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Updated: 1 hour 39 min ago

Making the Most Out of Your Farmers Market Visit

Fri, 07/21/2017 - 16:23
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

Demonstration Gardens Offer Ideas for Iowans

Fri, 07/14/2017 - 14:15
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

Corpse Flower Stinking Up Botanical Garden Later This Month

Thu, 07/13/2017 - 17:19
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.

No Easy Solution for Japanese Beetles

Fri, 07/07/2017 - 16:44
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

Choosing and Preserving Edible Flowers

Fri, 06/30/2017 - 13:25
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

Make Your Container Garden Thrive

Mon, 06/26/2017 - 06:58
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

Keeping Plants Hydrated in the Summer Heat

Fri, 06/16/2017 - 15:10
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: Creepy but Harmless in Iowa

Fri, 06/09/2017 - 15:31
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.

Caring for Your Strawberries

Fri, 05/26/2017 - 14:56
With summer just around the corner, strawberry season is upon us. The impending warm weather raises many questions for Iowans about how to care for their own strawberries. Whether you're searching for the perfect berry at the market, or trying to figure out how to properly manage the runners on your strawberry plants at home, our horticulture experts are here with what you need to know to keep your summer filled to the brim with fresh strawberries. On this Talk of Iowa , guest host Jason Burns is joined by Iowa State University Extension Horticulturist Richard Jauron and Aaron Steil from Reiman Gardens. They discuss caring for strawberries and they take questions from listeners.

Don't Believe the Hype, or Panic, About Ticks

Fri, 05/19/2017 - 13:55
We’ve been seeing a lot of stories about the incoming deluge of ticks this season. Iowa State University Extension Entomologist Donald Lewis says despite some of that reporting, “nobody should panic.” “There is no census of ticks. There is no systematic survey. What we have are people’s memories of how good it was last year or how bad it was last year, or how good or bad it was 10 years ago,” says Lewis. “You hear people say ‘it was a mild winter, so we’re going to have a problem with bugs.' Well, that’s not necessarily true, and we can’t really predict it. Don’t panic. A lot of these articles that are coming out are from the East coast. And a lot of them are coming from people who have a vested interest in there being a large tick populations.” During this hour of Talk of Iowa , host Charity Nebbe talks with Lewis and ISU Extension’s Linda Naeve about spring insects and spring gardening deadlines. They also answer listener questions.

Public Gardens are "Hidden Gems"

Fri, 05/12/2017 - 12:45
The Friday before Mother’s Day has been named National Public Gardens Day, which creates a wonderful opportunity to visit and celebrate the many public gardens in Iowa. Public parks like the Dubuque Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, Reiman Gardens in Ames, and the Bickelhaupt Arboretum in Clinton are just some of many across the state. Assistant Director of Reiman Gardens, Aaron Steil, says that what sets these organizations apart from private counterparts is their dedication to educating the public about beautification and conservation of plant ecosystems. Steil says that visiting public gardens can also give inspiration to people who might want to bring these plants and flowers into their own landscape. “One of the things that many of these places do is simply label plants. Having plants labeled so folks know what they [are] so they can go out and look for them because this is also a great weekend to go shopping for plants. Many of these organizations focus on plants that are well

Good Neighbor Iowa: Challenging the Idea of a Perfect Lawn

Wed, 05/03/2017 - 12:47
Spraying herbicide to achieve what many consider to be the ideal lawn became a common practice in the mid-20th century. Many people stopped that practice after studies showing the health impact of human contact with common pesticides and weed killers. "The body of evidence that they are harmful to children is sobering," says Kamyar Enshayan, director of University of Northern Iowa’s Center for Energy and Environmental Education. "There is significant evidence that we ought to stay away from these, and kids should not be exposed to them because of their unique vulnerabilities and frequent hand-to-mouth behavior." Enshayan says that studies found that herbicide exposure in children can lead to conditions including acute lymphocytic leukemia, brain tumors, and interference with brain development. Other concerns include pet exposure, harm to pollinators, and environmental issues relating to water runoff. Enshayan is spreading the message about the impact of weed killers with the Good

Planting Wildflowers in Iowa

Fri, 04/28/2017 - 13:02
The end of April is a great time to explore nature and see wildflowers in bloom across Iowa. The beauty of these flowers is fleeting as they bloom and wilt all before the trees have fully expanded their leaves. Having adapted to their woodland environment, wildflowers maximize their photosynthesis time before the woods become a shady environment for the summer months. Iowa State University extension horticulturist, Cindy Haynes, says that woodland phlox, shooting star, and wild columbine are a few wildflower varieties that have still yet to bloom. In a home garden, she suggests using an organic, well-drained soil and planting in a shady environment for best results in planting wildflowers and advises planting wildflowers as a long term project, similar to planting a tree. “When you’re planting your own woodland wildflower garden, think of it in terms of 10 or 20 years, because some of them will take that long. I’ve had some trilliums in my gardens for close to ten years now and they’re

Plan Ahead for Your Future Trees

Fri, 04/21/2017 - 16:40
Cool temperatures, plentiful moisture, and a long growing season make spring the best time to plant trees. On this Horticulture Day, DNR District Forester Mark Vitosh gives advice on tree selection, site selection, and tree care. Vitosh places a large emphasis on planning ahead in order to ensure that your planting is most effective. Looking at conditions such as required sunlight, drainage, and the overall space the tree could potentially take up are all key in the planning stage. “The best way to promote success is to really find a tree that’s going to fit your situation. The best way to do that is to really look at your site and evaluate the site first and then decide what’s going to fit that site based on growing conditions, such as the soils.” On this Talk of Iowa , Charity Nebbe is joined by Vitosh and Iowa State University Extension horticulture specialist, Richard Jauron. They also take questions from listeners.

Growing Asparagus is Worth the Wait

Fri, 04/14/2017 - 16:03
A patch of asparagus can be a great addition to your vegetable garden as they can live up to 30 years. But without immediate visible results, the process can seem discouraging to some. Professor of Horticulture at Iowa State University and Extension Commercial Vegetable Specialist, Ajay Nair , says that waiting the 3-4 years prior to a full harvest is worth the wait. He offers instructions for planting your young asparagus plant, generally referred to as a crown. “Asparagus is usually planted in trenches. These trenches are about 4-5 feet apart. Each trench, depending on the soil type should be about 6-8 inches deep. You put the crown in there, and the crowns within the trench are spaced anywhere from 12-16 inches apart.” Nair also gives advice for when to stop harvesting your asparagus. “If you see that more than fifty percent of your spears are less than 3/8 of an inch in diameter, that’s a good indicator that the plant is showing stress [and] it has run out of gas. Now it needs to

Preserving Heritage Seeds In the Face of Massive Seed Variety Loss

Tue, 04/11/2017 - 15:18
Many changes have taken place in agriculture over the last 100 years. While most of the emphasis in commercial agriculture has been on maximizing yield, with truly remarkable results, this shift in focus also led to an incredible loss of bio-diversity and significant cultural losses in some communities around the world. It’s estimated that in the last century 94 percent of global seed varieties have been lost. The new documentary Seed: The Untold Story , gives some insight into how this happened and shares the stories of people working hard to preserve the seeds that are left. On this edition of Talk of Iowa , host Charity Nebbe talks with the co-producer and director of Seed , Jon Betz, as well as Tim Johnson of the Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah. Seed will debut on Iowa Public Television on April 19 th at 6 p.m. In the third segment of the show, Charity talks with running buddies, Dennis Lee and Daren Shumaker, who in 2009, came up with the goal of running a marathon or more across

Springtime Care for Your Lawn

Fri, 04/07/2017 - 13:26
A s April showers kickoff spring weather across the state, f lowers are beginning to bloom and grasses are starting to grow. Iowa State University Extension t urfgrass specialist, Adam Thoms , shares some advice for how to establish and maintain healthy lawns. Thoms advises that the next week is a good time to begin the pre-emergence weed control process. “A lot of the problematic weeds that show up germinate in the spring, they live through the summer and die out in the fall with the frost. A good example of that is crabgrass. We always say to put out crabgrass preventer when soil temperatures are 55 degrees and above for three days.” He warns against scalping the grass, or cutting it low to the ground. He says this depletes the grass of its carbohydrate reserves and effectively starves the grass of its needed nutrients. “[Cool-season grasses] have a huge burst of growth in the spring months so we suggest keeping the grass around three and a half inches of height of cut and never