Category Archives: Horticulture

Edible Landscaping

Edible landscaping

There’s been increased interest in growing vegetables, flowers, and herbs together. Learn more about this in our Edible Landscaping workshop on May 8th at the Clay County Fairgrounds in Clay Center! Please RSVP by May 5th and hope to see you there!!!

Proper Tree Pruning

Special thanks to Dr. Scott Dewald for the wonderful evening of information he provided at our tree care workshop last week!

Scott Dewald explaining what to look for when considering pruning a tree.

Scott Dewald explaining what to look for when considering pruning a tree.  Scott shared that one should never prune more than 1/3 the height of a tree in one season.  Pruning should also be done to obtain a main leader and overall structure.  It’s also best not to prune limbs more than 2″ in diameter.  If the limb needs to be pruned but it encompasses more than 1/3 of the limit of what should be removed in a season, one could “head” the limb by removing a portion of it one year and then complete the cut the following year.  This will slow the growth of that limb.  

Scott Dewald showing workshop attendees where the bark collar ridge occurs on this branch.

Pruning cuts should always be made at the “bark collar ridge” which produces a round cut and allows the tree to naturally heal.  Scott shows attendees where the bark collar ridge is on this branch. 

Pruning Fact Sheet ENH847 from University of Florida Extension written by Edward Gilman.

Pruning Fact Sheet ENH847 from University of Florida Extension written by Edward Gilman with good visuals of where proper pruning cuts should occur.

Workshop attendee demonstrating "heading" of a branch.

We learned that on large branches, it’s good to make a cut farther out to remove the weight first, and then go back and make the proper cut at the bark collar ridge.  Improper pruning can result in further damage to the tree.  Here we were trying to correct this tree for not having a main leader.  Typically one would leave the southern-most branch according to Scott, but in this case, the northern-most branch was stronger.  Scott said there was no need to stake the tree or try to get the northern-most branch to straighten out as it would naturally do this in time on its own.

This attendee is now making the proper cut at the bark collar ridge.

After a large part of the branch weight has been removed, this attendee is now making the proper cut at the bark collar ridge.  

Additional Problem-Planting too shallow.

We also walked from tree to tree in the park looking at additional problems.  I noticed how high the mulch was piled on some of the trees.  Mulch should never be placed against the base of the tree as it can cause rot.  But in this case, it was observed that the person who planted the tree did not dig a deep enough hole.  What appeared to be a pile of mulch was the actual root ball and soil mounded up above ground.  

Additional problem with this tree.

This situation also most likely was a result of improper planting.  In this case, the tree roots began wrapping around the base of the tree girdling it (like choking it).  

Weed wacking

This is the most common problem I see with tree calls.  A huge enemy to trees are weed whackers!  In this case, you can see extensive damage to the bark  and the base of this tree.  Depending on the damage and how well the tree can seal the wound will depend on if the tree will survive or not.  Often, as in the case of this tree, the tree will be weakened with few leaves appearing on branches.  It’s best to place mulch around trees in order to avoid having to use weed whackers on them-but again, don’t place the mulch up against the base of the tree!

This was a fun workshop for me with the right size of group and great hands-on demonstration where we also learned from pruning mistakes and how best to correct them.  Thanks again Scott!

Central Nebraska Extension Master Gardener Program

Interested in plants and gardening? Check out this information about the Master Gardening Program from Elizabeth Killinger, UNL Extension Educator!

killingerscollection

New blog posted at http://huskerhort.wordpress.com/ about The Nebraska Extension Master Gardener Program

NEMasterGardener-logo-m-sqDo you enjoy plants and gardening?  Looking to learn more and hone your skills but don’t know where to go?  The Master Gardener program will educate you on many aspects of horticulture, allow you to test your knowledge and skills, all while serving your local community.

The Nebraska Extension Master Gardener program is a horticulture related volunteer training program based in many counties throughout the state.  It has been part of University of Nebraska- Lincoln (UNL) Extension since 1976.  Master Gardener volunteers are trained by UNL Extension faculty and staff. They contribute time as volunteers working with their local Extension office to provide horticulture-related information to their community. Participants are required to complete 40 hours of training and 40 hours of volunteer service during the initial year of their involvement in the program. Master Gardener volunteers retain their…

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October Landscape Projects

In the landscape, October is the month to water, control weeds, and plant bulbs, trees and shrubs. It is also the month to wait until after a freeze to cut back perennial plants and wait for the soil to freeze before covering tender plants with winter mulch.  Kelly Feehan, UNL Extension Educator, provides the following information.

Water

Sometimes people ask if trees and shrubs should be watered at this time of year since their leaves will soon drop off; and how late in the season lawnsWatering bushes in the fall. should be watered.  As long as the soil is dry, go ahead and water. Plant roots continue to grow long after leaves drop off trees and shrubs and after grass stops growing. Roots, rhizomes and stolons can grow well into November and fall watering promotes this growth helping plants recover from summer stresses.  Plant energy can be used for root growth during fall since energy is no longer needed for leaves, flowering or seed production. Roots continue to grow until soil temperatures drop below 40 degrees Fahrenheit with available moisture.

Water enough to moisten the soil to a depth of about eight to twelve inches for trees and shrubs and six inches for lawns. Keep in mind that a lack of oxygen due to a saturated soil is just as damaging to roots as a lack of water. Allow the soil to dry between watering.

Planting

Because roots continue to grow well into fall, September through October is a good time to plant deciduous trees and shrubs. For spring flowering Tulips along the side of our house.bulbs, wait until soil temperatures drop to 60 degrees Fahrenheit to plant.

A common question asked about fall planting is if a starter fertilizer needs to be used at planting time. Starter fertilizers are high in phosphorous, a nutrient important to root production.  The only way to know the answer to this question is to have a soil test taken. However, most landscape soils are high in phosphorous (P). Fall soils are often warm and dry which makes P more readily available. In most cases a starter fertilizer does not need to be used during fall planting.

More important is to plant at the correct depth. With bulbs, follow label directions for planting depth. It varies depending on bulb size. Some recommendations say to plant about one to two inches deeper than recommended.  The opposite is true for trees and shrubs. Before planting trees, locate where the trunk flares out at the trunk base then plant at a depth so the flare is visible above ground. Do not loosen the soil beneath the root ball or the tree may settle and end up planted too deep. In heavier clay soils plant so the trunk taper is one to two inches above the ground.

Weed Control

October is the best time to control perennial broadleaf weeds like dandelions, ground ivy and clover. There is no ideal time during fall to apply lawn weed and feed products together. The best time to fall fertilize lawns is in early September and again in late October or early November. The best time to apply herbicides for lawn weeds is about mid-October before a hard freeze.

Weed control can be more effective and less herbicide will be applied where it is not needed by avoiding the use of combined weed and feed products during fall. One can achieve better weed coverage and control of established broadleaf weeds if the weeds are spot treated, typically with a liquid formulation of herbicide.

Here’s wishing you a great October of accomplishing landscaping projects!

Fall Invaders

Great information from Elizabeth Killinger, UNL Extension, regarding keeping fall invaders out of our homes!

Husker Hort

Warm days and cool nights signal that fall is here.  The pumpkins are ready to be picked, the leaves will soon be in full color display and the wolf spiders and crickets will start migrating into the home.  Not exactly what you had in mind for a peaceful fall?  Find out how to start preparing now to keep these invaders from making themselves at home in your home.

When the temperatures start dipping, the pests start coming in.  Nobody really wants to spend the winter outdoors and insects are no different.  Some of the more common nuisance pests, or occasional invaders, include boxelder bugs, multicolored Asian Lady Beetles, millipedes, and crickets.  These pests don’t do any harm inside the home; they are just looking for a cozy place to spend the winter.

Proper identification of the insect will assure the proper control method.  Boxelder bugs are black and orange true…

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Gardening in Drought

As I set here writing, we went from wearing t-shirts yesterday to receiving freezing rain and sleet today!  The precipitation is much welcomed and it’s nice to see spring bulbs coming up and the grass turning green!  But we’re unfortunately not out of the woods yet regarding this drought, and may not be for some time.

This Thursday, April 11, Elizabeth Killinger, UNL Extension Educator in Hall County, will be talking to us about gardening during drought.  Come enjoy an evening of learning about drought-tolerant plants and ideas for your landscape!  The evening begins with a light supper at 5:30 p.m. and we plan to be finished around 7:00 p.m.  There will be no charge for this workshop, so please come and invite your friends and your youth who enjoy gardening as well!

Also, if you would like to bring some plants for exchange, you are welcome to do so and share with others!  Please call the Clay County Extension Office at (402) 762-3644 or Jenny at jrees2@unl.edu to let us know you’re coming so we can plan for the meal.  See you then!gardening in drought

Picking Poinsettias

Ever wonder about picking the perfect poinsettia? Check out these tips from Elizabeth Killinger at UNL! She even includes information on caring for your poinsettia and the debate on whether or not they are poisonous!

killingerscollection

Thanksgiving has passed and before too long it will be time to decorate for the holidays.  No holiday decorating would be complete without poinsettias in the house.  These plants are a part of most holiday traditions, but do you know what it takes to pick out the best one and makes it last long into the new year?

Poinsettias are as interesting as they are beautiful.  These plants originated in Mexico and are a member of the Euphorbiaceae family which secretes a milky sap when wounded.  The poinsettia bloom is actually a tiny yellow flower located in the center of all the color.  The brightly colored red, burgundy, or pink parts that look like ‘petals’ are actually called bracts.  Bracts are a type of modified leaf which change color based upon day length.

Picking out the perfect poinsettia doesn’t require too much research.  Start by purchasing fresh, healthy looking plants…

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Grubs in Lawns!

The past week walking along the sidewalk to my office in the courthouse, I noticed the lawn browning and just thought “it must be late summer patch or brown patch”.  One day the custodian came into my office saying, “You’ve got to see this!”.

So we went outside and sure enough, we could roll the turf back like a carpet and there were up to 10 grubs in a small patch the size of a dinner plate in several areas of the lawn!  We definitely had a grub problem but no fear as it can be resolved.

If you are seeing brown patches in your turf right now, see if you can roll the turf back like a carpet.  If it comes easily with no attached roots, it very well may be a grub problem.  See if you can view any grubs present; you may have to dig in the soil a little.

What you can do:

Grubs can be controlled this time of year with Trichlorfon (Dylox)  and carbaryl (Sevin).  Please read and follow label directions.  Watering the products in will increase efficacy and help grass roots begin to re-establish.  

If you had a large patch affected and you’re concerned about it coming back, you can always power-rake to remove the dead material and overseed to re-establish grass in that area.

For more information on different types of grubs, please see the following Blog post by my colleague Elizabeth Killinger.

Tomato Troubles!

Here’s a good post from Elizabeth Killinger, UNL Extension Educator, regarding all the tomato troubles we are currently seeing in the garden. You can also check out the following YouTube video by Sarah Browning, UNL Extension Educator.

killingerscollection

Vegetable gardening has become more and more popular.  It is a way to relax, if you consider pulling weeds relaxing, and is also a way to grow your own groceries.  Tomatoes are grown in over 86 percent of gardens in the United States.  There are many common diseases and problems that can plague tomatoes in the home garden.  With a little help you can keep your tomatoes in tip top shape.

Early blight is a common tomato disease.  It is caused by a soil-borne fungus.  Rain water, or overhead irrigation, can cause the soil and fungi to splash onto the lower leaves of the plant.  The infection starts as leaf spots on the lower leaves then causes yellowing then eventually causes the stems to turn brown.  The infection works its way up the plant causing the foliage to die.

There are ways to help prevent the spread of this fungal…

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The Season for #ag & #horticulture Questions!

This past week was a blur of calls, questions, and visits to homes and fields but it was a great week and flew by staying very busy!  I’ll touch on a few of the common questions I’ve received this week.

Trees:  Some trees such as willows, hackberries, tops of maple trees, ash, and black walnut are just taking time leafing out.  Some trees leafed out once already and dropped leaves.  Things that may have caused this were the sudden flux of temperatures from very warm to cool and the strong winds we received.  Some trees have also unfortunately had herbicide drift damage that caused leaves to drop.  On those trees, watch for new buds as nearly every situation I’ve looked at thus far have new buds forming after about a week-10 days.  With all these situations, give the trees a few weeks to leaf out again and if they’re still not doing it, feel free to give me a call.  Trees are interesting plants as sometimes environmental impacts that happened 3-5 years ago will show up that much later-and sometimes environmental impacts show up right away!

Disease/Insect issues:  This year has been a strange year all around but with our warm winter, I was concerned about an increase in diseases and insects.  Thus far, we’re experiencing increases in both-so hang on-it may be a long growing season!  Our high humidity, warm temps, and heavy dews have created perfect conditions for fungal diseases on our trees, ornamental plants, lawns (I’m currently fighting a bad case of powdery mildew-as a plant pathologist it is kind of pretty but I don’t like what it’s doing to my lawn!), and in our wheat and alfalfa crops and some pasture grasses.  Fungicides may help in some of these situations, increasing airflow can also help as can more resistant varieties or hoping the weather will change.  In the case of most ornamentals, we don’t usually recommend doing anything.  The same goes for insects as insecticides can help in some situations.  I’ve received several calls this past week of people afraid they had herbicide drift damage.  While there were a few cases of that, many of the cases were actually fungal leaf spots on leaves.  There are various fungicides and insecticide products available from home/garden centers, etc.  Be sure to read and follow all label directions and only apply the product on places the label specifies it can be applied.

Crops Update: Later this week we may have a better idea on the extent of storm damage and if some fields will need to be replanted after the storms from last week.  Dr. Bob Nielsen from Purdue University reported that most agronomists believe young corn can survive up to about four days of ponding if temperatures are relatively cool (mid-60’s F or cooler); fewer days if temperatures are warm (mid-70’s F or warmer).  Soil oxygen is depleted within about 48 hours of saturation and we know soil oxygen is important for the root system and all the plant’s life functions.   So we’ll have to wait and see what happens.

Have also had a few calls regarding rye cover crops.  When rye is killed out and decomposing, it releases toxins that can affect the germination of other cereal crops such as corn if it’s going to be planted into that rye cover crop.  Thus we recommend at UNL that the producer kill the rye and then wait at least two weeks to prevent any major damage to the crop.  I realize at this point with the rains to get in and kill that crop on top of waiting an additional two weeks, we’re getting close to the end of the month and will most likely be looking at reduced yields…and depending on maturity, you may need to consider different seed if you end up having to plant in June.  If you have specific questions about this, please let me know and we can talk through some situations.

Stripe rust and powdery mildew have been obliterating mid-lower canopies of many wheat fields.  I’ve received several calls on why wheat canopies are yellow-that’s the main reason but other factors such as the dry spell prior to these rains and/or deficiencies in nitrogen/sulfur or some viruses may also have been factors.  Wheat in Nuckolls County last week was beginning to flower.  Fungicides such as Prosaro, Folicur, or Proline are labeled for up to 50% flowering and cannot be applied after that.  Remember the wheat head begins pollination in the middle-so if you’re seeing little yellow anthers at the top or bottom of that head, you’re towards the end of flowering.  All those products have a 30 day pre-harvest interval-which has been the other main question-are we going to be harvesting in a month?  I do believe we’ll be harvesting a month earlier than normal just because pretty much everything in wheat development is about a month ahead of schedule.  I still feel the 30 day window for the fungicide application is worth it with the large amount of disease pressure we’ve seen. Wheat in Clay Co.  and north still may have time for a fungicide application; those products mentioned above will help prevent Fusarium Head Blight (scab) as well as kill the fungi causing disease already present on your leaves.  A list of all fungicide products, pre-harvest restrictions, and rates can be found here. Also check out my previous blog post with video on scouting for wheat diseases.  

The other major disease appearing in wheat is barley yellow dwarf virus.  This is a virus vectored by bird cherry oat aphids which we were seeing earlier this year.  Unfortunately, this disease causes the flag leaves to turn bright yellow-purple causing yield loss (at least 80% of the yield comes from the flag leaf) as there’s nothing you can do once the virus manifests itself in those leaves.  If you have a large incidence of barley yellow dwarf in your fields, you may wish to reconsider spraying a fungicide as the fungicide won’t kill the virus; however, it will help kill the fungi on the remainder of your leaves and potentially help protect some yield from the two leaves below the flag leaf.

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