Archive for January, 2009

Spring explosion

Landscape designer and author Janet Macunovich and her husband, photographer Steve Nikkila, will be keynote speaker and featured speaker at the Winter Gardening Fair on Feb. 7, 2009, at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Linn County Master Gardener Becki Lynch has provided information on the event, which can be found by clicking on the Master Gardeners category on this blog. More will also be printed in the Sunday, Feb. 1 edition of The Gazette. I had the chance to talk to the couple by phone last week. To hear excerpts of that interview, click on the links below:

 

Janet Macunovich

Janet Macunovich

 

 

 

 

http://www.gazetteonline.com/assets/mp3/cindy2.mp3

Steve Nikkila

Steve Nikkila

http://www.gazetteonline.com/assets/mp3/cindy1.mp3

Photos are courtesy of Steve Nikkila

 

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Winter dragonfly

Photo courtesy of Midwest Flying Services, Inc., and Judy Hemphill Photography © All rights reserved

Photo courtesy of Midwest Flying Services, Inc., and Judy Hemphill Photography © All rights reserved

Pat Blake of University Hygienic Laboratory sent in this photo from the 2009 Winter Games at the Iowa Lakeside Lab Centennial Jubilee, with this from the photographer:

” A dragonfly on ice kicks off the Iowa Lakeside Laboratory Centennial Jubilee, with the second annual ArtsLIVE People’s Project, designed by Chad Branham and photographed by Judy Hemphill.  The big bug flew in the face of a cold winter day to create an eco art project that left only footsteps behind.”

The art project, on the ice of West Lake Okoboji, created the giant image of a dragonfly to raise environmental awareness.

 

 

 

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Winter Gardening – part II

The following is Part II of information on the Winter Gardening Fair 2009 by Linn County Master Gardener, Becki Lynch:

 

One week closer to the Fair!  I want to highlight some of the topics and speakers we are offering this year. 

 

First, we have numerous repeats of seminars about those beautiful perennials and other plants and trees that some could not get into last year – Daylilies, Lawns, Garden Lighting, Hillside Gardening, Pruning Trees and Shrubs, Ornamental Grasses, Using Herbs, Composting, and Prairie Gardens are just a few.

 

Second, we’ve added additional seminars specifically about Vegetable Gardening, a topic people requested last year in our evaluations.  Vegetable Gardening Problems and Solutions, Tomatoes, Peppers, and Salsa, Food Preservation, and The Kitchen Garden are all available.

 

Third, we’ve added a variety of new seminars that range from Bee Keeping, Tree Identification, Rain Gardens, House Plants, Tropical Plants, and Ponds, Gardening with Kids, to Everlastings – to name a few – Whew!

 

And finally, we have hands-on seminars that allow you to learn and participate directly in making garden related items:   The Garden Journal, Plant Propagation, Creating Nosegays, Terra Cotta Fountains, and Toad Houses are all examples.

 

And that’s not all – I urge all of you to go to www.extension.iastate.edu/linn to look at all the offerings available.   Simply click on Winter Gardening Fair on that page to see the full program, and instructions on how to register.

 

Overall, we have a selection of over 45 individual seminars, something for everyone!  The Fair will be held on February 7, 2009, with a back-up date of February 21, just in case of bad weather.  Hope to see you there!

 

Linn County Master Gardener, Becki Lynch.

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Climate change and renewable energy

The 2009 Agribusiness/Bioscience breakfast series in Iowa City began this morning, with a session on climate change and battery technologies. The series is an annual event with topics that impact agriculture. 

 

   Jerry Schnoor, chairman of the Iowa Climate Change Advisory Council and co-director of the University’s Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, and Johna Leddy, associate professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Iowa were featured this morning. Schnoor discussed climate change, including how we can reduce energy usage and create more renewable energy. Leddy followed with an overview of her work on electrochemical power sources. More than 50 people attended.

 

   If you missed this morning’s program, two more are coming up that address alternative energy.

 

On Feb. 27, the Gazette’s own Chuck Peters, our CEO, will present insights and lessons learned from living on a farm outside of Iowa City that has been powered for the last 10 years by wind and solar methods. Chuck Peters

 

On March 27, Newly-elected State Representative Larry Marek will discuss his efforts to make Iowa an energy independent “green” state , specifically regarding wind energy. He will also discuss his plans to lease part of his family farm to TradeWind Energy, which specializes in developing and managing wind energy projects in the Heartland. 

 

The programs are hosted by the Agribusiness/Bioscience Committee of the Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce with support from Eldon C. Stutsman, Inc., and First Trust & Savings Bank.

 

All programs are 7:30-8:30 a.m. at Hills Bank & Trust, 1401 South Gilbert St., Iowa City. The fee is $7 per event or $20 for the series, which includes breakfast.  RSVP to rsvp@iowacityarea.com by the Wednesday before each event.

 

Visit www.iowacityarea.com for more details.

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Human Dragonfly

2008_winter_games_turtle   Dragonflies are the most awesome insects. Not only are they beautiful, with their large eyes, transparent wings and sometimes jewel-toned bodies, but they consume mass quantities of mosquitoes and other bad bugs. I’ve seen them at lakes, but they also make regular visits to the city plot where I garden. They are fascinating to watch. If you happen to be trekking to western Iowa this weekend, you can actually “be” a dragonfly.

  

   Jen Johnson, executive director of Active Okoboji, said the group is collaborating on The People’s Art Project with Iowa Lakeside Laboratory (a partner with University Hygienic Laboratory and UI Continuing Education), ArtsLIVE and the Friends of Lakeside Lab. Last year, the project used 173 volunteers to create a giant turtle.  This year, they’re making a human dragonfly.

 

   The groups are looking for people to become part of a human puzzle on Saturday, Jan. 24, 2009, on the lake ice of Little Miller’s Bay on West Okoboji.  The Art Project will create a gigantic image of a dragonfly to raise environmental awareness.
 

   To participate, dress warmly in primary colors and meet at 12:30 p.m. at Peace Corner, located on the southwest corner of highways 9 and 86 in Spirit Lake. From there, buses will shuttle volunteers to the lake. The event includes a bonfire, warm drinks, snacks and door prizes. Observers are welcome.

 

   Jen said an aerial photo and video will be shot. More “bugs” will be coming this summer, when semi-sized metal sculptures will be displayed throughout the Lakeside Lab area. The bug art display will run July 4-Oct. 14.
 

   For more information, contact Jen Johnson at 712-332-6507 or jen@activeokoboji.org

  

The photo above is last year’s turtle. You can see more photos from last year’s event at: http://www.activeokoboji.org/

 

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Winter Gardening Fair

Linn County Master Gardener, Becki Lynch, shares the following about the Winter Gardening Fair:

 

Hard to believe we’re already into 2009!  I don’t know about you, but the years seem to be spinning along even faster as I get older – and now we’re almost to February 7, 2009, the day of the Winter Gardening Fair, 2009.

 

As you may already know, the Iowa State University Extension Linn County Master Gardeners sponsor this day of gardening seminars each year, partnering with Kirkwood Community College. 

 

This year we’re offering a full day of four seminars, as well as a keynote presentation for $49.  Lunch is also included.  Simply call our Hortline number (319) 447-0647 to request a brochure, or go to our web site www.extension.iastate.edu/linn to see the full array of seminars and details to register.

 

We’re particularly pleased and looking forward to our keynote and featured speakers, Janet Macunovich and Steven Nikkila.  They are a husband and wife team that are both knowledgeable and entertaining speakers.  Janet will be speaking on how to provide continuous color in your landscape through all four seasons.  She is a true Midwesterner and provides very practical and down-to-earth instructions and tips – at the same time, she is a joy to listen to.  I know she’ll get you excited to start your gardening season with lots of new ideas.

 

Steven is a wonderful photographer, who is also a delight to listen to about ways to improve those garden photographs that are so helpful in recording and planning your garden landscape.  He speaks to all of us amateurs with our digital cameras, as well as those more “professional level” folks.  I’m looking forward to being able to ask some of those questions I have about light and framing.  Why do I always seem to cut off the heads of my most beautiful flowers?  And why isn’t the color the same in the photograph as what I see?

 

I’m sure you’ll enjoy our speakers this year, and I hope to see you at the fair this year.  Next week, we’ll have more on  some of the wonderful local speakers who will be presenting workshops at the fair.  

 

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Happy Anniversary!!

    How could I forget our anniversary? It was Jan. 17, 2008, when the online version of Homegrown started, so this blog has already passed its one-year mark.

 

    With that in mind, I wanted to point out some new features that have been added since then.  First, searches are now easier with the addition of a search button.  If you want to know more about lawns or corn or lady bugs or something else,  just put the word or phrase into that space and click to find more on the topic. The “Your Photos” feature was added last year. Even though I asked for garden or plant photos, since it’s winter in Iowa, feel free to submit your cold weather photos – the ice on your tree branches, birds at the feeder or your child’s tongue stuck to a metal pole. OK, maybe not the last one, but photos you want to share can be emailed to me at: cindy.hadish@gazcomm.com and I’ll post them to Your Photos for the world to admire.

 

    The gardening events category is a popular one, but remember to look for the posted dates. Many of those items are from 2008. I’ll try to remember to put 2009 on all the new events to avoid confusion. The farmers markets list is from last year, but I will update the list this spring.

 

    If there are any other additions or changes you’d like to see on Homegrown, please let me know by email (same as above) or by posting a comment below.

 

    Finally, here is the message that kicked off Homegrown just over a year ago. I think it’s still appropriate today.

 

Welcome! I am so excited to be doing this!! Homegrown is the blog version of a gardening column I wrote for The Gazette a few years ago, a reference to locally grown vegetables, fruits and flowers. First off, although I was born in the 1960s, I don’t consider myself a product of the ’60s, so if you’re looking for a less than legal “homegrown” substance, you’ve come to the wrong blog, dude. Everyone else, feel free to come back often – more will be added as we move into growing season – and please, offer your comments. I want to know what your interests are. I’m also thrilled to provide a forum for our Master Gardeners, who will be sharing their expertise, as well. Thanks for checking in. I look forward to hearing from you!

  

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Brucemore in winter

   I’m fortunate to live near the historic Brucemore estate in Cedar Rapids. I rarely miss Balloon Glow on Brucemore’s massive front lawn and other summer events, but winter has its own appeal.

   The following event coming up on Saturday, Jan. 24, 2009, will highlight the winter landscape at Brucemore. Here is how the Brucemore staff describes their guided hike:

   The trees and grounds glisten under a blanket of un-tracked snow. Brucemore’s ever-changing landscape is beautiful even through the cold days of winter. Join the Brucemore gardeners on Saturday, January 24, at 10:30 a.m. for a guided hike through the estate’s 26 acres of natural outdoor winter beauty.

 

Brucemore’s winter hike follows an unpaved and often unseen route around the Brucemore estate. Current issues of preservation and public use are explored, along with stories from the past about the Brucemore families’ seasonal activities. Participants will have ample opportunity to ask questions and seek advice about their own gardens and landscapes.

 

Admission is $10 per person and free to Brucemore members. Space is limited, call (319) 362-7375 for reservations or register online at www.brucemore.org .

 

Brucemore is Iowa’s only National Trust Historic Site and is located at 2160 Linden Drive SE, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Working on flood prevention

   Rain gardens are one of the ways individuals can work together to help reduce flooding. The Indian Creek Nature Center has scheduled the following two programs for Saturday, Jan. 17, 2009 to learn more. Only a couple spots are open for the second session, on building a rain barrel. Call the Nature Center today (Friday) at (319) 362-0664 to register. Several spots are available in the first session on creating a rain garden, so you might be OK to just show up.

 

PUBLIC PROGRAM-RAINWATER IS NOT RUNOFF! RAINWATER IS A RESOURCE-1 PM: CREATE A RAIN GARDEN-MEMBER:$8-NONMEMBER:$10-As citizens of the earth we have a responsibility to manage run-off from our property and yard. Learn how to capture water from hard surfaces and roofs in rain gardens. Rain gardens are beautiful and environmental! Native seed and plant sources, planting methods, and care will be discussed.

PUBLIC PROGRAM-RAINWATER IS NOT RUNOFF! RAINWATER IS A RESOURCE-2:30 PM: BUILD A RAIN BARREL-A MATERIALS FEE WILL BE CHARGED FOR THIS PROGRAM-Good ideas keep coming back! Our grandparents had a rain barrel and cistern to capture water from roofs. Water was then used for everyday household needs. Get creative and make your own rain barrel with Master Gardener Deb Walser.

 

The Indian Creek Nature Center is at 6665 Otis Rd. SE, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  

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Strip poker and how long does skin take to freeze?

   Not much gardening happening in this weather. But no matter what takes you outdoors, precautions should be followed when it gets this cold.

   Radio station Z-102.9 had an on-air “strip poker” game this morning. The loser had to run outside with whatever clothes she was left wearing. Not the best example for kids sitting at home in another day off from school.

  Hopefully school children have better sense.

 

  The Iowa Department of Public Health offered the following advice for cold weather safety:  

 

   According to the National Weather Service, wind chills will range statewide from 30 to 40 below zero overnight and tomorrow morning when people will be going to work and children will be going to school. In those conditions, exposed skin could freeze within 10 minutes.

    It is best to stay inside if possible, but if you must be outdoors during these extreme conditions, it is very important to protect yourself against frostbite.

   Cover all skin, including hands, head and ears, neck and face, if going outdoors for any length of time, even if only for a few minutes.

Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and a grayish color in affected areas. It most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, or toes. Frostbite can permanently damage the skin, causing scarring, and severe cases can lead to amputation. Signs of frostbite include a white or grayish-yellow skin area, skin that feels unusually firm or waxy, or numbness. A person is often unaware of frostbite until someone else points it out because the frozen tissues are numb.

   If you must be outside for any length of time, make sure you check yourself and your children for these signs. If your skin shows these signs of freezing, go into a warm place immediately. Warm up frozen/chilled skin by pressing against normal temperature skin (put frozen fingers in armpits). Do not massage frozen/chilled skin, do not rub with snow, or place hot items against skin as this could cause more damage. Seek medical attention if skin does not quickly return to normal color or pain occurs and continues.

More information on frostbite can be found at www.idph.state.ia.us/adper/common/pdf/winter_weather/frostbite_factsheet.pdf.

 

  And from St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids:

 

   According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hypothermia occurs when the body temperature falls below 95 degrees.

    Nearly 600 Americans die each year from hypothermia.

 

Victims of hypothermia are most often:

– Elderly people with inadequate food, clothing, or heating

– Babies sleeping in cold bedrooms

– Children left unattended

– Adults under the influence of alcohol

– Mentally ill individuals

– People who remain outdoors for long periods

Symptoms of hypothermia for infants include bright red, cold skin and very low energy.

For adults, symptoms include:

           Shivering/exhaustion

           Confusion/fumbling hands

           Memory loss/slurred speech

           Drowsiness

Frostbite is injury to the body caused by freezing that causes a loss of feeling and color in affected areas.

It most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, or toes. Frostbite can permanently damage the body and severe cases can lead to amputation.

At the first signs of redness or pain in any skin area, get out of the cold or protect any exposed skin. Frostbite may be beginning.

Any of the following signs may indicate frostbite:

           A white or grayish-yellow skin area

           Skin that feels unusually firm or waxy

           Numbness

Hypothermia is a medical emergency and frostbite should be evaluated by a health care provider.

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