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Soil

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Q: Tim, I think I’ve got a good idea. I’m re-roofing two of my barns with metal roofing. I was thinking of extending the roof past the walls 18 inches so dripping water falls farther away from the barn walls. Right now I’ve got gutters and I’m tired of them clogging up with leaves and debris. What is the best practice when it comes to gutters or no gutters? What about sizes for both gutters and downspouts? What would you do if you were me? —Carol K., Mio, Mich.

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Cutting off the branches and laying them in a garden bed will protect plants from winter freezes and spring thaws. Lay tree boughs over garden plants and frozen soil to keep the soil consistently cold, reducing the risk of early sprouting that can occur during winter thaws.

Most perennial plants need periodic division to maintain their vigor and achieve maximum flower production. This may need to be done annually with very vigorous plants but is usually only necessary every three to four years. Some perennials, such as Baby's Breath (Gypsophila paniculata), should never be divided.

Most plants are energized and invigorated by a summer outdoors. Even delicate plants like ferns have a growth spurt if placed in a shaded location and watered properly. While outside, houseplants require large amounts of water due to increased light levels, heat and wind evaporation.

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For many years, Nebraska Extension recommended fertilization of high-quality lawns up to four times each year. We often used memorable dates to help homeowners remember when these applications should be made – Tax Day, April 15; Memorial Day, Labor Day and Halloween. However, turf research is ongoing, and our understanding of how turfgrasses grow and utilize soil nutrients has led to updates on home lawn fertilization recommendations.

As we shiver through winter’s freezing temperatures and heavy snow, many gardeners hope the severe weather translates to fewer garden insects in the coming growing season. But, unfortunately, insects have evolved many coping mechanisms enabling them to tolerate winter conditions just fine.

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Don't let your dog's poo go to landfill and contribute to our waste problem - compost it instead.

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I often hear from vegetable or flower gardeners who are unhappy with their soil quality. They routinely incorporate organic matter in the soil each fall, but are still disappointed with their heavy soil. Why aren’t they developing beautiful crumbly dark brown soil that’s easy to plant and great for vegetable root crops?

The weather may not be warm enough to plant summer-flowering bulbs or certain vegetables yet, but you can still get a jump start on your garden. These 5 simple tasks will prepare your garden for spring.

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Very short grass gets stressed, especially during hot, dry spells. And any exposed areas of soil are a perfect spot for weed seeds to germinate.

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