Early Spring Hort. Updates

I continue to get more interest and question about the March 15th “Discuss the UndiscussaBull” program since greed and emotions can easily get in the way of fair (not always “equal” but fair) decision-making, whether a family has a farm or not! Just a reminder, for more information on family farm transitioning from Elaine Froese can be found on her website. No farm (or any estate) is worth the price of losing a family; start those tough conversations now!  I’d like to thank all of the sponsors of the Farmers & Ranchers College for allowing us to pay for Elaine’s program; even if it saves one or two families that is a huge impact on those individual’s lives!

 Horticultural Updates!

 Now, for all of you green thumbs out there; it might seem like the end of April, but remember as I write this column, it is only still the end of March!  Recent warm weather has more than likely left many planning summer flower and vegetable gardens.  Keep in mind that the average date of the last spring freeze is still about a month away for many locations across central Nebraska.   According to the National Weather Service out of Hastings, NE, even though the spring season (April-May-June) outlook leaves our region with a better than equal chance for a warm spring this year…your chances of not having to replant delicate outdoor plants will be best if you hold out for the average last-freeze date. As I write this, our soils are above 50 degrees, but, the average date for the last spring freeze is April 22nd for Geneva, NE. 

UNL Extension’s popular Backyard Farmer show returns Thursday April 5, 2012, live on NET1 at 7 pm CST.  Join them kicking off their 60th season of answering your lawn & garden questions.  Until then, you can check out their archived videos on YouTube or interact with the team on Facebook.

            Several questions that have already come into the office (and are also featured on UNL Extension’s Hort Update newsletter) include:

  • Winter annual weeds include speedwell and henbit. These annual weeds germinated last fall, survived the winter and are now blooming with blue or lavender flowers and setting seed. Hand-pulling or post emergence applications of 2, 4-D can slow these annuals. For effective herbicide control, apply a preemergence herbicide containing Pendamethalin in September, just before seed germinates.
  • Winter dessication, or drying, of plant tissue is likely to affect a large number of evergreens and broadleaf evergreens this spring. When browning occurs, wait until June before pruning damaged tissue or removing the plant. If only the green needles/leaves are affected, the plants could produce new growth and slowly recover. If leaf buds and woody tissue are killed by dessication, no new growth is likely to occur by June 1 and the plants can then be removed and/or damaged tissue pruned out. If, after pruning, no green leafy tissue remains, the plant will not recover and is best removed.
  • Soil temperatures and vegetable seed germination- Seeds have a minimum, maximum and optimum soil temperature at which they germinate and seedling growth begins. If planted too early, when soil temperatures are cold, seed germination and seedling growth will be very slow leading to seeds rotting, damping off disease, or low vigor plants with lower yields. Know what minimum and optimum temperatures are needed for different vegetables and monitor soil temperatures to determine the best time to seed. Planting early does not guarantee an earlier harvest if soil temperatures are too cold for germination or vigorous growth.

You can receive more excellent information and subscribe to UNL’s HortUpdate newsletter.

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