Daylily Fever

 

Arachnidan Trap daylily (Photo/Zora Ronan)

Arachnidan Trap daylily (Photo/Zora Ronan)

  I’ve been receiving calls and emails about Zora Ronan’s upcoming open gardens this weekend and hearing from people who plan to make the trip to see her daylilies. For those of you who cannot attend, Zora sent some tips on dividing daylilies and other general advice:

    When or if to divide a daylily is a decision to be made based on the plant’s health.  If it is not looking unhealthy, is still blooming freely and has not outgrown its space, there is no reason to disturb it.  I only divide when one or more of those problems occurs.  Daylilies vary greatly in how fast they become crowded.  I have some that get divided every 4 years or so and some that have been fine for more than that time.  The biggest problem in waiting to divide until the plant is very overgrown is that it can become very large and hard to handle.  When I do divide, I replenish the soil with lots of compost and a bit of peat. 

   Daylilies are considered the perfect perennial because they survive and thrive with very little care.  However, good nutrition and adequate water is always going to improve daylily performance.  I do fertilize lightly every year with lawn fertilizer (no herbicide).  Daylilies can use a bit more nitrogen than other perennials to keep the foliage a nice healthy green.  I apply a 3-month time released fertilizer in the early spring–never any fertilizer after August 1.  If you have a good supply of compost, top-dressing with that every year is also beneficial and can probably take the place of artificial fertilizer. 

   Any dividing is best done in spring or after bloom has ended.  I would not divide any later than early to mid-September – daylilies need about 6 weeks to settle in before winter arrives.  We never know when that is going to happen.

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Rain: Too much of a good thing

The following is by Linn County Master Gardener, Claire Smith:

     He was correct.  A climatologist said July was going to be wetter and colder than normal.  Did you imagine we’d be wearing jackets and sweatshirts on mid-summer mornings?  A couple of my houseplants living on the deck for the summer got relocated under the eaves.  They were experiencing a little too much of a good (rain water) thing.  It has been nice not having to drag hoses or fill the water wagon as much this year.  The soaker hose has been pretty much dormant, too. 

    It does bother me letting all this precious water run off, though.  Rain barrels have become a popular efficient way to retain that wonderful commodity that Mother Nature provides. Rain barrels don’t need to be plugged in or powered up.  They’re good for the environment and save money. 

    Rain water is preferably to municipal water for gardens because it provides a beneficial pH balance, thus creating less of a need for fertilizer. 

     Rain barrels situated at the base of a gutter or downspout, are typically modified recycled 55 gallon food grade drums, and include a filter, spigot and with an overflow pipe usually directed  on to a flower or vegetable bed.  Commercial rain barrels are available with costs varying.   Rain chains, water-funneling devices, can be used in place of down spouts for an esthetic effect.  Maybe you would want a decorative rain barrel situated on either side of your patio door. 

     Rain barrels may provide a good source of water should we have a water restriction order.  While the primary use is plant associated, rain water can be used to wash a car, scrub patio furniture or even flush a toilet. 

     Rain barrels do require minimal maintenance.  Leaves and other debris have to be removed from the filter and the gutter supplying the water.  Also, users need to guard against mosquito breeding and algae.  All in all helping  the environment far outweighs a bit of inconvenience.

    And, speaking of mosquitoes, just a reminder with all of the moisture we’re experiencing, the most common floodwater mosquito will be laying eggs in any source of stagnant or muddy water.  Remember to regularly empty and clean the kids’ wading pools, the pet’s water dishes and the bird bath.  Tall weeds and grasses harbor mosquitoes during the day.  Reduce the incidence of the problem and reduce the population of the annoying and possible disease carrying critters.

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Trees Forever grant to go toward flood recovery landscaping

This just in from Trees Forever in Marion:

     Trees Forever today announced that it received a $10,000 grant from the Alliance for Community Trees (ACT) and The Home Depot Foundation. This challenge grant is part of the National NeighborWoods Program, made possible through generous support of The Home Depot Foundation. NeighborWoods is a nationwide initiative that engages the public in meaningful hands-on action to produce tangible improvements to community health through tree planting and stewardship. Trees Forever is one of just eleven organizations nationwide who received a NeighborWoods award in support of partnerships between urban forestry non-profits and affordable housing providers.

  Trees Forever is a regional nonprofit that plants trees and cares for the environment by empowering people, building community and promoting stewardship. Disastrous flooding in Iowa in 2008 irrepara-bly damaged 944 homes in Cedar Rapids, 75% of which were low-income housing. The city needs at least 420 new owner-occupied homes, half of which must be affordable housing. Trees Forever is partnering with Cedar Valley Habitat for Humanity to help address this need and ensure green, sustain-able redevelopment in Iowa by planting approximately 40 trees at 20 new Habitat homes in the College Park Estates and Wilderness Estates neighborhoods of Cedar Rapids. 

Trees Forever will also plant another 50 trees at 20-25 Habitat sites in Des Moines, in partnership with the Greater Des Moines chapter of Habitat for Humanity. These projects will revitalize devas-tated Iowa neighborhoods and benefit low-income homeowners by increasing their property values, improving air quality, reducing storm water runoff and producing energy-conserving shade. Volunteers and future Habitat homeowners will receive training on proper tree planting and maintenance to ensure survivability of the trees and maximize their long-term benefits for Iowa communities.

“The NeighborWoods grant allows Trees Forever to help Habitat for Humanity leverage their landscaping budgets on dozens of new flood-recovery homes,” commented Karen Brook, Trees Forever Program Manager.  “And the new homeowners will benefit from the energy savings, aesthetics and improved home value that the trees provide over time,” Brook added.

For more information on the Trees Forever NeighborWoods project, please contact Karen Brook at (319) 373-0650 ext.20.  For more information on Trees Forever and its many programs, log onto www.TreesForever.org <http://www.treesforever.org/> .

About Trees Forever

Trees Forever is a nonprofit organization based in Marion, IA committed to planting trees, encouraging community involvement and stewardship, and caring for the environment. Programs focus on improving air and water quality, increasing wildlife habitat, providing substantial energy savings and beautifying our landscape. For more information visit www.treesforever.org <http://www.treesforever.org/>  or call 800-369-1269.

About Alliance for Community Trees

Alliance for Community Trees (ACT) is dedicated to improving the health and livability of cities by planting and caring for trees. With 160 grassroots affiliates in 40 states and Canada, ACT engages volunteers to take action to improve the environment where 80% of people live – in urban areas. ACT member organizations have planted and cared for 14.9 million trees in cities with help from 4.3 million volunteers. For more information, visit www.actrees.org <http://www.actrees.org/>

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Taste of Heritage Gardens in Iowa City

         The Johnson County Master Gardeners will host their 14th annual Taste of the Heritage Gardens on Wednesday, July 22 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Plum Grove Historic Site, 1030 Carroll Street in Iowa City.

        For a suggested donation of $5, attendees will receive a taste of 19th recipes for soups, salads, vegetable dishes, breads, drinks and desserts prepared by the Master Gardeners. In addition, the audience will be entertained by the Senior Center Horn band, and there will be guided tours of the gardens and 1844 Lucas house.

         There will be a drawing for door prizes and recipe booklets will be available. Free parking is available on site.

         The proceeds from this event go to garden maintenance and Kirkwood scholarships. In case of bad weather, the event will be held at Building C at the Johnson County Fair Grounds. Further information is available at 351-4903.

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Day(lily) dreamin’

    It seems too chilly to think this is prime summer and thus prime daylily season in Iowa. Might as well enjoy the cool while you can. Today (Saturday, July 18, 2009) Wanda Lunn of Cedar Rapids will have an open garden from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at her home at 526 Bezdek Dr. NW. Wanda said this will be the height of daylily blooms & the larger lilliums, as well as many other summer perennials.  She will be available to answer questions about all of these flowers.

     Next weekend (Sat. and Sun., July 25 and 26) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days, Linn County Master Gardener Zora Ronan will open her gardens for viewing at 5031 North Marion Road, Central City.

Lillies, daylillies and other flowers at Zora Ronan's garden (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Lillies, daylillies and other flowers at Zora Ronan's garden (photo/Cindy Hadish)

    I had the opportunity to visit Zora’s gardens last week and more will be available in Sunday’s (7/19/09) Gazette.  Zora said her gardens are about one week behind those in Cedar Rapids, so they should be in their prime next weekend. Even a week ago, the beds were beautiful. Zora has the right touch with daylillies, which come in hundreds of shapes, sizes and colors. Both Zora and Wanda are open to questions and I think this is one of the best ways to learn about gardening, with an up-close view to see what both looks and works great. It’s really inspiring to have people like this in our community who are so willing to share and generous of them to offer their time and expertise, as well as open up their gardens to the public.

The sign says it all (photo/Cindy Hadish)

The sign says it all (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Here are directions to the home of Zora and Paul Ronan:   From I-380:  Exit at Toddville.  Travel east on County Home Road to Alburnett Road.  Turn north on Alburnett Road.  Turn east on Justins Road (gravel).  Justins Road dead ends at North Marion. Turn north and the garden is on the right. From:  Highway 13: Travel north on Highway 13 to Central City.  Turn west on E-16 (Center Point-Central City Road).  Turn north on North Marion Road (gravel) and travel 1.6 miles.  Garden is on the right. From Marion:  Travel north on North Tenth Street.  Tenth Street changes name to North Marion and becomes gravel when it crosses County Home Road.  Since North Marion is gravel for quite a long way, it is better to travel north on either North Alburnett Road or Highway 13.

When I went last week, one of the roads from I-380 was closed, but it was easy to get there by going to Central City and taking a left on E-16.

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Slimy slugs

Laura Jesse, of Iowa State University Extension’s Plant & Insect Diagnostic Clinic, wrote the following about garden slugs:

 

Slug photo by Laura Jesse of ISU Extension

Slug photo by Laura Jesse of ISU Extension

    There seem to be plenty of slugs in my garden, but I hope not in yours. Slugs leave small, irregular holes all over the leaves of plants. They especially seem to like my hostas but they are not picky feeders. Slugs are difficult to detect because they feed only at night. Slugs look like snails without a shell. They vary in size from less than an inch up to 2 inches in length, grayish colored, and a bit slimy to the touch. In fact as they crawl along they leave a slime trail.

    Slugs need moisture to survive and are found under mulch, rocks, logs, and other damp locations. My hostas tend to be eaten because they grow in a garden that is shaded and holds the moisture longer.

    Reducing slug damage is not an easy task and nothing will fix holes already there, so your first question should be – how bad is this and can I live with the damage? If you do decide to try to reduce the slug population you should combine several tactics. First, remove mulch and reduce moisture from around the base of afflicted plants as much as possible. Remove slugs you find either by using a trap such as a board on the ground that slugs will gather under or pan traps with beer as a bait. I assume cheap beer works fine and would not waste expensive beer on this. Remove dead slugs daily or it will get pretty disgusting. Finally there are commercially available slug baits available containing a molluscicide, but they are best used in the spring or fall.

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Mini garden walk

The following is by Linn County Master Gardener, Claire Smith:

What a great idea, visiting other people’s gardens! Amazing!  Awesome!  (and, with planning) Affordable!    If you were gadding around and missed the Master Gardeners’ Garden Walk or if you didn’t take the plunge for the Pond Society tour, do make a concerted effort to mark your 2010 calendar to attend both! One of the stops incorporated all manner of garden art, mostly primitive farm equipment and several unusual birdhouses.  The other end of the spectrum was a beautiful English garden.  Ponds fed by babbling brooks created mesmerizing atmospheres. 

                My neighbors have even planned a mini-garden walk involving just a few families.  It’s an opportunity to get better acquainted with your neighbors and visit about something besides the weather.  It’s too late for a vegetable garden this summer, but there’s still time to start a flower garden involving the whole family.  My favorite daughter’s second garden is a family affair reaping benefits far out weighing the harvest of peas and pumpkins.   Charlie has beans on his beanstalk (Two year old Charlie planted a good share of an envelope of beans in one hill.)  Catie is planning on several jack-o-lanterns.    Daddy grills home grown potatoes, tomatoes and onions.  

The long range forecast for July is cooler and wetter weather so get in sync with Mother Nature and go for it.  New beds do need to be religiously watered this time of the year to establish root systems.  It’s okay to fertilize from now through the end of August.  Your new garden needn’t be huge.  It can be containers on the porch.  If the kids are still bugging about a pet, put in a pond and get some goldfish.  The fish we saw at the walks were huge and survived there through the winter.  Your water feature could be a whiskey barrel size container adjacent to the deck. 

Now is a good time, too, to do some rearranging.  We didn’t get the new strawberry bed organized quite soon enough this summer so I’m going to remove the weeds that have sprouted and cover the bed with mulch.  I’ll soon be transplanting several Iris and a few Hosta over to the seeder wagon area. Some of the Tiger Lilies are moving from the ditch there to surround the mailbox in the newest zeroscape area.  A horse ate the top off the sapling in that bed.   I’ll need to install a taller barrier than the garden gate that I thought was such a nifty idea.  Oh, well, the garden gate can become home to a climber in another location.  That’s the great thing about plants and gardens.  Nearly everything is portable and/or potable.

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Good vs. Evil: Asian lady beetles and Japanese beetles

Asian lady beetle

Asian lady beetle - a good bug (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Their names are similar and they’re from the same region of the world, so I can see why some people are still confused about Asian lady beetles and Japanese beetles.  But when it comes down to it, there’s really no comparison. The bug pictured here – the reddish/orange lady beetle, is a beneficial insect. It feeds on aphids and other plant pests and doesn’t destroy anything, though I realize some people resent their intrusion in homes in the fall. On the other hand, the copper-colored Japanese beetle, a recent foreign invader in Iowa, is known to devour at least 300 plants, including hollyhocks, roses, raspberries, linden trees and grapes. If you see your leaves turning to lace, the likely culprit is the Japanese beetle.  Japanese beetles have no known predators here, other than me. So feel free to get rid of as many as you can. As mentioned previously, the most environmentally friendly method is to knock them into a bucket of soapy water when they’re sluggish – early evening seems to be the best time. If you have other suggestions – maybe from our East Coast readers and others who have learned to cope with Japanese beetles – please add your comments below.

Japanese beetles (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Japanese beetles - not a good bug, or just plain evil? (photo/Cindy Hadish)

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Weeding Party!

Cheryl Hoech, volunteer coordinator for Friends of Noelridge Park Greenhouse and Botanical Center, sent the following:

We are having a party and you are invited.

What:Weeding in prep for the Open Garden on Wednesday

Who: 40 volunteer hours needed

When: Monday July 13, 8 to noon come and go as you please

Where:  At the demonstration flower beds at Noelridge

RSVP: Please let me know if you can come on Monday so I can have enough treats for all of you. Noelridge Friends can be reached at: noelridge@gmail.com

You can find more about Wednesday’s open gardens by clicking on the events category at the right.

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Sweet corn has arrived (sort of)

   It’s a mixed bag on Iowa’s sweet corn season. Some of the farmers I spoke to today have it ready, but the crop is delayed in other areas. If you’re early, you might find sweet corn at Saturday’s farmers market in Cedar Rapids. Expect to see more sweet corn at area farmers markets in the next week.

  You can find a list of many Eastern Iowa farmers markets on this blog by clicking on the farmers market category at the right.

   Bob Shepherd, market manager for the Washington Farmers Market, said vendor Tom Vittetoe sold out of a pickup of sweet corn in 20 minutes at Thursday night’s market.

    Bob sent the following report from the market in Washington:

    Ears of succulent fresh picked sweetcorn are one of the special events at the Farmers’ Market; along with strawberries, vine ripened tomatoes, and the first tree fruit  – nothing attracts attention like that first offering. Central Park will hum with the excitement generated by this Iowa treasure.

   The selection improves with each Thursday Evening Market. Expect to see beets, carrots, potatoes, cabbage, kohlrabi, green beans, onions, lettuce, peas, turnips, tomatoes, summer squash, cucumbers and chilies displayed by the local growers. Black raspberries and cherries have added their appeal as we anticipate the first apples shortly.    

   Farm fresh brown eggs have a definite ‘country’ appeal.

  An exceptional selection of fresh baked breads, pies, cookies, cupcakes, sweet rolls, bars, and short breads add their aromatic, mouth watering presence.

   The sound of a sharpening wheel means another fine tool has been keenly touched by John Moore, Bits ‘n’ Blades. Local artists display beautiful glazed ware, stitchery and jewelry.

  A couple of Markets ago samples of BB-Q’ed pork chops were tasted by Market goers. The rub used was a new technique and so successful the recipe is following for all to try on their home BB-Q.

                Cumin and Coriander spice-rubbed Pork Chops

Mix 1 Tbs. brown sugar, 2tsp. ground coriander, 2tsp. ground cumin, 1 1/2tsp. garlic powder, 1tsp sea salt, 3/4tsp. ground ginger, and 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric in a small bowl. Preheat grill to medium high. Lightly coat both sides of 6 3/4in. thick boneless pork loin chops with olive oil, and rub with the spice rub. Grill (uncovered for charcoal; covered for gas)until the pork forms impressive grill marks on one side, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn and continue to grill until meat is just firm to touch and just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes, depending on thickness. Transfer to serving platter and let rest for 5 minutes.

   The thick style chops are a favorite to BB-Q and the rub makes them even more delectable.

   The Washington Farmers’ Market starts at 5pm but the downtown square is home to entertainment until 9pm. Thursday Night Live at 6:30 and the Washington Municipal Band at 8pm extend the evening enjoyment under the lofty trees of Central Park. Join us downtown………..see you there!

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The deadly juglone of black walnut trees

The following is by Linn County Master Gardener, Claire Smith:

    The seeder wagon is in place.  The lawn mower towed it out of the shed down to the water way and then with two planks and my favorite son’s strong back we pushed and pulled it to the other side of the ditch.  With the addition of an old wire garden gate staked behind a sapling, a hand pump from my parent’s former home and a rock lined pseudo fire pit filled with Petunias that were on the end-of-season sale, the area reflects the peaceful primitive atmosphere I was striving for.  This is the area I mentioned in an earlier blog that became inaccessible to mow due to last year’s flood.  Hosta, native grasses and prairie perennials will grace the space next year.  We continued our zeroscaping to include a part of the road ditch that I learned is also impossible to mow after the mower and I suffered a close encounter with the culvert.  Now that waterway is filled with large rocks and what was a sloping grassy space is mulched. 

            Hosta will ring the two Black Walnut trees in the roadway ditch.  Hosta is a plant of choice there because I have some that need transplanting and they are not sensitive to Juglone, a chemical secretion from Black Walnut Trees. 

             Discovered in the 1880s, Juglone is produced in the fruit, leaves, branches and root system of several trees with Black Walnuts exhibiting the highest concentration.  The greatest intensity in the soil exists within the tree’s drip line, on an average 50 ft. radius from the trunk of a mature tree.  Plants susceptible to Juglone display yellowing leaves, wilting and eventual death.  Plants sensitive to Juglone include Peonies, Hydrangea, Asian Lilies, and Lilacs.  There are multiple choices that will withstand close proximity to Walnut trees such as most grasses, Phlox, Sedum, Daylilies, Iris and Hosta.

            Now my challenge is to determine plants that are not only resistant to Juglone, but also to the deer population in this neighborhood.  Unfortunately, Hosta is one of the critters’ favorite choices.  They have already decimated the Hosta and Bee Balm in the ditch on the other side of the lane.  A great winter  pastime will be comparison shopping perennials and grasses that are both deer and Juglone resistant as well as low maintenance for those landscapes. 

             I actually enjoy mowing.  And I like the challenge of creating and maintaining flower beds, but the  simple clean lines of zeroscaping does appeal to me.  A few plants and shrubs easily embellish the area without overstating the purpose of low maintenance.

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Answers to your questions and what about those tiny worms??

Cyndi Lee asked the following: I have found a large trail of what at first looked like sawdust, but upon closer examination are very tiny worm like things. They are falling from the large tree I have which overhangs our deck. Any idea what these are? They are very tiny and are falling in clumps. They are a pale yellow in color.

 If you know what the worms might be, please leave a reply below.

 Linn County Master Gardeners have answered some of the other questions you’ve been asking:

 Q: We have a small vine-like weed that is taking over the gardens and flower beds. they are small leafed the stems are strong and grow upon the plants and choke them off. I pull them constantly but they continue to grow back. Is there anything that I can spray them with without killing off the flowers and garden plants? I would appreciate your input.

ANSWER: Cut and paint cut end with undiluted Round Up.  Use a small foam brush.

 Q: I found a large worm on my mom’s apple trees and what to know if they are good worm or bad. where can I take then to find out? I can take them to Ames but where in Ames?????

ANSWER: Bring sample to Linn County Extension Office, 3279 7th Ave., Marion.  We’ll try to identify it here, or give info to ISU.

 Q: I am in need of help to get rid of the seedlings from my pear tree. I need to know when and how to manage them as I have a flowerbed under my tree. I did not put these in but inherited them from the previous owner. They are a nightmare to deal with. Thank you for your help.

ANSWER: They will need to be pulled out.

 Q: I have a beautiful Walnut tree but it has been sprouting branches near its bottom and just does not look right. Can I prune them now ? If so what angle? And should I put something on the exposed ends? Some of the branches are approx. an inch in diameter. I surely don’t want to harm my tree!

ANSWER: The tree is under stress for some reason.  Prune now.  Do not paint anything on wound.  It will heal itself.

 Linn County Master Gardeners also answer questions on Iowa State University extension’s horticulture hotline at (319) 447-0647.

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Pond and garden walks

     

Pond at Larry and Erma Thompson's Cedar Rapids home (photo, Cindy Hadish)

Pond, and wildlife, at Larry and Erma Thompson's Cedar Rapids home (photo, Cindy Hadish)

 Larry and Erma Thompson have an entire room in their home dedicated to Larry’s fish hobby, but it’s outside where his love of fish really shines. Twenty-two koi in 20 varieties spend the entire year (cold Iowa winters, too) in a well-kept pond at the couple’s home in Cedar Rapids. Goldfish are in a separate pond. Larry Thompson was awarded the Koi Person of the Year for Iowa, a regional award given at the Associated Koi Clubs of America during February’s koi show in San Diego, California. The award is a testament not only to his koi expertise, but dedication to the craft and volunteer hours he donates to community projects. Larry gives credit to his wife for her support and the beautiful plants that surround their ponds.  “Anything pretty is Erma’s,” he said. “The functional stuff is mine.”

Plants help filter the water in the ponds at Larry and Erma Thompson's home (photo, Cindy Hadish)

Plants help filter the water in the ponds at Larry and Erma Thompson's home (photo, Cindy Hadish)

      Their home will be one of the stops on a pond tour next weekend. Following is info from the Eastern Iowa Pond Society and other groups holding garden walks next weekend.

    Whether you are a serious water gardener, Koi keeper, casual pond owner, want-to-be pond owner, or just plain love flowers and water, you won’t want to miss the chance to view the ponds in this year’s  Eastern Iowa Pond Society annual pond tour, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sunday, July 12, 2009, rain or shine. As usual, pond owners and club members will be available at each pond to answer questions. They will also have a plant and small art/craft sale at one of the pond locations. This year’s tour will feature ponds in the Cedar Rapids/Solon/Swisher areas. Tickets and maps are $5.00 for adults (kids under 12 are free) and are available at all pond sites with all proceeds going back to the community for area landscape and beautification projects.  A good place to start might be 131 Rosedale Rd SE, Cedar Rapids or 3682 Douglas Dr. NE Solon. For more information please call Jackie Allsup 319-934-3665 or visit: www.eips.org

 Here are other garden walks coming up next weekend:

      Friends of Hickory Hill Park will have a garden walk in Iowa City from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, July 11, 2009. The walk benefits the group’s stewardship fund for maintenance and restoration work. Four gardens will be on the tour, plus tornado recovery areas on Hotz and Rochester avenues. Speakers will be at each site to discuss prairie plantings, Backyard Abundance and organic lawn care.    Start at 1167 E. Jefferson Street to purchase tickets and pick up a map. Cost is $10 per person or $8 per person if you bike or walk to 1167 Jefferson St. Families are $15. To volunteer or for more information, phone 319-338-5331 To make a donation:  Anyone unable to attend the Garden Walk but wishing to make a contribution should make the check out to LEAF and mail it to:  LEAF, P.O. Box 1681, Iowa City, IA  52244-1681.

    The Fairfax Parks Committee will have a walk, rain or shine, at five Fairfax gardens from 1-4 p.m. Sunday, July 12, 2009. Iowa State University Extension master gardeners will be available at the gardens to answer questions. The walk includes the garden of Megan McConnell Hughes, which is featured on the cover of the summer 2009 Country Gardens magazine. Tickets can be purchased at Fairfax State Savings Bank or Guaranty Bank in Fairfax. Tickets can also be purchased the day of the event at the Fairfax North welcome sign at Williams Boulevard and Prairie View Drive. Cost is $5 for adults and $10 for families. Proceeds will be used to buy playground equipment for Hawks Ridge Park.

    Also on Sunday, July 12, Project GREEN will have a garden walk in Iowa City from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. If you want to know how to garden with deer, this is the walk for you. Four large gardens at the edge of woodlands are featured on the walk, including one property that covers nearly four acres. All gardens are located north of Interstate 80, off Dubuque Street. Cost is $5 for adults. Children under 16 are admitted free.    Start at any of the following sites for a map, which becomes your ticket for the other gardens: Pat and Stan Podhajsky, 3817 Cedar Drive NE; Maggie VanOel, 8 Oak Park Lane NE;   Twila and Dick Hobbs, 9 Oak Park Lane NE; Bill and Michelle Welter, 15 Oak Park Place NE. Wear comfortable walking shoes. The weather may be hot and buggy, so bring along a bottle of water and bug spray .  To learn more, see: www.projectgreen.org

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“Screaming for attention” Chinese chestnut

Chinese chestnut (photo, Brucemore)

Chinese chestnut (photo, Brucemore)

   Deb Engmark, head gardener at the historic Brucemore estate in Cedar Rapids, shares the following about an amazing tree on the Brucemore grounds:

     It’s time.  It’s blooming.  Brucemore’s Chinese chestnut is screaming for attention.  The first clue that the flowers on this magnificent specimen are present is the unmistakable aroma mingling through the landscape; earthy and spicy.  This perfume emanates from the chestnut’s canopy, which is covered in clusters of long chenille like tendrils resembling skinny hairy

Chinese chestnut in bloom (photo, Brucemore)

Chinese chestnut in bloom (photo, Brucemore)

fingers or spidery legs.  Approximately 50 foot tall and 50 foot wide, this low branching, wide spreading habitat makes it a great shade tree and, purportedly, an ideal climbing tree, though I do ask that you don’t climb our trees when visiting.

     The chestnut worth noting is standing among younger chestnut specimens. Due to this particular tree’s location in the area of the first orchard as well as its apparent age, estimated from the trunk diameter, height and spread of the tree, this is likely one of the oldest Chinese chestnuts in Iowa, if not the nation. Chinese chestnuts were introduced to the United States by seed in 1903. The original Douglas orchard, planted circa 1909, was in this location.  This was also the location of the Sinclair orchard, the estate’s first family.

    With consideration given to these facts and estimates by tree experts over the years, I feel confident about the age assumption and willingly share the information.  I encourage all to visit and view this majestic specimen, especially during the time of year when the Chinese chestnut drapes its branches in pungent, blooming finery.

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Digging up dirt

Linn County Master Gardener Claire Smith shares the following about becoming a master gardener:    

       Do you like getting your hands dirty and your feet wet?  How about digging up dirt?  Would you wholeheartedly grovel in the ground with new friends?  Are you inquisitive about things flora? Have you ever considered becoming a Master Gardener?  From experience, I can say, it’s a great experience.  What better way to get in touch with nature than through an educational opportunity provided by Iowa State University Extension’s Master Gardener program and an opportunity to make new friends who willingly share their expertise.  The enrollment process is not daunting! If you can demonstrate that you know a little something about gardening; you are enthusiastic about acquiring new knowledge; and would eagerly commit to some volunteerism and community betterment, then this program is for you. Sure, some of the Linn County Master Gardeners can spew verbiage about hundreds of issues.  Some of us, though, still need to ask questions and do the research.  But gardeners of any type and especially Master Gardeners love to share.  In fact, our mission statement says, “the purpose of the Master Gardener program is to provide current, research-based home horticultural information and education to the citizens of Iowa through ISU Extension programs and projects.”

                What do Master Gardeners do in addition to enjoying their personal gardening passions?

Imagine helping create a children’s garden at Lowe Park in Marion.  Learn how fabulous gardens are created by assisting at the annual Garden Walk.  Contribute some time at the Winter Gardening Fair where there are outstanding keynote speakers and the opportunity to choose from dozens of classes.  Lead or scribe on the Horticulture Line to research answers to any number of telephone and walk in questions.  Have privy to updates provided directly to you by ISU plus receive an informative monthly newsletter created by Linn County Master Gardeners.

                Applications and further information are available at http://www.mastergardener.iastate.edu or call the Linn County Extension Office at 319-377-9839. Please note that the application and fee are due by Friday, July 17th.  Visit the website at www.extension.iastate.edu/linn .  Selecting “Yard and Garden” will bring a menu of articles and information about the Master Gardener program.   Go ahead, talk to any Master Gardener.  They’ll tell you to try it:  you’ll like it!

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Fun of July

Following are some of the gardening and eco-events in Eastern Iowa scheduled for July 2009. As always, if you know of other events, add it in a message below, or send an e-mail to: cindy.hadish@gazcomm.com    

 

         Wed., July 1, 12:15 p.m. – Gardening program at Cedar Rapids Library’s Bridge facility at Westdale Mall. What better way to enjoy delicious, healthy food and glorious flowers than to plant your own garden? Master gardener Larry Dawson will discuss maintaining bountiful, beautiful gardens. This Brown Bag Briefing program also includes landscaping, fall tree planting, and audience questions. Bring your sack lunch for this 30-minute program. For further information, visit the Library’s website www.crlibrary.org or call 398-5123.   

 

    Mon., July 6, 7 p.m. – Ushers Ferry Historic Village, Trees Forever’s rescheduled Liberty Tree and Champion Tree Tour. IF THE WEATHER DOES NOT COOPERATE AGAIN- the Rain-date is scheduled for the next evening July 7, 2009 at 7:00 pm at Ushers Ferry Historic Village. Email agreen@treesforever.org or call (319)373-0650 x 25 with your RSVP.

      Wed. July 8, 7 p.m., Indian Creek Nature Center, 6665 Otis Rd. SE, FROM MULTIFLORA ROSE TO BLUESTEM: 30 YEARS OF CHANGE: Members-$3; NONMEMBER- $5;VOLUNTEERS –FREE. Rich Patterson has seen much change in his 30 years at the Nature Center. The landscape has changed greatly–for the better–over those years. Join him on a two-mile walk at a leisurely pace to parts of the Nature Center more ecologically healthy because of the dedicated work of Nature Center staff and volunteers. CALL 362-0664 TO REGISTER.

   Wed., July 8, 5:30-8 p.m., Funky Garden Art, Cedar Valley Habitat for Humanity ReStore, 725 N. Center Point Rd., Hiawatha. Make one-of-a-kind garden art out of odds and ends at the ReStore. Fee: $25. Call (319) 294-1500.

Thurs., July 9, 7-9 p.m., Indian Creek Nature Center, BEGINNING BEE CLASS: SESSION I- MEMBER – $55/SERIES; NONMEMBER – $85/SERIES. This eight session series is designed for individuals serious about starting a beekeeping hobby. The series will take the participant through the annual cycle of beekeeping from establishing a hive to harvesting and marketing the honey produced. The class members will be actively involved in learning activities by working with the hives at the Indian Creek Nature Center. Call 362-0664 to register.

     Sat., July 11, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Friends of Hickory Hill Park will have a garden walk in Iowa City. The walk benefits the group’s stewardship fund for maintenance and restoration work. Four gardens will be on the tour, plus tornado recovery areas on Hotz and Rochester avenues. Speakers will be at each site to discuss prairie plantings, Backyard Abundance and organic lawn care.  Start at 1167 E. Jefferson Street to purchase tickets and pick up a map. Cost is $10 per person or $8 per person if you bike or walk to 1167 Jefferson St. Families are $15. To volunteer or for more information, phone 319-338-5331. To make a donation:  Anyone unable to attend the Garden Walk but wishing to make a contribution should make the check out to LEAF and mail it to:  LEAF, P.O. Box 1681, Iowa City, IA  52244-1681.

    Sat., July 11, 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Indian Creek Nature Center’s NATURAL HISTORY WALKING TOUR OF DOWNTOWN CEDAR RAPIDS. MEMBER -$3; NONMEMBER – $5; CHIDREN:$1. Join Indian Creek Nature Center’s naturalist on an urban adventure to investigate the fascinating cultural and natural history of downtown wildlife. Learn about the pre-settlement ecology of the downtown area and how it has changed with urbanization. This 90-minute tour begins at the old Cedar Rapids Public Library parking lot between 5th and 6th Avenues SE on 1st Street. Stroll along the Cedar Lake Trail near the library to discover native plants growing along the Red Cedar River and learn about urban wildlife along streets and buildings as you walk to Greene Square Park and then to return to the library. CALL 362-0664 TO REGISTER.

    Sun., July 12, 1-4 p.m.,  The Fairfax Parks Committee will have a walk, rain or shine, at five Fairfax gardens. Iowa State University Extension master gardeners will be available at the gardens to answer questions. The walk includes the garden of Megan McConnell Hughes, which is featured on the cover of the summer 2009 Country Gardens magazine. Tickets can be purchased at Fairfax State Savings Bank or Guaranty Bank in Fairfax. Tickets can also be purchased the day of the event at the Fairfax North welcome sign at Williams Boulevard and Prairie View Drive. Cost is $5 for adults and $10 for families. Proceeds will be used to buy playground equipment for Hawks Ridge Park.

    Sun., July 12, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Project GREEN will have a garden walk in Iowa City. If you want to know how to garden with deer, this is the walk for you. Four large gardens at the edge of woodlands are featured on the walk, including one property that covers nearly four acres. All gardens are located north of Interstate 80, off Dubuque Street. Cost is $5 for adults. Children under 16 are admitted free.  Start at any of the following sites for a map, which becomes your ticket for the other gardens: Pat and Stan Podhajsky, 3817 Cedar Drive NE; Maggie VanOel, 8 Oak Park Lane NE;   Twila and Dick Hobbs, 9 Oak Park Lane NE; Bill and Michelle Welter, 15 Oak Park Place NE. Wear comfortable walking shoes. The weather may be hot and buggy, so bring along a bottle of water and bug spray.  To learn more, see: www.projectgreen.org              

     Sun., July 12, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Eastern Iowa Pond Society’s pond tour. Whether you are a serious water gardener, Koi keeper, casual pond owner, want-to-be pond owner, or just plain love flowers and water, you won’t want to miss the chance to view the ponds in this year’s 13th annual pond tour. As usual, pond owners and club members will be available at each pond to answer questions. Will also have a plant and small art/craft sale at one of the pond locations. This year’s tour will feature beautiful ponds in the Cedar Rapids/Solon/Swisher areas. Tickets and maps are $5.00 for adults (kids under 12 are free) and are available at all pond sites with all proceeds going back to the community for area landscape and beautification projects.  A good place to start might be 131 Rosedale Rd SE, Cedar Rapids or 3682 Douglas Dr. NE Solon. For more information please call Jackie Allsup 319-934-3665 or visit: www.EIPS.org

   Mon., July 13, 7-8:30 p.m. – Wickiup Hill Outdoor Learning Center, 10260 Morris Hills Rd., Toddville. “True Lilies–Queen of the Gardens,” illustrated lily presentation by lily expert Wanda Lunn of Cedar Rapids. Lunn is an accredited North American Lily Society Lily Judge and just returned from judging at the NALS National Lily Show in Missouri. She will showcase many different true lily cultivars for sun & shade and give gardening hints for growing them properly. Cost: $2.50. Master Gardeners can count it for instruction hours.

     Mon., July 13 – Fri., July 31 – Indian Creek Nature Center, 6665 Otis Rd. SE, OWAA PHOTOGRAPHY EXHIBIT. The Outdoor Writers Association of America Photography Contest winners will be exhibited. The work of noted wildlife photographers features both black-and-white and color photographs. Visit during regular business hours: Monday-Friday 9 AM-4 PM & Saturdays 11 AM-4 PM.

 Wed., July 15, 6-9 p.m., Noelridge Park open gardens, corner of Collins Road and Council Street NE. Tour the gardens with Noelridge staff and Friends of Noelridge volunteers. Activities will be available for children.

   Thurs., July 16- Sat., July 18 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Prairiewoods, 120 E. Boyson Road, Hiawatha. Solar Energy Workshop. This three-day workshop will provide information and experience in installing solar panels to generate electricity. The workshop includes hands-on exposure to assembling pole-mounted solar racks, installing solar modules and wiring of the entire system including modules, disconnects, inverters and grid tie. Approximately half the class will be in the classroom learning how solar energy works. Classroom instruction includes the basics of photovoltaics, racks, solar modules, inverters, basic electricity, design processes and safety. Instructor is Dennis Pottratz, Iowa’s first nationally certified photovoltaic installer (NABCEP). His company, GoSolar, has been in business in Decorah since 1996. He has designed and installed more than 100 working systems. Dennis is a frequent speaker and workshop presenter with I-RENEW. Fee: $250 for the first person from an organization or family; $200 for a second person. Fee includes daily lunch and handouts. Lodging is available at $45 per night. See: www.prairiewoods.org

       Fri., July 17 to Sun., July 19, Seed Savers Exchange 29th annual Summer Conference and Campout at Heritage Farm, Decorah. Organic farmer, author, and teacher, Eliot Coleman will be keynote speaker at 7 p.m. July 18. Other featured speakers include Barbara Damrosch, Coleman’s wife and co-owner of Four Season Farm in Harborside, Maine, and Mike McGrath, host of the popular nationally syndicated show “You Bet Your Garden” on National Public Radio. Coleman is author of “The New Organic Grower,” “Four Season Harvest,” and the newly published “Winter Harvest Handbook”.  The conference will also include several workshops on various aspects of gardening and farming, a panel discussion, field demonstrations, heritage seed swap, lots of good local food, inspiring conversation and even a barn dance. Local vendors will be selling products on Saturday morning. The cost for the weekend conference is $75 for Seed Saver members and $100 for the general public.  One-day only registration is also available. Registration details and a list of scheduled events are available at www.seedsavers.org or by calling Seed Savers Exchange at (563) 382-5990. 

   Sat., July 18, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Nature Photography class at Linn County Extension, 3279 7th Avenue, Marion. The class will be taught by Jim Messina, a professional photographer with many years of experience in photography and teaching experience.  Topics include exposure, metering techniques, tonality natural lighting, photographic equipment, digital photography and macro photography.  Teaching method includes slide presentations using dual projectors emphasizing comparisons with several examples.  The examples provide a framework of understanding basic principles and practical solutions in difficult field situations.  Extensive handouts are provided for the workshop topics.  You can bring your camera. Register by at the Extension office or call 319-377-9839.  Cost is $ 35.00.  Payment must be made when registering.  Registration will close on July 10.  

     Sat., July 18, 7:30 a.m. to noon, “Green” Day at Cedar Rapids Downtown Farmers Market. Area environmental organizations will have space set up at the farmers market.

      Sat., July 18, 9 a.m. to noon, Prairiewoods, Mulch Sheet Beds for Flower and Vegetable Gardens. This workshop will include classroom and hands-on experience building mulch sheet beds for soil used in gardens. Mulch sheet bedding is a permaculture technique used to enrich the soil and decrease weeding. This is a sustainable way to work the soil while retaining water and and to maintain the soil without tilling and the use of chemicals. This workshop will not be held is there is heavy rain. Fee: $10

     Sat., July 18, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. – Daylily and true lily open garden at Wanda Lunn’s home, 526 Bezdek Dr. NW, in Cedar Rapids. Lunn said this will be the height of daylily blooms & the larger lilliums, as well as many other summer perennials.  She will be available to answer questions on cultivation of all these glorious flowers. Lunn says with all the buds, loaded stems & stalks, this promises to be a wonderful summer bloom!

   Sat., July 18, 11 a.m. to noon – There’s nothing like an Iowa prairie in summer. Wickiup Hill Outdoor Learning Center near Toddville is hosting a Guided Prairie Loop Trail Hike.  Participants will learn about the native grasses, wildflowers and prairie wildlife. The prairie loop trail contains an area of sand prairie and a beautiful view of the wetlands below. Meet the naturalist at the kiosk in front of the center. Donations accepted.

    Tues., July 21, 1-2 p.m., Wickiup Hill Outdoor Learning Center, 10260 Morris Hills Rd., Toddville.  Toad Adobe! (Repeat from June 23.) OK, so not everyone finds toads attractive. However, a single toad can consume about 110 beetles, slugs, moths, armyworms and other bugs in a day! Meet our live toad. Make a house for a local amphibian to hang out in your yard. House is made of a clay pot that will be decorated with paint. For all ages. Young children must be accompanied by an adult. Register by July 18. Cost is $5 per toad house. Call (319)892-6485.

   Tues., July 21, 6-7:30 p.m. – The Linn County Conservation Department will hold a public program about turtles at Wickiup Hill Outdoor Learning Center near Toddville.  A naturalist will debunk myths about turtles and show a variety of live turtles.  Please register by July 20 online at www.lincountyparks.com or register by calling 892-6485. Cost: $2.50/adult, $1/child or $5/family.

    Fri., July 24 – Aug. 2, Rummage in the Ramp at Chauncey Swan Ramp, Gilbert and Washington Streets, Iowa City. Ten-day-long garage sale benefitting several area non-profit groups aimed at waste reduction and affordability (most items are priced under $20). Items for donation should be dropped off at the ramp on sale days.

     Sat., July 25, 1 p.m., Indian Creek Nature Center, GREEN AND SIMPLE: COOKING WITH A SOLAR OVEN. MEMBER -$5; NONMEMBER -$8. Create a simple solar oven for backyard cooking. Collect heat energy from the sun to cook simple, tasty meals. Take home basic recipes and techniques. Sample solar-baked foods. REGISTER BY 4 PM ON THURSDAY, JULY 23. CALL 362-0664 TO REGISTER.

     Sat., July 25 and Sun., July 26, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Garden of Zora and Paul Ronan, 5031 North Marion Road, Central City, gardens open for viewing. The garden of Zora and Paul Ronan is located in rural Linn County.  The garden covers approximately 1 acre surrounding the house.  The remaining 32 acres uses no-till cultivation and wild-life habitat to conserve the soil and prevent erosion. Herbicides are used for weed control but no insecticides are used in crop production.  Over the last 10 years the soil has become healthy again.  Twelve years ago the soil was lifeless and heavily fortified with chemicals and we were never visited by wildlife.  Now, earth worms, birds, critters and varmints both are in abundance.  (Some are more welcome than others.) You may find gopher and moles disturbances in the grass, so walk carefully.  Directions:  From I-380:  Exit at Toddville.  Travel east on County Home Road to Alburnett Road.  Turn north on Alburnett Road.  Turn east on Justins Road (gravel).  Justins Road dead ends at North Marion. Turn north and the garden is on the right. From:  Highway 13: Travel north on Highway 13 to Central City.  Turn west on E-16 (Center Point-Central City Road).  Turn north on North Marion Road (gravel) and travel 1.6 miles.  Garden is on the right. From Marion:  Travel north on North Tenth Street.  Tenth Street changes name to North Marion and becomes gravel when it crosses County Home Road.  Since North Marion is gravel for quite a long way, it is better to travel north on either North Alburnett Road or Highway 13.

    Sat., July 25 and Sun., July 26 – Culver’s Garden Center & Greenhouse in Marion is planning a free Do-It-Yourself Weekend, open to the public. During the event, customers will be able to view displays and collect information on a number of home, lawn and garden topics. In addition, kids can enjoy decorating Culver’s grounds with sidewalk chalk. Free summertime refreshments will be available. Information about Culver’s Garden Center & Greenhouse and Culver’s Lawn & Landscaping, Inc. is available online at www.culverslandscape.com or by calling (319) 377-4195.

     Sun., July 26, 2-3 p.m. – “Slimy Scaly Guided Hike,” The Linn County Conservation Department is hosting an afternoon hike at Wickiup Hill Outdoor Learning Center near Toddville to view reptiles and amphibians basking in wetlands and or on sandy trails.  A naturalist will provide participants with a new appreciation of these animals. Meet her at the kiosk in front of the center.  This is a free program.

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Ticks on the uptick

Johnson County Public Health is reporting an increase in the tick-borne Lyme disease. Ticks seem to be plentiful this year and it’s important to know what to do to guard againt Lyme disease, which can be debillitating.

Here is some info from the Iowa Department of Public Health and Johnson County Public Health regarding ticks and Lyme disease:

Ticks pose the greatest threat of transmitting infectious organisms when they bite during the nymphal stage of life. Nymphs are most abundant between May and July. Toward the end of summer through fall, ticks mature to adult stage. Adult ticks can transmit infections to humans, but are less likely to do so, according to the department.

Black-legged ticks, or deer ticks, are responsible for transmitting Lyme disease in Iowa. Deer ticks are very small; adults grow to be about 2 millimeters long. Deer ticks alone do not cause Lyme disease. Lyme disease is caused by an organism called Borrelia burgdorferi, which live inside some ticks and enter the human body after a tick attaches to the skin. The tick must remain attached for 24 to 48 hours for transmission to occur.

Deer ticks favor a moist, shaded environment, especially areas in wooded, brushy or overgrown grassy habitat. The department recommended frequently checking for ticks and offered the following tips to avoid tick bites:

-  Wear long-sleeved shirts, pants, and socks when hiking or walking through grassy areas;

 -  Tuck pant legs inside socks or wear high rubber boots;

 -  Wear light clothing to see ticks on clothes;

 -  Wear insect repellent containing DEET when spending time outdoors.

Ticks should be removed using tweezers. Do not use petroleum jelly, a hot match, nail polish or other products. Grasp the tick firmly and as closely to the skin as possible. Pull the tick’s body away from the skin and cleanse the area with an antiseptic.

Symptoms of Lyme disease usually appear within seven to 14 days following a tick bite. People may experience a red, slowly expanding “bull’s eye” rash surrounding the tick bite area. Other symptoms include fatigue, head, neck, and muscle aches, fever and joint pain. If untreated, people can develop arthritis, joint swelling and potentially severe heart and neurological conditions.

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Riverside Casino bets on farmers market

   Riverside Casino leaders are betting everyone wins at a new endeavor the casino has launched. Farmers market vendors will be hawking produce, crafts and baked goods in the casino’s parking lot once a month through September.

    Veggies and slots might not be synonymous, but public relations director Sharon Haselhoff sees the market as an added draw for people coming to dine, stay or gamble at Riverside Casino & Golf Resort. “It’s just one more thing that we could add to bring people here, for local residents and our guests staying here,” she said.

    Vendors — about 40 are slated to be there Sunday, June 28, 2009, — also have another opportunity to sell local products. While most markets charge stall fees, vendors only have to register to sell at the casino. Haselhoff said Sunday was chosen so the market would not compete with those in Iowa City or other nearby communities other days of the week. Riverside does not have a farmers market, she noted.

    In addition to this Sunday, markets are scheduled July 26, Aug. 30 and Sept. 27, all from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Vendors can contact Jessica Athen at (319) 648-1234, extension 1975, to register for the Riverside Casino farmers market.

For more on this story, see the Saturday, June 27, 2009, edition of The Gazette.

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Backyard Abundance tour Saturday

Toni and Jake DeRyke home (photo, Backyard Abundance)

Toni and Jake DeRyke home (photo, Backyard Abundance)

Information on the following Backyard Abundance event came from Fred Meyer: 

Decades of steady care by Toni and Jake DeRyke, 2101 Muscatine Ave., Iowa City, have led to a peaceful and orderly yard filled with beautiful flowers, tranquil shade gardens and an abundance of food. The yard will be open to view from 3-5 p.m. Saturday (June 27, 2009.)

 The DeRykes strive to keep their environmental impact low while also saving money:

  • Growing their own food eliminates the carbon dioxide that would otherwise be emitted to transport food to their home.
  • Rain barrels capture free rainwater for their garden, reducing the need for energy-intensive purified tap water.
  • Steady supplies of low-cost reclaimed building materials are frequently acquired from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore.
  • Trees shade their home, reducing energy bills and providing bird habitat.

 Toni and Jake reflect our growing efforts to think globally and act locally; and it does not get more local than your own backyard.

 Parking for their event is available on 3rd Avenue, on the west side of their home.

 For more information, see: http://www.backyardabundance.org/events.aspx

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Long-lasting flowers

    The following is by Linn County Master Gardener, Claire Smith: Early in the spring we took Mom lilacs.  The wonderful scent wafted all the way down the hall in her apartment building.   The next week apple blossoms popped out to mix with more lilacs.  A bouquet of iris followed a couple of weeks later.  Iris don’t exhibit a pungent aroma, but the double blossoms are stunning.  Last week we took peonies.  There’s no escaping that fragrance! Mom loves having admiring visitors just follow their noses to her living room.  

      Have you ever picked a bouquet of flowers only to have them wilt within hours?   Cut the stem at an angle with a sharp knife or garden scissors. Choose fresh blooms as they’ll last longest.  Try a preservative. There are some non-commercial preservatives you can use to maintain healthy and happy blossoms.  Flowers need sugar for survival and growth as well as disinfectants to inhibit fungi and bacteria growth.  One tablespoon of sugar with ¼ tsp. of bleach mixed in a vase full of water is a good home remedy.    ¼ tsp. of citric acid (available in drug stores) per one gallon of water is another option.  Keep the vase filled with fresh water. Avoid using chemically softened water or extremely hot or cold water.  Shun direct sunlight and direct heat, i.e.  keep the vase off the top of the refrigerator and T.V.  A challenge at my house is keeping vases away from the cats who view fresh greenery as a delicacy, to be gobbled up and then regurgitated.  An upside down plastic berry basket in your bowl or vase will aid in holding the flower arrangement in place if you don’t have a flower frog handy. 

         Two year old Charlie feels he’s Great Grandma’s designated flower delivery man.  Our quest there is keeping the vase upright so we don’t leave a trail of water all the way down the hall.  But, no matter how flowers get to their destinations, fresh cut, home grown bouquets are almost as good as a tomato plucked fresh from the vine or a box of chocolate covered cherries.

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Your questions: tree talk

Readers have trees on their minds this month.

Dale, who lives in southeastern Wisconsin, submitted the following question: I have a beautiful Walnut tree but it has been sprouting branches near its
bottom and just does not look right.  Can I prune them now ? If so what angle? And should I put something on the exposed ends? Some of the branches are approx. an inch in diameter. I surely don’t want to harm my tree!

Teresa submitted the following: I am in need of help to get rid of the seedlings from my pear tree. I need to know when and how to manage them as I have a flowerbed under my tree. I did not put these in but inherited them from the previous owner. They are a nightmare to deal with. Thank you for your help.

If you have advice for Dale or Teresa, leave a comment below.

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Japanese beetles are back

They’re back.

Japanese beetles

Japanese beetles

I spotted the first Japanese beetle of the season yesterday on my raspberry bushes. I went to check one of my rose bushes and sure enough, there was another one, sucking the life out of a beautiful pink bud. Unfortunately, both got away.

The beauty of these copper-colored beetles belies the devastation they wreak. Adult Japanese beetles feed on more than 300 types of plants – turning leaves into lacy skeletons. As larva, the white c-shaped grubs feed on turf grass roots.

I’ve heard some people have luck with the Japanese beetle traps that can be found at garden centers. Others say the traps just lure more beetles into your yard. When I see just a couple of the bugs, I use the squish method, but as they become more numerous, I’ll try to control their numbers with soapy water.

Take a small bucket with water and dish detergent – any kind will probably work – and knock the beetles off the plants into the bucket. The beetles are more active at certain times of day and will fly off. Othertimes, they do a drop and roll, which is the best way to get them to fall into the bucket. Early evening seems to be the time when they are more sluggish and easier to catch that way. Obviously, if you are growing crops that the beetles are attacking, such as grapes (another favorite,) you’re going to need a different method of control. They also favor certain trees, but supposedly they don’t kill the trees as do pests like the emerald ash borer. I also wonder what they will ultimately do to the monarch butterfly population, as Japanese beetles devastate the monarch’s food source, milkweed.

Since they make my top 10 bad bugs list, the Japanese beetle and different control methods can be found in several posts on this blog. Just use the search box at the right to find more from city arborist Daniel Gibbons, master gardeners and others on this foreign invader.

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Iowa’s weed season

   I’ve driven right past my plot in the city gardens, not recognizing it from what it was a week, or even days before. The rain and heat make the perfect recipe for weed season in Iowa. They grow fast and my combat methods are slower than the tillers many people use.

    Richard Jauron, extension horticulturalist at Iowa State University wrote the following about weed control in Iowa:

   Weeds are those annoying plants that gardeners love to hate. In the garden, weeds compete with desirable plants for water, nutrients, sunlight and growing space. They also may harbor insects and diseases. Allowed to run rampant in the garden, weeds can drastically reduce yields of fruits and vegetables. in addition, they hinder the performance of annual and perennial flowers.

    The first step in weed control is identification of the weed or weeds. The type of weed helps determine the best method of control. The two main types of weeds are annuals and perennials. Annual weeds germinate from seeds, grow, flower, set seed and die within one year. Perennial weeds live for three or more years. Most perennial weeds die back to the ground in fall, but their crowns or roots produce new shoots in spring. Weeds also can be classified as broadleaf weeds or grasses.

    There are three general methods of weed control in the home garden: cultivation (hoeing and tilling) and hand pulling, mulches and herbicides.

Cultivation and hand pulling effectively control most annual weeds. Perennial weeds are often more difficult to control. Repeated cultivation is often necessary to destroy some perennial weeds. When cultivating the garden, avoid deep tillage. The roots of many vegetables, fruits and flowers grow near the soil surface.  Deep cultivation will cut off some of these roots. Also, deep cultivation will bring deeply buried weed seeds to the soil surface where they can germinate. Hoe or till around plants or between plant rows, and pull weeds close to plants.

    To effectively control weeds, cultivation and hand pulling must be done periodically through the growing season. Small weeds are much easier to control than large weeds. It’s also important to destroy the weeds before they have a chance to go to seed.

    Mulches control weeds by preventing the germination of annual and perennial weed seeds. Established weeds should be destroyed prior to the application of the mulch. In addition to weed control, mulches help conserve soil moisture, reduce soil erosion, prevent crusting of the soil surface, keep fruits and vegetables clean and may reduce disease problems.

    Grass clippings, shredded leaves and weed-free straw are excellent mulches for vegetable gardens and annual flower beds. Apply several inches of these materials in early June after the soil has warmed sufficiently. Plant growth may be slowed if these materials are applied when soil temperatures are still cool in early spring. Grass clippings, shredded leaves and similar materials break down relatively quickly and can be tilled into the soil in fall.

Wood chips and shredded bark are excellent mulches for perennial beds and areas around trees and shrubs. Apply two to four inches of material around landscape plantings. These materials decay slowly and should last a few years. However, it’s often necessary to apply additional material annually to retain the desired depth.

   Herbicides can be used to supplement cultivation, hand pulling and mulches. However, several limitations prevent the extensive use of herbicides in the garden. Only a small number of herbicides are available to home gardeners. Additionally, most home gardens contain a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and flowers. No one herbicide can be safely used around all garden and landscape plants. If not applied properly, herbicides may cause unintended damage to fruits, vegetables and ornamentals. Herbicides are pesticides. When using any pesticide, carefully read and follow label directions.

Weeds are a persistent problem for home gardeners. However, weeds can be effectively controlled by cultivation, hand pulling, mulches and (on occasion) herbicides. Persistence is the key. Gardeners need to be as persistent with their weed control efforts as weeds are in coming back again, and again and again.

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Gardening addiction

The following is by Linn County Master Gardener Claire Smith:

                 Over the road and across the highway to the garden center I go.  The car knows the way, never to stray………………..   I told myself I already have enough plants for this year.  Can gardening be addictive?  Unfortunately I read somewhere that June is the time to walk around the yard looking for bare spots or drab areas that could use a little sprucing up with annuals.  And June is still prime time for planting annuals whose duty is to mask those early blooming perennials and waning spring bulbs.   I‘m going scoot out of here early in the day, returning quickly and maybe nobody will notice.  Morning is the best time to plant anyway, ahead of the hot daytime sun.  Nobody will discern me watering the new plantings daily because the hanging baskets get a drink daily and the container plants every other day. My potting soil didn’t have fertilizer in it, so I’m going to try a starter solution of fertilizer when I introduce these new plants into the landscape.               The next task is weeding, also a morning chore.  It keeps me out of the hot daytime sun.  Do you agree that weeding is a bother?  Not many folks enjoy it.  Pesticides limit weeds but also discourage bees, butterflies and birds.  Our Creeping Charlie is so aggressive. Hopefully, a pesticide will slow its pace, but a layer of hardwood mulch is an alternative to commercial weed killers. 

          Grooming beds certainly dresses them up.  Deadheading, –  removing fading flowers –  improves a plant’s appearance and encourages continual bloom.  I bought a pair of good garden shears this spring. They sure make a clean cut. I’ll remove the flower buds or flowering stem back to the first set of leaves.

                Participating in an exercise class several times each week keeps my doctor happy, but playing in the dirt is certainly therapeutic.  The dog and I and sometimes a cat or two could just spend hours and hours in the gardens.  Flower or vegetable gardens each create a soothing no worry-be happy atmosphere.

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State flower show coming to Cedar Rapids

    Organizers of the Federated Garden Clubs of Iowa annual flower show and meeting gave up their hotel space last year for flood victims.

This year, the statewide event returns to Cedar Rapids, on Thursday, June 18, 2009, and Friday, June 19, at the Cedar Rapids Marriott, 1200 Collins Rd. NE.   Jackie Strother of Martelle, the group’s persident, selected Cedar Rapids as the site for the annual event last year and decided to give it another try.

    Event co-chairwoman Brenda Hackbarth told me that three people will be judging the entries. At least 100 entries will be judged beginning at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.  The public can view displays from 7-9:30 p.m. Thursday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday in the hotel’s Rosewood Room. Brenda said there is no admission fee to view the flower show.

 For more info, see: http://www.gardencentral.org/iowa/

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Champion tree tour in Cedar Rapids

    You only have until Wednesday, June 17, 2009, to register for the Freedom Festival champion tree tour. The tour will be Friday, June 19, from 7-8:30 p.m.

Ashley Green at Trees Forever told me this morning that tour-goers will see the largest trees nominated in Cedar Rapids of the following species: cottonwood; Scotch pine, sycamore, yellow buckeye, Douglas fir and hackberry.

 You can learn about these giants from Cedar Rapids City Arborist Daniel Gibbins, Trees Forever staff and tree owners.  This is a great activity for tree lovers or those who just want to spend a summer evening discovering some of Cedar Rapids’ natural treasures.

 Here’s the info from Trees Forever:

 Meeting Location: Ushers Ferry Historic Village, 5925 Seminole Valley Trail NE, Cedar Rapids

Dress: Please dress for the weather- will be going outside unless there is lightning.

Transportation: The first 10 registrants can ride in a van with the tree experts. Additional tour participants can car pool in their own vehicles. 

Cost: Free of charge (though donations to Trees Forever are always welcome)

RSVP:  By Wednesday, June 17, online at http://www.treesforever.org/Events/20090619/45/Liberty-Trees-and-Champion-Tree-Tour-Cedar-Rapids-IA.aspx, or with Ashley Green at Trees Forever at (319) 373-0650 ext. 25 or agreen@treesforever.org

 Contact on the Day of the Event: call Karen Brook at Trees Forever at (319) 721-4472

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A look at rain gardens

Gazette photographer Brian Ray takes photos of Lucy Hershberger in the rain garden at Forever Green Garden Center near North Liberty (photo, Cindy Hadish)

Gazette photographer Brian Ray takes photos of Lucy Hershberger in the rain garden at Forever Green Garden Center near North Liberty (photo, Cindy Hadish)

Our flood anniversary tribute continues with a look at rain gardens. Several people I interviewed for the article in the Sunday, June 14, 2009, Gazette said while rain gardens would not have prevented last year’s devastating floods in Iowa, they could have helped. Lucy Hershberger, co-owner of Forever Green Landscaping & Garden Center in Coralville showed me the well-kept rain garden in front of their site on Forevergreen Road, near North Liberty. Yellow and blue flag iris, native grasses, coneflower, liatris and dwarf arctic blue willow were planted when the rain garden was installed in September. It’s obvious that Hershberger’s  enthusiasm goes beyond trying to sell customers on a new fad. She has conducted free seminars on rain gardens for people to learn more and to better take care of their little corner of the environment. Hershberger remembers the interest in rain gardens and rain barrels in the early 1990s, at that time because of costs associated with watering. “Now it’s because of the awareness of stormwater management,” she said. “It’s not cost-driven.”

Blue flag iris

Blue flag iris

The following list of plants is from Iowa’s Rain Garden Design and Installation Manual Native Plant Favorites for Soils with Good Percolation Rates:

Common Name Height Comments

Blue grama 1-2 ft makes a good border

Bottle gentian 1 ft novel purple flowers

Butterfly milkweed 1-4 ft emerges late spring; no milky sap

Columbine 1-2 ft orange flower stalk may add 1 ft

Culver’s root 3-6 ft can get tall; for moderatley moist soils

Fox sedge 1-3 ft may not tolerate drought

Golden alexander 1-3 ft yellow dill-like flower, mod moist soils

Little bluestem 2 ft nice rusty color all winter

Mountain mint 1-3 ft for moist soils

Nodding onion 1-2 ft for moderately moist soils

Pale purple coneflower 4 ft most overused native; only in S. Iowa

Prairie blazing star 2-5 ft for moist soils

Prairie smoke 1 ft makes a good border

Sideoats grama 2-3 ft red anthers; not as tidy as little bluestem

Silky aster 1-2 ft loved by rabbits

Websites with native plant lists for rain gardens:

http://prrcd.org/inl/recommended_plants.htm

http://www.dnr.state.wi.us/runoff/rg/plants/PlantListing.html

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Flood photos part 2: Czech Village

Photos shot post-flood June 2008. Gazette photographer Cliff Jette and I were allowed to accompany shop owners when they first saw the devastation in Czech Village after the flood. Here is some of what we found:

Polehna's Meat Market was among the businesses hard-hit by the flood. Owner Mike Ferguson decided not to reopen the shop because of overwhelming rebuilding costs. (photo, Cindy Hadish)

Polehna's Meat Market was among the businesses hard-hit by the flood. Owner Mike Ferguson decided not to reopen the shop because of overwhelming rebuilding costs. (photo, Cindy Hadish)

Jan Stoffer and Gail Naughton, center, of National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, make their way down 16th Avenue. (photo, Cindy Hadish)

Jan Stoffer and Gail Naughton, center, of National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, make their way down 16th Avenue. (photo, Cindy Hadish)

Cliff Jette (right) shooting inside Polehna's. (photo, Cindy Hadish)

Cliff Jette (right) shooting inside Polehna's. (photo, Cindy Hadish)

Bozenka's Gif Shop, owned by Czech School teacher Bessie Dugena. (photo, Cindy Hadish)

Bozenka's Gift Shop, owned by Czech School teacher Bessie Dugena. (photo, Cindy Hadish)

Gail Naughton photographs Babi Buresh Center, next to Sykora Bakery (photo, Cindy Hadish)

Gail Naughton photographs Babi Buresh Center, next to Sykora Bakery (photo, Cindy Hadish)

Floodwaters remained in front of National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, days after the flood (photo, Cindy Hadish)

Floodwaters remained in front of National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, days after the flood (photo, Cindy Hadish)

Boat jammed behind cross near Joens Bros. Interiors (photo, Cindy Hadish)

Boat jammed behind cross near Joens Bros. Interiors (photo, Cindy Hadish)

Cliff Jette, right, talks to another photographer between Ernie's Avenue Tavern and Sykora Bakery (photo, Cindy Hadish)

Cliff Jette, right, talks to another photographer between Ernie's Avenue Tavern and Sykora Bakery (photo, Cindy Hadish)

Looking up muck-covered 16th Avenue SW, away from the Cedar River (photo, Cindy Hadish)

Looking up muck-covered 16th Avenue SW, away from the Cedar River (photo, Cindy Hadish)

Sign outside National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library (photo, Cindy Hadish)

Sign outside National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library (photo, Cindy Hadish)

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Looking back: flood photos from inside and outside of The Gazette

Watching rising Cedar River from 16th Avenue SW on June 10, 2008. (Cindy Hadish photo)

Watching rising Cedar River from 16th Avenue SW on June 10, 2008. (Cindy Hadish photo)

One year ago is when it all began. On June 10, my sons and I went to Czech Village in Cedar Rapids to see if we could offer any help in sandbagging efforts. We encountered a flurry of activity, even though no one knew exactly what was coming. Later, we offered our help to Kather Alter, a Gazette employee who was evacuating from the Time Check neighborhood.

Looking back, there was so much more I wish we had done. The historic Cedar River flood ended up affecting not only Czech Village, Time Check and other areas abutting the river, but places I never thought would be touched, including  my mother’s home.  The Gazette, in downtown Cedar Rapids, was also affected, even though we stayed above the floodwaters.

Here are some of the photos I captured during those days in June 2008.

Looking down Third Ave. SE toward Cedar River in downtown Cedar Rapids (Cindy Hadish photo)

Looking down Third Ave. SE toward Cedar River in downtown Cedar Rapids (Cindy Hadish photo)

Sandbagging at Fourth Avenue and Sixth Street SE (Cindy Hadish photo)

Sandbagging at Fourth Avenue and Sixth Street SE (Cindy Hadish photo)

Near Boston Fish at Fifth Street SE (Cindy Hadish photo)

Near Boston Fish at Fifth Street SE (Cindy Hadish photo)

Hospital CEO Tim Charles inside flooded Mercy Medical Center (Cindy Hadish photo)

Hospital CEO Tim Charles inside flooded Mercy Medical Center (Cindy Hadish photo)

Dan Geiser, Joe Hladky and George Ford inside a darkened Gazette, cooled, somewhat, by fans (Cindy Hadish photo)

Dan Geiser, Joe Hladky and George Ford inside a darkened Gazette, cooled, somewhat, by fans (Cindy Hadish photo)

Stream of cars drive through the Wal-Mark parking lot to pick up bottled water (Cindy Hadish photo)

Stream of cars drive through the Wal-Mart parking lot to pick up bottled water (Cindy Hadish photo)

Sandbags in front of Gazette building in downtown Cedar Rapids (Cindy Hadish photo)

Sandbags in front of Gazette building in downtown Cedar Rapids (Cindy Hadish photo)

Gazette publisher Dave Storey probably regrets being in my photo taken on the back dock of The Gazette. Employees had to use portable toilets for weeks because of water restrictions in Cedar Rapids. (Cindy Hadish photo)

Gazette publisher Dave Storey probably regrets agreeing to be in this photo taken on the back dock of The Gazette. Employees had to use portable toilets for weeks because of water restrictions in Cedar Rapids. (Cindy Hadish photo)

To be fair, this is me in the same spot on the Gazette's back dock - no shower for days because of the city's water restrictions.

To be fair, this is me in the same spot on the Gazette's back dock - no shower for days because of the city's water restrictions.

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Getting ready for Japanese beetles

   I’ve been keeping a careful watch for Japanese beetles in my garden and enjoying my roses before the pesky beetle begins its annual invasion. The city of Cedar Rapids sent out the following today, (June 8, 2009) which made me wonder if Japanese beetles had already emerged. City arborist Daniel Gibbons, who wrote the article, assured me that he hadn’t seen any. Yet.

Japanese beetles

Japanese beetles

But, they will arrive, worse in some areas than others. If you haven’t seen this foreign invader yet, be grateful. Whether or not you have, read the following from Daniel Gibbons to learn more:

Japanese beetle has become one of the most destructive and frustrating pests for gardeners, farmers, and green industry professionals.  A transplant from Japan during the early 1900’s, Japanese beetle (Popillia japonica Newman) populations have enjoyed explosive growth across the East and Midwest.  Damage inflicted by various stages in the beetle’s life cycle can be severe to turf grasses, agricultural crops, and over 300 ornamental trees and landscape plants.  The USDA estimated in 2007 that control measures alone cost over $460 million.

Success of the non-native Japanese beetle can be primarily attributed to a lack of natural predators and a supportive climate and food source.  Although eradication is not feasible, successful management leading to reduced populations will minimize pest damage.  Those who succeed in managing Japanese beetle do so by gaining local cooperation, using an integrated approach to natural and chemical control, and by shrewdly selecting plant material when designing a garden or landscape.

Local cooperation is critical because of Japanese beetle mobility.  Despite the best efforts of one property owner, beetles from neighboring yards are usually a significant problem.  Success will increase if adjoining neighborhoods and property owners cooperate with sound management techniques.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is simply the use of multiple control techniques to reduce the comprehensive use of pesticides.  When properly used, IPM creates a healthy biotic environment in which populations of undesirable pests are reduced over time by the introduction of predatory elements, resistant plants, and targeted use of pesticides when necessary. 

Natural predators of Japanese beetle include microscopic nematodes (Heterorhabditis bacteriophora), naturally occurring soil bacteria (Bacillus thuringiensis), and the spores of Bacillus popillae (referred to as “Milky Spore”).  The success of these and other products can be effective, but depends on adherence to application and storage directions, climatic and soil conditions, and the presence of other pesticides or chemicals which may be harmful to these living organisms.  Products such as Milky Spore will become more effective over the span of several years when the bacterium has had time to establish.

Application of pesticides may be used to reduce heavy infestations, but should be performed by competent and trained applicators.  Some chemicals may only be used by licensed pesticide applicators.  Considerations in choosing insecticides to control Japanese beetle will include application method, seasonal timing, location, type of plant material being protected, and the presence of sensitive environment features such as waterways.  Assistance in choosing the latest formulation of pesticide for a particular site may be obtained from local garden shops or government extension agencies.

Finally, avoiding plants and trees that are susceptible to Japanese beetle is the best method to reduce the pest’s impact on a particular landscape or garden.  Keeping landscape plants healthy will also increase resistance.  The following trees are specifically targeted by Japanese beetle: Linden, Birch, Norway and Japanese maple, pin oak, beech and horse-chestnut.  Trees that show resistance to the beetle include hickory, red maple, tulip poplar, dogwood, northern red oak, pine, spruce, arborvitae and hemlock.  Resistant herbaceous plant groups include: Columbine, ageratum, coreopsis, coral-bells, showy sedum, hosta, and forget-me-not.  Herbaceous plants to avoid in areas where beetle populations are high include: rose, hibiscus, evening primrose, clematis, sunflower, peony, zinnia, asparagus and morning-glory.

Despite recent challenges with Japanese beetle, thoughtful management can reduce the impact to community gardens and landscapes.  Education, cooperation and savvy IPM practices will also reduce the impact on our pocketbooks, while promoting a healthy and vibrant growing season.

More information on Japanese beetle may be obtained through the following online sources: “Managing the Japanese Beetle: A Homeowner’s Handbook”    http://www.aphis.usda.gov/publications/plant_health/content/printable_version/JB3-07.indd.pdf

Iowa State University – Iowa Insect Information Notes http://www.ipm.iastate.edu/ipm/iiin/node/125

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Five Master Gardens

    Darrell and Joanne Hennessey turned a former cow pasture into a breathtaking landscape. Their home in Marion is one of five on the Linn County Master Gardeners Garden Walk, set for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, June 13, 2009. The walk was canceled last year due to the flood.        Darrell said the couple battled hip-high weeds and grass when they built their home nearly 20 years ago. Invasive multiflora rose had to be cut out constantly. “It was kind of an uphill battle for awhile,” he said. They still battle deer, with 5-foot-tall plastic snow fence used to protect dwarf conifer and arborvitae in the winter. Soaker hoses are barely visible inside the beds and tags mark most of the plants, so identification is easy.

   The acreage is the kind of place where you could spend hours looking at the various flower beds that Darrell has constructed. He’s been spending four to eight hours daily getting ready for Saturday’s garden walk. If you get the chance, check out the Hennessey gardens and others on the tour.    I wish we could have visited all five of the gardens. They all sound marvelous.  More info and photos are in the Sunday, June 7, issue of The Gazette, and online at: http://www.extension.iastate.edu/linn/news/Garden+Walk.htm

      I didn’t get to stay nearly as long as I would have liked, but here is some of what I saw last week when I visited the Hennessey gardens:   

 

 

 

 

 

Several of the conifers at the Hennessey gardens/ Cindy Hadish photo

Several of the conifers at the Hennessey gardens/ Cindy Hadish photos

 

 

 

   

Darrell Hennessey takes a break from edging his garden beds to point out a feature of one of his dwarf conifers

Darrell Hennessey takes a break from edging his garden beds to point out a feature of one of his dwarf conifers

Hosta bed and trees at the Hennesseys' Marion acreage

Hosta bed and trees at the Hennesseys' Marion acreage

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And the winner is…

Debbie Walderbach of Cedar Rapids was the winner of the drawing for

Dandelion Earth Friendly Goods

Dandelion Earth -Friendly Goods

organic cotton and corn-made items from Dandelion Earth-Friendly Goods this morning at the Gazette/KCRG tent at the Downtown Farmers Market in Cedar Rapids.

Because several people asked about the products in the drawing, here is the link for Dandelion, where you can find more information: www.dandelionforbaby.com

 

It was nice meeting everyone who stopped by, even in the rain.

Umbrellas, the must-have accessory for this morning's Downtown Farmers Market in Cedar Rapids/ photo, Cindy Hadish

Umbrellas, the must-have accessory for this morning's Downtown Farmers Market in Cedar Rapids/ photo, Cindy Hadish

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See you at the Farmers Market

Remember to stop by the Gazette/KCRG tent between 9-10 a.m. at the Downtown Farmers Market on Saturday (June 6, 2009) in Cedar Rapids.

We’ll be on the 4th Avenue side near the railroad tracks. Sign up for a drawing of cool items from Dandelion Earth Friendly Goods and let me know what you’d like to see on the Homegrown blog and in the Gazette!

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Emerald Ash Borer larva found in Iowa; UPDATE: ash tree protection

An infestation has not been confirmed, but officials are scouting northeast Iowa after an Emerald Ash Borer larva was found.  Iowa State University extension sent out tips today (June 5, 2009) on protecting your ash trees. See those tips at the end of the following info that was released Thursday (June 4, 2009) from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship:

ELKADER – Efforts to scout portions of northeast Iowa for the presence of emerald ash borer (EAB) have intensified following the submission of an EAB larva to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.  The larva was reportedly from Clayton County, however no additional EAB larvae have been found and no signs of infestation have been spotted in the immediate area. As a result, an EAB infestation cannot yet be confirmed.

 The EAB larva was reportedly found in a small sentinel tree at the Osborne Welcome and Nature Center in Clayton County.  The tree was established by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources with funding from the U.S. Forest Service.

 Officials from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, DNR and Iowa State University Extension have been conducting extensive scouting of the tree and around the Osborne Center this week.

 The Osborne Center is located approximately five miles south of Elkader and approximately 60 miles southwest of where an EAB infestation was confirmed in Wisconsin in early April of this year.

 Additional experts are returning to the area in the upcoming weeks to place traps in the immediate and surrounding area, during the next one-two weeks, to determine if an EAB infestation is present in the area.

 Officials from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and Iowa State University Extension will also be hosting two public meetings on Tuesday, June 16th at the Osborne Center about this discover.  The officials will meet with timber industry representatives 1:00 p.m. and then host a public meeting for residents that evening at 6:30 p.m.

 EAB detection in Iowa was the result of collaborative team members looking for this pest since 2003. From visual surveys, to sentinel trees, to nursery stock inspection, to sawmill/wood processing site visits, and hundreds of educational venues [meetings, phone calls, written correspondence, media interviews, and 1-on-1 conversations], the Iowa EAB team has been working to spread the word about this invasive insect and to protect the state.

 The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) is native to the Orient, and was introduced in the United States near Detroit, Mich. in the 1990s.  EAB kills all ash species by larval burrowing under the bark and eating the actively growing layers of the trees.

Emerald Ash Borer

Emerald Ash Borer

 Iowa State University Extension will issue a separate news release providing EAB management recommendations.

 The metallic-green adult beetles are a half inch long, and are active from May to August.  Signs of EAB infestation include one-eighth inch, D-shaped exit holes in ash tree bark and serpentine tunnels packed with sawdust under the bark.  Tree symptoms of an infestation include crown thinning and dieback when first noticed, epicormic sprouting as insect damage progresses, and woodpecker feeding.

 “We started our scouting efforts in the park where the larva was reportedly found and are spreading outwards. We have a five-mile radius grid that is going to be thoroughly investigated for any additional signs of EAB,” said Robin Pruisner, State Entomologist with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

 If an infestation is ultimately confirmed in Iowa, officials have a plan is in place to help stop the spread of EAB that would include a quarantine prohibiting the movement of hardwood firewood, ash nursery stock, ash timber or any other article that could spread EAB from infested areas.

 Clayton County is one of the top producers of forest products in Iowa.  The county has an estimated 66 million woodland trees and an estimated 6.6 million ash trees.

 EAB has been killing trees of various sizes in neighborhoods and woodlands throughout the Midwest. Ash is one of the most abundant native tree species in North America, and has been heavily planted as a landscape tree in yards and other urban areas. According to the Iowa DNR, Iowa has an estimated 58 million rural ash trees and approximately 30 million more ash trees in urban areas.

 The Iowa Emerald Ash Borer Team includes officials from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa State University Extension, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the USDA Forest Service.

 The movement of firewood throughout Iowa and to other states poses the greatest threat to quickly spread EAB.  Areas currently infested are under federal and state quarantines, but unknowing campers or others who transport firewood can spark an outbreak.  As a result, officials are asking Iowans to not move firewood and instead buy wood where they are staying and burn it completely.

 To learn more about EAB please visit www.IowaTreePests.com or for additional resources Iowans can visit http://www.iowadnr.gov/forestry/eab/index.html

Ash leaf damage/ Deb McCullough, Michigan State University

Ash leaf damage/ Deb McCullough, Michigan State University

From ISU Extension:

AMES, Iowa — The presence and new discovery of emerald ash borer (EAB) in states adjacent to Iowa has increased interest in this exotic, invasive insect and what Iowans can do to protect ash trees (Fraxinus species) on their property.

ISU Extension is collaborating with Iowa state regulatory agencies and local officials to prevent introduction of EAB into Iowa and limit its spread. For a full list of EAB detection and education activities, please visit our website at: www.extension.iastate.edu/pme/EmeraldAshBorer.html

Treatment options to protect ash trees from this destructive pest are available but careful and thoughtful analysis is needed to circumvent spread of false information and excessive and needless use of insecticides. Forest, horticulture, and insect specialists with Iowa State University Extension have developed a guide that outlines your management options against EAB.

The first step for many is confirming that you do have an ash tree. Only ash trees are susceptible to EAB attack, but all species and cultivars of ash trees are at risk.

Second, is the ash tree growing vigorously and in apparent good health? Trees must be healthy and growing for treatments to be effective. Ash trees with mechanical injuries, loose bark, thin canopies, and those growing on poor sites (limited rooting area, compacted soil or other stresses) are not worth treating. If your ash tree looks healthy and is important to your landscape, then preventive treatment options may be considered.

Insecticide control measures against EAB should not be used unless you live within 15 miles of the confirmed EAB infestation. Treatment outside this risk zone is not advised. Protecting ash trees with insecticides is a long-term commitment. Most treatments will need to be reapplied annually or twice per year for an indefinite number of years to protect the tree. With that in mind, most homeowners would be ahead to remove and replace susceptible trees.

Treatment timing is critical and must be matched to insect life cycle. After mid-June treatment is not recommended because it takes time for the systemic insecticide to be distributed within the tree (from 2 – 8 weeks depending on the application method).

Ash tree damage from Emerald Ash Borer/ Mark Shour, ISU Extension

Ash tree damage from Emerald Ash Borer/ Mark Shour, ISU Extension

The recommended time of application is early to mid April each year. If the tree is large (more than 16” diameter), a treatment in early fall is also suggested. So the next window for treatment for trees in Iowa would be mid to late September 2009.

A new Iowa State University Extension publication, PM 2084, Emerald Ash Borer Management Options,  will be available on June 12. The North Central Region Integrated Pest Management Center’s Insecticide Options for Protecting Ash Trees from EAB was issued in May 2009. Both can be found at www.extension.iastate.edu/pme/EmeraldAshBorer.html

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What do lightning bugs eat / An Evening with Fireflies

     An upcoming event at the Indian Creek Nature Center prompted me to call one of our awesome entomologists at Iowa State University. The Nature Center is having a walk at 8 p.m. Friday featuring one of my favorite insects –  the lightning bug!  

Lightning bug/ David Cappaert, Michigan State University, Bugwood.org

Lightning bug/ David Cappaert, Michigan State University, Bugwood.org

    What’s not to love about lightning bugs? They light up dark summer nights with their intermittent flashes and unlike other nighttime bugs, they don’t bite – in fact, they kind of tickle when you catch them. Best of all, in their younger stage, they eat slugs and other pests. 

Lightning bug larva/ Gerald J. Lenhard, Louisiana State Univ., Bugwood.org

Lightning bug larva/ Gerald J. Lenhard, Louisiana State Univ., Bugwood.org

   I wrote about lightning bugs last year after attending a workshop led by ISU entomologist Donald Lewis. Until then, I had no idea that  lightning bugs, as larvae, dined on not only slugs, but other insect larvae and snails – a real beneficial beetle! But I’ve had a nagging question since then: what do adult lightning bugs eat? After all, kids catch lightning bugs all the time, put them in a jar, punch holes in the lid and throw some grass inside. So do lightning bugs eat grass??

   Probably not, was the answer.  Donald Lewis said, if anything, they might occasionally feed on nectar. Some female species of lightning bugs use the signal of a different variety of lightning bug to attract males, and then, well, the male doesn’t become their mate, but their meal!  So, that’s what that species eats, but, he said, most adult lightning bugs appear to not eat much of anything.

   As an aside, he noted that punching holes in the lid of a jar might be more harmful to lightning bugs than leaving the lid intact and not-too-tight on the jar. Lightning bugs come out at night because they need a certain level of humidity and would basically dry up in the hot summer sun. Punching holes might allow too much air into the jar and also dry out the bugs. Safest bet might be a catch and release method. Get a good look, admire their flashing lights and let them fly free.

     Here’s some info about Friday’s (June 5, 2009) walk:   An Evening with Fireflies, Indian Creek Nature Center, 6665 Otis Rd. SE, Cedar Rapids. 1 ½ mile walk on grass-surfaced trails. Members, $3; non-members, $5. Children, $1. For more details, see: http://indiancreeknaturecenter.org or call (319) 362-0664.

    REMINDER: Remember to stop by the Gazette/KCRG tent between 9-10 a.m. Saturday (June 6, 2009) at the Downtown Farmers Market in Cedar Rapids. Sign up for the drawing (rattles, corn-made dishes and other baby items courtesy of Dandelion Earth Friendly Goods) and let me know what you’d like to see on the Homegrown blog and in The Gazette. The tent will be in Greene Square Park, along 4th Avenue, close to the corner along the railroad tracks. See you there!

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Critters in the garden

Linn County Master Gardener, Claire Smith, wrote the following: The driver of the car at the stop light next to me looked rather aghast when I broke into a hearty laugh this morning.  I guess some radio and TV facts are just meant to be light hearted even though reported in a most serious manner, for example, the obnoxious little black flies that are so prevalent this spring are called buffalo gnats.  Do you know why?   Because they have a hump in their back.  With no disrespect intended to those folks who study insects, that “need-to-know” fact really struck my funny bone.

Not so funny is in the onslaught of beetles again this year.  Just a reminder, do not spray edible plants to rid the beetles.  Traps seem fairly effective.  The traps do attract the little critters in addition to killing them so it is suggested you locate traps at the ends of your property.

The ugly tunnels in your lawn are probably mole trails.  Another little known fact is that moles eat more than their own weight in worms daily.  Worms are good for the soil.  They constantly aerate the earth.  Keep the worms; eradicate the moles.  The most practical method of eviction is a scissor or harpoon type trap.  Locate the active tunnel by tamping down all of the tunnels.   Place the trap in the one the mole reopens. 

And then there are the garden invaders, the ground hogs, rabbits and raccoons.  Probably the best offense against them is a good fence. Hardware cloth or wire mesh should be at least 1½ to 2 ft. tall supported with wood or metal stakes.   Bury the fence into the ground a bit or secure it down with landscape pins.  Repellents are somewhat effective, but more costly as they need to be reapplied after each heavy rain. You could consider live traps, but the last time we tried live traps, an opossum was smarter than we were. We did capture two cats, though. 

And, finally, Oh! Deer!  It is best to discourage deer before they become accustomed to the delicacies in your garden or yard.  The most reliable deer prevention maintenance is a fence.  However, a deer proof fence will be at least eight feet tall which can be a costly venture, be aesthetically unattractive, and possible prohibited by local building codes.  Repellents and scare tactics are ineffective as deer ignore them.  Try temporary fences around new plants and special plants.  Deer may force you to choose plants that are less tasty to them, have an unusual texture, or a strong aroma.  Call your local extension office (in Linn County 447-0647) for a list of deer resistant plants.  Perhaps impractical in some cases, a good dog will be as efficient as anything else you might try.

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Gnat Attack

   If you’ve spent any time outdoors this spring in Eastern Iowa, you’ve probably seen them. Swarms of black flies –most people call them gnats – that surround their victims in a frenzied cloud.

   Bug experts say there’s not much you can do to protect yourself against black flies. The pests come out during the day; while mosquitoes come out toward evening, so you can either lock your doors and stay inside or put up with the huge welts they’ve been known to leave. See story here: http://tinyurl.com/mnqwen

    Removing the gnats’ habitat can reduce their population, as well as the number of mosquitoes, which start to appear about the time the gnats die. Linn County Public Health  monitors for mosquitoes, which carry risk of diseases such as West Nile virus. Residents can report bad infestations to the health department at (319) 892-6000. Workers are using larvicide to control mosquito larvae in standing water, but the same can’t be used against black flies, which live as larva in fast-moving water such as rivers.

   Both insects made my top 10 list of bad bugs: http://cindyha.wordpress.com/2009/05/22/bugged-by-bugs/

  What makes your’s?

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Where do you go for strawberries?

Now that Iowa’s largest “you pick” strawberry farm – Hagen’s Berry Farm near Palo – is out of commission for the 2009 season, where else can Eastern Iowans go to pick strawberries?

I found a few growers at the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship site: www.agriculture.state.ia.us 

But  I’m sure there are many not listed.

Here are the hours for some of them. Call ahead, as opening days vary.

    Bagge Strawberries near Independence is open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays beginning around June 14. Prices are $1.95/pound for pre-picked and $1.20/pound for “you pick.” Call (319) 334-3983.

    Heartland Farms near Waterloo is open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Sunday, with both “you pick” and pre-picked strawberries. Prices were not set as of last week. Call (319) 232-3779.

    Koehn Berries and Produce in West Union is open 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Closed Sundays. Prices are $2.30/pound for pre-picked and $1.15/pound for “you pick.” Call (563) 422-3716.

 Owner Max Hagen asked me to reiterate that Hagen’s Berry Farm near Palo will not have strawberries this year, but expects to return the following season. The fields were flooded last June and although some of the plants survived, Max said the quantity and quality would not be what his customers have come to expect.

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Garden Party and more in June

Following are some of the gardening and eco-events in Eastern Iowa in June 2009:

Fri., June 5., 8  p.m., An Evening with Fireflies, Indian Creek Nature Center, 6665 Otis Rd. SE, Cedar Rapids. 1 ½ mile walk on grass-surfaced trails. Members, $3; non-members, $5. Children, $1. See: http://indiancreeknaturecenter.org

Sat., June 6, 4:30 p.m., Prairiewoods Garden Party at Mercy Medical Center’s Hallagan Education Center, 701 10th St. SE, Cedar Rapids. Features local wines and artisan cheeses from Kalona; dinner at 6 p.m., silent and live auctions and music. Cost: $35 each or $250 for table of eight. Call (319) 395-6700.

Mon., June 8 – Sat., June 27, RIVERRenaissance, flood anniversary events. See full schedule at: www.downtowncr.org

Tues.,  June 9 and Thurs.,  June 11, 6 p.m and Sat., June 13,  9:30 a.m., Brucemore in Bloom, 2160 Linden Drive SE. Wander among the unique flowers and plants as the Brucemore garden staff traces the development of the formal garden from conception to the current design. Learn about Mrs. Douglas’ vision of turning Brucemore into a country estate and prominent Prairie Style landscape architect O.C. Simonds’ involvement in the process. Admission: $10/adult and free to Brucemore members. Call (319) 362-7375 for reservations or register online: www.brucemore.org

Thurs., June 11, 9 a.m., Invasive Species Field Day, Wickiup Hill Outdoor Learning Center, 10260 Morris Hills Rd., Toddville. Learn about non-native invasive plants, typically transplants from distant places, that threaten native habitats in Iowa. Free program, lunch provided. Register by noon June 9 at www.LinnCountyParks.com by clicking on the “Events” area or call (319) 892-6450.

Sat., June 13, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Linn County Master Gardener garden walk. Explore five diverse Linn County Master Gardener gardens in Cedar Rapids and Marion. Gardens will include ornamental grasses, conifers, vegetables, perennials, containers, ponds and more. Master Gardeners will be at all of the gardens to answer your horticulture-related questions.  Admission: $5 per Adult; $10 per Family. Start at any of the five gardens. See: www.extension.iastate.edu/linn/news/Garden+Walk.htm

Sat. June 13, 10 a.m., Forever Green Garden Center, 125 Forevergreen Rd., Coralville, free pond and water feature seminar. Call (319) 626-6770 or e-mail:  lucyh@forevergreengrows.com

Sat., June 13, 1 p.m., Wetland dedication and walk, Indian Creek Nature Center. A half-mile walk where the Nature Center and Cargill have restored a forested wetland along the Cedar River. Free. See: http://indiancreeknaturecenter.org

Sat., June 20, 1 p.m.,  Green and Simple: Greens from the Yard, Indian Creek Nature Center. Join director Rich Patterson to learn how to identify and prepare nettles, dandelions, lambsquarter and other plants for food.  Members, $5; non-members, $8; children, $1. See:  http://indiancreeknaturecenter.org

Sat., June 20, 6:30-8 p.m., Summer Solstice Celebration, Prairiewoods, 120 E. Boyson Road, Hiawatha. Show appreciation for your dad and the summer season. Join us for a special Father’s Day/Summer Solstice Celebration. The evening will include poetry, prayer, festivities and end the night with a bonfire and s’mores. Free-will offering. Call (319)395-6700 and see: www.prairiewoods.org

 Sat., June 20- Sat., June 27, Project AWARE, Volunteer River Cleanup on the Cedar River. See: www.iowaprojectaware.com

Sun., June 21, 7-10 p.m., “Nature Rocks – The Concert,” Indian Creek Nature Center, 6665 Otis Rd. SE, Cedar Rapids. A green benefit for the Indian Creek Nature Center and SPT Theatre Company. Featuring Mexican food; chair massages; lessons on recycling and a live music concert by SPT’s Doug Elliott, Gerard Estella, Janelle Lauer, Jane Pini and guest artist Dave Moore. Bring lawn chairs. Tickets are $25 for adults, children 16 and under are free. Call the Nature Center at (319) 362-0664 or pay at the gate. See: www.indiancreeknaturecenter.org

 Tues.,  June 23, 6 p.m., Summer Landscape Hike, Brucemore, 2160 Linden Drive SE, Cedar Rapids. Welcome in summer by joining the Brucemore gardeners on a 90-minute hike that will emphasize the spirit of summer through the sights and sounds of the Brucemore estate. Experience the vivid colors of the formal gardens in full bloom, the lush rose bushes, and the fruits of the orchard while listening to stories of the Brucemore families. Admission is $10.00 per person and $7 per Brucemore member. Registration required. Space is limited, call (319) 362-7375 or register online: www.brucemore.org

Thurs., June 25, 7 p.m., Backyard Composting, Meeting Room A of the Iowa City Public Library, 123 S. Linn St. Learn about converting yard and kitchen waste into valuable soil for your yard and garden. Presented by Risa Dotson Eicke, Master Gardener Intern. Information on ECO Iowa City compost bin subsidy will also be available. ECO Iowa City is a grant-funded initiative to improve environmental sustainability in Iowa City. Call (319) 887-6004.

Sat., June 27, 9 a.m. and 11 a.m., ECO Iowa City Landfill and Compost Facility tour, 3900 Hebl Ave. SW. Learn about how compost is made on a large scale, the environmental benefits of composting as a waste reduction tool and how you can use compost to improve your yard or gardens. Parking is limited. Register by calling the Library Reference Desk at (319)356 -5200, option 5.

Sun., June 28, 2 p.m., Cedar Rapids screening of “Mad City Chickens,” a sometimes serious, sometimes whimsical look at the people who keep urban chickens in their backyards; 79-minute movie followed by discussion, Indian Creek Nature Center, 6665 Otis Rd. SE. Admission by donation. For more info: www.tarazod.com/filmsmadchicks.html

If you know of other events, send an email to: cindy.hadish@gazcomm.com or add a comment below.

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Milk rally Saturday

No milk dumping, but farmers plan to rally Saturday, May 30, 2009, at the Manchester Livestock Auction over low milk prices. Manchester is about halfway between Dubuque and Waterloo on Highway 20 in northeast Iowa. The site is at 1624 22oth St.

 You can see the story here: http://tinyurl.com/md785t

 Speakers include:

Joel Morton – Farm Aid (hotline director)

Arden Tewksbury – Pro Ag Manager – will talk about Senate Bill S.889 and how it will solve the problems

John Crabtree – Center for Rural Affairs

Chris Peterson – Iowa Farmers Union

Joel Greeno – president American Raw Milk Producers

Francis Thicke – Dairy Farmer

Bryan Gotham – a New York Dairy Farmer

 For more information contact: Dave Knipper at 563-590-1596 or Jerry Harvey at 641-203-4063

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Mixing pets and plants

The following is by Linn County Master Gardener, Claire Smith:

    So the kids talked you into getting a dog.  But you want to keep your lawn attractive.  With planning, it is possible to mix pets and plants. Perhaps container gardening is the answer for your flowers.

            If a kennel and run is not in your vision, design a cobblestone or decorative pebble area in an interesting shape with some large rocks then train your dog to use only that area. Good drainage is a necessity.  Diluting urine will help eliminate yellow spots in the lawn.  Wherever you choose to let the dog urinate, hose that area thoroughly and routinely.  Raised beds are functional, easy to work in, and will control urination on the gardens. 

            Select sturdy plants.  Coneflowers and Liatris are good possibilities.  One poke from a thorny plant will deter your pet.  Barberry Bushes have showy purple, gold or variegated foliage and outstanding fall color.  Viburnum flowers in spring and exhibits flashy fall color.  Flowering trees will provide above ground level color.  If you’re absolutely in love with a fragile looking delicate plant, put it in a hanging basket or an elevated planter.  If you plan to use evergreen shrubs, note that squirrels, chipmunks, and other small critters may move in around them creating potential for altercations and injury between the wildlife and your pet.

            Puppies are inquisitive, and plants like Hollyberry, English Ivy, and Yews are poisonous.  If you question a plant’s toxicity, inquire at your local extension office, Master Gardener Hort. Line (319-447-0647), or your veterinarian before purchasing it. 

            Whether you’re gardening for pets, wildlife or the environment, it’s a good idea to limit the use of chemicals.  A pesticide with a taste attractive to insects may also be attractive to your pet.  Read the label directions thoroughly: look for pet safe. 

            The safest mulch for your pet is leaves and cut grasses.  Mow, bag, and use generously.  Even if Rover investigates what’s under the mulch, he can’t hurt himself by ingesting a chemical.  Plus, you’re not feeding the landfill.

            Just as kids need discipline, pets can learn respect for plants and lawns, too.  Spend some time and effort learning the ropes together.  With effort, and a good pooper-scooper, it is possible for flora and fauna to coexist.

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Homegrown Iowa band rocks! Update…

Aeroroot

Aeroroot - Lf. to rt: Steve Krusie, Brett Karminski, Tracy Tunwall, Clint Landis

 UPDATE 6/22/09: Aeroroot was one of four bands to make it from this weekend’s competition in California to the finals at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland on  Oct. 3.

“It was more humbling than anything else,” lead vocalist Clint Landis, Frontier’s chief marketing officer, said of the outcome.

Aeroroot performed at The Key Club on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, Calif., on Saturday, beating the NBC network’s corporate band and other well-seasoned groups to get to the finals.

“We certainly were the least slick band there,” said lead guitarist Brett Karminski, Frontier’s brand manager. “We kind of felt a little bit out of place. Our only goal was to not mess up and to play as well as we could.”

The band’s raw performance apparently struck a chord with the three judges, who announced Aeroroot as the fourth and last group to make it into the finals.

“We heard, ‘and from Norway, Iowa,’ and that’s all we remember,” Karminski said.

Aeroroot performed the weekend before at Floodstock and the Relay for Life benefit, both in Cedar Rapids. Landis said they will likely take a break, but might do a few more gigs before October’s contest.

Other Aeroroot members are drummer Steve Krusie, Frontier’s director of public relations, and Tracy Tunwall, who plays bass guitar and sings backup vocals. Formerly vice president of human resources for Frontier, Tunwall is now an assistant professor at Mount Mercy College.

Here’s the previous post, before Aeroroot’s  competition in California:

Great story here out of Frontier Natural Products Co-op in Norway, Iowa. Aeroroot, a band made up of co-op employees, has made it to the regional semi-finals of the 9th Annual FORTUNE Battle of the Corporate Bands.

Aeroroot will be playing in Cedar Rapids at Floodstock on June 13, before they leave for the competition in L.A.  Drummer Steve Krusie said the band will play the same set at Floodstock as it will for the judging.

 If you can’t catch them in Cedar Rapids, you can listen to the band here:  http://www.aerorootband.com/listen.htm

Songs they entered in the competition were Voodoo on the Bayou, a cover of Cold Black Night and Dance with Me. Steve, who played in garage bands while a Kennedy High School student in the ’70′s,  said all three songs are on the Web site.

Here is more info from Frontier:

   Selected as one of 16 corporate bands to compete in regional semi-final events, Aeroroot will perform at The Key Club on Sunset Blvd. in West Hollywood, Calif., on June 20. Formerly the historic Gazarri’s nightclub, the venue earned its fame as the home of future rock and roll stars, including The Doors, Tina Turner and Van Halen.

 “To be honest, if we thought we really had a chance, we would have been too nervous to even record our entry,” admits Clint Landis, lead vocalist and Chief Marketing Officer for Frontier Natural Products Co-op, which is located in the rural rolling hills and farm fields of eastern Iowa.

 Aeroroot submitted its CD entry to the contest in March. A panel of representatives from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum selected the final 16 bands, which include groups from such corporate giants as NBC, Symantec and Johnson & Johnson. At stake is an opportunity for the band to play in the final competition at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, on October 3, 2009.

 Other Aeroroot members include lead guitarist Brett Karminski, Frontier Brand Manager, and Steve Krusie, Director of Public Relations, who plays drums and sings back-up vocals. Tracy Tunwall, formerly Vice President of Human Resources for Frontier – who is now assistant professor at Mount Mercy College – plays bass guitar and also sings back-up vocals.

 Based in Norway, Iowa, Frontier Natural Products Co-op is best known for its broad variety of natural and organic products, including culinary herbs, spices, and seasoning mixes; bulk herbs, spices and teas; and pure aromatherapy products.

 The name Aeroroot comes from the name of the herb arrowroot, one of the natural products Frontier produces. The spelling was changed as a nod to Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band Aerosmith. “We considered using lungwort, the name of another herb, but decided the images associated with that weren’t very attractive,” quips Krusie.

Formed five years ago during a lunch break in Frontier’s on-site organic café, Aeroroot intended only to provide entertainment for the annual holiday party. The performance was an overwhelming hit and with encouragement from Frontier employees, the band decided to stay together and began playing for charity functions, including fundraisers for the American Cancer Society and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Before heading to L.A. for the 9th Annual FORTUNE Battle of the Corporate Bands semifinals, Aeroroot is slated to play its competition music set at 1:00 p.m. on June 13 at the Floodstock Festival in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, an outdoor benefit concert to assist in the recovery of the devastating eastern Iowa floods of 2008.

For more information about Frontier Natural Products Co-op, visit www.frontiercoop.com

For more on Aeroroot, see: www.aerorootband.com

The official Facebook page for the competition: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Cleveland/FORTUNE-Battle-of-the-Corporate-Bands/48405335963#

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Meet me at the market

   The first Cedar Rapids Downtown Farmers Market of this season will be Saturday, June 6, from 7:30 a.m. to noon and I plan to be there. Stop by the KCRG/Gazette table in Greene Square Park sometime between 9-10 a.m. and say hi! I’d like to hear what you’re interested in reading about on this blog and in The Gazette.

  As reporters, we occasionally receive products from companies that we cannot keep. Dandelion Earth Friendly Goods recently sent several items that the eco-conscious readers of this blog might enjoy, so I thought it would be fun to have a drawing. If you stop by our table – remember, just between 9 and 10 a.m. or so – sign up and you could win some of these cute Earth-friendly products. 

   Here is some information that Dandelion sent:

Dandelion Earth Friendly Goods

Dandelion Earth Friendly Goods

At a time when “organic,” “green,” environmentally-friendly,” “renewable” and “sustainable” is a part of our everyday culture, consumers are sincerely moved to help preserve the planet and the health and well-being of their families. With the desire to champion an emerging “green” awareness, Re-Think It, Inc., is launching its collection of Dandelion Earth-Friendly Goods that turns living green into easy living.
   Dandelion Earth-Friendly Goods are made entirely using eco-friendly materials and processes, from organic cotton grown without pesticides and chemicals, coloring process and right down to the plant-based fibers used in filling the plush toys. The ReUsables - the divided plates, bowls and utensils – are made from corn, rather than conventional plastics comprised mostly of petroleum.
 
Stop by the table on June 6 to see these items and let us know what’s on your mind. For more on Dandelion, go to: www.dandelionforbaby.com
 

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Inspiration from living landscape history

Clematis at Brucemore in Cedar Rapids, Iowa (Brucemore photo)

Clematis at Brucemore in Cedar Rapids, Iowa (Brucemore photo)

The following is from Deb Engmark, head gardener at the historic Brucemore estate in Cedar Rapids, Iowa:

     I am in a constant state of wonder and awe at Brucemore; every direction I turn stimulates the senses. The birds’ twittering in the wisteria vine mingles with a slight scent of early blooming clematis growing along the grape arbor.  New growth is making its appearance throughout the gardens, as vividly illustrated by the lime-colored sprouts starkly contrasting against the dark green of existing foliage on the old Norway spruce.  Here on the Brucemore grounds, the new and old, past and present are demanding attention, clamoring to be experienced and shared.

     In an effort to appease my senses but also to share Brucemore’s role in American landscape history, I am leading a historic landscape tour. Wear walking shoes and bring a water bottle, this tour will cover a lot of ground and encourage discovery of this quiet, park-like space in the middle of Cedar Rapids.  Brucemore’s 100 years of Prairie landscape history, paired with the burgeoning spring plants, will make for an inspiring hike. Woven into the trek through the 26 acres of grounds will also be discussion of plants (mostly natives), theories of the original design, Brucemore family stories, and issues pertaining to current preservation and property use.

 Brucemore’s Historic Landscape Tour

Tuesday, May 26 & Thursday, May 28 at 6:00 p.m.  and Saturday, May 30 at 10:30 a.m. at Brucemore, 2160 Linden Drive SE.

Admission is $10 per person and $7 per Brucemore member. Please call (319) 362-7375 to register. See: www.brucemore.org

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Bugged by bugs?

  

Japanese beetles

Japanese beetles

 Spring in Iowa is too fleeting. Rare are those 70-degree days with cool nights before the air explodes with humidity and bugs begin their annual invasion. I can look at healthy green potato plants today and know that in a week or so the Colorado potato beetle will begin its defoliation quest. Same is true of the lush rose bushes that succomb ever earlier to the dreaded Japanese beetle, a copper-colored foreign invader.

   Because of the devastation they wreak on my plants, the Japanese beetle and potato beetle rank number one and two on my list of “bad bugs.” I was enjoying my backyard garden last night trying to think of others when a mosquito bit my leg. Mosquitoes= #3.

Colorado potato beetle

Colorado potato beetle

   Here are the others: 4) gnats or whatever those little black bugs are that bite behind the ears. 5) chiggers – not an insect, but larvae of a specific family of mites – the Trombiculidae. If you’ve ever suffered through chigger bites, you’ll know why these are on my list. 6) wasps - I try to leave them alone, but they seem ubiquitous this year and more aggressive – building wherever they take a liking, which includes my back porch and my sons’ club house.  7) ticks – again, not an insect, but my general worry over them keeps me from enjoying the outdoors at times. 8) Ants – luckily we don’t have  fire ants like they do in the south, but they’re just a pain when they decide to come in the house. 9) termites – again a general anxiety thing. 10) Emerald ash borer – not here in Iowa yet, but a preemptive disdain for a foreign invader that will someday devastate our ash trees. 

Emerald ash borer

Emerald ash borer

   What makes your list? I’m sure I’ll think of more, now that our perfect spring days are in the past.

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Garden experimentation

   The following is by Linn County Master Gardener, Claire Smith: My daughter’s garden is going to amount to a hill of beans.  Her first family garden last year was so much fun that they planted another.  Michelle dug a hole for a tomato and as she picked up the  plant, two year old Charlie dumped a half package of green beans in the hole and then proceeded to cover the seeds with his yellow plastic rake, “Back and forth, Gramma, back and forth”.  No problem, we’ll just use a trellis and enjoy Charlie and his beanstalk.  Catie was a big help, too.  She labeled a stake for both ends of the rows so we’ll be sure to know what we planted.  FYI, the rows are all of ten feet long.  Watering the seeds daily until they germinate hasn’t been a problem as long as no one minds that Charlie can turn on the spigot and water himself, Catie, and the neighbor’s dog.  We’re waiting to mulch the plants until they sprout in an effort to keep Charlie off the rows. With limited garden space, they’re experimenting with a hanging container cherry tomato plant. The container will probably require watering daily, allowing the water to run through the container. 

   Charlie helped us plant Hosta in their back yard this week.  The family is renovating the yard so some landscaping is in order. Their home is nestled on a hill surrounded by mature trees.  We planted several Hostas between a retaining wall and a tree where they will enjoy speckled sunlight.  Hosta prefers a rich organic soil, but they will grow in about anything.  We have access to aged horse manure to augment the soil and topped that, of course, with hardwood mulch. 

   Michelle plans to alternate Day Lilies and Iris in a sunny spot in front of the house.  Both are perennials preferring full sun and fertile, well drained soil, but once established will tolerate drought.  The latter makes them a good choice for a busy working Mom with two equally busy youngsters.

   Annuals will supplement other spaces.  Petunias, Snapdragons and Salvia are sun lovers.  Impatiens are shade/part shade lovers.  All are easy keepers.

    Eventually there will be shrubs and other flowering perennials.  Michelle and her family are having such a good time experimenting with what works and what doesn’t with both their vegetable and flower gardens.  And that’s what gardening should be about:  family and fun!

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Your questions: native lawn seed and “dead weight” compost

Homegrown readers are sending in their questions. Does anyone have answers for these two?

 Jody from Cedar Rapids sent in the first one:

 Hi Cindy – I love your site:) I live in C.R. and I have a question – where do I go to find native lawn grass mix?? I have a new very large area to seed! Thanks!

 Dikkie Schoggen asked the following:

 Rains daily for months has turned the compost pile into dead weight mud. We have composted for over thirty years and never had anything like this. How to rescue the mud and return it to useable compost?

 I thought the answer for Dikkie could be working brown material, such as dry leaves, into the compost pile. Any other suggestions? And does anyone know where Jody might find a native lawn grass mix in the Cedar Rapids area? And what might that be??

 Please answer in a comment below. If you have other gardening questions, you can ask those in a comment, as well.

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Your photos: mushroom hunt

Morel mushroom find

Morel mushroom find

Carrie Gralund of Anamosa sent in this photo of her son, Ayden, age 5.  “We were mushroom hunting on Sunday and found only one.  Our son was pretty pleased,” Carrie said.

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What’s growing in new community garden

Barb Pople wants goodwill to grow in a new garden at Cedar Valley Townhouses in Cedar Rapids, formerly known as the J Street Apartments. Barb, who is going on her seventh year living at Cedar Valley, is the driving force behind a new community garden at the complex, but she noted that many others are involved.

 The following organizations have pledged their support for the garden:

Healthy Linn Care Network

Linn County Connects

Green Iowa AmeriCorps

Cedar Valley Apartments

East Central Iowa Council of Governments

Metro High School

Mission of Hope

The Serendipity Project

Peoples Church

SouthWest Area Neighbors (SWAN)

 

Individuals and organizations that have donated labor and/or materials for the project:

ZJ Farms                                               Plants/Seeds    

Peoples Church                                     Building materials

Cedar House Shelter                              Money

Cedar Valley Apartment residents           Seeds/labor

Linn County Connects                            Plants/Seeds/Gardening Tools/Labor

Bill Elam                                               Use of rototiller

Green Iowa AmeriCorps                          Labor

 If I’ve left anyone out, please let me know by adding a comment below or sending an email to: cindy.hadish@gazcomm.com

 You can see the full story with photos here: http://tinyurl.com/r4eole

 

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Frost warning and Houby Days morel winners

Meteorologists might call it a frost advisory, but here’s my warning: if you’ve planted tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers or other plants that might be susceptible to frost, including annuals in planters, bring them inside (the ones in pots, that is) or use an old sheet or otherwise cover the others. Forecasts call for temps in Eastern Iowa to dip close to freezing both tonight (Sat., May 16) and tomorrow night (Sun., May 17.)

Now, on to more morels. Houby Days is taking place in Czech Village this weekend, a celebration of the mushroom (houby in Czech.) I heard mixed reviews about the morel crop this year, some saying they’re finding hundreds and others saying last summer’s flood messed up this season in Iowa.  Among the activities in Czech Village - on 16th Ave. SW in Cedar Rapids and some events across the river, including an egg and houby breakfast – was the annual houby contest, featuring morel mushrooms. Trophies were awarded for the largest, most unusual, smallest and best display. Here are the winners:

Largest morel (10 1/2 inches) from Mike McNeal, Cedar Rapids. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Largest morel (10 1/2 inches) from Mike McNeal, Cedar Rapids. (photos/Cindy Hadish)

Skylar Strawn, 11, of Cedar Rapids, with his award winning smallest mushroom, (in the plastic bag, attached to the larger one) which he estimated at 1/2-centimeter.

Skylar Strawn, 11, of Cedar Rapids, with his award winning smallest mushroom, (in the plastic bag, attached to the larger one) which he estimated at 1/2-centimeter.

Butch and Toni Velky of Swisher, with most unusual winner - 6 mushrooms growing together - which they dubbed "Bohemie Six-Pack"

Butch and Toni Velky of Swisher, with most unusual winner - 6 mushrooms growing together - which they dubbed "Bohemie Six-Pack"

Tom Slade, Solon, and Tyson Gosnell, Shellsburg, carry away their best display award winner, which included at least 250 morels. The two revealed where they found them: "In the woods."

Tom Slade, Solon, and Tyson Gosnell, Shellsburg, carry away their best display award winner, which included at least 250 morels. The two revealed where they found them: "In the woods."

There was no award for cutest display, but Debbie Eickstaedt and Theresa Shaver of Cedar Rapids undoubtedly would have won with this fawn.

There was no award for cutest display, but Debbie Eickstaedt and Theresa Shaver of Cedar Rapids undoubtedly would have won with this fawn.

Looks like the weather was right for these morels, which are actually carved out of pine wood by Ron Takes (in tan jacket) and Tom Brislawn of Troy Mills.

Looks like the weather was right for these morels, which are actually carved out of pine wood by Ron Takes (in tan jacket) and Tom Brislawn of Troy Mills.

Finally, if you want to know even more about morels, my brother, Gregg, passed along the following link to a paper by Lois Tiffany of Iowa State University and Donald Huffman of Central College:  http://amcbt.indstate.edu/volume_27/v27-4p3-11.pdf

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It’s great to see people are still reading these blog posts, but to view the most current Homegrown information, go to our new site: http://gazetteonline.com/category/blogs/homegrown

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