Hort Day

Image courtesy of Michael Leland

With the cold winter months just around the corner, many Iowa gardeners are wondering how to best prepare their plants for the impending frosty weather. In order to prevent the deaths of numerous different plants, precautions must be taken, and Ajay Nair of Iowa State University Extension has advice for gardeners to resist soil erosion during the winter.

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With autumn underway, plants and trees are beginning to change their shape, many shedding their leaves preparing for the cold winter months ahead. These changes bring difficulties to those who would like their trees to remain picturesque during these months, and Iowa Department of Natural Resources Forestor Mark Vitosh advises the proper way to keep them healthy during these dry months.

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Right now we’re anticipating the rich yellows, oranges, and reds of fall, but it’s also time to start thinking about the pinks, purples, and whites of spring. In this Horticulture Day edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe is joined by horticulturists Cindy Haynes and Richard Jauron. They talk about planning and planting spring blooming bulbs.

Jauron says the coming weeks are the best time for planting any type of bulb.

Tips to Control Broadleaf Weed Sprawl

Sep 22, 2017
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Growing season is nearing its end, but plants in the yard and garden remain busy nonetheless. Specifically, broadleaf weeds can pose a problem for homeowners during this time of year. Iowa State University professor of horticulture, Nick Christians, has some tips about controlling broadleaf weeds.

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With the changing leaves and the cooling temperatures, late season vegetables are ready for harvesting. Knowing when exactly to harvest specific vegetables is a problem for many people, but Iowa State University Extension specialist Linda Naeve has advice for those curious about winter squash.

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Painted lady butterflies are having a really good year, according to Nathan Brockman, entomologist and curator of the Christina Reiman Butterfly Wing at Reiman Gardens.

Brockman conducts an annual survey of butterflies, and he's seen a lot of painted ladies recently.

"Last year, one week we saw 12, one week we saw 21; but when we did our survey this week, we saw 747 individuals on the gardens' ground."

Fixing Your Late-Summer Patchy Lawn

Sep 6, 2017
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It can be very frustrating when the picturesque, cloudless blue summer sky is undercut by a patchy, dead-looking lawn. In these last days of summer, it's common to assume that a discolored lawn is dead, but Iowa State University Extension Turfgrass Specialist Adam Thoms recommends inspecting the lawn more closely before assuming anything.

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One of Iowa's largest and most recognizable insects is the Praying Mantis. Contrary to their predatory nature and creepy appearance, the Praying Mantis is actually beneficial to the garden, and according to Entomologist Donald Lewis, they can't really hurt you.

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During the dry periods of summer, many gardeners across the state are unsure how to keep their gardens full of life during the lack of rainfall. Luckily, there are multiple flowers that can still thrive without much water, as Iowa Master Gardener Coordinator Denny Schrock explains.

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The Iowa State Fair is the state's signature annual event, attracting over one million visitors in each of the last two years, according to its website. Some of the fair's most notable events are the vegetable, fruit, and flower competitions; the winners of which receive the coveted blue ribbon. Iowa State University Extension Horticulturist Richard Jauron, who judges the competitions, explains what he and the other judges look for when it comes to blue ribbon quality fruits and vegetables.

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The decline of Monarch butterfly populations over the past two decades has received much attention from scientists. However, recent surveys of the Monarch population in the Midwest have not been showing dramatic decreases.

Monarch populations are thought to be tied to the disappearance of milkweed, the only plant on which Monarchs lay eggs. Iowa State University assistant professor in ecology, John Pleasants says Monarch populations in the Midwest may appear stable because counts are taken in open areas where butterflies can find milkweed.

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On this horticulture day edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with horticulturists Richard Jauron of Iowa State University Extension and Aaron Steil of Reiman Gardens.

Tomatoes are relatively easy to check for ripeness, but other garden fare can be tough, especially with underground vegetables.  

For new potatoes, Steil says that you need to wait until the tops dieback.

Phil Roeder / flickr

Rising in popularity over the years, a trip to the local farmers’ market has become a staple outing for summers in Iowa. If the “buy fresh, buy local” shopping experience interests you, there are some tips to ensure your visit is worth your while. Iowa State University Specialist in Value Added Agriculture Linda Naeve suggests bringing a cooler with a freezer pack in if you have a long distance to drive, bringing reusable grocery bags, and not bringing your dog unless it’s a service animal.

Demonstration Gardens Offer Ideas for Iowans

Jul 14, 2017
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If you’re having trouble getting something to grow or just looking to gather new planting ideas for your garden, Iowa State University’s Extension and Outreach is a great local resource. This summer they are offering six opportunities across the state for Iowans to learn about gardening techniques and to ask questions about the plants in their gardens.

No Easy Solution for Japanese Beetles

Jul 7, 2017
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The Japanese beetle has reached its peak population in places across Iowa. While some areas of the state have not seen the beetle’s appearance at all, isolated spots have seen early spurts of incredibly high numbers. Professor and Iowa State University Extension Entomologist Donald Lewis says that typically it’s toward the end of June that Japanese beetles emerge over a 3-4 week period. This year though, it seems they have all appeared at once.

Choosing and Preserving Edible Flowers

Jun 30, 2017
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When most of us think about fresh food from the garden we’re thinking about fruits and vegetables, but it turns out there are also a lot of flowers you can eat. Master Gardener Coordinator Denny Schrock says that in addition to growing spices like chives, basil, and dill in your garden, many common garden flowers are also edible. Flowers like impatiens and petunias make great additions to salads and can beautifully decorate deserts because of their vibrant colors. Day lily buds can be cooked similar to asparagus or zucchini as a mild vegetable substitute.

Make Your Container Garden Thrive

Jun 26, 2017
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Container gardening is a great alternative to traditional gardening if you are low on space and don’t have time for weeding. Potted plants also offer the benefit of being able to better control the soil, which allows for a superior soil type and drainage.

 

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With summer just around the corner, strawberry season is upon us. The impending warm weather raises many questions for Iowans about how to care for their own strawberries. Whether you're searching for the perfect berry at the market, or trying to figure out how to properly manage the runners on your strawberry plants at home, our horticulture experts are here with what you need to know to keep your summer filled to the brim with fresh strawberries.

Public Gardens are "Hidden Gems"

May 12, 2017
Jason Mrachina / flickr

The Friday before Mother’s Day has been named National Public Gardens Day, which creates a wonderful opportunity to visit and celebrate the many public gardens in Iowa. Public parks like the Dubuque Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, Reiman Gardens in Ames, and the Bickelhaupt Arboretum in Clinton are just some of many across the state. Assistant Director of Reiman Gardens, Aaron Steil, says that what sets these organizations apart from private counterparts is their dedication to educating the public about beautification and conservation of plant ecosystems.  

Planting Wildflowers in Iowa

Apr 28, 2017
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The end of April is a great time to explore nature and see wildflowers in bloom across Iowa. The beauty of these flowers is fleeting as they bloom and wilt all before the trees have fully expanded their leaves. Having adapted to their woodland environment, wildflowers maximize their photosynthesis time before the woods become a shady environment for the summer months. Iowa State University extension horticulturist, Cindy Haynes, says that woodland phlox, shooting star, and wild columbine are a few wildflower varieties that have still yet to bloom.

Plan Ahead for Your Future Trees

Apr 21, 2017
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Cool temperatures, plentiful moisture, and a long growing season make spring the best time to plant trees. On this Horticulture Day, DNR District Forester Mark Vitosh gives advice on tree selection, site selection, and tree care.

Vitosh places a large emphasis on planning ahead in order to ensure that your planting is most effective. Looking at conditions such as required sunlight, drainage, and the overall space the tree could potentially take up are all key in the planning stage.

 

Growing Asparagus is Worth the Wait

Apr 14, 2017
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A patch of asparagus can be a great addition to your vegetable garden as they can live up to 30 years. But without immediate visible results, the process can seem discouraging to some. Professor of Horticulture at Iowa State University and Extension Commercial Vegetable Specialist, Ajay Nair, says that waiting the 3-4 years prior to a full harvest is worth the wait.

He offers instructions for planting your young asparagus plant, generally referred to as a crown.

Springtime Care for Your Lawn

Apr 7, 2017
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As April showers kickoff spring weather across the state, flowers are beginning to bloom and grasses are starting to grow. Iowa State University Extension turfgrass specialist, Adam Thoms, shares some advice for how to establish and maintain healthy lawns.

Thoms advises that the next week is a good time to begin the pre-emergence weed control process.

 

Beneficial Insects for Your Garden

Mar 31, 2017
Silk Knoll / flickr

While pollinators are lauded as the most beneficial insect to have in your garden, there are other insects that you also want around. Iowa State University Extension Entomologist Donald Lewis explains the various roles insects play in our landscape.

Lewis explains that the insects which we might perceive as a danger or a nuisance, such as wasps or bald-faced hornets, actually provide a needed service.

 

Establishing and Restoring Windbreaks

Mar 24, 2017
National Pork Board and the Pork Checkoff / flickr

 

The state of Iowa is no stranger to its share of strong, gusty winds. A row of trees and shrubs can make a noticeable difference in erosion control or in reducing home heating costs. Iowa State University Extension Forrester, Jesse Randall, shares ways to plan for and establish healthy windbreaks.

His tips on how to configure a successful windbreak:

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On this St. Patrick’s Day, the Hort Gang discusses some holiday-specific greenery. Associate Professor in the Department of Horticulture at Iowa State University Cindy Haynes says that contrary to the common belief that shamrocks and clovers are indistinguishable, they actually come from two different plant families and often live in two different environments. Clovers are described as adaptable, resilient, and are often found in people’s yards.

As summer approaches many people are out in their lawn, mowing, watering and pulling weeds. 

On this episode of Talk of Iowa host Charity Nebbe talks with  Iowa State University Extension turfgrass specialist Adam Thoms about lawn care. 

When it comes to mowing, Thomas recommends keeping your grass around three and three and a half inches tall, and not removing more than a third of the leaf tissue. This means mowing the lawn regularly. 

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Vines can help spice up many gardens, but it is important to pick one that is going to thrive in its new environment.

On this episode of Talk of Iowa, it’s Horticulture Day! Host Charity Nebbe talks with Aaron Steil, Assistant Director of the Reiman Gardens, about vines. They discuss how to care for different vines and which conditions help ensure vines flourish.

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It's almost time to start planting seedlings into the soil.

"This is an exciting time of year," says Ajay Nair, assistant professor of horticulture at Iowa State University. "One of the crops that comes to mind is potatoes. Sometime in the first week of April, or the second week of April, is the time to plant potatoes... Other crops that can go out are the cool season vegetables like broccoli and peas." 

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Iowa’s Master Gardeners will be stocking community food banks this summer.

Iowa State University Master Gardner coordinator Denny Schrock says it’s expanding existing programs already producing nearly 15-tons of fresh produce.augmenting healthy diets for more than a third of a million Iowans said to be food insecure. And Shrock says the desired foods are surprising.

"They want more zucchini. So, we’ve green beans, tomatoes, cucumbers,  carrots, potatoes, melons, bell peppers, and sweet potatoes are going to be part of the home demonstration gardens.”   

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