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Showing posts from September, 2009

September gardening endings and beginnings

Dear Yard and Garden News readers,

September represents both an ending and a beginning to me (see the 2009 September gardening list and tips related to these beginning and ending activities). It represents a time that much of the garden is hitting (or has hit) its peak and must become prepared for winter rest. Yet September brings with it another growing season's knowledge and discovery in which a gardener can formulate his or her new future gardening plans for the next year. As your new University of Minnesota Extension Yard and Garden News editor, it is with great enthusiasm, that I look forward to continuing the tradition of helping gardeners and yard caretakers in Minnesota become connected with the horticultural science and research that manifests itself into useful gardening information, tips, and discoveries.

Before I move forward with this and other issues, I would like to thank David Zlezak and past editors for producing and developing what I have always experienced as …

The Yard and Garden News: Features in blog format

Karen Jeannette, Horticulture Research Fellow & Yard and Garden Editor

Last month, former editor David Zlezak explained the Yard and Garden News has moved to a blog format.  Here we explain a little bit about how this new type of format has enhanced options, but still the same quality information you've come to depend on. These are some new features:

Readers can comment on articles - we want to hear from you!RSS feeds - read Yard and Garden News in your favorite feed readerView articles chronologically (under Archives) or by topic (under Recent Posts) - choose what works for youMore options to use media (video, voice, slidshows, etc...) to support articles We encourage you to explore these new features, or you can sit back, relax and read the Yard and Gardens News as always. You will continue to receive email notifications linking to new Yard and Garden News articles.  And don't forget: The old Yard and Garden News archive is still accessible from the new site by searching …

A Honeydew List

Jeffrey Hahn, Asst. Extension Entomologist

There have been various reports lately of trees weeping or dripping some kind of sticky substance. There have been different speculations about what causes this problem. Is it some kind of disease? Is it just sap? The answer: insects.

Photo: Typical aphids.  Jeff Hahn.

Aphids and certain scale insects feed in the phloem layer of plants using their needle-like mouthparts. They are not able to digest all of the sugars in the sap, and consequently, excrete a sugary liquid called honeydew. Honeydew is clear (can appear white) and is sticky. This material is not harmful to the health of trees but can be annoying when it coats deck furniture, cars, or other objects that are below infested trees. If this is a problem, try to remove it as soon as possible as honeydew can be very challenging to remove the longer it stays on.

Many ant species enjoy sweets and are attracted to honeydew. Some ants actually tend aphids to maintain their supply. …

Is late blight a threat to Minnesota tomatoes?

Michelle Grabowski, University of Minnesota Extension Educator

Many articles about the late blight epidemic of potatoes and tomatoes in the northeastern United States have been appearing in the news this summer. These reports are making some Minnesotans worried about late blight here in Minnesota. Although the extreme level of disease that is occurring in the northeast is not currently present here in Minnesota, late blight is present in the state and disease is possible. Gardeners should be aware of what late blight infected plants look like, what environmental conditions favor late blight, and what to do if late blight occurs. At this point, however, there is no need to panic.

Photo 1: Late blight on leaves. H.Schwartz, Colorado State University,

About late blight
Late Blight is a disease caused by a fungus-like organism called Phytophthora infestans. Phytophthora literally means 'plant destroyer' in Latin. This pathogen has earned its name by causing several fa…

Lawn care checklist: late summer - early fall

Bob Mugaas, University of Minnesota Extension Educator

Fall lawn care cultural practices employed during the active fall growth period of our grasses can be some of the most important and beneficial activities for your lawn. These practices will aid in good winter survival, early spring green up and growth, as well as provide many other helpful benefits.
Photo 1: Bluegrass lawn recovered from early season drought stress. Bob Mugaas.
With the return of rainfall and moderate temperatures, many of our lawns have come back to life after drier than normal conditions during May, June and early July. With that regrowth beginning, now is a good time to start getting your lawn in tip top shape for the active fall growing period. Below are some good cultural practices to consider.

Seven fall lawn care practices to consider
1. Overseeding and sodding: If the lawn did suffer some permanent injury during the dry conditions of late spring and early summer, now is a good time to do some overseeding…

Fall is for Tasting and Rating University of Minnesota Apple Varieties

Excerpts from Arboretum News, Judy Hohmann, Arboretum Marketing & Public Relations Manager

The University of Minnesota's Horticultural Research Center (HRC) breeds northern-hardy apples. Twenty-six robust varieties of apples have been introduced in the marketplace thus far. Some of these apples will be available for tasting at the Arboretum's Oswald Visitor Center (see weekend apple tasting details below).  Apples for purchase will be available at the Arboretum's AppleHouse in early fall. After 20 years of research, testing, and cultivation, SweeTango® -- the offspring of Honeycrisp and Zestar parentage will burst on the scene this year with predictions over time to jostle Honeycrisp from its superstar perch.  Look for a limited supply of SweeTango® apples for sale at the Arboretum AppleHouse in early Fall.

Photo:  Zestar apples in bowl. David Hansen.

Weekend apple tastings
Sample and rate test apple varieties - each weekend
features different apples. Drop in and compl…

Animal part, plant, or rare mushroom found in Anoka County?

Lynne Hagen, Master Gardener Program Coordinator, Anoka County

One never knows what curiosities can arrive in a county Master Gardener office. A phone call from a client came in with the request of identifying an object that was found in her yard. The client wasn't sure if it was an animal part, a plant or fungus. Since the person calling raised chickens and ducks, she thought perhaps it was a deformed body part but wasn't convinced. This piqued my curiosity. Upon receiving the photos, the image was forwarded a couple of Master Gardener and Extension colleagues, as well as the Bell Museum. After a little sleuthing, David McLaughlin, from the Department of Plant Biology confirmed that it was a rare stinkhorn mushroom and most likely, a Lizard's Claw Stinkhorn Mushroom, Lysurus cruciatus. He stated, "What is shown in the pictures are the stem and apical, spore-forming area. These arise from a sack-like structure in the substrate. The spores usually have a strong o…

2009 September gardening list and tips

September 2009 gardening tips are compiled from past conversations with University of Minnesota Extension Educators through 2004, 2006, 2007Yard and Garden News calendars, and through email conversations with Ask a Master Gardener volunteers:Barb Harlan, Theresa Rooney, Claire Kari, and Darla Medic-Johnson.

Photo: (from left to right) Sneezeweed and Joe Pye Weed in the September garden. Karen Jeannette

While some might consider September the end of another gardening season, it might also be considered a beginning for enjoying the harvest of the garden or planning next year's activities. This time of year you may notice some central themes helpful in remembering seasonal garden and yard care tips, such as: watering, cleaning up, moving, harvesting, and preparing for next season, just to name a few. As always, this September gardening list is far from all-encompassing, yet a good reminder of where to start.

Providing adequate water in fall is especially critical for incre…

Plant Information Online

Karen Jeannette, Research Fellow and Yard and Garden News Editor

Sometimes finding the right plants for your garden is half the battle of getting them planted!

The University of Minnesota's Plant Information Online database is a valuable tool for finding sources of plant materials, links to plant specific information, and much more. Created and maintained by library staff at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum's Andersen Horticultural Library, it is updated many times a day. Kathy Allen, Andersen Library's head librarian, highlights ways that the Plant Information Online database can be used, including as a resource to find:
nurseries that specialize in certain plant materials (mail order)
where to find or buy a particular plant (mail order)
wholesale plant sources (hint: knowing local wholesalers may provide clues about local retail plant availability)
nurseries or plant names (especially helpful when you can't remember the entire name)
plant specific links to reliable web…

HORT 1003 Master Gardener Core Course / Horticulture for the Home and Garden 2010 class schedule

The 2010 HORT 1003 Master Gardener Core Course / Horticulture for the Home and Garden will be held in St. Paul, Mankato, Pine City and online. While originally designed to educate new Master Gardener volunteers, this class is also open to those people who want to gain valuable horticulture knowledge without the volunteer obligation (called "ProHort"). A total of 48 hours of education, this class is taught by extension educators and faculty. Topics include: botany, soils, horticulture resources, entomology, plant pathology, herbaceous plants, trees and shrubs, indoor plants, integrated pest management, lawn care, weeds, fruits and vegetables.


Registration opens online Sept. 30, 2009. See for the registration link.

2010 Class locations:
Online: January 12 - May 2, 2010
University of Minnesota - St. Paul campus: January 12 - February 6, 2010
Pine City, MN: January 26 - February 20, 2010
Mankato, MN: February 23 - March 30, 2010

2010 Class fees (incl…