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Showing posts from March, 2011

The Good, Bad and Interesting Roles of Nitrogen (N) and Nitrogen Fertilizers in Home Lawn Care - Part 2 of a 3 Part Series on Understanding and Using Home Lawn Fertilizers

Bob Mugaas, UMN Extension Educator

This is the second article of a three part series on Understanding and Using Home Lawn Fertilizers. This article will focus attention on the nutrient nitrogen, why it gets so much emphasis in lawn care and, the roles that it plays in maintaining a healthy, vigorous lawn. As we begin this article, it is important to remember that while other nutrients such as phosphorus and potassium are important for healthy lawns, it is the nutrient nitrogen upon which nearly all general recommendations for home lawn fertilizer applications are based.

Photo 1: Healthy, dense lawn promoted by proper use of N fertilizers.
Bob Mugaas.

Grass plant absorption of nitrogen and its impacts on grass growth
Nitrogen (N) is the mineral element used in the largest quantity by our grass plants. It is absorbed primarily from the soil by the plant's root system. However, nitrogen is not absorbed by the plant in its elemental form (N). The two most commonly absorbed forms…

Creating a Soil Mix for Blueberries

Karl Foord, UMN Extension Educator

Exhibit 1, click to enlarge.

Plants have a soil pH range within which they function well (Exhibit 1); however outside this range plants can show signs of stress. This stress is often in the form of a pH induced nutrient deficiency. In blueberries an out of the range high soil pH will induce an iron deficiency (Photos 2 & 3). To get a sense of pH, a number of commonly encountered materials and their respective pH values are listed in Exhibit 1.

Traditional blueberry soils are sandy with low organic matter and pH of 4.5 to 5. In addition blueberries plants do not tolerate waterlogged or droughty soils. Unfortunately, my soil is a clay loam soil whose two soil tests results indicated pH values of 6.8 and 7.2. In addition the soil was compacted during house construction so the depth of the hole for planting needs to be deeper than the compaction zone, or the blueberries should be planted on raised beds or both. If the planting hole is filled wi…

Wasp Nests and Wasps in Spring

Jeffrey Hahn, Asst. UMN Extension Entomologist

Photo 1: Don't worry about wasps in this nest in early spring.
Jeff Hahn.

As our attention finally turns to spring, there could be some loose ends to tie up from last fall. For people that experienced wasp nests in their home, they may be wondering what they should do with any wasps that may remain in them. Fortunately, there are no longer any wasps alive in those nests.

Late last summer, new queens were produced. After mating, they left the nest, and flew off to eventually find sheltered sites in which to overwinter. Meanwhile back at the nest, the old queen and workers continued with their daily routines until freezing weather killed them. Newly mated queens do not return to their old nests but instead will construct their own nests when spring begins.

So what does that mean for nests in and around your home this spring. You can largely ignore them. One exception to this would be if you experienced a wasp nest in a wall void…

Stowaways in the Garden Center - How to Avoid Hitch Hiking Plant Pathogens

Michelle Grabowski, UMN Extension Educator

Photo 1: Container production in the western United States.
M.Grabowski, UMN Extension.
Many Minnesota gardeners are anxiously awaiting the melting of snow and the warming of soil. As you decide on what new plants to add to your garden this year, consider carefully where those plants are coming from and if there is a risk that they might not be coming alone.

As the world becomes more internationally connected, common garden plants are being shipped across the country and in some cases across the ocean. This is not a problem unless there are plant pathogens hitching a ride on these garden plants. In 2009, tomato transplants from the south eastern United States were shipped to garden centers from Maine to Ohio. Unfortunately these tomato transplants were infected with the pathogen responsible for causing a devastating disease of tomato and potato known as late blight. The resulting disease epidemic spread from home gardens to commercial tomato …

Webbing Clothes Moths

Jeffrey Hahn, Asst. UMN Extension Entomologist

Photo 1: Webbing clothes moth adult.
Jeff Hahn.

The most common small moths found indoors, e.g. Indianmeal moths, are usually associated with stored foods. However, occasionally you may encounter small moths that attack fabric. The most common species is the webbing clothes moth. The adult webbing clothes moth has buff colored wings with no spots or markings on them. The wings are folded behind their back when at rest and the insect measures about 1/4 to 1/3 inches long. Particularly characteristic is the mop of reddish brown hairs on its head. Webbing cloth moth adults avoid light and generally seek out dark areas of rooms.

The larvae are whitish with dark colored heads and are no larger than ½ inch long. They feed on wool, fur, feathers hair, and other materials of animal origin. They are not interested in plant material, like cotton and generally do not attack synthetic material unless it is blended with wool or is stained, e.g…


Begin to move protective cover from bulb beds, non-hardy roses, and perennials in stages as mulch and soil thaw. Don't rush to uncover tender plants, though! Mulch helps prevent the plants from coming out of dormancy too early, when damaging cold is still a possibility. Rose canes will be okay as long as temperature hover around twenty degrees, but most flowering perennials will die back when it's that cold.

April showers bring May flowers... keep an eye on the spring warming trends at University of Minnesota Climatology Working Group website!

Have your soil tested if you plan to start a new flower or vegetable garden-- or if your existing garden is not productive and performing well, even though it gets plenty of sunlight an water. The University of Minnesota Soil Testing Lab will analyze the soil and recommend fertilizer and other soil amendments, based on reliable data.

Yard and Garden News Editor: Karl Foord
Technical Editor: Bridget Barton