Posts tagged orchard

“Screaming for attention” Chinese chestnut

Chinese chestnut (photo, Brucemore)

Chinese chestnut (photo, Brucemore)

   Deb Engmark, head gardener at the historic Brucemore estate in Cedar Rapids, shares the following about an amazing tree on the Brucemore grounds:

     It’s time.  It’s blooming.  Brucemore’s Chinese chestnut is screaming for attention.  The first clue that the flowers on this magnificent specimen are present is the unmistakable aroma mingling through the landscape; earthy and spicy.  This perfume emanates from the chestnut’s canopy, which is covered in clusters of long chenille like tendrils resembling skinny hairy

Chinese chestnut in bloom (photo, Brucemore)

Chinese chestnut in bloom (photo, Brucemore)

fingers or spidery legs.  Approximately 50 foot tall and 50 foot wide, this low branching, wide spreading habitat makes it a great shade tree and, purportedly, an ideal climbing tree, though I do ask that you don’t climb our trees when visiting.

     The chestnut worth noting is standing among younger chestnut specimens. Due to this particular tree’s location in the area of the first orchard as well as its apparent age, estimated from the trunk diameter, height and spread of the tree, this is likely one of the oldest Chinese chestnuts in Iowa, if not the nation. Chinese chestnuts were introduced to the United States by seed in 1903. The original Douglas orchard, planted circa 1909, was in this location.  This was also the location of the Sinclair orchard, the estate’s first family.

    With consideration given to these facts and estimates by tree experts over the years, I feel confident about the age assumption and willingly share the information.  I encourage all to visit and view this majestic specimen, especially during the time of year when the Chinese chestnut drapes its branches in pungent, blooming finery.

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Your Questions: answers, and a new one

Tom from Cedar Rapids left a question that hopefully someone in this area can answer. He asked the following:

I’m looking at harvesting some of the water that comes off my roof, but I haven’t found a good source for rain barrels in the greater CR, IA area. Where’s a good place to get one?

Thanks!

If you have an answer for Tom, leave your comment below.

 

 

Pam and Leora last week asked the following:

 

   I have started a flower garden in the front of my home which is facing east but does get some south sun on part of the garden area. I love flowering plants but I have not done a good job with finding appropriate plants. Does anyone have ideas of various plants that are perennials to put here?

 

 How soon should you start trimming the fruit trees: apple and pear? What other tips should I know to get the trees ready for spring? I have heard a lot about spraying the trees so what should I use?

 

 We have heard of growing potatoes in tires, but need to know the procedure. We have two big tractor tires to work with. Please help us.

 

Gardeners can be a shy bunch, but Bev Lillie, Master Gardener coordinator for Linn County, was able to get answers from some of the Linn County Master Gardeners.

Here’s what they said about the pear and apple trees: prune fruit trees in late winter/early spring.  Apply a fungicide/insecticide, e.g., home orchard spray biweekly after the blossoms drop.

As for what perennials to plant, if the site is in partial sun or shade, you can find suggestions at the Iowa State Extension Web site by searching on partial shade plants:  www.extension.iastate.edu/ipm/hortnews/

Some of my favorites include Japanese iris, which flower in early to midsummer; turtlehead, which grows 2-3 feet tall and has pretty pink or white flowers in the fall, and for foliage plants lungwort or pulmonaria and the groundcover lamium, which stays green almost year-round and flowers during the spring, summer and fall. 

 For the potato question, Ed Hume Seed’s Web site: http://www.humeseeds.com/index.htm offered some possibilities. My mom has had success with the first method, which uses straw and might work in large tires, as well.

Straw: For centuries, Scandinavians have grown potatoes in stacks of straw or other mulching material. Potatoes are planted above ground in the straw, and as the vines begin to grow, additional straw` or mulch is mounded up around the base of the plants. This results in a yield of very clean potatoes. New potatoes can be harvested easily even before the potato vines mature completely.

Under plastic or in plastic garbage bags: Garden soil or a commercial potting soil can be used to grow the potatoes in the bags, Fold over the top half of the bag, fill with soil, and plant a certified seed potato that has been cut in half. The plastic bag can be set above ground wherever it’s convenient. Punch holes in the bottom of the bag for drainage.

You also can plant potatoes under black plastic. Cut open a piece of the black plastic, and plant a potato piece. The potato tubers will develop as they would in the open ground. However, the tubers that develop close to the surface of the soil are shaded by the black plastic and should not develop the green inedible portions that often are found on other tubers. The black plastic also will aid in controlling weeds.

Garbage cans or containers: Old garbage cans, or wooden or fiberboard-type containers are suitable for growing potatoes, if they have adequate drainage. You can conserve space by growing them in this manner. A word of caution, though: The plants tend to dry out more rapidly when grown in containers, so additional watering will be needed. Otherwise, you’re likely to end up with misshapen tubers.

Pulmonaria, or lungwort, in bloom

Pulmonaria, or lungwort, in bloom

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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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Bad “worms”

Iowa State University Extension gardening experts answer questions on damaging worms:

 

Worms are devouring the needles on my mugo pine.  What should I do?

 

The “worms” that are eating the needles on your mugo pine are the larvae of the European pine sawfly. European pine sawfly larvae are grayish green. Two light stripes and one dark stripe run down the sides of the body. The legs and head are shiny black. 

 

The larvae feed mainly on mugo, Scotch and Austrian pines, though other pine species are occasionally damaged. They do not feed on spruce or fir. Larvae typically appear in mid to late May in Iowa and are usually gone within a few weeks. 

 

European pine sawfly larvae feed on needles produced in previous years. (The needles on most  pines persist for two to five years.) They do not harm the new needles developing on the branches. As a result, the damage is mainly aesthetic. Larval feeding does not destroy the affected branches. The branches simply have fewer needles than normal. 

 

To keep damage to a minimum, the larvae of the European pine sawfly can be controlled by pruning off and discarding infested branches, knocking the larvae off affected branches into a bucket or other container and destroying them, or spraying them with an insecticide, such as Sevin. 

 

I occasionally find small, white worms in my cherries.  What is the best way to control them?

 

The small, white “worms” are probably the larvae of the cherry fruit fly (Rhagoletis spp.)  Cherry fruit flies lay eggs on developing cherry fruit in May. Damaged fruit appear shrunken and shriveled when ripe, and usually contain one off-white larva (maggot) that is slightly longer than one-quarter of an inch.

 

Cherry fruit fly damage varies greatly from year to year. It may be more practical to tolerate some damage and loss of usable fruit than to attempt effective preventive control.

 

To prevent maggots from appearing inside the fruit, the tree must be thoroughly sprayed with a labeled insecticide when the adults emerge and before the females lay their eggs inside the young fruit. Because the flies emerge over an extended period of time, several sprays will be needed. You can monitor fruit flies with yellow sticky traps hung in the tree in early May. Check traps daily after the first fruit fly is caught and repeat the spray application until flies no longer appear. 

 

Check for home orchard sprays and other insecticides at your local garden center. Carefully read and follow label directions.

 

 

 

 

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