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Springtails love moisture

Much of Minnesota has experienced consistent rains through the spring and summer this year. This has led to an increase in the numbers of springtails in and around homes and other buildings.

Springtails love damp conditions and are typically found in soil, leaf litter, lichen, under bark, decaying plant matter, and other areas of high moisture. Given an opportunity, they will also inhabit your home.
What do springtails look like? Springtails are very small, between 1/16th - 1/8th inch long. They are usually slender insects (there is a group of springtails that is round and stout that is sometimes found in gardens). Most springtails are dark-colored, brown, grey or black although some species are also white, and some are even iridescent and brightly colored

These tiny insects are wingless and cannot fly but they can jump. They use a forked appendage called a furcula (located underneath the abdomen) to propel itself. When not in use, a furcula is tucked up under the body, set li…
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Trees Not Looking Too Healthy?

Evergreens, Maples, Oaks and more struggling this summer
One of the big headlines for gardeners and home owners this year is all about trees. Trees appearing to turn brown, trees turning yellow or not leafing out at all; conifers with multiple dead limbs particularly among the lower branches, even dying outright. So what’s happening? 

The DNR forest health team tracks what’s happening statewide and in each region so they can help address problems both for the trees in our forests and at home.  Here’s a summary of their Summer 2018 findings to date: Evergreens: Winter winds prove fatal
In this summer’s “Forest Insect and Disease Newsletter,” the team said since May, it has fielded reports from Anoka, Fillmore, Freeborn, Goodhue, Hennepin, Houston, Rice and Winona counties about dead evergreens—in particular black hills spruce, white cedar (arborvitae) and white pine.

DNR Forest Health Specialist Brian Schwingle says the dry and windy weather in April caused these trees to die. “This happene…

Produce and floods: A bad combination!

Portions of Minnesota have been inundated with rainfall and flooding in recent weeks. Unfortunately, floodwaters can be contaminated with all kinds of things, including raw sewage from septic systems or municipalities, manure from farms or fields, and chemicals or other contaminants. 
Why are floods bad for produce?When it comes to produce, it’s essential that gardeners understand that floodwaters can contain harmful microbes such as E. coli or salmonella that could contaminate produce. If any edible portions of produce were touched by floodwater, that produce may be contaminated and should not be considered safe to eat. 

Once bacteria or other pathogens contact produce, they can be nearly impossible to remove. Lots of fruits and veggies have rough skin (such as cantaloupe or strawberries) or folds (such as leafy greens) where pathogens can lurk. Contaminants may be present on the surface of fruits and vegetables or may be internalized through cuts, stem scars, or other points of entry.

Fragrant Lindens

American basswood, Tilia americana, a native tree, and the European lime tree Tilia cordata, are popular flowering landscape trees. They are just finishing blooming now in Minnesota. The fragrant flowers of Tilia provide nectar for bumble bees and sweat bees, and the foliage serves as a food source for over 150 species of caterpillars.
Flowers are especially heavy this year on landscape trees, making some trees appear yellow from a distance. This mastingor flowering with heavy seed production may have been induced by recent environmental conditions.  
Enjoy the fragrance and appreciate the food these trees provide for many of our pollinating insects! About masting:

Author: Mary Meyer, Professor and Extension Horticulturist

How to keep the blooms going!

Now that summer is in full swing, you’ll likely need to fertilize container plants to maintain optimum growth...and keep those blooms going!

If you used a pre-fertilized commercial potting media, you won’t need to fertilize for the first two to three weeks after planting.

If a controlled-release fertilizer was mixed in at planting, you may not need to fertilize for eight to ten weeks. Once that time has passed, however, you may start to notice slowed growth, yellowing of foliage, or other signs of plant decline if you haven’t applied additional fertilizer.
Why fertilize now? Nutrients in containers decline quickly as a result of rapid plant growth and frequent watering, which can leach nutrients from the potting media.
What kind of fertilizer should I use? There are many fertilizer options for container plants:

Liquidor soluble fertilizers, for example, are easy to apply during routine watering and may be applied every week or two at full strength or more frequently if diluted. Inorga…

July To-Do List for Vegetable Gardening

Let's get started...#1)Pest Patrol:   Walk through the garden regularly to scout for insect pests and diseases. Frequent scouting is the only way to catch problems early on, so you have a chance to control them before they have caused significant damage. To scout for pests, look closely at the leaves, stem, and fruit of the plants. Look for areas that are discolored, wilted, mis-shapen, or have holes. It is useful to carry a camera phone and a hand lens, in order to see small insects and capture photos of the problem up close.
Often, a symptom like discolored leaves could be due to a number of causes, and it's not always something obvious. Consider multiple causes, including the weather, and examine the plants closely (see photo below).
Once you have pictures of the damage, use the UMN Extension diagnostic tool to identify the problem. Knowing what the problem is will lead you to the solution. What’s Wrong With My Plant? 
Tomato diseases are one of the more common problems in v…

Spotted wing drosophila is active now!

The Department of Entomology Fruit lab reported that the first significant catch of spotted wing
drosophila (SWD) was found recently in all monitoring sites in the Minneapolis – St.Paul area as well as southeast Minnesota.

 The primary susceptible crop is June bearing strawberries. The first trap catch of SWD was on June 8 but only one adult per week was found until now.
How do I know they're on my plants? If you are growing susceptible fruit in your gardens, including raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, strawberries, or grapes, set out traps to determine when SWD is first active in your area. SWD is a very destructive invasive insect pest that can severely damage untreated susceptible fruit crops.
Pest management  The best approach to managing SWD is through detection, sanitation, and insecticide treatments.

For more information on SWD, see Spotted wing Drosophila in home gardens and FruitEdge.

Author: Jeffrey Hahn, Extension Entomologist