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Showing posts from February, 2010

So, what are the best grass varieties for this area?

Bob Mugaas, University of Minnesota Extension Educator

Resources for turfgrass species selection
Determining and then finding the best lawn grasses for one's lawn is not as simple a task as it might seem. However, there are at least a couple readily available resources about turfgrass species and
varieties that are helpful when trying to determine which ones will do well in this area. One of those is a local source from right here at the University of Minnesota. The other is a national database with
extensive information about turfgrass varieties. Let's see how we might utilize these to make a list of suitable varieties for this area.

We'll begin with a look at the national database known as NTEP, the National Turfgrass Evaluation Program. Their information can be accessed at: This program is a cooperative effort between the non-profit National Turfgrass Federation, Inc. and the United States Department of Agriculture. It conducts comprehensive …

Baptisia australis, 2010 Perennial Plant of the Year

Karen Jeannette, Research Fellow and Yard and Garden News Editor

The 2010 Perennial Plant of the Year goes to Baptisia australis, also referred to as false indigo. While many times the perennial plant of the year is in fact versatile and well-suited for Minnesota, as with any nationally nominated plant, there are years when the plant of the year does not always turn out as we hope in Minnesota, or is not hardy to any or all of our Minnesota cold hardiness zones ( 2, 3, 4).
Baptisia australis is considered a long-lived perennial (barring any catastrophe, abuse, or major disruption to the plant or root zone) and is cold hardy in zones 3-8.

The Perennial Plant of the Year is named annually by the Perennial Plant Association, whose board of directors include plantsmen and women who represent nurseries, universities, botanical gardens, and other horticulture entities. The Perennial Plant Association hosts a Plant of the Year Committee, who votes yearly on one of several previously nominated…

Pavement Ants During Winter

Jeffrey Hahn, University of Minnesota Asst. Extension Entomologist

Although it is cold outside, that does not stop some ants from being active in buildings. A common indoor winter ant is pavement ants. A pavement ant is 1/8 inch long and is reddish brown (it can actually range from light brown to dark brown). If you examine a pavement ant closely, you will see a two-segmented petiole, the 'waist' connecting the abdomen with the thorax. With magnification, you can also see a series of fine grooves etched into their heads as well as a pair of small spines on the back of their thorax.

Pavement ants typically nest in the soil, usually under objects, such as stones, bricks, sidewalks, and driveways. When they are found during winter, they are nesting in the soil under the concrete slab. When the nest is kept warm from the building's heat, the ants stay active, move through cracks in the concrete and actively forage for food and water. Ironically, many people that see …

A Cuban Cockroach in Minnesota

Jeffrey Hahn, University of Minnesota Asst. Extension Entomologist

Bananas are favorite fruit of many people. Because they are grown only in tropical areas, they need to be imported into Minnesota. Some people have occasionally discovered inadvertent hitchhikers, primarily spiders, that have been accidentally been brought into Minnesota with the bananas. Recently an interesting cockroach was discovered around bananas.

A person in Morris, Minnesota (in the west central part of the state) found an insect around a sink where some bananas had been sitting. The insect was about 3/4 inch long, pale green, with long antennae and fully developed wings. A quick check of the literature revealed that the insect in question was a Cuban cockroach.

A Cuban cockroach gets it name because it was originally collected in Cuba. It is now commonly found in Mexico, Central America, and northern South America. It is only found in the U.S. in Florida. Although a Cuban cockroach is an outdoor species…

March 2010 Garden Calendar

Contributors: Karen Jeannette, Research Fellow and Yard and Garden News Editor; excerpts from the 2010 Minnesota Gardening Calendar.

Plant Tips

Inspect your apple or crabapple trees for fire blight so you can prune out all traces of the disease this month. You might also find the blackened, dead branch tips on pear trees or mountain ash. Check also for black knot swellings on chokecherries and other members of the cherry family. Prune at least six inches back in to healthy wood when you remove diseased tissue. If possible, dip your pruners into bleach solution between cuts. See the following articles from the March 1, 2007 Yard and Garden News to best implement sound pruning practices:Pruning Tools, Pruning Cuts, Pruning Out Galls and Cankers

Start seeds that need eight to ten weeks growth indoors under fluorescent lights by mid-month. Sweet alyssum, blue salvia, and dianthus pinks are just a few such seeds. Peppers, eggplants, and leeks are among others. Tomatoes may be started …

Professors and Golf Course Superintendents Recognized for Turfgrass Phosphorus Fertilizer Training Program

Photo: (Left to right) Dr. Brian Horgan; Gene Hugoson, MDA Commissioner; Rick Traver Jr., CGCS, and Scott Turtinen, MN Golf Course Superintendents Association. (Not Shown, Dr. Carl Rosen). Scott Turtinen. The Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture has recently awarded two University of Minnesota Professors, Drs. Brian Horgan and Carl Rosen, along with Mr. Rick Traver, Jr.,CGCS and Mr. Scott Turtinen of the Minnesota Golf Course Superintendents' Association, for their dedicated service to the Turfgrass Phosphorus Fertilizer Training Program.

Dr. Horgan is an Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota and Turfgrass Extension Specialist. He travels around the world giving lectures on nutrient fate, fertilizer management, water conservation strategies and general turfgrass management. His research focuses on creating common sense solutions for the practitioner of today and future turfgrass managers.

Dr. Rosen is a Professor and Extension Soil Scientist in the…

University of Minnesota Master Gardener Vegetable and Ornamental Trials for 2009

Jackie Smith, Belle Plaine, Carver/Scott Master Gardener

Over 100 Master Gardeners throughout Minnesota participated in the trials for 2009. As always, weather was a factor for many, with a long cool dry spell early in the season followed by hot and dry and then by a cool, rainy, stretch at the end. Despite the weather, our testers persevered and most successfully grew and evaluated one of the three vegetables or two ornamentals. Participants grew all the cultivars listed and evaluated yield, flavor, and ornamental value by ranking their performance from 1 to 3 (1=excellent, 3=poor).   They also recorded whether or not they would purchase the cultivar to grow again.

Lima Beans

Lima growers sowed directly outdoors on an average date of May 30. Growers planted five or more seeds of each variety, and kept from two to three plants of each for evaluation. All varieties were marked as bush varieties. Flavor and texture were evaluated using cooked young shelled beans. "Burpee Imp…

How well do you know your Minnesota lawn grasses?

Bob Mugaas, University of Minnesota Extension Educator

One of the favorite winter pastimes for Minnesota gardeners is looking through seed and nursery catalogs that in turn, fuel one's desire to plant and try new vegetables, flowers, trees or shrubs in the coming year. But, this is also a good time of year to plan ahead to repair or replace those lawn areas that may not be doing so well. If you are thinking about just trying to thicken up your lawn or perhaps even introduce some different types of grasses into an existing lawn to improve such things as drought tolerance, disease resistance, shade tolerance or lower the need for inputs of water and nutrients, this is also a good time of year to do some homework on the best grasses to use to achieve those goals.
A good planning exercise for the winter is to look out your windows and try to reflect on whether or not the lawn seems to be doing well in those areas. If not, make a note of what seemed to be the problem and try to det…

New Do-It-Yourself Bed Bug Monitor

Jeffrey Hahn, University of Minnesota Asst. Extension Entomologist

In the fight against bed bugs, one of the challenges is knowing whether these biting insects are present and where they are located in a building. Recent research at Rutgers has developed a monitor that will make it easier to find them. This research was presented at the 2009 Entomological Society of America (ESA) annual meetings held in Indianapolis and has since been widely reported in the media.

This research, conducted by Wan-Tien Tsai and Changlu Wang, found that a monitor could be successfully made from an insulated plastic 1/3 gallon jug filled with about 2 ½ pounds of dry ice pellets. You leave the pour spout partially open to allow CO2to escape which emits CO2 for about 11 hours. The jug is set on top of an upside pet food dish. Put fabric around the outside of the dish to allow bed bugs easy access to the inner part of the dish. You should also coat the inner section of the dish with talcum powder so th…