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Feature Articles: Food, Fitness and Cooking and Produce


Garden, grow, preserve with MU Extension

Person picking ripe tomatoesJanet Hackert, Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, Harrison County, University of Missouri Extension


Spring has finally arrived. Now is the time to take advantage of the wealth of resources University of Missouri Extension has to offer to help with gardening and preserving your garden’s harvest.


MU Extension provides direction on getting the garden started. A soil sample can be brought to any MU Extension center and will be sent off for testing to determine if the soil is ready for the vegetables or fruits that are planned for it. There is an MU Extension publication on how to take the soil sample to best represent the whole garden. Another publication, the Vegetable Planting Calendar, describes what and when to plant, how to space it, and how much to plant depending on whether the produce will be eaten fresh or preserved.


MU Extension also offers information on growing vegetables and fruits, managing common problems like what diseases and insect infestations to watch for, and maintenance like pruning fruit trees and thinning carrot seedlings. Go to the MU Extension website and search for what you are interested in, such as “growing tomatoes,” and you will find an assortment of publications.


There is even an online resource and app for identifying weeds. Simply go to, select the characteristics of the weed and pick from the list that comes up. The descriptions include photos to help confirm identification. Once the weed is clearly identified, control measures can be focused on that particular weed. This tool is available as an app in iTunes or Google Play for iPhone, iPad or Android devices.


Once the produce is ripening, MU Extension has information and specialists who can help understand how and when to harvest, store, use and preserve it. Seasonal and Simple is an MU Extension publication that tells you where to find produce (with a guide to Missouri’s Farmers Markets), as well as selecting, preparing and storing fresh fruits and vegetables found in Missouri. The Seasonal and Simple guide can be purchased or you can utilize the free online resource at This guide is also available as a free app for iPhone or Android devices.


For those who wish to get hands-on experience learning how to select, can, freeze and dry their produce, look for food preservation classes offered through MU Extension. Search for classes in your area using the calendar feature on the Extension website.


Whether in paper form, online, as an app, or from a specialist, MU Extension has answers for your questions on gardening, growing and preserving produce.


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Last update: Monday, April 17, 2017