Spring is Here!

spring is buddingEvery year when spring returns the heart races a bit faster for every gardener and landscaper. The return of spring brings warmer temperatures, longer days and a time for a fresh start. This year though may be a bit more interesting due to last fall and winter being drier and our cooler temps earlier this spring. Definitely proof that Mother Nature can always throw us a curveball.

But while the weather has seemed to be slow in warming up this year, spring is still a time of renewal. Whether it’s planting new plants, cleaning up after winter, planning for the vegetable garden, or simply making preparations for the new growing season, spring is the time to refresh your landscape and vegetable garden for the year ahead.

This spring while we still will be doing more normal tasks and projects in our landscapes and gardens, the major issue we all will face is reacting to the drier weather, at least until more normal spring rains arrive. Well, at least we hope they do. Until they do, consider some supplementary watering to help your evergreens and newly emerging plants push through until we start seeing more rain.

rake and leavesWhile our thoughts may be focused on the drier weather there are a number of standard projects we should be accomplishing as we do most years. While many first think of spring and planting, there is definitely some cleanup work in your landscape. Rake up any final leaves from winter, cut back any perennials, including ornamental grasses left up for winter interest, and do any light trimming as needed to remove dead branches. Then add a good dose of pre-emergent weed preventer and thicken your mulch to around 2-3 inches thick to fight future weeds in your landscape beds. By cleaning your landscape you help prevent diseases and weeds, and you are giving your plants the best opportunity to look their best, as well as grow their best for the growing season. In addition, that mulch layer, if applied to the recommended depth will also help keep valuable moisture where it can do the most good in the root zone of our plants versus evaporating into the air.

Once your landscape beds are looking their best, it’s time to consider new plants. Whether it’s a new shade tree for the yard, a few new perennials, a brand new landscape bed, or doing some seeding in your lawn, spring is a great time to establish new plants for the future or to replace plants lost in the last few years. And if you are unsure of what to plant then getting assistance from the experts at your local garden center like Campbell’s may make your spring a lot easier. Do remember to wait until after mid April to do any lawn seeding, and to get closer or even into May to plant more tender perennials or vegetables in the garden.

Once you’ve made plans for what you want to plant, the only thing left is to get them installed. Whether you pick out great plants from a garden center to plant yourself or work with an experienced landscape designer like our design staff at Campbell’s then have a landscape crew install it for you, there’s nothing quite like the satisfaction once the plants are planted.

And please don’t forget about properly preparing your planting areas before planting and to care for your plants after planting. Many times, besides buying good quality plant material, the preparation before and the care after planting are the most important parts of achieving success with your new plantings.

watering lawnOne final note about the effects we may face from the drier weather last fall and through the winter. Many are calling us at Campbell’s worried that we may see issues with plants as they wake up from winter. Only time will tell for sure whether you will have plants or lawn you will need to replace or if the plants are just stressed and will recover with some watering and care this spring. While the odds are higher to see some plant issues this spring, in general Mother Nature gives our plants the ability to thrive and survive even with problematic weather. Do keep an eye on your plants though and if you see issues talk to a nursery professional for the best recommendations for your situation. Most times though with some care and watering this spring, sooner than later on the watering, your plants should be fine.

Overall, remember that every spring is a time to welcome the new growing season and to enjoy the warmth of the days and the beauty of your landscape, as there’s nothing quite like a beautiful spring after a long Nebraska winter.

- Andy Campbell is manager of Campbell’s Nurseries Landscape Department and a Lancaster County Farm Bureau Member. Campbell’s, a family owned Nebraska business since 1912, offers assistance for all your landscaping and gardening needs at either of its two Lincoln garden centers or through their landscape design office.

Warm Fruit Compote

warm fruit compoteIngredients
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup orange juice concentrate
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 can (20 oz.) pineapple chunks, drained
1 can (15 1/4 oz.) sliced pears, drained and cut into chunks
1 can (15 oz.) mandarin oranges, drained

Topping Ingredients
1 package (3 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon orange juice concentrate

Directions
1. In a large saucepan, combine the brown sugar and cornstarch. Stir in the water, orange juice concentrate and butter. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Reduce heat.
2. Add the fruit; heat through.
3. In a small mixing bowl, beat the topping ingredients until smooth.
4. Divide fruit mixture into 6 individual serving dishes. Dollop cream cheese mixture over the fruit. Serve warm.

Yield: 6 servings

Recipe from Taste of Home’s Quick Cooking Magazine and photo by Lois Linke.

All About Youth – The Future

This week was all about youth – the future.

Nebraska Farm Bureau is so excited to be a part of the Nebraska FFA Convention. Thousands of young people, from all walks of life, proudly wore their blue jackets and descended on Lincoln.

FFA Convention and Youth Membership

How fitting that the theme of this year’s FFA Convention was “Ignite.” How fitting that the youth membership for Nebraska Farm Bureau has a relative theme – “Fuel Your Fire.”

FFA sunglasses

The entire state is talking about agriculture being as “hot” as ever. This is contrasted by the fact that we are also watching the harsh realities of agriculture – realities such as the lack of rain, fires popping up throughout the countryside, over regulation by government agencies such as EPA and overall too much government control.

FFA news conference ag teacher loan program

Bottom line: We all know that Nebraska Farm Bureau will be there to help farmers and ranchers young and old ride through many years of “highs and lows” – when you are in the field Nebraska Farm Bureau is at the Capitol protecting your right to farm and ranch.

FFA fun

So as this FFA week comes to a close we hope that these bright young students and their families saw Nebraska Farm Bureau in a new light. An organization that will continue to help promote agriculture, protect your right to farm and ranch and entice young people to unite and have their voices heard by joining Nebraska Farm Bureau, where belonging continues to make a difference.

Cinnamon Granola

cinnamon granolaIngredients
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup flaked coconut
1 tablespoon ground golden flax seed
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 300º F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat liner.
2. In a large bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, coconut, flax, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
3. In a small sauce pan or microwave bowl, heat the oil, honey and vanilla until combined.
4. Slowly pour liquid mixture into the oat mixture and stir until well combined.
5. Spread onto a baking sheet in an even layer and bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
6. Allow the granola to cool before storing in an air-tight container.
7. Enjoy as a snack or as a compliment to your favorite yogurt.

Yield: 2 cups

Recipe from bakeyourday.net and photo by Lois Linke.

Signs of Spring

Sometimes it’s good to acknowledge the little things! Like any little sign that Spring will come around and stay around for more than a day at a time! I’ve had numerous clues lately that warmer weather should be showing up – Emmet’s golf clubs are either in the dining room (near the front door) or in his vehicle; geese and Sandhill cranes have come and gone; I took time to put my winter decorations away; Matt is building fence again; Easter candy is in the stores – and, therefore, being purchased and consumed by me;

Dawn Caldwell Pic 1

we have WAY more baby calves on the ground than cows left to calve:

Dawn Caldwell Pic 2

I have been getting bugs splattered on my windshield;

Dawn Caldwell Pic 3

there have been a couple of days I could have the windows open in the house! Woohoo!!!!;

Dawn Caldwell Pic 4

green is showing up in the pastures and the lawn;

Dawn Caldwell Pic 5

at one point we had a HUGE pile of bull sale catalogs on the coffee table;

Dawn Caldwell Pic 6

on those “window open” days – one could withstand being outdoors without a coat on!;

Dawn Caldwell Pic 7

and – fun, spring-color, comfy shoes can find their way into “business casual” attire!

Other “spring notables”…asparagus and strawberries are showing up in abundance at the grocery store – and, therefore, on our dinner table; the wind blows and blows and blows and that is the one thing I do not love about where I live; baseball has started; and finally, prom is this weekend!

Yes – it has been a long and quite unpleasant winter for many, many people. As our hay pile gets smaller, I know that turning cows out to grass is getting closer. Spring will arrive my friends…

-Dawn Caldwell, farmer from Edgar, Neb., CommonGround blogger and Nebraska Farm Bureau member