Choosing a Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree canva

Happy Thanksgiving! It’s that time again, when we move into the Holiday Season. Typically, Thanksgiving weekend is the time when people begin to put up their holiday displays in and around their homes. These displays almost always include a Christmas tree. Getting a fresh tree from a local farm is an enjoyable experience for the family to do together.

There are 25 Christmas tree farms in Nebraska. A few of these farms are located very near us in southeast Nebraska. To get a tree from a local tree farm you can visit: Pinecrest Tree Farm in Blue Springs, Kohout’s Christmas Trees near Dorchester, Walnut Grove Tree Farm in Raymond, or Prairie Woods in Hallam, to name a few. There are many other listed, to find a tree farm closest to you, visit the Nebraska Christmas Tree Growers Association online at:

When choosing your Christmas tree, choose one that suits your room size and desires of your family. Make sure that it will fit in the room you plan to place it in and that it won’t overtake the room. It might be a good idea to take a few measurements before leaving home. The most common tree species used for Christmas trees in Nebraska include:

  • Balsam Fir
  • Blue Spruce
  • Concolor Fir
  • Douglas-Fir
  • Fraser Fir
  • Scotch Pine
  • Eastern White Pine
Christmas tree farm, flickr, UGA College of Ag & Env

Flickr image courtesy of UGA College of Ag and Environmental Sciences-OCCS per CC license

It takes about 7 years for a Christmas tree farmer to grow his or her trees from seedlings to retail sale height, which is about 6 feet, according to the Nebraska Christmas Tree Growers Association. They also say that for every real Christmas tree harvested, 2-3 seedlings are planted in its place. This helps to ensure future years of tree sales and tree replacement is always a good practice.

Be sure to keep live trees watered throughout the holiday season. If they don’t have water they will dry out quickly and not look as fresh and beautiful. When you purchase a real Christmas tree, be sure to make a new cut on the trunk of the tree to open up the stem for water uptake. Christmas trees rarely, if ever, start fires in our homes, except in the famous National Lampoons Christmas Vacation, but they need to be watered to help them retain their color and keep your floor from getting too messy from fallen needles. Even if they don’t start fires, it is best to place your tree in your home away from fireplaces, air ducts, and televisions.

After the holiday season, it is best to recycle your Christmas tree. There are many ways to recycle your trees that give it better use than just taking it to the local landfill or burn pile. Many people take their trees out to local lakes to the areas designated for Christmas tree recycling. The trees are placed on the ice in the winter and when the ice melts in the spring, they fall into the lake for fish habitat. You can also chip your old tree and use it for mulch in your garden in the spring. These recycling methods will help you to enjoy your Christmas tree all year long.

Deer, Rabbits, Voles, Oh My!!

With November here, we can expect cooler temperatures and more interactions with wildlife. Often times these interactions are with the deer, rabbits, and voles chewing on our plants. These pests can cause a great deal of damage and can be controlled in our landscapes to protect our plants over the winter months.

My beautiful picture

Deer can really be a nuisance to plants in all seasons of the year. They can chew off the ends of small twigs and bucks can rub their antlers on smaller trees, injuring the bark. I get a lot of calls from people who want to know what the silver bullet is to reduce the amount of damage that deer do to our vegetable gardens and trees and shrubs each year. The sad truth is that there is no real cure for deer damage to our plants. Exclusion is going to have the biggest impact on deer damage to our plants

Deer Rub on Tree, Photo from USDA Forest Service - North Central Research Station , USDA Forest Service,

Deer Rub on Tree, Photo from USDA Forest Service – North Central Research Station , USDA Forest Service,

Excluding deer from our plants is sometimes a difficult task, but it can be done, in smaller areas, like around acreages. There are fences that can be utilized but they need to be at least 8 feet tall. Another type of fence that has proven quite effective is an electric fence that has small squares of aluminum foil coated with peanut butter, placed sporadically on the fence. This technique is used to eventually train the deer to stay away from the fence, even if the electricity is not turned on. This electric fence technique should not be used in an area where a child or a pet can get to the fence so that they do not get electrocuted. The commercial spray repellants available for deer are not effective.

Rabbit Protection Fence, Photo from Lancaster County Extension

Rabbit Protection Fence, Photo from Lancaster County Extension

Rabbits can also be quite a problem in areas where deer are a problem. Rabbits will chew on small plants. In the summer they chew many of our plants off at ground level, and in the winter months they gnaw on the thin bark of young trees to feed on the green inner bark areas. Rabbits can be excluded by surrounding a garden or landscape area with a low fence, at least 2 feet tall. Cylinders can be placed around young trees to reduce damage during the winter. Habitat modification is another good way to control rabbits, remove brush piles, debris, and other cover that rabbits prefer to live in during the winter. As with deer, the commercial spray repellants available for rabbits are not effective.

Vole damage, NebGuide

Vole Damage Photo from NebGuide “Controlling Vole Damage” by S. Vantassel, S. Hygnstrom, D. Ferraro

Voles are another species of wildlife that can do a great deal of damage to our plants in the winter months. If we receive enough snow cover, voles may feed on trees and shrubs, they will also gnaw on tree bark and roots, and potentially kill plants. To help prevent this, keep tall grass and weeds removed from around the trunk of trees and avoid mulch layers deeper than three inches. Placing hardware cloth around tree trunks will prevent vole feeding.

Winterizing Garden Equipment

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With fall here and winter on its way, we need to begin cleaning up our gardens. Fall cleanup does not end in the garden, for longevity of our gardening equipment, we need to clean it up and prepare it for winter months as well. If we take the time to cleanup our equipment and store it in the best locations, our tools can be an investment to help us in the garden for many years.

100_0852The first step is to clean up your vegetable gardens when you are done with them for the year. Remove tomato cages and clean them up for storage in a garage or shed to help them last for multiple years. Remove all plants and compost them or put them in the trash if they had problems with insects or diseases this year. Till up your garden this fall and incorporate manure or compost to help with organic matter next year. After tilling, cover the bare soil with some type of mulch to avoid wind erosion of topsoil, grass clippings or straw will work well for this and it can be tilled into the soil next spring.

When completed with hoses for the year, be sure to drain them of any water. Then coil the hose and hang it on a hook or in a hose reel station for the winter months. You can always get the hoses back out during the winter on warm days to water trees and shrubs if the winter is dry, just be sure to drain them when done watering in the winter months.

Flickr image courtesy of Jennifer C. per CC license

Flickr image courtesy of Jennifer C. per CC license

When finished using any tools, be sure to clean all debris off of them. Scrape off caked on mud with a wire brush or steel wool. Sharpen pruning tools so they are ready to go next spring. Apply a light coat of an oil to prevent any rusting from occurring. These tools are best kept in a garage or a shed and out of the harsh winter elements to help them last longer.

For sprayers used during the season, the best cleanup would be a triple rinse. Rinse out the sprayers three times with water to remove any pesticide residue from the container. It may also be a good idea to clean nozzles and screens with soapy water. If the pesticide sits in those nozzles over the winter it will be difficult to clean them out next spring so that the equipment may be used again.

*Reference to commercial products or trade names is made with the understanding that no discrimination is intended of those not mentioned and no endorsement by University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension is implied for those mentioned.

*Reference to commercial products or trade names is made with the understanding that no discrimination is intended of those not mentioned and no endorsement by University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension is implied for those mentioned.

Pesticides and fertilizers can be stored for future use. Store all pesticides in their original containers with the label still attached. Store them in a cool, dry location where they won’t freeze, as this can be harmful for the product and the container. Do not allow granules or other dry pesticides to get wet.

As for power equipment, be sure to follow instruction manuals on care and servicing requirements. As a general rule, clean out grass clippings and other debris from underneath the lawnmower deck and clean all caked on mud from the tiller prior to winter storage. Also, sharpen lawnmower blades and check to see if the air filter needs to be changed at this time so they are ready to start mowing next spring. Be sure to turn off the equipment and disconnect the battery prior to any work done to avoid injury or other accidents. It is best not to store gasoline through the winter as it does not ignite easily making those machines work harder to use it.



The trees are beginning to turn beautiful fall colors, the leaves are beginning to fall, and scary movies are starting to come back into the theatres. This must mean Halloween is on its way.

The best part of Halloween, to me, is the pumpkins. I love the smell of a freshly carved pumpkin and the look of the carved pumpkins on my front steps lit up for Halloween night. Pumpkins can be used for a variety of things throughout October and November and they can be grown in your garden right in your own backyard.

Pumpkins are a member of the cucurbit family of garden plants, which includes cucumbers, squash, gourds, watermelons, cantaloupes, and zucchini. We can use them for eating, roasting the seeds, and carving for a Halloween decoration. We can also store them and use them for Thanksgiving decorations.

Flickr image courtesy of Robert S. Donovan per CC license

Flickr image courtesy of Robert S. Donovan per CC license

If you grow pumpkins in your garden, it is now time to begin harvesting them, if you haven’t already started. Pumpkins can be harvested when they are mature in color and when they have a firm rind, when your fingernail does not puncture the rind when lightly pushed into it. It is best to remove all pumpkins prior to or within 1-2 days after a killing frost. Cut pumpkins off of the rind leaving 3-4 inches of stem on the pumpkin to help them resist organisms that lead to decay.

After the pumpkins are harvested, they should be cured to last longer in storage. Leave pumpkins in an area where they receive 80-85 degree temperatures with 80-90 percent relative humidity for 10 days. Pumpkins will store if not cured, but they will store longer, up to 3 months, if they are cured first. After cured, they are best stored in areas of 50-55 degree temperatures.

It is best to use the correct pumpkin for the task, such as using a jack-o-lantern pumpkin for carving and a processing pumpkin for making pies. Both types of pumpkins can be used for either activity, but they work better if you get the right type for the task at hand. However, you do not want to carve a pumpkin and use it for Halloween and then use it for making a pumpkin pie. A carved pumpkin is a perishable item, therefore cannot be used for baking or cooking if it has been left out, after being carved into, for more than 2 hours.

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Many people are concerned about the length of time a carved pumpkin will last on their front porch. The problem is that there isn’t a good treatment to get them to hold that carving for very long. The best idea is to wait until no more than one week before Halloween until you carve your pumpkin. It is best for the carving if you can do it as close to Halloween as possible. Another thing that will help with longevity of a pumpkin for Halloween is to ensure that you purchase or pick a pumpkin in good condition. Avoid pumpkins with soft spots, signs of decay, short stems, and other signs to show that decay has already begun in the pumpkin. If decay is already present in the pumpkin before you carve into it, it will ruin your carving that much sooner. If the weather is warm outside, store the pumpkins in a cool area until Halloween to keep the carving intact. Hopefully all of these tips can help you grow a great pumpkin and have a great pumpkin for Halloween. Happy Halloween!

Plants for Shade

Fall is finally here. We can look forward to cooler weather, more things to do in the lawn and garden, and football. Fall is a great time to plant a tree. When planting that tree, remember to plant it correctly and utilize the correct plants and mulches underneath the tree.

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Trees are vital to life. They change Carbon Dioxide into Oxygen for us to breath in. They are also a great advantage to our landscapes. Trees give us shade to reduce our cooling bills, block winds to reduce our heating bills, increase the value of our homes, and make us happier. Research has proven that hospital patients with a view of greenspace heal quicker than those without a view of landscaping.

When planting a tree, choose one that is well suited for our environment and for your particular needs of the tree, i.e. shade, flower, fruit, height, etc. Remember to check for clearance as that tree will grow, read the label for mature height and check for power lines and other objects that would impede the natural growth. Dig the hole to be twice as large and only as deep as the rootball that your tree has. Remove all burlap, twine, and wires from the rootball and backfill around the rootball with the soil that was removed for the hole. Water the tree in well after planting and if staking is used, make sure that it is loose around the tree and it is only left on for one growing season.

Even though trees are great to have in our landscapes, they can cause problems to the turfgrass growing underneath. Turf is not the best option to grow under heavy shade of trees as it constantly faces pressure from weeds and diseases and thins out quickly and often. Shady areas of your landscape do not have to be the part of your landscape that you have to constantly deal with, it can be a place to enjoy shade tolerant plants and escape from the sun on hot days outdoors.

There are many great plant choices for shade. To determine what will grow best in your shade location, you need to know just how shady the site is. You need to know when and how long the area is in sun and when and how long it is in shade. It might be necessary to re-visit the site several times during the day to document when and where the sun is received as the day progresses.

Just knowing that the area is in shade during the day does not give us enough information to know which plants will grow best in the area. It is also important to know whether the sun a plant receives is in the morning or in the afternoon. The intensity of the sun in these locations would differ greatly. For example, plants such as azaleas, holly, and clematis grow healthier in morning sun than they would in afternoon sun, even if the total hours of sunlight were the same.

Great choices for plantings of shady areas include the following

Shade perennial Collage


  • Anemone
  • Astilbe
  • Bleeding Heart
  • Bergenia
  • Columbine
  • Foxglove
  • Coral Bells
  • Jack-in-the-pulpit
  • Helleborus
  • Toad Lily
  • Virginia Bluebells
  • Hostas
  • Hydrangea

shade groundcovers Collage

Ground Covers

  • Bugleweed
  • Sweet Woodruff
  • Vinca
  • Purple leaf wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei ‘Coloratus’)

Shade shrubs Collage


  • Alpine Currant
  • Chokeberry
  • Cotoneaster
  • Red twig, yellow twig, Cornelian Cherry, and Gray Dogwoods
  • Ninebark
  • Privet
  • Snowberry
  • Coralberry

As you can see, there are many different plants that can be planted underneath trees that will actually grow much better than turfgrass that will struggle and compete with weeds throughout the growing season. With any landscaping bed or area surrounding a tree, a nice layer of 2-3 inches of organic mulch, such as woodchips, will benefit the area by helping to conserve moisture, keep temperatures consistent, and combatting weeds.

Fall Insects & Weeds

fall landscapeWith fall coming right around the corner, many things are going on in our landscapes. There are many weed species creeping their way through our trees and lawns. We are also having a great deal of problems with many nuisance insect pests in our trees. The following are the horticultural pests I have had the most calls on over the past couple of weeks that I feel the majority of the public is trying to deal with.

2015-07-30 17.00.35We are seeing wild cucumber covering up trees in our windbreaks. This weed is very similar to cucumber vine that you grow in your vegetable garden and it grows up and over our trees, especially through windbreaks. If left on the tree, most often the tree will survive, but in some cases, this vine can smother the tree from sunlight and cause death. It is very easily pulled and can be treated with general herbicides, such as 2,4-D, but only as a stump treatment or carefully painted on the leaves.

Another problem that many people are facing this year is the issue with high populations of crabgrass in lawns. With all of the spring rains we had this year, many weeds are taking over our lawns. Crabgrass is a warm season annual so it germinates early in the spring and dies with the first frost of the year. What is in your yard now, does not need to be controlled as it will die in the next couple of weeks. Just remember to apply a crabgrass pre-emergent herbicide in the spring next year.

Damage from Twig Girdler

Damage from Twig Girdler

I have had numerous calls lately on small branches on the ground all around large trees. This is most likely due to a couple of beetle insects, the twig girdler or the twig pruner. These are two very similar insects that cause similar damage to trees. These insects will chew small branches of trees causing them to fall out of the tree on windy days. The twig pruner causes branches to have a jagged edge where it tears from the tree after the inside is chewed. Twig girdler causes branches to have a very smooth cut on the outside of the branch, like it was pruned off with a pair of pruning shears. Both of these insects cause minimal damage, it is mainly an aesthetic nuisance to the tree. Chemical treatments are not necessary or recommended for treating twig girdler or twig pruner.

Fall Webworm photo by G. Keith Douce, University of Georgia,

Fall Webworm photo by G. Keith Douce, University of Georgia,

One thing that we all see as we drive around Nebraska right now, is fall webworm. Fall webworm is the immature form of a medium-sized white moth. The caterpillars form webbing at the ends of branches of many deciduous trees in the fall. This webbing entangles and kills the leaves within it, and causes no further harm to the tree. They are not necessary to control with chemicals and it is not effective to get chemicals through the webbing. If they are not wanted in your tree, for aesthetic reasons, they can be pulled out with a broom and put into a burn barrel (where permitted) or a bucket of soapy water.

Coldframes & Fall Gardening

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This year, gardening has been difficult. We have faced a great deal of challenges. Our early spring gardens didn’t do as well due to flooding. And our summer gardens were late to get planted in many locations because of rainy weather and water soaked soils. Then, the rainy, cool weather shut off and we were faced with hot conditions and many of our plants had a lot of fungal diseases due to the rainy spring.

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So, now the option is to get a great fall garden to help stock your pantry and freezer with preserved vegetables for the winter. Fall gardens are a great way to grow many of our spring vegetable crops again for more harvest or to get harvest from plants that may not have been very productive in the spring. The good thing about a fall garden is that you can have less insect pressure on the plants in the fall because the peak numbers for many of our insect pests is in the summer, and should be tapering off by the fall. Hopefully you already planted your fall garden. They need to be planted in the beginning to the middle of August to ensure a harvest before frost hits.

If you didn’t get you fall garden planted in the beginning part of August, you still may have a chance to extend your growing season. You can build a coldframe. A coldframe is described by Missouri Extension as “a protected plant bed with no artificial heat added”. This is a good way to keep summer plants protected a bit longer into the fall or keep fall plantings a lot further into the fall. You build a box frame that is higher in the back than it is in the front and cover it with transparent plastic. This box is placed over the garden to increase the temperature of it by 5-10 degrees. You can even get a few more degrees warmer if you place a blanket over top of that on really cold nights.

Photo from Iowa State University Extension

Coldframe Photo from Iowa State University Extension

A coldframe garden should be placed on the south side of a building to receive the highest amount of sunlight to keep it warmest. If it gets warm during the day, you can lift the lid of the cold frame and prop it up to ventilate the garden. A coldframe can also be used in the spring to harden off any plants that you grow from seed indoors.

Coldframes are great to use to get a little more production out of some of our summer vegetable crops, especially if we see an early frost. It is also a great way to extend the growing period for many of our fall vegetable crops. This will allow us to go further into the fall.

Fall Yard and Garden Issues

Fall will be here before we know it. Take the time to read this to help you through all of your horticulture and insect issues during the fall months.

Bare lawn in need of overseeding.

Bare lawn in need of overseeding.

For fall lawncare, September is a good month for overseeding, fertilizing, and aerating your lawn. If you have bare spots from the floods or have a thin lawn, you can overseed in the month of September, before the 15th will have better establishment before winter, Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue are the best choices for seed in Nebraska. Remember to fertilize with the holidays, and Labor Day and Halloween are coming up for our final two applications for this year. If your lawn has a deep thatch layer, over 1 inch, you may need to aerate your lawn, fall is a good time for aeration as well.

Weeds in a lawn

Weed control is better in the fall. Many of our perennial weeds and winter annuals will get much better control if they are treated in the fall. This year has been a great growing season for many of our lawn weeds, especially clover. Perennial weeds such as Dandelions, creeping Charlie or ground ivy, and clover, are best controlled in the fall with either 2,4-D or Triclopyr products. Remember to apply these chemicals on days when the temperatures are predicted to be at or below 80 degrees for 72 hours. This is the time of the year when these weeds are taking their nutrients back into their roots for next season’s growth, so they will take the herbicide with them to get a better kill. The winter annuals such as Henbit are just beginning their growth in the fall so it is best to treat them now rather than in the spring when they are almost done with their growing season.

It is finally getting close to the time of the year when we can begin cutting back our perennial plants. Once these plants die back in the fall, when their leaves turn brown, we can cut them back for the year. Peonies and Iris are two plants that should be cut back in the fall to avoid diseases spreading from this season to next since these plants tend to get leaf spot diseases annually. When you go to remove the spent leaves, you can also divide these plants and transplant them if you need them in a different location. Avoid pruning roses and butterfly bushes until the early spring to avoid problems with moisture getting into the hollow stems of these plants. If you have a shrub that blooms early in the spring, such as lilac, forsythia, weigela, some spireas, and some hydrangeas, wait to cut those back until after bloom next spring to avoid removing flower buds that are already on the shrub for next year.

Center photo by S. Cochran, Lancaster County Extension

Center photo by S. Cochran, Lancaster County Extension

Watch for fall invading insects in your home in the fall. This is the time of year when many insects will begin to invade our homes. As it begins to get cooler outside, insects move into our homes to stay warm. Many of the insects we see in the fall inside our homes include boxelder bugs, Asian multicolored ladybeetles, stinkbugs, spiders, millipedes, centipedes, and ants. These insects are mostly just a nuisance to us when they come into our homes. The best control for these would be to seal up all cracks where they can enter our homes and to use the insect barrier sprays around the home, especially around doors and windows.

2nd Annual Gage County Master Gardener Tour

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On Monday, August 17th, I took the Gage County Master Gardeners and some fun guests on our 2nd Annual Gage County Master Gardener Tour. It was a rainy day, but we still managed to have a great time and learn some things on the way. It is such a joy for me to get to work with these wonderful people all the time because they are so eager to learn about horticulture and they are so much fun to be around as well!

Stock Seed Farms

Stock Seed Farms

The first stop on the tour was to Stock Seed Farms in Murdock, Nebraska. This was neat to see how they work and how they develop, package, market, and ship out so many different types of wildflower and native grass seed throughout the entire country. It was interesting to hear how they harvest and sort the seeds from all of the “fluff” to get a good Pure Live Seed Number for their packaging so that people are getting mostly seed in their orders without other materials filling the weight. We got to see the equipment they used to sort the seeds and we got to see the enormous amount of seed they had in their facility. I was astonished at the enormous bags of clover seed that most of us are trying to rid from our lawns, but in a naturalized area of an acreage it is a great plant to have. They even had a bag of crabgrass seed that is used in the Southern parts of the United States for a forage plant for horses and other livestock. This was odd for us horticulturists who are working all spring and summer to keep it out of our lawns and gardens. The rain did disrupt our tour a little, as we were not able to go out and see the fields of wildflowers and native grasses, except what we saw from the shed or on the bus ride among the fields Stock Seed Farms owns. It was an enjoyable experience that many of us will never forget.

Lauritzen Gardens

Lauritzen Gardens

After lunch in Ashland, we ventured on to Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha. This was an awesome experience. We took the tram tour through the gardens so we were able to see all of the gardens with much less walking. We didn’t get to go through all of the individual gardens this route, but since it was raining, the tram tour was a good choice. The trams were covered so we didn’t get too wet. I enjoyed the Model Train Garden, the small bridges were very unique and well-made. The whole garden was very interesting and it could take an entire day to thoroughly get through it all. We definitely didn’t have enough time there, but it was still great to get to see some of it and see how many different types of plants available to Nebraska growers. The best part is that it is always growing as the tour discussed with us future plans for new gardens.

HOPE Gardens

HOPE Gardens

Finally, we were able to join up with the Douglas County Master Gardeners at their HOPE Gardens. The HOPE garden was started in 2003 by Nebraska Extension in partnership with Faithful Shepherd Presbyterian Church as a vegetable garden project to Help Omaha’s People Eat (H.O.P.E.). This garden provides fresh produce to the Heartland Hope Mission food pantry in Omaha. In 2014, the garden produced over 9,000 pounds of fresh produce that was donated to this city mission. It was a very interesting garden to tour. The Master Gardeners who work on this garden work very hard!! They start all the plants from seed in their homes and they planted a lot of crops! They have all types of different vegetables, fruits, and now a pollinator garden to help with pollination. Everyone needs fresh produce!

2015 MG Tour Rainbow Collage

The day was a huge success!! Great fun and we learned a lot. Plus, the day ended beautifully, after all the rain all day, we saw a full, double rainbow on the way home. I was able to catch a photo of it, but seeing it in person was much better. Thanks to all of the great Master Gardeners and guests for making this day fun! Hopefully we can find some great places to go next year, I know that the participants are already starting to come up with ideas for another trip next year.

What to do with my garden in the fall?

Photo by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

Photo by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

August is here, which means fall will soon follow, and hopefully cooler temperatures. Many of us are just getting started in our garden harvest due to the rainy May and June we faced that led to later planting dates. Some of our vegetables can be harvested and frozen or canned and some need to be dried for winter storage. Here are some helpful tips for produce from your garden through the winter months.

Peppers, onions, and tomatoes can all be harvested when mature and frozen without having to blanch them, or use a hot-water bath for them. These vegetables can be cut into strips or dice, laid on a cookie sheet for initial freezing then placed into freezer bags for long-term freezer storage and used in recipes for cooked vegetables throughout the winter. Tomatoes and hot peppers can be frozen the same manner, but they can be frozen whole with just the stem removed. Many of our other vegetables, such as zucchini and green beans can be frozen, but need to be blanched prior to freezing.

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Many of our vegetables can also be stored, whole, fresh, for weeks to months in our homes after gardens have froze for the year. Carrots can be stored, unwashed, in a container of moist sand in 35-40 degrees Fahrenheit for 4-5 months. Turnips can be treated the same way as carrots for the winter.

Some of our vegetables need to be cured prior to bringing indoors for fresh storage. Onions need to cure for best results of long, indoor storage. Onions should dry in a single layer in the shade or well-ventilated garage or shed for 1-2 weeks or until the tops have completely dried and shriveled. After curing they can be stored for 1-8 months, they store longer in temperatures close to 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Potatoes also can be stored longer after curing. They should be cured at 60-75 degrees Fahrenheit for 1-2 weeks. After curing, they can be stored at 40-45 degrees for several months.

It is in the early part of the month of August that we can also begin to think about extending our growing season with a fall garden. Fall gardens are sometimes more productive than spring gardens, and that may be the case this year if your garden was prone to flooding this spring.

For a fall harvest, plant:

  • Beets August 1-10
  • Carrots August 1-15
  • Chinese cabbage August 1-20
  • Lettuce August 1-5
  • Mustard August 1-25
  • Radish August 1-20
  • Snap beans August 1-5
  • Spinach August 20- September 15
  • Swiss chard August 1-20
  • Turnips August 1-15
    • (from Backyard Farmer online calendar).

The first frost in Beatrice occurs on September 29, on average and is within a week either way for the surrounding counties. So the best way to determine when to plant a fall garden is to count backward from the first frost date and compare it to your harvest time listed on the package. For example, if your lettuce says that it takes 50 days to mature, planting on August 1 will give you mature lettuce by the end of September. This will ensure that you will have a harvest before the frost hits.