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Showing posts from October, 2015

Fun trivia about plants and Halloween

Julie Weisenhorn - Extension Educator - Horticulture

Going to a Halloween party? Here are some fun plant-related trivia to wow your friends ...

Halloween & the seasons
Food and the fall harvest is at the core of our traditional American Halloween. It is a combination of Christian traditions and the ancient Celtic Pagan festival Samhain (pronounced sah-win) which means “end of summer” and the harvest. It was a time to commune, put up resources for winter, and bring animals in from the summer pastures. Times of transition in the natural world were thought to be special and supernatural, creating the belief among some that Samhain was a time when spirits of the dead would cross over to the living world. However, the festival of Samhain as more about changing seasons and preparing for dormancy of nature as summer changes to winter.
Sources: History of Halloween
History of Halloween - Live Science

Pumpkins are a symbol of Halloween. The Latin name for pumpkins is Cucurbita pepo

EAB found in Duluth

Jeffrey Hahn, Extension Entomologist

(The following information is taken from an October 23, 2015 news release from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture)

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) last Friday identified emerald ash borer (EAB) in the city of Duluth (St. Louis County). Finding EAB in Duluth is not a surprise as Superior, Wisconsin, just across the state border from Duluth, confirmed EAB in August, 2013.

MDA staff found EAB larvae in an ash trees on Park Point. The find was discovered as part of a three-year
study the MDA is conducting in partnership with the city. The study is evaluating different methods for finding EAB, and one of those methods is removing samples of branches from ash trees to peel back the bark and look for signs of the insect. MDA staff found evidence of EAB in four of 35 trees sampled in this way.

Because this is the first time that EAB has been identified in St. Louis County, the specimen have been sent to the United States Depart…

Q&A: Fall lawn care

Sam Bauer, Extension Educator - Horticulture
Lawn care is a hot topic even as we move into cooler weather! Here are some answers to common questions from WCCO Smart Gardens listeners and Yard & Garden News readers.

Q: What mowing height should I keep my lawn at before winter?
A: Generally we suggest to keep your lawn at the same height as you've had in the fall.  Cutting the lawn short prior to winter has been commonly suggested in the past as a means of reducing spring damage from snow molds and voles, but cutting the lawn too short will be more of a stress to the grass than the injury you may experience from diseases or critters.  If the standard mowing height for your lawn is 2.5 to 3 inches, we suggest to keep it at that.  If the height is 3+ inches, then we would recommending bringing it down to 3 inches before winter.  If you do plan to lower the mowing height, be sure to mow several times at this height, not just the final mow.  The goal is to condition the grass to t…

Timely questions about fall gardening

Julie Weisenhorn, Extension Educator - Horticulture

Even though the weather is cooling down, days are getting shorter, and plants are moving into dormancy, Minnesota gardeners are still concerned about employing best practices for healthy landscapes. Here are a few common questions that might help you put your garden to bed (and get ready for next year's growing season!)

Keep watering your trees and shrubs too - especially evergreens!

Q: Can I prune my shrubs roses now? How far should I cut them back? 
A: You can cut back your roses now. Remove 1/3 of the plant as a rule of thumb, but of course, if the plant is blocking a window, walkway, etc., then you may cut more back. Here is an Extension publication on caring for roses that includes winter protection for roses. Enclosing roses in fencing stuffed with leaves will protect the plant from winter desiccation and start the next growing season with more live tissue. The fencing can also help protect your roses from browsing ani…

What's That Fungus?

Have you ever wondered what mushrooms are growing in your yard or wanted to learn more about the fungi you saw on trees, logs or growing through the leaves last time you hiked in the woods? A great resource for those who would like to learn more about the fungi in our world has been created by the University of Minnesota Mycology Club. Free downloadable flash cards contain color photos, scientific and common names, habitat and descriptions of common Minnesota fungi. Check them out today!

Bacterial Canker of Tomato found in MN Gardens

M. Grabowski, UMN Extension

Bacterial canker of tomato caused by the bacteria Clavibacter michiganensis sbsp. michiganensis (CMM), is an emerging plant disease in Minnesota. Although this disease occurs regularly in other states, the first reported incidence of bacterial canker in Minnesota occurred just a few years ago. Bacterial canker can be a serious problem for vegetable farmers, especially tomato growers that use high tunnels or greenhouses to grow their crop. In addition, the bacteria can infect tomato seed under the seed coat and result in spread of the pathogen to new areas.
To determine just how wide spread this disease is in Minnesota, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture has been looking for CMM as part of their pathways survey for new and emerging invasive plant pests. In 2015, the MDA surveyed 90 community gardens, small vegetable farms and community supported agriculture farms. The pathogen that causes bacterial canker was found in Blue Earth, Carver, Dakota, Hennep…

EAB now confirmed in Washington County

Jeffrey Hahn, Extension Entomologist

(The following information is taken from an October 8, 2015 news release from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture)

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) today identified emerald ash borer (EAB) in Washington County. An adult EAB was found on a survey trap that had been placed at the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s St. Croix Rest Area on Interstate 94. During a follow-up visit, staff discovered a nearby tree had tunneling consistent with the invasive pest.

Washington County becomes the 11th county in Minnesota to verify EAB. EAB was also confirmed in 2015 for the first time in Scott, Chisago, Fillmore, and Anoka Counties. This invasive beetle has also been found in Hennepin, Houston, Olmstead, Ramsey, and Winona counties

Because this is the first time that EAB has been identified in Washington County, the specimen has been sent to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for confirmation, which is expected later …

Cleaning Up after Plant Disease

M. Grabowski, UMN Extension Educator

By the end of the gardening season many plants are looking less than their best. At this point leaf spots, blights, fruit rots or other disease problems can easily be found in the yard and garden. An important piece of information about disease biology is that plant pathogens often survive from one season to the next in infected plant debris. As a result, a good garden clean up in the fall can reduce the number of pathogens that survive the winter and cause problems next year. Below are a few clean up strategies that can reduce disease in following growing seasons.
Trees and Shrubs If leaf spot diseases are present, wait until leaf drop, mow leaves into the soil with a mulching lawn mower to speed up breakdown of infected plant material or rake up and remove all leaves from the site. Inspect branches for cracked or discolored bark that might indicate a branch canker or unusual tumor like growths known as galls. Flag these branches and mark your cal…