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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Basics of Starting Seeds

Easy steps show how to grow from seed

Gail Hudson, UMN Extension Communication Specialist

   The thought of growing plants from seeds sounds daunting. What kind of soil should you use? What kind of pot(s)? How deep should they be planted? And so on.

   In this home gardener-friendly video, Extension Educator Julie Weisenhorn walks through the process--showing the materials you'll need, how to plant your seeds and where to keep your seed tray while it's growing.

And as Julie says, "Happy Gardening!"

Monday, April 2, 2018

Growing Healthy Transplants

M. Grabowski, UMN Extension Educator

Starting seeds indoors can be a great way to get a jump on the growing season. Unfortunately damping off, a common disease of seedlings, can kill plants before they are strong enough to transplant outdoors. Find out best practices to prevent damping off and grow strong healthy transplants.

For more information about damping off or starting seeds indoors, visit UMN Extension online.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Spring Seed Starting: Try the rag doll method!

A family-friendly gardening technique

   Want to make sure your seeds are viable? Try the "rag doll" seed starting method. It's a great thing to do with kids--and they can easily see results.  UMN Extension Educator Julie Weisenhorn and one of her best friends demonstrate for us.

And for information about starting seeds indoors, go to:

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Spring garden design project in mind?

Julie Weisenhorn, UMN Extension Educator

Ah, spring at last! If you're like me, you are itching to get out into your garden. This period of fluctuating weather (warm one day, snow the next) is a great time to stay indoors and do thinking about your next great garden design project. Start with these five considerations of sustainable design (in order of importance) and how they apply in your landscape:

  1. Functionality - What do you have to be able to do in your landscape? Some common functions are entertaining, play area, pet areas, grow vegetables, have a fire pit (and haul firewood to your fire pit), access to all areas of your landscape.
  2. Maintainability - Be able to maintain your yard and garden at the level you desire. Common landscape maintenance aspects include mowing, pruning, shoveling and storing snow (ugh), maintaining structures.
  3. Be environmentally-sound - Promote a positive effect on the surrounding environment (vs. harming it) by choosing plants that will thrive - not just survive - in your landscape and thus remain stress-free, pest-free and healthy. This will result in fewer inputs such as pesticides, less water waste, less work for you and a better looking landscape overall.
  4. Cost-effectiveness - Have a landscape you can afford financially and from a time allocation aspect. Summer is short enough in Minnesota without spending all your free time maintaining your yard and garden (unless you're into that kind of thing like I am). Create a landscape that will keep your personal inputs (money, time, work) in achievable bounds.
  5. Visually-appealing - What you want to see when you are in your yard and garden. This is where the fun and creative aspects of garden design bloom. Collect ideas from magazines, websites, home and garden shows, public gardens, garden tours. Think how you can incorpoate some of these into your little slice of paradise.
If you are still wishing you had more help, take part in our Landscape Design Basics for Homeowners workshop on Saturday, April 14, 2018, 8am - 5pm on the U of M St. Paul campus. At this workshop, we walk you through the design process with the goal of helping you to have a healthier, better functioning and maintainable landscape. The day-long workshop includes hands-on exercises on bubble diagrams, plant selection, concept lines, and draft design. There's still space available! Register  here: MSHS Northern Classes & Events

Monday, March 26, 2018

April to-do list for vegetable gardening

Early preparation = fewer weeds!

Annie Klodd, Extension Educator-Fruit and Vegetable Production

Tomato and pepper seedlings should be started
in April for late May transplanting. Photo: Julie
   Are you ready for the 2018 vegetable gardening season? This new and ongoing series of monthly articles will lay out what to do during each month in the garden, to produce an abundance of fresh, healthy vegetables.

In April, the to-do list includes starting seeds indoors, getting the soil ready, and planting early or "cool-season" crops like asparagus, potatoes and onions.

Starting seeds indoors

  Certain vegetables perform best when the seeds are sowed indoors in mid-spring, grown into seedlings for several weeks, and planted outside once the threat of frost has passed. These include warm-season crops like peppers, eggplants, and tomatoes, which all require warm temperatures and a long growing season to produce vegetables.

  Gardeners can choose to start their own seeds indoors in the spring or purchase transplants from a supplier several weeks later, to plant directly into the garden.

Friday, March 23, 2018

How to prune apple trees: A 3-part video series

Produce more high quality apples by pruning

Annie Klodd, Extension Educator-Fruit and Vegetable Production 

   Perhaps you've recently planted some apple trees, and you are ready for the next steps to help them produce a healthy crop of fruit.  Or maybe you just moved into a home with a couple of trees in the yard. Either way, pruning will be a crucial part of caring for these apple trees. 

Why prune? 

   Pruning is essential for reliable fruit production from year to year. If left to their own devices, apple trees will develop dense canopies and many small fruit with uneven ripening, reduced quality, or generally lower productivity. Pruning focuses the tree’s energy into producing larger, higher quality apples and increases airflow through the tree, reducing disease potential.

How to prune an apple tree

  Last month, we went outside to the apple orchard at the University of Minnesota Horticultural Research Center to film a three-part video series on pruning apple trees called "Apple Tree Pruning Made Easy." Thank you to David Bedford and Emily Tepe for assisting us in this effort. You can watch by clicking on the video boxes below:

 Apple Tree Pruning Part 1: 

Apple Tree Pruning Part 2:

Apple Tree Pruning Part 3:

Videos produced & edited by Gail Hudson, UMN Extension Communications Specialist

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Last Chance to Prune Oaks

M. Grabowski, UMN Extension Educator

Fresh pruning cuts on an oak tree.
M.Grabowski, UMN Extension 
If you have oaks in your landscape that need pruning and you live in an area of Minnesota where oak wilt occurs, pruning must be done before the oak wilt fungus and it's insect vector become active. Oak wilt is a fatal disease of oak trees that can be found in some counties of Minnesota. If you live in an area where oak wilt occurs, it is critical to prune oak trees before the high risk infection period begins in April. The risk status for oak wilt is updated as weather conditions change, but in a normal year high risk of oak wilt infection occurs in April, May, and June. Check in with My MN Woods to find the current oak wilt risk status before you prune.

Oak wilt has been found within
20 miles of all areas colored pink
Oak wilt is caused by a fungal plant pathogen. Spores of the oak wilt fungus are carried by sap feeding beetles in the Nitidulidae family. These small beetles are attracted to wounds and fresh cuts on oak trees. When they arrive at the cut branch, spores of the oak wilt fungus are knocked off and can infect the open wound.

Red oak trees are highly susceptible to oak wilt and can wilt and die in as little as 4 weeks after infection. Once infected with oak wilt, there is no way to save a red oak tree. White and bur oaks can also become infected with oak wilt. These trees are able to slow the infection but will eventually succumb to the disease in a few years. Some treatment options are available for white and bur oak trees if the disease is identified at the early stages.
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