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Still bagging your grass clippings? Let's clear up some of the myths...

Do you believe that if you collect clippings from a weedy lawn, it will cut down on the number of weeds next year?  What about bagging clippings to cut down on the amount of thatch in your turf?

Get the real 'dirt' on these common misconceptions and more about lawn mowing, thanks to Extension Turf Researcher Jon Trappe.
Misconception #1: Collecting or bagging lawn clippings in a weedy lawn will cut down on weeds. The idea behind this misconception is that by removing the clippings and weed seedheads, I will be reducing the number of weeds in my lawn for next year.  This may seem like an intuitive strategy for reducing weeds in a lawn over time, but the research doesn’t support this practice as being effective.

Generally speaking, if you have weeds in your lawn already, there is a very strong chance there are thousands of other weed seeds already present in the soil.  These weed seeds can be viable for years or decades, so removing lawn clippings and weed seedheads will likely…
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Boxwood Update: Any signs of growth after last winter's deadly blow?

Back in May in the Yard & Garden News,  I wrote about my boxwood knot in the front yard and  how it had showed severe damage from winter kill with entire sections of the plant showing brown leaves.

At the time, I thought about 20 percent of the plant was injured (okay, killed--it's still tough to say this word!) with my knot hedge or garden. And so I did nothing and was waiting to watch the plants grow out of the injury and cover the brown areas.

This has NOT happened….slowly there is some new growth, but I am NOT pruning at all this year.
Will my boxwood survive? Next year, I hope the plants have recovered enough to grow and cover the brown. I did prune out some of the brown and what is left is an empty space…top to almost bottom in the hedge where thin sections are open and still dead.

I never would have guessed that the hedge was so injured that it would not recover from the damage.
The injury was much worse than what showed in the loss of green.  Otherwise, it would have …

Wildflower of the Month: Wild Thyme

Wild or creeping thyme, Thymus serpyllum, is an easy to grow ground cover plant that is attractive to bees and is now recommended for low maintenance or bee lawns. Although related to cooking thyme, wild thyme has low culinary value, is hardy in USDA Zone 4 and grows well in full sun and well-drained soils.

Plants are not common in garden centers but are easy to start from seed, which is sold from several sources. (See https://plantinfo.umn.edu/)
Plant Info Wild thyme is native to Europe and may overwinter in Minnesota easier than culinary thyme.  Plants are full of flowers starting in June and July and flower sporadically throughout the summer.

Growing 6-12 inches in height, wild thyme tolerates mowing and light foot traffic. This species of thyme was planted with fine fescue, white clover and self-heal Prunella vulgaris in the Bee Lawn Demonstration Plots at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in 2015.

The first year it was difficult to see the thyme, but by the second year many flow…

Become a Smarter Gardener in 2019: 5 tips for a safe harvest

Most people are well aware of basic food safety practices in the kitchen, such as washing hands before preparing food or keeping raw meat separate from other foods. But did you know that food safety practices also apply to your garden?

It's true! Think of the garden as an extension of your kitchen. Just because it's outside doesn't mean we shouldn't incorporate basic food safety practices.
Garden food safety - why? Much of the produce we harvest from our gardens is eaten raw: lettuce, carrots, peppers, and tomatoes, to name a few. When produce is eaten raw, any nasty germs (pathogens) that may be on it can be transferred to anybody who eats the produce, making them sick.

Food safety is particularly important when we are growing and sharing our garden's bounty with other people, such as donating to a food shelf or church dinner, selling at the local Farmers' Market, or giving to the neighbors. Some people eating our produce, such as children, older folks, or an…

New Extension educator focuses on Fruit and Vegetables

University of Minnesota Extension has a new educator on staff  who will focus on fruit and vegetable production systems.

Natalie Hoidal will be working statewide with producers ranging from small <1 acre operations to larger commercial growers on a wide range of production topics.
Natalie's background Natalie grew up in Columbus Minnesota, where her family grows cacti and succulents for local
farmers markets and wholesale nurseries. She developed an interest in farming while working with the student organic garden at the University of Minnesota Morris, and connecting with growers across the West Central region.

While in Morris, she worked on research projects related to seed sovereignty and conservation as well as plant breeding. After college, Natalie moved to Denmark where she completed a Fulbright research fellowship and a master’s degree in Agronomy, studying amaranth as a high value and nutritionally rich crop with growers in dry land farming systems around the world.

Mo…

Spotted Wing Drosophila Update and Recommendations

Authors: Bill Hutchison, Annie Klodd, Eric Burkness, Anh Tran, Dominique Ebbenga & Suzanne Wold-Burkness
MN Extension IPM Program, and UMN Extension - Horticulture

Spotted wing drosophila (SWD) is a highly invasive fruit fly that has spread to many Minnesota counties since being first reported in 2012. This fly lays its eggs in soft fruits like raspberries, grapes, blueberries, and strawberries. A single fly quickly moves from berry to berry, infesting many in a short time span. Farmers and gardeners alike struggle to keep SWD off of their fruit, implementing a mix of physical barriers, early and frequent harvesting, pesticides, and habitat modification.
Where is SWD, and When Did It Start Appearing This Year? Bill Hutchison's lab at the University of Minnesota, and the MN Dept. of Agriculture have trapping networks throughout the state to monitor SWD populations. This allows us to know the distribution of SWD across MN and when it first appears every season in each area.

Our …

Japanese beetles have arrived

The wait is finally over; the first Japanese beetles of the season have been sighted over the holiday weekend! They might be a little late compared to recent years, but they still know how to chew up your (and theirs) favorite plants.

Regularly inspect your garden and yard plants for beetles and feeding injury. While numbers are very low right now, it will not take too long for more beetles to arrive.

Remember that damaged leaves give off a volatile that it turn attracts more Japanese beetles. That makes it important to start management as soon as you see feeding on your plants to minimize injury.

For information on Japanese beetles, including management, see Japanese beetles in yards and gardens.

Jeffrey Hahn, Extension Entomologist