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Showing posts from June, 2020

Are you ready for Japanese beetles?

Reports have been coming in over the last week that Japanese beetles are now active. Soon their feeding will be evident. If you find Japanese beetles in your yard or garden, do you know how you will manage them?

Inspect early, inspect often

The first step in management is early detection; the sooner you find them feeding, the quicker you can deal with them and minimize their damage. Be sure to check regularly. You may not see any right away but don’t let your guard down, they could come later. Japanese beetles hatch during July and are active through August

By minimizing plant damage, you also reduce the number of beetles attracted to your garden and yard. As beetles feed, the damaged leaves put out a volatile, which attracts more beetles causing them to gather in groups to munch on your plants.

Inspect your plants, especially if Japanese beetles
damaged them the last few summers. But don't automatically assume they will be a problem.  Their numbers vary from year to yea…

Spotted Wing Drosophila is Now Active

Authors: Annie Klodd, UMN Extension Educator - Fruit and Vegetable Production; and Bill Hutchison, Professor and Extension Entomologist

Spotted wing drosophila (SWD) is currently active across Minnesota. University of Minnesota researchers and MDA have a network of traps to monitor SWD throughout the state, and as of June 16, SWD has been collected in traps in Forest Lake, Rosemount, Hastings, and Chanhassen.

Once gardeners notice SWD on their ripe fruit crops, they should begin controlling them. A small amount of SWD can cause a large amount of damage on the fruit, by laying eggs in multiple berries.
Decide how you will manage SWD now Gardeners growing strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, grapes, and other soft fruits should plan ahead to decide how they will manage SWD, and order any remaining supplies before SWD populations grow. Strawberry, honeyberry, summer-bearing raspberry, and blueberry growers should be monitoring particularly closely at this time, as those crops are eithe…

Minnesota Plant webinar series: Thursdays 7-8pm

Even without a virus keeping us home, online education is a great opportunity to learn. Join experts with unique perspectives from all over Minnesota horticulture on Thursdays at 7 p.m., from May 14 to September 10, 2020. You'll get a closer look at the plants that grow in Minnesota - explore collections, backyards and gardens from your armchair as you learn more about trees, perennials, edible plants, houseplants and more. Click here for How to sign up

2020 National Pollinator Week June 22-28

In 2007, the U.S. Senate unanimously approved and designated the third week of June as National Pollinator Partnership.
Pollinator Week. This designation marked an important and necessary step toward raising awareness about the urgent issue of our declining pollinator populations. Pollinator Week has become an international celebration of the value of bees, flies, bats and beetles as pollinators. Don't forget butterflies, ants, moths, birds and wasps contribute to pollination as well. Pollinator Week was initiated and is managed by

Take this opportunity to do something to celebrate pollinators and spread the word about what you can do to protect them! You can find ideas on our Flowers for Pollinators site as well as the Xerces Society, Pollinators Alliance, and the National Pollinator Week toolkit.


Watering Wisdom: Growing a Healthy Lawn with Less Water

Have you ever wondered if it's possible to grow a healthy lawn with less water?  A free, five-part webinar series from the Metropolitan Council and University of Minnesota Turfgrass Science team wants to help answer that question.  The first part of the series will discuss outdoor water use trends in Minnesota and how to perform an irrigation audit in your own backyard.

Outdoor Water Use in the Twin Cities: Am I Using Too Much?  Part 1 of a five-part webinar series  Tuesday July 7th, 2020  2:00 PM
Please visit our event page for more information!

Ask Extension: What can I do about poison ivy?

I live in Northern Minnesota near a wetland along a river. I have contracted a rash the past two summers from either poison ivy, poison sumac or poison oak while out cutting, digging or pulling weeds. How can I identify the plants? How can I protect myself?


Education is really your best line of defense along with wearing protective clothing and conducting a thorough clean up.

1. Know the plants.  Poison oak is not present in MN, but poison ivy, poison sumac, wild parsnip and cow parsley all can cause dermatitis. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture Noxious Weed webpage provides very good information . I also like Minnesota Department of Transportation downloadable PDF Minnesota Noxious Weeds. It provides management and timing instructions as well as look-a-like plants.

Interestingly, poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) is a native plant (the only one on the MN Noxious Weed list). It is a semi-woody plant that grows on the edges of woodlands and in disturbed areas. Though more shrub…

Mushrooms in lawns - A new Extension resource

Wet weather and over irrigation of lawns can sometimes result in mushrooms popping up. Most notably, "fairy rings" make themselves known, causing lawn overs to wonder if their lawn has a disease. Not to mention dodging mushrooms in a lawn or picking them up can be gross and is not fun. Read more to learn more on our new webpage: Mushrooms in Lawns

Author: Julie Weisenhorn, Extension Educator, Horticulture

The unique pollination systems of cucumbers, melons, and squash

You've likely all seen the images of what grocery store shelves would look like without pollinators. While many fruit and vegetable crops require pollinators to set fruit, cucumbers, melons, squash, and other plants in the cucurbit family have one of the most complex pollination systems of any garden vegetable. This article covers some basic information abut the complex and very cool pollination systems of cucurbits.  For a much more in-depth discussion of flowering, pollination, and fruit set dynamics, listen to our recent episode of What's Killing my Kale.
Flowering dynamics Pumpkins, squash, cucumbers, and melons are monoecious, meaning they produce both "male" and "female" flowers on the same plant. However, these flowers emerge at different times. In general, male flowers bloom one week or so before female flowers. However in zucchini and summer squash, female flowers tend to bloom first. 
In zucchini and summer squash, early female flowers will somet…

Prepare for apple maggots

While early July means different things to different people, if you are an apple grower, it reminds you that this is the beginning of apple maggot season in Minnesota. This pest spends the winter as pupae in the soil and begins to emerge as adults starting about July 1.

Why are they are pests?
Apple maggot is the most important apple pest
in the state and damages apples in a couple of ways. First, the adult females injure apples as they lay their eggs. Their sharp ovipositor punctures the skin, giving apples a less attractive, dimpled look.

The most serious damage occurs when the larvae tunnel through the apples. Their feeding injures the  flesh, causing brown streaks. These damaged areas become soft and rot, causing apples to become lumpy and misshapen.

Can you protect your apples without insecticides?
A great method to protect your apples nonchemically is to bag them. Use sandwich bags or similar plastic bags. Once you put the bags over the apples, zip it up, tie it, o…

New gardening video series in Spanish // Nuevos videos sobre jardinería en español

Our Yard and Garden team recently collaborated with SNAP educators to create three introductory gardening videos in Spanish. These videos cover how to build healthy soil in the garden, growing vegetables successfully from transplants, and growing vegetables successfully from seed.

Nuestro equipo de Yard and Garden recientemente colaboró con educadores de SNAP para crear tres videos sobre jardinería en español. Las temas incluyen: cómo mantener el suelo saludable en el jardín, cómo cultivar verduras con éxito desde los trasplantes y cómo cultivar semillas directamente en el jardín en el clima de Minnesota.

Cómo mantener suelo saludable en el jardín Building healthy soil in the garden



Cultivando trasplantes saludables en el jardín growing vegetables successfully from transplants

Cultivando plantas desde semillas en el jardín Growing plants from seed in the garden


Video authors: Natalie Hoidal, Milena Nunez Garcia, Maria Teresa Thoreson, Extension Educators

Smart Garden 2020: Good Boulevard plants & Growing Tips

How does the grass look in the boulevard strip near your home? If construction has taken place along the roadside next to your house, you may be managing a newly planted turfgrass area. The good news is...many resources are available on how to care for turfgrass planted in these challenging boulevard areas. 
Construction usually involves planting seed or sod and then homeowners are expected to maintain the area. If conditions favor the grass, all may go well. If there is no rainfall or extreme temperatures, the planting many fail.  How to handle the (often) tough growing conditions of a boulevard Boulevards usually contain salts from the roadside which affects plants, especially in the spring before rain can dilute the salts. Salt, in fact, is the main issue in Minnesota. 
The turfgrasses along a roadside also experience higher temperatures and are oftentimes not watered or fertilized as much as regular lawn areas. 
Here are some tips on how to handle these challenging site conditions:  K…

Smart Garden 2020: Test Your Soil!

Soil health is connected to plant health, environmental health, human health, and community health. Getting a soil test can help you to manage your farm or garden in a way that is responsible and safe. Check our newest video explaining the importance of soil testing and nutrient management:




So how do you take a soil test?  The UMN Soil Testing Lab has instructions on their website, as well as guides for interpreting your test. Master Gardeners can also help you to read your soil test and make recommendations. 
If you would prefer a video overview, Extension Educator Katie Drewitz recently created a step by step video showing you how to take a soil sample from your garden. 
For sampling trees and bushes, see Annie Klodd's videoabout taking soil samples from a vineyard or orchard. While you are likely growing on a smaller scale than what's shown here, the same concepts still apply. 
Author: Natalie Hoidal, UMN Extension Educator

Summer Snowflake: A late spring favorite!

Sad to see your tulip garden fading?  Here's a late spring flowering bulb that's often overlooked for perennial gardens. Summer snowflake, Leucojum aestivum, band putting on looms in late May and can put on quite a show.

It is a long-lasting perennial in the Amaryllis family, similar to daffodils, and like daffodils it is poisonous to mammals, so deer and rodents avoid it! A big plus. It also is very tolerant of wet or boggy soils and can live in a perennial border that you water in the summer, unlike many other spring flowering bulbs that require dry summer conditions.
How to identify ‘Gravetye Giant’ is the most common selection of summer snowflake. Sources say it grows to 3 feet, but it is only 2 feet tall in my garden. I purchased this cultivar in a 25-bulb package from Costco in 2009 and it continues to bloom in my partially sunny, front perennial border every spring.

This cultivar was given the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit and is named after G…

Emerald ash borer active now through Sept 1

Minnesota Department of Agriculture reports the emerald ash borer (EAB) to be active from May 1 through September 1. EAB is responsible for destroying millions of ash trees across the US including in Minnesota.

Some things you can do to prevent the spread of EAB:

Do not prune, cut or remove ash branches, trees and stumps May 1 through September 1 in known EAB infested areas. Don't move firewood unless it's MDA Certified firewood (look for the MDA Certified Seal)Report EAB or concerns about EAB by calling 888-545-6684 or emailing the MDA at arrest.the.pest@state.mn.usLearn the signs of EAB on ash trees and keep an eye out as an observant tree owner.
According to the MDA, May 1 through September 1 is considered the EAB flight season. EAB adult beetles are emerging from infested wood or trees and flying in search of new hosts during this time. EAB larvae complete their development by pupating into adult beetles in the spring and early summer.

Read more at Plant Pest Insider.

Is Wild Ginger a 'Garden Invader'? Or a great plant for shady sites?

I love wild ginger, Asarum canadense, and was so happy to get it growing in my garden in the past few years. Where did I get this plant? Maybe the Arboretum plant sale, which often has a good selection of native plants or from a friend. In any case, I was happy to see how easy it was to grow in my predominately dry shade garden.

Once I had a large patch or two, I tried moving it and found the basal stems easily rooted and if I cut back the large leaves, it was easy to transplant, even more so if I dug up the rhizomes.  So from two clumps, I soon had 4 or 5 and gee, that was easy and wow, wild ginger became my go to plant for any bare corner in the shade.
Is it a garden 'invader'? Fast forward to 2020 and I am beginning to think this plant is quite aggressive and can quickly take over an area. And now small plants are appearing often in my garden. And nowhere near other wild ginger.

Where are these seedlings coming from? How can the seed be dispersing? !! Suddenly wild ginger …

Ask Extension: Chokeberry shrub for my landscape

Question: I am thinking about planting a chokeberry shrub in my garden, but think it may grow to be too large. Can I keep it pruned back to the size that will work in the place I want it without compromising the health or appearance of the shrub.


Answer:Aronia, common name chokeberry, is a great native shrub that grows to be fairly large - about 5-7 ft tall depending on the species and cultivar.  It is best to choose plants that will grow well in your space allowed as pruning a tree to keep the size at a certain level may ultimately reduce the blooming and the vigor of the plant. We have a good video series about understanding your site, choosing plants, and planting that you might find helpful.

Look for a cultivar with a mature (full grown) size more appropriate for the space you have. You can check with your local garden center. We also have a plant selection program, Plant Elements of Design, that contains a few cultivar options and you can search by growing conditions and plant size…

Tunnels and holes from moles and voles

If you have rodents making tunnels in your yard, it’s important to figure out which critter is the culprit so that you can use the proper management practices. Vole and mole damage look quite different from one another, so they should be easy to identify and then manage appropriately.
In the home lawnVoles - Voles are small brown rodents about the size and shape of a mouse. They have small ears and a short tail. Voles are common in yards. They eat grasses and roots and leave trails. We usually observe their small surface tunnels winding through lawns right after snow melt.

Moles - Moles are also small rodents; they have small eyes, concealed ears, and front feet designed for digging. Unlike voles, moles are mostly predatory, eating earthworms, grubs, and other soil-dwelling arthropods. Moles have deep below-ground tunnels as well as surface tunnels. Entrances to mole tunnels may have mounds of excavated soil, often called molehills, near them.
DamageVoles - Where voles are present, the…

Horticulture Oils: Use and Safety

Horticultural oils are widely used to mitigate insect pests in a variety of settings such as ornamental trees, landscape plants, greenhouses, fruit trees, and orchards. But what are they, what are their appropriate uses, and what precautions should you take when using them?
What are horticultural oils? Horticultural oils are derived from either petroleum or plant material. Mineral oils are petroleum-based while vegetable-based oils are derived from oil seed crops such as soybeans, canola or cottonseed. The two most common horticultural oils contain refined mineral-based paraffin and olefin. There are different oils available for different seasons.

Dormant oils are applied when plants, and often their insect pests, are dormant in winter. Summer oils are used when foliage is present, temperatures are higher, and insect pests are active. More refined versions of oils known as narrow-range, or Superior oil, allow for year-round use and have are less likely to be used improperly and cause …

Brown rot in cherries

Home orchards should be on the lookout for brown rot on their sweet or tart cherries. This fungal disease can reduce the amount of fruit you can enjoy this summer, as well as cause damage to twigs and leaves. Thankfully, this disease is often not a fatal one, but nevertheless homeowners should keep an eye out not just during bloom, but well into the season.

Brown rot can appear suddenly, and soon become a problem that stubbornly refuses to leave. Spread via greyish white spores that overwinter on infected plant material, this fungus can also arrive from several sources outside of a sick cherry. These can include cherry relatives such as chokecherry, black cherry, or another stone fruit (apricots, plums). Insects such as the invasive spotted wing Drosophila, a type of fruit fly, can also introduce this disease into your orchard.

Brown rot (also called blossom twig blight) is most commonly found on flowers, branches, leaves, or mature cherry fruit. It is caused by the fungi species Mon…