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Showing posts from November, 2009

An Interesting Insect Found In a Home Yard

Jeffrey Hahn, University of Minnesota Asst. Extension Entomologist

An unusual insect, a northern mole cricket (Neocurtilla hexadactyla), was submitted to the entomology department in August. This insect was found by a homeowner in their yard in North Branch (Chisago county) in east central Minnesota. Northern mole crickets are found throughout the eastern U.S. in low lying moist areas, e.g. along the margins of lakes and streams. They are rarely found in home lawns and are not considered to be a pest in Minnesota.

This brown insect grows up to 1 1/4 - 1 1/3 inches long, has moderate length antennae and short wings that only extend about half way down its abdomen. What is particularly distinctive about this insect is its stout, mole-like front pair of legs which are modified for digging (called fossorial). They have four dactyls (claws) on their tibia which distinguishes them from closely related mole crickets. Despite their ungainly appearance, northern moles crickets are capab…

Fungi Sprouting on Trees Have a Scary Story to Tell

Michelle Grabowski, University of Minnesota Extension Educator

Photo 1 (left): Basidocarp of Climacodon septenrionalis. Michelle Grabowski. With October's frequent rain, many gardeners have noticed fungi sprouting from some landscape trees. These fungi may be any number of shapes, sizes and colors. They may arise from the trunk itself, from the root flare of the tree or from the roots. In all cases, fungi growing directly on a live tree tell the tale of heart rot within.

What's in the Trunk?
In order to understand heart rot, gardeners must understand a little bit about the wood within a tree trunk. Trees can have several different kinds of wood within their trunk. Sapwood is composed of living cells with a number of jobs to do. Sapwood cells conduct sap through the tree, store extra energy, close off wounds, and actively fight invading microorganism. In all trees, sapwood occurs in the outer most rings of the tree. Some trees, like maple, birch, beech and poplar form only sap…

Dormant Seeding Lawns: Last chore of the season?

Bob Mugaas, University of Minnesota Extension Educator

Photo 1 (above): Thin lawn area that could benefit from dormant seeding. Bob Mugaas.
One last shot at lawn improvement can be done even yet this fall. By early November, most lawn care chores and activities are completed; lawn mowers are put away, watering has ended, hoses are drained and stored for the winter, irrigation systems have been blown out and winterized and, the last, late season nitrogen fertilizer has been put down.  Yet, there remains one activity that can still be done to help repair or thicken the lawn for next year. In fact, prior to the early part of November (at least in the Twin Cities area, earlier in the northern half of Minnesota), it would be have been too early to do this task. That task is known as dormant seeding.  It is best employed when wanting to reseed bare soil areas or help thicken up thin lawns. It is not as effective, where lawns are thick and dense with little opportunity to achieve the good…

Edible Landscape Wrap-Up

Emily Tepe, University of Minnesota Research Fellow, Department of Horticultural Science

After many weeks of harvesting mountains of chard, tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, cucumbers, raspberries and a multitude of other vegetables, fruits and herbs, the University of Minnesota Edible Landscape has been put to bed. Well...almost. The few lone stands of silvery blue kale seem to mock the cold, their leathery leaves sweetening with each frosty night. And many of the herbs are even holding onto their green. Other than those, the Edible Landscape is now resting after a long and productive season.
Photo 1 (left and above): Snow on dinosaur kale in the University of Minnesota Edible Landscape on October 12, 2009. Emily Tepe.
If you haven't had a chance to see the gardens on the St. Paul campus this year, and if you haven't been following the Edible Landscape blog, here's a rundown of some of the details of the project. The Edible Landscape filled four beds outside the Plant Growth …