Talk of Iowa

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. 

Liesl Eathington, Iowa State University

You probably can’t go out for sushi nearby, and it might take an hour to get to a discount store but for some the benefits of living in rural Iowa more than outweigh those inconveniences. At the same time more and more Iowans are drawn to city life. According to Dave Swenson, an economist at Iowa State University, the numbers prove that true.  

“Just this decade, 71 of Iowa’s 99 counties have posted 2015 populations smaller than they were in 2010. That’s a trend that’s continued for at least two decades now,” he says.

Fiberon / Flickr

Decks can be the perfect place to spend a nice summer night but they can also be tricky to maintain.

This hour on Talk of Iowa host Charity Nebbe talks with home improvement expert Bill McAnally about decks and answers listener questions about their decks. What is the best material to use for a deck? How do you maintain them, and when it is time to call in an expert?

When Claire Hoffman was five, she moved to Fairfield, Iowa with her mother and brother, so that her family could follow the teachings of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. When Maharishi asked his followers to move to Fairfield, it created quite the rift between his followers and the townspeople. 

"You know in researching this book, I went back and went through the archives of the Fairfield Ledger. And you see this sense of outcry that Fairfield had been invaded," explains Hoffman. 

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talks with four young professionals from Sub-Saharan Africa in Iowa this summer as part of the Mandela Washington Fellowship program, the flagship program of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative. 

This summer, each of the fellows is developing business skills they will be able to take back home, and they are also forming connections with one another - an important aspect of the program, according to Dimy Doresca, director of the UI Institute for International Business.

JFK Presidential Library and Museum / Wikimedia Commons

While she was pregnant with her first child, Libby Buchmeier had been banking her vacation in anticipation of taking time off after the birth. When Buchmeier's daughter arrived 10 weeks early, she had to use the four weeks of paid maternity leave offered by her employer and much of that accumulated vacation time while her baby girl was in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

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.

Kevin Schuchmann/Wikimedia Commons

Many of us turn to nature for peace, recreation, and inspiration, and research is starting to support how interaction with the natural world can improve health and decrease stress.

Dr. Suzanne Bartlett is an Integrative Medicine Specialist at Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids. When she started practicing medicine, she worked as an obstetrician. Today, she’s incorporating what she calls nature therapy into her new integrative medicine practice.

Carl Wycoff

As outdoor playtime has dwindled for many kids in the United States our understanding of the importance of that time has grown.

"Kids are 71 percent less involved in outdoor activities now than they were ten years ago," says Dr. Stuart Brown, founding director of the National Institute for Play. "To me it's a public health issue. The benefits of play need to be understood both for personal health, brain development, and social competency. We don't somehow see play as being connected to that and yet it is."

Christine Jackowski

Keeping a household clean and free of clutter can be a constant struggle. On this edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe hosts a discussion about housekeeping, de-cluttering, and the social dynamics of maintaining a home.

She talks with Francine Jay, author of The Joy of Less: A Minimalist Guide to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify, professional organizer Chaney Kurtz, and Gloria Stafford, assistant professor of interior design at the University of Northern Iowa.

Clare Roth / Iowa Public Radio

Apocalypse and romance, mythology and high school, princesses and heroines, heartthrobs and nerds… this is the landscape of young adult literature, and it’s been growing, in numbers and in prominence. Sarah Prineas, Iowa resident and author of Ash and Bramble, says that’s because of the clamor of the audience.

courtesy of Emily Woodbury

Emily Woodbury is getting married in two months. And while she had had extensive discussions with her future husband and her officiant, she decided to seek wisdom from one more source: her grandparents.

"They met in 1956 and sixty years later, they're still together. They're really happy together, and I admire that in a way. I hope that, sixty years from now, with a bit of luck, that me and my fiance are where they're at now. So I wanted to see if they had any advice for us."

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.

Charlotte Cooper / Flickr

Iowans have a reputation for being non-confrontational; the phrase 'Iowa Nice' is embedded in our vocabulary, right behind 'Iowa Stubborn.' In Beyond Iowa Nice, Iowa Public Radio is inviting Iowans to share their perspectives on some of the most controversial and divisive topics in the state today in an attempt to foster empathy and find common ground. 

The Elusive American Badger

Jul 5, 2016
Jon Nelson

The honey badger may be an internet sensation, but Iowa is home to an equally tenacious species of badger. 

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talks with wildlife biologist Jim Pease about the American Badger. 

Although badgers are rarely seen in Iowa, they do live here. Due to their independent nature it is hard to know exactly how many badgers are in state, but quite a bit is known about their lives in the Midwest.

Allen Skyy / Flickr

If you watch television or movies, read magazines, or spend any time on the internet, you are going to encounter advertising or other imagery that features pictures of people with bodies that look, and often are, too good to be true.  

A handful of magazines and other brands have signed pledges that promise they will not alter the bodies of their models with Photoshop or other image software, and recently the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has moved to ban what he calls body-shaming ads on trains and buses in the city.

When Luther College students Laura Proescholdt and Amy Thor first watched An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore's documentary about climate change, they realized that their generation would face major environmental issues. And they wanted to do something about it, but what? 

“A lot of classes are all about the gloom and doom, but not many focus on solutions,” explains Thor.

University of Iowa Press

Julianne Couch should have been happy staying in her native Kansas City, or even her adopted Laramie, WY.  But after a drive through Eastern Iowa, she and her husband couldn't resist the charms of a small Mississippi River town in Jackson County.

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.

Using an u

nusual spelling of a word or a fancy French saying may seem like an easy way to sound elegant, but in reality the roots of the words or sayings are not what you think they are. 

On this episode of Talk of Iowa host Charity Nebbe talks with English language expert Patricia O’Conner about pretentious spellings and pronunciations. O'Conner is the author of Woe is I and writes on grammar blog, Grammarphobia

Jennifer Loeb

We use the metaphors “climbing a mountain” and “reaching the highest peak” as a way to describe the biggest challenges in our lives.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Iowans who have summited the highest peaks in the world, pushing themselves to the limit, stepping out of their comfort zone, and in Jesup native Jennifer Loeb's case, finding a greater sense of purpose.

Ted Polumbaum

Before the age of selfies and digital point-and-shoot cameras, photographers carried light meters strapped to their belts and spent hours processing negatives into prints.  Judy Polumbaum remembers those days. 

"Most of my friends had fathers who were engineers, and they would go to work in the morning and come home at night and put up their feet and watch tv," Polumbaum remembers.

ForestWander / Wikimedia Commons

Little bluestems, black-eye susans and purple coneflowers used to cover Iowa’s landscape, and now they are making a comeback, not just as plants that thrive as a part of a reconstructed prairie but as garden ornamentals.

Judy Nauseef, a landscape designer and author of the new guidebook Gardening with Native Plants in the Upper Midwest: Bringing Tallgrass Prairie Home, says native plants are becoming more popular in landscaping.

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.

Lucina M / Flickr

It is easy to dismiss crows as a loud annoying neighbor, but they are deceptively smart. 

On this episode of Talk of Iowa  host Charity Nebbe talks to about Wildlife Biologist Jim Pease about Crows and other birds in the Corvid family. 

Besides crows, the Corvid family includes blue jays, ravens, and magpies. Corvids are a common birds, they are on every continent except Antarctica. 

Cthulhu Steev / Flickr

Most obituaries are short biographies, meant to inform others of a loss. Sometimes they express sadness, or celebrate accomplishments. Ideally, they capture the essence of the person they're about.

"Wherever Cynthia was, she was probably the smartest person in the room. She could curse like a sailor-though she almost never did - yet she had exquisite and sophisticated tastes." That’s a line from Jennifer Miller's beautiful, smart, funny remembrance of her mother.

Kamil Porembinski / Flickr

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. 

Minnesota Historical Society Press

The "Big Marsh" was a source of bounty for wildlife, native people and settlers.  When it was drained it offered up fertile soil, but what was lost?  This hour, we talk to Cheri Register, author of the new book, "The Big Marsh; the Story of a Lost Landscape" (Minnesota Historical Society Press).

Sioux Falls Argus-Leader

Paula Poundstone loves Iowa--she must, she's performing here again!  On this segment of Talk of Iowa, Charity speaks to the venerated comedian, who is returning to Iowa City for a show at the Englert Theatre on June 10.