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Showing posts from March, 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:

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: 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. 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. Be environmentally-sound - Promote a positive effect on the surrounding environment (vs. harming it) by choosing plants that will thri

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 Weisenhorn. 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 sta

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 MN DNR  Oak wilt is caused by a fungal plant pathogen. Spores of the oak wilt fungus are carried by sap feeding beetles in the Nitidulidae fami

Prune out cankers and galls now

Michelle Grabowski, UMN Extension Educator Black knot gall on a wild cherry tree. M. Grbaowski, UMN Extension An important late winter gardening task is pruning to remove diseased branches. Winter is the best time to prune for several reasons. Diseased and damaged branches are easily seen when leaves are not present. Winter temperatures are not ideal for the fungi and bacteria that cause disease in trees and shrubs. The pathogens will still be present but at much lower levels than during the growing season. By pruning out infected branches now, gardeners can significantly reduce the risk of the disease spreading within the plant and to neighboring plants once the growing season begins. Several types of disease can affect branches of landscape trees and shrubs. Gall rust on a pine tree. M. Grabowski, UMN Extension A gall is an unusual overgrowth of plant tissue caused by a pest or pathogen. Fungi and some bacteria can cause galls to form on branches of trees and shrubs. G

Your Winter Garden: Pest tips for houseplants

Winter is time for indoor gardening ( Anthurium ) Just like in our outdoor gardens, we need to keep an eye out for pests in our indoor winter gardens (houseplants). Pests may sometimes hitchhike on houseplants that spend the summer outdoors, and emerge in the warmth of our homes. New plants may also bring in new pests. Insect eggs laid on the underside of leaves or in the soil may hatch indoors and suddenly appear too. Groom plants that come in from the outside. Clear away dead plant debris (leaves, flowers) and prune off dead or overgrown stems and branches. Remove dust that can filter light by wiping off leaves with a soft, damp cloth or spraying the plant with water. Scout for signs and presence of pests. Look at the undersides of leaves and along edges and the bottom of  pots for insects and egg masses and remove or treat. Shiny, sticky leaf surfaces (honeydew) is a sign of sucking insects like scale and aphids. Fine webbing is a sign of spider mites. Some plants ma

Perfect Timing for Pruning Your Apple Tree

Produce more apples By Gail Hudson, Extension Communications Specialist for Horticulture Photo courtesy: Julie Weisenhorn By the end of the winter, most gardeners are itching to get outside and start doing something! You certainly can--by pruning your apple tree(s). Extension Educator Annie Klodd, a fruit and vegetable specialist, says late February, early March is just about right for Minnesota gardeners. The trick is to do it at the end of winter just as the temperatures are rising a bit, but before the tree's buds emerge.  Pruning an apple tree is an important task for home growers, she says, for several reasons:  It's a good time to get rid of diseased, damaged and dead wood on your tree. It gives the apple tree a nice shape and allows more light to get to the buds and fruit. The tree will be healthier, produce more fruit and grow better overall.  Tools to use Line up the right tools before you begin pruning. Depending on the size of your apple tree,