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Showing posts from March, 2017

Growing healthy seedlings

M. Grabowski, UMN Extension Educator


As the growing season approaches, many gardeners are starting seeds indoors and making plans for direct seeding in the garden. Unfortunately, damping off, a common disease of seedlings, can dampen dreams of garden fresh produce by killing plants before they get started. Here are a few critical steps that gardeners can take to ensure a healthy crop of sturdy seedlings ready to face the growing season.


Use clean pots. It is o.k. to reuse old pots and trays but wash them first. Scrub out any old soil and plant roots. Soak the pots in solution that is one part bleach and nine parts water for 10-30 minutes. Then rinse in clean water. Purchase new potting mix designed for seed starting. Potting mix that has been previously used often contains low levels of plant pathogens. Newly emerged seedlings have little to no natural defenses and quickly succumb to these pathogens. Warm the soil with a heating mat designed to go below planting trays. If seeding direc…

Ants in spring

Jeffrey Hahn, Extension Entomologist

As we transition into spring, ants are starting to become active in and around homes. If you are having a problem with ants, the first step is correct identification of them. This is important because there are a variety of ants that may be seen. Different species have different nesting sites, food preferences, potential for damage, and other habits which require different methods of control. Treating ants is not one size fits all.

The most common ants seen in Minnesota are carpenter ants and pavements ants, although other ants, including yellow ants, odorous house ants, and thief ants can also be found. Identifying ants can be challenging, especially because of their small size.

When identifying ants, first determine how many segments the petiole (the section connecting the abdomen with the thorax) is, one or two. Then depending on the ant, other characteristics such as the shape of the thorax, number of segments in the antennae, and pres…

Educational Opportunity: Low Maintenance and Environmentally Friendly Lawns

Minnesota State Horticultural Society and University of Minnesota Extension Present: 

Title:Low Maintenance and Environmentally Friendly LawnsWhen:Saturday, April 8, 2017 - Saturday, April 8, 2017  9:30am - 12:00pmWhere:University of Minnesota
1970 Folwell Avenue, Alderman Hall, Room 405 St. PaulFees:           $30 Members, $35 Nonmembers Low Maintenance and Environmentally Friendly Lawns –limit 75 Saturday April 8, 9:30 a.m. to noon. Join us at 9 a.m. for coffee $30 members, $35 nonmembers Location: Alderman Hall Room 405, UMN, 1970 Folwell Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55108  Parking: the upper Buford Circle parking lot (#S106 on map) http://www.pts.umn.edu/sites/pts.umn.edu/files/StPaul.pdf) While our neighbors might be pushing for a perfect manicured lawn, many of us want to embrace a reduction in water use, fertilizer applications, and pesticide inputs and still have a decent looking lawn.  Can we have both: perfect and low-maintenance?  The answer is yes, but it all starts from the ground up.  J…

EAB discovered in Goodhue County

Jeffrey Hahn, Extension Entomologist

The following is based on a recent news release by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) has placed Goodhue County under an emergency quarantine after emerald ash borer (EAB) was found in the city of Red Wing earlier this month.

An MDA employee noticed an ash tree with significant woodpecker damage, a tell-tale sign of possible EAB infestation, during a hike over the weekend at Barn Bluff. She took photos of the tree and noted the location. After further investigation, the MDA found EAB larvae in the tree. Today the USDA officially confirmed the insect to be emerald ash borer.

There are several things residents should look for when checking for emerald ash borer.

• Be sure you’ve identified an ash tree. This is an important first step since EAB only feeds on ash trees. Ash have opposite branching – meaning branches come off the trunk directly across from each other. On older trees, the bark is i…