|Yard & Garden Line News
Volume 5 Number 17 November 1, 2003
2003 Dakota County Master Gardener Vegetable and Flower Trials
Liz Trayers, Dakota Co. MG
2003 marks the third year the Dakota County Master Gardeners have planted trial gardens for the purpose of evaluating and displaying vegetable and flower bedding plants. Work on the trial gardens begins early in the year with the Planning Phase which involves choosing the vegetables and flowers which will be grown for the upcoming year. Our trial selections included the University of Minnesota vegetable trials along with All America Selections (AAS) winners: 'Profusion White' Zinnia, 'Merlin Blue Morn' Petunia, 'Blue Wave' Petunia, 'Jaio Dark Red' Vinca, 'Corona Cherry Magic' Dianthus 'Can Can Scarlet' Carnation, 'Golden Jubilee' Agastache, 'Sundance Bicolor' Gaillardia, and 'Purple Majesty' Millet. We also included a display of heirloom flowers.
Garden view. Zinnias,|
front; 'Purple Majesty' millet, back left; 'Blue Wave' petunias back right
In March the Greenhouse Phase begins with the planting of seeds for those varieties which have to be started indoors. This year over 2000 seeds were started in the greenhouse in sterile six pack cells containing a soil-less seed starter mix. These were placed in full sunlight in the greenhouse where temperatures ranged from 70- 85 F. The seedlings were watered daily and fertilized on a regular basis with a dilute liquid fertilizer. We did have some insect damage, but insect control was limited to sticky strips. During the Greenhouse Phase data was collected on germination for each variety and observations regarding the growth and health of the seedlings were recorded.
Two weeks prior to planting the plants were hardened off and then at the end of May the plants were transplanted to the gardens at UMORE Park in Rosemount, MN. The direct seeded selections were also planted at this time. The Evaluation Phase followed the outdoor planting and data collected during this phase includes the number of plants that survive, the color, quantity, taste and amount of fruit, the color and size of flower blooms along with unique features of the plant. Observations are also recorded regarding disease, insect and wildlife damage.
'Blue Wave' petunias, 'Golden Jubilee' agastache, 'Can Can' carnations.
In addition to the AAS winners mentioned above the Dakota County Master Gardeners evaluated various varieties of summer and winter squash, Rudbeckia, heirloom tomatoes, beets, melons, kohlrabi, and zinnias. Favorites in the vegetable category were the summer squash 'Papaya Pear' (2003 AAS Winner), the heirloom tomato 'Pineapple', the winter squash 'Waltham Butternut' and the beets 'Rodina' and 'Kestrel'.
'Papaya Pear' Summer Squash was a favorite because of it's semi-bush growth (3 ft x 4 ft) making it possible to grow a summer squash without having it overrun the garden, early maturity, attractive golden yellow color, interesting pear shape, and high yield (highest yield among varieties tested).
The 'Pineapple' heirloom tomato stood out from the other tomato varieties primarily for its yellow color along with a sweet and mild taste and a high germination rate (94%).
'Waltham Butternut' was selected as the favorite winter squash for its sweet flavor and high germination rate. We did start the winter squash indoors in peat pots and then transplanted them outdoors when they were approximately 2" tall.
Exceptional sweetness was the reason the 'Rodina' and 'Kestrel' were chosen as the favorite varieties of beets. They also had 100% germination and the highest yield.
'Prairie Sun' and
'Indian Summer' rudbeckia|
For flowers, the notable performers were the 'Profusion White' Zinnia (2001 AAS Winner), 'Merlin Blue Morn' Petunia (2003 AAS Winner) and 'Sundance Bicolor' Gaillardia (2003 AAS Winner). The 'Profusion White' Zinnia was a favorite because of its compact mounded growth, abundance of white daisy like blossoms and heat and drought tolerance. This variety would be excellent in a hot sunny area of the landscape. 'Merlin Blue Morn' was a pleasant surprise in the garden. The plant like the 'Profusion White' Zinnia also has a mounded growth habit and produces a spectacular display of purple flowers with white centers that do not require pinching. Flower production was at its highest during the later part of the summer and were worth the wait. The one difficulty we had with this plant was obtaining seed. We were finally able to locate a local source for the plants by using the list of retailers provided on the All America Selections website. 'Sundance Bicolor' Gaillardia was noted for its attractive burgundy and yellow globe shaped flowers on a spreading plant It also tolerated the heat and occasional drought conditions very well. We grew this with 'Red Plume' Gaillardia which has masses of red flowers on compact plants and it was an eye catching display of color.
Over the past three years, we have grown a number of AAS Winners in our trial gardens to assess how they would perform in our area and overall they have lived up to their award winning status. We encourage gardeners to seek out these varieties along with favorites from the state vegetable trials and plant a few of these varieties throughout the garden and landscape, because they do possess unique color, flavor or growing features en and most are very easy to grow and maintain. We also invite gardeners to visit our trial and display gardens at UMORE Park in Rosemount to view the trial gardens and decide what varieties they may want to grow.
For more information on UMORE Park click here: UMORE Park
To read about the last 6 years of AAS winners and see photos, go to:
Ganoderma applanatum:The Beauty of a Beast
Janna Beckerman, Extension Plant Pathologist
Ganoderma butt rot, caused by Ganoderma applanatum, has multiple roles in the hardwood forest ecosystem . An important decomposer of fallen timber, this fungus also colonizes wounds, and is an opportunistic pathogen of stressed trees. This pathogen causes decay in both the sapwood and heartwood of infected trees. Its primary host range includes aspen, cottonwood, birch, maple, ash, oak and elm. Although reported to decay evergreens, a more common coniferous counterpart, G. tsugae (and/or G. lucidum), is the usual suspect.
Because most diseased trees often break, are windthrown, or fall before death, the fruiting body is the most obvious sign of disease. G. applanatum is easily identified by its large, distinctive, shelf-like fruiting brackets or "conks" that are directly attached to the host tree or stump . Commonly found on stumps or the butt log of dying trees, these hard and woody conks are perennial and grow for 5 to 10 years. Their size often reaches 20 inches across and 4-5 inches thick. Photographs exist to demonstrate that these brackets are strong enough to support the weight of a grown man! The upper surface of the bracket is reddish-brown. The underside of the conk is usually white. When bruised or scratched, the underside reveals the brown hyphae. For this reason, the brackets are often commonly referred to by the name of 'Artist's Conk' .
A new, fertile layer of tiny, white pores is produced on the undersurface each year. Spore are produced within the pores. The spores are rusty red-brown in color and produced so prodigiously that they often form a dusting of color on the bark beneath the bracket. In fact, this fungus can produce 350,000 spores per second (That's 30 billion spores a day and 4,500 billion in one season).* Spores are windborne and infection occurs through wounds. The pores from which the basdiospores fall must be vertically aligned: If the tree falls, the shelf needs to reorganize a new pore layer for effective spore release.
Ganoderma lucidum has a beautifully varnished outer surface and commonly infects evergreens.|
As the infection spreads, decay (rot) results. Rots are broken into two groups: White rots and brown rots. White rots result when fungi degrade both cellulose and lignin. Brown rot occurs when the fungus degrades only lignin. Ganoderma degrades both cellulose and lignin, resulting in a spongy, white rot. In the early stage of decay, bleached areas are often encircled by a dark brown stain in most species. In the advanced stage, the wood is whitish to cream, mottled, soft and spongy, and usually with fine black zone lines (pseudosclerotial plates). Columns of decaying wood often extend above and below the any developing conks.
Ganoderma on log
Symptoms of infection by Ganoderma are difficult to diagnose and are commonly associated with decline of mature of trees. Common symptoms early in the infection process include a reduction in leaf number, leaves that are yellow and smaller than normal, scattered dieback and reduction in growth.
There is no post-infection control for Ganoderma butt rot. Upon infection, tree decline and death is inevitable. The best way to manage this disease is to prevent wounding to reduce the chance of infection. Remember the number of spores this fungus produces? The removal of infected trees with active conks is essential to minimize the possibility of infection to other nearby trees!
It is important to note that although the tree will decline over course of several years, it may take many years for the tree to completely die. In the meantime, declining trees pose substantial hazards as they are very susceptible to wind-throw. The presence of any tree with any type of conks indicative of decay should be removed promptly if it poses any hazard to surrounding people or structures.
Etching into the pore layer reveals the brown hyphal layer, and a new artistic medium!|
Photo credit: Marie Heerkens.
G. applanatum is a member of the "polypores," a now taxonomically defunct, but interesting group of fungi, commonly ignored by mushroom hunters due to their inedibility. However, this fungus is commonly utilized by artists looking for a different medium to practice their trade. One such artist is Marie Heerkens. Marie is a professional artist and nature photographer. She is also internationally known among mycologists and mushroom enthusiasts for her mushroom artwork, and is especially recognized for her exquisite Ganoderma artwork . More of Marie's Ganoderma Art can be seen at: http://members.aol.com/heerkens/ganart.htm. Whether your interest in Ganoderma is artistic, or phytopathological, we can all agree that Ganoderma is a beauty of a beast!
Lady Beetles and Allergies
Jeff Hahn, Assistant Extension Entomologist
Multicolored Asian lady beetles are a nuisance when they fly to homes and other buildings in large numbers to seek overwintering sites. They gain access to the inside of homes by crawling through cracks and spaces, particularly around windows, doors, roof edges and other sites. For all intents and purposes, they don't damage homes, although they can potentially stain light-colored surfaces.
Asian Lady Beetles
They are reasonably harmless to people. They are capable of biting and breaking the skin but this is a short-lived irritation. They are fortunately not known to transmit disease to people. However, there is another medical consideration which is the potential for some people to be hypersensitive to these lady beetles.
Some of the symptoms that have been described in allergic lady beetle reactions include rhinitis (a reaction that produces inflammation and fluid production in the nasal passages, sinuses, and eyelids), conjunctivitis (affecting the eyes, symptoms include itching, tearing, and swollen eyelids), and asthma. Patients described symptoms starting at about the same time as the appearance of lady beetles in their homes. Allergic reaction to lady beetles can be confirmed with a positive skin prick test.
To date, there have been nine reported cases in the literature of hypersensitivity to lady beetles, although no one knows just how many people may be potentially allergic to them. The patients in most of these cases had a history of allergies, although in two cases allergies were not known to occur.
Most of the allergy cases described in the literature occurred at home, but there are two times when hypersensitivity to lady beetles occurred at work. Allergic reactions to lady beetles is generally associated with large numbers of then, although it has been documented that it can occur after exposure to just a small number of lady beetles. Medication helped alleviate the symptoms to these allergies but they returned if the medicine was reduced. Symptoms would go away during times when lady beetles were absent from buildings.
If you suspect you are allergic to multicolored Asian lady beetles, see an allergist. They can test you and confirm whether you are allergic to lady beetles and if so prescribe medicine to help relieve your symptoms.
The best method to alleviate allergic reactions is to avoid contact with lady beetles. This means keeping them out of your home through caulking and sealing potential spaces and gaps and treating the exterior with an appropriate insecticide application in the fall before the lady beetles start to move into your home. Once they are inside homes in walls, attics, and similar places, it is difficult to remove them and minimize human exposure to them.
Get the low down on this month's insect pests at
Yard & Garden Line's Future
Deborah Brown, Extension Horticulturist
The phone answering portion of the Yard & Garden Line – known as the Yard & Garden Clinic – will shut down December 12th. Until then, it remains open from 9 to 12, weekdays. Although the clinic provided a valuable service to the gardening public, it could not be made financially self-sustaining, nor was the University's Extension Service able to continue underwriting its cost of operation.
The Yard & Garden Line will not shut down. However, it will direct most callers to local Master Gardeners for help with their questions. This line will also continue to transfer callers to the Bell Museum of Natural History, or to information about ordering extension publications or having their soil tested. Arboretum members may still call their "garden hot line," which will be staffed by horticulturists.
Another function of the Yard & Garden Line has always been to provide back-up expertise for the many Master Gardeners who volunteer throughout the state. This will not change.
Yard & Garden Line staff will continue to provide all their current Internet services, including this electronic newsletter – The Yard & Garden News – as well as updating fact sheets (Yard & Garden Briefs), and maintaining the Insect Journal, Disease Watch, and Plant Disease Diagnostics web sites. You can access all these features at the Yard & Garden's web address: www.extension.umn.edu/projects/yardandgarden/ . Yard & Garden staff also plans to keep contributing information to the Arboretum News, Northern Gardener magazine, and local radio, TV, and newspapers.
The Yard & Garden Clinic began in the early '80s as Dial U Insect & Plant Information, bringing together separate phone-answering services that had been housed in the departments of horticultural science, entomology, plant pathology, and for several years, wildlife. Those of us who work in the clinic are saddened to see its telephone outreach come to an end, but we will do our best to continue to provide valuable information to the gardening public.
Minnesota Gardening Calendar
Deborah Brown, Extension Horticulturist
Bookstores, garden centers, and county extension offices have received shipment of our newest calendar, Minnesota Gardening, 2004, just in time for holiday gift giving. It's both useful and attractive – the only calendar written specifically with our challenging climate in mind.
2004 Garden Calendar
As always, each month features a number of timely tips for gardening and landscape maintenance. In addition, this year's calendar features a special page devoted to growing fruit trees in Minnesota, including apples, pears, plums, pie cherries, and apricots. (No, there really are no peaches that grow here.) The page details different climate zones within the state along with soil, sun, and moisture conditions needed to succeed with fruit trees, and lists some of the best cultivars to try.
The calendar makes a perfect present for all your gardening friends and relatives, and is also a great idea for former Minnesotans who've moved away, but would enjoy seeing the lovely photos of local gardens, plants, and landscapes. If you're lucky enough to be invited to someone's home for Thanksgiving dinner or some other holiday event, consider giving Minnesota Gardening, 2004, as a host/hostess gift.
To view some of the photos and monthly tips, or to order calendars on line, go to:
A Mulching Reminder
Deborah Brown, Extension Horticulturist
Last year's open winter with almost no snow cover is not likely to be repeated this year.... at least we can hope not. It was a good reminder, though, of how important a good, thick layer of mulch can be. Snow normally insulates the soil (and roots in it), but when snow is absent, or when it melts off periodically, all of our perennial plants – flowers, bulbs, trees, and shrubs – are in jeopardy.
There is often confusion about when to add mulch. The best plan is to wait until the ground begins to freeze – sometime in mid- to late-November in the Twin Cities area. However, if the soil has still not frozen by late November, mulch anyway. At that point it's more important to get some insulation down than to worry about the critters that might burrow under the mulch and ultimately into the soil where they can harm plant roots.
If snow falls before the soil freezes, lay your mulch right on top of the snow. Unless it's a really heavy snowfall, there's still a good chance it will melt off at some point, well before the cold weather moderates for good next spring.
For more information, see last month's issue at: http://www.extension.umn.edu/projects/yardandgarden/YGLNews/YGLNews.html#mulch
November Garden Tips
Beth Jarvis, Yard & Garden Line
Compiled from conversations with Bob Mugaas and Doug Foulk, Regional Exension Educators, and Dave Hanson, Urban and Community Forestry.
Photo credit: Beth Jarvis
Protect trunks of young fruit trees from winter damage. A hardware cloth cylinder of 1/4" mesh will deter hungry voles and rabbits. To protect against sun scald, position a board against the south-southwest side of the tree trunk and secure it in place. You can make the hardware cloth cylinder large enough to include the board. Or, you can buy spiral tree wrap.
Mulch the roots of young fruit trees. Semi-dwarf pears have been found to overwinter more successfuly if the mulch is piled up to the graft union. It should be removed in the spring.
Now's a great time to mulch strawberries if you haven't done so.
Lingon berries benefit from a nice layer of marsh hay or straw over the entire planting to protect from winter burn.
If you're trying to raise blueberries in a windy area, 1/4" birdnetting over the plants after the leaves fall will reduce or prevent winter burn. Be sure to take it off right away in the spring or you'll lose buds when removing it later. This mesh has smaller holes than the more common bird netting.
Winter's closed the lawn care window north of St. Cloud.
For the southern part of the state:
Dormant seeding might be possible during the first week or two of November if the site was properly prepared and if it's not yet frozen. Incorporate seed into soil that's been worked up to permit good soil-seed contact.
Overseeding an existing lawn isn't worthwhile.unless it's about 50% bare ground. Work up the soil surface for good soil-seed contact.
Trees and shrubs:
Don't prune yet.
Don't panic if inside needles on evergreens are yellowing and dropping off. It's fall needle drop and perfectly normal.
Mulch trees and shrubs to preserve soil moisture, regulate soil temperature and prevent summer mowing injury. Keep mulch 2" away from tree bark, especially young, smooth barked trees.
Wrap newly transplanted trees. The tan kraft paper tree wrap doesn't do any good. Use those white tubes with holes in them, white reflective wraps, insulated wraps or even paint trunks white.
The idea is to shade the bark and keep it cool.
Rodent protection–plastic tubes or 1/4" hardware cloth cylinders should be checked during the winter to make sure snow hasn't drifted too near the top, giving hungry bunnies a boost up. Be sure to press tubes or cylinder into the ground when installing them to keep voles and mice out.
Keep watering until the ground freezes.
Pull out frost killed annuals and compost health plants. Discard any annuals that are diseased.
Perennials can be cut back to a few inches from the ground though over-wintering foliage helps trap snow, which is an excellent insulator. Some plants provide winter interest and other provide food for the birds.
Mulch perennials beds once the ground has started to freeze. Mulching moderates soil temperatures and reduces freeze-thaw cycles in the soil.
Remove all garden debris and weeds from garden.
Empty your composter and rototill the compost into the garden bed. This also frees up composter space for the new crop of leaves.
Make notes of which vegetables grew well for you and the cultivar names.
The photo at left was taken on a trip I made to Richmond, Virginia in early October, 2002. The gardens were getting tired but the staff was creating fantasy flowers, insects and assorted critters from twinkle lights wrapped onto wire forms. This becomes the "Gardenfest of Lights" and runs from Thanksgiving to New Year's. You can read all about this most interesting botanical garden at: http://www.lewisginter.org/.
Japanese maple by pond at
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden,
My blueberry bushes are absolutely lovely right now with magnificent fall color. A number of annuals are still looking good in pots in sheltered sites--alyssum, geraniums, nicotiana, and snapdragons come to mind.
This winter, we'll visit the North Central Research and Outreach Center, formerly the NC Experiment Station, in Grand Rapids.
In a couple of months, Dave Ragsdale will expound on the changing face of insecticides. Scientists are finding new insecticides that are more narrowly focused to target specific pests. The general purpose, broad specturm, ecologically harmful insecticides may one day be a thing of the past.
Pete Moe will write about a day in the life of the Arb in February. In the future, you'll also get to meet Dr. Tim Kurtti, who does deer tick research.
Please feel free to cut and paste any of the articles for use in your own newsletters. All we ask is that you give our authors credit.
Back issues Yard & Garden Line News are on the Yard & Garden Line home page at www.extension.umn.edu/yardandgarden/. Our home page has clickable links to most of the components of the Yard & Garden Line, such as Bell Museum of Natural History, INFO U and the Soil Testing Lab.
Deb Brown answers gardening questions on Minnesota Public Radio's (MPR) "Midmorning" program on the first Thursday of every month at 10 a.m. Katherine Lanpher hosts the program that is broadcast on KNOW 91.1 FM, and available state-wide on the MPR news radio stations.
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