Horticulture

What is a master gardener? Someone who loves gardening, has a strong interest in helping others improve their gardens, and is willing to volunteer on projects.  Iowa State Uniersity offers training classes every fall semester starting Sept. 1. 

During this hour of of Talk of Iowa Charity Nebbe talks with Iowa State University Extension Master Gardener Coordinator Denny Shrock about what it means to become a master gardener and his work with ISU to help other gardeners get the best yields each year. 

In the height of the growing season, it's important to keep a careful eye on your beloved crops.

In this episode of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talks with Assistant Director of Remain Gardens, Aaron Steil and ISU Extension Horticulturist Richard Jauron to answer listener questions about pruning, mulch alternatives and organic pest solutions. Here's their to-do list for taking care of perennials and other plants.

As we brace for the end of storm season, wind damage and tree wounds are expected.

On this hour of Talk of Iowa Host Charity Nebbe talks with Professor and Chair of Horticulture Department at Iowa State University Jeff Iles, and Iowa State University Extension Horticulturist Richard Jauron about tree recovery. They both share advice for caring for fallen limbs. 

Jauron and Iles also answer listener questions about stability and root systems and discuss the value of ground assessment, as well as the advantages of pruning trees young.

With a wave of dryness hitting the western and southeastern part of Iowa, it can be hard to keep your thirsty plants satisfied. 

During this hour of Talk of Iowa host Charity Nebbe talks with Iowa State Extension Specialist in Value Added Agriculture, Linda Naeve and Iowa State Extension Horticulturist, Richard Jauron about how the heat affects our plants, and the best watering strategies to keep your plants hydrated this summer. They also discuss the importance of checking leaf color and discuss how to tell if your plants are stressed.

A Stalk to Stand On

Jun 27, 2016

With tomato season fast approaching it's time to talk about how to train those unruly veggies.

Ben Stanton talks with Iowa State Assistant Professor and Vegetable Extension Specialist Ajay Nair about the best way to keep your precious plants upright, and alternative support setups for larger-scale systems. They also discuss the importance of pruning, and how to spot the difference between determinate and indeterminate plants.

"When we prune our plants, the fruits are bigger and the plants are more productive in terms of yield and performance," Nair said.

As the summer settles in, the bugs come out, and that includes ants. Iowa State University Extension entomologist Donald Lewis says there are more than 700 species living in Iowa. 

"If you combined all the ants of the world they would weigh about as much as the combined weight of all the humans," Lewis said. 

There are approximately 8,800 different known species that cover the terrestrial surface of the earth, Lewis says, but you need not worry that 8,800 different kinds of ants live in your backyard, as the majority of species live in limited areas of the tropics.

Liz West / Flickr

Memorial Day Weekend is upon us and peonies are starting to bloom across the state.

Cindy Haynes, Associate Professor of Horticulture at Iowa State University, says you shouldn’t be worried if your peonies haven’t opened yet. If your peonies haven’t started blooming by the first week of June, she says you should double check that your plants are in the right conditions, with shallow soil and lots of sun.

Day Donaldson / Flickr

The summer travel season is almost upon us, and this year travelers are thinking more about insects.

Fears about the Zika virus are heightened as the infested mosquitoes spread and more cases are reported in the U.S. Lewis says that currently all the cases in the U.S. came from people traveling, and that there is still no vaccine to help prevent the virus.

David Hawgood / Wikimedia Commons

Heat, light, water and nitrogen… put them together and you get lakes and ponds that are choked with plant growth. The balance between discouraging aquatic unwanteds and encouraging the plant growth that supports aquatic life is a tricky one to manage.

Allen Patillo, aquaculture and fisheries extension specialist says preventing problems is easier than solving them, and that means nutrient management. He says protecting the watershed is the best first step by limiting the nitrogen leaving lawns and fields, and planting prairie or other species that will absorb the runoff.

Stephen Melkisethian

Many gardeners consider Mother's Day to be the starting gun that signals the beginning of tomato planting season.

On this horticulture day edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talks with Iowa State University horticulturists Linda Naeve and Richard Jauron about what varieties to pick, how to plant, staking and caging, managing diseases, and how to successfully grow tomatoes in containers.

“Hardening off” the plants

Richard Jauron

Arbor Day is a wonderful day to think about planting trees, but it’s also a good time to walk amongst beautiful trees and learn a little bit about the species that surround us.
 

Emily Woodbury

A lot of people get outside to explore nature on Earth Day, and right now is the perfect time to visit the woods.

  In the spring, Iowa’s woodlands come to life with wildflowers like Bloodroot, Dutchman’s breeches, Trillium, Hepatica, and May apples. Wildflowers are also found in wetlands and prairies.

This hour on Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talks with Iowa State University Extension horticulturists, Richard Jauron and Cindy Haynes, about woodland wildflowers. They also answer listener questions.

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Planning outdoor landscaping is one of the more overwhelming outdoor projects. If you're wondering where to start, Lisa Orgler, a lecturer in the horticulture department at Iowa State University says to think about your open spaces first. 

Kate Dugas / Flickr

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." 

Anita / Flickr

With April, spring has tentatively arrived, grass everywhere is starting to turn green, and Iowan eyes are cast to the lawn. One question facing homeowners is whether or not to rake the leftover leaves on the lawn.

"You can get some damage from it. On the other hand, in most situations those leaves will break down and they won't do a thing, Iowa State University horticulture professor and turf grass expert Nick Christians.

Christians says the leaf breakdown can even be beneficial.

Corvus moneduloides / Wikimedia Commons

There's nothing quite like the taste of a ripe, red raspberry, but cultivating a berry patch can be thorny and a little confusing. If you want berries in the fall, now's the time to prune them. 

Early Spring Blooms

Mar 18, 2016
DM / Flickr

There are few things as lovely as a spring time hike in the woods when wildflowers are in bloom and you can recreate that experience in a small way in your own yard.

On this horticulture day edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe sits down with Aaron Steil, assistant director of Reiman Gardens, and Richard Jauron, Iowa State University Extension horticulturist, to talk about perennials that bloom in early spring.

Jena Fuller / Flickr - Licensed under Creative Commons 2.0

Morel mushrooms are one of Iowa's spring delicacies, but they can be very hard to find. Mark Gleason, Professor in the Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology at Iowa State University says if you want to be successful go mushroom hunting with an experienced forager. Gleason says you can often find morels in the vicinity of dead and decaying elm trees.

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Do you have sugar maple tree in your backyard? If so, now's the time to tap it if you want to make your own syrup. Jesse Randall, a forester with Iowa State University Extension, says that the freezing nights and warm days of late winter get the sap flowing. 

"It’s a function of being warm, but it’s also a function of day length. And we’re racing against the day length clock. What will happen is the buds will begin to swell, and that changes the flavor of the syrup," Randall explains. 

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As demand for fresh, local food intensifies, growers are getting more serious about providing produce outside the growing season. Home gardeners can grow greens at home during the winter months too. Chris Currey is an assistant professor of horticulture at Iowa State University, and he says hydroponic gardening is becoming more popular. 

Stan Shebs

During the long, gray days of winter, some gardeners take comfort by looking through seed catalogs, and others find solace in the beauty of indoor houseplants. Cindy Haynes, an associate professor of horticulture at Iowa State University, says there are several indoor plants that are easy to care for during the winter months.

Basher Eyre / Wikimedia Commons

So far this year, winter has been unusually warm. While it feels great to us, it's not the best thing for the flowers and plants around us. 

During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Richard Jauron, Iowa State University Extension Horticulturist, and Aaron Steil, Assistant Director of Reiman Gardens, about this year's unusual winter, which has some daffodils flowering early at Iowa State. 

liz west / Flickr

On this Horticulture Day edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe speaks with DNR District Forester Mark Vitosh about the trees of the season. Vitosh describes the labor put into the growing of these trees as well as the interesting weather that has come this winter.

"Iced tea and a Christmas tree. What do you know?" Vitosh chuckles.

Kelly Cookson / Flickr

On this Horticulture Day edition of Talk of Iowa Charity Nebbe speaks with Richard Jauron, Iowa State University Extension Horticulturist, and Cindy Haynes, Associate Professor of Horticulture at Iowa State University about caring for plants indoors during the winter months.  They discuss holiday plants, traditional house plants and outdoor plants that can be over wintered in the home.  Bringing plants in from outdoors can pose some challenges.  

jacki-dee / Flickr

Iowa may have had a mild fall so far, but winter is just around the corner. With that in mind, it's time to prepare yards and gardens for the arrival of winter.

Aaron Steil, Manager of Public Programs at Reiman Gardens, joins host Charity Nebbe to discuss best practices for winter readiness. Steil provides some tips for care of strawberries, asparagus, perennial care, diseased plants, and even how to take care of the leaves covering lawns.

Lori L. Stalteri / Flickr

Growing plants organically, whether done on acres of farmland or a backyard garden, can be tricky work. Iowa State University Extension Organic Specialist Kathleen Delate joins Host Charity Nebbe on this Horticulture Day edition of Talk of Iowa. Delate explains what cover crops are and how they can improve soil quality by infusing it with nitrogen and carbon and preventing soil erosion, nitrate leaching, and ground water pollution. Delate also discusses the uses and benefits of composting.

Pumpkin Season Has Returned

Oct 16, 2015
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Regardless of your personal feelings about pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin season is here. 

During this hour of Talk of Iowa, Linda Naeve of the Value Added Agriculture Program at Iowa State University Extension speaks with Charity Nebbe about the squash family, where to find pumpkin patches, and the many dishes pumpkins can create.

"I'm a pumpkin fan myself," Naeve says. "There's pumpkin muffins, pumpkin squash soup, there's pumpkin scones. You can put pumpkin in just about anything and, I think, make it taste good with those spices."

Fall Colored Perennials

Oct 9, 2015
Swallowtail Garden Seeds / Flickr

Watching the trees change color is one of the chief pleasures of fall, but few people consider what hardy perennials can add to scenery. An added benefit is that they are pretty easy to tuck in, where a tree may not fit.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, Denny Shrock, Master Gardener Coordinator at Iowa State University, discusses some of his favorite suggestions and he provides an extensive list of beautiful October bloomers as well as perennials with outstanding fall foliage colors.

Vera Kratochvil/Wikimedia Commons

It may not feel like it yet, but it is officially fall. This hour on Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talks with Aaron Steil, assistant director of Reiman Gardnes in Ames, and Iowa State University Extension horticulture expert Richard Jauron about spring blooming bulbs. It’s best to get them in the ground before the first frost, sometime in early fall. 

Jauron says that when you’re talking about tulips and daffodils, it works best to plant between 15 and 20 bulbs in a clump.

Iowa State University

With Iowa trees readying themselves for fall and the changing colors of leaves, look no further than Ames, Iowa for a new healthy seedling.  Bill Graves, Associate Dean of the Graduate College and Professor of Horticulture at Iowa State University, says he is excited about the Swamp White Oaks offered this year.  Graves loves to see people who enthusiastically purchase trees from ISU as well as discovering what becomes of those trees.

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