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

Orzo with Feta & Sun-dried Tomatoes

Orzo with FetaIngredients

1 ½ cups low-sodium chicken broth

½ cup dry orzo pasta (4 oz.)

2 tablespoons minced oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes

2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese

1/8 teaspoon each salt and pepper

 

Directions

  1. In a small saucepan, bring chicken broth to a boil.
  2. Stir in orzo. Return liquid to a boil.  Cook orzo, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is absorbed, 9-12 minutes.  Remove saucepan from the heat.
  3. Stir tomatoes and feta into orzo, mixing until feta melts slightly.
  4. Season orzo mixture with salt and pepper.

 

Yield:  3-4 servings

Butter Pecan Bread Pudding

Butter Pecan Bread PuddingIngredients

8 oz. day-old French bread cut into cubes

1 ¼ cups milk

1 cup half and half (you can substitute whole milk)

2 eggs, lightly beaten

½ cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

dash of salt

¼ cup softened butter

¾ cup brown sugar

½ cup pecans, chopped

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350º.
  2. Place bread cubes in a large bowl.
  3. In another bowl, beat eggs, milk, half and half, sugar, salt, and vanilla. Pour over the bread and allow to sit 5-10 minutes.  Press the bread into the liquid so it has a chance to soak up the custard.
  4. In a small bowl, combine butter, brown sugar, and pecans. The mixture will have the consistency of wet sand.
  5. Pour half of the bread mixture into a greased 8”x8” or 7”x11” baking dish.
  6. Crumble half of the pecan mixture on top.
  7. Spoon the remaining bread mixture over the top.
  8. Finish by topping with the remaining pecan mixture.
  9. Place the baking dish on a cookie sheet to catch spills that may boil over.
  10. Bake for 45-55 minutes.
  11. The center will be slightly jiggly but will set as the pudding cools.
  12. Allow the pudding to cool for 20-30 minutes before serving.

 

Yield:  8 servings

Baked Buffalo Chicken Pasta

Baked Buffalo Chicken PastaIngredients

8 oz. of  uncooked rotini noodles

¾-1 lb. chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces

Salt

Pepper

Garlic powder

Italian seasoning

3 tablespoons cooking oil

1 15-oz. jar Alfredo sauce or make a white sauce using 2 tablespoons butter, 3 tablespoons flour, 15 oz. milk, and salt to taste.  If using a white sauce, add ¼ cup Parmesan cheese to the sauce.

½ bottle (approx. 6 oz.) buffalo sauce

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

 

Directions

  1. Cook noodles until al dente; drain.
  2. Preheat oven to 350º.
  3. While pasta is cooking, heat oil in a skillet. Season chicken pieces with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning.  Cook in oil until no pink remains.
  4. Prepare white sauce if not using Alfredo sauce. In a 2-cup glass measuring cup, melt butter in the microwave.  Stir in the flour and salt.  Add milk and stir.  Cook in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds until the sauce thickens and boils.  Stir in the Parmesan cheese.
  5. Add the chicken, white sauce, buffalo sauce, and ½ cup mozzarella cheese to the pasta. Stir to combine.  Pour into a 9”x9” baking dish.  Sprinkle remaining mozzarella cheese over the top.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

 

Yield:  6 servings

The Glories of May

garden lanscape toolsEvery year as May returns, Mother Nature gives us the return of sunny days and cool spring rains after a long Nebraska winter. May is also when many gardeners’ hearts seem to beat a bit faster because winter is gone and spring has returned.

Some parts of the year when I write articles or prepare comments for our radio shows I’m challenged about what to discuss but that is definitely not May. May is usually such a perfect time to accomplish so many tasks in our landscapes that the difficulty in May is deciding what not to talk about.

As I write this article Mothers Day is approaching and for many when we talk about Mothers Day we also talk about planting our Annuals. Over the years many gardeners have been taught to wait to plant their annuals until Mother’s Day. This way they know they are normally safe from the last chances of frost in eastern Nebraska. Even though this spring warmed up faster than normal whether you are planting a landscape bed, placing a hanging basket by the front door, or planting your pots on the patio, go right ahead and plant these beautiful plants for their wonderful color and interest all summer long. Mother Nature has turned the weather warm and it is now safe to plant your tender annuals.

Now, I don’t know about you but store bought vegetables just don’t have the same flavor and taste as those from our backyard gardens. Warm season vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, corn, etc. can now be planted safely. And if you haven’t already, get your cool season vegetables planted quickly such as Broccoli, Snap Peas, Cauliflower, Lettuce, etc. They will grow better in cooler weather versus the heat of summer so the sooner they are planted, the better crop you will receive. Also remember that amending your gardens each year by adding compost, or some peat moss and manure then tilling in well before planting will give you better yields from your garden. And we recommend applying a coating of mulch around your vegetables to help hold moisture in and to help fight those pesky weeds in the garden.

Neddenriep, Shirley - Gardening - Nemaha CountyOnce your annuals and vegetables are planted consider adding perennials, shrubs and trees to your landscape. Planting now will give your new additions some time to settle into place before the full stresses of summer arrive. Daylilies to Iris, Lilacs to Viburnum, Lindens to Maples – May is a perfect time to plant your landscape. Make sure to plant interest for all seasons of the year versus just what is blooming now. And if you aren’t quite sure what to plant consider crafting a plan with a landscape designer. Experienced designers – like our team at Campbell’s – can offer recommendations in planting the right plants in the right locations that have color and interest as much as possible through the year. Let the experience of an expert make your planting and growing easier with a plan.

Now before you think May is all fun and sunny weather don’t forget to deal with weeds and insects. Pre-emergents like Preen can cut your weeding immensely and should be applied before new mulch is applied to your landscape beds. If you didn’t know this or forgot to apply then apply it right over your mulch as soon as possible then water it in well for best results. Also be ready to spray a bit of Round Up on those weeds the pre-emergent doesn’t control. And keep your eyes open so you are prepared to apply controls for infestations of Pine Sawfly, Red Spider or any of the other pesky insects preparing to attack your plants.

One final note for those of you near Lincoln who plant vegetable gardens. As you plant your garden, please consider planting an additional vegetable plant or two and donate the extra crop to the “Grow and Share” program between Campbell’s and the Lincoln Food Bank. Beginning sometime in late June to early July anyone can drop off extra produce in paper sacks Mondays and Tuesdays to either of our garden centers through the summer and it will be donated to the Lincoln Food Bank.

Overall, try to enjoy some of the great Nebraska weather we have in May, add some color and interest to your landscape through new plantings, and keep the Grow and Share program in your mind if you are close to Lincoln. May is such a great month in Nebraska, How can you go wrong?

 

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 or on Facebook at Facebook.com/CampbellsNursery

Oatmeal Walnut Bread

Oatmeal Walnut BreadIngredients

2 cups bread flour

1 pkg. instant yeast

1 ½ teaspoon salt

1 cup water

¼ cup molasses

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

½ cup quick-cook oatmeal

1 cup whole wheat flour

¾ cup walnuts, chopped

1 egg

 

Directions

Note:  Directions are for using a mixer with a dough hook, but this bread can be easily be made by hand.

  1. In a large mixer bowl, combine 1 ¼ cups bread flour, yeast, and salt; blend well.
  2. Heat 1 cup water, molasses, vegetable oil, and oatmeal until warm (120-130º).
  3. Add the liquid mixture to the flour mixture. Using the mixing paddle, blend at a low speed until moistened, then beat 3 minutes at medium speed. Add whole wheat flour and nuts.  Mix to combine.
  4. Change to the dough hook. Add enough remaining bread flour to make a firm dough.  Knead for 3 minutes.
  5. Turn onto a lightly floured board. Work the dough into a ball with a smooth surface.  Place in a lightly oiled bowl and turn to oil the top.  Cover; let rise in a warm place until double (30 minutes-1hour).
  6. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface; punch down to remove air bubbles. Shape into a round loaf.  Place on a greased cookie sheet.  Cover; let rise in a warm place until doubled (approximately 1 hour).
  7. Combine egg and 1 tablespoon of water; brush the top of the loaf. Optional—you may sprinkle with oatmeal.
  8. Bake in a preheated 375º oven for 30-40 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet and place on a cooling rack.

 

Yield:  1 loaf

Recipe source:  Red Star Yeast

Hot Ham and Cheese Crescents

Hot Ham & Cheese CrescentsIngredients

16 oz. cooked ham, chopped

¾ cup shredded cheddar cheese

¾ cup shredded Swiss cheese

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon brown sugar

¼ teaspoon onion powder

3 cans refrigerated crescent rolls

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375º.
  2. Mix together the ham, cheeses, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, and onion powder.
  3. Separate the crescent rolls into triangles.  Cut each triangle in half, forming two triangles.
  4. Scoop one tablespoon of ham mixture on the wide end of each triangle. Roll up crescents, and place on a greased baking sheet.
  5. Sprinkle tops of crescents with poppy seeds.
  6. Bake for 15-18 minutes.

 

Yield:  48 appetizers

Recipe source:  plainchicken.com