Extension News

Ask the ISU Experts

Note to media editors:

Got gardening questions? Contact the Hortline at (515) 294-3108 (Monday-Friday; 10 a.m.-12 Noon and 1-4:30 p.m.) or send an e-mail to hortline@iastate.edu. For more gardening information visit us at Yard and Garden Online at www.yardandgarden.extension.iastate.edu.


When can I harvest eggplant? 

Begin harvesting the large, oval varieties when the fruit are 2 inches in diameter. Continue to harvest the fruit until they are 4 to 6 inches across. At the proper harvest stage, the fruit will be firm and shiny. Overmature fruit will be dull, seedy and tough. Remove the fruit with a knife or hand shears, leaving an inch of stem on each fruit. 


Eggplant fruit do not keep well after harvesting. For best quality, it’s generally best to leave the fruit on the plant until you are ready to use them. Eggplant fruit can be stored up to seven days at a temperature of 46 to 54 degrees and a relative humidity of 90 to 95 percent. 


What is the bright yellow-flowering plant found along roadsides and in low maintenance lawns? 

The yellow-flowering plant is probably birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus). Birdsfoot trefoil is a perennial plant in the legume family. The plant has an upright, spreading growth habit and can reach a height of 2 feet. The dark green leaves of birdsfoot trefoil appear to be composed of five leaflets. However, the compound leaves actually consist of three leaflets and two broad leaf-like stipules at the base of the leaf stalk. Plants produce small, pea-like flowers. Flowers are bright yellow to orange-yellow. A cluster of three to eight flowers are borne atop each flower stalk.  The one-inch-long fruits (seed pods) somewhat resemble the toes on a bird’s foot, hence the common name of birdsfoot trefoil. At maturity, the pods split and the halves twist, scattering the seeds. 


Birdsfoot trefoil is native to Europe and Asia, but has become naturalized in parts of the United States. It tolerates compacted, infertile and poorly drained soils. The plant also is drought and salt tolerant. Birdsfoot trefoil adapts well to mowing. It is most commonly found along roadsides and in low maintenance grass areas. 


Birdsfoot trefoil in lawns can be controlled with broadleaf herbicides. The most effective broadleaf herbicides are those products that contain one or more of the following compounds: 2,4-D, dicamba and triclopyr. 


How often should I water my lawn? 

Gardeners have two basic options when confronted by hot, dry weather. One option is to do nothing and allow the grass to go dormant. The alternative is to water the turfgrass during dry weather to maintain a green, actively growing lawn. 


Most lawns in Iowa require approximately 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week. When watering the lawn, apply this amount in a single application or possibly two applications three or four days apart.  Avoid frequent, light applications of water, which promote shallow rooting and lush growth. Lush, shallow-rooted turfgrass is less-drought tolerant. It also is more susceptible to pest problems. To determine the amount of water applied by a sprinkler, place two or three rain gauges within the spray pattern. 


Contacts :

Richard Jauron, Horticulture, (515) 294-1871, rjauron@iastate.edu

Jean McGuire, Extension Communications and Marketing, (515) 294-7033, jmcguire@iastate.edu