Local Interest

By Kathleen Cue, Nebraska Extension Horticulture Educator

By Kathleen Cue, Nebraska Extension Horticulture Educator

 The silvery checkerspot caterpillar, Chlosyne nycteis, can be found right now, happily eating away on sunflower, aster, Echinacea, goldenrod and Rudbeckia.  The checkerspot caterpillar has branched spines on its back that are black in color. Sometimes the caterpillars will have an orange stripe or two.  Depending on weather conditions, there will be one to two generations per year. Once first generation caterpillars are an inch long, they will stop feeding and form a pupal case on foliage. As the growing season winds down, the second generation caterpillars will hibernate as third instar larvae.

By Kathleen Cue, Nebraska Extension Horticulture Educator

Mulch is an aspect of the landscape that doesn’t provoke much thought.  Wood chips or rock?  Landscaping fabric or not?  The reality is that the right kind of mulch, applied to the proper depth, has a BIG impact on plant health, especially during the heat of summer.

Root function stops when soil temperatures reach 85°F and higher.  This means no water and nutrient uptake occurs when soil temperatures are hot. No water moved through roots leads to leaf burn and heat stress. Woodchips and shredded bark act as insulation, protecting the soil from direct sunlight and buffering air temperature extremes.  The result is cooler soils that favor root uptake of water.

By Kathleen Cue, Nebraska Extension Horticulture Educator

By Kathleen Cue, Nebraska Extension Horticulture Educator

 Seedling trees come up in the oddest places, and in some cases, totally unnoticed.  In the neighborhood I drive through, I observed a mulberry tree growing up through a shrub rose.  The mulberry thrived, gradually completely shading out the rose.  Eventually the rose owner noticed the mulberry and tried to remove it, resulting in the loss of both plants.  The key lesson here, other than mulberries being aggressive growers, is that by simply taking note of what is going on in the landscape and taking action while problem plants are young, time and effort is saved later.

By Kathleen Cue, Nebraska Extension Horticulture Educator

Looking forward to the vegetable garden this spring, it’s easy to think that now that the flood waters have receded, our gardening season can carry on as usual.  While many of the callers to Extension are aware of potential dangers of gardening on a flooded site, the exact way forward is a little unclear.  Here is a synopsis of how flooding affects food safety in our vegetable gardens and orchards.

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