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Garden Variety: Prune tomato plants to maximize garden production

Tomatoes are a favorite in Kansas gardens, and gardeners are always looking for ways to get the earliest, largest and best-tasting fruit while fighting the weather and at least a dozen common pests. One beneficial practice with which some tomato gardeners may be unfamiliar is pruning. Although ...

Garden Variety: Figuring out the best time to prune specific shrubs

Shrubs respond best to pruning when the act is performed at certain times of year, but when that time occurs varies with plant species and locale. How do you know when to prune what you have, and what is the best method to use? Follow these general rules for landscapes in the Midwest. For all ...

Fix-It Chick: Fixing an outdoor spigot that drips

A dripping outdoor water spigot can be annoying as well as costly. A screwdriver and a few inexpensive parts may save you from replacing the whole faucet. Step 1: Turn off the water supply to the faucet. Hopefully this can be done from the main water valve inside. If not, use a street key to ...

Fix-It Chick: Tips for protecting a wood deck or fence using stain, finish

Wooden decks and fences last longer if they are protected with a stain or oil finish. Pressure treated lumber should not be treated with anything until after it has aged a full year. Cedar wood does not need to be treated at all. Regular maintenance of wooden decks and fences is the best way to ...

Garden Variety: Soil depth at base of trees key for long-term health

Trees with soil or mulch piled around the bases of their trunks exhibit symptoms of stress and have shorter life spans than trees that are planted and maintained at the proper depth. Well-meaning gardeners who are planting trees, building tree rings, grading soil around trees, adding mulch and ...

Garden Variety: Wild growth of Callery pears concerns conservationists

Callery pear trees are easy to spot this time of year in the landscape, on roadsides and in unmanaged pastures. They have stiff upright branches loaded with white blossoms that are part of what have made them a popular choice in landscape plantings since the 1960s. In recent years, the number ...

Garden Variety: Upcoming Garden Show offers education, expertise

Next Saturday, April 28, the Douglas County Extension Master Gardeners are sponsoring a one-day educational Garden Show to celebrate spring and share their expertise. This free event is from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Douglas County 4-H Fairgrounds, 2110 Harper St., Lawrence.The Master Gardener ...

Garden Variety: Spring has truly arrived late for gardeners in Midwest

If it seems like spring is a little behind schedule for its arrival in northeast Kansas this year, you are correct. According to the USA National Phenology Network (NPN), signs of spring are one to two weeks behind their regular appearances across much of the Midwest and Great Plains.The NPN ...

Garden Variety: Avoid misidentifying Irish foliage this St. Paddy’s Day

Shamrocks, four-leaf clovers, wood sorrels and a few other similar plant species are often in the limelight in the spring and around St. Patrick’s Day, but which is which? They are often confused as the same plants even though each has its own attributes and only a few have associated ...

Garden Variety: Spring signals start of season for swarming termites

As the days continue to warm and spring rains soak into the soil, Midwesterners should be on the lookout for swarming termites. For eastern subterranean termites, the most common and most damaging species in northeast Kansas, spring swarms are common and are the way that termites spread to new ...

Fix-It Chick: Replacing dryer cord easier than replacing wall outlet

If you are ready to plug in that new or used clothes dryer, but the plug on the dryer does not match the outlet on the wall, replacing the cord on the dryer is much easier and more economical than replacing the outlet on the wall.Step 1: Take a picture or drawing of the dryer outlet to the ...

Garden Variety: Attract bats to the yard and garden for pest control

If you have ever seen bats swooping after mosquitoes at dusk on a summer evening, you know they are voracious when it comes to reducing the insect population. In fact, a single little brown bat can eat up to one thousand mosquitoes in an hour. Many gardeners (and people who simply enjoy being ...

Garden Variety: Many factors influence the life spans of trees

Like all living things, trees have a life span. How long that life span might be is dependent on a combination of factors including species, site, environment, weather events, pest infestations and others. Understanding how these factors work together can help you determine why a tree died, why ...

Fix-It Chick: Give your bathroom a facelift with a new tub spout

Replacing an old, worn-out tub spout with a new shiny spout can add new life to an otherwise tired bath. If the diverter on the old spout is failing, a new spout may also increase the pressure of the shower. New spouts will not, however, fix a leaky faucet.Step 1: There is no need to turn off ...

Garden Variety: Start growing vegetables from seeds as spring nears

If you want to grow tomatoes, peppers, or other heat-loving vegetables and flowers from seed, late winter to early spring is the time to get started. You will need a sunny window or supplemental lights, pots or trays, potting mix, seeds of your choice and a little patience. While starting ...

Garden Variety: Tree discovery offers hope against chestnut blight

A mature healthy American chestnut tree was discovered a few weeks ago by a Canadian conservationist in far southern Ontario, about halfway between Detroit, Michigan and Niagara Falls. The tree is an anomaly because experts believe it may have survived exposure to a devastating disease known as ...

Fix-It Chick: Purchasing the right ice melt to battle snowy conditions

With so many products available, choosing the right ice melt can be a slippery slope. If you are concerned about the environment, pets, children or concrete, the safest thing to do is to avoid ice melt products altogether. Otherwise, follow these steps to help choose the right product for ...

Garden Variety: Growing citrus fruits inside requires ideal conditions

Homegrown lemons are a rarity in Kansas, but committed gardeners can succeed at growing them and other citrus fruit by creating the right environment. Newer, improved dwarf varieties are the best bet for indoor growing of citrus. Gardeners with sunrooms and greenhouses may opt for larger ...

Garden Variety: Resolutions for gardeners

The arrival of the new year means resolutions for personal improvement for many people. For gardeners, the focus might go to gardening practices. Since the middle of winter can be a difficult time to remember the tribulations of garden season, here are some suggestions to get your resolutions ...

Fix-It Chick: Clean a furnace flame sensor

If your gas furnace keeps cycling on and then turning off within a minute or so, it might be the result of a dirty flame sensor. Most gas furnaces have a small sensor designed to shut off the furnace if the burners do not flame when the furnace is turned on. Over time the sensor can become ...