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Updated: 32 min 42 sec ago

Caring for Your Strawberries

6 hours 29 min ago
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

Beneficial Insects for Your Garden

Fri, 03/31/2017 - 12:52
While pollinators are lauded as the most beneficial insect to have in your garden, there are other insects that you also want around. Iowa State University Extension Entomologist Donald Lewis explains the various roles insects play in our landscape. Lewis explains that the insects which we might perceive as a danger or a nuisance, such as wasps or bald-faced hornets, actually provide a needed service. “They are beneficial in that they are catching caterpillars and other insects out of the garden and using that to raise their offspring to increase their numbers.” He also notes the gruesome, yet helpful aspects of scavengers and recyclers of the insect world. “Insects have always been chewing up dead plants, they’ve been chewing up dead animals. When road kill happens alongside the highway immediately flesh flies and blowflies will find that and that becomes a food resource for the offspring of the fly, and that begins the breakdown, the decomposition, of what otherwise could accumulate

Establishing and Restoring Windbreaks

Fri, 03/24/2017 - 13:26
The state of Iowa is no stranger to its share of strong, gusty winds. A row of trees and shrubs can make an noticeable difference in erosion control or in reducing home heating costs. Iowa State University Extension forrester, Jesse Randall, shares ways to plan for and establish healthy windbreaks. His tips on how to configure a successful windbreak: “I like to think of a windbreak as gradually increasing in height. […] What I’m trying to do is make the wind go up and over that windbreak as much as it’s going through the windbreak. So, my tallest trees I always put on the inside—like a Norway spruce, or concolor fir, or white pine.” Randall also recommends using ISU Forestry Extension’s new windbreak application that assists in planning and establishing windbreaks in specific locations. “[The application] will look at your soils through NRCS’ database and it will link that to the DNR’s woodlands suitability index. It will tell you what trees are going to grow—what trees, what shrubs,

Tips for Good Luck With Your Garden

Fri, 03/17/2017 - 16:31
On this St. Patrick’s Day, the Hort Gang discusses some holiday-specific greenery. Associate Professor in the Department of Horticulture at Iowa State University Cindy Haynes says that contrary to the common belief that shamrocks and clovers are indistinguishable, they actually come from two different plant families and often live in two different environments. Clovers are described as adaptable, resilient, and are often found in people’s yards. “There’s a real resurgence in clovers because they are a good cover crop outdoors, so there might be some that you could try to seed and have indoors for blooms for a short time. I don’ think it would make for a long-lived house plant but you might be able to keep it long enough just so that it blooms because there are some beautiful red, white, and pink blooming clovers out there.” On maintaining and taking care of shamrocks, Haynes has more advice. “Shamrocks are plants that do well indoors next to a window. Usually, they need a little bit of

How Plants Multiply and Spread Through Your Yard

Fri, 03/10/2017 - 13:55
Mid-March is approaching, which means the growing season is getting close. During this hour of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe discusses with guests about how plants multiply. Linda Naeve, who works with Iowa State University Extension, explains different ways plants are spread. “In nature seed is dispersed by the wind, like when dandelion seeds blow into your yard from neighboring areas. Or things get stuck to animal fur and it gets moved that way. Seeds disperse naturally across our landscape and environment and sometimes we see these little seedlings pop up," she says. Naeve also gives some suggestions on how to control such an unwanted plant. “If it’s really a serious problem, it may resort to a herbicide to control it. You can dig it, you can remove it, but it does take a lot of work and you really must be persistent in a small space.” On today’s Talk of Iowa , Charity Nebbe is joined by Naeve and Iowa State University Extension Horticulture Specialist Richard Jauron. They discuss

Caring for Neglected Shrubs and Woody Vines

Fri, 03/03/2017 - 14:21
As a beautiful weekend approaches the state of Iowa, many are looking forward to getting a head start on their spring yard work. If you’re looking to start pruning your shrubs soon, Assistant Director of Reiman Gardens Aaron Steil has some recommendations. “Strategically remove older branches on these plants. With the goal of never taking out more than a third of the plant. Go in and find the oldest, largest stems, and remove them at the base. That typically retains a nice, natural structure in the plant. This typically makes the plant smaller and will promote a lot of fresh new growth at the base of the plant; we call this rejuvenation pruning. “If it’s a shrub that’s been really neglected or is severely overgrown, you may decide to do what we call renovation pruning. This is [taking] the whole shrub all the way down to the ground, when you do this you may sacrifice flowering for a couple of years, especially on plants like lilac. But, you will be rewarded with a much fresher growth

Selecting and Starting Seeds for Your Garden

Fri, 02/24/2017 - 15:44
Spring is just around the corner, and it’s time to start thinking about gardening again. On this Horticulture Day edition of Talk of Iowa , host Charity Nebbe talks with Iowa Master Gardener coordinator Denny Shrock and Iowa State University horticulturist Richard Jauron about selecting seeds, starting seeds, and when it’s best to delay planting. They also troubleshoot problems commonly encountered when starting seeds and answer listener questions.

Caring for Cut Flowers

Fri, 02/10/2017 - 16:35
More cut flowers are purchased on Valentine's Day than any other day of the year, in spite of the fact that it falls in the dead of winter. During this hour of Talk of Iowa , host Charity Nebbe talks with Cindy Haynes and Richard Jauron of Iowa State University about the best flowers to buy for longevity. Most cut flowers don't last more than a week. “Carnations and daisies are some that are usually the longest lasting of the cut flowers," says Haynes, who is an associate professor of horticulture. "Baby’s breath tends to last a long time. Lilies, they last quite a long time too, if you can get them tight in bud, will open up, and some have a very wonderful fragrance and you get a good week out of them.” She also says that small potted plants are easier to keep alive and tend to last more than a week. During the show, Jauron and Haynes also respond to listener questions.