A Cut Above the Rest: How to Pick Out the Perfect Christmas Tree

Beautiful red, green and silver Christmas tree decorations

Picking out the perfect Christmas tree is a yearly family tradition for many of us not using an artificial tree. But with all the different types of trees out there, it’s hard to know which one is right for your holiday display. And knowing how to keep it green and fragrant once you deck it out is important. Continue reading

Oh, My Gourd! What You Need to Know About Gourds and Pumpkins

Pg 10 - Pumpkin varieties

Summer officially transitions into fall when you see people requesting their favorite things about the fall season, pumpkin spice lattes, comfort foods, and holiday cookies. At The Country Pumpkin, a produce store near Sutton, the spotlight is on gourds, squash and pumpkins. Continue reading

The Glories of May

TulipsEvery year as May returns, Mother Nature gives us the return of sunny days and cool spring rains after a long Nebraska winter. And, this year it is a welcome return with our abnormally cool spring. May is also when many gardeners’ hearts seem to beat a bit faster because winter is gone and spring has returned. Whether it is the blooming of flowering trees, the patchwork color of fresh annuals being planted, or the start of the landscape planting, May offers plenty to remind us of the start of our landscape growing season. Continue reading

Spring Had Sprung

garden lanscape toolsEvery year when spring arrives 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. And, while last year it arrived rather early, this year it seems Mother Nature has decided to sleep in a bit longer.

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The Joys of September

Corn harvest in Illinois - SeptemberWhen it comes to Nebraska I love it when we get to September. From the cooler, crisper weather, to the shorter days and longer nights, to the promise of crops almost ready for harvest, September is a favorite time for me. September is also well known as the end of summer and the beginning of fall and while there are many other times of the year I enjoy, there is just something about September that grabs me every year.

Besides the reasons above, maybe it is because I can see the end of the year coming and I know that after all the hard work of the spring and summer our time is short until Mother Nature sends us another blast of Nebraska winter. September can be so much better than the heat of summer or the cold of winter, and in the Green Industry the return of September also brings with it being able to stop fighting the heat and being able to enjoy our work outside. Moreover, while fall isn’t truly with us until we reach Friday September 22nd, there is so much we can do in our yards, gardens, and landscapes in September and on into the fall.

img_8349To me, and many of my fellow green industry professionals, fall is a great time for planting in our landscapes. While there are many who think the best time to plant in the landscape is in spring I actually prefer to install new plants in the late summer to early fall. The moderation of Mother Nature’s extremes offers us a wonderful time to plant, harvest, maintain and encourage our gardens and landscapes to even better levels. Mother Nature usually offers a bit of rain and nice lingering warmth to give our new plants a perfect chance to settle into place before winter blows into town. I also know how busy my schedule gets each spring. By planting in the fall, as soon as Mother Nature decides to warm up next spring my fall installed plants can “wake up” and begin growing before I even have time to think about planting.

And when talking about fall planting I always think we should mention a few plants that offer gorgeous fall color so our landscapes have interest all growing season long versus just spring and summer. For perennials consider the Sedums, Hardy Hibiscus, Goldenrod, and ornamental grasses. If you are looking for something more sizable consider varieties of Burning Bush, Althea (Rose of Sharon), Ninebark, Sumac, & Viburnum. And when it comes to trees I find the bright reds and oranges a wonderful choice versus the yellows of our many native tree varieties so consider Maple and Oak varieties.

Fall is also a wonderful time to experience beautiful color through the planting of fall blooming Mums and Asters. Whether you are changing out your summer annual beds or a few pots on the patio, to pockets of them mixed into your landscape beds, Mums and Asters are some of the most colorful plants in the landscape each fall. They are also able to withstand some cooler weather prolonging your enjoyment usually well through October or longer depending on Mother Nature. In most cases wait to transition your annual areas to Mums and Asters to when we start getting a bit cooler toward the middle to end of September. And don’t forget that with cooler weather you could plant another crop of pansies or other frost tolerant annuals.

TulipsAnd before we move on no discussion of fall planting would be complete without talking about spring flowering bulbs. Many feel spring is really here when we see the spring flowering bulbs poke their bright colorful blooms out of the ground at the start of spring. But to enjoy your own spring bulbs you need to install them this fall. Try to mix your colors and bulbs here and there through your landscape in areas that will receive southern or western sun for best results. Spring flowering bulb planting is almost fool proof and gives such a colorful return on a simple investment of your time.

Finally, as you read this we are nearing the end of the best time to do turf grass seeding. We generally recommend mid August to mid September as the best time to seed but typically you should be fine as long as you seed before the end of September. Remember to properly prepare the areas, sow good quality seed, and utilize a covering material like peat moss, compost, or straw to keep the new seed moist through germination. Then once your young grass has germinated let it get a bit shaggy before mowing and try to get at least three or four mowings on the new grass before winter hits to help harden it off.

September and the return of the fall can be such an amazing time to enjoy in Nebraska. Whether it is enjoying the change in the weather, accomplishing some tasks around your landscape, or maybe being a spectator at a Husker game, September can be such a great time in Nebraska. It certainly is one of my favorites.

 

Andy Campbell is manager of Campbell’s Nurseries Landscape Department. 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 their two Lincoln garden centers or through their landscape design office. www.campbellsnursery.com.

Summertime in the Landscape…

garden lanscape toolsWhen it comes to Nebraska weather, we all tend to forget how quickly our feelings can switch. Only six months ago many of us might be heard complaining about how cold it was outside. Many pleaded for Mother Nature to give us a bit of warm weather to remind us spring would soon return. But, then every year once spring arrives we may be pleading for Mother Nature to change the weather again. A perfect example would be the spring of 2014 and the wettest May on record. Moreover, a few years ago we were entering the beginnings of the 2012 Drought. The soil was parched, plants were withering, and many lawns were turning brown. It seems like many years Nebraska weather can be similar and quite different at the same time.

While this spring and early summer have been enjoyable, there is not anything quite like summer in Nebraska. The old adage “If you don’t like the weather – wait five minutes – it’ll change” certainly comes to mind. Every year Mother Nature eventually turns up the heat and sends us more normal summer weather and that normal weather will drive many of us into the cool respite of air conditioning and outside searching for shade to avoid the heat.

Front Pg - Farmers Market 2July and August for many is a time for vacations, celebrating the Fourth, and enjoying the sweet taste of vegetables from our vegetable gardens. For those of us in the nursery industry we spend our time helping clients try to keep their landscapes and gardens looking their best. For some that could mean dealing with disease and insects, while for others it could mean assistance with caring for their plants, and for others installing new plantings. Yes, I did say planting.

While the summer is not a time to “plant and forget,” it can be a great time to plant. Many have extra time and possibly some help from kids out of school or are simply spending more time at home caring for their kids over the summer. While some days bring terrible heat, most summer mornings or early evenings will bring moderation to the heat making it enjoyable to be out working in our landscapes and gardens.

When we talk about planting in the summer, it is with some understanding and care. Simply put, people who plant in the summer usually tend to care for their plants better than those who wait for fall. The nicer weather in spring encourages people to believe that Mother Nature will take care of new plants without our help. We see our plants standing strong and tall and mistakenly believe that we won’t have to do much because the plants are looking great. However, with our Nebraska summers we need to make sure we care for our plants, whether we planted them last fall, this spring, or this summer. Keep an eye on any plant younger than about 12 months, ensure you water them about once or twice a week and you should do fine.

watering lawnFor those who are itching to add a few plants or simply have finally found time to work in the landscape, summer planting can be rewarding and offer great success with proper care. A young plant, whether it is planted in the cool spring or the hot summer, simply needs a bit of assistance to make sure it survives until it can set its roots and begin caring for itself. How long this takes will depend on the plant. Check with your local nursery professional for specific care instructions for your specific plantings.

When it comes to caring for your older plants while they should not need, as much supervision, do not worry if they are not looking as good as they did in the spring. A bit of timely watering, maybe some trimming to shape the plant, and a bit of mulch to help hold the moisture around the root system can do wonders to help them through the summer. With a bit of care, plants showing stress in the heat should perk right back up and yes, even thrive, in our challenging summers.

Now when we talk to clients about summer plant care the first thing we mention is to try to walk the landscape at least once a week even in the heat. Check for weeds, look for insect or disease issues, and generally try to catch problems before they can get out of hand. A bit of work in the heat could solve a problem with minimal effort versus waiting until the weather is cooler but now the problems have grown and it might take lots of work to get things back in shape. Many of our clients usually do this walk around when they mow their lawn.

As you walk your landscape, keep an eye out for insects eating on foliage, red spider on evergreens, the jalapeno shaped husks of bagworms on evergreens, turf damage from grubs or webworms, and fungal issues on roses, turf, or other plants. Most problems, if noticed before too much damage occurs or pests are allowed to get out of control, can be controlled with timely treatment. While many chemicals are labeled for many different plants and pests, do always follow label directions and consider consulting a nursery professional with any questions and to get help picking the right control for your situation.

DSCN3725If you are able to check on your plants once or twice a week through the summer adding a bit of water as needed and can deal with any problems before they get out of hand, you should be able to keep your plants growing well and looking good even in the heat of summer.

Overall Mother Nature can be our best friend or worst enemy. Which one we believe she is all depends on what she brings us each day, and I for one have said a few choice words about her already this year. However, if we are there to care for our plants here and there, the summer time in Nebraska can be an enjoyable and often fulfilling time in the landscape.

 

Andy Campbell is manager of Campbell’s Nurseries Landscape Department. 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 their two Lincoln garden centers or through their landscape design office. www.campbellsnursery.com.

 

Give it a couple of weeks…

June is one of my favorite months of the year. The kids are out of school, many of us have been working hard to get our landscapes and gardens planted with beautiful plants and vegetables, and the start of summer is just around the corner. But while June can be such a wonderful month, the best is yet to come because in just a couple of weeks it will change.

vegetable gardenAs can happen in spring, our landscapes are flush with growth and color, our vegetable gardens are moving along nicely and everything seems to be growing strong. It almost seems like a magic trick. Plant the plants, wait a couple of weeks then POOF, our plants are looking good and growing strong.

Spending time planting our crops – whether for food or interest – and then waiting to see how everything grows, to some, is like waiting for Santa Claus to come. Will our new plants grow as well as we expect? Will we have a bumper crop of vegetables to savor or weeds to deal with? Will Mother Nature send us enough rain? Will everything grow into the dream landscape we have envisioned in our minds? Simple – just wait a few weeks and we’ll know.

Holding Water Rubber Hose Tube. Watering

Now that the plants are growing some of us could be fighting insects, weeds or diseases and we’ll be waiting to see the effect of our care. As some plants have bloomed and are finishing we’re waiting for the next plant to come into bloom. Now that the vegetables are growing well we’re waiting to harvest our first crop. Every time we think it’s been a few weeks and we’re done with one issue or enjoyment, a whole new crop of concerns and delayed gratification can happen.

Overall this whole “wait a few weeks” idea can be both my favorite part and most hated part of working in the nursery industry. There’s always something happening in our landscapes and gardens, especially with Mother Nature having a say in the matter. Something needs a bit of care, something is showing its beauty, weeds need to be pulled or sprayed, some vegetable crop is ready for picking, some plant has dead wood to remove, and on and on. I can guarantee you working with a landscape or a garden is never boring if you don’t want it to be. And June is one of the best months to experience it first hand.

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June should be about making sure everything planted is ready to go into the heat of summer. Make sure your mulch is 2-3” thick to keep weeds down and to hold in the moisture. Make sure you are ready to water your plants and lawn when Mother Nature doesn’t send us rain, because she won’t give us rain every time we need it for our plants. Have your sprayer handy to spritz spray the weeds when they are small with some roundup or keep ahead on pulling them before they get bigger. And, keep an eye out for dead wood in your plants or to dead head early spring bloomers for best appearance.

June should be about making sure your chemical controls to deal with Bagworm, Fungus, Red Spider, Grubs, Webworms, Aphids, or any of the other insects or diseases we may experience early summer are applied or ready to apply. And it’s a time to plant if you haven’t had the chance or need to fill some holes in the landscape. Annuals to perennials, shrubs to trees all can be planted through the summer with some care.

June could also be about fertilizing your plants, both in the vegetable garden or your landscape to keep them growing happy and producing well. And do make sure you are using the right fertilizer, for the right plant, and for your specific situation. By using the right fertilizer you will get the best results from your efforts.

And June should be about spending some time enjoying everything a bit before it gets too hot. Whether it is sitting on the porch with friends, visiting our many local Farmer’s Markets, or just spending a lazy afternoon enjoying the fruits of your labors, please enjoy the beginning of summer and try to enjoy everything you can in June because as we all know, in a few weeks things will change.

 

 

Andy Campbell is manager of Campbell’s Nurseries Landscape Department. 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 their two Lincoln garden centers or through their landscape design office. www.campbellsnursery.com of Facebook.com/CampbellsNursery