Life Outside the City Limits
- Phragmites - Control Now for Best Results
- Tattered, Discolored Tree Leaves - Ignore Them!
- Pickin' Up Pawpaws
- Plants Under Plants - Working With Shade
- The Sharing Garden
- Fall Lawn & Landscape Chores
- Advantages & Disadvantages of Using Hard Water in Your Home
- September is National Preparedness Month
- Cost Saving Horse Care Ideas
- Southeast Nebraska Diversified Ag Tour, September 11
- Solar Design and Installation Hands-On Workshop, Starts September 28
Groundwater Protection - Groundwater is a vital drinking water source for public water systems and private household water well owners. The National Ground Water Association encourages you to recognize "Protect Your Groundwater Day" on September 8. For more information on how you can protect your groundwater, take a look at the presentation below.
Phragmites – Control NOW for Best Results
By Brent Meyer, Lancaster County Weed Control Superintendent
Now is the best time to control Phragmites, Phragmites australis. As the days get cooler and the nights longer we begin to think the weed season is behind us. Not so in the case of some of our more invasive plants. Phragmites is just beginning to flower (head out) around the area making it the perfect time to apply herbicides for control. The plant is at the stage where it will be taking down carbohydrates into its rhizome's to survive the winter, thus it will take along the herbicide into the rhizome's and get you will get the most effective control possible.
What to look for?
Phragmites is a deep rooted perennial grass that will grow 6 – 15 feet tall and likes to grow in wetlands, around lagoons, near streams, creeks or in any area that may be wet for a period of time. Wetland areas typically occupied by cattails are great places to look for phragmites. The seed heads are typically dark in color when they first appear and then turn lighter as the plant matures and sets seed. This is one of the most aggressive noxious weeds in Nebraska and early detection and control are very important. If you think you have a pretty growing grass around a wetland and you're not sure what it is, contact our office for help in identification. If left, it will only get worse and more expensive to control.
When and How to Control?
The best time to get control is when the patch is new and there are just a few scattered plants. Once it gets established it will form a dense circular patch that is very easy to spot, but control will become much more difficult and expensive. Research and field data results show that herbicide control with Imazapyr (Arsenal or Habitat) or Glyphosate (Rodeo) have proven to be the most effective.
Three Ways to Spread
Phragmites will spread by seeds blown by the wind or moved by water. By underground rhizomes that if broken or cut and moved will start a new plant and also by stolons that run across the top of the ground and root down and send up new plants every few inches. Stolons can grow as much as 30 feet in one year.
Why Should I Be Concerned?
Phragmites left untreated will create a monoculture and crowd out all other vegetation. It will eliminate natural refuge and feeding grounds for invertebrates, fish, waterfowl and limit recreation values for birdwatchers, walkers, naturalists, boaters and hunters. The tender-dry vegetation left in the fall creates the potential for fast-spreading fire that can threaten surrounding areas including homes and buildings.
Controlled burn of phragmites Phragmites left uncontrolled will grow so dense that it will eventually choke off rivers and streams and create flooding in low lying areas.
What Should I Do If I Find Phragmites & How Can I Learn More?
Contact the Lancaster Weed Control office at 402-441-7817 and we will help develop a control plan for your situation. Or visit ua on the web, and click on the Landowners Guide for Controlling Phragmites.
Tattered, Discolored Trees Leaves - Ignore Them!
By Kelly Feehan, Nebraska Extension Horticulture Educator
During late summer and autumn, Extension offices often receive calls about- or have samples brought in- of deciduous tree and shrub leaves that appear chewed or discolored.
Along with asking what is causing the damage, we are often asked if a pesticide application is needed. The answer is usually no to applying pesticides this late in the season, after early August, for minor pests and many major pests.
When I visit with clientele, I remind them that if we stood outside all summer we would look a little chewed up, tattered and discolored too.
Use Pesticides Responsibly
Pesticides such as insect killers (insecticides), disease preventers (fungicides) or weed killers (herbicides) are chemicals that need to be used responsibly. Insecticides kill many non-target insects like pollinators and other beneficial insects. Herbicides can drift and damage ornamental or edible plants.
By over applying or using pesticides when they are not justified, or at a time when they are not effective, pests can develop resistance to the chemical. And it is harmful pests that seem to build resistance more so than beneficial insects.
One factor leading to a decline in honeybees is the unresponsible use of pesticides. Insecticides can kill or weaken honeybees and increase their susceptibility to predators, diseases and environmental stresses.
Pesticides are an important tool in pest management. But they should only be applied after the following steps are taken. The cause of the damage is positively identified as a pest rather mechanical or environmental injury. The identified pest can cause economic damage or damage that leads to plant death, not minor injury that only detracts from a plants appearance.
If it is determined the pest is one where control is justified, first consider all control options. If pesticides are a good option, determine when during the season or during a pests life cycle a pesticide is best applied to be effective. By the time plant damage is noticed, it is often too late for a pesticide application.
But Why Are Tattered Tree Leaves Not A Problem?
And now back to tree and shrub leaves appearing chewed, tattered or discolored at this time of year. Keep in mind plant leaves have done their job for the summer and will soon die and drop from plants. There is little need to apply a pesticide now to reduce damage to leaves that will soon be dead. This is not a responsible use of a pesticide.
It is sometimes believed that if a pest is killed now then the problem will not reoccur next season, but this is rarely true. Pesticides applied now may reduce a few overwintering pests, but are very unlikely to prevent or control damage next season.
Fall sanitation, such as cleaning up and destroying fallen leaves and fruit, is much more helpful in reducing overwintering pests at this point in the season.
Also, while leaves may be tattered or chewed, as long as the leaf remains mostly green then photosynthesis is still occurring. A few holes or tears in leaves now or even earlier in the season will not interfere with production of carbohydrates and sugars (plant food).
"Pickin' Up Pawpaws"
By Karma Larsen, Nebraska Forest Service
You may know the song better than the tree or the fruit—"Pickin' up pawpaws, puttin' 'em in your pocket..." But pawpaw trees are actually native to Nebraska. It's a small tree, about 20 feet in height, that grows in the open woods and ravines of the Missouri River bluffs in southeastern Nebraska.
Their short, stubby, banana-like fruits ripen in September or early October. Like bananas, they have a narrow window for harvesting since they ripen quickly. The fruits will fall naturally when they're ripe but can be handpicked when they're not entirely mature. If picked too early, though, they may not finish ripening. The signs of ripeness aren't easily visible since coloration varies depending on the season and weather. A slight softening of the fruit, similar to peaches, may be a more reliable test of ripeness.
Pawpaws have a rich flavor that is a mix of banana, vanilla custard, pineapple and mango, and they're very nutritious—high in potassium, iron and calcium. The fruit can be used in cookies and breads where its creamy, custard-like flesh complements spices and other ingredients. They can also be eaten raw, but in small amounts as they can cause digestive problems.
As a tree, pawpaw or Asimina triloba has tropical-looking foliage that is conspicuous for its large size (leaves can be up to a foot long) that tends to turn a brilliant yellow in fall. They prefer moist, well-drained soils but are tolerant of clay and drought. They will tolerate dense shade but, for fruit production, are best grown in full sun. In the wild pawpaws can often be found in the shady understory of oak-hickory forests and they usually grow in colonies, spreading to form an attractive grove.
It's an attractive landscape tree for even small spaces since they are narrower than they are high, and their tendency to colonize can be contained by mowing or otherwise removing young seedlings. They're one of the last trees to leaf out in spring and early on the young leaves may appear yellowish or chlorotic but they soon turn a deep green.
The Nebraska Forest Service strives to enrich lives by protecting, restoring and utilizing Nebraska's tree and forest resources.
Plants Under Plants - Working With Shade
By John Fech, Nebraska Extension Horticulture Educator
Shade is a fact of life for acreage owners. Even in brand new landscapes, shade is a factor to be dealt with, at least on the north side of a home or building. When working with shady sites, it's wise to consider the common Spanish phrase "así es", which means, "it is what it is". So embrace shade! There are so many options and good plants to work with. On many sites, it's wise to install plants under plants.
In addition to the opportunity to incorporate attractive plants, shady portions of the landscape are great respites for recreation and relaxation. These sites are usually cooler, great locations for reading a book or having a picnic with friends without squinting in the sun.
Site Assessment/Site Analysis
In order to be successful with shady landscapes and lawns, it's essential to know just how shady the site is. The best approach for dealing with shade is to conduct a site assessment and analysis. The assessment is a simple documentation of the existing conditions, paying close attention to the details of the shade. This can be trickier than it sounds, because some parts are shady all day, some are sunny all day and others receive 2 or 3 hours of sun and are shady for the rest of the day.
Begin by measuring the number of hours of direct sun that is received in various portions of the site. Note the number of hours of direct sun, heavy shade, etc . For most landscapes, it's necessary to re-visit the site several times during the day to document when and where the sun is received as the day progresses.
The site analysis comes into play as a value judgement is placed on the turf and landscape areas based on this information. Consider drainage and soil type along with number of hours of shade. Shady sites tend to dry out slower than sunny ones, which should be considered when setting up the number of minutes of runtime for the irrigation system and choosing specific plant materials.
Right Plant, Right Place
Whether it's turf or non-turf, the principle of Right Plant, Right Place still applies. Though characterizations can be made into many categories, the following should suffice in most landscapes.
- Heavy Shade – 8 or more hours of shade during both morning and afternoon, without much strong sunlight penetration.
- Filtered/Dappled Shade – shade during a majority of the day with light sunlight penetration.
- Light Shade – shade during 3-5 hours, usually filtered/dappled, with sunlight during the remainder.
Nuances in the filtered or dappled shade category should be considered in terms of when the sun is received. For example, in morning sun and afternoon shade, plants such as azaleas, holly and clematis grow healthier than if they were located in morning shade and afternoon sun, even if the total number of hours of sun were the same. The intensity of the sun in morning and afternoon is what makes the difference. The season of the year is also influential. In spring, the sun is lower on the horizon than in mid-summer, creating less intense rays. In late summer, sunlight might actually increase due to the defoliation of trees infected with leaf spot diseases.
The Sharing Garden
By Kendall Weyers, Nebraska Statewide Arboretum
This is the time of year when virtually everyone encounters a generous gardener offering the surplus of their bumper crop of cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini or other prolific garden or orchard plants. The abundance is of course a blessing, but the urge to get rid of it can be a curse.
Some gardeners (I'll raise my hand) sometimes get more enjoyment growing the crop than eating it. We sometimes simply don't consider how much we'll produce or how to possibly use it all. Other gardeners plan well, yet there are years when the stars align and production far exceeds expectations. In the case of fruit trees, they continue to produce even when the owner has lost interest or moved on.
Of course there are many options for preserving the excess, including freezing, canning and drying. But to the gardener who successfully grew that beautiful State Fair-worthy veggie, it seems a shame to reduce it to unrecognizable pulp or shriveled mass to be ignored on the shelf for months. This is a favorite excuse for those of us who lack the time or enthusiasm to preserve (again, hand raised).
Yet gardeners hate to see the fruits of their labor go unappreciated and meet an inglorious end rotting in the compost pile. So instead they (we) load the surplus in salvaged grocery bags or boxes and beg friends, neighbors, co-workers and yes, sometimes even strangers to "please take some, enjoy." We're not above going door to door. Plus it's a great way to get to know neighbors and co-workers, while also presenting an opportunity to brag about gardening expertise (real or imagined).
This random, sometimes frantic distribution system does move some of the excess. Unfortunately a significant portion still goes unused, part of the estimated 100 billion pounds of food thrown away each year in the United States. After seeing all that's gone through our office already this year, my bet is that estimate is low.
The good news is better options are available. A top choice to consider is donating to organizations that accept and distribute this abundance to people who can use it. The growing interest in this effort is displayed by the success of national organizations, including AmpleHarvest, a group that helps promote a network of nearly 7,000 food pantries across the United States. Local groups accepting excess produce include the Food Bank of Lincoln and Foodnet, along with other food pantries and churches. Be sure and check for details before loading up your vehicle.
Another option is to organize a neighborhood network, working through a neighborhood association, nearby church or civic group. The produce can be exchanged within the group, or gathered and taken to a food pantry as mentioned above. A simple system can be set up to announce what's available and where. A Facebook page or email list can be a great help.
A neighborhood network like this also works well for sharing excess garden seeds and plants, divided perennials, and even tools. It's a great way to reduce waste, and maybe more importantly, connect with others and build community.
Nebraska Statewide Arboretum is a nonprofit that works toward sustainable home and community landscapes through initiatives in education, public gardens and the environment. Plant and landscape resources at http://arboretum.unl.edu.
Fall Lawn and Landscape Chores
By Nicole Stoner, Nebraska Extension Horticulture Educator
Fall will be here before we know it. Take the time to read this to help you through all of your horticulture and insect issues during the fall months.
September is a good month for overseeding, fertilizing, and aerating your lawn. If you have bare or thin spots, overseed before September 15th to make sure the seedlings are well establishment before winter, Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue are the best choices for seed in Nebraska. Remember to fertilize with the holidays - Labor Day and Halloween are coming up for our final two applications for this year.
If your lawn has a deep thatch layer, over 1/2 inch, consider aerating your lawn. Fall is a good time for aeration as well.
Fall Weed Control
Weed control is better in the fall. This year has been a great growing season for many of our lawn weeds, especially clover. Perennial weeds such as dandelions, creeping Charlie or ground ivy, and clover, are best controlled in the fall with either 2,4-D or triclopyr products. Remember to apply these chemicals on days when the temperatures are predicted to be at or below 80 degrees for 72 hours. This is the time of the year when these weeds are taking their nutrients back into their roots for next season's growth, so the herbicide moves more readily into the roots too, resulting in a better kill.
The winter annuals such as henbit are just beginning their growth in the fall so it is best to treat them now rather than in the spring when they are almost done with their growing season.
Fall Clean Up of Landscape Beds
It is finally getting close to the time of the year when we can begin cutting back our perennial plants. Once these plants die back in the fall, when their leaves turn brown, we can cut them back for the year.
Peonies and Iris are two plants that should be cut back in the fall to avoid diseases spreading from this season to next since these plants tend to get leaf spot diseases annually. When you go to remove the spent leaves, you can also divide these plants and transplant them if you need them in a different location.
Avoid pruning roses and butterfly bushes until the early spring to avoid problems with moisture getting into the hollow stems of these plants.
If you have a shrub that blooms early in the spring, such as lilac, forsythia, weigela, some spireas, and some hydrangeas, wait to cut those back until after bloom next spring to avoid removing flower buds that are already on the shrub for next year.
Prevent Insect Invaders
Watch for fall invading insects in your home in the fall. This is the time of year when many insects will begin to invade our homes. As it begins to get cooler outside, insects move into our homes to stay warm. Many of the insects we see in the fall inside our homes include boxelder bugs, Asian multicolored ladybeetles, stinkbugs, spiders, millipedes, centipedes, and ants. These insects are mostly just a nuisance to us when they come into our homes.
The best control for these would be to seal up all cracks where they can enter our homes and to use the insect barrier sprays around the home, especially around doors and windows.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Hard Water in Your Home
By Sharon Skipton, Nebraska Extension Environment and Natural Resources Water Quality Educator
Water is a good solvent. As water moves through soil and rock, it dissolves very small amounts of minerals and holds them in solution. Dissolved calcium and magnesium make water "hard." The degree of hardness becomes greater as the concentration of dissolved calcium and magnesium increases. We have hard water in many parts of Nebraska.
Using hard water in the home has advantages and disadvantages. Let's start with the advantages. Consuming hard water does not present a health hazard. In fact, the National Research Council (National Academy of Sciences) states that consuming hard water generally contributes a small amount toward the total calcium and magnesium needed in the human diet.
In addition, much research has been done on the relationship between water hardness and cardiovascular disease mortality. While numerous studies suggest a correlation between consuming hard water and lower cardiovascular disease mortality, no firm conclusions have been drawn. The National Research Council has recommended further studies be conducted.
Now let's look at some of the disadvantages. Using hard water can be a nuisance. Bathing and washing hair in hard water can leave a film of sticky soap curd on skin and in hair. When doing laundry, soap curds in fabric can make fabric stiff and rough, and can cause graying of white fabric and loss of brightness in colored fabric. It can even shorten the life of clothes. In addition, soap curds can deposit on dishes, bathtubs, and showers making them unsightly.
But that's not all; heated hard water forms a scale of calcium and magnesium minerals that can contribute to scale buildup in the water distribution system. Pipes can become clogged with scale, reducing water flow. Scale buildup in water-using appliances can lead to inefficient operation or failure.
After considering the advantages and disadvantages of using hard water, some of you will choose to use hard water for all tasks in your home. Others will choose to use soft water throughout your home; using an ion-exchange water softener to remove the hardness minerals. Still others will prefer to use a combination of hard and soft water. This is most often done by using an ion-exchange water softener, but bypassing it with a cold water line to the kitchen sink and/or to the refrigerator water/ice dispenser. This arrangement provides hard water in the kitchen for drinking and cooking, while providing soft water for other water-using tasks.
For more information on hard water see, Drinking Water: Hard Water (Calcium and Magnesium).
For information on softening hard water see Drinking Water Treatment: Water Softening (Ion Exchange).
September is National Preparedness Month
By Ashley Mueller, Nebraska Extension Disaster Education Coordinator
Disasters and emergencies can happen anywhere. And anytime. Are you ready?
September is National Preparedness Month, and it's a good time to focus on ways you can prepare yourself, your family, and others for large-scale and smaller local events. This year's theme is "Don't wait. Communicate. Make your emergency plan today."
Participating in National Preparedness Month is easy, and anyone can do it. Weather-Ready Nation encourages people to know their risks, take action, and be an example. So what can you do?
Know Your Risk
- Stay updated on severe weather by bookmarking a weather website or by downloading a weather or radar app on your smartphone.
- Consider your exit plan at home or work and figure out what is feasible. Communicate with those that share the space so they know what to do in the event of an emergency.
- Learn about Wireless Emergency Alerts. These messages are sent to your phone during a disastrous incident.
- Test smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors and replace the batteries. This should be done on an annual basis.
- Prepare a disaster kit with food and supplies that could last three days. If you have a disaster kit, this month is a good time to check on supplies and replace flashlight batteries, check food and medicine expiration dates, and winterize the kit to include blankets, gloves, and hats. Living outside city limits, you might not have access to city resources as easily if something happens.
- This year's National Preparedness Month theme is focused on making an emergency plan, so now's the time to develop your own. These plans can be tailored to adults or children. Make sure you include your emergency contact's information, meeting place(s), and other important details.
Be an Example
- Practice your emergency plan. Put your plan into action and see if it needs to be adjusted. Just like schools prepare students for incidents with fire and tornado drills, individuals can prepare, too.
- Consider ways to get involved locally. Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COAD) and Community Emergency Response Teams meet in various locations across the state. Contact your local emergency management director for more information.
- Start a conversation about preparedness. Be sure to share what preparedness activities you're doing with family, friends, and neighbors.
If you use social media, be sure to find Nebraska Extension – Disasters for the latest information on National Preparedness Month.
Cost Saving Horse Care Ideas
By Monte Stauffer, Nebraska Extension Livestock Educator
Purchasing and caring for a horse may be challenging during tough economic times. Following are ideas to consider that may make the situation more tolerable:
1. Consider borrowing, leasing, or sharing a horse. Some horse owners are willing to share a horse that isn't being used much but are not willing to sell it. This also gives you a chance to see just how interested in having a horse your family is.
2. Attend clinics put on by more experienced horseman to learn how to ride and care for your horse rather than having a personal trainer or consultant.
3. Acquire used tack and equipment at tack swaps or auctions rather than purchasing only new equipment. Some equipment can be shared with other area horse owners.
4. Schedule health and hoof care events for horse owners in your area or club to avoid paying call fees for someone to come out just for your horse. Even consider giving your own vaccinations and dewormers.
5. Consider using electric wire or tape to confine your horses rather than pipe or wood fencing.
6. Feed only the nutrients your horses need. Over feeding can be just as detrimental to your horse's health as underfeeding. Buying grain in bulk can be cheaper than buying bagged grain. Purchase hay when it is the cheapest such as during the summer right out of the field.
7. Utilize pastures and exercise lots effectively to reduce purchased hay and bedding usage.
8. Shoe your horse only when needed. Most horses don't need to be shod but maintain proper hoof care.
The 2015 Southeast Nebraska Diversified Ag Tour will be Friday, September 11th. This is the tenth year Nebraska Extension has organized the tour to highlight diversified and sustainable agricultural operations in the area. This year's tour will include four stops.
The first will be Olive Creek Farm near Adams, NE. Olive Creek Farm is a small farm owned and operated by the Charlie and Jill Heng family with a mission to provide clean food at affordable prices.
The second will be Prairieland Dairy near Firth, NE. Prairieland Dairy is a family owned dairy that works to be sustainable, open, transparent, and that serves people, cows, and the planet. While at Prairieland Dairy, lunch will be served from Papa D's Pizzeria.
After lunch the tour will stop at Hollister Farms near Princeton, NE. Hollister Farms is a certified All Natural Produce Farm.
The final stop of the day will be Sunny Slope Farm near Filley, NE. Sunny Slope Farm is local CSA farm owned and operated by Merlin and Rita Friesen.
The tour will pick up participants in Hickman at 6:45 am in the parking lot north of the Subway, in Auburn at 8:00 am on the north side of the courthouse, and in Tecumseh at 8:30 am on the north side of the courthouse. The cost to attend is $20 per person and includes lunch and transportation. To register contact either the Nemaha County Extension Office (402-274-4755), or Johnson County Extension Office (402-335-3669) by Tuesday, September 8th.
University of Nebraska Extension in partnership with Dixon Power Systems
Don't miss this great hands-on workshop, starting September 28th. Your instructors will be John Hay, UNL Department of Biosystems Engineering, and Jon Dixon, Dixon Power Systems. This program is open to the public, especially anyone interested in hands-on experience with solar PV design and installation. You will get to experience the design and installation of a residential 6.24 kW solar PV array (estimated production 9,100 kWh per year). Or for anyone interested in learning more about residential applications for sustainable energy.
Space is limited! Register now to reserve your spot.
Days 1-3 will be a mix of classroom teaching the design aspects followed by shop and field work learning tips, tricks, and techniques of solar installation.
Days 3-5 will be at the worksite where the group will install the residential solar array. The worksite is located 1 mile north of Sprague, NE.
- Introduction to Solar PV electronics and components
- Basics of electricity, measuring, tools and safety
- Solar siting - where to locate the panels, sun angles
- Capabilities and limitations of solar PV
- Electrical codes, state and federal policy, tax credits and economics
- Building a rack
- Attaching inverters and other components
- Grounding and other wiring
- Solar modules
- Wire management and final appearance
- Working with your utility and electrical inspector to complete grid interconnection
$450 for the week
September 28 – October 2, 2015, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Pre-registration and payment required by Friday, September 18th.
Dixon Power Systems | 3250 N. 20th, Ste #1 | Lincoln, NE 68521
Work Site Location:
One Mile North of Sprague, NE
To Register Contact:
Amber Patterson | email@example.com | (402) 472-1646
or F. John Hay | firstname.lastname@example.org | (402) 472-0408