Robin Trott, U of M Extension Educator
This crazy summer has had its toll on our gardens. With the wild swings in temperature and stormy, windy weather, it's not surprising to see our plants reacting in adverse ways. Recently I have been getting many questions about weird, curling tomato leaves. Tomato plants can develop disorders that distort plants and blemish fruits. Some disorders are not caused by diseases, but are the result of cultural practices or environmental conditions. Generally, good cultural practices that ensure consistent plant growth will reduce these types of disorders.
The weather has warmed, your gardens are planted, weeded and growing; and you're ready to kick back and see what's cookin' in someone else's garden bed. What better way to spend a summer day than touring local gardens? On Sunday, July 14, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., the Douglas County Master Gardeners present their annual Tour of Gardens. The tour offers a glimpse into a variety of horticultural practices in Douglas County, and five local gardens are included in this year's tour. Sharon and Ron Svihel 2109 Irvine Place, Alexandria
In 1996, the University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardeners in Douglas County started a major garden project surrounding the lower library parking lot at the Douglas County Services Center. They built a three-tiered garden, and filled it with annuals, perennials, shrubs and trees. Little did they know that 23 years later it would still be thriving, and master gardeners would still be working to plant and maintain a garden that beautifies our county property and informs our residents of best garden practices and plants that thrive in our Minnesota climate.
Another cool, wet spring has led to a recurring problem with ash trees — ash anthracnose. This disease is most commonly seen when green leaves fall from the trees in early spring. Additional symptoms can include black blotches on leaf margins, causing leaf distortion, and small purple-to-brown spots in the middle of leaves (see photos). The leaf symptoms may not necessarily be visible on fallen leaves, since the infection that triggered leaf drop is likely on the stalk that joins the leaf to a stem, called a petiole, or other inconspicuous location.
Knowing your plant families is important when it comes to crop rotation and avoiding continuous disease or virus issues, and soil fertility in your vegetable and fruit gardens. Many diseases and pests will impact multiple crops in the same family. It is also critical to know the ornamentals and weeds in the same family as the vegetable and fruit crops, for they can harbor the same problems. Here is a breakdown of many popular garden crop families, followed by a list of some of the ornamentals and weeds in the same family:
Leaves of three, let it be. Hairy vine, no friend of mine. Berries white, run in fright. Red leaflets in spring, it's a dangerous thing. Side leaflets like mittens will itch like the dickens. *** Now that our landscapes are fully green again, it is a good time to remind everyone who enjoys the outdoors to keep an eye out for poison ivy. Poison ivy is a plant native to Minnesota that causes most people — but not all — an itchy rash, swelling or even blistering reactions.
If you are a gardener or are interested in lawns and landscapes, local foods, fruits and vegetables, water quality, invasive species, integrated pest management or trees and flowers, we want to hear from you.
Spring is officially here. Snow is melting, and our lawns are reappearing. However, you may find some surprises in your lawn as the snow recedes. First instinct may be to take advantage of the warm spring days and start your yard work, but doing work too early could cause more harm than good. Lawn care should not begin until the ground has firmed up and the soil is no longer cold and muddy. Raking too early may cause damage in two ways: the first is by uprooting many healthy grass plants, and the second is compacting the soil simply by walking on it.
Flowers add so much variety to the landscape, and come in so many beautiful colors, it is sometimes hard to decide what to grow. Do you want annuals or perennials? A particular color scheme or a patchwork of color? Too many choices, too little time; yet there's always room for one more! Peonies are one of our best flowering herbaceous perennials. They typically come in red, maroon, pink, white, coral and yellow, and grow three- to four-feet tall with a round shape and lustrous, dark green foliage.
What are nature-loving gardeners to do when voles, woodchucks, squirrels, gophers, rabbits, moles and other furry little mammals wreak havoc in our gardens? Start by identifying the creature that is causing the damage and then learn a little about the habits of that animal. This knowledge is essential for putting together an effective solution. Make your garden less attractive to wildlife by eliminating hiding or nesting areas, such as brush piles and tall grass. Seal off access to crawl spaces beneath your porch or deck.