Plants & Pests with Nicole

February 2023

Upcoming Events:

Commercial Pesticide Applicator Recertification training dates: February 16th, March 2nd, & March 21st.

Commercial Pesticide Applicator Initial training: March 7th

Follow Link to register...

Master Gardener Training:

Tuesdays in Beatrice Starting February 7th through March 14th. 6:30-8pm

Wednesdays in Wilber Starting February 8th through March 22nd.1-2:30pm

Fridays in Beatrice on February 17th, March 3rd, and March 17th 1-3pm

Live & recorded Zoom options are available for all classes.

ProHort: in Beatrice February 9th from 8am-3:30pm (link below)

Seed Starting Program at Tall Tree Tastings in Beatrice March 2nd at 6pm $10 fee Register through the Tall Tree Tastings Facebook page (will be available soon)

Office Closed for President’s Day – February 20

Reading the Seed Packet

As I stare out the window at the snow on the ground, it is hard to believe I am starting to get spring fever, but I am. I start thinking about my summer garden, the fresh produce, and what I want to grow this spring. The seed catalogs are all here and I’m ready to place my order so I can start my seeds indoors in the coming weeks. But what does all the information on the seed packet mean?

Start Your Hoses

The southeast portion of Nebraska is in the moderate to severe drought levels according the drought monitor. This makes fall and winter watering extremely important, plants still need irrigation while they are dormant. If plants are ignored through drought conditions, it may seem that they are fine for a while but the dieback from drought stress can show up three to five years later. Also, drought stress can cause more damage from insect and disease pests. All plants will benefit from fall watering but make newly planted trees and shrubs and evergreens the priority. Use a soaker hose to ensure that the soil is wet down to 8-12 inches deep surrounding these plants and at least out to the dripline of those trees. Make sure you irrigate on a warm day when temperatures exceed 45 degrees. Also, don’t forget to remove your hoses when finished watering, before nightfall. Mulch can also help keep moisture near the plants, the goal is to keep the soil moist, not soggy or dry.

Join Me @ Tall Tree Tastings!

It’s a great time to start planning your garden for next year. You can start vegetables from seed in late February through March for planting outdoors this spring. Count backward from the beginning of May to determine when to plant so you can plant transplants outside after the last frost of the winter. Tomatoes and peppers need about 8 weeks of growth indoors before planting in the garden so they should be planted in mid-March. When starting seeds indoors, keep light on the seedlings for 12-16 hours daily and keep the light 4-6 inches above the plants, moving it up as they grow. Don’t forget to harden your plants off prior to planting outside this spring. Gradually move them into more sunlight and more wind for longer periods of time over a couple of weeks to acclimatize them to outdoor conditions.

Join me on March 2nd @ 6pm

Learn more about starting seeds for your garden at Tall Tree Tastings in Beatrice on Thursday, March 2nd at 6pm. There is a $10 fee, participants will go home with a few different seeds started in peat pots for growing at home.

Follow Tall Tree Tastings Facebook page to register.

Lenten Rose for Winter Interest

Once we get past Christmas, I always start thinking about spring gardening again. I know it is very early to do that in January, but the seed catalogs start coming in the mail and I get excited for the growing season. One plant that blooms very early and could be added to your gardens is one called Helleborus, or more commonly, Lenten Rose.

Lenten Rose
Lenten Rose is a perennial plant that has evergreen leaves. It grows up to 15-18 inches in height and spread and will colonize in good growing conditions. The leaves are deeply serrate into 7-9 segments, but are not truly compound even though they look like palmately compound leaves. Helleborus blooms at the end of February into March, even blooming through the snow, and the blooms last until June. The flowers are cupped, 4 inches wide and vary in color including white or cream, yellow, burgundy, purple, or even black. There is also a green flowering variety, which I really like because it is so unique.

Pruning Fruit Trees

Fruit tree pruning is best done from late February through March, before trees begin to break bud. Pruning should start on the most cold hardy trees first, such as apples and pears. Save pruning of less cold tolerant trees, such as peaches and nectarines, until late March. Make proper pruning cuts and use sharp pruning tools. Do not use pruning paints or wound dressings on pruning wounds. When pruning to remove diseased branches, clean tools between cuts. If pruning out branches infected with fireblight be sure to get rid of the diseased branches and do not leave them on the ground near susceptible trees. Check your trees now for black knot. It is easier to see the large black deformations on the branches during the winter months when leaves are not present. Black knot is best controlled by pruning out the infected areas and destroying it.

Big picture

Dates are approximate, activities do not necessarily need to be completed that day.

ProHort Update:

Thursday, Feb. 9th, 8am-3pm

1115 West Scott Street

Beatrice, NE

Call Gage County Extension Office 402-223-1384 with any questions MUST REGISTER BY FEBRUARY 3RD!

RSVPs are enabled for this event.

Nicole Stoner

Nicole Stoner is the Horticulture Extension Educator located in Gage County, serving Southeast Nebraska. Nicole's focus areas include trees, shrubs, lawns, gardens, and insects. Nicole obtained her Master's Degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for Horticulture with a minor in Insect Science, she also has Bachelor's Degrees from UNL in both areas. Nicole is also an ISA Certified Arborist and has her Tree Risk Assessment Qualification (TRAQ).