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Field and Forest, by Richard Gast

Dandelions: landscape weed or beneficial backyard herb?

Dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) are probably the most recognized of all broadleaf “weeds.” Many people consider them a curse — a plant that can establish quickly, by seed, in a well-kept lawn and become extremely difficult to eradicate. Homeowners and groundskeepers spend tremendous ...

Victory gardens — an old idea is new again

Grow-it-yourself food. During this time of pandemic, it makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? Especially if you’re, like me, extremely apprehensive about the possibility of becoming exposed to COVID-19 while grocery shopping. In fact, I can’t think of a better way to avoid going out in ...

Earth Day, 50 years on

I came of age in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It was a turbulent time in American history, marked by the rise of the antiwar movement (Vietnam, nuclear weapons) and the expansion of movements promoting equality for groups of marginalized people including women, African Americans, Native ...

COVID-19 affects maple sugaring season

As I start to write this, it’s raining and 50 degrees outside. Several days of above-freezing nighttime temperatures are in the forecast as well. It appears that the maple sugaring season is quickly coming to an end. Most of the producers that I’ve talked with are saying it’s been an ...

An introduction to viruses

I’ve heard it said that there are 10 million times more viruses on Earth than there are stars in the universe, maybe more. And that scientists estimate that, at any given moment, there are more than a billion viruses present on Earth. Viruses are smaller than bacteria. For example, at 45 ...

Planning your first vegetable garden

Growing your own vegetables, at least some of them, is a great way to provide fresh, tasty, nutritious food for your kitchen table. Homegrown vegetables are much fresher and taste better than industrially grown, supermarket-purchased produce. And vegetable gardening can be a fun, family ...

Public speaking, 4-H style

4-H is the youth development program of the nation’s Cooperative Extension System. It’s almost certainly the most highly recognized of all Cooperative Extension programs and, without question, one of the leading youth organizations in the United States and Canada. In fact, 4-H is the ...

Caring for Valentine’s Day cut flowers

February is generally the coldest month of the year, the heart of winter, a time that finds many of us patiently waiting, if not longing, for spring. Perhaps that’s why the preferred gift for a cold, wintry Valentine’s Day is a fresh bouquet of colorful, fragrant cut flowers. Valentine’s ...

Ruffed grouse — a close (and very unusual) encounter

Close encounters with wildlife have always fascinated me. But the behavior of wild animals can be, at best, difficult to understand and, at times, totally unpredictable. I once grappled with a robin who returned year after year, only to spend the entire summer flying into my office window in ...

Beekeeping workshop in Bloomingdale

Whether you’re considering starting your own apiary, need to brush up on your bee and beekeeping knowledge, or just curious about what’s involved, join Cornell Cooperative Extension and Hex and Hop Brewery for an “Improve your Beekeeping Knowledge” Workshop. The workshop, which is ...

Get into winter — on snowshoes

Winter’s here. It’s the season of snowmen, snowballs, snow forts, snow sculptures, sledding, tobogganing, tubing, ice skating, ice fishing, ice climbing, downhill skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, dog sledding, snowmobiling and snowshoeing. I’ve heard it said, “If you ...

Origins and history of Christmas trees

As far as I’m concerned, Christmas just isn’t Christmas without a beautifully decorated, real Christmas tree. Real trees have a stately presence and rich, fragrant aroma that awakens the senses, bringing the forest into the home and warmly welcoming everyone that enters. The Christmas ...

Tisquantum: A Native American Horticulturalist Rescues the Pilgrims

Part 2: The Plymouth colony   A Pawtuxet Wampanoag Indian named Tisquantum may very well have been the first American ambassador. His story begins during the summer of 1605, when British sailors under the command of Captain George Weymouth, who had been commissioned by colonial ...

Tisquantum: the Native American horticulturalist who rescued the Pilgrims

“We would worry less if we praised more. Thanksgiving is the enemy of discontent and dissatisfaction.” These are the words of H.A. (Henry Allen) Ironside, a Canadian-American Bible teacher, preacher, theologian, pastor, member of the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church and one of the most ...

Growing berries in the North Country

On Saturday Nov. 9, you’ll have an opportunity to learn the ins and outs of home garden and small scale berry production, when Cornell Cooperative Extension of Franklin County and Bonesteel’s Gardening Center, in North Bangor welcome retired CCE regional horticulture specialist Amy Ivy ...

Seriously supersized prize-winning pumpkins

Growing giant pumpkins may be a lot like baseball. After all, both are traditional, competitive sports that require hard work, determination, discipline, attentiveness, patience, and the ability to anticipate. Both continue to grow in appreciation; not just in this country, but ...

It’s apple season

There’s little in life more pleasing than biting into a crisp, juicy, slightly sweet, slightly tart, fresh-off-the-tree apple. And what could be healthier? Apples contain vitamins A and C, antioxidants, potassium, pectin, fiber and no cholesterol. They can be eaten fresh, baked or stewed; ...

A good year for monarch butterflies

If you’ve noticed a lot of monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) lately, you’re not alone. From my own observations and from what people have been telling me, this summer appears to have been a very successful one for them, at least in this part of the Northeast. Monarchs have four ...

Coyotes — friend or foe?

Have you ever heard the sound of coyotes (Canis latrans) baying at night? The call of a solitary wanderer? The yipping and howling of a young family moving swiftly through the forest? A chorus of voices raised in song for miles around? And if you have heard them, have you ever seen ...