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Showing posts from February, 2020

Smart Garden 2020: Tune into WCCO Smart Garden radio show

Year-round, Extension answers questions on the WCCO Smart Garden radio show, on AM 830,
Saturdays 8-9am. As you can imagine with listeners from across Minnesota, in neighboring states and even streaming in other countries (as far as Zimbabwe!) there is never a dull moment on the show. For a behind-the-scenes look at WCCO Smart Garden, take a peek at our video: Smart Garden Show Behind-the-scenes

My colleagues and fellow plant geeks, Mary Meyer and Theresa Rooney, and I admit to getting stumped now and then - and we are never afraid to admit it. Regardless, we enjoy the challenges Minnesota gardening presents, and love helping people with every kind of question under the sun.

We surveyed listeners and were happy to find that 77% of respondents reported "frequently or always learning something new" when they listen to the show. Are you an avid listener? A new listener?Experience gardener or just starting your first planting? Share your experience: Smart Garden Survey.

Tune i…

My Favorite Plant: 5 Grasses to Try in 2020

Do you have a favorite plant? It's fun to compare plants when there's snow on the ground outside! 

At the January 2020 Northern Green conference in Minneapolis, 19 people shared their favorite plants as one of the educational events. Each person had three minutes to show a picture and tell about their selection. Five people selected grasses or sedges--in other words, one-fourth of the speakers selected grasses or sedges!!! 

What were these favorite grasses or sedges? Oehme palm sedge, Bowles’ golden sedge, hakone grass, ‘Blackhawks’ big bluestem and ‘Goldtau’ tufted hairgrass made the cut as favorites. I agree with all of these great plants for Minnesota. 
Hakone grassHakone grass (Hackonechloa macra ‘Aureola’), was the first plant shared at the seminar.  Jayne Roberts, Roberts Horticultural Sales, is the unabashed "Queen of Hakone Grass"! She loves this plant and has propagated and planted it to cover most of her shady, sloped front yard. 

She does use irrigation and h…

Smart Garden 2020: It's time to ...

Prune trees
Trees to prune now: Oaks, apple, crabapple, maple, birch, honeylocust, showy mountain ash, hawthorne, butternut, walnut, ironwood, blue beech. Note some trees like birch, maple and walnut may drip sap from the cuts. That's ok - it's a natural occurrence.Tools for pruning: hand pruner, lopper, hand saw, polesaw, chainsaw. Tools with telescoping handles are handy for reaching branches in the canopy. Read more: Pruning Trees and Shrubs
Start some seeds
Start seeds that take a long time to germinate / grow to planting size: geraniums, pansies, wax begonias, leeks, onions, alpine strawberry, browallia, clarkia, dusty miller, fountain grass, impatiens, larkspur, lobelia, nemesia, stocks, torenia, celery. Use peat pots or other biodegradable pots for starting transplant-sensitive clarkia and nemesia. Rip off the bottoms of biodegradable pots and plant them right in the ground.Plant tubers like begonias in a flat of peat moss or vermiculite for bloom in June. Move plants yo…

Ask Extension: Will a rabbit-eaten evergreen tree recover this spring?

Q: I have a newly planted 6' Evergreen Tree, (dwarf tannenbaum). This winter the rabbits have had a field day eating the green needles, from the ground and up about 2'+. Can you give me any information on how I can get the tree back in shape come spring?

A: It is possible that the damage may be too severe to actually do anything about it. If they have eaten up 2 feet of it it may never be able to recover. 

About all you can do is protect it from any more damage by caging it with chicken wire or something to keep them away for now and see what it does in the spring. That is when pines will shoot growth only. 

Here is a link with info about pruning. Make sure that you open the links under "when to prune and evergreens."

Pruning trees and shrubs

Here is a link with a little more info about the pine.

Mugo Pine


Have a gardening question? Ask Extension all your gardening questions by clicking below:
Ask Extension

--Gail Hudson, Yard &Garden News Editor

NEW SERIES! Big Ideas for Small Spaces

Now that we have reached the depths of winter, I’ve been dreaming of starting my garden. I grew up with greenhouses and a large garden and worked on farms on and off, so I’ve always had the fortune of abundant access to land and space to grow food. However, two years ago I moved to St. Paul and I’ve missed having gardening space. 

While many of our readers have large backyards, I imagine many of you are like me - living in apartments or dense urban areas where your options for growing are limited. Throughout 2020, I’ll be writing a column about small space gardening. 

Gardening should be accessible to everyone, so I’ll be sharing some big ideas for growing in small spaces. These spaces could include community garden plots, window boxes, pots and buckets, and indoor growing systems.

Since winter is a great time to read through seed catalogs and plan your garden, let’s talk about what crops and varieties are best suited to small spaces. 
Choosing what to growWhen growing in a small space, i…

Iron Clad Hosta

Hosta is a workhorse perennial in Minnesota. It’s a plant we can count on no matter what….unless the deer and slugs have their way! But despite winter, shady difficult sites, slopes, heavy clay soil, even dry soil, hosta are the go-to plant for cold climates.

Did you know there are 6,100 registered cultivars or varieties according to the American Hosta Society? Many more likely exist that are not registered. 

Why are hostas striped?Many hostas are chimeras….with different cells growing side by side and this accounts for the variegated or striped, patterned foliage. Propagating or slicing hosta crowns often reveals new cells with new color patterns and so we see a lot of variation in hostas. Fun for gardeners! The best for slug resistance Nursery owner and designer Steve Kelley gave a talk entitled Iron Clad Hosta at the 2020 Northern Green conference in January 2020. His many years of research and work with hosta made him an excellent person to hear from. 

Steve cited 15 of his favorites …

Ask Extension: How to get rid of Asian Jumping Worms?

Q:Unfortunately, my garden was infected with Asian Jumping Worms last season after spreading mulch from a local mulch supplier. I was wondering if you have ever heard of success using Sevin [a carbaryl insecticide] before the worms hatch? 

A:Did you know? Asian jumping worms (Amynthas spp.) are an invasive species in Minnesota.  They are native to eastern Asia.  They live in the top few inches of soil in leaf litter on the forest floor, as well as home and landscape gardens, changing the soil texture to appear like coffee grounds. 

Why are they so bad for the environment? They strip the soil of nutrients and can kill plants. 
See a current map of confirmed jumping worms in MN on the EDDMapS invasive species mapping system

Also-very important--they should be reported to the Minnesota DNR. (See link below for more information.)

Here’s some of the information put together by the University of Minnesota Extension on Jumping Worms:
How to ID themSome quick facts about jumping worms. There are …

Indoor gardening with houseplants - Extension can help!

Houseplants are growing in popularity (pun intended!) and that means you may be regularly adding new plants to your collection. Sometimes undesirable pests like aphids, mealybugs, scale and fungus gnats can hitchhike on new plants and cause a lot of grief for the plant owner.
How to buy the right houseplantWhen looking over the many plants at your favorite garden center, stay away from the plants that are less than robust (and those on the Clearance rack!) Take your time to look over and under leaves, on stems, and examine flower buds. 

Use technology to help: there are smart phone apps that turn your smart phone into a smart magnifier. You can even snap pictures! I downloaded one for my android phone simply called "Magnifying glass". It works slick.

Help your new plant adjust If you're wrapping up a plant in a large plastic bag to transport it home/to your office/to a friend, blow into the plastic bag to inflate it and create an air barrier, then tie it shut. This prevents…

Six New Weeds Added to Minnesota State Noxious Weed List

Six new weeds have been added by the MDA to Minnesota's Noxious Weed List. The state's Noxious Weed List provides specifics on how to control these weeds, and is divided into these four categories:
Prohibited Eradicate - Most serious threat; remove all parts of the plant above and below groundProhibited Control - Landowners must manage to prevent plant from spreadingRestricted - Landowners encouraged to manage, but not legally required to removeSpecially Regulated - Special management plans have been developed by the MDA to minimize potential harmLearn more about these category definitions:  What makes a plant a noxious weed?The MDA is the lead agency responsible for regulating noxious weeds. Along with the Noxious Weed Advisory Committee, the MDA updates the list every three years. Additions to the list are approved by the Commissioner of Agriculture. 

View the updated Noxious Weed List:

Plants on the Nox…