Finney County Extension agents

Though most shrub roses are hardy in Kansas, other types of roses can be more tender. For example, the hybrid teas have certain species in their ancestry that originated in the warm climate of southern China. These roses need protection to reliably survive Kansas winters.

Mound soil or compost about 8 to 10 inches high around each plant. If using soil, bring it in from another part of the garden. Do not pull it from between plants because this can damage the rose roots or make them more susceptible to cold. This normally is finished by Thanksgiving.

After the ground has frozen, add a 4-inch mulch of straw, leaves or hay for further protection. More soil may be spread on top of the mulch to keep it in place. Do not add the mulch before the ground freezes or mice may invade and feed on the roses over the winter. The purpose of these coverings is not only to moderate the cold, but also to prevent warm days during the winter or early spring from stimulating growth that is tender to returning cold weather.

Excessively tall canes should be pruned to a height of 36 inches and tied together to prevent them from being whipped by strong winter winds. Wind can damage the crown of the plant or loosen the surrounding soil. Next spring, remove coverings before new growth starts. Wait until after the ground thaws, or the tops may begin growing before the roots can provide water.

Controlling rabbits

During summer and spring, cottontail rabbits rarely cause problems to landscape trees, shrubs and perennials since food and cover are abundant. However, in the winter, rabbits often gnaw on the bark of woody plants and also can cut off perennials like tulips in late winter. Check for gnawing marks and twigs cut at an angle and round pea-sized droppings, and you know rabbits are the culprits.

Three general methods are available for rabbit control: exclusion, trapping and repelling. Exclusion works the best, but fencing off the whole yard or placing individual wire wrappings on plants might not be practical. On individual trees and shrubs, use at least 2-foot-tall cylinders of 1-inch-mesh, chicken wire or similar barrier. Plastic tree wraps work relatively well. When fencing an area, be sure and anchor the fence down or bury it so rabbits cannot burrow underneath.

Live traps may be used, but the success rate may greatly vary. Use live traps that measure 6-by-6-by-24 inches. Metal traps of this size may be purchased from various sources, such as farm and garden and hardware stores.

Rabbit repellents are often unsatisfactory for protecting plants from rabbits. The label restrictions on most rabbit repellents limit their use predominately to woody plants and to the winter months. Repellents can be classified as area (odor) or contact repellents.

Thiram, one of the safest and most effective contact repellents, generally is used during the dormant season. Thiram is water soluble and a sticker must be added. I have used an odor repellent (Liquid Fence) with fairly satisfactory results.

If you have any questions about roses, rabbits or any other concerns, contact David Coltrain, Finney County Extension agent, by phone at 272-3670 or email

Best way to store sweet potatoes

What's the sweetest way to keep this hearty tuber fresh? Normally, when we go to the store to buy sweet potatoes they are in a cool temperature area. Is that really the best way? We have in our mind or in our beliefs that, if these tubers remain in a cold area they will last longer, but the reality is that the best temperature for them to last longer is between 55 and 65 degrees before being roasted.

Keep the potatoes cool rather than cold. At room temperature, they only last about a week. But, if youlower temperature a few degrees, they will last one month. And as a result, whether you have boiled, baked or rotisseried them, your sweet potatoes at room temperature will be creamy and soft all the way through, while the refrigerated ones will remain tough or hard at the center.

Another way to preserve them longer is freezing. Peel sweet potatoes, cut them into wedges, with the size of your preference, store them in airtight plastic bags and free them to protect them so as not to lose moisture and retain their value, taste, color and texture.

Use sealed materials to prevent evaporation storage. Date it and it may be frozen for six to nine months.

Any questions or concerns, contact LĂ©hisa de Fornoza, Finney County Extension agent, Family and Consumer Sciences agent, at (620) 272-3670, or

Many honored at 4-H Achievement Night

The annual 4-H Achievement Night was held Sunday at the Finney County 4-H Building. It was a county-wide recognition dinner for that more than 100 people attended.

The celebration was held to recognize leader milestones for service, excellent 4-H records keeping by the 4-H members, outstanding 4-H members, Kansas 4-H Key Award, distinguished 4-H Alumni and Friends of 4-H.

The Distinguished 4-H Alumni Award went to Bob Dechant of Garden City. Also receiving the 4-H Alumni award were Kenby and Lana Clawson from Satanta.

Sam and Janet Hands, from Garden City, along with the Finney County Farm Bureau were recipients of the Friends of 4-H award, presented to supporters of the Finney County 4-H program.

The big focus for the awards is to keep focus on the youth and the records they kept on their projects. Several adults were recognized with plaques, pins or certificates for their continued dedication to 4-H.

4-H is an organization built by volunteers and community. Thank you to everyone who has dedicated time, resources and energy to the Finney County 4-H over the past year.

Traineing 4-H officers

Parliamentary Jeopardy! The 4-H building echoed with sound as new 4-H community 4-H club officers responded to team Jeopardy Parliamentary questions about motions, business meetings and officers responsibilities.

Training for each of the office holders occurred as adult and youth volunteers huddled with presidents, vice-presidents, secretaries, treasurers, reporters, historians, song and recreation leaders. We know job descriptions help all of us prepare for optimum performance. Leaders outlined duties and the time commitment needed to do a good job. In addition, practice problems were completed in each group.

4-H Community Clubs provide a great environment for learning leadership skills. We are happy to share training materials and education programs for any organization that involves youth officers such as church groups, class officers, STUCO representatives, and youth clubs.

Contact us at the Finney County Extension Office at (620) 242-3670 for more information.