Local Interest

By Laurie Stepanek, NFS Forest Health Specialist

When freeze warnings are posted, gardeners carefully cover susceptible garden vegetables and flowers with blankets, sheets, buckets, and garbage cans. But larger shrubs and trees must fend for themselves. The freeze this past weekend left many woody plants across the panhandle with brown, drooping leaves and shoots.

“The first few weeks of May were unusually warm, which pushed a lot of new growth on our trees,” said Chrissy Land, Western Community Forester with the Nebraska Forest Service. “This new growth is very susceptible to freeze. I noticed damage on a wide range of trees: oak, ginkgo, Kentucky coffeetree, honeylocust, catalpa, redbud, and ash.”

By Jeanne Yeoman, Nebraska Extension Master Gardener

When to Plant – Temperature
It is tempting to start planting when warm weather first arrives but planting too early can be a mistake. Consider the type of plant, the last average frost date, which can be as late as May 31 and the current soil temperature. You can use an inexpensive soil thermometer or check the soil temp at cropwatch.unl.edu/soiltemperature. The soil temperature should be 60 degrees or more for warm-weather plants like tomatoes, peppers, basil and most flowering plants.

By Kristin Wiebe, Nebraska Extension Master Gardener

Wise Watering

Before rushing out to plant the garden – take time to consider water in the garden. Know which plants require moist soil and those that prefer drier conditions. Plant accordingly and know the spaces in your yard. Water early in the morning allowing leaves to dry and reduce diseases. Water the base of plants and use drip irrigation when possible. Always choose to water infrequently and deeply to promote deeper, healthy roots.

Pollinators

More than 700 elementary students from western Nebraska got a hands-on education recently about Nebraska agriculture during 2022 Agsplosion events that were held in 5 different locations in the Panhandle.

The young learners spent the day rotating through eight stations about a variety of agriculture commodities that were presented by Nebraska Extension educators and assistants. The students learned about the livestock and crops that are raised and grown in the Panhandle as well as across the state. Some of what the students learned include:

Swine: The basics of the swine life cycle and production, and how pigs are raised to produce safe, quality meat for consumers.

Kirstee Schutte, Nebraska Extension Master Gardener

Are you looking for agricultural information that you can trust? Look no further than University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension publications! They provide research based, peer reviewed information on a wide variety of topics. Written by specialists and educators in UNL’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, topics include Animal Agriculture; Communities and Leadership; Crops; Farm Management; Food and Nutrition; Insects; Lawn and Garden; Pesticides; Plant Diseases; 4-H and much more. Just go to extensionpubs.unl.edu and click “Browse Publications. 

Spring planning preparations for fall food preservation

Tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, carrots, and green beans – these vegetables are family favorites, and somehow they taste better when they come from your own garden. They are delicious and nutritious either straight out of the garden or picked and preserved for later.

Rising food costs have prompted more people to start home gardens with plans to preserve abundant harvests. Careful planning in the spring will help in preparing to preserve food in the fall.

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