Lifestyle Columns

Garden Variety: With a little care, you can grow hops in Kansas

The herbaceous, perennial hop plant is best known as a component of beer that adds a bitter flavor, but it can also be used in nonalcoholic beverages and herbal medicine, and it can be grown here in Kansas with a little special treatment. The flowers are a unique crop of special interest to ...

Garden Variety: The challenge of gardening around walnut trees

Black walnut trees have a reputation for being hard to get along with, at least to gardeners wishing to grow tomatoes and other plants in their vicinity. The trees produce a chemical called juglone, which damages other plants. The challenge is understanding which other plants are affected by ...

Garden Variety: Get a jump on these early-season gardening tasks

Warm weekend days across the Midwest coupled with the impending arrival of spring have most gardeners excited to get outside and work in their yards and gardens. There are many tasks that can be done this time of year, some that should wait until later in the spring and a few that can be saved ...

Garden Variety: What to keep in mind when planting fruit trees

If you want to plant an apple, peach, pear, cherry or other fruit tree in your yard, early spring is the best time to do so. You should keep a few factors in mind when you plant: site conditions, pollination requirements and which varieties are well suited to Kansas’ climate and pests. ...

Garden Variety: Tapping trees is easier than you might expect

Warmer temperatures and longer days mean that sap is beginning to flow in maples and other trees around the Lawrence area. The weather changes signify the ideal time to collect tree sap for syrup-making purposes. Tapping a tree for sap and making syrup is somewhat uncommon in this region, but ...

Garden Variety: Are your seeds still good? Here’s how to check

Packets of seed for vegetables and flowers often contain more than a gardener needs in a single season, and gardeners end up saving the rest of the packet for the next year. Then these open seed packets get misplaced or forgotten about and may end up being held over for multiple years. Late ...

Garden Variety: Green industry offers plenty of jobs

The horticulture industry is growing, and experts say there are about twice as many jobs available within the industry as there are college graduates in the field to fill them. If growth continues, the demand for skilled horticultural professionals will follow. For those with an interest in ...

Garden Variety: The many causes of tree decline, and what you can do about it

When a tree appears to be unhealthy or dying, the first reaction for many people is to suspect insects or disease. In many cases however, tree decline is the result of a combination of factors rather than a single or specific pest. This is especially true in urban and suburban settings where ...

Garden Variety: Succulents reliable plants for gardeners at all skill levels

Succulent plants are hot in the gardening world right now and are a good option to grow indoors for people with all levels of gardening experience. They are easy to care for with a little guidance and come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, colors and textures. Succulents are a group of ...

Garden Variety: Do your homework before heeding gardening advice

Gardening is full of anecdotal reports, folklore, old wives' tales and urban legends. Even experts sometimes have trouble discerning between good recommendations and faulty ones when information originates from other supposed experts. A recent publication about planting trees in square holes ...

Garden Variety: Now’s the time to plan for next year’s garden

The end of the year is an opportunity to reflect and make plans in the garden as much as anywhere else in life. This year’s changing of the decade may even call for greater reflection and planning. During the gardening season, lots of things are on top of your to-do list: that large shrub ...

Garden Variety: What to look for when identifying leafless trees

Have you ever noticed a tree and wondered what kind it was? Perhaps it was in your yard, a neighbor’s yard or something you noticed on a walk in the woods. Whatever the case, trees are usually most easily identified by their leaves. In the winter, deciduous trees are more of a challenge ...

Garden Variety: Air plants are easy to grow, ideal for anyone

Air plants are more popular than ever right now, at least judging by their wide availability in garden centers and almost any place that sells tropical plants. They are small, tidy, unique and easy to grow indoors, making them ideal for anyone. Keeping them alive only takes a little attention ...

Garden Variety: Now’s the time to order tree and shrub seedlings

Trees and shrubs release oxygen into the atmosphere, provide habitat and food for beneficial insects and wildlife and increase property values, among other things. Early spring is a great time to plant, and late fall is the best time to be thinking about what spaces in your yard could use more ...

Garden Variety: Kansas’ only native evergreen can cause problems

Eastern red cedar is a common tree in landscape plantings and in the wild with its evergreen nature making it most noticeable in the winter months. The tree is the only evergreen native to Kansas, but it is problematic in unmanaged grasslands where it can displace native plants and affect the ...

Garden Variety: Bald cypress trees changing colors, shedding needles

Bald cypress trees usually draw extra attention during this time of year because their needles are changing colors and dropping to the ground like the leaves of many broadleaf trees. Since most needled trees keep their green needles year-round, this behavior seems unusual, but it’s completely ...

Garden Variety: Emerald ash borer infestation expands in Kansas

Last week, the Kansas Department of Agriculture announced that they had confirmed the presence of emerald ash borer in Spring Hill. The finding of this invasive exotic pest will lead to expansion of a federal quarantine and is a reminder to area residents with ash trees on their property to ...

Garden Variety: How to winterize your garden tools and equipment

The arrival of freezing temperatures is a good time to give attention to garden tools and equipment. Garden hoses should be drained, tools such as shovels should be cleaned to prevent the onset of rust, and mowers and other pieces of power equipment need to have fuel drained or treated. The ...

Healthy Outlook: Is your brain due for a checkup?

Medicare beneficiaries: Even if you’re taking advantage of the annual wellness visits that Part B covers, you might not be getting all that you can out of it. A cognitive assessment — included in these annual visits, if you ask your doctor — can help you keep tabs on your brain in five ...