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Showing posts from October, 2019

Can apples tolerate a freeze?

A "hard freeze" is defined as four straight hours of 28°F. Apples freeze at around 28°F, so what if you can't get out before a forecasted hard freeze to pick your apples? Will they be OK after a night of freezing? The good news according to U of M fruit researchers is your apples should be okay if the temperature doesn't get much below 28.

More importantly, frozen apples should not be picked until the fruit thaws out as the frozen fruit will bruise and be unusable. Late fruiting apples like U of M's SnowSweet are more at risk to freezing. 

After a freeze, leave the apples on the tree wait till midday when they have thawed out. At 22°F, the fruit will freeze hard and cells will break down. So if a very cold night is ahead and your apples are still on the tree, it's best to change your plans and get picking!

Author: Julie Weisenhorn, Extension Educator - Horticulture

Fall's burning question: Should I bag my leaves? Or mulch them?

The leaves are finally turning in the southern half of Minnesota...and that means it's time to rake, or does it?  Take a look at this popular article written by UMN Extension's Turf Specialist Jon Trappe in 2018:

Many homeowners wonder if they should be collecting and removing tree leaves from their lawns prior to mowing, or if the tree leaves can be mulched (mown) into the lawn. Like many recommendations for lawn management decisions, this one can also be answered with the phrase, "it depends."
How to decide A number of factors will determine whether you should be mulching your tree leaves or collecting them, including: What amount of leaves are present before and after mowing?How long after being mulched will the leaves be on the grass?What are the air and soil temperatures in the next few weeks? When it makes sense? It's free fertilizer! In general, the preferred choice would be to mulch the tree leaves when you mow the grass.
Most deciduous tree leaves are ar…

Become a Smarter Gardener in 2019: This fall, look for noxious weeds and invasive plants

Fall is an excellent time to be checking your property for noxious weeds and invasive plants, according to Gary Wyatt, UMN Extension educator in Agroforestry.

Who's responsible for removing these invaders? " Minnesota property owners are responsible for controlling noxious weeds on their property," noted Wyatt in a recent post in My Minnesota Woods, a blog from the UMN Department of Forest Resources.

Wyatt also writes that fall is an easy time to identify weeds that might new new to your site and potentially invasive.  For example, Oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus) is easy to see this time of year. Read more ...






NEW VIDEO: How to Identify Your Apple Tree

It's fall--the perfect time to enjoy so many of Minnesota's wonderful apple varieties! Do you have a tree in your yard? And do you know what variety it produces?

It's a question we get asked a lot: "Can you help me identify my apple tree?"  The answer is, well complicated, as you can imagine, but often you can narrow down the possibilities by answering a short list of questions.

Extension Horticulturist and Professor Mary Meyer walks you through the process in this new Extension Video Guide. She's also got a last resort tip for those of you who have just got to know!


Author: Gail Hudson, Extension Communications & Video Producer

University of Minnesota Extension Begins Work on Cider Apples

University of Minnesota Extension Educator Annie Klodd, in collaboration with researchers in the University of Minnesota fruit breeding program, has received a grant to begin research and outreach on growing cider apples in Minnesota. Read on to learn about Minnesota cider apples and the new cider project being conducted by Extension and the fruit breeding program. The Cider Scene in Minnesota Did you know? Hard cider is making a big splash in the Minnesota craft beverage scene. According to Minnesota Department of Agriculture data, as of 2017 cider accounted for 51% of the beverage production by Minnesota wineries (which includes cideries). Largely due to the recent increase in cider production, total winery beverage production has risen by 68% between 2012 and 2017.
What is hard cider? Hard apple cider is a fermented beverage made from the juice from apples. Other fruits can also be used in ciders, such as pears or cherries. Cider from pears is called "perry."

Cider can hav…

VIDEO: Have a pollinator friendly, winter yard & garden!

Even in late fall and winter, we can have a pollinator friendly landscape. Late blooming flowers like asters zinnias, gentian, salvia, hollyhocks and hostas provide nectar and pollen for bees that are still buzzing around in October.

Leaf mulch left in garden beds and under trees can provide winter habitat for queen bees. Standing plant stems can provide important nesting sites for stem nesting bees, and remember to build and install bee houses.

Watch the following video Fall Cleanup for Pollinators for more tips to make your yard and garden beneficial for our important bees!




Author: Julie Weisenhorn, Extension Educator-Horticulture



Fall gardening: There's still plenty to do!

Fall is an interesting time in the garden. Monday, my thermometer read 86 degrees and the humidity was stifling at a record 72%. Rain from the previous weekend left everything damp and the smell of things decomposing was is the air. Fall? In Minnesota? Hard to believe!

But then things cooled down overnight as they tend to do here. Minnesota weather leaves gardeners guessing: can I still plant? Should I cover my plants? How much should I water? Is it to late to...(fill in the blank)? So here are a few things we can still do in our yards and gardens over the next couple of weeks.

Plant trees and shrubs. Fall is an excellent time to plant woody plants. Temperatures are typically cooler and fall rains keep the soil moist, reducing transplant shock and drought stress. If rains are scarce, however, be sure to water plants till your soil freezes and won't absorb water any longer. For guidelines on watering newly planted trees and shrubs, visit our Extension webpage Water Wisely.

Mow your …

Become a Smarter Gardener in 2019: Plant pollinator-friendly spring bulbs!

Are you thinking of planting some spring bulbs this fall? You might think about planting several kinds of bulbs which attract pollinators. These early flowering bulbs are sometimes the only flowers out in early spring and provide critical food for pollinators--particularly honeybees.

What spring bulbs are best? Here are the latest results of a new study.
Plant survival & pollinator attraction This new study out of the University of Arkansas primarily looked into how long these spring bulbs lasted over a three-year period when planted in several different kinds of lawn grass.  But it also studied the number of pollinators attracted to these bulbs.

Researchers found that fewer spring bulbs survived when they were planted in turf made up of bermuda grass (too much plant competition).  But they did better and lasted longer when they were planted in buffalograss (see Table 1).

So let's translate these results for all of us who garden in Minnesota:  While neither of these grass spe…

Got chickens? Fall is a good time to spread poultry litter in the garden.

If you have backyard chickens, you’re probably well aware of the benefits of using chicken litter (manure plus bedding) in the garden. Poultry litter contains nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and a variety of other nutrients that plants need for ideal growth.

The combination of manure, feathers, feed waste, plus straw, wood shavings, or other bedding material provides an excellent source of organic materials to feed soil microbes that help keep your soil and plants healthy.

Fall is a great time to apply poultry litter to your garden – particularly if you grow edible crops. Why add chicken litter? Composting backyard chicken manure can help stabilize nutrients, lower salt levels, and decrease harmful human pathogens (germs, such as Salmonella bacteria) that can make people very sick if ingested on raw produce, such as lettuce, cantaloupe, or tomatoes.

You won’t know whether or not your chickens carry these bad germs – chickens are natural carriers of many bacteria that can make people …

VIDEO: How to create a spring bulb garden that blooms through spring!

It's spring bulb planting time! And though this rainy, cool fall weather may have kept you indoors, it's not too late to get outside, dig among the fading flowers, shrubs and trees in your yard to guarantee next spring will be a colorful one!
Be a Smarter Gardener when it comes to planting spring bulbs Plant fall bulbs as long as you can work the soil.  In this video, UMN Extension Educator Julie Weisenhorn goes through the steps of basic bulb planting and explains how you can stagger spring bulbs so you'll have varying heights and constant blooms all spring long.


Video Producer: Gail Hudson, Extension Communications

Lawn care questions from the State Fair

Fall is the best time of the year for many of our lawn care tasks. Did you visit the 2019 State Fair? If you did, you may have stopped by the U of MN Turf booth in the Ag and Horticulture building to speak with our knowledgeable turf experts. They compiled a list of the questions most commonly asked and answers.

The top three questions were about:

Lawns in shady areasWeed control (other than creeping charlie)Irrigation sensors
Read and learn more on our Turfgrass Science blog