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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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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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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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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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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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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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