Archive for February, 2008

Green space saved???

Dave Smith, parks superintendent for the city of Cedar Rapids, shared some news with me that might spell the end to thoughts of selling land the city owns next to Squaw Creek Park.

Cedar Rapids has 301 acres near Highway 13 and 100, most of which is used for Gardner Golf Course. Just under 40 acres are in prairie land, along with space leased by the city to gardeners. The Cedar Rapids City Council was mulling the sale of those 40 acres to fund renovations to the Twin Pines Golf Course, but that might be out of the question.

Smith told me that the land was purchased with federal money under the Housing and Urban Development’s Open Space Act – at a cost of $194,417 back on Aug. 5, 1963. The property was purchased from a private landowner named Julius Bigger, according to the documents. Under that act, which the federal government continues to monitor, if the city chose to sell the land, it would have to replace the open space with equally sized and equally valued land. That would mean finding 40 acres or so elsewhere and purchasing it in today’s dollars, not the value of the land as it was in 1963. So really, the city would have nothing to gain, and probably much to lose, in selling the property.

Smith gave credit to the visionary city leaders at that time for having the foresight to obtain green space for its residents. “We want to stick with that original agreement,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how long ago it was.”

Bravo.

The City Council plans to discuss the Twin Pines Task Force’s report regarding funding options at the council meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday (March 5) at City Hall. It might be worth it to attend and see if the option of selling green space – maybe elsewhere – arises.

Comments (2) »

Happy Leap Year

Yippee… An extra day of February. Another cold, snowy winter day…

Spring – where are you???

Leave a comment »

2008 Lawn and Garden Show

This event listing is from Master Gardener Becki Lynch. 

 I don’t know about you, but my “cabin fever” hit a peak this week!  As a gardener, these are the days that seem the longest – while I wait for a day close to 30  degrees so I can go out and bask in the heat! I’ve devoured all the catalogs; have all kinds of plans for spring; can’t wait to start cleaning up the beds – and I’m stuck indoors – AHHHH 

That’s why I look forward to the WMT Lawn and Garden Show every year. This year the show will be Friday, March 7,  3 – 8 p.m.;  Saturday, March 8,  9 a.m. – 5 p.m;  Sunday, March 9,  10 a.m. – 3 p.m. at Hawkeye Downs on Sixth Street SW in Cedar Rapids. Entrance Fee:  $5 (Look for coupon in the Gazette.)

 I am always eager to go and see all the booths.  Vendors from all types of garden equipment, garden art, landscaping needs and lawn care fill Hawkeye Downs.  I like to pretend for at least a little while that I’ll go home and go right out into the garden as I pick up new garden items. I also like the on-going door prize drawing.  I never seem to win, but there’s always a chance!  And, of course, I particularly like the Master Gardener’s booth, where you can ask any question you have on plants, gardens and those pesky garden pests. But my favorite time at the show is when I sit down and enjoy learning about a new garden topic.  Presentations are scheduled throughout the day, and the schedule is available in the Gazette prior to the show.   There are always one or two topics that I want to learn more about, and since the classes are included in the admission, the price is right! 

This year the Iowa State University Extension Linn County Master Gardeners will be offering four presentations throughout the event.  The topics are:

 

Kitchen Gardens – Friday, March 7, 5:30 p.m.

Landscaping with Ornamental Grasses – Sat. March 8, 12:30 p.m.

Garden with Children – Saturday, March 8, 2:30 p.m.

Old Gardener’s Tales – Sunday, March 9, 11:30 a.m.

 Such a nice variety!  Stop back next week and I’ll give you an overview of what they are and the topics they will cover – Becki  

 

Leave a comment »

Timely tree trimming tips

        Here’s an outdoor project for you to do right now.  Master Gardener Gene Frye provides helpful hints about pruning your trees and shrubs. Late winter/early spring is the optimum time for cleaning up and shaping up. (Plus, think of the exercise you’ll get before it’s really hot and humidJ) 

 THE BASICS OF PRUNING WOODY PLANTS 

Proper pruning is an important and often neglected step in caring for woody plants,  mainly trees and shrubs. 

 WHY PRUNE?

The main objectives of pruning woody plants are to control their size and shape, to correct defects in the plant’s structure and to repair storm or animal damage. 

WHAT TO PRUNE?

One of the highest priority items to prune is narrow-angled crotches, for they are mechanically weak and subject to rot, hence they are vulnerable to storm damage.  Another category is branches that are dead, broken or diseased, for they are traditional entry points for rot to get started.  Finally, misplaced branches should be pruned out. 

WHEN TO PRUNE?

 For most woody plants, late winter to early spring is the best time to prune, for the pruning wounds are exposed to the weather for a minimum amount of time before healing starts to take place.  A major exception is that spring-flowering shrubs should be pruned just after the blooms fade In order to avoid destroying flower buds.  Do not prune late in the growing season, for then the new growth that results may not have sufficient time to harden off before it gets cold.  This results in stressing the plant to the point where it may not survive the winter. It is important to avoid pruning oaks between mid-March and late September to minimize the chance of Oak Wilt disease being introduced to the tree.

 HOW TO PRUNE?

·        Use the correct tools – regular pruning saws but no carpenter or bow saws.

·        Do not make cuts flush with the trunk.  Instead make the cut just outside of the branch collar.  (See Extension Publication SUL 5 for more specific directions.)

·        Do not use wound dressings except when pruning oaks during the growing season.

·        Do not remove more than one third of the plant tissues in any one year.

·        The chances of rot getting started increase rapidly for wounds over three inches in diameter. 

  REFERENCES

·        Extension Publication SUL 5, “Pruning Trees and Shrubs”

·        ISU Extension Publication Pm 1958, “Pruning Ornamental Shrubs”

·        Extension Publication SUL 6, “Managing Storm Damaged Trees”

·        ISU Extension Publication RG 104, “Horticulture Publications” 

Comments (5) »

Think Spring! More gardening classes

Following are classes offered at Hy-Vee, 5050 Edgewood Road NE, in Cedar Rapids. To register by phone, contact Customer Service at 319-378-0762.

Tips from our Garden Center: Winter 2007-2008: Are Our Landscapes at Risk? with Mike Duggan (Free) Saturday, March 1, noon to 1 pm. Mike Duggan, Garden Center manager, will discuss what to expect in our landscapes and gardens as we move towards spring. We have just experienced one of the most grueling winters on record. Discussion will include effects on trees, shrubs, lawns and gardens. Free. Pre-registration required.

 Tips from our Garden Center: Plant Propagation with Seed and Vegetative Cuttings with Mike Duggan (FREE) Saturday, March 15, 2 to 3 pm.  March is a key period for starting spring plants from cuttings and seed. Mike Duggan, Garden Center Manager, will explain and demonstrate how to get those seeds and young plants off to a good, healthy start. Class is free. Must pre-register. Seating is limited.

Leave a comment »

Season’s first harvest is sweet

The Indian Creek Nature Center is celebrating its 25th annual Maple Syrup Festival on Saturday, March 1, and Sunday, March 2, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event features a pancake breakfast, syrup-making demonstrations and live music.

As Nature Center director Rich Patterson wrote in his column last week (Feb. 20) in The Gazette:  “Maple sap is the season’s first food crop. Sugarmakers tap trees, collect sap and boil it to concentrate sugar. Any maple, including sugar, black, silver, Norway and red, produces sap that can be made into syrup.”

If you’re the do-it-yourself type, the center sells syrup-making equipment for people who want to make a batch at home. I think I’ll let the experts do this one and enjoy my pancakes, syrup and sausages next weekend at the festival.

Tickets are available in advance at the Nature Center, 6665 Otis Rd. SE, Cedar Rapids, ($6.50 for adults, $3.50 for children 3-12 years) or at the door (50 cents more per ticket.) And lucky you if you’re 25. To commemorate their anniversary, anyone age 25 will be admitted free!

Comments (1) »

It’s SUMMER!!! (just click here)

Silly me. I invited the Cedar Rapids City Council and the Golf Course Task Force to take a look at the city gardens and prairie land near Squaw Creek Park in the middle of February.

Right now, the view would be similar to what we’re seeing everywhere: snow, snow and more snow. And even though all the school snow days are getting a bit old,  my 10-year-old son took advantage of one of them to come up with a slideshow, showing scenes from our leased city garden from summers past. 

To remember what summer is like, just click below.

see slideshow here

Comments (2) »