Finney County Extension Agents

This is the season when many of us begin to gather all the papers to claim taxes. It always happens that when you believe you are ready, then ... boom! you do not find one of the most important receipts. For this reason, cleansing your file and all papers ahead of time will help you to be better organized for preparing your taxes.

This may be a good time to clear out some of the clutter in your home filing system. Managing finances for a household can be overwhelming, especially when you consider the amount of monthly bills, receipts, pay stubs, account statements and other essential paperwork received by a household on a monthly basis. It's easy to lose track of everything you need, but a good organizing system can keep things right at your fingertip.

Here are some points to think about:

* Be ruthless about recycling. Most of the papers that people keep are never, ever looked at again. That's why it's important for you to be ruthless about recycling — getting rid of those papers that no longer serve any use to you or your family. Weed out incoming papers you don't need on a daily basis, and weed out your entire filing system on a monthly or quarterly basis at minimum.

* Clear the bulletin board and fridge. In general, bulletin boards and refrigerator surfaces are a catch-all for papers people have no idea where to store. If you keep one or two papers in these places, such as your daughter's music lesson schedule or your grocery list, that's OK. But if these surfaces are overflowing with phone numbers, medication schedules, coupons, recipes, photos, artwork, calendars and more, most of those papers are likely not serving their purpose, getting hidden behind other papers, just taking up space and making these surfaces very messy.

* Forget the "I may need it someday" syndrome. Yes, there may be that one sheet of paper eventually that you wished you had kept, but it is a very rare circumstance that you won't be able to acquire the information you needed from another source. Obviously keep at least seven years' worth of legal, tax and financial documents and any active warranties. But avoid keeping heaps of paper consisting of travel brochures, articles you enjoy, recipes you may make and so on. Your best bet with these types of papers is to date each three months from today in the upper right corner. When you're weeding out your filing system, if it's past the date you marked on the paper, recycle it. If you haven't looked at it up until now, you probably never will.

For more information, call LĂ©hisa de Fornoza at 272-3670.

4-H Shooting Sports meetings

The Finney County 4-H Shooting Sports meetings will have the first meeting of the year from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Sunday at the Fairgrounds 4-H building.

The first meeting will cover safety for both air rifles and shotguns. Any youth (18 and younger) who wants to participate in this shooting sports program must attend this safety meeting. Instructional materials are provided.

Other 4-H Shooting Sports meeting dates scheduled are Feb. 9 and 16, March 2 and 30 and April 6, all in the Fairgrounds West Pavillion.

The 4-H Shooting Sports certified instructors offer Air Rifle/BB Gun instruction for youth age 7 and older. They do not need to be enrolled in 4-H or the 4-H Shooting Sports project to participate. Parents and/or guardians are encouraged to attend this important meeting.

If there is bad weather, there will not be a meeting. For further information, call the Finney County Extension Office at 272-3670.

The 4-H Shooting Sports Program teaches young people the safe and responsible use of guns and the fundamentals of firing air pistol, air rifle, black powder rifles, shotguns, archery and hunting skills.

The 4-H Shooting Sports Program uses the skills and disciplines of shooting to assist young people and their leaders to attain knowledge and develop essential life skills. In learning the rules of firearms safety and safe firearms handling, a young person will learn decision making, safety, science and technology, and youth development as well as social interactions and communication skills.

In learning the rules of firearms safety and safe firearms handling, a young person will learn decision-making, develop an inquiring mind, and acquire and cultivate a knowledge of wildlife and natural resources.

Fair photography

For all the photography enthusiasts, the 2014 Finney County Fair photography themes have been chosen for the sweepstakes categories.

The 23rd annual "Great American Photography Contest" will have the theme of "Skies Over Finney County." Think sunsets, sunrises, storms or airplanes, hot air balloons, fireworks displays, kites or birds, as long as it was in the skies.

Another county fair photo category is "Seasons of the Bison." For the Friends of Sand Sage Bison Refuge Sweepstakes plan to shoot the bison in any and all seasons. Be creative! Be adventurous! Stalk the winning photo in heat and cold, in spring and fall.

"It's a Zoo Right Here!" is the Friends of the Lee Richardson Zoo sweepstakes for images created at the zoo!

All 2014 Finney County Fair sweepstakes contests should be photographs taken since the end of the 2013 fair. Good luck!

For 4-H inquiries and questions, call Barbara Addison at 272-3670 or email

Growing your own transplants

Last week's article described how to grow your own transplants. Start with good sterile potting soil. Germinate seeds at 75 to 80 degrees. After seedlings emerge, 65 degrees is the best temperature for transplants. For lighting, a florescent light left on for 16 hours each day that is 4 to 6 inches from the top of plants works great.

This week will focus on the timing to get your transplants ready to plant outside in the garden. Let's assume this spring will be an average Kansas spring. I don't like to talk about a "normal" spring, because in Kansas," normal" rarely happens. The only thing we can be assured of is that each year will usually be unique.

Generally, cool-season vegetables should be ready to plant about April 1 and warm-season vegetables should be ready May 1. Cool-season vegetables can stand temperatures down to about 25 degrees and warm-season vegetables will definitely die at 32 and struggle at 35 degrees. Examples of cool-season vegetables that are often planted as transplants are cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and lettuce. Warm-season examples are tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash and melons.

The cool-season vegetables are all small seeded and will take seven to 10 days to germinate at 75 to 80 degrees. At 65 to 70 degrees, they will take around 15 days to germinate. After germination, cool-season plants with good soil and adequate fertilizer and light should grow fast enough to be large enough for planting in another four to five weeks. Smaller seeded warm-season vegetables, tomatoes, pepper, etc., have similar timing. Peppers are a little slower growing and will take another seven to 10 days of growth. Cucumbers, squash and melons will germinate in five to seven days and will be ready to plant in another 20 to 28 days.

However, there is one more very important step to do before transplants are ready for the garden. This is the hardening off stage. This practice likely will be important for purchased transplants, too. I believe many times gardeners have problems getting transplants off to a successful start because plants are not hardened off before planting.

Hardening off involves acclimating plants to outside conditions of wind and full sun. Reducing watering and lowering temperatures is key to producing tough plants that are ready for transplanting. If conditions allow, move the transplants outside for a portion of the day, starting in a shaded, protected location and gradually moving them into a sunny exposed location. A week to 10 days of hardening off will condition transplants to be ready for planting in the garden.

By following these recommendations, you will have quality transplants ready for the garden. Growing specific varieties and having them ready when you want them is the ultimate goal for growing your own transplants.

If you have any questions about growing transplants or any other concerns, call David Coltrain at 272-3670 or email