Posts tagged gardeners

Wrapping up the garden

   Brucemore gardeners Deb Engmark and David Morton will demonstrate and discuss the tasks involved in preparing individual plants and the garden for winter during a “wrapping up the garden” workshop at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 1.

   Admission is $10 for adults and $7 for Brucemore members. Reservations are required. Call (319) 362-7375 to reserve a spot.

   Brucemore, Iowa’s only National Trust Historic Site, is at 2160 Linden Dr. SE, in Cedar Rapids.




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Beetle battle

Colorado potatoe beetle

   Gardeners and farmers market vendors I’ve spoken to this spring show consensus that everything is at least two weeks behind our typical Iowa growing season.

   For the most part, I agree. While it’s nice to enjoy the scent of lilacs at the end of May, I’m still waiting to pull my first radish.

   But one thing, I discovered, seems even earlier than usual.

   This weekend I was encouraged to see that all my potatoes had finally emerged at the garden I lease from the city.

   While things are slow, most plants are looking great.

   Upon closer inspection, I saw something striped and moving and NNNOOOOO!!!

   Already, it’s time for Iowa’s pest season to begin.

   The dreaded Colorado potato beetle — Leptinotarsa decemlineata — the bane of my tiny potato crop, was already at work decimating the foliage just as the plants emerged from the ground.

    I looked to the helpful New York Times “1,000 Gardening Questions & Answers” book, a gift from my friend Dru (thanks DruJ) to research what I might do this year to battle these beetles.

   What I found was somewhat discouraging.

   The organic methods I prefer aren’t very effective when a single female can produce 10,000 offspring by the end of summer.

   I’ve used the powder Garden Guard on the potatoes, but it only stays on as long as it’s not windy or rainy. That’s what — about two hours on any given day this spring?

   Knowing the damage they wreak, I’m much less squeamish about squishing the little buggers than I would have been in the past.

    The Times’ book recommends organic gardeners apply a dose of Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) to kill the small larvae.

    Larger larvae and adults can be killed with rotenone, a strong but short-lived botanical poison favored by organic gardeners when they must take extreme measures.

   To add insult to infestation, the book notes, Colorado potato beetles can live a full two years. But they won’t stay if there’s nothing to eat, so the final – or first – line of defense is late planting. If they don’t find any potato, eggplant or nicotiana leaves when they emerge from the ground in spring, they’ll leave.

   So, I’m too late (or I was too early) to try that last idea.

   I do try to rotate where I plant the potatoes, but it doesn’t seem to matter where they go. The beetles will find them. Maybe next year, I’ll go for the late start. Any other suggestions?

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Catalog virus

Dedicated gardeners know there’s only one thing to do with a new foot of snow on the ground. Dig out… the catalogs!

With my Bonus corn seed found, thanks to Marlene, I still have a few more seed varieties to order, and an almost endless pile of catalogs to plow through. Once you’re marked as a gardener, supply companies have a way of making your name go viral, so every year, I receive more and more catalogs. Like gardening itself, it can become overly consuming.

Sometimes I give in to the tempting offerings displayed in gorgeous, colorful photos, and order from an unknown company. This year, I’ll try to stick with the old standbys. I’ve had good luck with Jung’s, of Randolph, Wis., over the years. What about you? Any favorites out there, or little-known seed companies or nurseries that shouldn’t be overlooked?

P.S. A huge Thank You to my neighbor, who, without being asked, dug out my driveway yesterday. What an angel!!

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New Brucemore workshop

Know how to prepare your garden for spring by attending Brucemore’s new Prudent Pruning Workshop.  Brucemore gardeners Deb Engmark and David Morton offer a 90 minute program devoted to demystifying the when, how, and why of pruning your garden.    The workshop takes place February 26 at 6:30 p.m. in Brucemore’s visitor center. Admission is $10 per person and $7 for Brucemore members. Space is limited. Call (319) 362-7375 for reservations.   Brucemore is Iowa’s only National Trust Historic Site and is located at 2160 Linden Drive SE, Cedar Rapids.

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