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Showing posts from September, 2015

End of the season gardening

Julie Weisenhorn, Extension Educator - Horticulture

Minnesota gardeners are very good at flexing with our changing weather. Many love the onset of fall with its brightly colored leaves, crisp apples, goofy squash and global pumpkins. Days are lovely - warm, breezy, sun-filled - perfect for noodling around in your yard. On the other hand, night temps can dip into the 30's and bring frosty mornings. This swing of the gardening pendulum can make us anxious about those last tomatoes still ripening on the vine, our beautiful Genovese basil, the annual flowers still blooming, and our houseplants that have been thriving out doors all summer. Relax. Here are some actions we can take as gardeners to get our plants through this transitional period while we prepare for the winter ahead.

Frost advisory? Move plants into a garage or drape old sheets, lightweight tarps, and blankets over tender plants like annual flowers and vegetables, containers, tomatoes still on the vine and houseplants you …

September is head lice awareness month

Jeffrey Hahn, Extension Entomologist

With schools starting recently, you can expect that the number of head lice cases will also increase. What do you need to know if head lice make an unexpected arrival into your home?!

Head lice are pests because they bite and feed on the blood of people. They are annoying and cause itching but fortunately do not transmit any disease. They are found specifically on heads near the scalp at the base of hair shafts. These insects are very small, up to 1/8th inch long (nymphs are smaller). They are grayish or brownish, relatively slender and are wingless. Also look for nits (lice eggs) which are about the size of a pinhead, white and oval and are attached at the base of hair.

Head lice need the warmth of people to survive and are not able to survive off humans for any more than one or two days. These insects do not jump or fly and primarily move from one person to another by direct head to head contact. They can sometimes move to new hosts whe…

Q&A: Planting ideas for dry shade

Become a Master Gardener! Deadline for applications Oct. 1

Julie Weisenhorn, Extension Educator - Horticulture

With my mother's encouragement, I became an Extension Master Gardener in 1997. I was interested in plants and enjoyed sharing what I knew with others. That first step as an Extension volunteer paved the way for me toward a career in University of Minnesota Extension.

Not everyone needs to make a job change to get involved with home horticulture and helping others. Extension Master Gardeners  are volunteers and the "extension" of Extension. There are over 2500 Master Gardeners in Minnesota and nearly 100,000 nationwide. Master Gardeners are from all walks of life and volunteer on behalf of their university. They are eager to share best practices in gardening with people in their community, and they promote healthy landscapes, healthy foods, and healthy lives. Becoming a certified Master Gardener entails completing a university-taught core course and contributing a certain number of hours each year to teaching resear…

Preserve your harvest

Julie Weisenhorn, Extension Educator - Horticulture

I have had two very good years of grape harvest in my backyard. I grow three grape cultivars on my fence: 'Beta', 'King of the North', and 'St. Croix'. These are hardy grapes chosen for their disease resistance and for making amazing jelly. Growing Grapes for Home Use

No matter what you are preserving - jelly, pickles, tomatoes, salsa, meat - food safety is critical to preserving foods for maximum flavor and minimum bacterial contamination.   The University of Minnesota Extension Food Safety website is a treasure trove of information to help you get started. When the snow is flying, you can enjoy the fruits of your gardening labor!

Saving vegetable seeds

Julie Weisenhorn, Extension Educator - Horticulture

 Labor Day has come and gone, but harvesting in our Minnesota gardens continues! Many gardeners plan ahead by saving seed from their gardens this year to start plants for next year. Here's a great publication from U of M Extension on how you too can save seeds: Saving vegetable seeds: Tomatoes, peppers, peas and beans.

Green cloverworm moths conspicuous now

Jeffrey Hahn, Extension Entomologist

People in many areas in central and south Minnesota, including the Twin Cities have been witnessing large numbers of medium sized brown moths flitting about in their yards and around their homes. Because there are so many moths, there is a lot of concern about potential damage they might cause. However, these insects, green cloverworm moths, Hypena scabra, are only nuisances.

These moths can partially be identified from the conspicuous snout on their heads. Also look closely at their wings. These moths have a wingspan of about an inch to almost an inch and a half. When at rest, they often hold their wings in a delta shape, although this varies as wings are also held closer together. Their forewings are narrow and are generally dark brown or grayish with a wavy pattern of white. The exact coloration is often variable. The hind wings are broad and dark colored.

Green cloverworm moths do not survive winters in Minnesota but do migrate into th…