We finished our master gardener classes the end of March. In Lancaster County we have to have 40 class room hours of instruction the first year. Then for renewal the Extension service requires 20 hours of instruction. We then perform 40 hours of volunteer service in the community to complete the requirements to become a Master Gardener . If you are interested in becoming a Master Gardener , contact your local Extension Educator and find out when and where classes are held.

          Our first class was on “Bag Worms”. It is time now to check your trees and pull those bags off. In each case (bag) there may be 300 to 1000 eggs ready to hatch out and sail into the world to find new trees. Somewhere in my lifetime I heard “There is some good in the worst of us and some bad in the best” so on the second day of class the extension specialist brought a small naked tree with these bags hanging down that had been sprayed in Christmas colors. Because of their shape some one else suggested one could make earrings after spraying in gold and silver colors.

          Everyone needs to go out and look for these bags that look like little Christmas ornaments that are hanging from the trees. They are found mainly on evergreen trees but have been found on other trees and even shrubs.  If you find some they need to be stepped on and the eggs destroyed, or put in a bucket of water and destroyed.

          For several years now we have been losing Scotch Pine trees due to the work of a Long Horned Pine Sawyer beetle, a tiny nematode, and a fungous. The beetle doesn’t do a great deal of harm but the nematodes do. The nematodes crawl into the breathing tubes of the beetle before it flies away from a tree that has been infested. The beetle then flies to another tree, and makes an entrance under the bark of a tree and lays her eggs. In the process she also makes an entrance for the nematodes that grow up and feed on the tree. These nematodes get into the vascular system of the tree and clog the flow of water and food and the tree dies. University of Nebraska at Lincoln Extension “NebGuide #G1899” has all the details in picture. These are available from your county extension office or on the internet at “”. On the left hand side in the box type in the words “Pine Wilt” or G1899.

          There is also a fungous that makes blue streaks and also comes to the tree via the beetle. This blue fungus feeds the nematodes. I was given a gorgeous bowl that had been turned from a Scotch Pine that had died from pine wilt complete with the circles of age growth and the blue streaks. I think it would take a lot of bowls to make that “little bit of good” considering how many Pine trees we are losing to pine wilt.

          In another class, Kim Todd, Extension Educator and host of Nebraska Televisions “Backyard Farmer” spent 3 hours on perennials, how and where to use them. She entertained us with many photos to show the effect they can have. All the plants were growing in Nebraska . We are not the “ Great American Desert ”.

          Vaughn Hammond from the Kimmel Research Center in Nebraska City gave us an outline of “Edible Landscaping” including varieties for our area and how to get the most out of the fruits and vegetables we grow. A session presented by the Nebraska Forestry Department of UNL on trees pointed out the good and the bad things you can do to your tree to shorten or lengthen their life. 

          Then Steve Nosal and Alice Reed gave us a history of “Roses” complete with colored pictures. They also had pictures of Rose Gardens in various countries as well as the history of the Rose Garden in Lincoln . If you have not visited the new Hamann Rose Garden on the east side of 27th just south of Capitol Parkway , be sure and see the beautiful collection of roses. Lincoln should be very proud of this garden that is across the street from the Sunken Gardens .

          Roch Gaussoin divided his presentation on weeds into

1.     Summer annuals that come up in the spring, flower, seed in the summer, and then killed by the first frost. Examples would be Purslane and Crabgrass that I fight all summer everywhere but in the shade.

2.     Winter annuals that germinate in fall sleep in winter under the snow, then flowers and seeds in summer and then dies with our hot dry weather. An example is Henbit that is up and blooming now with its little blue flowers.

3.     Perennials that live for several years and not only produce seed but can also reproduce by stolons and bulbs. Dandelions and Nut Sedge (some call Nutgrass) are good examples. He told us that the Nut Sedge does not spread by seed.  They have been trying to germinate the seed for 5 years with no luck. How does it spread? Those nutlets under the ground can live for 60 to 70 years and still be viable. Watch out where you get your soil!!!

                   In most counties it is too late now to get involved but contact your Extension Office for information for another year. Half the fun of Master Gardener is meeting so many others who are intense gardeners. It is fun to share new ideas and work together on projects. I spent some time last summer in the Butterfly pavilion at the Lincoln Children’s Zoo. And the last days of March several of us helped with the “Earth Wellness Festival” for 2 days with 3,000 of Lincoln ’s 5th graders. The festival focuses on air, water, soil, and living resources.

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