Home Insteading With Cooperative Extension (Week 31)
4-H at Home
Written By: North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Clemson Cooperative Extension, and USDA
Go Away, Germs
What are microbes? Microorganisms are living things that are all around us, but they are so small that you need a microscope to see them. While most microorganisms on our planet are harmless, or even helpful, to humans, some microorganisms are dangerous. These microorganisms are known as pathogens or more commonly as “germs.” Bacteria, fungi, viruses, and protozoans (single-celled organisms that move and consume other organisms) are all different types of pathogens that can make humans sick.
Some of the ways in which pathogens can enter the body include breaks in the skin, airway passages, and the mouth. Pathogens spread through the air when we sneeze and through contact with infected surfaces. Just to name a few, shaking someone’s hand or pushing the grocery cart may pass on germs to you or to other people.
Our bodies constantly battle against invaders. These microscopic invaders can enter our bodies in a variety of ways. Luckily, our body has many ways to defend itself against these unwanted guests. One defense is skin. Our skin is made up of three layers (epidermis, dermis, and hypodermis) and it is the largest of all the body’s organs. Skin protects our bodies and helps regulate temperature.
Your skin is an organ that covers your whole body. It has a very important job; one that is often overlooked, yet vital to good health. Skin keeps germs from entering your body. This helps keep you from getting sick. Skin also helps regulate body temperature, stores sweat glands and hair follicles, and allows us to have the sensation of touch.
The Experiment: Watch how important it is to wash your hands and fight away germs. Germs are everywhere and it’s up to us to stay clean and healthy. The cheese dust (residue) represents germs.
Materials: Cheese puffs
- Eat the cheese puffs. Notice the cheese dust (residue) left on your hands. Don’t lick your hands. The fun is about to begin.
- With a caregiver’s permission, choose surfaces to touch. A few examples can include: the mail, the refrigerator, or a mirror. What do you see as a result of touching the items with your hands?
- Time to clean up. Wash your hands with water only. What happens to the cheese dust?
- Try again! Wash your hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. Sing a little song to help you pass the time! What happens to the cheese dust this time?
Horticulture at Home
Katy Shook, Area Horticulture Agent
Bringing Houseplants Indoors
They may not be as much maintenance as a pet, but most houseplants require some care. At this time of year, gardeners should be bringing in houseplants that spent the summer outside. As temperatures cool, extreme dips can cause permanent damage. Try not to let your plants dip below 55 degrees F.
Before bringing them indoors, try to inspect the plants for insects. Most plants have some critters hanging out on the underside of leaves or in the soil. Wash the plants with a gentle stream of water and/or use a damp cloth. Soap and oil solutions are available for more stubborn pests that may need treating before transferring; follow all label directions. Make sure infestations are cleaned before bringing the plant indoors.
Gardeners should also inspect the plant for disease and trim away any stems or leaves that are in decline. In addition, gardeners can prune back overgrowth to make the plant more manageable before the move. If roots are coming out of the drainage holes, it may be time to repot the plant before bringing it inside.
Try to gradually adjust the plant to the new site. Houseplants that have been in full sun may benefit from a few days in a shady spot or garage before final placement. Do not fertilize houseplants at this time, as they are naturally responding to less sunlight during the day. Leaf drop is natural after the move, but new growth should emerge with regular care.
For more information on growing houseplants, contact the Ask A Master Gardener Helpline at (252) 482-6585.