MONSTER VEGETABLE INVADES LYON COUNTY!!! Well, not really. This odd asparagus stalk was brought to the Extension Regional Center in Marshall. It’s a great example of an abnormal kind of growth known as fasciation.
Fasciation occurs when something goes wrong with the cells at the growing tips of plants. Instead of growing in an upright, fairly cylindrical form, the growing tip spreads laterally, resulting in flattened, band-like growth. Fasciation can be caused by spontaneous cell mutation, certain pathogens, or damage to the growing tip. Exposure to herbicides containing growth regulators is a common cause of fasciation in gardens.Fasciation often occurs in stem tissue but can also occur in flowers, roots, and fruit tissue. An occasional fasciated stem or flower won’t hurt the rest of the plant and rarely recurs. Sometimes fasciation is actually a desirable trait. The wavy, flattened flowerheads of cockscomb celosia, the decorative flat branches of Japanese fantail willow, and the oddly crested stems of certain cacti are all types of fasciation that some gardeners find, umm, fascinating. --Nancy Rose
Rainbow Knock Out® (shrub rose), Moondance™(floribunda rose), and Strike it Rich™ (grandiflora rose) win top honors as 2007 All-America Rose Selections (AARS) winners. These roses have proven themselves as top performers among dozens of entries over two seasons of evaluation at over 20 official test gardens across the country.
Rainbow Knock Out® possesses the very strong resistance to blackspot characteristic of the original Knock Out® rose. Rainbow Knock Out® is much more compact and branched in growth habit than the other roses in the Knock Out series. First year plants of Rainbow Knock Out® planted in 2006 at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum grew approximately 1’ tall and 2’ wide. Warm pink buds with golden undertones open into 2-inch semi-double flowers that fade to soft pink. Even without deadheading, Rainbow Knock Out® continues to flower prolifically throughout the growing season. Orange rose hips help add to fall and winter interest.
The original Knock Out® rose (cherry-red, semi-double flowers with dark green foliage) won the AARS award in 2000 and is currently the number one selling rose cultivar in the nation. Its superior disease resistance has revolutionized the expectations for landscape roses. More and more home gardeners and landscapers expect the roses that they grow to have strong disease resistance and require relatively low maintenance. For the most part, Knock Out® is able to provide these traits. Color sports (blushing and pink) of Knock Out® and additional seedlings with similar attributes (a double-flowered cherry-red version and a double pink version) have also been introduced to form the Knock Out® series of cultivars. Knock Out® was bred outside of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, by Bill Radler, retired director of the Boerner Botanical Gardens in Hales Corners, Wisconsin. In Minnesota, the Knock Out® roses grow and flower well during the growing season, but are marginally winter hardy and benefit from some additional mulch mounded around the base of plants in the fall for insulation.
Moondance™ is a very vigorous, upright-growing floribunda rose. Floribundas typically have a compact plant habit with flowers borne in clusters. The creamy-white buds of Moondance™ open into full, slightly cupped, 4-inch white flowers. Flowers are borne in small clusters on relatively long stems (about 14- to 18-inches) making Moondance™ a great rose for ready-made bouquets. Plants are free-flowering throughout the season. The male parent of Moondance™ is the world-famous ‘Iceberg’, a white floribunda bred by Kordes of Germany and introduced in 1958. Moondance™ shares the strong vigor and continuous bloom of ‘Iceberg’, but on a plant that has stronger stems and fewer, but larger and longer-lasting blooms. Moondance™ is being introduced by Jackson & Perkins and was bred by their resident breeder, Dr. Keith Zary. Before accepting the rose breeding position at Jackson & Perkins, Dr. Zary worked as a bean breeder in Minnesota.
Strike it Rich™ is an upright-growing grandiflora rose with warm golden-orange, double, 5-inch blooms. In cool weather flowers can develop pink highlights. New foliar growth is tinted red and contrasts nicely with the warm colored flowers. The flowers of Strike it Rich™ have a strong, sweet aroma. Strike it Rich™ is a typical grandiflora rose in that it combines the relatively large flower size of a hybrid tea with the clustered bloom habit of floribundas, but with each flower typically borne on a short to medium-length stem off of a strong main cane. Strike it Rich™ is being introduced by Weeks Roses and was bred by their resident breeder, Tom Carruth.
Background of the AARS programAARS began in 1938 with a group of member rose nurseries recognizing the need to identify and promote the best and most widely adapted new rose cultivars. The plant patent act of 1930 provided a system for plant breeders and developers to secure a financial return for their efforts. This resulted in increased breeding efforts and more nurseries trying to develop their own patented varieties and led to an overall increased rate of new varieties coming to the marketplace. It became difficult for the public and even the nurseries to identify which of the new roses had greater merit. AARS member nurseries established test sites which were chosen to represent various climatic conditions in the United States. Since rose nurseries typically sell their roses directly or indirectly through distributors nationwide, it is beneficial to identify and promote the most adaptable and consistent performers across climates. Many test sites are located within public display or botanical gardens.
Top scoring roses in each of the horticultural rose classes (e.g. floribundas, grandifloras, hybrid teas, and landscape roses) are reviewed by the committee for consideration as winners. After considering the raw scores and additional factors, the committee votes and decides on the final winners. After award winning roses are determined (typically January after the second growing season), two additional growing seasons are allocated for production before they are introduced as winners and sold to the public. For instance, the three 2007 AARS winners were entered into the AARS trials in 2003 and scored in 2003 and 2004. In early 2005 the winners were decided. In 2005 propagation material of winning roses was dispersed for bud grafting or stem cuttings. The young plants were grown for an additional season in 2006 before their national release as 2007 AARS winners for the spring 2007 planting season. Strong efforts are made to not prematurely disclose upcoming winners in order to not take away from the publicity of current, available winners.
The AARS program is funded by member nursery dues, entrance fees, and a sliding royalty/marketing fee (higher royalty for the most recent award winners with the royalty declining in subsequent years) on each plant sold. The vast publicity for award winners typically increases the demand for winning roses so much that it benefits those involved and more than covers the costs involved for nursery membership to AARS and the fees associated with entries and winning roses.
There are two official AARS test gardens in Minnesota: the Lyndale Park Rose Garden located in Minneapolis near Lake Harriet (AARS site since 1946) and the Virginia Clemens Rose Garden in St. Cloud, MN which was added very recently (2005). These gardens have the unique distinction of being the two most northern AARS test sites. Both of these test sites are open to the public, allowing gardeners to have a sneak preview and try their hand at predicting future AARS winners. These gardens also provide the opportunity to observe present and upcoming trends in rose breeding and marketing. For instance, in recent years about half of the total entries are shrub or landscape roses. This reflects the greater interest among rose nurseries and the general public for lower maintenance roses for landscape use. If there is a rose you particularly enjoy and it does not win an award that does not mean you will not have the opportunity to buy it in the future. Many of the roses that do not win AARS awards will also be introduced if they perform well at least regionally or have some traits which make them especially unique.
In addition to the two official Minnesota trial sites, there are two additional AARS gardens in Minnesota that serve as display gardens. These public gardens receive plants of AARS winners the season before they are official winners. This gives the gardening public and press an opportunity to observe the new winners early at four Minnesota locations. The two Minnesota AARS display gardens are the Leif Erikson Rose Garden in Duluth and the Nelson Shrub Rose Garden at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska.
The American Rose Society National Convention will be held in the Twin Cities June 28 to July 2, 2007. To learn more about the convention and partake in tours to some of the AARS display and trial gardens led by those who manage these gardens, please visit the Twin Cities Rose Club website at www.twincitiesrose.org/2007convention/. More information about Minnesota public gardens in general can be found at horticulture.coafes.umn.edu/gardens/home.htm.
(Schizachyrium scoparium ‘MinnBlueA’, Blue Heaven™ PP17310)
Blue Heaven™ is a new, native ornamental grass to look for this spring at your favorite garden center. Grasses are popular, low maintenance ornamentals that add interest with their columnar forms and soft, natural appearance. Blue Heaven™ is a new selection of little bluestem, a grass known for its tolerance for dry soil and full sun growing conditions. Blue Heaven™ was selected from a seedling population grown at the University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN. The parents of Blue Heaven™ came from Benton County in central Minnesota, USDA Hardiness Zone 3b (average annual minimum winter temperatures -30 to -35°F).
Blue Heaven™ is 40-48” tall with blue-grey foliage in the summer. In September the foliage turns to burgundy red with purple and violet highlights. The fall color lasts well into November. Blue Heaven™ is a taller, more upright form than is typical of little bluestem. Small, fluffy white seedheads form in August and September, but the showy fall color is the highlight of this grass with interest extending into the winter. Blue Heaven™ remains upright and does not fall down or “lodge” as some grasses tend to do.
Blue Heaven™ little bluestem prefers drier, well drained sites. Sandy soil is a good site for little bluestem, although it will tolerate heavy clay soil. Full sun is ideal for little bluestem. No additional fertilizer is necessary in growing this selection and fertilizer is not recommended. Water plants well the first month after planting, then allow them to dry out between waterings. After the first year, you should not need to water Blue Heaven™.
Blue Heaven™ can be planted in the fall or spring. Fall plantings do best if plants have one month to establish roots before freezing weather sets in. For the north this usually means planting in September. Spring planting can occur anytime the soil can be worked, usually in late April or early May. Summer planting is fine, as long as plants are watered until established.
Blue Heaven™ will begin growing in late May and the summer foliage is light blue in color. In late July and early August taller flower stems will appear, also blue in color. In late August the plants will begin to turn a dark burgundy color and small white airy seedheads appear along the stems. During September and October the foliage is dark burgundy fading to red and pink as the fall continues. The plants slowly turn to tan and remain upright during the winter unless a heavy, wet snow comes early. Birds will find cover and seeds to eat through the winter on your little bluestem plants. You will enjoy seeing them sway in the winter breeze.
In early spring, March or April, cut back the previous years’ growth to ground level, allowing light to penetrate the crown, which will help new foliage grow quickly.
Ask for Blue Heaven™ little bluestem at your favorite garden center and enjoy growing this low maintenance native grass in your garden.
More pictures: horticulture.coafes.umn.edu/Blue_Heaven.html
Although many gardeners relish the idea of a longer growing season and a wider variety of Minnesota-hardy plants to choose from, there are many negative effects associated with global climate change. The EPA reports "For the Great Lakes Region, … the next century could bring one of the greatest environmental transformations since the end of the last ice age." Warmer temperatures mean that evaporation will increase. Water levels in the Great Lakes, the prairie potholes, wetlands and streams are predicted to drop. This will reduce habitat for coldwater fish like trout and salmon as well as breeding grounds for waterfowl. Water quality is expected to be impacted as lower water levels concentrate pollutants. Agriculture will become more dependent on irrigation, putting farms in competition with urban and natural areas for limited water resources.
Scientists are not sure exactly what Minnesota’s climate will change into, but they agree that the changes will have a strong effect on Minnesota’s native plant communities. Plants are adapted to a specific set of climatic conditions. If those conditions change the plants may not be able to survive where they once lived. One of the ecosystems of greatest concern is Minnesota’s unique boreal forests in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. These forests contain tamarack (Larix laricina), black spruce (Picea mariana), and balsam fir (Abies balsamea), trees that are adapted to cool, moist weather.
The USDA Forest Service has compiled data from five different scientific study groups about how global climate change will affect Minnesota’s native forests. All five study groups predicted that global climate change would result in the loss of Minnesota’s boreal forests. In addition, all five groups predicted that the aspen - birch forest that currently makes up much of the northern half of the state would be completely lost or greatly reduced in size. In the place of these forests, the oak – hickory and the elm-ash-cottonwood forests that currently exist in the southern regions of the state would expand northward.
Dr. Lee Frelich of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Hardwood Ecology warns, however, that global climate change will not occur alone. Trees under stress due to climate change will be more susceptible to disease and insect pests. Introduced pests species add to this problem resulting in the potential rapid decline of existing forests. In addition, introduced European earthworms are predicted to expand northward with global climate change. These worms break down the duff layer on forest floors, resulting in drier soils, with lower nutrient availability, reduced plant productivity, and increased risk of wildfire. Earthworms also reduce the number of viable seeds and seedlings of native plants and young trees. Deer populations are expected to increase due to warmer winters and will further reduce the number of plants in the forest understory. All of these factors make it difficult for new forest species to become established and replace tree species that are dying out due to climate change.
One study predicts that changes in Minnesota’s northern forests will be visible by 2010. Most studies agree that major changes will occur within the lifetime of today’s school children. The EPA reports "Prevention of human induced climate change is an important strategy. We as individuals can take action now to reduce our own consumption of fossil fuels by improving energy efficiency and using alternative energy sources."
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency reports that the United States is responsible for one-fourth of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. In Minnesota, release of greenhouse gases has increased 20% since 1988. To find ways to improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon dioxide emissions in your life, please visit the following webpages.
A resident from the Twin Cities recently made a startlingly discovery in their home when they returned after being out of town for three weeks. They found a “worm” alive and swimming in the water of their toilet. They had never seen this kind of worm in their home before, especially not in the bathroom.
This toilet was located on the first floor of the house with a finished basement below it. There was nothing unusual or out of place about the bathroom. There was one houseplant in the bathroom, a spider plant hanging over the tub. The homeowners did not believe it was an insect but were concerned that it was some sort of parasitic worm, like a tapeworm. They were very puzzled how it got into toilet, what damage it could do and whether it would return.
The first possibility that was considered was a horsehair worm. These invertebrate animals, similar to human tapeworms, are very slender, 1/25 - 1/16 inch wide and are anywhere from several inches to over a foot long. When immature, horsehair worms parasitize large arthropods, such as crickets and cockroaches and are free-living as adults. When horsehair worms exit their hosts as adults, they seek out water to mate and lay eggs. It is not unusual to find them indoors around toilets, tubs, and sinks. Fortunately they are only interested in insects and their relatives and do not parasitize people or pets.
However, hearing a description of the worm, it did appear to be a horsehair worm so a sample was requested for examination. The worm was about 1-1/4 inch long and slender, about 1/8th inch in diameter. It was reddish brown without a visible head, legs or other appendages. The worm was divided into 100 similarly sized segments. The sample was identified as an oligochaete, i.e. an earthworm. It appeared to be immature as it lacked a clitellum, a swollen band that is associated with cocoon production.
Earthworms live in soil where they feed on decaying plant matter and soil. They are active throughout the growing season and then burrow down into the ground to spend the winter. They are generally considered to be beneficial because they aerate the soil and recycle nutrients. Earthworms are not commonly found indoors. When they are found, it is typically is during the spring or summer when it is warm and when excess moisture if found immediately around the building. This, of course, was not true in this case.
It’s not clear where the earthworm came from. The most likely explanation is from the soil of the houseplant. It would easy to understand how an earthworm got into the soil if the plant had been outside during the summer. However, there isn’t a good explanation why an earthworm would move from the relative comfort and security of the houseplant soil to seek out an alternate site. Perhaps if the soil became too dry, it may have been encouraged to move away from the plant to seek damper conditions. If it did not come from the plant, it would be difficult to say where what the source was without an inspection of the home. Perhaps it would be obvious with a closer look. Regardless of where it originated, it’s probably due to some unusual circumstances and it is unlikely that they will have problems with additional earthworms.
Get the low down on this month's insect pests at Insects
During the years 2002 - 2005, the fertilizer and weed suppression characteristics of corn gluten meal were evaluated at UMORE Park as part of the Master Gardener Education, Research and Display Garden. Following is a brief report on that study adapted from a poster session prepared for the American Society of Agronomy meetings last November.
Since the discovery of corn gluten meal’s fertilizer and weed control properties in the late 1980s, corn gluten meal (CGM) continues to generate interest and use as an organic weed and feed product for lawns (Christians, 1993). Research conducted at Iowa State University from the late eighties through the present time has shown that CGM will control crabgrass seedlings when used as a preemergence herbicide. In addition, their greenhouse studies indicated preemergence activity against a number of germinating broadleaf weed seedlings, including dandelion. In general, preemergence control improved as the rates of CGM used increased from 0 to 200 pounds of product applied per 1000 square feet in a single application (Christians, 1993 and Bingaman and Christians, 1995).
The nitrogen (N) content of the CGM is at or around 10% (Christians, 1993) in an organic form and is considered to be a slow release N source. Christians (1993) reported that CGM had slower release of N than urea (46-0-0) but sustained better green color over the growing season. The study also noted that CGM was similar in its release of N to other organic fertilizer products.
The suggested rate for its use as a fertilizer and weed control product is 20 pounds per 1000 square feet. The suggested timing for the first application of the year is around late April to early May in the Upper Midwest. A second application is suggested for early to mid-August as a means of providing some preemergence control of late summer germinating weed seeds as well as providing some additional N for fall growth of cool season grasses. Although these standard timings of CGM have been evaluated, this study looked at alternative timings for improved turfgrass growth and/or weed control.
Objectives of the study
The purpose of this study was to further evaluate the effectiveness of corn gluten meal (CGM) under non-irrigated conditions as a fertilizer along with any weed suppression on 3 different turfgrass populations and two mowing heights. The specific research objectives were:
Description of the research study
Plant Material:Three different populations of turfgrasses were established during the fall of 2001 at the University of Minnesota Outreach, Research and Education Park in Rosemount, Minnesota (left). The three areas were further divided into 36, 6 ft. by 10 ft, plots such that there would be 12 treatments within a turfgrass population with each set of treatments replicated three times. The first population contained 25% each of Kentucky bluegrass, fine leaved fescue, perennial ryegrass and annual ryegrass. The second population consisted of 100% Park Kentucky bluegrass. The third population was a blend of 100% fine fescue.
Treatments:In all treatment applications, CGM was applied at the commercially suggested rate of 20 pounds per 1000 feet square. This rate applies 2.0 pounds of N per 1000 square feet. During the course of the study, none of the plots received supplemental irrigation. Following is a list of treatments imposed:
Mowing heights Each treatment was subdivided into two different mowing heights; 3.8 cm and 7.6 cm. Mowing was performed as needed removing no more than 1/3 of the grass plant height at any one mowing. All mowing was done with a Toro Self-Paced recycling mower with clippings recycled back into the turfgrass.
Evaluation:In all but 2003, plots were rated monthly for color and density. Color was rated on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being excellent color and 1 being dead. A similar scale was used for density with 10 being excellent density and 1 being bare soil. A rating of 6 was considered minimally acceptable turfgrass color and density. Percent weed cover was visually estimated.
Data analysis:Data were subjected to statistical analysis as a means of determining significant differences between the treatments. This analysis provides a level of confidence that any differences between the plots were due to treatment effects and not chance alone.
Data taken during years 3 (2004) and 4 (2005) will be used to describe trends among the different treatments, their impact on color retention, and changes in dandelion cover. For purposes of this report, only data for the KB/PR/FF/AR mixture will be discussed.
* A minimum of two CGM applications annually is needed to provide minimally acceptable lawn color throughout the growing season. Under the non-irrigated conditions at this location, there was color loss across all treatments during hot dry periods.
* Spring green-up from late October applications is very good with average or better color retained through May and into early June.
* Regardless of corn gluten meal treatment or different mowing heights, there was unacceptable dandelion control, at least for home lawn situations, over the four years of this study.
Christians, N. E. 1993. The Use of Corn Gluten Meal as a Natural Preemergence Weed Control in Turf. In R. C. Carrow et.al. (ed) Int. Turfgrass Soc Res. J. 7:284-290.
Bingaman, B. R. and N. E. Christians. 1995. Greenhouse Screening of Corn Gluten Meal as Natural Control Product for Broadleaf and Grass Weeds. HortScience 30:1256-1259.
The assistance of Troy Carson, turfgrass scientist, Ron Claussen and Kristen John, summer horticulture technicians, and Larisa Jenrich, Extension Regional Center - Farmington, MN support staff is gratefully acknowledged for their cooperation and assistance with this project. Partial funding for summer assistance was provided by the Minnesota Turf and Grounds Foundation.
Cut flower bouquets are a great way to brighten your home in winter. Whether a special Valentine’s Day gift or a pre-wrapped bouquet from the grocery store, here are some tips for extending the vase life of cut flowers:
Late winter is a great time to prune because the trees and shrubs are still dormant and you can clearly see the structure of the branches. Remove dead branches, crossing branches that are growing into the internal structure of the tree or shrub, poorly placed branches that interfere with paths or door entries, and branches that are out of alignment causing an unbalanced structure of the plant. (Ed. note: Several articles on pruning will appear in the March newsletter)
Seeds: It’s too early to start most flower and vegetable seeds but there are some that can be started in February, as long as you have a good growing set-up in your home (lights, heating mats, etc.). Geraniums, petunias, and dusty miller are among the annuals that require an early start. Many perennials can be started also. Onions and leeks grown from seed also need plenty of lead time.
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Back issues Yard & Garden Line News are on the Yard & Garden Line home page at www.extension.umn.edu/yardandgarden/.
Deb Brown will be answering a few gardening questions with Cathy Wurzer on MPR, the first Friday of the month during the fall and winter, between 8:30 and 9:00 a.m. Then in spring, she'll be back at her regular schedule, 10 a.m. the first Friday of each month. The program is broadcast on KNOW 91.1 FM, and available state-wide on the MPR news radio stations.
For plant and insect questions, visit http://www.extension.umn.edu/askmg. Thousands of questions have been answered, so try the search option in the black bar at the top left of the board for the fastest answer.
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Regional Extension Educator - Horticulture