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Showing posts from August, 2019

Keep fruit & veggies in School Gardens clean and safe to eat!

Eating fresh fruits and vegetables from the school garden can be a life-changing experience for students. School gardens provide opportunities to learn about nutrition and healthy lifestyles, local food systems, and environmental stewardship. We can also use school gardens to teach basic food safety practices and help students establish a lifetime of healthy habits.

However, raw produce can contain harmful microbes such as Salmonella orcertain types of E. coli that can make people very sick. Those who are young, old, pregnant and/or have weakened immune systems are at increased risk of severe illness or even death from foodborne illness.

We must do our best to reduce the risk of contamination in fresh produce, particularly when growing food for other people.
Here, we'll talk about some simple guidelines for harvesting and preparing fresh produce for sampling in a school or other educational garden. These steps, when used in conjunction with other Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs)…

Look out for wasp nests!

Now is a good time to be watching for wasp nests around your home and yard and garden. The best options for controlling a wasp nest depends on where you find it.

The first option to consider is ignoring it. If the nest is located away from human activity and stings are minimal, leave it alone. When freezing temperatures arrive in fall, the queen and all of the workers are killed; they do not survive the winter. If you can wait until then, your best option is to do nothing.

However, if there is a risk of stings and October or November is too long to put up with them, then treat the nests. There are three general wasp nest situations: exposed nests, ground nests, and hidden nests. Each is controlled a little differently.

Exposed wasp nests

An exposed nest is one that hangs from a horizontal surface, such as the eaves of a home or the branch of a tree.  Treating this kind of nest is a
straightforward task that residents can do themselves.

Use an aerosol can of insecticide labe…

Extension Yard & Garden at the State Fair 2019!

The Great Minnesota Get-Together is the place to be to get your questions answered. Here are a few of the places to meet and greet the people who help you keep your yards and gardens green and growing!
WCCO Smart Garden - LIVE from the Fair - Saturdays 8-9am! Join us bright and early for TWO live broadcasts of the popular radio show "Smart Garden" with host  Denny Long and Extension yard and garden expert near Carnes Avenue and Nelson Street (next to Sweet Martha's  - num!)s.

Saturday, August 24th: Julie Weisenhorn and Jon Trappe will be fielding questions from callers, texters and audience members.

Saturday, August 31st: it will be Mary Meyer and Eric Watkins live from the stage with Denny.

Freebies: Mary is bringing a cake to celebrate 8 years of Smart Garden and Julie will have partridge pea seed packets to give away to help you start your pollinator planting next spring!

Learn about water-wise lawn care from our Turf TeamIt's been a good year for growing a lawn, b…

New plant disease: Sudden Oak Death Disease

If you have a rhododendron in your yard or neighborhood, take a closer look at the leaves. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is warning Minnesotans to be on the look out for a fungus-like organism that's known to kill oak trees that's making its way here.  

That's right--the rhododendron plant is a carrier of this invasive plant pathogen called Phytophthora ramorum. The spores spread to oak trees and cause sudden death.

So far it has NOT been found in Minnesota, but the potential is there, say MDA officials.
Why should we worry?MDA officials report that the pathogen is responsible for killing an estimated 30 to 45 million oak trees in the coastal forests of California and Oregon. It also infects over 100 other plants, including rhododendrons. 
The microorganism has been detected at retail nurseries in Midwestern states. What happens to oak trees? In oak trees, Phytophthora ramorum infects the main trunk of mature trees. This infection causes a “bleeding” canker in w…

Garden Phlox: A perennial favorite!

Is Phlox paniculata or garden phlox a favorite in your garden? It is in mine! This tough native (from New York south to Georgia and west to Iowa and Missouri) is dependable, long-lived, offers nectar for pollinators, and needs little care.

Phlox is a Greek word meaning "flame" in reference to the intense flower colors of some kinds. Paniculata refers to the flowers, which grow in a large panicle.
Plant care As easy as this plant is to grow in full sun and well-drained soils, gardeners need to watch out, because it can readily self-seed and the lovely seedlings that pop up are usually a bright magenta color that may not be at all what you planted or want in the garden.

If you are not careful, these plants may crowd out the white, pink or other colors you originally planted. Named cultivars are usually more attractive and well behaved (sterile or much more so) than the aggressive magenta colored seedlings.

In older, often abandoned gardens, a mass of magenta phlox can be seen …

Be a smart gardener when it comes to irrigation

In the Land of 10,000 Lakes, water is seemingly plentiful, but an abundance is still no excuse for negligent water use, whether it’s indoor or outdoor. Each year, the Irrigation Association promotes July as Smart Irrigation Month, but what does it mean to utilize "smart irrigation"? 

Dr. Dan Sandor of the U of MN Turf team explains the importance of utilizing irrigation only as needed, and how to use technology and research data to help guide your decision about when and how much to water. 

Read more: Smart Irrigation Month

Emerald ash borer now found in Nobles County

Last week, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) announced finding emerald ash borer (EAB) in the southwest corner of Minnesota in Nobles County. Infested trees were found in the city of Worthington right off of Interstate 90, which indicates that EAB was transported by people to that site. On its own, EAB can only fly about 1 – 2 miles a year.

This is the 19th county in Minnesota known to be infested with EAB. This invasive beetle was first found in Minnesota in 2009. Since EAB was first found in North American in 2002, it has killed hundreds of millions of ash trees and has cost hundreds of millions of dollars.


Minnesotans can help prevent the spread of EAB with these three easy steps:
Don’t transport firewood. Buy firewood locally from approved vendors, and burn it where you buy it; Be aware of the quarantine restrictions. If you live in a quarantined county, be aware of the restrictions on movement of products such as ash trees, wood chips, and firewood; and, Watch …

NEW VIDEO SERIES: How to Pick the Best Plant(s) For Your Yard & Garden

The gardener's mantra "Right plant, right place, and right purpose" may be filled with assimilation, but it actually hits nail on the head. For a successful, healthy yard and garden, you've got to choose the right plant for the right location and purpose.

For example, you should avoid plants with thorns in play areas or along narrow paths. Plants that grow tall should not be planted on the south side (sunny) of shorter plants as the taller plants will block the light. Plants with woody trunks and stems shouldn't be planted where you routinely pile up snow as the weight can break branches. You get the picture.

I taught a lot of plant selection classes this year - 8 sessions in total - and found myself explaining plant selection over and over. It's clearly easier to show people, but often my classes are taught in the winter - not very conducive to selecting and planting.
Watch our new video series So with the help of videographer Gail Hudson, I put together a …

Minnesota Rose Trials: Toughest roses in the Region!

Did you know UMN Extension is part of a National Rose Trial and has been since 2015?  The trial is part of the American Rose Trials for Sustainability® (A.R.T.S. ®) program that has trial sites across the United States.

Since 2012, the goal of A.R.T.S. ® is to identify roses that perform well in a given region when grown under "minimal input conditions." So what does that mean for gardeners?

The program identifies roses that survive without pesticides, fertilizer--and aren't even covered in the winter! Read on...
How does the trial work? Clay County Extension Educator Randy Nelson has been managing and overseeing the trial since 2015, which is located in Dilworth, MN. Clay County is mostly Zone 4a (-30F to -25F); just a bit of the western edge of the county is Zone 3b (-35F to -30F).

Each year starts a new trial with 20 cultivars (three of each kind are planted). The trial is run for two years (evaluations start the year of planting and finish the following year so rose…

Food for butterflies: 'Eyelash grass', a Great Native Grass

This native grass with its funny golden sails at the tip of its stems is known by many common names--"eyelash grass," "mosquito grass" (because it looks like mosquito larva), "caterpillar grass," and also, blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis). 
Why plant it This under used native grass is a short tough perennial. It is drought tolerant and can grow with very little rainfall or supplemental water. It also provides food for more than a dozen butterflies species as well as wildlife. More on that a little later on!

Native to most states in the U.S., blue grama is found in most counties in the central and western United States. Blue grama is the state grass of Colorado and New Mexico and is an endangered species in Illinois. In Minnesota, it is common in western counties and found in most upland prairies.
Growing requirements Blue grama is a predominant grass of the short and mixed grass prairies. It thrives on dry sites and once established it will live and self …

Wildflower of the Month: Milkweed

Is it the middle of summer as you read this? Common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), is a Minnesota native wildflower that blooms in midsummer. Its lovely fragrance often proceeds your seeing the flowers. This is the milkweed that supports the monarch butterfly and is very valuable to include and maintain in our landscapes today.
Essential for the Monarch butterfly life cycle Monarch caterpillars feed exclusively on the leaves and the adult butterflies need milkweed to lay their eggs. They also feed on the nectar of the flowers, along with other flower species. Milkweeds have complex flowers; when you examine the individual flowers that make up the pink flower balls you will be amazed at their form and detail.
Growing milkweed in your garden This native plant is aggressive and can be weedy. The famous fluffy seeds float everywhere in the fall when the pods split open. The plants also have underground rhizomes that colonize to make a large stand of many plants.

Common milkweed loves full…