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Showing posts from January, 2011

The Rotting of the Harvest

Michelle Grabowski, UMN Extension Educator

Storage vegetables are a great way to keep eating healthy and local throughout Minnesota's long winter. A wide variety of vegetables will keep for one to several months with minimal preparation. Common storage vegetables include carrots, beets, parsnips, turnips, cabbage, kohlrabi, potatoes, onions, garlic, winter squash and celeriac.

Under ideal conditions winter squash can keep for 2-6 months (depending on variety), onions keep up to 4 months, potatoes keep up to 6 months, and carrots keep up to 8 months. It is important to remember that each vegetable has specific moisture and temperature requirements to maintain them in good condition during storage. In her publication 'Harvesting and Storing Home Garden Vegetables', Dr. Cindy Tong of the University of Minnesota Department of Horticulture, provides a detailed table on what environmental conditions each vegetable requires. In addition, Dr. Tong talks about different places in …

Mosquitoes Out of Season

Jeffrey Hahn, Asst. UMN Extension Entomologist

Photo 1: Anopheles punctipennis.
Bunni Olson.
When living in Minnesota, we know that mosquitoes are a fact of life. However, we at least can take consolation that this is a problem during the summer and not something we need to deal with in the dead of winter. And yet, a homeowner e-mailed that she was finding odd insects in her home that she said looked just like mosquitoes. She sent an image that showed what looked like a mosquito but with banded wings. Mosquitoes typically do not have banded wings but there are some closely related insect groups, like crane flies, that commonly do.

However, the long proboscis (mouthparts) and scales on its wings give the insect away as a mosquito. You can identify it as female because its antennae with few hairs on it and is not feather-like as a male would be. You can even identify the mosquito as an Anopheles sp. from the long palps adjacent to the proboscis. The wings have alternating black a…

What's New in Hardy Compact Shrubs?

Kathy Zuzek, UMN Extension Educator

Photo 1: Fall color of burning bush. Kathy Zuzek.

Plantsmen and plant breeders have been busy developing and selecting compact and small-stature colorful shrubs in the last few years. Some of those cultivars that will grow in our northern gardens are Fire Ball® burning bush, Little Lime™ hydrangea, Northern Accents® Sigrid rose, and Oso Happy™ Petit Pink rose. Photo 2: Green flowers of Limelight & Little Lime. Bailey Nurseries.

Burning bush (Euonymus alatus) is a highlight in our Minnesota fall landscapes where it grows as a large shrub or small tree in landscapes and adds bright red to our fall landscapes when grown in full sun. In partial shade, burning bush provides wonderful combinations of pink and green in fall. 'Compactus', a commonly grown cultivar in Minnesota, grows to 6-8'. Although it is rates as hardy to Zone 4 (or hardy to -30° F), it often suffers some stem injury when winter temperatures drop to -25°F. Photo 3: Li…

Position Statement on Ash Conservation/EAB Management Now Available

Jeffrey Hahn, Asst. UMN Extension Entomologist

A position statement was released in January strongly advocating the conservation of ash as a part of an integrated pest management program, along with tree inventories and strategic removal / replacement of unhealthy ash. Cost-effective, environmentally sound emerald ash borer (EAB) treatment protocols are now available that can help preserve ash trees. This document is supported by a combination of university scientists with expertise in EAB management, commercial arborists, municipal foresters, public works officials, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

This is a very important document that should help guide us as we deal with EAB in Minnesota. Below is the text for the document. To see the original document, click here,

Coalition for Urban Ash Tree Conservation
- Emerald Ash Borer Management Statement -

Emerald ash borer has killed millions of ash trees since its discover…

Hand Pollination of Apple Trees?

Karl Foord, UMN Extension Educator

Business Week. I recently attended a conference on native pollinators presented by Jennifer Hopwood of the Xerces Society. The Xerces Society (founded in 1971) has worked to conserve invertebrates and their habitat by focusing on conservation policy, advocacy, education, and research.

One rather alarming topic presented at the conference involved Maoxian County in the Chinese province of Sichuan (see map). In this region farmers have been forced to pollinate their apples and pears by hand because there are insufficient natural insect pollinators to ensure proper fruit set and thus a crop. These are high value crops that must be free of cosmetic defects to be marketable. To achieve this, the growers have resorting to spraying when there is the least hint of a problem. This has resulted in marketable material, but at the cost of having destroyed all the native pollinators in the region. There are beekeeping services but these individuals hesitate …

Calendar: February 1, 2011

Chrysanthemum 'My Favorite.' Julie Weisenhorn. Why not give a blooming plant, rather than cut flowers for Valentine's Day this year? Choices can range from inexpensive African violets, chrysanthemums, or miniature roses to large azaleas and exotic orchids. Their flowers will last much longer than bouquets of floral arrangements, and with continued care, many can be grown as houseplants and made to re-bloom. Wrap the plant well, then place it in a good-sized plastic bag to trap warm air before putting it in a pre-warmed car to bring to your valentine.
Assemble equipment you'll need to start seeds indoors: pots, trays, fluorescent lights that can be raised or lowered, a timer, and, for best results, a heating device to put under containers of germinating seeds. help avoid diseases by using fresh potting soil that drains readily, along with tools and containers that are clean or disinfected. Cool, soggy growing conditions and poor air circulation also favor disease develo…