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Extension and Outreach Is for Problem Solvers

September 29, 2016

This week’s message is from guest contributor Linda Brinkmeyer, Administrative Assistant in my office.

This harvest season my new daughter-in-law pickled jalapeño peppers from her garden. Impressive. I have enjoyed hearing about how she started her garden from a seed tray, her success with the kale and pepper crops, and the struggles with her tomatoes.

This woman is a down-to-earth problem solver. However, she became frustrated enough with her tomato plants’ non-performance that she pulled them out and threw them into the compost pile behind the garage. (Extension and Outreach has something to say about that: “The Do’s and Don’ts of Composting.”) Come to find out, those tomatoes really took to that compost, and before too long she was showing me her hearty tomato plants growing cattywampus out of that compost pile.

Her subsequent plotting (no pun intended) resulted in great ideas. First, she realized there was too much shade in the back yard, so she thought she might put a raised bed in their sunnier front yard for tomatoes and other sun-loving plants. (See “Raised Beds for Vegetable Production.”) Second, the situation with the compost pile led her to believe that the soil in her raised beds in the back yard may need a boost. (Check “Yard and Garden: Soil pH and Testing.”)

She went on to tell me about a conversation she’d had with a friend about strategies for preparing garden soil in the fall for spring planting. She shared that he had informed her about this really great collection of knowledge built into a website and even a hotline! I said, “You mean ISU Extension and Outreach, right?” Yes, she replied, although she felt a little sheepish about not having connected me with ISU Extension and Outreach. (It’s not like I’m a vice president or anything. I just work for one.)

I was absolutely delighted to talk with her about her ambitious gardening, which led into another discussion about how she and my son are experimenting with preparing their weeknight meals on the weekends, to stay in line with their budget and keep their hectic lifestyle more manageable. I wonder if there is anything on the ISU Extension and Outreach website about that? (Try this tip from Spend Smart. Eat Smart.)

Extension and Outreach is for problem solvers.

See you there.

— Cathann

P.S. You can follow me on Twitter @cathannkress.

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  1. I loved your blog, Linda! People don’t often connect our great resources with ISU Extension and Outreach employees until they realize they need us! 🙂

  2. This is great! I also just experienced my first year with a garden. I always tell people that I am a plant hospice center; I do my best to make them comfortable during their inevitable demise in my care. This year I had help with the garden (which is why it was successful), and as an extension professional, I RELISHED the conversations I was able to have with Master Gardeners visiting our office or even with the employees in the office about recipes, canning and preserving strategies, as well as sharing produce with staff to use in nutrition programs or even in their own homes. I am certain your new daughter-in-law had quite the learning experience, I know I did. The use of a pressure canner for the first time (and the following fear of what the loud rattling sounds were from the lid – I debated putting on a helmet before entering the kitchen), mastering the water-bath canner (less frightening than the pressure canner), and experiencing the trouble shooting of why my tomatoes and peppers are rotting from the bottom (blossom end rot – calcium deficiency), or how to keep the squirrels away from the growing popcorn (sling-shot?). I did build raised beds, but moreso because of my back injury. I enjoyed reading your story and recognizing that I was not alone in the delightful experience of managing a garden for the first time. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Wonderful Linda! ISU Extension and Outreach really is there to help people solve their everyday life situations!