Horticulture

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.   

 

Best Places to See Fall Colors in Iowa

Oct 7, 2016
TumblingRun / Flickr

 

Fall is here and beautiful colors are creeping across the landscape.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with DNR district forester Mark Vitosh about why and how leaves change color in the fall and the best places to see fall color in the state.

 

Vitosh says his top five favorite trees in the fall are:

There’s a great deal of history to be found on most university campuses, but not just in the buildings and the libraries - the trees also have a story to tell.

On this horticulture day edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with horticulturist Bill Graves about the Heritage Tree Program at Iowa State University. Also, he and horticulturist Richard Jauron answer listener questions.

Liese Coulter, CSIRO

When you plant an apple tree, it's sometimes a long wait for that tree to mature. But when it does you can suddenly find yourself with a lot of apples, which is great for pie making and canning. 

During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Diana Cochran, Iowa State University Extension fruit crop expert about the best ways to harvest and store apples. Richard Jauron, ISU Extension Horticulture expert also joins the conversation to answer listener questions. 

Thompson Greg, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service / Public Domain

Your friendly neighborhood herbivores, like deer and rabbits, aren’t opposed to snacking on your garden in the best of times, but they are particularly prone to snacking on ornamental trees and shrubs when the snow flies. 

Iowa State University Extension Horticulturist Richard Jauron says the plants that are most vulnerable to deer during the winter months are evergreens like arborvitae and yews, but new plantings of trees and shrubs should also be protected.

Michael Hartl / Wikimedia Commons

As summer comes to a close, insects and arachnids have some work to get done, and that makes them easier to see. According to Iowa State University Extension Entomologist Donald Lewis, it's been a good year for spiders. 

"I don't know that it's been a spectacular year, but it's been a good year," he says. 

"Its in the fall of the year when we can see them. Its in the fall of the year when they make their biggest webs, and it's the time of year when dew settles on the webs and makes them most visible." 

F_A / Flickr, licensed through Creative Commons

Much of gardening is intuitive. Not so with lawn care.

Plants grow in the spring and summer, so you might think that would be the time to re-seed or over-seed your lawn. You would be wrong.

Iowa State University Extension Turf Grass Specialist Nick Christians says the date he circles on the calendar for planting grass seed is August 15th. He says that date gives the seed enough time to grow before a freeze, and cooler temperatures will give it a better chance of competing with other weeds.

Muscatine's Secret to Perfect Melons

Aug 12, 2016

 

What's the difference between cantaloupe and muskmelon? How many types of melon are there? And how in the world do they grow seedless watermelon?

 

With Melon season finally upon us and harvest time in full swing, the Hort Gang helps answers those questions, and find out just what makes those melons so irresistibly juicy.

 

Should I dry or freeze basil? How do I keep cilantro from bolting? Why is there so much mint?

In this edition of Talk of Iowa Host Emily Woodbury fills in for Charity Nebbe, and talks with Cindy Haynes, Associate Professor of Horticulture at Iowa State University, about all things herb-related. Later, Richard Jauron, Extension Horticulturist joins the conversation and answers listener questions.

 

What's Going On Inside a Firefly?

Jul 29, 2016
More Weeping / Flickr

Watching fireflies as they light up a soft warm night is one of the pure joys of summer. As fireflies dwindle and send their last signals of the season, we find out what all of that flashing is about.

In this Horticulture Day edition of Talk of Iowa, Chairty Nebbe talks with Iowa State University Extension entomologist Donald Lewis about the majesty and fertility of fireflies, the genesis of Hort Day, and the upcoming 30th anniversary celebration. Later, ISU Extension horticulturist Richard Jauron joins the conversation to answer listener questions.

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.

Wikimedia Commons

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. 

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