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Edward W. Bush and Pamela B. Blanchard

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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Edward Bush, Jeff Kuehny, and Patricia Branch

Three slow-release fertilizer formulations (Osmocote 14–14–14, 18–6–12, and Nutricote 17–6–10) at three rates (1, 2, and 3 lb/yd3) were incorporated into 4 pine bark: 1 sand (by volume) media filling 1-gal nursery containers. Additional treatments included slow-release fertilizer formulations at 1 lb/yd3 fertigated with 100 ppm N 20–10–20 fertilizer. As fertilizer rates increased, vegetative height, width, and dry-weight accumulation generally increased for both pinched and no-pinch mum crops. Fertigated pinch and no-pinch mums were the largest plants with the greatest dry-weight accumulation for each fertilizer formulation. The high rate for all slow-release fertilizers produced the greatest vegetative growth for nonfertigated treatments. This research suggest that higher rates for incorporated slow-release fertilizers and/or fertigation are required to produce maximum vegetative growth.

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Allen D. Owings and Edward W. Bush

A study was initiated at Bracy's Nursery, Amite, La., in Apr. 1997 to evaluate the influence of seven controlled-release fertilizer sources and three top-dressed application rates in production of 4-gal (15.7-L) containers of `LaFeliciana' peach and swamp red maple. The fertilizers tested were Osmocote Plus 15-9-11, Osmocote Plus 16-8-12, Woodace 20-5-10, Woodace 20-4-11, Customblen 24-4-6, Nutricote (Type 270) 17-7-8, and Nutricote (Type 360) 17-6-8. Application rates were 1.75, 2.25, and 2.75 lb N per cubic yard. The experiment was completely randomized within blocks (species) and each treatment was replicated five times. A control treatment was also included. For `LaFeliciana' peach, Nutricote and Osmocote yielded the superior results when shoot height and visual quality ratings were determined in October (6 months after initiation). Increases in application rate did not significantly increase shoot height or visual quality ratings in most cases. For swamp red maple, shoot height was not affected by fertilizer source or application rate. Caliper ranged from 19.2 to 23.0 mm but was only slightly influenced by fertilizer source and application rate. Visual quality ratings were significantly higher for Osmocote Plus 16-8-12 when compared to some of the other fertilizer sources.

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Edward Bush, Paul Wilson, and Gloria McClure

A study to determine the influence of light duration on seed germination was performed in a temperature-controlled growth chamber. Light treatments consisted of 0 (control), 6, 8, 10, 12 and 14 h of light exposure. Cool fluorescent light bulbs provided 19 μMol·m-2·s-1 light. Fifty seeds of each treatment were placed into separately labeled 6.0-cm-diameter petri dishes lined with Whatman #42 filter papers moistened with 2 mL of distilled water. Seed of both species germinated poorly in the control treatment. Mean time of germination (MTG) and germination percentage increased for both species when seeds were exposed to light. Pre-soaking seed in gibberellic acid (GA) significantly improved germination percentages of both species compared to the untreated control. Centipedegrass germination percentage and MTG also increased with light exposure. Carpetgrass seed germination was not enhanced by GA treatments with light exposure. The results of this experiment suggests that, if seed are covered too deeply, excluding light, MTG and percentage germination will be reduced. However, pre-soaking seed in a GA solution can improve dark germination by as much as 50% for both grass species.

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Kathryn Fontenot, Edward Bush, and Rebecca Gravois

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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Charles E. Johnson and Edward W. Bush

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Kathryn Karsh, Edward Bush, Janice Hinson, and Pamela Blanchard

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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Richard L. Parish, Edward W. Bush, and Dennis P. Shepard

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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Edward W. Bush, Paul Wilson, Dennis P. Shepard, and Gloria McClure

Priming or presoaking seed of common carpetgrass (Axonopus affinis Chase) and centipedegrass [Eremochloa ophiuroides Munro. (Kunz)] increased germination percentage and decreased mean time of germination (MTG) at 20, 25, and 30 °C. The effect of presoaking and priming was dependent on grass species and temperature. The optimum seed germination temperature for both of these warm-season species was 30 °C. Maximum effect on common carpetgrass or centipedegrass seeds was achieved by priming in 2% KNO3; higher concentrations did not improve germination percentage or MTG, and 4% was in some cases detrimental. Germination was higher and MTG lower at 20 and 30 °C than at 15 °C. Presoaking common carpetgrass and centipedegrass seeds was the most efficient seed enhancement treatment for germination at 30 °C.

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Carly Gillett, Kathryn Fontenot, Edward Bush, Maud Walsh, and Charles Johnson

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.