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

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

What’s a typical day like on your farm?

noe 5My family has been farming in Spring Bay, Illinois since 1875. Over the years, the farm has seen quite a few changes in which crops are grown and how they are raised. Currently, we raise corn, soybeans, wheat, hay, hogs, cantaloupes and watermelons. Since the farm is so diversified, each day is different throughout the year. The spring season consists of working ground, planting corn and soybeans, starting the melons in the greenhouse and then transplanting them into the field.

noe 4Summer is our busiest season. In the early months, we finish transplanting melons and begin to cultivate and hoe them to keep the weeds out. In July, we cut wheat, bale straw and hay and begin to pick cantaloupe. We will usually handpick about 300-400 cantaloupes on a daily basis. In the middle of the season, it’s not unusual for us to pick 800-1200 cantaloupes each night. We deliver truckloads to local grocery stores in addition to selling them at local farmer’s markets six days a week. The watermelons are usually ready in mid-August. We pick them about three times a week and continue to go to farmer’s markets and grocery stores. On a typical summer day, you can find my family up and working by 6:30 a.m. loading pickups, picking flowers and produce to go to the farmer’s market, and doing hog chores. One of us will go to the market and sell until noon. When we come home, we unload the leftover produce, eat lunch, and relax. Then we go out to pick more cantaloupes, reload pickups, eat supper, and make sure everything is ready to go for the next day.

noe 3September is an in-between month for our farm. The cantaloupe and watermelon season winds down and my dad and brothers start preparing the combine and equipment for harvest. We usually begin cutting beans and picking corn in the first week of October. Once harvest starts, my family spends a majority of the day in the fields or on the road moving equipment and hauling the grain to the elevator for storage. Mom takes breaks from driving the trucks to pack lunches and make supper for the crew. Harvest is an exciting and stressful time for the whole family. There never seems to be enough time in the day to get everything done and the weather just never seems to cooperate. There have been numerous times when Dad combined through the night to get a field done before an early snow or to get an extra load up to the elevator before it closed for the evening. Despite the stress, breakdowns, and disappointments, it’s very easy to love the harvest season. It’s an exciting time you spend out in the field working with your family and bringing in the crops that you started way back in the spring.

noe 2By early November, we are usually finished with harvest and begin to prepare the equipment for the next season. Once the crops are harvested, everything starts to slow down. The winter months are mundane compared to the rest of the year. From December to March, we work to repair the things that broke during the spring, summer, or fall that we didn’t have time to fix in that season. This is also the time that we get to work on fun projects, hobbies, and finish taxes and other book work. When it gets cold and starts snowing, we use skid-steers to clear snow off our driveways and out of the hog pens. We also have to put straw in the outdoor hog pens to help them keep warm in the cold weather.

noe 1Although we’re busy throughout the year with our crops and melons, the hogs are an additional year-round occupation. Every morning and evening, we have to feed the hogs in the indoor and outdoor pens. We also have to move any pregnant sows into the farrowing house, wean piglets and give them shots, and move sows out of the farrowing house and back into the pens with the boars so they can be rebred. Once the pigs have reached market weight, we arrange shipments and send them off on the semi to become pork chops, bacon, sausages, and pork burgers.

Our farm is an exciting place to be and there’s always plenty of work to be done. Through our family farm upbringing, my brothers and I learned what it takes to run a successful business and have built a lot of character through the work that we did. One of the benefits of farming is that the job changes every few months and each day is different from the day before. It can be overwhelming at times, but it’s a very rewarding career in the long run.

Rachel Noe bio pic

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The Joys of September

Brett Pumpkin 082When 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 September 23rd, there is so much we can do in our yards, gardens, and landscapes in September and on into the fall.

To 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.

Fall Color

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.

And 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.

Turf Grass Seeding

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.

Hot time in the Summer…

DSCN3721When it comes to Nebraska weather, we all tend to forget how quickly our feelings can switch. Why, only six months ago many of us probably could 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, once spring arrived for those of us around Lincoln we soon were asking Mother Nature to stop raining after giving us the wettest May on record. And, don’t forget that a few years agowe were entering the begining of the Drought of 2012. 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 with at times cooler temperatures, there isn’t 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 though 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 conditioned houses and outside searching for shade to avoid the heat.

July 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.

Neddenriep, Shirley - Gardening - Nemaha CountyWhile 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 usually bring moderation to the heat making it actually 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.

For 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 don’t worry if they aren’t 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.

  1. Keep watching for insects and disease in your turf and plants. The added stress of summer heat can make any problems they cause affect your plants even worse.
  2. Check your turf for grub issues. Consider applying preventative treatments if you’ve had grub issues in the past. Otherwise keep an eye out for damage then treat ASAP.
  3. Watch your watering! It’s just as easy to over water your plants as it is to under water. Best results are with watering at least a day or two apart that are applied slowly and deeply to encourage plants to establish vigorous root systems. Aim to water for longer duration but less frequently for best results.
  4. Dead head old blooms as needed to encourage plants to re-bloom faster or to give a cleaner appearance on plants done blooming for the season.

Keep an eye out for fungus. With higher humidity this time of year, we are seeing fungal issues. Use preventatives if you are worried as prevention takes half the material and effort as attempting to cure will take

DSCN4290Now 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 plants and pests do always follow label directions and consult a nursery professional with questions and to get help picking the right control for your situation.

As long as you are able to check on your plants once or twice a week through the summer and add a bit of water as needed, and possibly deal with a problem before it gets 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.