November 15, 2019

What is Chinese Chestnut?

A chestnut tree's spiny burr. Chestnuts are ready for harvest when these burrs open.

Chinese chestnut (Castanea mollissima) is a deciduous tree that produces edible nuts in September and October. This is a different species from the American chestnut that was decimated last century by a fungal canker blight that essentially eliminated it from the eastern U.S. forests. In Iowa Chinese chestnuts are grown more frequently in the southern half of the state. The first commercial plantings were planted in SE Iowa in the early 1990’s. Currently about 100,000 pounds of nuts are produced in Iowa.

Vermicomposting Frequently Asked Questions

A sample of vermicomposting worms

Vermicomposting is composting with earthworms. It is becoming a popular alternative or addition to composting and has several benefits for home gardeners. Because the earthworms actually eat vegetable and fruit scraps, the scraps are degraded faster than in typical composting systems. Vermicomposting can also be done indoors throughout the winter, whereas typical composting slows or stops during the winter months. 

Forcing Amaryllis Bulbs

A Merry Christmas Amaryllis

Amaryllis are popular flowering bulbs which are forced indoors for their large, spectacular blooms during the winter months.  The colorful flowers help to brighten the gray days of winter.  Amaryllis bulbs are also great Christmas gifts.

Types and Cultivars

Amaryllis are available in a wide range of colors. Flower colors include red, pink, orange, salmon, white, and bicolors.  Single-flowering, double-flowering, and miniature amaryllis cultivars are available. 

Yard and Garden: Snow and Landscape Plants


A layer of snow is beneficial to many plants in the garden and landscape. A layer of snow protects plants from extreme cold and the drying effects from sun and wind. Additionally, a layer of snow moderates soil temperatures. Without snow, the soil can get extremely cold, damaging the roots of trees, shrubs, and perennials.  

Growing Together Mini Grantees Donate More Than 100,000 Pounds of Produce in 2019


Master Gardener volunteers with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach continue to improve the lives and communities of Iowans, with more than $50,000 awarded in Growing Together Mini-Grants this past year.