Posts tagged vegetable

Warning of the Three Frozen Kings

    When it was sunny and 80 degrees for a brief day or two in April,  I heard from several people asking if they should go ahead and plant their gardens. In Iowa, that’s fine for many vegetables, such as cabbage, peas and potatoes, but I warned them to hold off on the tomatoes, cucumbers, squash and other tender plants. Those plants might actually have been OK during the past couple weeks, as it’s stayed fairly warm, so gardeners who took a gamble will be ahead of the game. But old-school gardeners often heed the warning of the Three Kings.     

   This is something that I ran last year on this blog,  but as it’s often asked, here’s what I’ve been told about the legend of the Three Kings:

    The Three Kings, or Three Frozen Kings, is a Czech legend that serves as a warning to protect tender plants against a possible late frost.  In one of various forms, the story says the three kings or saints (Pankrac on May 12, Servac on May 13 and Bonifac on May 14) were frozen when the temperature dropped while they were fishing at sea.

    On May 15, St. Zofie came along with a kettle of hot water to thaw out the three frozen kings.

    Since Czech immigrants found Iowa similar to their home country, those traditions carried over, and, whether or not the story makes sense,  it  seems sensible in many years to heed the Three Kings warning.

     Knowing the last average frost date for your area can also help. That date can vary, however, depending on the source. I’ve seen that in northeast Iowa, the last average frost date is May 10. East-central Iowa is April 30, and southeast Iowa is April 20. Those might seem early in some years, but look accurate for 2009.

    A U.S. Climatography report placed northern Iowa, around Decorah, with a last average frost date of May 26; central Iowa, around the Cedar Rapids area, at May 13 and southern Iowa, around Ottumwa, at May 3.

    Climatologists say the average can vary,  even within the same county. The last frost date might be a week later in low-lying areas or a week earlier on hilltops.  Because the frost date is only an average, your safest bet might be to heed the Three Kings warning and wait until May 15 to set out those tender plants.

Advertisements

Leave a comment »

Waking the garden

The following is from Linn County Master Gardener, Claire Smith, who wrote this on a more pleasant day than today:

 

Yes, Mr. Rogers, it is a beautiful day in the neighborhood.  And presentations by Master Gardeners Deb Walser on New Perennials and Becki Lynch on Grasses at the Lawn and Garden Show last weekend got me really, really motivated to work in the yard.  As I moaned about achy muscles, my favorite Granddaughter Catie, chided me for not stretching before grabbing the rake and nippers.  Now is a great time to commence waking your flower and vegetable beds.   If you have heavy concentrations of leaves and debris in the beds packed down by snow and ice, rake them out and fire up the lawn mower or shredder.  Fluff the mulch and add the shredded leaves to the top of it. Air, water and nutrients need to reach dormant roots and bulbs. Encourage drainage.  Poorly drained soil or standing water will cause roots and bulbs to rot.  Think soil amendments.  Add compost to your beds.  If you’re thinking of having the soil tested, now is a good time and you can pick up the test from the Extension Office.    I got about half my beds trimmed and raked out today before I ran out of energy.  During a break I enjoyed cold tea instead of hot coffee, and planned further for the new bed I mentioned a couple of weeks ago.  I know where the old seeder wagon and garden gate can stand.  I know approximately how much mulch and grass cloth to purchase.  And, I know about how many Hostas to buy at the Master Gardeners’ Spring Plant Sale.  I’ll broach the subject of the stone erosion control area to my favorite son at a later date.  

                 Draw a diagram of your deck and create an interesting focal point using your houseplants grouped with potted annuals.   Several years ago another Master Gardener suggested moving house plants outside for the summer.  It’s amazing how they thrive.  Just remember to keep them out of the direct, hot sunlight.  Get them ready now by repotting, if necessary.  Begin watering and fertilizing lightly and gradually increase exposure to sunlight. 

                Achy muscles aside, the fresh air and sunshine were so welcome. I’m anxious to get back out and clean up the remainder of the gardens.

                P.S. Many of you will be receiving or purchasing Hardy Oriental, Asiatic or traditional white lilies soon.  Keep them healthy by placing them in a cool, bright location in your home.  Keep the soil moist but not wet.  Perforate or remove the decorative foil so the water doesn’t collect in the decorative pot or basket.  Remember to place the pot on a saucer to prevent spills.  Continue to care for the lily after the flowers fade because they can be planted outdoors.  The planting site should be in full sun with well drained soil.  Lilies create beautiful backdrops or vertical accents.

Leave a comment »

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.

 

Comments (1) »

Winter Gardening – part II

The following is Part II of information on the Winter Gardening Fair 2009 by Linn County Master Gardener, Becki Lynch:

 

One week closer to the Fair!  I want to highlight some of the topics and speakers we are offering this year. 

 

First, we have numerous repeats of seminars about those beautiful perennials and other plants and trees that some could not get into last year – Daylilies, Lawns, Garden Lighting, Hillside Gardening, Pruning Trees and Shrubs, Ornamental Grasses, Using Herbs, Composting, and Prairie Gardens are just a few.

 

Second, we’ve added additional seminars specifically about Vegetable Gardening, a topic people requested last year in our evaluations.  Vegetable Gardening Problems and Solutions, Tomatoes, Peppers, and Salsa, Food Preservation, and The Kitchen Garden are all available.

 

Third, we’ve added a variety of new seminars that range from Bee Keeping, Tree Identification, Rain Gardens, House Plants, Tropical Plants, and Ponds, Gardening with Kids, to Everlastings – to name a few – Whew!

 

And finally, we have hands-on seminars that allow you to learn and participate directly in making garden related items:   The Garden Journal, Plant Propagation, Creating Nosegays, Terra Cotta Fountains, and Toad Houses are all examples.

 

And that’s not all – I urge all of you to go to www.extension.iastate.edu/linn to look at all the offerings available.   Simply click on Winter Gardening Fair on that page to see the full program, and instructions on how to register.

 

Overall, we have a selection of over 45 individual seminars, something for everyone!  The Fair will be held on February 7, 2009, with a back-up date of February 21, just in case of bad weather.  Hope to see you there!

 

Linn County Master Gardener, Becki Lynch.

Comments (1) »

“Compostales” part deux

More “compostales” from entries to our composting contest:

 

Gloria Overton of Cedar Rapids

 

My family loves to compost! We got started about 10 years ago when the previous homeowner left boards with notches cut in the ends. We decided it was a compost bin and assembled it. We have used that bin ever since. We compost our fruit and vegetable scraps like apple cores, banana peels, cornhusks, and our shredded paper. Our biggest surprise was diced melon rinds decompose in less than one week. We also add coffee grounds, tea bags and yard debris. Now it is filled to the top with tree leaves.

 

We love to compost because it makes wonderful dirt and is so relaxing. You can always move the compost around to make it break down more quickly. We are also very pleased with the quality compost it makes. Wow does grass seed ever germinate when they are planted in compost! My container garden is entirely planted in compost. The remaining compost goes into the garden or lawn. When you plant something in compost, it is like planting it in dirt on steroids!

 

 

Pam Kautz
and Eliza and Henry and Greta and Ben of Marion

We love compost!  We are beginner gardeners and compost is saving our sorry vegetable garden.  This year we started adding egg shells and this year is the first that we haven’t had a problem with blossom end rot on our tomatoes.  Compost is our friend that seems to cover our inexperienced missteps and is turning our sad, hard clay into a fruitful, lush source of organic produce for our family.  And digging the compost into the soil is a great job for little diggers.  Kids love it and really love the worms that love it too!  We only wish we had more (oh yeah, and some horse manure too).  Yeah for compost! 
 

Lauren Overton of Cedar Rapids

 

     When I compost I feel like I’m in a fun contest. I judge myself on how much I’m putting into the compost pile, how well I’m turning it, how often I’m turning it, and evaluate how good the soil is as a whole. The more variety of ingredients I put into the compost pile, the better the compost. I like that I have a ready supply of rich compost full of nutrients, rather than needing to buy packaged soil.

     Our “green” ingredients are: coffee grounds and filters, vegetable scraps, grass clippings, banana peels, apple cores, and the like. Our “brown” ingredients are shredded paper and fallen leaves.  I use my turning fork to mix the green and brown ingredients.

     We have one compost bin made of wood. My family has been composting for ten years. Now I am 15 years old and I do a lot of the composting for my family.  I love the process of making compost. I love the feel of the soil and being able to use it in my garden.

 

 

Jackie Meier of Robins

 

My family has been composting for many years. I learned from my mother that the outdoors is self contained if we just keep recycling.   She has her compost right next to her garden and keeps it full.

 It is such a reward to know you can create your own soil for growing plants.

 

Our backyard is full of many kinds of perinials and annual plants that go through the seasons along with clippings from mowing the grass, to leaves falling from the trees.  

 

We keep a bucket just outside our patio door for all our vegetable and fruit peelings.      It’s always fun to see how the seeds will sprout in the spring in the compost pile to produce a cucumber or tomato plant.  

 

We have filled many of our landscaping projects with the compost we create.  It is such a reward to be able to keep all the environment in it’s correct place,  WHERE IT ORIGINATED FROM!!! 

 

We not only keep compost processing but also all recyclable items. 

We do allot of traveling and will keep all recyclables with us until we return to process them correctly.

 

God gave us one earth and it is up to each of us to nurture it and keep it alive and healthy,  just like we do raising our children,  we need to care for our special planet.  

 

 

Thanks to all who enteredJ 

Leave a comment »