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.

It’s Official-Nebraska Farm Income Dropped for 2016 . . .

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The USDA Economic Research Service on August 30 released its official estimate of Nebraska net farm income for 2016.  The official estimate, $3.78 billion, is nearly $1 billion less than net farm income earned for 2015, and off almost 50 percent from net farm income reported for 2011.

farm income

In fact, 2016 net farm income is just slightly higher than the amount earned for 2010.  A decline in livestock receipts, about $2.1 billion, was the primary reason for the drop in net farm income.  Cash crop receipts were off slightly, but almost equal to that received in 2015.  Farm expenses were down also which helped compensate for the loss of revenue.

The cost of livestock purchases was down $1.7 billion, due to lower cattle prices, and fertilizer and insurance costs were also lower.  It was the third consecutive year net farm income declined in Nebraska, and unfortunately the most recent University of Nebraska estimate suggests 2017 net farm income will be down for a fourth consecutive year.

 

Jay RempeJay Rempe is the senior economist for Nebraska Farm Bureau. Rempe’s background in agricultural economics, years of experience in advocating at the state capitol, and firm grasp of issues allow him to quantify the fiscal impact of a regulatory proposal, and provide in-depth examination of key issues affecting Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers.

Suprise Pie

Surprise Pie1Ingredients

3 egg whites

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

20 buttery crackers (Ritz), finely crushed

1 cup chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts)

1 cup whipping cream, whipped or 2 cups whipped topping

Milk chocolate bar or sprinkles for garnish

 

Directions

  1. Beat the eggwhites until soft peaks have formed.  Gradually add the sugar and beat until stiff.  Stir in the vanilla.
  2. Fold in the crushed crackers and chopped nuts.
  3. Pile the mixture into a greased 9-inch pie pan.
  4. Bake at 350º for 20-25 minutes.
  5. When cool, frost with the whipped topping.
  6. Garnish with shaved chocolate or sprinkles

 

Yield:  8 servings

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.

 

Almond Joy Cookies

Almond Joy CookiesIngredients

1 cup softened butter

1 ½ cups white sugar

1 ½ cups brown sugar

4 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

4 ½ cups flour

2 teaspoons soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 pkg. semi-sweet chocolate chips

2 cups sweetened coconut

2 cups chopped almonds

 

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375º. Lightly grease cookie sheets or line sheet pans with silicone mats.
  2. Combine flour, soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugars. Add eggs one at a time.  Add vanilla.
  4. Gradually stir in the dry ingredients until well mixed.
  5. At this point, you may need to transfer the dough to a very large mixing bowl. Stir in the chips, coconut, and almonds until these goodies are well distributed.
  6. Drop by rounded tablespoons (or use a small ice cream scoop) onto the prepared cookie sheets.
  7. Bake for 12-13 minutes. Cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

 

Yield: 6-7 dozen

Nebraska Economy Stumbles in First Quarter . . .

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The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) at the U.S. Department of Commerce reported Nebraska’s gross domestic product (GDP) shrunk 4 percent in the first quarter of 2017 compared to the fourth quarter of 2016.  Nebraska had the worst first quarter economic performance of any state. The BEA attributed the dismal economic performance to the slumping agricultural sector.  Other plains states, also dominated by agriculture, saw their economies shrink in the first quarter as well.  Iowa’s economy contracted 3.2 percent; South Dakota’s fell 3.8 percent; and Kansas fell 0.7 percent.  Texas saw the greatest first quarter growth at 3.9 over the fourth quarter.  The country as a whole saw real GDP increase 1.2 percent in the first quarter, and the BEA’s first estimates real GDP growth for the second quarter at 2.6 percent.

tidbits 8-1

Not all the news on the economic front was bad for Nebraska. Governor Ricketts and the Nebraska Dept. of Labor announced Nebraska’s monthly increase in non-farm employment in June was 0.6 percent, the third highest in the nation.  Nebraska’s non-farm employment in June reached 1.031 million jobs.  Also, the Bureau of Business Research at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln reported that its most recent leading economic indicator predicts rapid economic growth later this year.  The indicator is a composite of economic factors like building permits for single-family homes, airline passenger counts, manufacturing hours, and the value of the dollar.  All components of the indicator rose in June, resulting in an increase in the economic indicator of 2.75 percent, suggesting a rapidly growing Nebraska economy at the end of the year.

Nebraska’s agricultural economy will continue to struggle in 2017.  The most recent projection indicates 2017 net farm income will fall 16 percent, the fourth consecutive year net farm income will have fallen.  Thus, agriculture will continue to dampen the state’s economic growth.  The first quarter numbers are surely evidence of this fact.  However, it appears the non-farm economy is picking up steam, offsetting the agriculture slump which should help the state post modest economic growth soon.

 

Jay RempeJay Rempe is the senior economist for Nebraska Farm Bureau. Rempe’s background in agricultural economics, years of experience in advocating at the state capitol, and firm grasp of issues allow him to quantify the fiscal impact of a regulatory proposal, and provide in-depth examination of key issues affecting Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers.

Rhubarb Cobbler

Rhubarb CobblerIngredients

4 cups rhubarb, cut fine

1¾ cup sugar, divided

3 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened

½ cup milk

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 cup boiling water

 

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350º.
  2. Put the cut-up rhubarb in a 9” square cake pan.
  3. In a small mixing bowl, cream ¾ cup sugar and butter. Add milk and mix.
  4. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into the bowl. Beat until smooth.  Pour mixture over the rhubarb.
  5. In another small bowl, combine the remaining 1 cup sugar and cornstarch. Sprinkle over the mixture and then pour 1 cup boiling water over the top.
  6. Place cake pan on a baking sheet in case the cobbler boils over. Bake for 1 hour.

 

Yield: 9 servings