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March 10, 2009     Cape Gazette
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March 10, 2009

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Garden & Farm 22 11jESC MAIR]4 W-  Maar'-012, 29 Cape Gazette m v Fennel is widely used in Italian cuisine; raw in salads; steamed as a side dish; added to pasta, risottos, Italian sausages or meatballs; and in rye breads. Easy-to-grow fennel adds a delightful flavor to many recipes hey're known as a synonym for "smalL" but the sardine is simply small or immature fish of the herring family, in partic- ular the European pilchard. The word itself comes from the Greek "sardines" and is said to be from Sardo - Sardinia- where these fish supposedly were once famous and plentiful. One of the healthiest meals you can eat is made form sardines, raisins, pine nuts and something called Florence fen- nel This celerylike bulb is also called finocchio. Florence fennel (feniculum vulgate azoricum) is an annual that can be direct seeded fight into the garden. It is actually the stem that swells to form a loose bulb as it grows. It can be eaten raw or cooked. Plant fennel seeds directly into your gar- den as soon as the ground can be worked in the spring. Youmay want to plant a second crop in early June for fall harvest. Plant about 10 seeds per foot in rows at least 18 inches apart. The seeds are small with about 7,000 seeds per ounce. Cover the seeds with just a half inch of soil. Once they sprout, thin the seedlings to 6 inches apart. Cut off any seed stalks that grow up from the stems to encourage bulb formation. After planting, keep the bed moist for two weeks until the f'wst true leaves appear. From this point on, keep well watered but not soggy. It is very hardy and can survive several hard frosts. Even though it can take months to grow a full-size bulb, you can use it any time. Once the bulbs are about egg sized, fill soil up around the plant. This win blanch the lower part of the stems and increase the edible part of the bulb. One of the best varieties of Florence fennnel is Zefa Fino. You can get Zefa Fino seeds from lo- cal garden centers or by mail from Park Seeds (800-213-0076) or Johnny's Seeds (877-564-6697). Unlike other Florence fennels, Zefa Fino has a light, succulent texture that doesn't get tough or woody. The white blooms ofZefa Fino make it a standout in the garden or even tucked into a flowerbed for edible landscaping. At 3 to 5 inches across, the bulb is easy to harvest because of a short root stein. You can clip the leaves seasonlong without hai'ming the bulbs. Zefa Fino is resistant to bolting and .thrive s in a wide range of garden conditions. Another good Flo- rence fennel is called Perfection, which has a stronger flavor than Zefa Fino. Fennel is widely used in Italian cuisine. You can chop it raw in- to salads, steam it for a side dish or serve it saut&d over pasta and in risottos. Fennel seed is added to pork to make Italian sausages. It can lend a slightly sweet and spicy taste to meatballs. In northern Europe fennel seed is used in rye breads. If you're going to save seed from your Florence fennel youwant to keep it away from dill as it mi:&t cross-polli- nate. Simply let the seed heads ripen on the stalk and then shake them into paper bags. Store the seed out of sunlight. You calrplant Florence fennel in the flowerbed or the back of the herb bor- der or in a long, stmi_ght row. You'll be able to pick your own licorice-flavored stalks to add to pastas along with your favorite fish. lust don't plant them too closely;, after all, you don't wan t them packed in like sardines - at least until they're in the sauce. Paul Barbano writes about gardening from his home in Rehoboth Beach. Contact him by writing to P.O. Box 213, Lewes, DE 19958. Intern program offers students opportunity for service learning Scholarship applications due Friday, March 27 , Applications are now being accepted for the 2009 Cooperative Extension Scholars Intern Program. This innovative program, open to rising juniors, seniors and gradu- ate students at the University of Delaware, offers a 10-week experience of working and making a difference as an intern with the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension. Dr. Jan Seitz, associate dean and director of University of Delaware Cooperative Ex- tension, created the Extension Scholar Program in 2004 to give university stu- dents an opportunity to become fully en- gaged in service learning, which has long been a hallmark of the Cooperative Exten- sion Service. "The work that extension scholars carry out each summer is integrated into their academic curriculum: Meet the .needs of local communiti, provide structured time for reflection and help foster civic re- sponsibility" said Seitz. Past extension scholars have designed and delivered 4-H educational programs, fostered partnerships between extension and other government and nonprofit or- ganizations, worked with volunteers, pur- sued funding, evaluated program results and conducted needs assessments. A cap- stone experience is part of the program. Up to tb:ree ex'teiasion scholars will be named. Scholars receive a stipend of $3,000 and if needed an allowance of $500 for job-related travel and/or housing. Lo- cation of internships will be extension of- rices on the university campus and/or in New Castle, Kent and Sussex counties. The application deadline is Friday, March 27. Selections will be announced by Mon- day, May 4. To receive an application, or for more information, contact Alice Moore at 831- 2504 or Agriculture department extends programs to socially disadvantaged farmers Richard L. Bergold, executive director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency in Delaware, said the agency is reaching out to women, ethnic and minority farmers in the state in an ef- fort to get more of them involved in its programs. The Farm Service Agency (FSA) defines a socially disadvantaged (SDA) farmer, rancher or agricultural producer as one of a group whose members have been sub- jectedto racial, ethnic or gender prejudice because of his or her identity as a member of the group, without regard to his or her individual qualities. SDA groups are women, African-Americans, American In- dians, Alaskan natives, Hispanics, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. "FSA programs are available to all pro- ducers, but we would like to increase par- ticipation by traditionally underrepresent- ed groups in all program areas," said Bergold. According to Bergold, FSA also reserves a portion of its direct and guaranteed loan funds each year for SDA loans for eligible participants. These loan programs are de- signed to help farmers purchase and oper- ate family farms. "With these loan programs, FSA hopes to help reverse the declining number of farmers and ranchers across the United States and especially here in Delaware," said Bergold. "These loans help to encour- age and assist them in owning and operat- in_g their own farms and ranches, partici- pate in agricultural programs alid become integral parts of the agricultural communi- ." Applicants must meet the eligibility re- quirements for a given program before FSA can extend program benefits. For more information on these programs and other programs available through FSA, contact the Farm Service Agency at the U.S. Department of Agriculture county service center. USDA is an equal opportu- nity employer and provider. Delmarva Chicken Festival now booking vendors Organizers of this year's 60th Delmarva ChickeffFeqtival are seeking arts and crafts and commercial vendors to partici- pate in the fegival that will be held Friday and Saturday, June 19-20, at the Queen Anne's County 4-H Park near CentreviUe, Md. The festival's home and trade show is open to businesses, trade associations, government agencies and other groups in- terested in promoting their products or services to an estimated general pubic au- dience of about 25,000. Crafters who create their own artistic wares are invited to share their products at the festival's arts-and-crafts show. Limited spaces for commercial and arts-and-crafts vendors are available. The deadline for vendor application is Friday, May 1, de- pending on space availability at that time. Additional information and applications are available from the Queen Anne's County Department of Economic Devel- opment, Agriculture and Tourism at 410- 758-4418 or by email at The Delmarva Chicken Festival, held an- nually as a celebration of Delmarva's chicken industry, is sponsored by Delmar- va Poultry Industry Inc. and will be hosted in 2009 by Queen Anne's County.