Local Interest

The Benefits of Fallen Leaves

By Kathleen Cue, Nebraska Extension Horticulture Educator

 It’s too bad autumn’s fallen leaves are seen as a nuisance, something to be gotten rid of as soon as possible. In truth, they are a boon to landscapes, serving as mulches, benefiting soils, and boosting our compost piles. Not only are leaf piles fun to jump in and make for great leaf fights, by using leaves, we keep this resource out of landfills.

Herbicide Damage to Vegetable Plants

By Nebraska Extension Horticulture Educator Kathleen Cue, Dodge County

 Twisting, curling, and cupping of leaves are often symptomatic of herbicide damage on vegetable plants. The culprits that most readily cause this type of damage include 2,4-D (used to kill broadleaf weeds in lawns and pastures), dicamba (lawn and crop broadleaf weeds) and picloram (pasture broadleaf weeds). These herbicides are plant growth regulators, killing weeds by stimulating excessive growth and exhausting the plant’s carbohydrate reserves. When vegetable plants are exposed to smaller amounts of these herbicides, then distortion of growth results.

By Nebraska Extension Horticulture Educator Kathleen Cue

 Leaf scorch, also called sunscald, is the bronzing of leaf surfaces and crisping of leaf edges.  Even plants that are well-adapted to our climate can be scorched.  Plants have amazing resiliency, especially when Mother Nature eases them into changing seasons.  But taking into consideration a spring like this one—cold and rainy—with an abrupt change to record heat, then scorched plants are to be expected.

 Plants don’t have to be in the sun to suffer from scorch. Hosta, which likes and appreciates a shady location, will be scorched by high temperatures.

Pollinators and their Health

By Kathleen Cue, Nebraska Extension Horticulture Educator

 

One third of our food supply exists because a pollinator moved pollen from one flower to another. Their quest for nectar and pollen means we reap the benefits by harvesting fruits, vegetables, and legumes. Despite the necessity of pollinators for a reliable food supply for humans, pollinator habitat is in jeopardy because of reduced food sources and chemically-dependent pristine landscapes.

 

Helping pollinators is a local issue. Gardeners can make a difference for pollinator health by planting more flowers, supplying a water source, reducing the number of insecticides used and leaving a few dandelions and white clover for them to feed on.

Raised Beds around Trees—A Bad Idea for Landscapes

By Kathleen Cue, Nebraska Extension Horticulture Educator

 As we plan for our much anticipated outdoor projects this gardening season, let’s discuss the tree-killing practice of building raised beds around trees.  Don’t get me wrong here—I am not talking about planting hosta beneath a tree, I’m talking about building a RAISED bed around a tree. This unfortunate practice leads to many dead trees, often years later when the tree owner no longer connects the tree dying with the creation of the raised bed.

By Kathleen Cue, Nebraska Extension Horticulture Educator

You’ve seen this before—mulch piled so high around a tree that it resembles a volcano with a stick coming out of the center.  So goes the plight of trees trying to survive under such conditions.  Despite the research indicating how bad this is for trees, we see it time and again.

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