Posts tagged horticulture

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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Becoming a master at gardening

The following is from Linn County Master Gardener Coordinator Bev Lillie:

 

  Attention Linn County Gardeners – Iowa State Extension offers classes that will enhance your gardening skills and knowledge.  Classes start Sept. 11 for those interested in becoming a Linn County Master Gardener.

   Classes will be completed by the first week in November. During this time you will receive 40 hours of education including: Botany/Soils, Vegetables, Landscape Trees and Shrubs and Plant Pathology and Entomology. 

   A day will be spent on campus at Iowa State University in Ames visiting various segments of the Horticulture Department. 

 

   Cost is $125.00 per person.

  For more details call Bev Lillie at: 319-377-9839.

 

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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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Exceeding a gardener’s appetite

This post is from Master Gardener, Claire Smith:

    The old fashioned Pick-Up-Sticks game didn’t thrill my six year old granddaughter. For that matter, neither did picking up sticks in the yard, but it’s so great to be outside with the riding mower and wagon that even picking up sticks isn’t all bad.  Next comes cleaning up the flower beds.  Now I think compost. Compost is so wonderful as soil enrichment.  Did you know that about anything but the kitchen sink can go into a compost bin?  And the “bin” can be anything from a pile on the ground to a garbage can to a commercial container?  We’ll have more on compost in future articles.

    This year, my first goal is to be better organized.  I’m learning to be realistic in how much time I have to devote to gardening because gardening for me is like eating; my eyes always exceed my appetite.

·         To create less labor and more curb appeal, we’ll reshape a right angle corner to a soft angle in one of the beds.  It will be so much easier to ride the mower around a curve than to kneel and pull weeds or use a hand edger.  A border grouping between an old concrete water tank, a water way and a wooden fence where the lawn mower won’t fit will eliminate weed whipping there. 

·         An old rake head, attached to a wall will hold garden tools.           

·         The mower blades—that should have been sharpened last fall will be sharpened this week.

·         While weeding is easiest right after a rain, I’m adding a pair of pliers to my tool box to pull mulberry tree seedlings and other stubborn weeds that grow in my xeriscape.

·         Speaking of weeding, a good recycling use for old newspapers is as mulch. Create overlapping layers six to eight deep (black and white, not colored pages). Cover with a thin layer of mulch (i.e. wood shavings) for weight. You’ll eliminate weeds, conserve moisture, and save so much time watering.  And, as the paper disintegrates, it encourages earthworms who will aerate the soil for you. 

·         While I’m not a real bird aficionado, I like bugs less, so we’ll be adding some birdhouses.  Did you know a wren feeds as many as 500 bugs to her young in ONE AFTERNOON?  And, the many colors and designs will enhance the gardens esthetically as well.

·         Remember you can call the Iowa State University Extension Horticulture Hotline at the Linn County office with any gardening questions at 319-447-0647.  Happy Cleanup! 

                       

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Greenhouse escape

On days like today, it’s tempting to want to hop on a plane and escape the frozen tundra of Iowa. But my kids might wonder where I’ve gone. My boss might object, too. I thought a good alternative would be checking out a new horticulture class offered in the tropical air inside the Noelridge Park greenhouse, but apparently few others felt the same. Or maybe nobody knew about them or just couldn’t make the time. Two classes – perennial bed design and culinary herbs – were canceled due to low registration. The Cedar Rapids Parks Department is going ahead with one next week, I’m told. The program, sowing seeds, will be taught by a parks employee, who will talk about starting and transplanting seedlings. It’s from 9:30-11:30 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 31, at the greenhouse. The class is $10 for residents/$12 for non-residents. Call the Parks and Rec Department for more info at 286-5731. There is still room for more participants. I love the idea of classes in the greenhouse, but the weekday/morning hours don’t fit my schedule. What about you? Let’s hear from you. Would you go to classes there if offered on weekends or at night?

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