Horticulture

Make Your Container Garden Thrive

18 hours ago
Jeff Boyd / flickr

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.

 

Lynn Greyling

Mother Nature can be pretty inconsistent when it comes to watering the yard or garden, but it's not hard to make up the difference. However, some watering techniques yield better results than others. Iowa State Extension Program Specialist Linda Naeve suggests watering plants in the early morning.

Bruce Marlin / Wikimedia Commons

Arthropods have a lot of legs. It’s easy to want to kill them when you find them in your house because they look creepy. But Iowa State University Extension Entomologist Donald Lewis says most often, these animals are friends not foes.

“They’re not insects. They are closely related. These are  animals that have an exoskeleton and have jointed legs. Millipedes, centipedes, and sowbugs are important to our gardens. You’ll see these critters, and it’s like pulling weeds, it’s satisfying to be able to call them by their right names,” says Lewis. 

szjeno09190

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.

Fairfax County / Flickr

We’ve been seeing a lot of stories about the incoming deluge of ticks this season. Iowa State University Extension Entomologist Donald Lewis says despite some of that reporting, “nobody should panic.”

“There is no census of ticks. There is no systematic survey. What we have are people’s memories of how good it was last year or how bad it was last year, or how good or bad it was 10 years ago,” says Lewis.

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.  

F_A seelensturm / Flickr

Spraying herbicide to achieve what many consider to be the ideal lawn became a common practice in the mid-20th century. Many people stopped that practice after studies showing the health impact of human contact with common pesticides and weed killers.

Planting Wildflowers in Iowa

Apr 28, 2017
Brett Whaley / Flickr

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
amdougherty / flickr

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
Rob Ireton / flickr

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.

Chiot's Run / Flickr

Many changes have taken place in agriculture over the last 100 years. While most of the emphasis in commercial agriculture has been on maximizing yield, with truly remarkable results, this shift in focus also led to an incredible loss of bio-diversity and significant cultural losses in some communities around the world.

Springtime Care for Your Lawn

Apr 7, 2017
Bruce Aldridge / flickr

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:

liz west / flickr

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.

Mid-March is approaching, which means the growing season is getting close. During this hour of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe discusses with guests about how plants multiply. 

Linda Naeve, who works with Iowa State University Extension, explains different ways plants are spread.

Smabs Sputzer / Flickr

As a beautiful weekend approaches the state of Iowa, many are looking forward to getting a head start on their spring yard work. If you’re looking to start pruning your shrubs soon, Assistant Director of Reiman Gardens Aaron Steil has some recommendations.

Pat Blank / Iowa Public Radio

Spring is just around the corner, and it’s time to start thinking about gardening again.

On this Horticulture Day edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Iowa Master Gardener coordinator Denny Shrock and Iowa State University horticulturist Richard Jauron about selecting seeds, starting seeds, and when it’s best to delay planting. They also troubleshoot problems commonly encountered when starting seeds and answer listener questions.

Vera Kratochvil/Wikimedia Commons

More cut flowers are purchased on Valentine's Day than any other day of the year, in spite of the fact that it falls in the dead of winter. During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Cindy Haynes and Richard Jauron of Iowa State University about the best flowers to buy for longevity. Most cut flowers don't last more than a week. 

Smabs Sputzer / Flickr

After a couple of weeks of ice, snow, mud, and gloom over most of the state, the thought of working outside may not be very appealing right now, but the sun in peeking out today and there is still work to be done outside.

Jeff Iles, professor and chair in the Horticulture Department at Iowa State University says pruning is best done during the dormant season.

Photo Courtesty of the Iowa State University Department of Agriculture

There are blooms outdoors, even when it seems like everything has gone gray. You just have to know where to look for them. During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Richard Jauron, horticulture expert with Iowa State University Extension and Cindy Haynes, who is professor in charge of the master gardener program. 

"The lenten rose might be something you’d consider for a bloom. Some people call it a Christmas rose," says Haynes. 

Gifts for Gardeners

Dec 8, 2016
Kate Ter Haar

A beautiful amaryllis in bloom or some paperwhite narcissus can bring joy to the depths of winter. 

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talks with horticulturists Richard Jauron of Iowa State University Extension and Aaron Steil of Reiman Gardens in Ames about forcing bulbs. They also share some gift ideas for gardeners.

Christmas Trees And Poinsettias: What To Look For And How To Keep Them Alive

Dec 2, 2016
Birmingham Botanical Gardens
Alby Headrick / Flickr

With the holidays upon us many of us will bring new plant life into our homes.  Choosing the right poinsettia or Christmas tree can be a challenge if you don’t know what to look for. 

Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

The corn and soybeans so abundant in Iowa could someday replace many of the plastic pots and flats at your local garden shop.

Researchers at Iowa State University set about to create pots for plants that were not made from petroleum products and that could biodegrade. They started with a corn-based bioplastic and tried a number of different formulas. Some of those included a polymer made from soybeans.

mikemennonno / Flickr

When it starts to get colder, a lot of people bring plants inside from outdoors, and on this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Richard Jauron, horticulture expert with Iowa State University Extension; Linda Naeve Iowa State University Extension Value Added Agriculture Specialist; and Mark Vitosh, DNR District Forrester about caring for house plants during the winter.

Some plants don’t look as healthy once they have been brought indoors, according to Jauron, That's okay. 

 

Jennifer C. / Flickr

Winter is on its way, and perhaps a bit late in Iowa this year. If overing roses and strawberries, or planting bulbs has been on your to-do list, it's almost time. 

"This weather has been good for those of us who are procrastinators," says Schrock. "You talked about covering strawberries. The temperature has to be in the 20's consistently for them to go completely dormant, so don't cover them yet."

"The same is true for roses, but be careful because it could happen any day now." 

Jennifer C. / Flickr

 

What To Do With Your Fallen Leaves

Oct 28, 2016
Jack / Flickr

  To rake or not to rake this time of year? That is the question. Living in the Midwest means that the changing seasons bring about changing chores. This hour on Talk of Iowa host Charity Nebbe talks with  Iowa State University horticulturists Linda Naeve and Richard Jauron. 

 

If you do rake your leaves, you need to decide what to do with them. Jauron says that instead of disposing of them, try using them as mulch.

 

"If you bag them with a mulching mower, you can save them for next year and use them as a mulch."

 

Wikimedia Commons

This time of year, it’s hard to avoid pumpkin spice. It’s being used for candles, lattes, and even beef jerky. During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Aaron Steil, assistant director for Reiman Gardens about what makes up the iconic blend.

Horticulture expert Richard Jauron also joins the conversation to answer listener questions.

Why October is the Best Time to Plan Your Spring Garden

Oct 14, 2016
Field Outdoor Spaces / Flickr

 

The rich yellows, oranges, and reds of fall are dominant in the landscape right now, but it’s time to start thinking about the pinks, purples, and whites of spring. 
 
On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Iowa State University horticulturists Cindy Haynes and Richard Jauron about fall bulbs and how to plan for your spring garden.   

 

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