Horticulture

McFarland's Mill

On this horticulture day edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks to Richard Jauron, Iowa State University Extension Horticulture Specialist, and Linda Naeve, Iowa State University Extension Specialist in Value Added Agriculture, about how you can use mulch in your garden this summer. 

"Mulch has a lot of good characteristics to it and good advantages in a garden," Naeve says. "Most of us think, oh I want to mulch to keep the weeds down... but it also helps conserve soil moisture."

Yancas / Flickr

Along with the rich greens and beautiful blossoms of early summer come bugs— gnats, mosquitoes, ticks, and many others. During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe chats with Iowa State University entomologist Donald Lewis about biting insects. 

Renee Harper

Ripe strawberries right out of the garden are one of the joys of summer. It's important to know how to select strawberry varieties, harvest the fruit, and even—after a few good harvests—renovate an old strawberry patch.

On this episode of Talk of Iowa, Denny Schrock, State Master Gardener Coordinator, has some suggestions for growing the sweetest fruit.

"If you’re doing the June bearing variety, you want to plant those 18 to 24 inches apart," Schrock says. "If you have good Iowa loam, you should have a good crop of strawberries." 

Stephen Bowler

Rhubarb is one of the first flavors of spring. It's delicious in desserts and, some would argue, out of hand. On this Talk of Iowa, we share tips for growing rhubarb.

Linda Naeve, ISU Extension Specialist in Value Added Agriculture, says growing rhubarb can be a breeze.

"The right site is pretty easy - full sun, well-drained. Simple," Naeve says. 

Samantha Forsberg

Every spring they burst forth, usually in late May or early June. You see them on farmsteads and in city landscapes. They're spectacular. They smell amazing. They don't last long. They're peonies.

During this hour of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe chats with Cindy Haynes, associate professor of horticulture at Iowa State University, about how best to care for peonies.

SD Dirk

It's National Public Gardens Day, 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 describes what sets these public gems apart.

Jeremy Keith

Some crops take a little more room to grow than others. Vine crops, like cucumbers, squashes, and melons, love to spread as they grow. 

On this Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talks with Ajay Nair, associate professor of horticulture at Iowa State University, about growing vine crops. Nair recommends mounds for vine crops that spread on the ground, and he says it helps with aeration.

"For cucumbers, you should try to do the trellising," Nair says. He also has recommendations for selecting pickling cultivars.

David Whelan

A butterfly garden is easy to plant and the results are beautiful on a number of levels. From asters to nettles, from fennel to prickly ash, a butterfly garden is easier to cultivate than you might think. 

On this Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe chats with Donald Lewis, Entomologist from Iowa State University. They go beyond milkweed and monarchs to explore garden options for colorful pollinators. 

U.S. Department of Agriculture

This is not a drill. Our long awaited spring has finally arrived. As we anticipate and enjoy the emergence of green, it's also time for the emergence of insects.

On this Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe is joined by Laura Iles, Director of the Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic at Iowa State University, who acts as our guide to some of Iowa's most recent invasive insects.

Serres Fortier

Purple foliage is striking against a landscape of green, pops against neutral-colored siding, and can add color to a garden year-round. For Cindy Haynes, associate professor of horticulture at Iowa State University, a plum tree planted her passion for the purple pigment, and her garden hasn't been the same since.

"You don't want an all purple foliage garden because then nothing stands out," Haynes says. "I've tried it, I know."

Prairie City, Iowa

There are many things to consider when adding shade to your yard in the form of a tree, and it can be difficult to know where to start.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, guest host Jason Burns talks with Iowa State University horticulturists Jeff Iles and Richard Jauron about what to keep in mind when buying and planting a sapling.

Lucy Crosble

On this Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talks with Linda Naeve, ISU Extension Value Added Agriculture Program Specialist, about taking our seed starting skills to the next level. It helps to start with the right medium.

"We recommend you go to the garden center and invest in a seed-starting mix," Naeve says. "A soil-less media that contains peat, perhaps vermiculite, very fine medium. That medium drains well."

Dean Borg

More cut flowers are purchased on Valentine’s Day than on any other day of the year, in spite of the fact that the holiday falls in the dead of winter. When buying a bouquet, it can be hard to determine how best to care for cut flowers and make them last.

Cindy Haynes, a horticulturalist from Iowa State University, has some tips for selecting cut flowers.

“We like roses that are fairly tight in bud that are showing good color,” Haynes says. “Red roses and some of the darker colored roses don’t show that damage quite as much as something like a white rose.”

New Year's Resolutions for Your Garden

Jan 5, 2018
Image courtesy of Reiman Gardens

The harsh winter weather is upon us this January, and many Iowans are left longingly looking at their outdoor gardens buried in snow wondering what they can do to stay busy during the winter months. While some may opt to visit Iowa's many wonderful indoor botanical gardens, another option is to create a similar atmosphere within your own home. Assistant director of Reiman Gardens, Aaron Steil, has suggestions how to create a humid atmosphere for plants to grow.

Image courtesy of Ildefonso Gómez Sierra

The plants outside are starting to change their shape and color. Given that the trees have shed their leaves and the ground is too frozen to plant almost anything, many Iowans are left twiddling their green thumbs wondering how they can manage to plant anything in this weather. Cindy Haynes, Associate Professor of Horticulture at Iowa State University, suggests planting some holly.

Image courtesy of cocoparisienne

With the holiday season just around the corner, many living rooms will soon be filled with towering Christmas trees and holiday plants like poinsettias. Many Iowans have questions about how to care for these plants, and DNR District Forester Mark Vitosh has advice for those who would like to keep their trees properly hydrated indoors.

Protecting Your Winter Garden

Nov 17, 2017
Artem Vasev

It’s mid-November, and winter weather is already upon us. Many Iowans want to know how to prepare their yard and garden for winter. Winter garden care involves covering strawberries, prepping roses, and getting ready to fend off hungry rabbits. Aaron Steil of Reiman Gardens in Ames has advice for those who want to protect their strawberries.

It got cold last week, and suddenly the world outside is insect-free. During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with her guests about how insects survive the winter, and why they show up so quickly when the warmth returns. 

Guests are Iowa State University Extension Horticulturist Richard Jauron, ISU Extension Entomologist Donald Lewis, DNR District Forester Mark Vitosh, and ISU Professor of Horticulture and organic specialist Kathleen Delate. 

Reflecting on the Growing Season

Oct 27, 2017

With the impending frost Iowa is about to receive, the growing season has come to an end. The season ending means that astute gardeners should take this time of year to reflect on what did and didn't work in their gardens. Chair of the Horticulture Department at Iowa State University Jeff Iles reflects on the diversity of plants outside his home.

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.

Image courtesy of Giani

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
Image courtesy of NY State IPM Program

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.

Image courtesy of Wolfgang Eckert

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.

Nicholls of the Yard / Flickr

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
Image courtesy of Hans Braxmeier

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.

Image courtesy of Michael Leland

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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Chiot's Run

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.

Sarah Boden/Iowa Public Radio

To some visitors, the corpse flower smells more like garbage than rotting mammal. The rare Sumatran plant, also known as Titan arum, is believed to be the first corpse flower of this variety to bloom in Iowa.

Titan arum was expected to blossom last week, but the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden says scorching temperatures of high 90s likely delayed the plant’s unfurling. Cooler weather has arrived and the garden's staff says the corpse flower opened and began emitting its infamous stench sometime between 2:00 and 3:00 am on Tuesday.

Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden

The corpse flower at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Gardens still hasn’t bloomed and last week's scorching temperatures might be to blame.

This variety of corpse flower, Titan arum, comes from Sumatra, an Indonesian island known for its rugged, tropical terrain. For this reason, you’d think the plant fared well during last week’s scorching temperatures.

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