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A low-salt diet: Critical for our landscapes and waterways

Snow and ice removal on roads, sidewalks, parking lots and driveways can make getting around Minnesota a lot easier during winter. Improperly maintained, icy surfaces can cause debilitating falls and car accidents, and even create liability issues. But before you pull out your deicing salts to make conditions safer, consider the impact of these chemicals on our plants and our waterways.
How do deicers work? While regular snow removal reduces the potential for slippery conditions, sometimes ice can build-up and create hazards. Deicing salts are applied onto icy surfaces and reduce the melting point of water to anywhere from 20°F to - 30°F depending on the formulation. This prevents ice from forming.

According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, sodium chloride is the most commonly used product for deicing roads, sidewalks, parking lots, and driveways. Other deicing chemicals include magnesium chloride and calcium chloride, calcium magnesium acetate and urea.

Organic additives li…
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Your go-to information on Japanese beetles is now here!

Have you battled Japanese beetles in recent years or know someone that has? While there hasn’t been a miracle cure invented lately to dispatch them with a wink of the eye, the good news is there is now an updated page available on Japanese beetle management. 

Japanese beetles in yards and gardens has been recently revised. It provides you everything you need to know about managing these pests from identification to important life cycle to useful nonchemical methods to effective insecticides while minimizing harm to pollinators and other beneficial insects.

A key point in the philosophy of integrated pest management (IPM) is to be proactive and be prepared for pests. Read this information and you can go into 2019 more confident in your efforts
against Japanese beetles!


Jeff Hahn, Extension Entomologist































Become a Smarter Gardener in 2019: New Year's Resolutions Part 2

As a gardener, I always hope that I am learning and becoming better at this wonderful and rewarding aspect of my life.  But I believe you have to work at it and seek out resources. We hope you make the University of Minnesota Extension one of your favorite "go-to" resources. 

To kick off your efforts to become a smarter gardener in 2019, watch the New Year's resolutions (Part 1 and Part 2) our educators are making themselves and hope you will, too!

Here's a toast to better, more productive and beautiful gardens across our North Star State in 2019!

Author: Gail Hudson, UMN Extension Hort Communications Specialist

Become a Smarter Gardener in 2019: New Year's Resolutions Part 1

Every year, I make a a few resolutions - to move more, to visit my folks more often, to cut back on sugar. As a gardener, I like to set resolutions that don't include words like "renovate" or "reduce", but instead to broaden my garden knowledge and appreciation for the diverse landscape of my home state Minnesota. Go Gophers!
Make a resolution, become a smarter gardener! My resolution for 2019 is to visit more public gardens. As an extension educator, you'd think I visit public gardens all the time, but days get so busy. There are some gardens I do visit regularly such as the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum (often there for work), Noerenberg Memorial Gardens (almost in my backyard), and the UMN Horticulture Display Garden (right outside my office door).

But this year, I am literally scheduling time every month on my Google calendar to visit a public garden in Minnesota. The UMN College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences has a great webpage Pu…

Romaine Calm and Garden On: What YOU can do for safe food from your garden!

Once again, we’re learning more about a multistate E. coli illness outbreak from romaine lettuce originating in California. Although these large events make the news, localized incidents - such as a 2018 outbreak of Salmonella infections originating from tomatoes at a church dinner in Kansas - have immediate impact on individuals and local food systems. But how do these things happen? Often, there are a number of contributing factors, including using contaminated water for irrigation, using dirty tools and equipment, not washing hands before harvest, or harvesting produce that may be contaminated with feces – think bird droppings on blueberries, deer poop in spinach, or dog poop near the green beans.


Why should I care about produce safety in my garden? If you grow produce to sell or give away, or maybe you are part of a community garden where many people grow and harvest, it’s your responsibility to keep it as safe as possible. Remember that fresh produce is food – and you may not kn…

Start Saving Your Milk Jugs for Tomato and Pepper Plants!

My entire childhood, I thought that everyone planted their tomatoes and pepper plants into milk jugs. This is because my dad has always planted his tomato and pepper transplants into gallon milk jugs with the bottoms peeled back and the tops cut off. This gives the plants an early head start and protects them from late frost, rabbits, and wind.

When I moved to Pennsylvania for graduate school, I realized that I was the only one in my community garden doing this. It also meant that I was able to plant my peppers about two weeks before everyone else. Thanks, Dad.
A good reason to drink milk! By drinking milk and saving jugs, my parents are able to grow at least 60 massively productive pepper and tomato plants this way each year; all while supporting the Iowa dairy industry.

To clarify, this isnot an article about winter seed sowing, where seeds are sown in the late winter and covered by a milk jug. However, that is a worthy use of milk jugs as well.
The 'how-to' info Here is my…

Help fight new invasive insect in Minnesota

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) issued a news release today to warn about a new invasive insect pest that has been found in Minnesota, the elongate hemlock scale (EHS), Fiorinia externa. It was detected on wreathes and other evergreen decorative items from Home Depot and Menards.

MDA is asking residents that bought evergreen decorations at any retail chain stores to “burn the
items, or bag them and dispose of them in the trash once the items are no longer useful for decoration. The evergreen items should not be composted.” While EHS has only been found in Home Depot and Menards, it is possible that it may be present at other retail chains.

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection issued a similar warning earlier this week after finding EHS in several retail chain stores.

This is the first time that this invasive insect pest has been found in Minnesota. While EHS prefers hemlock, it will feed on a variety of evergreens, including spru…