Hort Day Podcast
Updated: 50 min 28 sec ago
With the changing leaves and the cooling temperatures, late season vegetables are ready for harvesting. Knowing when exactly to harvest specific vegetables is a problem for many people, but Iowa State University Extension specialist Linda Naeve has advice for those curious about winter squash. "Winter squash is interesting because it has a very firm skin, so when the fruit becomes full-sized, do the finger nail test. If you can't really penetrate the skin with force, it should be nice and firm. Also, on many winter squashes, that stem should be dried, fairly woody. The vine may be starting to die down, but not necessarily," Naeve says. "The best time to harvest winter squash is right before frost, and the reason I say that is, if the vines are still alive, the bugs, the insects, the beetles will move right near the squash. And if your vines are already died down, you might start to see that, so I'd get them out of the garden right away." On this Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe speaks
Painted lady butterflies are having a really good year, according to Nathan Brockman, entomologist and curator of the Christina Reiman Butterfly Wing at Reiman Gardens. Brockman conducts an annual survey of butterflies, and he's seen a lot of painted ladies recently. "Last year, one week we saw 12, one week we saw 21; but when we did our survey this week, we saw 747 individuals on the gardens' ground." On this horticulture day edition of Talk of Iowa , Charity Nebbe talks with Brockman, as well as Aaron Steil, assistant director of Reiman Gardens; Richard Jauron, Iowa State University Extension horticulture specialist; and Mark Vitosh, DNR district forester.
It can be very frustrating when the picturesque, cloudless blue summer sky is undercut by a patchy, dead-looking lawn. In these last days of summer, it's common to assume that a discolored lawn is dead, but Iowa State University Extension Turfgrass Specialist Adam Thoms recommends inspecting the lawn more closely before assuming anything. "One of the great things to do is to actually get out and pull on the lawn, especially if the grass is still yellow looking. If it pulls right out in big chunks in your hand, it's probably dead. If there's still some resistance, it's probably coming back," Thoms says. "With the rains we've had throughout Iowa the last couple weeks, most of the grass, if it's going to come back, is starting to green up. If it hasn't shown signs of life, it's probably dead." On this Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe speaks with Adam Thoms and Iowa State University Extension Horticulture Specialist Richard Jauron about seeding, re-seeding, core aeration and other late
One of Iowa's largest and most recognizable insects is the Praying Mantis. Contrary to their predatory nature and creepy appearance, the Praying Mantis is actually beneficial to the garden, and according to Entomologist Donald Lewis, they can't really hurt you. "I was just checking to see how strong the grip was on the Praying Mantis' front legs, and got my fingertip into the jaw part of where the two pieces of the leg come together, and the spines actually broke the skin," Lewis says. "They're quite strong, and the spines are quite sharp. Whether there was a lasting effect, I lost a drop of blood for the benefit of scientific discovery, but it was no big deal." On this Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe speaks with Donald Lewis and Iowa State University Extension Horticulturist Richard Jauron about the Praying Mantis' effect on the garden and its life cycle, and they also take questions from listeners.
On this horticulture day edition of Talk of Iowa , host Charity Nebbe talks with horticulturists Richard Jauron of Iowa State University Extension and Aaron Steil of Reiman Gardens. Tomatoes are relatively easy to check for ripeness, but other garden fare can be tough, especially with underground vegetables. For new potatoes, Steil says that you need to wait until the tops dieback. "Some of us are starting to see that already especially with the hot weather we've had this summer, but usually it's first part of August when potato tops start to brown and dieback." He says to check the potato skin for firmness. "If you can scrape it off really easily with your finger it is not quite ready yet." Jauron and Steil also answer listeners questions about their lawn and garden.
To some visitors, the corpse flower smells more like garbage than rotting mammal. The rare Sumatran plant, also known as Titan arum, is believed to be the first corpse flower of this variety to bloom in Iowa. Titan arum was expected to blossom last week, but the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden says scorching temperatures of high 90s likely delayed the plant’s unfurling. Cooler weather has arrived and the garden's staff says the corpse flower opened and began emitting its infamous stench sometime between 2:00 and 3:00 am on Tuesday. "It kind of comes in waves," explains the garden's curatorial horticulturist Derek Carwood. "This morning for example, we were doing interviewers. It would be fine and smell great just like the conservatory usually does. And then all of the sudden you’d hit that odor and it would, you know trash or diapers or rotten cabbage would come through. It hits you pretty hard." Titan arum evolved its redolent reek to attract carrion beetles for pollination.
The corpse flower at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Gardens still hasn’t bloomed and last week's scorching temperatures might be to blame. This variety of corpse flower, Titan arum, comes from Sumatra, an Indonesian island known for its rugged, tropical terrain. For this reason, you’d think the plant fared well during last week’s scorching temperatures. But top temps experienced by Titan arums in Sumatra usually only reach into the 80s. The Botanical Garden’s curatorial horticulturist Derek Carwood says that's probably why the flower hasn't yet opened to released its storied scent of rotting carrion. "The spadix, the central portion of the flower, actually heats up to about 100 degrees Fahrenheit when it’s ready to fully open and release the odor," he says. "So if the ambient temperature is too hot, what we’re thinking is that that has kind of stymied some of the growth. And the plant is acutely waiting for those cooler temperatures to actually get the cue to open up and to start
Rising in popularity over the years, a trip to the local farmers’ market has become a staple outing for summers in Iowa. If the “buy fresh, buy local” shopping experience interests you, there are some tips to ensure your visit is worth your while. Iowa State University Specialist in Value Added Agriculture Linda Naeve suggests bringing a cooler with a freezer pack in if you have a long distance to drive, bringing reusable grocery bags, and not bringing your dog unless it’s a service animal. Naeve says farmers markets are a great way to support Iowa farmers and the National Farmers Market Week offers a great opportunity to recognize and support one of the 8,600 markets across the country. “The first full week in August that they recognize farmers markets as being important to the local flavor, the rural economy, and it plays a key role in helping low-income women, infants, children, and seniors participate in many programs because farmers markets do accept these programs.” On this Talk
If you’re having trouble getting something to grow or just looking to gather new planting ideas for your garden, Iowa State University’s Extension and Outreach is a great local resource. This summer they are offering six opportunities across the state for Iowans to learn about gardening techniques and to ask questions about the plants in their gardens. Iowa State University associate professor of horticulture, Cindy Haynes, says these demonstrations are an invitation to the public to see what kinds of plants ISU has been growing. Haynes says that this gives people an opportunity to sample and see plants they might be unfamiliar with, and it provides suggestions for plants that will be available for public purchase. “We give them a plant list, we usually have some other things they can eat or try, and then they can ask questions about how things are growing in their garden as well.” These demonstration gardens also serve a larger purpose. Master Gardener student, Laura Irish, explains
One of the smelliest varieties of corpse flowers will be blooming in about 10 days at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden. The Titan arum comes from Sumatra and is exceptionally rare. While there have been other types of corpse flowers in Iowa, the Botanical Garden says it believes this is state’s first Titan arum to bloom. The plant has evolved to smell like the flesh of a rotting mammal. "The plant itself actually heats up, to help kind of disseminate the order," explains curatorial horticulturist Derek Carwood. "It’s going to basically smell like a dead animal right in the middle of the conservatory. And the point of that smell is to attract carrion beetles." The beetles are the flower’s pollinators. In place of the insects, Carwood says he plans to deposit pollen from Titan arums that are located in Ohio and Missouri. If you miss Titan arum’s bloom, you’ll get another chance in about three to five years.
The Japanese beetle has reached its peak population in places across Iowa. While some areas of the state have not seen the beetle’s appearance at all, isolated spots have seen early spurts of incredibly high numbers. Professor and Iowa State University Extension Entomologist Donald Lewis says that typically it’s toward the end of June that Japanese beetles emerge over a 3-4 week period. This year though, it seems they have all appeared at once. Lewis says that highest on their list for invasion in the linden tree. Japanese beetles also are also attracted to all forms of fruit trees, as well as ornamentals plants like rose bushes. Between 300-400 different kinds of plants are listed as hosts for the Japanese beetle adult, ensuring for a wide variety of places they could appear. There are no easy solutions for dealing with or preventing damage to trees and plants. Some options Lewis recommends for treatment are less harmful to the environment but often take a lot of time and effort for
When most of us think about fresh food from the garden we’re thinking about fruits and vegetables, but it turns out there are also a lot of flowers you can eat. Master Gardener Coordinator Denny Schrock says that in addition to growing spices like chives, basil, and dill in your garden, many common garden flowers are also edible. Flowers like impatiens and petunias make great additions to salads and can beautifully decorate deserts because of their vibrant colors. Day lily buds can be cooked similar to asparagus or zucchini as a mild vegetable substitute. Schrock says most flowers taste best fresh but can be dried and stored for several days in a plastic baggie. Flowers such as pansies and rose petals can be preserved by freezing them in ice cube trays, making a great addition to a cool, summer drink. Garden flowers can be candied by painting the petals with an egg whites and water mixture before sprinkling with very fine sugar. Schrock highlights the importance of identifying exactly
Container gardening is a great alternative to traditional gardening if you are low on space and don’t have time for weeding. Potted plants also offer the benefit of being able to better control the soil, which allows for a superior soil type and drainage. Still, it’s important to water your potted plants 3-4 times per week as the soil is likely to dry out more quickly. Cindy Haynes, Associate Professor of Horticulture Iowa State University, stresses that it’s important to find a balance between the amount of sunlight and water the plant receives, as too much water in a dark space for a long period can have harmful effects. When choosing your plant container, Haynes says that it's a good idea to add water-absorbing crystals to help when watering plants in a hanging basket . Otherwise, any container can be used for a potted plant as long it meets a few essential requirements. “Anything can be a container as long as it’s the appropriate size, it has some sort of drainage hole, and it
Mother Nature can be pretty inconsistent when it comes to watering the yard or garden, but it's not hard to make up the difference. However, some watering techniques yield better results than others. Iowa State Extension Program Specialist Linda Naeve suggests watering plants in the early morning. She says, "5-9 a.m. is probably optimum because the wind isn't blowing much, so you can direct the water where you want it to go. It's cooler, less evaporation, so the water is getting to the point where you want it in the soil. And the plants will probably dry off by midday, so you will have fewer disease problems. We don't like to see a lot of midday watering because it's not going to the directed point. The wind may be blowing, we get a lot of evaporation in midday," says Naeve. She says that the evening is the worst time of day to water plants. "The evening might be my least preferred time for watering. Not only is there wind that that may not direct the sprinkler where it should go, but
Arthropods have a lot of legs. It’s easy to want to kill them when you find them in your house because they look creepy. But Iowa State University Extension Entomologist Donald Lewis says most often, these animals are friends not foes. “They’re not insects. They are closely related. These are animals that have an exoskeleton and have jointed legs. Millipedes, centipedes, and sowbugs are important to our gardens. You’ll see these critters, and it’s like pulling weeds, it’s satisfying to be able to call them by their right names,” says Lewis. He says even though your knee-jerk reaction might be to hit them with your slipper, they are doing good things. “It’s like seeing a snake in the yard. I know the snake is harmless. I know it’s beneficial, but there’s this sort of tensing up. But centipedes are predators of other smaller insects, eggs, and spiders. They are beneficial when they are inside your house.” During this hour of Talk of Iowa , Lindsey Moon talks with Lewis about arthropods.