Posts tagged horticulturist

Plant it and it will grow

    Linn County Master Gardener, Kay McWhinney, sent the following on the 2009 Creative Gardening Series:

 

    Each year since 2003, the ISU Linn County Master Gardeners bring well-known speakers in the horticultural realm to the people of Cedar Rapids and surrounding area free of charge. This year, the presentations will be at Kirkwood Community College, Cedar Hall, in room 234. The first of the three presentations will be 6:30-8:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 31, and will feature Bud LeFevre, a horticulturist and part owner of Distinctive Gardens, Inc. in Dixon IL. The title of Bud’s talk is “Plant It and It Will Grow-Basic Vegetable Gardening.”

     Bud will rouse us out of the winter doldrums and get us almost tasting luscious ripe tomatoes, fat green peppers, and other tasty veggies as he prepares us for the 2009 gardening season with knowledge and enthusiasm on his favorite topic. Bud will speak to the beginner as well as the experienced gardener. Being in the same growing zone as Cedar Rapids, he understands our difficulties and triumphs in growing vegetables. Companion gardening and succession gardening as well as some organic practices will be discussed.

     With the evolution of the “Green” movement, advice from economists and nutritionists to eat food produced locally, what better way is there to feed our families with great, fresh vegetables than planting that vegetable patch in the back yard.

     Come to this first of three presentations. The second program will be Tuesday, April 7, the third on April 14, same time and place. There will be more information forthcoming on these programs.  Come, see how to start a vegetable garden or improve your garden skills as we get fired up about planting those veggies.

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Spring pruning tips

Richard Jauron, extension horticulturist at Iowa State University, offers the following on spring pruning of berries and other small fruits:

Small fruits that are commonly grown in home gardens include raspberries, grapes, gooseberries, currants and blueberries. For maximum production, small fruit crops need to be pruned in late winter/early spring (March/early April). Proper pruning procedures for raspberries, grapes, gooseberries, currants and blueberries are outlined below.

Raspberries
The pruning procedures for raspberries are based on the growth and fruiting characteristics of the plants.

Summer-Bearing Red Raspberries
Remove all weak, diseased and damaged canes at ground level in March or early April. Leave the most vigorous canes, those approximately 1/4 inch in diameter when measured 30 inches from the ground. After thinning, remaining canes should be spaced about 6 inches apart.

Also, prune out the tips of the canes that have died due to winter injury. Cut back to live tissue. If the canes sustained little winter dieback, remove the top 1/4 of the canes. Cane-tip removal or “heading-back” prevents the canes from becoming top heavy and bending over under the weight of the crop.

Red raspberries sucker profusely from their roots. Plants should be maintained in a one- to two-foot-wide hedgerow using a rototiller or spade. Remove or destroy those shoots that emerge outside the one- to two-foot-wide hedgerow.

Fall-Bearing Red Raspberries (Two Crop System)
Follow the same pruning procedures as described for the summer-bearing red raspberries. This pruning option provides both a summer and fall crop.

Fall-Bearing Red Raspberries (One Crop System)
Prune all canes back to ground level in March or early April. While the plants won’t produce a summer crop, the late summer/early fall crop should mature one to two weeks earlier. Also, total crop yield is typically larger using the one-crop system versus the two-crop system.

Maintain the plants in a one- to two-foot-wide hedgerow.

Black and Purple Raspberries
Remove the small, weak canes, leaving only four or five of the largest, most vigorous canes per clump or plant. Cut back the lateral (side) branches to 12 inches in length for black raspberries and 18 inches for purple raspberries.

Grapes
Grapevines produce fruit clusters on the previous season’s growth. Before pruning, a grapevine may have 200 to 300 buds capable of producing fruit. If the vine is not pruned, the number of grape clusters would be excessive and the grapevine would be unable to ripen the large crop or produce adequate vegetative growth.

To maximize crop yields, grapevines are trained to a specific system. The most common training system used by home gardeners is the four-cane Kniffin system. The four-cane Kniffin system is popular because of its simplicity. In the four-cane Kniffin system, the canes of the grapevine grow on two wires, one located three feet above the ground and the second six feet high.

If using the four-cane Kniffin system, select four canes on the upper wire, two going in each direction. Also, select four canes on the lower wire. To aid identification, some gardeners tie brightly colored ribbons or strips of cloth on those canes they wish to retain. All remaining one-year-old canes should be completely removed.

Going back to the upper wire, select two of the remaining four canes (one going in each direction). Prune these canes back to one or two buds. These short one or two bud canes are referred to as renewal spurs. The renewal spurs provide the shoots or canes that will produce next year’s crop. Prune the remaining two canes on the upper wire back to eight to 13 buds. The number of buds left on the fruiting canes is determined by plant vigor. If the grapevine is vigorous, leave 13 buds per cane. Leave only eight buds per cane if the grapevine possesses poor vigor.

Prune the four canes on the lower wire the same as those on the upper wire. When pruning is complete, no more than 60 buds should remain on the grapevine. When counting the number of buds on the grapevine, include both the buds on the fruiting canes and those on the renewal spurs.

Gooseberries and Currants
Gooseberries and currants produce the majority of their fruit on 2- and 3-year-old shoots. Shoots that are 4 years old and older produce very little fruit. After the first growing season, remove all but six to eight vigorous, healthy shoots. The following year, leave four or five 1-year-old shoots and three or four 2-year-old canes. After the third growing season, keep three or four shoots each of 1-, 2-, and 3-year-old growth. A properly pruned, established plant should consist of nine to 12 shoots. Pruning of mature plants consists of pruning out all 4-year-old shoots and thinning out some of the new growth.

Blueberries
Blueberry plants are shrubs like currants and gooseberries. Blueberry yields and fruit quality decline when blueberry shoots (stems) reach 5 years of age. In late winter/early spring, prune out any dead or diseased stems. Also, prune out stems that are 5 years old and older. Allow one to two new shoots to develop each year.

The pruning of small fruits really isn’t difficult. It requires a basic understanding of plant growth and pruning techniques, proper pruning equipment and (sometimes) a little bit of courage.

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California Dreamin’ – tree style

The following is by James Romer, Extension Horticulturist at Iowa State University:

   This time of the year gives many gardeners an empty feeling. It is hard to keep warm and dry when temperatures dip below zero and it snows every other day. It is reminiscent of those classic song lyrics — “All the leaves are brown and the sky is gray … California dreamin’ ….” Anyway, this is a great time of the year to do some planning and pruning.

   The late dormant period (February to early April) is an excellent time to prune deciduous trees. The absence of foliage at this time of year gives the home gardener a clear view of the tree and allows him/her to select and remove appropriate branches.              

   Proper pruning improves the appearance, maintains the health and prolongs the life of trees. Improper pruning destroys their natural beauty, weakens them and may lead to their premature death.

   It is essential to make proper cuts when pruning trees. Do not make flush cuts. Flush cuts are cuts made as close as possible to the trunk or main branch. Flush cuts produce large wounds, destroy the tree’s natural mechanisms that promote healing and slow the “healing” process.

    When pruning trees, make the final cut just beyond the branch collar and branch bark ridge. The branch collar is the swollen area at the base of the branch. The branch bark ridge is the dark, rough bark ridge that separates the branch from the main branch or trunk. Pruning just beyond the branch collar and branch bark ridge retains the tree’s natural defense mechanisms and promotes the healing process. When a branch is pruned properly, a slightly raised area remains on the trunk or main branch. However, do not leave stubs.

   Do not apply wound dressings to pruning cuts. The application of wound dressings or paints doesn’t stop decay and may actually inhibit or delay the healing of wounds.

   There is one exception with not applying paint to oak trees. Oak wilt is a fungal disease that is lethal to many oaks. Oak wilt infections occur most commonly in spring and early summer and are spread from infected trees to healthy trees by sap-feeding beetles. To reduce the risk of the spread of oak wilt, don’t prune oaks from April 1 to July 1. If oak trees must be pruned between April 1 and July 1, for example, to correct storm damage, immediately apply a latex paint to all cut surfaces to avoid attracting sap-feeding beetles to the wounds.

   Use the three-cut procedure when cutting large branches to prevent extensive bark damage. Make the first cut about one to two feet from the main branch or trunk. Cut upward and go about halfway through the branch. Make the second cut a few inches beyond the first. Cut downward completely through the branch. Make the final cut just beyond the branch collar.

   Some trees, such as maple, birch and elm, bleed heavily when pruned in late winter or early spring. However, the heavy bleeding doesn’t harm the trees. (The trees won’t bleed to death.) Eventually the flow of sap will slow and stop. Heavy bleeding of susceptible trees can be avoided by pruning in late June or early July.

   The pruning of deciduous trees by the home gardener should be limited to small trees and the removal of smaller branches that can be reached from the ground in medium to large trees. Branches high up in large trees and those near utility lines should be left to professional arborists. Professional arborists should have the proper training and equipment to safely perform the job.

    If that’s not enough to do, another enjoyable winter activity is to leaf through garden catalogs. Many contain colorful plant photographs. Some carry specific merchandise, such as seeds, perennials, roses or fruits. Others carry a wide variety of products.

    Also, visit a bookstore or public library and browse through some of their gardening books. Excellent reference books for home gardeners include “Manual of Woody Landscape Plants” by Michael Dirr; “Continuous Bloom” by Pam Duthie; “Herbaceous Perennial Plants” by Allan Armitage, and many others.    

    Remember also that your Iowa State University Extension county office has numerous publications on gardening in Iowa. Most of these publications also are available from the ISU Extension Online Store at www.extension.iastate.edu/store.

So get busy planning, pruning and dreaming about plants for this spring.

 

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Ah, Ah, Ahh-choo!!

       This information about allergies and gardening is from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology:

The beauty of budding plants and bouquet of aromas are sources of satisfaction for many gardeners. For allergy sufferers, though, gardening can be as much a chore as pursuit of passion.

Pollen from trees, shrubs and grasses can cause an onslaught of allergy symptoms, including sneezing, itchy eyes, congestion and, in some cases, an asthma attack. But sensitive people can take a few simple steps to minimize their risk of exposure to bothersome allergens, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI.)

“Gardening outside during times of high pollen counts puts patients at risk for severe allergic symptoms,” said Dr. Warren Filley, an Oklahoma City allergist/immunologist and a long-time horticulturalist who suffers from allergies. “Avoidance measures, as well as the use of medications and allergy immunotherapy, can make the difference between having fun in the garden and being miserable.”

An allergist/immunologist can help determine what plant species are causing an allergic reaction and advise on the best times of day or season to work in the garden. For example, pollen levels are typically lower on rainy, cloudy and windless days. Immunotherapy (allergy shots), medications and other treatments can also help reduce symptoms.

People with allergies can also trim irritation by carefully choosing the plants they include in their landscaping or garden. Certain flowers, trees and grasses are naturally better suited for the gardens of allergic people. They are less likely to produce bothersome pollen and will still add color and variety to the garden.These include:

  • Cacti
  • Cherry
  • Dahlia
  • Daisy
  • Geranium
  • Iris
  • Magnolia
  • Rose
  • Snapdragon
  • Tulip

In general, highly-allergenic plants to avoid include:

  • Ash
  • Cedar
  • Cottonwood
  • Oak
  • Maple
  • Pine
  • Saltgrass
  • Timothy

The best way to determine which plants will trigger reactions is through skin testing at an allergist/immunologist’s office. An allergist/immunologist can help patients develop strategies to avoid troublesome plants and pollen and can prescribe medication to alleviate symptoms.

Other tips to consider:
Whenever working around plants likely to cause an allergic reaction, avoid touching your eyes or face. You may also consider wearing a mask to reduce the amount of pollen spores that you breathe in. Wear gloves and long sleeves and pants to minimize skin contact with allergens. Leave gardening tools and clothing – such as gloves and shoes – outside to avoid bringing allergens indoors. Shower immediately after gardening or doing other yard work.


Contact an allergist/immunologist to identify specific causes of allergic reactions or to get information on treatment options and tips to reduce allergen exposure. An allergist/immunologist is the best qualified medical professional to manage the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of allergies and asthma. To find an allergist/immunologist near you, visit the AAAAI Web site at www.aaaai.org.
The AAAAI represents allergists, asthma specialists, clinical immunologists, allied health professionals and others with a special interest in the research and treatment of allergic disease. Allergy/immunology specialists are pediatric or internal medicine physicians who have elected an additional two years of training to become specialized in the treatment of asthma, allergy and immunologic disease. Established in 1943, the AAAAI has more than 6,500 members in the United States, Canada and 60 other countries.

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