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Showing posts from May, 2018

What to do with ornamental grasses in spring

Mary Hockenberry Meyer, Extension Horticulturist Gail Hudson, Extension Communication Specialist Volunteers and Minnesota Landscape Arboretum Gardener Erik Lemke used a gas powered trimmer, rakes, and tarp to move switchgrass tops to the compost pile on May 9, 2018. The other grasses were burned May 2nd before new growth started. Photo: Mary Hockenberry Meyer Perennial ornamental grasses, once established, can be one of the easiest plants to grow in your garden. And spring time may be the only time when you'll need to give them a bit of attention.   Take a good look at your plant. Is the center of it dead? Large mature grasses with a dead center can particularly benefit if they're divided in the spring. 

Do not treat Japanese beetle grubs in spring

Jeffrey Hahn, Extension Entomologist It is too late to treat white grubs now.  Photo: Jeff Hahn, U of M Ext. People who experienced Japanese beetles last summer are looking to take action against them this year before they become a problem. However, if you are thinking of treating for grubs this spring it is too late (or too early depending on your point of view). The bottom line is that grubs are too large to treat now. The best time to treat Japanese beetle white grubs is July through mid-September when they are small or moderate-sized. As they get larger, it is more difficult to kill them and by fall it is no longer practical to manage them. When spring arrives, these grubs are still too large to try to control.

3 Tips to reduce the need to weed

Annie Klodd, Extension Educator-Fruit and Vegetable Production For most gardeners, weeding is one of the most arduous tasks in the vegetable garden. Save time, save your back, and save your energy: these 3 tips will reduce the need to weed. 1: Mulch in May once the soil has warmed Thick straw mulch creates a physical barrier to suppress weeds. Photo: Annie Klodd Mulch creates a powerful physical barrier to weeds. Common mulch choices for vegetable gardens include straw, grass clippings, and chipped leaves. Apply these mulches liberally to create a 2 to 4-inch mat, which suppresses weeds from germinating and growing. Plant-based mulches have the added benefit of adding valuable organic matter back into the soil. Landscape fabric also works well to suppress weeds. It is most appropriate for transplanted vegetables, since holes can be cut into it to plant seedlings.

Start the season right with healthy plants

Learn what to look for while you shop! M.Grabowski, UMN Extension  Coleus for sale at a local garden center Photo: M. Grabowski, UMN Extension The first step to prevent disease problems in the garden is to start out with healthy disease free plants. Many plant pathogens are able to hitch a ride from one garden to the next by infecting plants before they are sold or shared. This can result in disease problems for years to come as the new pathogen becomes established along with the new plant.

Reduce the risk of tar spot and apple scab now

M. Grabowski, UMN Extension Apple scab at mid summer M. Grabowski, UMN Extension  Two common leaf spot diseases that blight Minnesota landscapes every year are tar spot of maple and scab of apple and crabapple. Both diseases are caused by fungi that survive winter on last year’s infected leaves. As snow melts and tree buds begin to swell, gardeners have one last chance to remove these infected leaves before the fungal pathogens become active.

Build a home for bees

Make your garden a haven for bees Aaron Irber, Research Scientist UMN Dept of Entomology and Elaine Evans, UMN Extension Educator Photo: Heather Holm We can help bees by planting flowers, but nesting habitat is important too. Roughly 60-70 percent of bees nest in the ground. You can help them by leaving patches of ground undisturbed and leaving some bare spots. The other 30 percent are cavity-nesting, using hollow plant stems or holes in wood. You can make nesting habitat to provide homes for these cavity-nesting bees. There are many pre-made options for bee houses, but often these are more cute than effective.   Watch the video at the end of this article to see a bee making its home in a cut-off plant stem!

Lawn care: 'Tis the season...Finally!

Learn how to use a growing degree day tracker to time herbicide applications Remember this?! Photo: Gail Hudson, UMN Extension As you read this, it has likely been only a week or two that you’ve been able to see your lawn this spring.  What an interesting spring it’s been! The University of Minnesota Climatology Team provided a summary of our weather conditions throughout the month of April, which, in many cases was a record setting month.  Needless to say, lawn care practices have been pushed back much later this year.  As we get into the swing of things with the growing season, here are several considerations for lawn care practices this spring.