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Showing posts from June, 2020

Watering Wisdom: Growing a Healthy Lawn with Less Water

Setting up for an irrigation audit 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? Poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) 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

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 Image: Natalie Hoidal 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 sq

Prepare for apple maggots

Apple maggot.  Note the black banding and white spot.  Photo: University of Minnesota Extension 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.

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 Educato

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 conditi

Summer Snowflake: A late spring favorite!

Summer Snowflake in my yard. Photo: Mary H. Meyer, UMN Extension Professor 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. Summer snowflake in front of a 'Northern Lights' Azalea at the Mn Landscape Arboretum. Photo: Mary H. Meyer, UMN Extension 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

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

Wild ginger taking over a blue hosta! Photo: Mary H. Meyer, UMN Extension 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 th

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. In the background: glossy black chokeberry in bloom 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. Chokeberry flowers, spring 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 D

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. Vole damage in lawn. Photo credit: Troy Salzer In the home lawn Voles - 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 molehi

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 ca

Brown rot in cherries

Immature tart cherry fruit infected with brown rot. Photo: Shane Bugeja 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,

Y&G News pauses out of respect, remembrance

The Iris flower symbolize hope. Dear Minnesota gardeners, We are pausing our yard and garden posts to grieve and honor the memory of Mr. George Floyd and to respect the challenges residents and communities are facing. Our hearts go out to all people of Minnesota and across the nation, and we stand with those working to bring real justice. Please continue to make use of University of Minnesota Extension resources to help you in your yards and gardens, and also to help start the healing process and reduce stress by sharing food, flowers and green areas with others. We encourage you to help those suffering from damage to their businesses, homes and resources they count on to live. Please give your time, money, creativity and skills to help neighbors and neighborhoods recover from the devastation of the past week. Below are some of the ways to get help and to provide support. Stay safe and well. -- Your Extension Horticulture team City of Minneapolis list of resource