Posts tagged flower

Frightful weather?

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

           

It’s a debatable issue:  is the weather outside really frightful today?  Or, is it all in your perspective?  I was out and about this morning but arrived home in time to sit here at my computer plunking away for this week’s blog and watch the beautiful huge flakes of snow wafting to the ground. There’s just something mesmerizing about an Iowa snowfall.   Right now, right outside a kitchen window, a Cardinal is perched in a lilac bush sheltered in a blanket of white. What a sight!

            Speaking of birds, what will you do with your live tree after the Holidays?   How about, after removing the ornaments (especially the tinsel) propping the tree in your perennial garden?  It will add winter interest as well as shelter for birds that enjoy feeding on the seeds of coneflower, rudbeckia and liatris.  Or use it as mulch by pruning the branches and covering perennial and bulb gardens.  I’ll bet your neighbors would volunteer to let you take their trees, too. 

            Have you observed what wildlife visits your garden?  Their antics can be quite entertaining.  Note which plants helped bring them into the landscape. 

            Brush snow off shrubs and evergreens as the heavy wet stuff will cause breakage and damage. Prune only broken/damaged branches now.  

            Most importantly, investigate environmentally friendly methods of removing snow and ice from sidewalks and driveways.  Calcium Chloride is more expensive, but it is easier on your plants. Watch for new plant-friendly products entering the market. 

            And, if you haven’t found the perfect gift for a gardener friend, think about a journal, plant labels, hand pruners, flower scissors, a harvest basket (my second favorite choice), a gift certificate to a favorite garden center, or (my first choice!), a load of well seasoned manure, delivered. Yes! You read correctly!  It will be an inexpensive gift and certain to bring smiles to everyone’s faces. 

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Composting ideas

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

 

Sitting here by an open window listening to the acorns hitting the deck makes me smile.  1968 was the first fall we lived here in the country and my goal was to be the ultimate country person.  I diligently gathered buckets and buckets of walnuts and laid them out on a raised screen on the porch to dry with the intent of enjoying our own homegrown crop.   Imagine my surprise when I discovered a pair of squirrels dashing on and off my porch:   I certainly made their day!  I don’t dry my own walnuts anymore.  Nor do I make my own apple butter.  It was unbelievably delicious with literally bags of sugar added to the vat of apples and spices.  I don’t do much vegetable gardening anymore either, although there’s almost nothing better than your own fresh tomatoes and sweet corn.    My favorite daughter’s fledgling first garden was widely successful.  Maybe they’ll share with me next year as they’ve already planned for a bigger and better model.    The kids learned about eating peas from the pod and running to the garden to fetch a ripe tomato or ears of sweet corn for dinner.  When we clear the garden this fall we’ll amend the soil with composted horse manure.  Using the compost should eliminate the need to use any chemical fertilizer.

The beautiful weather today provides me the opportunity to cut down my peonies to prepare for Old Man Winter.  I’ll add a little mulch now and in a few weeks some of that composted horse manure to the entire bed as I lay it to rest. 

Composting is an inexpensive and an efficient use of biodegradable material.  Composting is so easy and can be inclusive of almost anything from horse manure to leaves, vines and grass clippings.   Why send your ”yardy” material to the landfill?  Let it decompose in a secluded area of the back yard and recycle it back into your flower and vegetable beds.  Linn County Master Gardeners will be happy to provide you with a plethora of information on composting.  Call the Horticulture Line at the Linn County Extension Office in Marion at 319-447-0647. 

 

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Practical Farmers

   Practical Farmers of Iowa will host a two-part event on Saturday, August 2. The field day will begin at 4 p.m. at the home of Eric and Ann Franzenburg. Discussion will include: culture and post-harvest handling of medicinal herbs, high tunnel tomato and flower production, adding an enterprise to the farm, making more profit on fewer acres, corn boiler heating systems, and organic certification.

    At 6:30, the event will move to the Tara Hills Country Club for a gourmet fundraiser dinner by Ben Halperin, executive chef and owner of the acclaimed Augusta restaurant. Reservations are required for the dinner. To register, contact Cedar Johnson at (515)232-5661 or cedar@practicalfarmers.org

    Eric and Ann Franzenburg started farming in 1993 with Eric’s parents Don and Pat. They added herbs to the conventional farm in 1995 as a way to diversify and increase profits. The new enterprise was quite a success, and the Franzenburgs now grow 130 acres of medicinal herbs. 2008 will be the third year of tomato production on the farm, and the first year for flower production. The Franzenburgs constructed three new high tunnels on the farm this year to accommodate their new enterprises.

   Ben Halperin recently moved to Iowa via New Orleans with his wife Jeri. They opened Augusta Restaurant in Oxford this past January. The restaurant, serving “comfort food with a Cajun twist,” has become a destination place for many. The gourmet dinner Saturday evening will feature food from local farmers.

    Direction to the farm: 6925 19th Ave., Van Horne. From Hwy 30, turn north on CR-V42 for 3 miles. Turn north on CR-E44 for 4 miles. Turn north on 19th Ave. for .7 miles. The Franzenburgs’ farm is on the right.

   Directions to Tara Hills Country Club: 1846 70th St., Van Horne. From the Franzenburgs, go south on 19th Ave. for .7 miles. Turn west on CR-E44 for .4 miles. Tara Hills is on the left.

   This event is sponsored by the Ceres Foundation. Sustaining sponsors for Practical Farmers of Iowa Field Days are the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa State University Extension, Iowa Pork Producers Association, American Natural Soy, Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service, Midwest Organic Services Association, Henry A. Wallace Endowed Chair for Sustainable Agriculture, and the CROPP Cooperative of Organic Valley/ Organic Prairie Family of Farms. Major sponsors for the Field Days are Wheatsfield Cooperative Natural Foods Grocery, Hubbard Feeds, Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, Iowa Forage and Grasslands Council, King Corn and Mosaic Films, and the North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education. 

    PFI is a non-profit sustainable agriculture group dedicated to farming that is profitable, environmentally sound, and healthy for consumers and communities. Founded in 1985, PFI has over 700 farmer and non-farmer members throughout Iowa. For more information, call (515)232-5661 or visit www.practicalfarmers.org

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