County Extension Agent 4-H & Youth Development

You've done it tucked those tender bedding plants into the garden just so. And now you're looking forward to all manner of flowers and vegetables from your very own back yard. So what can turn this satisfying scene into one of big disappointment overnight?

"Rabbits in gardens are a perennial problem because of the wide variety of plants they can feed on," said Ward Upham, Kansas State Research and Extension horticulturist. "This time of year, they gravitate to young vegetables and flowers. But there are some vegetables that are rarely bothered including potatoes, tomatoes, corn, squash, cucumbers and some peppers."

Fencing can provide a quick and effective control method for susceptible plants, said Upham, who is the coordinator of the Extension Master Gardener Program in Kansas.

"The fence does not need to be tall; two feet is sufficient for cottontails, but the mesh must be sufficiently fine (one inch or less), so young rabbits will not be able to go through it. Support for the fence can be supplied by a number of products, but electric fence posts work well," he said.

In cases where fencing is not acceptable because it affects the garden's attractiveness, there are other ways to control rabbits, he said, including repellents, trapping and shooting.

"Repellents are often suggested for control, but often do not last long and require frequent reapplication," Upham said. "Also, many are poisonous and cannot be used on plants, or plant parts, destined for human consumption."

Live traps can be used to collect and move the rabbits to a rural area several miles from where they were trapped. A number of baits can be used to entice the rabbit into the trap, including a tightly rolled cabbage leaf held together with a toothpick. However, rabbits often avoid baits if other attractive food is available, he said.

A motion-activated sprinkler is another possibility, he added. These are attached to a garden hose and release a short burst of water when motion is detected. Some suppliers advertise that their sprinklers protect up to 1,000 square feet.

Kids go green

Kids can do their part when it comes to protecting the environment. Even as kids, they can start to make a difference by learning how to help and encourage others to make a difference, too.

* Make a difference by recycling: Did you know that many materials you use every day can be used again and again? After it gets set on the curb, have you ever wondered, "Where does our trash go?"

When adults talk about recycling, they are talking about how things you would think of as "trash" can be used again and turned into new products instead of decaying in a landfill. Here are some examples of things that can be recycled: soda cans, plastic bottles, newspaper, cardboard boxes and soup cans.

Did you know that plastic juice bottles can be used to help make carpet? How about turning old tires into ground cover for your playground?

* Make a difference by composting: How does composting help save the Earth? When you compost, nutrients from food help make plants healthy and strong. Worms play a major role in composting. They eat "garbage" and help turn it into nutritious food for plants and trees.

Worms are the heroes of the garden. They eat leftover food and turn this waste into castings. These worm castings become food for plants. The way the worms move is called "tunneling," which also helps plants by making room for oxygen to reach the roots buried deep underground.

Did you know you can compost at home?

1) You can recycle leaves and other plant materials at home by setting up a compost bin. Your bin can be made out of chicken wire, an old bird cage or a plastic tub.

2) Recipe: air, water, brown stuff, green stuff, microorganisms and worms,

Brown stuff is dead, dried plants and leaves.

Green stuff isn't always green, but includes fresh, living parts, such as grass, vegetable scraps, other plants, egg shells, coffee grounds and filters, newspapers, tea bags and regular, non-glossy paper.

Microorganisms and worms can be added. Red wrigglers (red worms or manure worms) are the hardest working, but earthworms will work hard for you, too!

Do not use meat, fat, pet droppings, bones, milk, cheese, or oils. These items can attract pests, deplete necessary moisture or pose health risk.

3) Once you have added both brown and green stuff, shovel some soil on top. Repeat this to make layers, as in a cake. Make sure each layer gets a good sprinkling of water and add worms as you are making the layers. (Remember: If you are using a plastic tub, your worms can't go deep enough into the ground when the weather turns cold. This could cause them to freeze and die.)

4) Just wait! Microorganisms and worms will now be hard at work.

5) You can keep adding more scraps from your kitchen, grass clippings and leaves.

6) Once the materials you have added look like dirt, you have compost. Compost is dark, earthy-smelling stuff rich in nutrients. Plants love it.

7) Use your compost as mulch around gardens and other plants, or use it in potting soil.

To make a plastic tub worm bin, see this website for detailed, kid-friendly directions:

If everyone learns to conserve more energy, the planet will be a cleaner, healthier place with more resources for everyone to enjoy.

Lakeside 4-H Camp

Registrations for the Lakeside 4-H Camp scheduled for June 13 and 14 at Scott Lake are due May 17 to the Finney County Extension Office. The campers need to be first, second and third grade complete to register. This camp is a two-day and one night residential camp.

Fun activities include crafts, archery, fishing, hiking, rafting, campfire, singing, swimming and much more. Two jam-packed days of fun! Call the Finney County Extension Office at 272-3670. Registration is available online at

Healthier life habits

Type 2 diabetes is all too common among people of all ages, and it is especially common among older adults. One in two adults age 65 years and older have pre-diabetes. Healthy lifestyle habits can reduce the risk. This includes maintaining an appropriate body weight for height or losing 10 percent of excess body weight, if overweight; not smoking; being physically active regularly, such as walking and strength training; eating a healthful diet (veggies, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy, lean protein foods, few sweets, moderate-sized portions); drinking alcohol in moderation if at all; and getting enough sleep.

A new research study has confirmed that consuming sugar-sweetened beverages increases the risk of type 2 diabetes: just 12 ounces per day of sugar-sweetened soft drinks increases the risk for type 2 diabetes in adults (average age of about 52 years) by 22 to 25 percent.

Source: K-State Research & Extension Nutrition