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  • Author or Editor: Ellen T. Paparozzi x
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As a floriculturist, when I first decided to grow strawberries (Fragaria ×ananassa) in the greenhouse, I thought it would be a snap. After all, I could practice what I preach to my classes in that I would use all the sustainable growing tricks from floriculture, create a production time line and it would be ready, set grow. However, moving a field-grown summer crop into a greenhouse as a winter crop was not the same as moving a winter greenhouse-grown crop outside for the summer. Not only were the plants typically grown in lush field soil, but also the fertilizer recommendations were not directly translatable (i.e., parts per million nitrogen). The pesticides used were not licensed for greenhouses and of course, there were no clues as to schedules of what to do when. Finally, there were the mystery problems that occurred. With high gas prices and the interest in local food production, it seems probable that over the next 5 to 10 years, more and more fruit, vegetables and even nut plants will be moved into greenhouse and high tunnel production. The purpose of this article is to identify the kinds of information needed to make a “smooth” transition from field to greenhouse for alternative crops, like strawberries, grown during nontraditional seasons.

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To start such a topic as this, one could turn to a dictionary to define “networking.” Personally, I like to refer to the comics—in this instance the comic strip “Nancy”. The first frame finds Nancy, in class, turned around in her seat earnestly talking to another young colleague. In the next frame Nancy has turned in response to the teacher asking her if she was talking. Nancy replies, “Talking? No Ma'am, I'm not talking. I'm establishing contacts and exchanging information with my peers.” The middle frame shows Nancy grumbling, “OK, whatever you say… ” and the final frame of the comic shows Nancy, at her desk, busily writing “I will not network in class, I will not network in class, I will not network in class.” Yes, some of the terms may have changed, but the point is still why network or, more specifically, why join a formal network or a group that networks?

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Fertilizer particularly nitrogen is part of the concern about groundwater contamination. Many floricultural and ornamental plants do not need the high rates of nitrogen that are typically recommended. However, whenever one alters the quantity of a given nutrient the overall nutrient balance, as well as other physiological processes, changes. A brief overview of our research on poinsettias, roses, and chrysanthemums will be presented. Suggested ratios, critical S levels and nutrient problems associated with incorrect balances will be shared. Limitations due to statistical methods and the impact nutrient balance has on certain plant processes such as flowering and coloring and thus, consumer acceptance will be summarized. Future plans in this area may focus on the need for new statistical techniques, nutrient acquisition by roots and consumer perceptions of plant quality.

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Universities continue to cut budgets and reduce faculty. Such cuts occurred at the Univ. of Nebraska in 1986-87. To ensure that floral design courses would continue to be taught, despite reduction in teaching appointments, an industry-university teaching partnership was proposed. While the teaching relationship started out as a team approach, it successfully evolved into a-strong partnership that permitted growth on the part of the industry instructor, and movement into a strictly supervisory role for the faculty partner. Thus, the overall goal of keeping floral design courses as an integral part of the floriculture curriculum was met without using extensive amounts of faculty time.

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Chat rooms and their use in everyday life are becoming increasingly common, and the technology may be a useful tool to link students with experts of a given subject material and each other. In our shared course Plant Nutrition and Nutrient Management, we experimented with using a chat room to link students with experts in the field of plant nutrition. Our main goal was to enhance the learning experience of the students by providing them with access to national and international plant nutrition researchers. Web CT was used to create and conduct the chat rooms and a chat etiquette evolved to prevent crosstalk and control the flow of the discussions. Positive outcomes of the chat room use included exposure of students to the technology and beneficial interaction between students and experts. Negative aspects of chat room use included the time involved to coordinate the overall effort and train experts to use the technology; the slow pace of some chats; effective grading; and the superficial coverage of some topics. We are developing modifications for future sessions to allow subjects to be explored in more depth and to improve networking between students and experts.

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