Coastal Roots Program: A School Seedling Nursery Program for Habitat Restoration. Students helped install the container yard on their school site and oversee native plant production through the course of the school year. Teachers and other school staff checked the nursery during summer months to ensure that the irrigation system was working properly and the plants were healthy. Students grew ≈1000 restoration seedlings per year in their container yard. Each year they transplanted their seedlings and grass plugs on trips to habitat restoration sites across Louisiana's coastal zone. Since the inception of the program in 2000, the students using this container yard design have produced nearly 24,500 trees and shrubs and over 8000 grass plugs.

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A simplified design for measuring the height of turfgrass (or forage) was developed and used by the Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station (LAES). The device is similar to the common “disc meter” devices used for turfgrass and forage height measurement, but it uses a constant-force spring to simplify construction and operation. Use-of a constant-force spring allows a steady operating force on the sliding member of the device and eliminates the need for machining slots, thus greatly simplifying construction and reducing cost. The simplified device has worked well in the turfgrass research program of the LAES.

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Agriculture is fundamental to meeting Americans’ basic needs—clothing, housing, and food. As the average farmer’s age increases, there is a need to develop programs to encourage youth to pursue careers in agriculture and become the next generation of farmers. This study developed and implemented a horticultural curriculum focusing on vegetable production at a summer camp setting. Targeted participants were aged 9 to 12 years. Pre- and posttests were given to both the treatment group (campers participating in the victory garden track) and the control group (campers participating in a Wetlands track). The pre- and posttest evaluated campers’ science-based knowledge and confidence. The study was replicated 16 times (weeks) over a 2-year study. Lesson topics included propagation, victory gardens, soil, recycling, plant parts, pollination, photosynthesis, and insects. Campers in the treatment group had improvement of general horticulture knowledge from pretest to posttest responses 18% improvement in 2010 and 11% improvement in 2011. Posttest scores of treatment campers were greater 20% in 2010 and 16% greater in 2011 (P ≤ 0.05) than control campers in both years of the study. Treatment campers were more confident (P ≤ 0.05) in explaining to others how to grow a plant and in their ability to grow more than one type of plant. Analysis of the 2nd year of data-indicated treatment campers were more likely (P ≤ 0.05) to feel confident in their ability to plant a seed that would later grow into a plant.

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Encouraging students to become better stewards of the environment and to be more educated in science content knowledge is an important goal of today's educational leaders. Eight lessons were created to aid an established stewardship program (Coastal Roots) in introducing hands-on activities to middle school children in southern Louisiana. Students were tested on science content in the lessons using a pre-test, eight multiple choice quizzes (each focusing on a particular lesson), and a post-test. The “children's attitudes toward the environment scale” test was administered to evaluate environmental awareness changes in the treatment and control group students. Students who received the horticulture lessons improved their post-test scores by 11.4 points (P ≤ 0.05) in the first year and 25.07 points (P ≤ 0.0001) in the second year of the study. Significant increases in individual lessons were found both years. In the second year, students who received the lessons were more aware of their role in the environment than those who did not receive the additional lessons (P ≤ 0.01). The addition of horticulture lessons to the middle school curriculum enhanced student knowledge and stewardship of the environment.

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Home gardeners living in areas with alkaline water sources do not have easy or economically affordable means of acidifying irrigation water for vegetable production. One solution for achieving optimal vegetable yields using alkaline irrigation water is to grow the vegetables in a modified medium. To date, no medium on the retail market suits such growing needs. Therefore, medium recipes with varied levels (0, 4, or 8 lb/yard3) and sources of calcium [dolomitic lime, calcium sulfate (CaSO4)] and magnesium [dolomitic lime, magnesium sulfate (MgSO4)] were tested using an alkaline irrigation on ‘Oakleaf’ lettuce (Lactuca sativa), ‘Earliana’ and ‘Salad Delight’ cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. capitata), and ‘Snow Crown’ cauliflower (Brassica oleracea var. botrytis) crops. Additionally, crops were grown in two environments, under a high tunnel and on a nursery yard. High tunnel and nursery yard sites were used to test media performances in the presence of, and eliminating, rainwater to simulate container-grown vegetables growing in both a home garden situation and a commercial greenhouse production situation. The base mix of all media treatments in the study was 80 bark : 20 peat and fertilized with 12 lb/yard3 slow-release fertilizer at a rate of 1.8 lb/yard3 nitrogen (N), 0.5 lb/yard3 phosphorus (P), and 1 lb/yard3 potassium (K). This initial fertilizer application was incorporated to each medium before filling containers. Four treatments were tested against a commercially available medium, industry standard (IS) treatment (a commercially available bagged medium), and a control medium [treatment C (no supplemental calcium or magnesium fertilizer)] by supplementing the base mix with the following fertilizer levels: 4 lb/yard3 each of CaSO4 and MgSO4 (treatment 1); 4 lb/yard3 dolomitic lime (treatment 2); 4 lb/yard3 each of dolomitic lime, CaSO4, and MgSO4 (treatment 3); 8 lb/yard3 dolomitic lime (treatment 4). Media treatments 1 through 4 outperformed the IS and C media treatments in nearly all crops. All crops grown on the nursery yard, and cabbage grown under the high tunnel, had greater yields when grown in medium treatment 3, compared with the IS and C media treatments (P ≤ 0.05). All crops grown in medium treatment 2 on the nursery yard produced greater yields than the IS and C media treatments (P ≤ 0.05).

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Irrigation management is essential in producing quality woody ornamentals and minimizing off-site runoff. The closed-capture effluent device provided an inexpensive method of monitoring effluent in large containers throughout the year with minimal effort. Daily irrigation requirements for `Little Gem' southern magnolia (Magnolia grandifolia) were established throughout an entire growing season. The maximum daily water requirement was approximately 3 gal (11.4 L).

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