Posts tagged Iowa State University

Welcome March

Following are some of the gardening/home/environmental events scheduled in Eastern Iowa during March 2009. If you know of other events, please add them in a comment below, or send an email to: cindy.hadish@gazcomm.com

 

Events:

 

Wed., March 4, 12:15-12:45 p.m. – As part of the Cedar Rapids Public Library’s Brown Bag Briefing series, Paul Rost of Earl May Garden Center will present “Planning and Planting a Vegetable Garden” in Westdale Mall. Meet in the Programming Room of the Bridge Library on the lower level of Westdale near the JCPenney store.  For more information check the website at http://www.crlibrary.org or call Rebecca Bartlett at 398-5123.

 

Sat., March 7, Living from Holy Ground: Growing in Harmony, Eating in Faith will explore the relationship between faith, farming and food.  This one-day retreat will take place at Crooked Creek Christian Camp, Washington, Iowa. The main speaker, Gary Guthrie, is a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farmer from Nevada, Iowa.  He produces over 17,000 pounds of fresh vegetables on just 2 acres of land.  Guthrie has earned the name The Carrot King because of the sweet-tasting carrots he raises.  A graduate of Iowa State University, Guthrie was drawn to this style of faming as a way to merge his love for sustainable agriculture, community development and faith. Guthrie spent time in Bolivia with Mennonite Central Committee developing sustainable agricultural systems in the context of a semi-humid tropical rainforest. Guthrie will explore two topics.  Fidelity and Fecundity: Exploring the Fruits of Faithfulness will examine the effects of our relationship with the land and the positive impact that a healthy relationship can reap.  Guthrie’s second session, Restoration: Preparing for the Return from Collapse, grows out of Collapse by Jared Diamond. Are we headed toward a collapse and, if so, are we prepared to recover?  How can farmers and eaters work to restore and sustain our land?  In addition to Guthrie’s keynote addresses, the following workshops for farmers, gardeners, and eaters will be offered:  Perspectives from a Farmer, with grass-feeding farmer Steve Rodgers; Faith and Farming with organic farmer Calvin Yoder; Precision Farming, with Terry Brase, Associate Professor of Ag Geospatial Technology ; Permaculture:  From Barren to Bountiful, with local gardener and artist Kay Fleming; Gardening with Flower, with Anna Geyer of Anna’s Cutting Garden; Where does your food come from?: Examining your Foodshed with Karla Stoltzfus, minister at First Mennonite Church, Iowa City, and CPS associate; Nutrition is more than Skin Deep with Certified Clinical Nutritionist Jessica Forge; Life on a CSA with  Susan Jutz of ZJ farms.   A lunch featuring local foods will be provided. Pre-registration is required. More information can be found by contacting Crooked Creek Christian Camp. Phone 319-653-3611 or email cccamp@iowatelecom.net  You can also visit the camp’s website – www.crookedcreekcamp.org  The camp is at 2830 Coppock Road, Washington, Iowa.

 

Sat., March 7 and Sun., March 8, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. – The 26th Annual Maple Syrup Festival at the Indian Creek Nature Center, 6665 Otis Rd. SE, Cedar Rapids.  Enjoy a  pancake breakfast and learn how maple syrup is made. Call 362-0664 for ticket information.

                       

Tues., March 10, 6 p.m. – Brucemore Pruning for Produce workshop. Join Patrick O’Malley, an Iowa State Field Specialist, and the Brucemore gardeners for this hands-on workshop and discussion showing how to properly prune for produce. O’Malley will demonstrate proper techniques to maximize yield and manage pruning challenges.  Now is the time to make correct cuts for a beautiful and bountiful harvest of nuts, apples, pears, and other fruits throughout the upcoming growing season.  The workshop will commence in the Brucemore Visitor Center, 2160 Linden Drive SE, Cedar Rapids,  and move to the orchard for a demonstration. Participants will have ample opportunity to ask questions and seek advice concerning their own gardens and landscapes. Admission is $15 per person and $10 per Brucemore member. Space is limited. Call (319) 362-7375 for reservations or register online at www.brucemore.org  

 

Wed. March 11, 6:30-8:30 p.m. – Daylily Delights is the title of Zora Ronan, Linn County Master Gardener’s, presentation on the art of selecting and growing daylilies at the Linn County Extension Office Conference Room, Suite 140, 3279 7th Ave., Marion.  This class is FREE and open to the public.  Registration is requested.  Call the Extension Office at 319-377-9839.

 

 

Thurs., March 12, 7 p.m. – Learn how to select the right perennials for your garden from Deb Walser, a master gardener, at a PowerPoint presentation at the Marion Public Library.  Even if you have been growing perennials for years, Walser will show some of the newest perennials available in local nurseries.  The program, co-sponsored by the Friends of the Marion Parks and the Friends of the Marion Library, is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

 

Sat., March 15, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sun., March 16, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. – WMT Lawn & Garden Show, Expo North & South Hawkeye Downs, 4400 6th Street SW, Cedar Rapids.

 

Fri., March 20, 8 a.m.-4 p.m., 2009 Wind Energy Conference in Fairfield, Iowa.  In 2008, Iowa surpassed California to become the nation’s second largest in wind power generating capacity. At a time when renewable energy, sustainability and alternative forms of energy are in the spotlight. Iowa State University Extension presents the Wind Energy Conference at the Fairfield Fine Arts and Convention Center. Farmers, landowners, businesses, schools and homeowners interested in learning more about wind power are invited. The day will include exhibits, breakout sessions and panelists discussing the wind resources available in Iowa, the opportunities and threats related to the industry, and perspectives from current turbine owners and operators. The afternoon sessions will be broken into two tracks, one focusing on wind farms and the other on wind turbines for individuals, businesses or schools.  Sponsors include Iowa State University Extension, Iowa Energy Center, Henry County Farm Bureau, Jefferson County Farm Bureau, and Pathfinders RC&D. To register for the 2009 Wind Energy Conference, contact the Jefferson County Extension office at (641) 472-4166. The cost is $20 per person and will be limited to the first 200 registrants.  For registration materials, visit www.extension.iastate.edu/jefferson or call (641) 472-4166. Exhibitor booth space is available for interested businesses or organizations.  For more details, contact the Jefferson County Extension office. 

 

Sat., March 28, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. – Patrick O’Malley, ISU Horticulture Field Specialist for Eastern Iowa, will conduct a workshop to lead a hands-on exercise on grafting apple trees at the Linn County Extension conference room.  O’Malley will explain different types of grafting techniques followed by a hands-on grafting demonstration for you to create two apple trees to take home.  Each student will get to choose two rootstocks (two of one kind or one of each). The rootstocks are: P-22 (dwarfing) for a tree that gets 6-8 feet tall. The tree will need support. The second will be EMLA-7 and is for a free standing tree that grows 12-15 feet tall. No support is needed. Extra root stocks will be available for $5 each.  Bud wood or scions from several different trees will be provided. Choices include: Red Delicious, Chieftain (which come from Iowa and Jonafree), Liberty, Williams Pride, Dayton and Red Free which are mostly Apple Scab and Cedar Rust resistant. You will work with a partner. Bring a sharp pocket knife or grafting knife if you have one. Do not use a serrated knife. Some knives will be provided. Cost of the workshop is $35 for non-Master Gardeners. Minimum class size is 10; maximum size is 30. Register by calling 377-9839 and send your payment to Linn Co. Extension Service, 3279 7th Ave., Marion, IA 52302 no later than March 25.

 

Tues. March 31, 6:30-8:30 p.m., Creative Gardening Series – Presented by the Linn County Master Gardeners –  Plant It and It Will Grow!  Basic Vegetable Gardening, Kirkwood Community College, Cedar Hall Room 234, 6301 Kirkwood Blvd SW, Cedar Rapids. Bud LeFevre will discuss basic vegetable gardening techniques for the novice and the pro.  Ideas range from those handed down thru family generations to modern day organic practices.  Emphasis is on tomato and pepper growing.  LeFevre is co-owner and founder of Distinctive Gardens, Inc., a unique nursery carrying a variety of unusual and sought after woody plants, perennials and annuals, located in Dixon, IL.  Bud has been vegetable gardening his whole life and working in the horticulture industry since he was 13.  The session is free.

 

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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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Winter Gardening Fair

Linn County Master Gardener, Becki Lynch, shares the following about the Winter Gardening Fair:

 

Hard to believe we’re already into 2009!  I don’t know about you, but the years seem to be spinning along even faster as I get older – and now we’re almost to February 7, 2009, the day of the Winter Gardening Fair, 2009.

 

As you may already know, the Iowa State University Extension Linn County Master Gardeners sponsor this day of gardening seminars each year, partnering with Kirkwood Community College. 

 

This year we’re offering a full day of four seminars, as well as a keynote presentation for $49.  Lunch is also included.  Simply call our Hortline number (319) 447-0647 to request a brochure, or go to our web site www.extension.iastate.edu/linn to see the full array of seminars and details to register.

 

We’re particularly pleased and looking forward to our keynote and featured speakers, Janet Macunovich and Steven Nikkila.  They are a husband and wife team that are both knowledgeable and entertaining speakers.  Janet will be speaking on how to provide continuous color in your landscape through all four seasons.  She is a true Midwesterner and provides very practical and down-to-earth instructions and tips – at the same time, she is a joy to listen to.  I know she’ll get you excited to start your gardening season with lots of new ideas.

 

Steven is a wonderful photographer, who is also a delight to listen to about ways to improve those garden photographs that are so helpful in recording and planning your garden landscape.  He speaks to all of us amateurs with our digital cameras, as well as those more “professional level” folks.  I’m looking forward to being able to ask some of those questions I have about light and framing.  Why do I always seem to cut off the heads of my most beautiful flowers?  And why isn’t the color the same in the photograph as what I see?

 

I’m sure you’ll enjoy our speakers this year, and I hope to see you at the fair this year.  Next week, we’ll have more on  some of the wonderful local speakers who will be presenting workshops at the fair.  

 

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Attracting birds and other wintertime tips

The following Q&A is from Iowa State University Extension’s garden experts:

I recently purchased a Norfolk Island pine.  How do I care for it? 

 

The Norfolk Island pine is a popular houseplant. During the holiday season, many individuals turn their plants into living Christmas trees by decorating them with miniature lights, ribbons and ornaments. The Norfolk Island pine thrives indoors when given good, consistent care. Place the Norfolk Island pine in a brightly lit location near an east, west or south window. Rotate the plant weekly to prevent the plant from growing toward the light and becoming lopsided. 

 

Thoroughly water the Norfolk Island pine when the soil surface becomes dry to the touch. Discard the excess water, which drains out the bottom of the pot. From spring to early fall, fertilize the plant with a dilute fertilizer solution every 2 to 4 weeks. A temperature of 55 to 70  degrees F is suitable for the Norfolk Island pine. Winter is often a difficult time because of low relative humidity levels in most homes. Raise the humidity level around the Norfolk Island pine with a humidifier or place the plant on a pebble tray. Low relative humidity levels, insufficient light, or infrequent watering may induce browning of branch tips and lead to the loss of the lower branches. 

 

Which trees and shrubs provide food for birds during the winter months? 

 

When attempting to attract birds to the landscape, trees and shrubs that provide food during the winter months are extremely important as natural foods are most limited at this time of year. Trees that provide food for birds in winter include hackberry (Celtis occidentalis), hawthorn (Crataegus species), eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) and crabapple (Malus species). Shrubs that provide food for birds include red chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia), northern bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica), sumac (Rhus species), roses (native species and Rosa rugosa), snowberry (Symphoricarpos species), nannyberry (Viburnum lentago) and American cranberrybush viburnum (Viburnum trilobum). 

 

Can I dispose of my wood ashes in the garden? 

 

Wood ashes contain small amounts of several plant nutrients. The nutrient content of wood ashes depends on the type of wood burned, the thoroughness of its burning, and other factors.  Generally, wood ashes contain 5 to 7 percent potash, 1 percent phosphate, and small amounts of other elements. However, the largest component of wood ashes is calcium carbonate. Calcium carbonate is a liming material. Liming materials raise the soil pH. 

 

The soil pH is important because it affects the availability of essential nutrients. The pH scale runs from 0 to 14. Any pH below 7.0 is acidic and any pH above 7.0 is alkaline. A pH of 7.0 is neutral. Most vegetables and perennials grow best in slightly acidic soils with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. Plants may not perform as well in soils with a pH above 7.0 because of the reduced availability of some essential nutrients. 

 

Avoid applying wood ashes to garden areas with a pH above 7.0. Applying wood ashes to alkaline soils may raise the soil pH and reduce the availability of some plant nutrients. An application of 10 to 20 pounds of wood ashes per 1,000 square feet should be safe if the soil pH is below 7.0. If the soil pH in your garden is unknown, conduct a soil test to determine the pH of your soil before applying wood ashes to flower or vegetable gardens. 

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Forcing daffodils

The following is from the Iowa State University Extension gardening experts:

To successfully force daffodils indoors, you’ll need high quality bulbs, a well-drained commercial potting mix and suitable containers. Containers for forcing can be plastic, clay, ceramic or metal. Almost any container can be used as long as it has drainage holes in the bottom.

Begin by partially filling the container with potting soil. Then place the daffodil bulbs on the soil surface. Adjust the soil level until the tops of the bulbs are even or slightly below the rim of the container. The number of bulbs to plant per pot depends on the size of the bulb and container. Typically, three to five bulbs are appropriate for a 6-inch-diameter pot. A 6-inch pot also will usually accommodate five to seven bulbs of miniature varieties.

Once properly positioned, place additional potting soil around the bulbs, but do not completely cover the bulbs. Allow the bulb tops (noses) to stick above the potting soil. For ease of watering, the level of the soil mix should be 1/2 to 1 inch below the rim of the container. Label each container as it is planted. Include the name of the variety and the planting date. After potting, water each container thoroughly.

In order to bloom, daffodils and other spring-flowering bulbs must be exposed to temperatures of 40 to 45 F for 12 to 16 weeks. Possible storage sites include the refrigerator, root cellar, or an outdoor trench. During cold storage, water the bulbs regularly and keep them in complete darkness.

Begin to remove the potted daffodil bulbs from cold storage once the cold requirement has been met. At this time, yellow shoots should have begun to emerge from the bulbs. Place the daffodils in a cool (50 to 60 F) location that receives low to medium light. Leave them in this area until the shoots turn green, usually four or five days. Then move them to a brightly lit, 60 to 70 F location.

Keep the plants well watered. Turn the containers regularly to promote straight, upright growth. On average, flowering should occur three to four weeks after the bulbs have been removed from cold storage. For a succession of bloom indoors, remove pots from cold storage every two weeks.

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Winterizing roses

  Every year around this time, my neighbor’s oak tree, two houses down, generously deposits a pile of  leaves in my backyard.  For that, my roses and I are grateful.  I use the oak leaves as mulch around my hybrid tea roses.  Most types of leaves don’t hold up well in the long-term, but leathery oak leaves withstand the forces of winter. My miniature roses do well under Styrofoam caps in Iowa’s coldest days and my old-fashioned roses somehow survive without any help.  The week of Thanksgiving is the usual time to prepare roses for winter in the Cedar Rapids area where my roses grow.

 

   Richard Jauron, horticulture specialist at Iowa State University Extension, offers more tips on winterizing roses below:

 

   Most hybrid tea, grandiflora, and floribunda roses require winter protection in Iowa. The low temperatures and rapid temperature changes in winter can severely injure and sometimes kill unprotected roses.

   Hilling or mounding soil over the base of each plant is an excellent way to protect hybrid tea, grandiflora, and floribunda roses.

   Begin by removing fallen leaves and other debris from around each plant. Removal of diseased plant debris will help reduce disease problems next season. Then loosely tie the canes together with twine to prevent the canes from being whipped by strong winds. Next, cover the bottom 10 to 12 inches of the rose canes with soil.

   Place additional material, such as straw or leaves, over the mound of soil. A small amount of soil placed over the straw or leaves should hold these materials in place.  Prepare roses for winter after plants have been hardened by several nights of temperatures in the low to mid-twenties. Normally, this is early November in northern Iowa, mid-November in central areas, and late November in southern counties.

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Local foods Monday

Preston Maring to discuss benefits of locally grown food Nov. 10

California obstetrician Dr. Preston Maring, will visit the University of Iowa on Monday, Nov. 10, to discuss the economic, health, community and environmental benefits of locally grown, sustainably produced food.

Maring will present “Sustaining Iowa: Making the Connection Between Food, Health and the Land” at noon in Room 140 of Schaeffer Hall on the UI campus.

Maring’s talk is one of three scheduled presentations in Iowa. He will speak at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 10, at the Commons Ball Room at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, and at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 11, in Room 2050 of Agronomy Hall at Iowa State University in Ames.

All the events are free and open to the public.

Maring is associate physician-in-chief at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Oakland, Calif., where he is responsible for tertiary-care services planning and development for Oakland’s 200,000 health plan members as well as members from around the northern California region.

In 2003, Maring helped start a weekly farmers’ market for hospital staff, visitors and the community, resulting in different market models, community outreach and a programwide focus on healthy eating. Today, the concept has spread to 40 other Kaiser Permanente health care facilities.

More recently, he has worked with Kaiser Permanente and the Community Alliance with Family Farmers to create a system that sources food for inpatient meals from small family farmers.

An enthusiastic cook as well as a physician, Maring’s blog, “Dr. Maring’s Farmers’ Market and Recipe Update,” gets about 50,000 page views each month. The blog is at http://recipe.kaiser-permanente.org/kp/maring/about/.

Following each of Maring’s presentations, speakers will share Iowa stories about the benefits of local food. These include Iowa City chef Kurt Michael Friese, author of the 2008 book “A Cook’s Journey: Slow Food in the Heartland” and editor for Edible Iowa River Valley magazine; and Story County Planning and Zoning director Leanne Harter, who will discuss the county’s new Local Foods Systems Initiative report. In Cedar Falls, Maring will be the featured speaker for the annual local food dinner.

Maring’s visit is sponsored by the UI Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination, the UI Sustainability Steering Group, the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at ISU and the Center for Energy and Environmental Education at UNI.

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