Posts tagged gardens

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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Compost winner!!

Saturday, Nov. 15, is America Recycles Day and what better way to recycle than by composting?

   Composting turns egg shells, banana peels and other fruit and vegetable peelings that would otherwise end up in a landfill into a nutrient-rich soil amendment that helps gardens thrive.

    Readers sent in some wonderful essays to our compost contest and we’ll eventually get those posted here, beginning with our winner: Beverly Whitmore of Cedar Rapids.

Beverly Whitmore

Beverly Whitmore

 

 

 

    Beverly won a kitchen composting package, courtesy of the Cedar Rapids/Linn County Solid Waste Agency. Special thanks to our judges, Bev Lillie, Linn County master gardener coordinator; Dustin Hinrichs, Linn County Public Health air pollution control specialist and Stacie Johnson, education coordinator for the Cedar Rapids/Linn County Solid Waste Agency. Stacie provided the prize.

   Thank you to everyone who enteredJ

 

Here is Beverly’s winning entry:

 

I’m a magician.  I can turn coffee grounds, dried crushed eggshells and any kind of fruit or vegetable peelings into “black magic”!  Even the stems of irises and day lilies go into my “recipe” for compost.  The real secret is to “chop” up the ingredients into small pieces, and turn those ingredients with a pitch fork once in a while.  Come see my garden next spring and you will not only see lovely, black dirt full of healthy earthworms, but after it has “baked” it really does have a sweet aroma.  When neighbors stop by to say how pretty my garden is and comment that I must use a lot of fertilizer … I simply say “no, I just put a shovel of compost around my plants, it’s really what makes them so happy”.  My plants grow taller than usual and produce lovely blooms.  One could say that I like to play in the “dirt” and I do!  Whether it be “mixing” a concoction of non edible peelings and leaves, or enjoying the beautiful plants and their blooms, one thing is for sure, my husband is happier too … he gets to tote “less” garbage to the street each week!

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The Lorax

CR/Linn Solid Waste Agency tour
CR/Linn Solid Waste Agency tour

   The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss, is one of my all-time favorite books. The film was part of the Environmental Film Festival on Saturday at the Cedar Rapids/Linn County Solid Waste Agency. Technical difficulties prevented a dozen viewers from watching it, but Stacie Johnson gave a good synopsis and an even better tour of the facility at 2250 A St. SW, in Cedar Rapids.

  

   Stacie said the agency is offering free compost from the compost site this year for Linn County residents. The compost is made from the leaves and other natural materials collected in Yardys. It is aged in piles and unwanted materials are removed with a heavy-duty screening machine. The result is rich, dark compost that is great for gardens.

 

  Stacie also noted that Linn County residents can bring unwanted metal items and drop them off for free in the facility’s scrap metal pile. So that old metal swingset, aluminum windows, treadmills and other metal items can be recycled as scrap metal, rather than adding to the landfill. And residents won’t have to pay the $35/ton tipping fee. The same is true for bikes and lawn mowers.

 

   The site is also collecting TVs, computers and other electronics that are recycled. Residents are charged $5 for each TV (or $10 for larger ones) and computer monitors dropped off, while VCRs, I-pods and other smaller items are free to drop off. Lead acid batteries and compact fluorescent light bulbs are also collected for free at the site.

 

   The next movie in the film festival is Tuesday, Oct. 14. “Winged Migration,” will be shown at 7 p.m. at the Indian Creek Nature Center. All the films are free. For the complete listing, click on the “gardening events” tab on this blog.

 

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Dividing perennials

Two workshops  on dividing perennials are scheduled this week and in September…

 

 Culver’s Garden Center & Greenhouse in Marion is planning a free seminar to help homeowners and gardeners learn to divide common perennials.  

 

Share the Love: Dividing Perennials will be  Tuesday, Aug. 26.  from 5:30-6:30 p.m. in Culver’s Greenhouses, 1682 Dubuque Rd., Hwy 151 East. The free seminar will focus on how to divide perennial plants that have outgrown their space or for use in other locations. 

 

People interested in attending the free seminar are asked to call (319) 377-4195.

 

Also, Brucemore has scheduled a workshop on fall perennial division in the Brucemore Formal Garden on Wednesday,  Sept. 10,  at 6 p.m.  The Brucemore garden staff will demonstrate tips and techniques for successfully dividing a variety of plants, including peonies and lambs ear. 

 

Dividing perennials each fall helps to maintain a healthy garden while providing an opportunity for distributing favorite plants to other parts of the garden or sharing them with friends. Participants should wear gloves, bring a spade and/or fork, and be prepared to dig and split plants from the garden. Each participant will have the opportunity to take a small piece of Brucemore home with them.

 

There will be ample opportunity to ask questions and seek advice from the experts at the end of the workshop. Admission is $10, or  $7 for Brucemore members. Space is limited. Call (319) 362-7375 for reservations or register online at www.brucemore.org by September 9.

 

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

 

 

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Poppy Quest

  

 

Kathryn Armstrong Johnston and her daughter, Helen.

Kathryn Armstrong Johnston and her daughter, Helen.

 

  Kathryn Armstrong Johnston lives in Hammond, Indiana, but a search for heirloom plants that her grandmother grew is centered in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

   A story about Kathryn’s efforts ran in the Sunday, Aug. 10 edition of The Gazette.

   Her grandmother, Esther Armstrong, lived at Pleasant Hill in Cedar Rapids where she gardened most of her life. Kathryn is looking for anyone with offspring from the pink poppies that Esther grew. She kept seeds from the poppies in a jar and often gave them to friends.

  

   Some side notes not mentioned in the article: Kathryn’s  father’s mother, Lorine Johnston, also was a dedicated gardener in Coral Gables, Florida.  Her mother had a garden in South Carolina while they were growing up, and several of her siblings also were gardeners.  Her grandmother’s younger brother, Preston Davis, wrote a memoir about growing up in South Carolina at the turn of the century.  He self-published it for friends and family, and to his surprise, it was bought by prominent libraries and historical societies around the country, and went into a second printing.  Part of the reason is that he describes in detail the plants his mother grew on their property, which is very valuable for those maintaining historic homes and gardens.  Her Uncle Preston later lived in Virginia and was well known for his camellias.

 

   Part of Kathryn’s inspiration for her search was a friend from a very old New England family (descended from witches and judges at the Salem witchcraft trial) whose family has their own bean, which they use for Boston baked beans. She got to eat some Pottle beans when she visited at spring break.

 

   Kathryn’s husband took pictures of her and daughter at their home in late July.  The phlox were from her grandmother’s garden.

   “I do not have a model garden myself, but I can dream,” she notes.

   Their daughter, Helen, was named after her grandmother,  Esther Helen Armstrong.

 

   If anyone believes they have pink poppies descended from Esther’s at Pleasant Hill, send a note to me at: cindy.hadish@gazcomm.com or add a comment to this blog and I’ll make sure Kathryn gets the message.

 

   An additional note: Kathryn found a photo of a pink poppy similar to her grandmother’s at: www.OneStopPoppyShoppe.com

Check out their Web site for an amazing array of beautiful poppies.

 

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July gardening events

   The Johnson County Master Gardeners are holding their 13th annual Taste of the Heirloom Garden on Wednesday, July 16 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Plum Grove State Historic Site, 1030 Carroll street, Iowa City.

   This unique project funds the Plum Grove gardens (there are three:  vegetable, flower and wildflower}; a Horticultural scholarship at Kirkwood Community College, 4H prizes at the fair, and garden mainenance.

   The gardens have received two awards:  first Iowa State Service Award and National Garden designation by National Garden Clubs of America and the Smithsonian.

   Each year,  a committee scours 19th century cookbooks to plan a menu of three soups,  vegetable dishes, salads, breads, and desserts based on produce planted in the vegetable garden. There is a different food selection each year and a recipe pamphlet is available. Senior Center Post Office Brass entertains with old tunes,  door prizes are awarded, guided tours to gardens and 1840 Robert Lucas home, free parking and this year a visit from the ghost of Robert Lucas.

    Despite the late spring and continued rain, the garden is growing with new varieties.  More than  45 different heirloom tomatoes have been tested since its inception. Strawberry and Malabar spinach are some of the new varieties. The wildflower garden has new acquisitions and a new resting stump is from a tree under which the Mormons camp on their trek across Iowa.  This project will be featured at the Farm Progress show.

   For more information contact Betty Kelly blk106@earthlink.net

 

    Seed Savers 28th Annual Convention will be  July 18-20 at Heritage Farm north of Decorah, Iowa.
    Seed Savers Exchange is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of heirloom seeds.

   This year’s keynote speaker is Lynne Rossetto Kasper from NPR’s The Splendid Table. Other speakers include Rich Pirog from the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture and SSE Advisor John Swenson.
    The Annual Convention kicks off Friday evening with an informal reception at the Visitors Center. There will be a wine tasting by Winneshiek Wildberry Winery and turkey summer sausage and jerky from Jenkins Industries in Decorah.
   Saturday there is a full schedule of events – with walks and tours, a seed swap, flower arranging by Willowglen Perennial Nursery, and open houses in many of SSE’s facilities in the morning, and speakers in the afternoon. After a locally grown dinner is the keynote speech and a barn dance.
   Sunday morning there is a bird walk and a wide selection of tours and workshops to choose from.
   For more information call SSE’s office at 563-382-5990 or visit:
www.seedsavers.org

 

   Culver’s Garden Center & Greenhouse will have a free seminar, focusing on the benefits and beauty of gardening with native plants.

   Native Iowa Plants will be Saturday, July 19, from 10-11 a.m. in Culver’s Greenhouses, 1682 Dubuque Road (Highway 151 East), in Marion. The seminar is being held as part of Culver’s Customer Appreciation Weekend, July 19 and 20, and will cover different types of plants native to Iowa and the benefits of using them.

  Native plants in the garden and landscape require less maintenance and water, cause less harmful runoff, are more likely to thrive, maintain or improve soil condition, and provide natural sources of food and shelter for native wildlife.

  RSVP by calling (319) 377-4195.

  Culver’s Garden Center & Greenhouse was established in April of 1998, an extension of Culver’s Lawn Care & Landscaping, Inc.   More information is available at: www.culverslandscape.com

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Important information for flooded gardens

Patrick O’Malley, ISU Extension Eastern Iowa Commercial Horticulturist, and Duane Gissel, ISU Extension Scott County Horticulturist, offer insight into recovery for flooded gardens:

 

   If flooding is from pooled rainwater, it should be safe to continue gardening.

 

   If the water is from river, creek or other sources that may contain raw sewage, such as untreated release from city waste water plants, septic systems or livestock facilities, some produce will be unsafe to eat.

 

The safety of unharvested fruits and vegetables depends on:

• Kind of produce

• Maturity of produce at the time of flooding

• Severity of flooding (depth of water and silt)

• Duration of flooding

• Likelihood of contamination from sewage, other bacterial contaminants or industrial pollutants. (Raw sewage contains bacteria that can cause illness if contaminated fruit or vegetables are eaten.)

 

The safest answer would be to discard all produce that was covered by contaminated flood water. This would include root crops such as carrots, potatoes, and beets.

 

Leafy vegetables such as lettuce, spinach or other greens should be discarded because it’s not possible to thoroughly clean them, and they have many ridges and crevices that could contain contaminated silt or bacteria. (If they are cut back the regrowth should be fine to eat.)

 

Vegetables that result from flowers produced on growth that develops after flood waters recede should be acceptable. To increase safety, cook them thoroughly, or at least wash them and peel them before eating.

 

Tree fruit that remained well above flood water should be fine, but keep in mind currents and splashing could cause bacteria to get higher in the tree than the water line.  Surviving fruit that was submerged should probably not be consumed unless it is more than a month until harvest.  It would be best to peel any peaches that were submerged.   Don’t consume contaminated strawberries. Silt and other contaminants might be embedded in the fruit and could be difficult to remove.

 

Gardeners should keep in mind that although pathogens will eventually die out, they can remain present in the soil for several months.  If the homeowner knows the area was contaminated with sewage, it is recommended that no produce be used from the garden for at least 90 days.

 

Remember, as always, fruits and  vegetables should be thoroughly washed prior to consumption.

 

  More detailed information on gardening in flooded areas comes from South Dakota State University specialists:

 

Soil in gardens that were recently flooded may not be safe for growing fruit and vegetables, South Dakota State University specialists said.
SDSU Extension Horticulture Specialist Rhoda Burrows said that includes gardens that were unplanted at the time. Depending on the location, floodwaters may contain contaminants such as agricultural or other chemicals, Burrows said, as well as disease-causing organisms from fresh manure, septic systems, and even lagoons.
“Any leafy greens that are eaten fresh, such as lettuce or cabbage, should be destroyed,” Burrows said. “They are at risk of contamination for 90 days following a flood.”
Leafy greens that will be cooked, such as spinach, should be cut back completely and allowed to regrow before using, Burrows advised. Cook them thoroughly before using.
Remove the blossom or set fruit from strawberry plants exposed to floodwaters. Any strawberries that are consumed within in the next 90 days from these plants should be cooked before consuming.
Root crops should be peeled and cooked thoroughly.
“The floods were early enough that few gardeners had peas, beans, squash, or tomatoes present on their plants, but any of these present should also be picked and discarded,” Burrows said. She added that any of these vegetables that contact the ground during the three months following the flood should be either discarded, or peeled and thoroughly cooked.  Underground vegetables such as carrots and potatoes, should also be peeled and thoroughly cooked.  Thoroughly wash produce with thick outer rinds, such as melons and squash, before cutting open.

Always wash fresh fruits and vegetables before eating.  SDSU Extension Food Safety Specialist Joan Hegerfeld recommends washing with running water and using friction. The use of detergents or chlorine bleach is not recommended. Fruits and vegetables are porous and will absorb these chemicals.

Some sprays approved for use on fruits and vegetables are available and may be helpful in removing debris, dirt and surface microorganisms. If the garden produce was flooded, follow Burrows’ recommendations, Hegerfeld said. Don’t attempt to make an unsafe flooded garden product safe by using a fruit and vegetable spray, chlorine bleach or other product.

Hegerfeld said foodborne illness has been associated with garden vegetables contaminated with floodwaters containing pathogenic bacteria, parasites and viruses. The more common pathogens involved in these outbreaks include E. coli 0157:H7, Cryptosporidium parvum, Cyclospora, Giardia, Campylobacter and Hepatitis A. All of these diseases make people very ill and in some instances have long-term complications or may be fatal.

Burrows and Hegerfeld strongly emphasized that gardeners should not attempt to make an unsafe, flooded garden product safe by using chlorine bleach or a similar product. The level of contamination on a flooded garden can be at very dangerous levels.

Gardeners should keep in mind that although pathogens will eventually die out, they can remain present in the soil for several months.  If the homeowner knows the area was contaminated with feedlot or septic overflow, it is recommended that no produce be used from the garden for 90 days. Soil or produce samples can also be submitted to a commercial testing laboratory to verify the presence or absence of pathogens, Burrows added.

Hegerfeld and Burrows strongly encourage gardeners to use good personal hygiene practices. Wash your hands before and after gardening. Leave your garden shoes at the door, and change clothing after working in a flooded garden. Avoid direct contact with floodwaters, including the soil, as much as possible. Young children can be at a high risk for some foodborne illnesses. If a garden plot has been flooded, consider either not having young children in the garden with you, or taking every precaution to utilize good personal hygienic practices.

 

 

 

 

 

   

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