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Do you sell your fruits and vegetables? If so, here's something you need to know!

Explore World of Squash at the Arboretum!

Want to get into the Fall spirit? This year, visitors to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska can see more than 300 varieties of pumpkins, squash and ornamental gourds. It's a veritable vegetable gardener's paradise! 

And it's all thanks to John and Jenny Thull.  They not only manage the grape breeding trials at the UMN Horticultural Research Center, but the Thulls find time to grow 330 varieties of squash--75 percent of which are heirlooms. (By the way, pumpkins and gourds are all squash from the genus Cucurbita.)
Varieties from around the globeThe couple grows specimens from every continent (except Antarctica), from countries like Thailand, Italy, France, China, Russia, and Japan. Out of those 330, 315 produced fruit.
Ever heard of a 'Speckled Hound' squash?The Thulls are always on the lookout for unique varieties.that are easy to grow and taste good. How about a Speckled Hound squash? It's squat, pumpkin-like shape features orange sides with  pink, blue …

Should I mulch? Or bag my leaves this fall?

Many homeowners wonder if they should be collecting and removing tree leaves from their lawns prior to mowing, or if the tree leaves can be mulched (mown) into the lawn. Like many recommendations for lawn management decisions, this one can also be answered with the phrase, "it depends."

5 Steps to Put Your Vegetable Garden to Bed for the Winter

What should vegetable gardeners do in October to get the garden all ready for next spring? Annie Klodd recorded a Local Foods College webinar on putting your garden to bed for winter. You can watch the webinar recording at this link.

1) Clean up leftover plant matter   Remove diseased plant material. Either bury it away from the garden, burn it, or dispose of it. Do not leave diseased plant material in the garden if possible, because plant disease pathogens living on those plants can cause future disease problems next year.

If you must leave it in the garden, avoid planting that same type of vegetable in the garden for the next 3 years. For more information, read this article.

If the plants seem healthy (not showing any disease symptoms), they can either be tilled into the garden, chipped and spread on the garden surface, or composted. Large fruit still on the plant, like squash or watermelon that was never picked, can either be chopped finely and tilled into the soil, or removed.
2) …

How to make grasses shine in Autumn gardens!

While many perennials are past their prime by the end of September, landscape grasses are at their peak in the fall, with showy flowers and fall color. Warm season grasses, including miscanthus, big and little bluestem, switchgrass and prairie dropseed are in full flower and tallest height with the warm days of summer and fall. Enjoy the flowers and motion of grasses as they sway in the breeze!
Here's why you shouldn't cut them back! Grasses should not be cut back in the fall. Leave the flowering stems up to enjoy through the winter. Fall cutback may increase the chance of winter injury on grasses and is not recommended for Minnesota gardeners. Birds, bees and other wildlife appreciate the cover of grasses in the winter.
My grasses don't look healthy If you have a grass with few flowers, or shorter plants with dead sections, these are indications that the plant should be divided, a good project for next spring.
If you notice dead or yellow stem on some of your grasses, …

Speckled and spotted but still tasty

Whether you are harvesting from a backyard apple tree or visiting a local orchard, you are likely to find apples that are less than perfect at picking. Don't be dissuaded by appearances. Many of these apples are still quite edible as well as tasty.

There are several different fungal pathogens that infect apple fruit. Diagnosing apple disease problems now can help you make management decisions to reduce disease problems in the future and will help you decide which apples to eat and which to compost.

Is it apple scab? The most common disease of apples in Minnesota is apple scab. Fruit can become infected with the apple scab fungus throughout the growing season. Infections are rough corky spots on the surface of the fruit that are tan to black in color. Scab spots may be small and round or many spots may merge together to form large rough patches on the fruit.

The apple scab fungus does not rot the fruit but if infection occurs when the fruit is young and still growing, fruit may bec…

Check your houseplants now for insect problems

With fall just around the corner, now is a good time to examine your houseplants, those that were outdoors as well as those that stayed inside, for the presence of insect pests. The sooner insects are discovered, the easier it will be to control them.

What to look for  Any insects that are missed will continue to feed and can spread to other plants. Keep plants with insect problems isolated from uninfested ones until the pests are eliminated.

Most of these insects are small and a hand lens is often helpful in detecting their presence. Check leaves, both the top and the bottom, as well as stems, and remove plant debris from the soil surface where insects may reside. You can also use sticky traps to help detect flying insects, like thrips.

Also, look for evidence of insect feeding, such as discolored leaves, webbing or honeydew (a shiny, sticky substance secreted by some insects). Check under the bottom and along the rim of each container as well, and remove webbing or egg masse…

Can I eat that strange looking squash?

What does it mean when squash and melons have scabs, rings, and sunken spots?
The long awaited harvest of melons and winter squash has arrived in Minnesota. Many gardeners are surprised to find sunken spots, rings, unusual color patterns, or raised corky scabs on the fruit. What caused all of these unusual spots and can the fruit be eaten?
Fruit spots can be caused by a number of different factors including fungal and viral plant pathogens. Melons, cucumbers, winter squash, and summer squash are all in the same plant family, the Cucurbitaceae. As a result, these crops often suffer from the same plant disease problems. Although many of the vine crops share disease problems, how severe the disease problem becomes varies by crop and by variety. Below are a few common disease problems found on melons and squash at harvest in Minnesota. Mosaic viruses Several different mosaic viruses can infect squash and melon in Minnesota. Viruses may be spread by insects like aphids or cucumber beetle…