A few weeks ago I wrote about plants that were new to me this year. That article was written earlier in the summer and then got laid aside. Now I will share how a few of them did plus some others, and at the end a couple definitions.

The “Teddy BearSUNFLOWERS were fun. They were about 2-3 feet tall with thick, fuzzy blooms. I took them to Backyard Farmer one night. If you go to “” and click on flower of the week for August 9, 2007, you can see a picture. The plants and foliage were not too handsome due to heavy rains, high heat and gusty winds.  A number of other plants also had to be propped up. This whole season has not been nice to plants unless it is the tomatoes.  They are in wire cages and I picked the first ones in June. These were the “Sun Gold”. They are little golden ones I mostly eat while I am hoeing.

          Goldenrods were great this summer with their bright yellow heads. You can almost have any height you want. Prairie Goldenrod (Solidago missouriensis), our Nebraska state flower, is 3-4 feet tall but Solidago gigantea may reach 6 feet.  Over a dozen species grow in Nebraska of the wild types but growers have succeeded in dwarfs as short as 18 inches.  All species are vigorous and will push other plants out.  They do not cause hay fever as they are insect pollinated not wind. Also the pollen is sticky and does not blow around.  They do send out rhizomes to increase size and some reports of colonies in the prairie are up to 30 feet across.  They are a busy place with insects looking for pollen and ambush bugs waiting, plus hungry spiders and tree hoppers.

          Sad story!!! The little “Pumpkin trees” I wrote about, looked good when I put them in a vase while the leaves were green, but they didn’t dry well at all.  Slowly they shrunk and wrinkled, then softened and fell off.

          The “Tiger eyeSumac was gorgeous this summer with its bright yellow foliage. Supposedly it is not suppose to send out suckers like its relatives, but it will!! This is only the second year for mine and there are a number of suckers.  I saved one nearest its parent to enlarge the general size.  The others were easy to cut off but I wonder as years go by how many I will have. 

          Cranesbill” also called “Wild Geraniums” did well this summer as a ground cover in light shade.  There are about 300 species, including annuals, biennials and perennials, and are found in all temperate regions.  They are the true geraniums rather that the “Pelargonium” that most people call Geraniums. Mine have spread very slowly and never get over 10 inches high. They like moisture in summer but resent wet feet in winter.  I have never heard of yellow ones but any other color is available.  There are even bi-colored and striped ones. They were not affected by our “frost week” in April nor by our boiling time in August.  A ground cover for all occasions.

          WHAT IS “GREEN MANURE”? These are plants grown with the idea of returning them to the soil.  Usually they are fast growing plants whose roots will go down deep and create our passages plus humus. When plowed or dug under, they add organic material to the soil and increase the water holding capacity.  Some gardeners sow cover crops after they harvest a crop in order to keep weeds under control in that space.  Many of the plants used are of the “Legume” family that can affix nitrogen.  Digging them under at their peak of growing adds extra nutrition to the soil.

          WHAT IS INTENSIVE GARDENING? It is a method or methods used to get the very most production out of an area of land that is usually small. Quite often it is done in raised beds to insure drainage, with the soil built up with compost.  The spacing of plants is as close as possible without interfering with growth. There is usually a succession of planting. That is, as soon as the early crop is harvested another is started so the soil is never bare.  In this case several beds are used so rotation of crops can occur to prevent disease buildup.

          A “WEED” is not a botanical term-it simply reflects a prejudice or opinion. (From “Enjoying Wildflowers” by Stokes)

Copyright 2007





          Now is the time to buy your tulips and daffodils while the selection is good. When buying tulip and daffodil bulbs, remember that there are early spring, middle spring, and late spring varieties.  If you want flowers for the whole spring season, buy some of each kind so you have blooms all season long. Early spring for tulips in Lincoln is the end of March or first part of April. Late spring bulbs bloom in early May. If you want a big splash of color all at once, get varieties that bloom at the same time.

          Do not plant tulips and daffodils now. It is too early to plant your tulips and daffodils and some other fall bulbs.  The days are too warm and the soil is too warm.  Planted now, they will break dormancy and then may be injured when the ground freezes.

          Tulips, daffodils, and some other fall bulbs do best when planted at least after the middle of October as the soil is cooler and the roots start to grow but the bulb does not break dormancy.  Tulips can even be planted up until the time the ground freezes hard. I have planted some around Christmas time when we had a mild fall and the ground did not freeze until after New Year’s Day.

          If you buy your bulbs now, store them in a cool, dry location until time to plant.  Plant them about 8 to 9 inches deep with about a tablespoon of “Bone Meal” added in the bottom of the hole.  As soon as you finish planting, give the ground a thorough soaking.

Copyright 2007