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Showing posts from September, 2014

Late Fall Vegetable Gardening - Pest Management

Cindy Tong, UMN Extension Specialist


UMN Dept. of Entomology
Photo 1: Adult Colorado Potato Beetle

Take care of those pests, or they might just come back next year! Two of the recurring pests common to most gardens are weeds, weeds, weeds and Colorado potato beetles. Weeds are plants that have evolved successful strategies for competing against other plants, like developing spreading rhizomes (think Creeping Charlie) or lots and lots and lots and lots of small seeds (amaranth). If your garden has weeds that are blooming or forming seeds, it's worthwhile to take them out even now. Otherwise, those lots and lots and lots and lots of seeds will drop to the ground and stay in the soil, making up a big part of the seedbank, from which future generations of weeds will grow.

Colorado potato beetle adults may still be laying eggs, even if your potato plants are going to be dug up soon. Even if there soon won't be anything for those beetles or their young to eat, it's still worthwhi…

Don't Confuse Yellowjackets and Bees

Jeffrey Hahn, Extension Entomologist



Jeff Hahn, Univ of MN Extension
Photo 1: Yellowjackets are black and yellow with few hairs and construct nests made of a papery material.

As the summer winds down, people have been commonly finding insects nesting in and around their homes. There can be confusion whether people are seeing yellowjackets or honey bees. There is tendency for people to call all stinging insects "bees". This has been compounded with the recent attention in the media on honey bees so people are thinking about them even more. While yellowjackets and honey bees both can sting, they have very different biologies. At this time of the year, people are most often seeing yellowjackets.



Jeff Hahn, Univ of MN Extension
Photo 2: Honey bees are brown and black and hairy. Don't confuse them with yellowjackets.

A yellowjacket is about ½ inch long (this can vary some), black and yellow, and relatively slender with few hairs. A baldfaced hornet, actually a kind of y…

Butterflies in slow motion flight

Karl Foord, Extension Educator - Horticulture

I recently took a class on bee identification at the Southwest Research Station of the Museum of Natural History in the Chiricahua Mountains three hours west of Tucson, Arizona.
While traveling to one of the bee collection sites we passed a large puddle along the road. Two days previously a heavy downpour had soaked the countryside and this puddle downstream from an open cattle range provided the butterflies with water, sodium, and perhaps other needed nutrients.

I have always wondered about the flight of butterflies. Their flight often seems quite erratic. I understand this to be part of a strategy to avoid predators. Is their flight actually as erratic as it appears to us?

I returned to the puddle the following day and was happy to see that it was not completely dry. I was able to slow down their flight with a high speed camera capturing 3500 frames per second. If 30 frames per second is what we consider to be normal then this slows dow…

WCCO Radio "Smart Gardens" Q&A - September 13, 2014

Thanks for listening!

We aren't always able to answer everyone's texted questions on the air, so we try to post a few along with answers here in the Yard & Garden News blog. Remember that you can always visit the U of M Extension Garden website for loads of gardening resources.

Hope you join us and our host Denny Long every Saturday, 8-9am, on WCCO Smart Gardens and happy gardening!

Question: Paver stone patio on north side of house has mold / moss in between stones. How do I get rid of this?

Answer: You can use a sharp tool to scrape / dig out moss and fill in spaces with builders' sand. You can plant low-growing, creeping plants like creeping thyme or wooly time in the spaces.
Mold can be removed with a bleach / water solution and a wire brush. Be careful not to get bleach on the plants nearby, your clothing or patio furniture.

Question: I just planted a 2" Autumn Blaze maple. What are you recommendations for watering?

Answer: Here is an excerpt from the U of M Ext…

Just Wait Out Foreign Grain Beetles

Jeffrey Hahn, Extension Educator



Jeff Hahn, Univ. of MN Extension
Photo 1: Don't confuse tiny foreign grain beetles for flies or fleas

Very small, brownish beetles are being found in some buildings, especially homes that have been recently constructed. Proper identification is critical as these beetles may be confused for other insects, such as fruit flies, drain flies, or fleas. A foreign grain beetle is about 1/12th inch long and reddish brown with a flattened body.

Foreign grain beetles can also fly which is why they might be confused for small-sized flies. However, foreign grain beetles have a generally harder body compared to the softer bodied flies. Fleas also have a relatively hard body but are fattened instead from to side to side; fleas are also wingless and can't fly.

The favorite food of foreign grain beetles is fungi and so they are typically found in relatively damp areas. They are often associated with new construction because the moisture in wall voids when…

WCCO Radio "Smart Gardens" Q&A - September 6, 2014

Thanks for listening!

We aren't always able to answer everyone's texted questions on the air, so we try to post a few along with answers here in the Yard & Garden News blog. Remember that you can always visit the U of M Extension Garden website for loads of gardening resources.

Hope you join us and our host Denny Long every Saturday, 8-9am, on WCCO Smart Gardens and happy gardening!

Question: It looks like my Black-Eyed Susans have powdery mildew. Will they be OK next year and what can I do?

Answer: Powdery mildew is a common fungus in Minnesota landscapes that results in a white powdery covering over leaves. Usually damage is cosmetic and the plant recovers fine the next year. The best means of managing this pest is to (1) select resistant plants, (2) space plants properly to ensure air circulation, (3) water at the base of the plant (vs. overhead watering) to minimize splashing spores onto leaves, and (4) clear away infected plant material. Fungicides are available, but us…

Shake Rattle & Role: BUZZ Pollination

Karl Foord, Extension Educator - Horticulture

I recently had the rare privilege of traveling to Tucson, Arizona to visit the laboratory of Dr. Dan Papaj. I worked with Dr. Stephen Buchmann (author of several fine books) and Avery Russell to photograph buzz pollination of Solanum species flowers by the Common Eastern Bumble Bee (Bombus impatiens).

Buzz pollination occurs when an insect visiting a flower uses vibration to extract pollen from the anthers of a flower. This is accomplished by the insect activating their wing muscles without flying. This vibration shakes the anthers of the flower causing pollen to pore out the end of the anther; anthers having pores at their end are called porical for this reason.

This is not an isolated occurrence as some 15,000 to 20,000 plant species have pores or slits at the end of their anthers. Also some 50 genera of bees possess the capability to accomplish buzz pollination. Interestingly enough, honey bees are not capable of buzz pollination.

Poric…

Tomato Troubles - There is an App for That

Michelle Grabowski, UMN Extension

Wondering what is blighting your tomato plant? Looking for recommendations on how to avoid the same problem next year? The American Phytopathological Society, a nonprofit scientific organization of plant doctors, has released a new app called Tomato MD for iPhones and iPads. This interactive app helps gardeners diagnosis tomato problems with an easy to follow diagnostic key, color photos and descriptions of symptoms. Over 35 common tomato problems are covered including diseases, insects, mites and environmental and cultural problems. The app also includes an up to date list of plant diagnostic laboratories in the United States and detailed instructions on how to pack and send a sample for diagnosis. Look for Tomato MD on your device's app store.