Jan 2015

Life Outside the City Limits

Soup Can Warm A Cold Winter Day
By Lisa Franzen-Castle, Nebraska Extension Nutrition Specialist

Image of pasta soupWhat's better on a cold winter day than a warm bowl of soup?  Soup can be nutritious, easy to prepare, and inexpensive. It can be great hot or cold, prepared with minimal clean-up, only needs one pot, and the combination of ingredients is unlimited. Soup is a great dish for a variety of palettes and can be tailored to be spicy, savory, or sweet. January is National Soup Month, a good time to think about how soup can fit into a healthy eating plan. Follow these helpful tips for making soup delicious and nutritious.

Tips for Delicious and Nutritious Soup:
  • Soup for every season. As an appetizer, side dish, or the main dish, soups help celebrate the bounty of the four seasons. Soups can be thick and hearty, smooth and creamy, or savory. They can be served hot, such as minestrone, or cold, such as mango and cucumber soup.
  • Be sodium savvy. To keep soups tasty and healthy, use low-sodium broth, stock, or soup base for the foundation. Experiment with flavorful herbs and spices in place of salt. The most effective replacements are savory flavors, and flavors with "bite," such as black pepper, garlic powder, curry powder, cumin, dill seeds, basil, ginger, coriander and onion. Use minced or powdered garlic and onion rather than their salt form. When substituting minced or powdered garlic and onion for the salt version, use about half as much.
  • Make healthier choices with Nutrition Facts Labels. When buying canned soups, use the Nutrition Facts Label to help choose products with a lower percent Daily Value (DV) for sodium. Foods with less than 140 milligrams (mg) sodium per serving can be labeled as low-sodium foods. Claims such as "low in sodium" or "very low in sodium" on the front of the food label can help identify foods that contain less salt.
  • Choose healthier substitutions. Soup can be a healthy, inexpensive meal. Keep soups lower in fat and calories by using ingredients like cheese, sour cream, or bacon sparingly as a topping or garnish. Or choose healthier substitutes like reduced-fat shredded cheese, low-fat sour cream, non-fat plain yogurt, or turkey bacon. Substitute a whole-grain product for a refined product in soups and stews - such as using whole-wheat noodles, barley, or brown rice.
  • Cook once, eat twice. Homemade soups can be made ahead of time and in large quantities. Eat refrigerated soup within three to four days or freeze it. Don't let soup sit at room temperature for more than two hours. To speed cooling, store soups in shallow containers. When serving a second time, bring to a boil.
  • Check out these soup resources. Check out food safety tips for serving soup safely and a variety of simple recipes for soups and stews at http://food.unl.edu/fnh/january#soup.
During National Soup Month and beyond, experiment with different recipes and ingredient substitutions for healthier soups. Find ways to vary your veggies with warm soups in the colder months, and focus on fruits with chilled soups in the warmer months. For more food, nutrition, and health information go to food.unl.edu.
Souptastic Recipe Ideas!

Mango Cucumber Soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 ripe mangoes, divided
  • 1 cucumber, divided
  • 2 tbsp chopped onion
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, finely diced (optional)
  • juice from one fresh lime
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 6-oz containers plain
  • non-fat Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup fresh chopped cilantro

Directions:

  • Cut all but one half of mango into chunks, removing peel and pit; chill remaining mango half for use with garnish.
  • Slice off ¼ of the cucumber and chill for use with garnish. Coarsely chop remaining ¾ of the cucumber.
  • Place chopped mango, cucumber, onion, and pepper (optional) in blender or food processor with lime juice and water. Purée until smooth.
  • Blend in yogurt. Chill until ready to serve.
  • About 15-30 minutes before serving, prepare garnish. Dice chilled mango half, removing peel and pit; dice remaining cucumber. Mix mango and cucumber dices with cilantro. To serve, top bowls of soup with garnish.

Fresh Pumpkin Soup

Ingredients

  • 8 cups chopped fresh pumpkin
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 3 small tart apples, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger root
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • one-half teaspoon salt

Directions: In a 5-quart slow cooker, combine all ingredients and cook for 8 hours. Can be served chunky, or cooled slightly, blended and reheated.

Additional Resources & Links
Cook it Quick. Recipes for seven simple soups and stews. 
Healthy Cooking with Fresh Herbs. 
USDA Recipe Finder - Soup. Find standardized recipes, quantity recipes, USDA recipes, recipes from industry and more.
• National Food Service Management Institute - Univ. of Mississippi. Culinary techniques for healthy school meals - preparing soups. 
UNL Extension Calendar - National Food Days, Weeks, and Months for January. 

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Videos

Nebraska Master Gardeners - Have you ever considered become a Master Gardener? Training for most sites throughout the state begins in January and February.  Learn more about training requirements and how Master Gardeners volunteer in their communities. 

Keeping Chickens in Winter - The winter months can bring a few challenges for backyard chickens, but a little planning can help overcome these and keep your chickens healthy and safe. Andy Larson, Iowa State University, talks about raising backyard chickens, including what you need, what you need to do, and all about getting started.

Creating Lightweight Hypertufa Containers - Urban Trail Gardens owner Ron Harvey talks about a simple method to make your own lightweight containers. Produced by Backyard Farmer, Nebraska's premier gardening program. Visit us at byf.unl.edu 

Pantry Pests - Year Round Invaders
By Nicole Stoner, Nebraska Extension Entomology Educator

Collage of common pantry pests.

With winter upon us, there aren't too many insect or plant issues to worry about.  However, there are certain insects that can be a problem in your home any time of the year.  One group of insects that can be year-round invaders would be the pantry pests.

Pantry pests, are just as they are described, insect pests that get into our pantry foods.  There are many different insects that can get into our pantry items, including flour beetles, dermestid beetles, Indian meal moths, cigarette and drugstore beetles, and others.  These pests do not cause humans any harm, other than the gross factor and stress from having them in our foods.  The pantry pests that we see are very small and they are found in our cupboards or in the food itself. 

Identification
Flour beetles are tiny, reddish-brown beetles with club-like antennae.  Dermestid beetles are those tiny beetles that are black with yellow and white spots.  The immature dermestid beetles are often found, they look like a tiny cigar covered with small spines.  Indian meal moths are the typical small moth you may find in your kitchen.  Cigarette and drugstore beetles are tiny beetles, reddish brown, and their head is hidden from above by their prothorax, which is the front portion of the thorax on an insect.

Pantry pests typically feed on things like pasta, flour, rice, cereal, and other grains in our pantries.  They can also be found feeding on dog, cat, and bird food.  They can chew their way into sealed plastic, zip-top bags and boxes.  They can be brought home with your food as they tend to get into food at warehouses. 

Management
Management for pantry pests is very easy.  Clean up your cabinets and store your food properly.  You need to be sure that your foods are stored in a glass or hard plastic container with a tight seal on the lid.  Because these pests can chew through plastic baggies and cardboard boxes, you may need to remove the products from the container they are sold in and store them in a canister.  You can also store many of these grain products in the freezer causing no harm to the product itself.  Also, be sure to get a food storage container that has a good seal for any pet foods you may have around your home.  This will help with pantry pests and other possible household invaders.

Pantry pests are not choosy with the types of homes they invade.  They come into clean and dirty homes alike.  Even if you haven't found pantry pests in your home, it is still a good practice to store your grain products in canisters or the freezer to avoid insect problems in your home.   

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Consider Making A New Year's Resolution To Drink More Water
By Carrie Miller and Sharon Skipton, Nebraska Extension Educators

Many New Year's resolutions are related to improving health. One resolution might be to drink more water. Information from the UNL Extension NebGuide "Water: The Nutrient" provides great, science-based information explaining why drinking water is so important.

Everyone needs to consume an adequate amount of water to stay healthy. That amount can vary depending on where they live, physical activity level, age, gender, state of health, height, and weight. If water is something you rarely think about, you are not alone. Many people don't realize the important role water plays in major body functions.

Water serves as the body's transportation system. It is the medium by which other nutrients are distributed throughout the body. Without water transporting these, essential body functions would not work properly. Water also works as the transport for body waste removal.

Water is a lubricant. The presence of water in and around body tissues helps protect the body against shock. The brain, eyes, and spinal cord are among the sensitive structures that
depend on a protective water layer. As a lubricant, water is helpful for the movement of bone joints.

Water is present in the mucous and salivary juices of our digestive system. This is especially important for moving food through the digestive tract. Water is needed to breakdown and absorb carbohydrates, protein and fat.

The human body is made up of approximately 70 percent water. Our body temperature needs to stay within a very narrow temperature range. Water plays an important role in regulating our body temperature. Evaporation of water from body surfaces helps cool the body. Sweat loss that is barely noticeable occurs frequently. Individuals may lose up to a pint of water each day in this manner. In hot, humid weather or during exercise, increased sweating and losses of water are more visible.

The amount of water a person needs per day varies based on where they live, physical activity level, age, gender, state of health, height, and weight. Under typical circumstances, adults need to replenish up to six or eight cups of water each day. You don't only need to rely solely on what you drink to meet your fluid needs. What you eat also provides fluids.

In summary, drinking adequate amounts of water is an important step toward a healthy life.

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Ethanol and Water Contamination - Comparing Water Removal Additives
By John Hay, Nebraska Extension Educator - Energy; Igor Maxiamiano Sousa and Ivan Freitas Makino, UNL Biological Systems Engineering Undergraduate Interns
Table 1. Water held in gasoline ethanol blends
Fuel Water Held in Solution
E - 0 Zero teaspoons per gallon
E - 10 3.06 teaspoons per gallon
E - 15 6.47 teaspoons per gallon
   
Table 2. Fuel additives claiming to remove water
Additive Water Held in Solution
STP No increase in water holding.
BG - Ethanol Fuel System Drier Increased water holding by 0.23 tsp per gallon.
Iso-HEET Increased water holding by 0.23 tsp per gallon.
Stabil - Ethanol Treatment No increase in water holding.
Rislene No increase in water holding.
HEET Partial Effect: Solution was more clear but the
phase-separated layer remained. Water additions were tested in 0.01% increments.
Seafoam No increase in water holding.
Valvoline - Nitro Shot No increase in water holding.

Ethanol will mix with water, which means gasoline-ethanol blends can hold water. This is of particular concern for small engines and engines that are used intermittently because they can become contaminated from condensation or rainfall during storage. Water in fuel can cause multiple problems, including:

  • Water can cause an engine not to start.  In tests by Gregory Davis at Kettering University small engines failed to start when water was introduced at levels greater than 20 teaspoons per gallon. In the study high levels of water contamination were equally bad for pure gasoline and ethanol blends.
  • Water contamination during storage can lead to the formation of acid compounds that can damage fuel system components.

A number of off-the-shelf fuel additives purport to help hold water in solution, so we wanted to look at this more closely to answer two questions:

  1. How much water can E10 and E15 gasoline ethanol blends hold in solution?
  2. Can off-the-shelf fuel additives increase the amount of water held in solution?
Conclusions
  • Unlike pure gasoline, ethanol blends can hold small amounts of water in solution which is then run through the engine harmlessly. In pure gasoline small amounts of water can build up in the tank.
  • Only two of  fuel additives tested increased the amount of water held in solution.  All claimed on their label to "remove water," "solve phase separation," "dry the fuel," etc.
Recommendations
  • Use fresh fuel, preferably within 30 days of purchase.
  • Store lawn mower and other small engines empty in a dry place. (If the fuel tank is not empty, store it completely full to minimize air space.) Fuel additives for fuel stabilization are recommended by many manufacturers. This study did not test these other additive properties.
  • A large amount of water contamination in a fuel tank is likely equally bad for E-0 or an ethanol blend. Avoid water contamination by covering small engines or storing them in a shed or garage.
Resource
For more information download the complete study.

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Winter Mower and Tool Care
By John Fech, Nebraska Extension Horticulture Educator
Image of spark plug removal.
Remove your mower's spark plug before completing other maintenance tasks.

Treat your lawn mower and other power tools right this winter, and they will perform well for you next spring. 

Follow these steps before storing your mowing this winter. 

  • Run the gas out of the tank
  • Remove the spark plug and squirt a tablespoon of oil into the cylinder head 
  • Give the engine a turn or two to coat the cylinder walls with oil, then replace the plug
  • Disconnect the spark plug wire, then oil all moving parts, clean off dirt, accumulated plant debris and rust
  • Touch up with rust resistant paint
  • Sharpen blades
  • Order new parts to replace worn ones
  • Change the oil
Image of mower blade sharpening.
Sharpen mower blade before storing for winter.

Store tools in a dry place until spring.  As well, rubber and plastic hoses are apt to crack and break if left outside in freezing weather.  Make sure that hoses are completely drained, then bring them indoors and allow them to warm in room temperature before coiling for winter storage.

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Build Your Own Rain Barrel to Harvest the Rain
By Kelly Feehan, Nebraska Extension Horticulture Educator

While rain barrels are limited in how much rainwater they can collect, due to their average size of 50 to 55 gallons, they are a good start to rainwater harvesting. Rainwater harvesting helps make the most of rain when we receive it; and helps slow down stormwater so more soaks into soil and less runs off to cause soil erosion and runoff pollution. A good winter project could be to build your own rain barrel or two. A new Stormwater Management EC entitled Stormwater Management: How to Make a Rain Barrel, EC2001 gives step-by-step instructions with photos on how to make a rain barrel, including a parts and tool list, and guide to assembly and set up. 

Another NebGuide - Stormwater Management: Rainwater Harvesting with Rain Barrels, G2220  provides information on the use of rain barrels for collecting and temporarily storing rainwater from rooftops; non-potable uses of collected rainwater; and rain barrel components, installation, and maintenance. 

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Staying Safe During a Power Outage
By Ashley Mueller, Nebraska Extension Disaster Education Educator
Image of unsafe heat sources.
Infographic courtesy of America's PreparAthon!

A power outage can occur any time of the year. Strong winds and heavy precipitation can lead to loss of power, leaving you in the dark for hours or days. It is important that you and your family remain safe and comfortable during a power outage.

During the winter months, a power outage can result in dangerously cold temperatures indoors. If you experience a loss of power this winter, be sure to layer clothing and blankets to stay warm. Keep your hands and head covered. To prevent a fire, use flashlights or other battery-operated devices to provide light rather than candles.

Beware of Toxic Fumes
Although using portable generators to provide electricity can be beneficial, there are also risks associated with them. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions. Never use a generator indoors. Use it outdoors in a well-ventilated area away from vents, windows, and doors. Generators produce carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless gas, which is poisonous and can be deadly.

Charcoal or gas grills, natural gas heaters, and gas ovens can also produce toxic fumes. CO poisoning symptoms include dizziness, headaches, and sleepiness. If you or any family members experience these symptoms and feel weak, seek fresh air immediately.

Food Safety
When the power is out for a prolonged period, food safety becomes an important issue. Refrigerators can keep food cool for 4-6 hours without power, and a full freezer can keep food frozen for up to 2 days. Do not unnecessarily open the refrigerator or freezer. Food should never be stored in the snow as a preventative measure. Doing so may attract hungry animals, and the sun may warm the food. Once the power is restored, check the refrigerator and freezer temperatures. Use a food thermometer to check each food item. If items were at temperatures above 40 degrees for longer than two hours, discard them. Never taste a food to determine its safety.

Be Prepared
It's never too late to prepare for a power outage. Schedule to have your fireplace or wood stove and its chimney inspected and cleaned. Replace the batteries in your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide alarm on an annual basis. If you don't have these alarms, purchase them and follow the manufacturer's recommendations for placement in your home. Test your alarms monthly. Learn how to shut off your water valves so you are ready if a pipe bursts.

Although power outages from natural disasters can't be prevented, you can take action today to prepare yourself and your family.

Sources and to learn more about power outages:

Infographic courtesy of America's PreparAthon!

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New App to Body Condition Score Your Horses
By Kathy Anderson, Nebraska Extension Horse Specialist

Image of Horse App logoWhat to keep track of how fat or thin your horse might be? Are you running a horse training business, or boarding horses and want to be sure they are in a good body condition? Are you working with a 4-H Horse Project club and need to teach the members quality horse care? Check out the new HorseBCS  mobile application created by eXtension-Horses, the University of Nebraska and Purdue University that gives horse enthusiasts a fun and easy way monitor and record their horse's body condition score. At this site, you can also download a desktop version, plus watch a video on using the app!

Body Condition Scoring Apps for Horses, eXtension

The app, allows you to take a photo of the horse, record its body condition for each of the major areas, and then save the photo, stamped with the horse's name, date and location. If you aren't familiar with body condition scoring, there are videos and photos to teach you how to condition score your horse. 

A Guide to Body Condition Scoring, eXtension

The tool is great for any horse owner, but especially for those who want to be able to track the condition of their horses. Commercial stables can use this to document the condition of horses in their care, volunteers working with 4-H youth can use it to help their members learn to evaluate their own horses, and people in law enforcement who may be called out on horse neglect cases can use it to accurately and consistently record the condition of horses they see.

The app is a must-own for any horse owner, and is available for $1.99 at the IOS/Apple store/iTunes and Android/Google Play, just search HorseBCS.

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Lifelong Gardening
By Karma Larsen, Nebraska Statewide Arboretum

"Sometimes it is the artist's task to find out how much music you can still make with what you have left." Itzhak Perlman, after continuing a performance with a broken violin string. 

Image of two lifelong gardeners. Gardens aren't the only thing that changes over time. Their caretakers change and age, too. But gardeners like Rodger Post, a resident at the Waverly Care Center, can testify that where there's a will to keep on gardening, there's a way. Post digs up weeds and does other outdoor chores at the Care Center from his wheelchair. 

For gardeners who enjoy being outdoors and know they want to continue as long as possible, it's worthwhile to give some thought to how their landscapes can be better designed or adapted to accommodate aging knees and backs and limited energy or mobility. 

Gardening is one of the more restorative hobbies available. It offers tangible rewards-beautifies the surroundings, offers flowers and edible fruits and vegetables to bring indoors, is accessible right outside the door so it doesn't require driving or other preparation. And intangibles-time outdoors, fuel for thought and imagination and connections to others with similar interests. 

What are some of the things that can be done to ensure life-long enjoyment of our gardens? Here's a few ideas: 

Changes to the Garden

  • Place main gardens in areas with easy access. Avoid steep slopes and surfaces that get slick when it rains or that have loose or uneven footing. 
  • Create raised beds to avoid the need for bending and stooping.
  • Use containers on castors to make them movable at ground level and hanging baskets where structures are available, possibly with a pulley system for raising and lowering.
  • Use walls and trellises as vertical planting spaces that are more easily accessible from comfortable standing or seated positions.
  • Provide shaded areas for a more sheltered and comfortable environment (some medications cause sensitivity to sunlight).
  • Have faucets, hoses or other watering equipment readily accessible and preferably high enough to manipulate without kneeling.
  • Have lots of seating and tables available for comfortable areas for work and rest.
  • Replace annuals with perennials and grasses for garden interest with less effort each year.
  • Substitute lower-maintenance shrubs for more demanding perennial beds.
  • Choose the best time to do certain tasks; work outdoors in early morning when possible and postpone weeding and digging until soil is softened by rains or watering.
  • Borrow and enjoy views from adjacent landscapes by trimming trees or otherwise blurring the boundaries.

Changes in Habits, Tools & Expectations

  • Rotate garden tasks every half hour or so to avoid repetitive motions.
  • Bend at the knees and hips rather than from the back.
  • Keep elbows partially bent and avoid twisting arms back and forth.
  • Use lightweight, adaptive tools and equipment with ergonomic handles and designs.
  • Attach handle extenders or use foam, tape and plastic tubing to modify existing tools; attach oversized pull grip handles on lawn mowers, trimmers and blowers.
  • Use a reacher/grabber to reduce the need for stretching, reaching and bending to pick up weeds and leaves, put away tools, etc.  They're especially helpful for people with back problems or arthritis.
  • Lower standards of perfectionism and consider what really needs to be done for the health of the garden vs. expectation of picture-perfection
  • Consider hiring help a few times a week. Check with local cooperative extension offices, colleges or other community organizations for horticultural students or others interested in part-time work. Younger gardeners may even be interested in trading work for plant divisions.

Recommended reading:

  • Sydney Eddison's Gardening for a Lifetime
  • Ruth Stout's out-of-print How to Have a Green Thumb without an Aching Back.

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.

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Big Trees
By Ryan Armbrust, Nebraska Forest Service
Image of shagbark hickory.
Image of Shagbark hickory. Photo by Joey Weber, Indiana State University.

In Lincoln's Antelope Park, near where the Rock Island Trail crosses Garfield Street, there stands a huge white oak. This impressive tree, more than 80' in both height and spread, is the largest Quercus alba in Nebraska. Its massive trunk measures 11.5' in circumference; more than 3.5' thick. We don't know precisely when this tree sprouted from an acorn, but it's safe to say that it was a decent size when Antelope Park was built in the 1940s.

There are dozens of notable trees like this across Nebraska, and many can be found right here in Lincoln. You just have to know where to look.

In 1983, UNL forester Rich Lodes put together a pamphlet called "The Nut Trees of Lincoln, Nebraska." In his words, it was, "an attempt to make the public aware of the nut trees which can grow in Lincoln." Black walnut is the only nut tree native to this area, but homeowners planted many other species ranging from chestnuts to pecans. Nebraska's harsh climate caused many of these trees to perish, but enough survived to encourage a developing nut industry in southeast Nebraska. Interestingly, many of the trees that the late Lodes identified in 1983 still survive in yards throughout Lincoln today! One of the largest is a bitternut hickory growing in the side yard of 2544 O Street, the former location of "Shramek Video." This Carya cordiformis was very large 30 years ago, and is still growing.

Maxwell Arboretum, on UNL's East Campus, is one of the best places in Lincoln to walk amongst huge trees. The largest-and likely oldest-baldcypress in the state grows there. Arguably the signature tree of the Arboretum, this huge specimen was planted in the early 1940s by state forester and Arboretum namesake Earl Maxwell. Taxodium distichum is a quintessential southern tree, recognizable as the tree of Louisiana's forested swamps and bayous. It's a long way from home here on the Great Plains - but Earl Maxwell's unconventional planting has, over many decades of growth, proved baldcypress worthy of inclusion in Nebraska landscapes.

One of the largest trees of any kind in Nebraska is the huge silver maple in Chautauqua Park in Beatrice. As tall as a ten-story building and spreading nearly 120', this tree is very nearly the largest Acer saccharinum in the country! A huge tree in Kentucky just edges out the Beatrice native for the national title-but with a trunk more than 22' in circumference, the Chautauqua Park tree is still easily the largest of its kind in Nebraska. It's well worth a visit, if only to pose for a photo and be dwarfed by one of the biggest tree trunks in the state.

A list of the champion trees of Nebraska can be accessed at nfs.unl.edu/champions. In addition, the non-profit group American Forests maintains a register of the largest trees in the country, which can be found at americanforests.org.

The Nut Trees of Lincoln, Nebraska - The booklet (pdf) and map (google map) are linked under the Community Forestry section of our publications page: http://nfs.unl.edu/publications.asp#communityforestry.

The Nebraska Forest Service strives to enrich lives by protecting, restoring and utilizing Nebraska's tree and forest resources.

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Time to Order Tree Seedlings for Spring Planting
By Sarah Browning, Nebraska Extension Horticulture Educator

Diseases, insects, drought and age have taken a toll on many windbreaks throughout Nebraska, resulting in the need for renovation or tree replacement. Late fall is a good time to assess your windbreak and order trees for spring planting. Most windbreaks, even those with a few gaps, can be renovated to maintain or enhance their effectiveness.

Windbreak Renovation
Windbreaks can have many purposes, such as enhancing habitat for wildlife, providing snow and wind protection, preventing soil erosion, reducing water runoff, or providing additional income. When renovating a windbreak, make sure the re-designed tree stand meets your goals.

Several publications are available from the University of Nebraska - Lincoln Extension and the Nebraska Forest Service providing guidance to renovate and re-design your windbreak, getting it back into a healthy condition and provide benefits for years to come. They are available at http://www.ianrpubs.unl.edu. Find the publications by typing 'windbreak' or the publication number into the search box.


Three additional publications are available on the Nebraska Forest Service website.
Care of Newly Planted Trees, G1195
Trees for Eastern Nebraska
Windbreak Design, G1304

Purchasing Trees
Deciding on plant species and purchasing plants is the next critical step in the establishment of a windbreak. This is your best opportunity to avoid plant species susceptible to insect or disease problems. Key points to keep in mind when purchasing tree seedlings include:

  • Purchase your stock from a reliable source. Bare-root windbreak tree seedlings are available through your local Natural Resource District office. November is the time Nebraska's NRD offices begin taking orders for windbreak seedlings to be delivered next spring. Over-the-counter tree sales are typically taken until March 1, 2015 or as long as supplies last.  Locate your local NRD office and look for the Conservation Tree Program. 
  • Bare-root tree and shrub seedlings can also be purchased from some nurseries. Your seedlings should come from nurseries using locally collected seed or seed from Northern origins. This ensures plants are well adapted to local growing conditions.
  • Choose plant material that is suitable for your soils and can survive the environmental extremes of your site.
  • Select insect and/or disease resistant plants whenever possible.
  • Don't be too quick to buy the cheapest seedlings; they may not be the best value in the long run.


When ordering trees from your local NRD office, a minimum order of 25 seedlings is required; plant species are sold in bundles of 25 each. If 25 of one species is more than you need, then talk with your neighbors.  Maybe you can place a joint order and split the bundles.  Plants cost approximately $0.90 cents each, plus tax and handling. You must pick up your tree seedlings when they arrive at the NRD office in spring.

Plant species commonly available through the NRD offices include the following.

  • Evergreen trees- Eastern White and Ponderosa pine; Eastern red cedar; Colorado Blue, Norway and Black Hills spruce, and Concolor fir.
  • Deciduous trees- Bur, Northern Red, Chinkapin and Swamp White oak; Black Cherry; Black Walnut; Bitternut hickory and Sugar maple.
  • Shrubs- American plum; Hazelnut; Redosier dogwood; Chokecherry; Black chokeberry, Serviceberry; Elderberry; Common lilac; Amur maple; Skunkbush sumac.

Usually, windbreak seedlings are two years old and be 12-24 inches tall, with full, healthy root systems.  Bare-root seedlings must be handled carefully to ensure good survivability and performance.

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