Tubs, Hoses and Stuff

UNL research on building/parking lot runoff

Tools UNL researchers are using to monitor runoff from buildings and parking lots

If you visit our office, you might wonder about the blue plastic tubs with hoses and “stuff” connected to them (photo). There is one set on the building and one down a drainage slope by the parking lot. University of Nebraska-Lincoln researchers are monitoring runoff from our building roof and parking.  This information will be used to help researchers work on reducing non-source point pollution coming from urban features like buildings and paved lots.

Bit of “Buzz” on the Cherry Creek Habitat: We’re getting more mulch soon to help conserve moisture for plants. We had so much rain and now it looks like we’re going to slide back into a drought pattern. I stopped by this weekend to water some of the newer plantings. The big cottontail rabbit who was busy munching on some of the plantings was surprised! MJ added a low-tech water feature today for insects. The feature is also perfect for the birds. Our resident robins seem most excited and vocal about all of the improvements we’re doing. Soon we’ll be putting together the components for the insect hotel. Can’t wait until this fall when we can do some more plantings.

Here’s to Sharing the Buzz!

Soni

UNL Extension provides research-based information to help you make informed decisions any time, any place, anywhere – http://lancaster.unl.edu

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Create Your Own Pollinator Garden

Skipper on dotted gayfeather

Skipper on native dotted gayfeather – Spring Creek Prairie near Denton, NE

We’re waiting until fall to transplant some perennials and shrubs into the Cherry Creek Habitat – it’s just too hot now. If you’re thinking of creating a pollinator friendly landscape, now’s a good time to do some planning. You could start your project this fall. Here are some tips from the U.S. Forest Service:

  • Use a wide variety of plants that bloom from early spring into late fall. Plant in clumps or groups instead of single plantings of a flower. Try to use plants native to your area. Oh and don’t forget night-blooming flowers for moths and bats.
  • Avoid modern hybrid flowers, especially those with “doubled” flowers. These flowers may look beautiful to us, but plant breeders may have sacrificed pollen, nectar and fragrance for their “modern” beauty.
  • Eliminate pesticides whenever possible. Follow an Integrated Pest Management approach (IPM). Continue reading

We’re making progress!

Cherry Creek Habitat - Making Progress

Making Progress – July 2013

MJ, Dave and Chris have been busy working on the Cherry Creek Habitat. All of the erosion-prone areas look great now with a new river rock bed to slow the flow of water. What water does run off now, goes exactly where we want it (so far, so good!).  What a huge difference (see what it looked like when we first started)!!!

The grassy area (now mostly bare) is being converted into an area with plants beneficial to pollinators. When renovating, we left a few plants that were already growing there – heath aster, common milkweed, chicory and white clover. Most of the grass has been removed (still working on it). MJ brought in some wild violets (early bloomers) and rudbeckia (black-eyed susan) and those were planted recently. We’ll be adding more plants this fall – it is going to be too hot to do any more transplanting right now.

The old satellite pole has been capped, primed and painted. We’ll incorporate the pole into our plans (still working on it). Next week, we’ll get more wood chips from the landfill.

Even with all our activity, the deer are still wandering through the area leaving behind their telltale signs. We’re keeping a close watch on the plants to see if we need to take any steps to protect them from the nibblers.

Here’s to Sharing the Buzz!

Soni

UNL Extension provides research-based information to help you make informed decisions any time, any place, anywhere – http://lancaster.unl.edu

UNL Tracking Bumblebees

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Entomologists are planning to train high school students to track bumblebee queens. Radio tracking technology is available and the tiny devices will make it possible for students and researchers to track newly emerged queens to see where they decide to start a nest and what they do during the time between emergence and finding a nest. Here’s a link to the UNL/IANR News Press Release – “Entomlogists Begin Pilot Program to Track Bumblebee Queens” – July 2013

UNL professors are also working to create the ideal bumblebee box. Learn more about their project – read “UNL Professor Works to Crowdsource a Better Bumblebee Box” – July 2013

Here’s to Sharing the Buzz!

Soni

UNL Extension provides research-based information to help you make informed decisions any time, any place, anywhere – http://lancaster.unl.edu

The Field Bindweed Lesson

Soldier beetle in a field bindweed flower

Soldier beetle in a field bindweed flower

Field Bindweed: described as “a spreading perennial difficult to control because of its above ground runners that can spread many feet from the mother plant, as well as an extensive below ground rhizome system. Hand-pulling is good exercise but probably not effective for control.”

Personally, I’ve always had negative experiences involving field bindweed. Growing up, “we kids” were assigned the duty of trying to pull the tough, persistent weed out of the vegetable and flower gardens. It was a never-ending job and the plant seemed to enjoy watching us suffer year after year. Today, I found revenge – an article on bindweed control. I know… I smiled. “Field bindweed aggressively spreading right now, but control is easy“. Great news! Control is finally easy! I still hesitate to call any control of bindweed “easy” but decided it was something visitors to our office Web site would be interested in. Needing a photo to go with the feature, I headed straight out my door to my perennial bed. No problem finding field bindweed. It has followed me wherever I’ve tried to garden and I still try to hand pull it, without success.

Feeling like the end of my battle with the weed may soon be over, I centered my camera over one of the morning glory-like flowers on the field bindweed. Now, here’s why I’m even posting any of this on a pollinator habitat page.  Looking through my camera lens, I see a soldier beetle busy serving its role as a pollinator by taking in nectar from the bindweed flower. When we think of plants for pollinators, we sometimes forget that even plants we “humans” don’t want, can be important to insects and wildlife.  I paused, stood up and took another look at my landscape. The “invasive weeds” in my beds were buzzing with activity – honeybees on the creeping bellflower and tiny insects on the wild four o’clock.  I’ve been so busy adding “pretty” plants for pollinators, I’ve forgotten to look at what I already have like white clover and my Linden tree (blooming now).

So what will I do? Oh, I’ll continue to manually control invasive plants like the bindweed and bellflower – they have the upper hand anyway so there will always be a few for the local pollinator population. And, I’ll try to bump up my tolerance a bit and see some of these plants as “beautiful” in my garden. It is also an important reminder to use caution when considering any pesticides because beneficial wildlife can be everywhere and that’s a very good thing!

Here’s to Sharing the Buzz!

Soni

UNL Extension provides research-based information to help you make informed decisions any time, any place, anywhere – http://lancaster.unl.edu