From Across the Field – Merry Christmas

As we are winding down the year there is lots still to do. I am finishing up some year-end reports and articles at work and winding up for winter programs. We have a full winter and spring of agriculture programming planned, details of which can be found on the events page at While there are more details to come I’d like to highlight the 2019 edition of “Northwest Ohio Crops Day” scheduled for February 8th at the Bavarian Haus in Deshler. During this full day agronomy program, we have a variety of topics and speakers lined up. One of those Speakers is NW Ohio’s own Gary Schnikey from the University of Illinois. As part of the program a full 3-hour pesticide recertification and 1-hour fertilizer recertification will be offered to producers.

As Christmas will be here in less than two weeks many have already decorated their homes in the yule tide spirit. Poinsettias can be a great piece of holiday décor but how often have we purchased a beautiful poinsettia just to have it look awful within a couple weeks?

Here are a few tips to keep it beautiful through the holiday season. Poinsettias are grown in a soilless mix that drains rapidly causing the plant to dry out quicker than houseplants grown in potting soil. Punch holes in the decorative foil and place a tray underneath to allow for thorough watering. You may have to water twice a week depending on how dry is the environment. Allow the soil to become dry to the touch, but don’t let the leaves wilt between the watering.

Place the plant in the strongest light possible. A south window is the best. Don’t let any part of the plant touch the cold window pane because it may be injured. Temperature should be maintained between 65 and 70 degrees. Keep plants out of cold drafts and away from heating vents.

As holiday parties draw nearer it is important to consider food preparation for your party guests. For a Christmas meal I typically think of ham as the centerpiece of the plate. Christmas is by far the number one day for ham consumption in the us. Hams can be fresh, cured or cured-and-smoked, cooked, picnic and country style. Why is the difference important? Depending upon the kind of ham, the storage and cooking times can be very different. Hams can be fresh, cured or cured-and-smoked. The term ham refers to the cured leg of pork. A fresh ham would be an uncured leg of pork. The fresh ham will have the term “fresh” in the title of the product. The term fresh means that the product has not been cured in any process.

Usually, the color of a cured ham is a deep rose color or pink. A fresh ham (one that has not been cured) will have a pale pink or beige color similar in color to a fresh pork roast. Country ham and prosciutto (both are dry cured) range in color from pink to a mahogany color.

Hams that have the appearance of a ready-to-eat product but are not ready-to-eat must have a statement on the primary label telling the consumer that the product needs to be cooked before it is eaten. The term “cook thoroughly” on the product label means the product must be cooked before it is consumed and there must be cooking instructions on the label.  I’ll end this week with a quote from Charles Kettering: “Thinking is one thing no one has ever been able to tax.” Have a great week and Merry Christmas.
Important Dates
Dec. 24-25: Office Closed
Jan. 1: Office Closed

Garth Ruff,

Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Educator

OSU Henry County Extension

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