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

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

Kielbasa with Creamy Mustard Pasta

Kielbasa with Creamy Mustard Pasta2Ingredients

8 oz. penne or other short pasta

1 tablespoon cooking oil

14 oz. Kielbasa, sliced in ¼ inch disks

½ cup sliced green onions

¼ cup dry white wine or chicken broth

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

¼ cup butter

½ cup half and half

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

 

Directions

  1. Cook pasta according to packaged directions.
  2. Heat cooking oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the sliced kielbasa and cook until it starts to crisp up on each side.  Remove from the skillet onto a paper towel-lined plate.  Drain the extra grease from the skillet.
  3. Return the skillet to the stove. Add the onions and wine/broth, letting it bubble and loosen the brown bits from the bottom of the skillet.  Add the thyme and stir until the liquid is almost evaporated.
  4. Add the butter. Once it is melted, add the half and half and mustard.  Bring it to a simmer and let it thicken a little before adding the Parmesan cheese.  Stir until the cheese is melted and the mixture coats the back of a spoon.
  5. Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and stir to coat the pasta.
  6. To serve, either mix the kielbasa into the pasta or top each serving of pasta with some sausage

 

Yield:  4-6 servings

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

2017 Agricultural Land Assessed Values Stay Flat

Economic Tidbits logo

The taxable value for agricultural land in Nebraska declined .15 percent in 2017 according to a preliminary analysis released Friday by the Nebraska Department of Revenue.  The slight decline marks the first time the assessed value of agricultural land statewide has shrunk from one year to the next since at least the early 1990s, and perhaps as far back as the late 1980s.  Taxable value for all real property increased 3.34 percent over last year, with residential and recreational property value growing 6.5 percent, and commercial and industrial property growing 5.82 percent. The figures come from reports filed by county assessors with the Department of Revenue.  Notices of valuation changes will be sent to property owners on or before June 1.

The changes for agricultural land varied considerably across the state (see map below).  In Sarpy County, the value of agricultural land fell 9.38 percent, while in Hooker County it increased 19.28 percent, a difference of almost 30 percentage points.  Other counties seeing significant declines were Nuckolls and Douglas Counties with drops in value of greater than 8 percent.  Other counties with large increases included McPherson at 18.68 percent and Thomas at 10.76 percent.  In all, 43 counties saw decreases in agricultural land values (counties in red and orange on map), and 50 counties reported either no change or increases in total values.

Ag Land Valuations 2017

The variations across counties reflect the differences in the timing of price movements in the cattle and crop markets.  The run-up in cattle prices, and subsequently prices for grassland, started and peaked later than the run-up in corn and soybean prices and prices for crop ground.  Because assessed values are set using prices from 3 years’ prior land sales, counties made up primarily of grassland are still seeing the higher land prices reflected in the setting of assessed values.  What do the value changes mean for property tax levied?  The answer will be dependent on local government spending and budgeting decisions later this year.  Local governments must approve final budgets by September 20 and tax levies will be set before October 15.  Suffice it to say, that in some counties, the values changes might result in a slight shift in taxes levied from agricultural land to other property sectors.  For other counties, the trend of agricultural land carrying a greater share of the local tax burden will continue.

 

Jay 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.

Top 10 Agriculture Earth Day Facts

Today we celebrate Earth Day across the nation, but Earth Day is every day for farmers and ranchers and anyone involved in agriculture. That’s what we are sharing the top 10 agriculture Earth Day facts.

Earth DayArtboard 2

Earth Day Fact 1: Nebraska farmers and ranchers are the original environmental stewards who take great pride in caring for our state’s land, air and water. Nebraska farmers are growing more food with less – less fertilizer, less chemicals, less water, less land and less of an impact on the environment.

Earth Day Fact 2:  Protecting the environment is something farmers and ranchers always have on their mind. They protect the environment because they want to pass it onto future generations and because it is the right thing to do.

Earth Day Fact 3: America’s farm and ranch families are dedicated to caring for our planet. They are ethical caretakers of the land and water resources that help make our nation’s bounty possible.

Earth Day Fact 4: In addition to their ethical dedication to protecting the land, it is in the economic interest of farmers and ranchers to care for natural resources. America’s farmers and ranchers take their commitment to land stewardship very seriously.

Earth Day Fact 5: Through modern conservation and tillage practices, farmers and ranchers are reducing the loss of soil through erosion, which protects lakes and rivers.

Earth Day Fact 6: Today, it is possible for farmers and ranchers to produce more food, fiber and fuel than ever before on fewer acres with fewer inputs.

Earth Day Fact 7: Such modern production tools as global positioning satellites, biotechnology, conservation tillage and integrated pest management enhance farm and ranch productivity while reducing the environmental footprint.

Earth Day Fact 8: Farmers and ranchers are proven and committed environmental stewards, but they are justifiably concerned about the regulatory overreach of the Environmental Protection Agency. At the very time agriculture’s environmental footprint is shrinking, EPA has ramped up its regulatory force.

Earth Day Fact 9: More regulations in the face of clear progress could lead to unintended and negative consequences for the environment.

Earth Day Fact 10: Since the 1970s, hog farmers have achieved a 35 percent decrease in the carbon footprint, a 41 percent reduction in water usage and a 78 percent decrease in land needed to produce a pound of pork, according to a study published in the Journal of Animal Science/Journal of Dairy Science. Those reductions have come largely through production efficiencies, including improvements in swine genetics, housing – moving pigs indoors – manure management and feed rations.