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K-State Research and Extension News


Plantorama is a weekly five-minute interview with horticultural specialists at Kansas State University, covering timely topics in: home lawn care; vegetable, fruit and flower gardening; landscape design and ornamental plant care;  indoor plant care; and horticultural pest control.

Send comments, questions or requests for copies of past programs to ksrenews@ksu.edu.

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EARLY LAWN CARE – With spring officially here, homeowners should start paying attention to the condition of their cool-season lawns…especially in view of the dry conditions in the region. K-State turfgrass horticulturist Jared Hoyle says early-season watering of fescue and other cool-season turfgrass is especially important this year, along with fertility management.

Hoyle 03-23

ASPARAGUS BED ESTABLISHMENT– As garden vegetables go, asparagus is vastly overrated, according to K-State horticulturist Ward Upham. This crop needs to be in place for one year before it can be harvested, so now is the time to establish an asparagus bed. He covers the steps to succeeding with new asparagus production.

Upham 03-16 

PRODUCING COMMERCIAL PRODUCE (part 2)– Taking on commercial fruit or vegetable production to complement field crop production is a significant commitment. However, if done right, it can pay off. In the second of a two-part series, K-State horticulturist Cary Rivard (rih-VARD) discusses some of the equipment and facility investments that may be required for a farmer to succeed in growing and marketing produce.

Rivard 03-09

PRODUCING COMMERCIAL PRODUCE (part 1)– With the economic returns to crop production faltering, farmers might give thought to raising fruits or vegetables commercially to supplement their incomes.  That’s an idea being promoted by K-State fruit and vegetable production specialist Cary Rivard.  In the first of a two-part series, he talks about the demand for local produce that is making this option more feasible, and some of the crops to consider.

Rivard 03-02 

GARDEN SOIL TESTING– Before the gardening season arrives, home gardeners might consider having a soil test to determine nutrient content…especially if they haven’t done one for a number of years.  Local Extension offices can provide advice on soil sampling and will submit those samples to Kansas State University for analysis. Johnson County Extension horticultural agent Dennis Patton explains what a soil test will—and won’t—tell a gardener about their soil productivity.

Patton 02-23

FRUIT TREE PRUNING– Those with fruit trees should consider using one of the warmer late-winter days to prune their trees for improved fruit productivity. This should be a standard practice every year. Riley County Extension horticulture agent Gregg Eyestone says how aggressively fruit trees should be pruned varies by tree type.

Eyestone 02-16

SPOT OVERSEEDING A LAWN– There’s very little along the lines of lawn management that can be done this time of the year…with one exception. Modest-sized bare spots in cool-season lawns can be overseeded. K-State horticulturist Ward Upham covers the three ways a homeowner can successfully accomplish this.

Upham 02-09

ORNAMENTAL FLOWER SELECTION– A gardener could quickly become overwhelmed with the explosion of annual ornamental flowers on the market. To help gardeners select the flower cultivars best-suited to Kansas growing conditions, K-State conducts the Prairie Star flower evaluation program.  K-State nursery crops specialist Cheryl Boyer talks about how to access the list of recommended flowers from this past year’s field trials around the state.            

Boyer 02-02

TREE-GRASS COMPETITION STUDY– It’s long been understood that turfgrass growth around the base of a newly-planted tree can slow the growth and development of that tree.  A recent study set out to quantify that impact. K-State horticulturist Ward Upham reports on the findings of that research, which looked at multiple kinds of grass competition and the value of mulching.

Upham 01-26

VEGETABLE GARDEN PLANNING– K-State horticulturists have released the updated list of preferred vegetable varieties for Kansas growing conditions. Johnson County Extension horticultural agent Dennis Patton discusses that list and offers tips for vegetable garden planning.

Patton 01-19

EARLY VEGETABLE TRANSPLANTS – Though spring vegetable gardening is at least a couple of months away, home gardeners can get a jump on their gardening by starting certain vegetable transplants indoors, now through February.  Among the first of these transplant starts would be onions. Riley County Extension horticultural agent Gregg Eyestone goes over the steps to successfully starting and raising these transplants.

Eyestone 01-12

FORCING PAPER-WHITE BULBS – During these persistently drab, cold days of winter, flower gardening enthusiasts can still enjoy home-grown flowers indoors. A certain kind of daffodil known as the paper-white bulb can be forced inside, and will grow into a showy flower that will likely last for the balance of the winter.  K-State horticulturist Ward Upham talks about how to make that happen.

Upham 01-05

CHRISTMAS TREE PLANTING– Using a live, ball-and-burlap Christmas tree for the holiday celebration, and then planting that tree permanently in the home landscape afterward, is an idea that has caught on with a lot of people. By following a few basic planting guidelines, K-State horticulturist Jason Griffin says the pine or fir tree can add beauty to the home landscape for years.

 Griffin 12-22

MORE ON DORMANT OILS– Those who feature fruit trees as part of their home landscape or gardening activities need to protect those trees from insect damage, even through the winter. This is accomplished by applying a dormant oil product to the bark and branches of those trees. K-State horticultural entomologist Raymond Cloyd talks more in-depth about the selection and use of dormant oils for fruit trees.

Cloyd 12-15 

BUILDING GARDEN COMPOST– There’s still time for gardeners to gather up all that organic material from their yards and gardening areas for building a compost pile. Johnson County Extension horticultural agent Dennis Patton covers the basic steps to composting -- how to start, and how to manage it through the winter months for use next spring or beyond.

Patton 12-08

POINSETTIA CARE TIPS– Christmas poinsettias are as popular as ever.  Through genetic improvements over the years, K-State horticulturist Ward Upham says they can be kept healthy for a longer period of time -- if basic guidelines on poinsettia selection and care are followed.

 Upham 12-01

MORE HOUSE BUGS– Now that fall is giving way to winter weather, a wider variety of landscape insects are seeking safe refuge inside homes, garages and outbuildings. For the most part, these are harmless, and easily removed from the indoors, according to K-State horticultural entomologist Raymond Cloyd. However, excluding them from the building is always the best bet.

 Cloyd 11-24

WINTERIZING LAWN IRRIGATION– It’s a simple step, but for those with lawn irrigation systems, it’s essential:  winterizing those systems before freezing temperatures settle in for the season. K-State turfgrass specialist Jared Hoyle goes over the steps to preparing those underground watering systems for the winter, and likewise for above-ground watering equipment.

Hoyle 11-17 

LATE LAWN CARE– Even though fall is slowly giving way to winter, there are a couple of lawn care steps  homeowners with cool-season grass can take. According to K-State turfgrass specialist Jared Hoyle, it's time for the final nitrogen application of the season and applying an herbicide treatment against knotweed.

 Hoyle 11-10

INDOOR AND OUTDOOR BUGS– Though fall is steadily transitioning into winter, a few landscape insect considerations remain. K-State horticultural entomologist Raymond Cloyd says those include insects now entering homes for winter shelter, and insects on fruit trees that can be controlled with a dormant oil application.

Cloyd 11-03

LATE VEGETABLE STORAGE– Now that the first widespread hard freeze of the fall has occurred, home gardeners have hopefully harvested the last of the warm-season vegetables. K-State horticulturist Ward Upham talks about storing the last tomatoes and peppers of the growing season, and comments on how much cold weather the cool-loving vegetable crops can still endure before needing to be harvested.

Upham 10-27 

MOVING HOUSEPLANTS INDOORS– We’re at that point in the fall when homeowners should be thinking about moving their container grown flowers and ornamental plants indoors for the remainder of the fall and winter. Johnson County Extension horticultural agent Dennis Patton discusses how to make that transition go smoothly for the plants.

Patton 10-20

FALL LAWN MANAGEMENT– Mid-October is a perfect time to carry out a handful of cool-season lawn maintenance steps, whether it’s newly-seeded grass or an established lawn. K-State turfgrass specialist Jared Hoyle covers the things homeowners can do now to help their lawns go into the winter in a healthy state, setting them up for a good start in the spring….including fertilization and broadleaf weed control.

Hoyle 10-13

PLANTING SPRING BULBSThe time is here for homeowners to spice up their landscapes with spring-flowering bulb plantings.  These can provide a cascade of color during the spring and early summer, and at times, beyond, if one makes good bulb selections. Riley County Research and Extension horticulture agent Gregg Eyestone talks about shopping for bulbs and establishing them in the landscape setting in the fall.

Eyestone 10-06
09-29-17FALL TREE PLANTINGThese cooler, calmer fall days are simply ideal for enhancing one’s home landscape by planting ornamental trees.  And a K-State ornamental horticulturist strongly encourages people to have a look around their neighborhoods to generate ideas on tree selection for their place. Jason Griffin explains how fall planting gives trees a jump start on growth next spring and summer, and advises folks to do some research before heading to the nursery.Griffin 09-29 

OAK MITE SHORTAGE?Although summer has transitioned into fall, several insects remain at work in home lawns and landscapes. One notable exception is the oak leaf itch mite. K-State horticultural entomologist Raymond Cloyd addresses that good news, and talks about several pests to be aware of.

Cloyd 09-22
09-15-17OVERSEEDING THE LAWN– Homeowners who have thin spots in their cool-season lawns can thicken those up by over-seeding here in the fall. To succeed with that, however, certain guidelines and procedures need to be followed. K-State horticulturist Ward Upham covers those…from soil preparation to post-seeding watering schedules.Upham 09-15 
09-08-17LANDSCAPE PLANT WATERING – It may be subtle, but a number of landscape trees and shrubs are enduring moisture stress. In order for those plants to have sufficient water going into the normally dry fall and winter, K-State horticulturist Ward Upham says homeowners need to address the problem now.Upham 09-08
09-01-17LATE SUMMER INSECTS– The recent cool overnight temperatures have done nothing to slow down an assortment of insects that are infiltrating home gardens and landscapes. Fortunately, most of these are of minor concern. However, K-State horticultural entomologist Raymond Cloyd says a few are worthy of some attention.  Cloyd 09-01
08-25-17PLANTING FALL VEGETABLES– Fall weather conditions tend to be less extreme and more consistent. Johnson County Extension horticulture agent Dennis Patton says this makes for a great environment for raising cool-season vegetable crops.Patton 08-25
08-18-17LAWN OVERSEEDING PREP – September is the optimum time for overseeding cool-season lawns.  K-State turfgrass specialist Jared Hoyle says there are a handful of preparatory steps homeowners can take now to make the overseeding project much smoother. Hoyle 08-18 
08-11-17DETERMINING APPLE RIPENESS– Home apple growers are anxiously awaiting that first new fruit of the season. It's important to know how to accurately determine apple ripeness, and according to Riley County Extension horticultural agent Gregg Eyestone, there are several signals growers can use. Eyestone 08-11
08-04-17IRIS DIVIDING TECHNIQUE– As part of routine management, iris plants should be divided every few years…and right now is the time to do it, according to K-State horticulturist Ward Upham. He emphasizes that gardeners should pay attention to the health of the plants they’re dividing and re-planting.Upham 08-04