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Friday, December 1, 2017

Our experts' favorite gardening books for holiday gifts

By Extension Communication Specialist Gail Hudson

December and cold weather arrives quickly in Minnesota (surprise!), and with it comes that perennial question: what gift can I buy the family member or friend with a green thumb? We’ve tapped our gardening experts for their favorite books to read over the winter months. (And please note—we’ve included links to the publishers. You’ll find them for sale in a number of places.)

Courtesy: Princeton University Press
Learn about Bees in Your Backyard
Since the “buzz” in the gardening world these days is all about pollinators, Extension Educator Elaine Evans, whose research concerns wild bee diversity, the rusty-patched bumble bee and bee conservation and is an author in her own right, has this book at the top of her list: The Bees in Your Backyard: A Guide to North America’s Bees, by Joseph S. Wilson.
Elaine says it’s a great introduction to the fascinating world of bees through beautiful photos along with accurate, accessible information.  She says once you learn what you are seeing, you’ll be able to discover the rich diversity of bees, many of which you can find in your own back yard. 

Courtesy: Wicwas Press
Want to help pollinators in your garden next year? Extension Educator and the U’s Bee Squad Associate Program Director Rebecca Masterman recommends this excellent resource: Pollinator Friendly Gardening by Minnesota author Rhonda Fleming Hayes. She says the photographs and text will help you learn about pollinators, which plants support them and what things you can do in the garden to “bee friendly”! 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Watch out for food infesting beetles

Jeffrey Hahn, Extension Entomologist

This is a time of year when beetles, like flour beetles, sawtoothed grain beetles, drugstore beetles, and
Cigarette beetles.  Photo: Jeff Hahn, U of M Extension
cigarette beetles, can infest a wide variety of dried food products, including (but not limited to) flour and other grain-based products, dried fruits, nuts, spices, such as dried red pepper, as well as dry pet food. These beetles are small, 1/10th - 1/8th inch long, and brown. They can range in shape from slender to stout and oval.

When these beetles are found in a home, the best control is sanitation. First find out what
Sawtoothed grain beetles. Photo: Jeff Hahn, U of M Extension
they are infesting. Because they are able to feed on many items, be sure to make a thorough inspection. Start in the kitchen and check all food items for their presence. However, don’t forget about any susceptible items that may be stored in other areas on your home, e.g. pet food. Throw out any infested food material that you find. Keep in mind that there can be more than one infestation source so don’t stop looking after you find the first one.

For more information, see Insect pest of stored foods.

Friday, November 17, 2017

From the MDA: Update on Palmer amaranth

Reprinted from Minnesota Noxious Weeds - Palmer Amaranth

Palmer amaranth plant in western MinnesotaIn September 2016, Palmer amaranth (Amaranthus palmeri) was initially discovered and confirmed in Minnesota. To date, isolated populations have been documented in first year conservation plantings in Yellow Medicine, Lyon, Douglas and Todd Counties. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA), University of Minnesota Extension, USDA, landowners and other partners are working to eradicate these infestations before they can spread to new areas.  Efforts to this point have been very successful.  MDA is also working closely with other state, county and federal agencies, the MN Native Seed Industry and several non-profit organizations to regularly sample and test seed sold in the state for presence of Palmer amaranth.

Why the concern? 

Palmer amaranth is a fast growing weed native to the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico, and has spread east and north through a variety of pathways including contaminated seed, hay, livestock feed and agricultural equipment. It has developed resistance to multiple classes of herbicides and their different modes of action, making it very difficult and expensive to control. Palmer amaranth is a prolific seed producer. Up to 250,000 seeds can come from one plant. It is also highly competitive.

It has a fast growth rate of 2- 3 inches per day and commonly reaches heights of 6- 8 feet, greatly inhibiting crop growth. Reported yield losses have been up to 91% in corn and 79% in soybean in some states. The weed can also significantly increase production costs for corn, soybean, and other crops. 
Arrest the Pest icon, report sightings by emailing arrest.the.pest@state.mn.us or call 888-545-6684Read  more about Palmer amaranth on the MN Department of Agriculture webpage

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Pollinator-friendly landscape? Share on Instagram!

Do you have a pollinator-friendly landscape? Did you see a plethora of honeybees, native bees, flies, butterflies and other pollinators in your yard and garden this past summer? Share pictures of your landscape with other pollinator enthusiasts on instagram @flowers4pollinators

Not sure how your yard and garden measure up for pollinators? Take the survey "How Pollinator-friendly is your landscape?" and find out!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

MDA Weed of the Month: Oriental bittersweet

By Emilie Justen, Minnesota Department of Agriculture, 11/07/2017

https://content.govdelivery.com/attachments/MNMDA/2017/11/07/file_attachments/909460/OB%2Bfruit.jpg
Oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus)

November’s Weed of the Month, Oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus), is a woody vine with colorful red fruit. It was brought to North America from the Asia and used as an ornamental plant. The attractive vines have been used for wreath decorations and in floral decorations; unfortunately, the plant has escaped cultivation and has become invasive in residential and natural areas in Minnesota.

Oriental bittersweet spreads by several means. The persistent red fruit is consumed by birds, which spread the seed to uninfested areas. People trained to look for Oriental bittersweet may look for places where birds perch. The areas beneath the perches may have Oriental bittersweet seedlings, juvenile vines, or mature woody vines and would be a place to target control efforts. Humans also spread Oriental bittersweet infestations by physically moving the plants. Oriental bittersweet was commonly propagated and sold in Minnesota through nurseries and retail garden centers before 2010. Its use in floral arrangements and wreaths also increased its spread.

Despite its ornamental characteristics, Oriental bittersweet is an ecological threat to forests, grasslands, and parks in Minnesota. The vines twine around trees, girdling them in a snake-like fashion. Though it prefers forest edges and sunlight, Oriental bittersweet can grow in forest understories, eventually reaching forest canopies, shading the trees and understory and preventing native plant species from flourishing. Infestations can become so thick that wildlife, such as deer, can have difficulty navigating through wooded areas filled with Oriental bittersweet.

Read more how you can help ....  MDA Weed of the Month

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

30th Anniversary highlights ornamental grasses trend for low-maintenance gardens

By Gail Hudson, Horticulture Extension Communications Specialist

As summer flowers fade and the leaves turn fall colors in Minnesota, many varieties of ornamental grasses are at their majestic peak and in full flower.  They stand from 3 feet to as much as 12 feet in height (although some are shorter), as vibrant kings of the perennial garden with their jaunty, yet graceful looks. Ornamental grasses have not only become key components in the driving trend toward sustainable and low-maintenance landscapes, but their strong vertical lines offer living sculpture in today’s native gardening mix.

 Mary Meyer, U of M Extension Educator
“Today there’s a real interest in native grasses and using native cultivars in the garden,” said Mary Meyer, the University of Minnesota Extension professor and educator who maintains the only collection of ornamental grasses accredited by the American Public Garden Association in the U.S. “We went from having exotics from the non-natives and huge numbers of Miscanthus [in the collection] to more and more North American native species. And really the grasses that are native in the prairie.”

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

From our Turf blog: November is the time to dormant seed

November dormant seeding helps promote
a healthy lawn next spring.
By Sam Bauer, Turf Extension Educator

The optimal lawn seeding window is mid-August to mid-September. If you missed that time frame, but you still want to seed this fall, my recommendation is to wait until November to seed. This practice is called dormant seeding and is certainly an effective way to introduce new species and/or varieties of turf into your existing lawn.

By far our most popular post on this site has been the one on this topic, so we are re-posting an article originally published on November 1, 2013.

If you are considering dormant seeding, read on to start planning for November: There’s Still Time to Dormant Seed Your Lawn.
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