I’m an introvert and a homebody at heart, and I’ve probably coped with the social deprivation of the COVID-19 pandemic better than others. But the increased isolation does take its toll, and one thing I’ve really been missing lately is the magic of live performance.

This has been a pretty good year for natural rainfall. Currently, we are dry and need moisture. We want our garden and landscape plants to go into fall conditions well hydrated. Rain would be welcomed.

The 1980s were my teenage and young-adult years, and Van Halen was the soundtrack for that decade. Everybody knew their songs, and everybody knew that the whole thing was about Eddie Van Halen’s guitar.

I have a large crop of henbit starting all over my landscape. This is a good time to reduce henbit and other broadleaf weeds in the lawn and landscape. Weed management begins with proper plant care. Grow the desirable plants the best you can. Dandelions, henbit, speedwell and chickweed are e…

It is not too early to be thinking about spring. Daffodils, tulips, crocus, hyacinths, alliums and other spring blooming plants need to be planted this fall. They need to have a cold treatment to initiate blooming. Nature provides this by having a winter season. These flowers can be forced t…

Enrollment at Kansas State University has dropped again, continuing a disturbing trend that started six years ago. It’s now the lowest it’s been since 1997, when Bill Clinton was in the White House and Jon Wefald was just getting warmed up.

K-State will come out with its annual enrollment numbers soon, and they’ll be down again. That’s partly because of the coronavirus pandemic, and partly a continuation of a five-year trend that’s cut enrollment figures here by 10 percent.

A homegrown strawberry is unmatched in flavor. Picking your ripe, sweet cherries is an accomplishment. Growing your own blueberries is worth the required effort. To be successful at growing these and other fruits, it takes planning. Gooseberries are the only fruit I can think of where you ju…

The 2020 Memorial Day started out hazy but turned into a lovely day. I placed cut peonies on a few relatives’ graves. Having a variety of peonies aids in having at least one cultivar blooming on the day. They make beautiful flowers for the landscape as well.

Maybe it’s just me, but I get the sense we are using most of our bandwidth these days in search of an elusive sweet spot between the way it is and the way it used to be. School, business, government, any system that used to involve gatherings of groups of people.

About two years ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture hired the first National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) employees. Now, close to 80% of NBAF’s operational workforce has been hired and several employees are even celebrating work anniversaries.

“Good grief,” Charlie Brown groused at the end of many Peanuts comic strips. His exasperated exclamation evoked frustration and acceptance. In my first week of teaching virtually to high school students, I, too, said, “good grief” more than a few times. I said some other words, too.

I was again in a social setting over the weekend, outside of course, and six feet away from anybody. The discussion turned, as it inevitably does these days, to the coronavirus. This particular group was familiar with the death of a universally well-liked middle-aged guy who died last week a…

Now is a good time to be dividing perennials, planting new plants and finishing all your spring plans. Soil temperatures are right for root growth. Soil moisture is good this fall. Plants have this fall and next spring to get established before the normal stresses of summer occur.

It’s time to change the channel. No, I’m not referring to the remote control for your television set, I’m talking about a remarkable broadcaster who found a new channel of communication through which to serve his community.

A soil test will indicate how much soil you need or if you need to adjust it to grow healthy plants. It is easiest on you and the plants when the test and results are in before the plants. Since roots grow in many directions, the soil needs nutrients spread throughout the root zone. This is …

Our two young grandsons don’t know much about Donald Trump or Joe Biden or about the issues that separate them and tens of millions of Americans. That’s mostly because the adults in the boys’ lives avoid such topics around them.

It is common for many plants to look bent out of shape in late August. The rains of this year have helped plants along. However, leaves show signs of disease and may have fallen off. Holes, webbing and off-colored leaves indicate insect feeding. Before too long, the leaves will turn color an…

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Like most things in the movies, high-containment biosafety work is dramatized to engage an audience. While highly inaccurate in most cases, the theatrics do have a benefit beyond the movie plot. They draw in a new generation of curious bioscientists — ones like National Bio and Agro-Defense …

The soil test results are back, grasses and weeds have been killed, and now the soil needs graded. These are the first steps in preparing for seeding a new lawn. Once these steps are accomplished, seeding can begin with hopes of a perfect lawn by mid-October.

If you think of leaving home and going to college as the ultimate learning experience, the fall semester of 2020 will be a target-rich environment. Under the best of circumstances, there is much to be gained from maneuvering systems, problem-solving, managing money and getting along with peo…

Having moved from Manhattan to Lawrence barely a month ago, maybe I shouldn’t be surprised that I continue to observe similarities and differences between two cities that despite their long rivalry have much in common.

August is the month to evaluate your cool-season lawn.

The new class of Riley County, K-State Research and Extension Master Gardeners will start on Thursday, Sept. 3. Presently, the learning will be a mix of in-person instruction and online. This will take place in Pottorf Hall in CiCo Park where there is room to spread out. More than 300 commun…

Like we do most election nights, my wife and I settled comfortably into our living room last Tuesday evening, laptops fired up. As former professional political operatives, each of us, we enjoy watching the trends, listening to the winners telegraph their plans to win the next election or go…

The view of the world from Lawrence isn’t much different from the view in Manhattan. Much of the talk here is about COVID-19, about schools and colleges reopening and about the prospect of sports at any level being played in the coming months.

Weekly free online gardening programs continue in August. These programs are live at noon Wednesdays for participants to ask questions through the chat box. Recordings of the program are available soon upon completion. You can register and review the recordings at the K-State Horticulture In…

They started tearing out the Manhattan High tennis courts in the past week or so. Somehow, despite my best intentions, I got wistful.

When Kansas State University made the decision to move to in-person and hybrid teaching beginning Aug. 17, the state of Kansas was making progress in mitigating the spread of COVID-19. Since that time, the situation in our state has been reversed, with a significant increase in cases. Just l…

Black, brown, gray and white are not on the color wheel. These are still colors that we find in the landscape. Gray and white are commonly used in flower or foliage. There are a few flowers that are black. The color brown is probably the least desired color in the landscape.