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    Perennials Azaleas - a beautiful addition to the garden Azalea shrubs are a beautiful addition to the garden. The University of Minnesota developed a winter hardy azalea – ‘Northern Lights’ - which is now available in many different colors. In this article, you will learn how to care for azaleas, some of the lore about them, and why you will want them in your yard. Read More Yes, You Can Grow Shade-Loving Plants Many people think that shade just creates problems for the garden. This article explains how wrong that can be. Read on to learn more about which trees, shrubs and perennials can prosper in your shady garden. Read More Straight Info on Zigzag Iris: Iris brevicaulis There are many beautiful varieties of iris that you can choose from for your garden. This article discusses one type of iris that may not be as well known but definitely deserves your consideration - the zigzag iris. The zigzag iris is a native usually found in moist areas of the wild. When they bloom in the spring they put on a striking display of blues and yellows. If you are looking for a gorgeous springtime accent to your pond or stream side or the more moist areas of your garden, Zigzag iris is sure to be a stunning addition. Read More Woodland Phlox (Phlox divaricate): A Big Punch in a Little Packet It’s that beautiful carpet of pastels appearing in moist woodlands across the Midwest in the spring – Woodland Phlox. Otherwise known as “Sweet William,” this native plant has many reasons to be at home in your garden. Read more about the virtues of Woodland Phlox and then decide if you will grow it from seed or as an established plant. Not only will you enjoy this plant but pollinators love it as well. Read More Braiding Sweetgrass – Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and Teachings of Plants Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer, is a union of personal biography, science and biology. Kimmerer is an active member of the Patawatomi citizen community. She shares indigenous knowledge and encourages individuals to seek a healthy relationship with their surroundings. Read More Aromatic Aster: That Which We Call an Aster by Any Other Name Would Smell as Sweet As summer winds down and our garden colors turn to reds and oranges, the blue and yellow of Aromatic Aster is a lovely pleasure. But its good looks aren’t even the best reason to grow Aromatic Aster. Read this article to learn more about why this midwestern native should have a place in your garden. Read More American Bittersweet (Celastrus scandens): An American Beauty American Bittersweet is a hardy native vine traditionally found on country roads and farms. It puts on a beautiful display of orange-hulled fruit in autumn. It has been a favorite material for welcoming door wreaths. Read this article about this beautiful and useful native Minnesota plant. Read More Wild Blue Violet (Viola sororia): One Name, Many Faces For lovers of that special harbinger of springtime, the wild violet, there are many fascinating and rewarding varieties to choose from and enjoy. In this article, Jim Lakin, describes various varieties and explores why you may want to add this native perennial to your woodland garden. Read More Our State Flower: The Showy Lady’s Slipper Have you ever wondered about how state symbols came to be? Though united as one great nation, each of our 50 states is proud to highlight its unique representations, as varied as the individuals who inhabit their lands. Over the next several months, in this section you can learn more about some of our own Minnesota state symbols. Read More Dutchman’s Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria): Springtime Treat Read on for Master Gardener Jim Lakin’s exploration of this month’s featured Minnesota native perennial - Dutchan’s Breeches, a springtime treat! Read More Hens and Chicks Sometimes referred to as a “roof Housesleek,” because they would often grow on houses, Hens and Chicks are a delightful perennial even if just grown in your garden. Read Master Gardener Gail Maifeld’s article for more on why Hens and Chicks are perfect for that dry, sunny spot in your yard. Read More Wild Hyacinth (Camassia scilloides): Apollo’s Memento Wild Hyacinth is a Midwestern native that deserves a place in your garden. It is one of the few natives that propagate by bulbs. Wild Hyacinth grows in the wild in moist prairies, savannas and woodland edges. Once established, the bulbs are fairly long-lived, blooming reliably in the spring. Read this article to learn more about the value of Wild Hyacinth in your yard. Read More 1 2 3 1 ... 1 2 3 ... 3

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    Indoor Plants ​ Indoor Allergen Friendly Plants Did you know that Americans spend roughly 90% of their time, on average, indoors according to US EPA report? As a gardener, perhaps it’s time we focus on our indoor space and the benefits and types of plants we could have indoors. Click on this link to learn more about Indoor Allergen Friendly Plants. Read More ​ Pet-Safe Plant Choices There are a lot of us in Dakota County and beyond who love both plants and our pets. Not all plants are compatible with the dogs and cats who live with us. Read on to find out about safer plant choices to make for our furry family members - and a few plants to keep away! Read More ​ Propagating House Plants Winter blahs got you down? Bring more green into your home by propagating your houseplants. It’s easier than you think for many plant varieties, and it’s a fun way to spend part of a gray day. Read More ​ The Short-lived Beauty of Blooming Cactus Various cacti can provide gardening pleasure in Minnesota both outside in the summer and inside during the cold weather. There are thousands of varieties of cacti, many of which are different and exotic, in other words, pretty cool. But there are some tricks to growing cacti successfully. Here are some tips on growing healthy cacti and getting them to re-bloom. Read More ​ African Violets African Violets are one of the most popular houseplants because they require little maintenance and, cared for properly, bloom several times a year. But, as with any plant, they do have specific needs that you must know and pay attention to in order to provide the color and pleasure that you are hoping for. Read this article to understand how to achieve a happy, healthy African Violet in your home. Read More ​ Houseplant Pests Discovering and controlling pests on your indoor plants is an important step for keeping your indoor garden healthy and happy. The information in this article will help you keep these unwanted visitors off your plants and out of your home. Read More ​ Helping Houseplants Stay Healthy this Winter Chances are, you’ll be spending more time indoors over the next few months. So will your green and growing friends – your houseplants. It makes sense then to get to know how to keep them healthy. Read More ​ Holiday Cacti Thanksgiving and Christmas cacti are beautiful flowering holiday plants Read More ​ Poinsettias – A Home in Mexico and Dr. Poinsett The Poinsettia is a weed in its native Mexico. It is called lobster plant or Mexican Flame Leaf and has become an essential part of North America’s Christmas décor. Read More 1 1 ... 1 ... 1

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    Books & Other Resources ​ A Versatile Understory Tree: Eastern Redbud Jim Lakin introduces us to another stunning, not-too-big tree native to Minnesota – the Eastern Redbud. This lovely specimen welcomes spring with rosy-pink pea like flowers and ends the growing season with large, heart shaped yellow leaves. It would make a lovely addition to your garden. Read on to learn more. Read More ​ All About Upcycling By now, many of us have heard the phrase, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” Read on for ways to set up our youngest gardeners with good habits to “Reuse” or “Upcycle” what they already have. No purchase required! Read More ​ The Dakota County Seed Library This month we would like to tell you about the Dakota County Seed Library, located in the Farmington Library. Read on to learn about how this important project contributes to the support of pollinators and sustainable landscaping practices and, most importantly for you, the home gardener, how you can benefit from and contribute to this project. Read More ​ The Gardeners Guide to Prairie Plants: Written By Neil Diboll and Hilary Cox Interested in prairie plants for your garden or just to admire? Jim Lakin reviews one of the most indispensable books on the subject – “The Gardeners Guide to Prairie Plants.” The book includes photographs of each species described, along with a general description and listing of significant characteristics. But this book also contains more valuable information. Read More ​ The Backyard Parables: Lessons on Gardening, and Life “The Backyard Parables: Lesson on Gardening, and Life,” is a gardening memoir of sorts writing by Margaret Roach. Roach, a former editor-in-chief of the ‘Martha Stewart Living’ magazine, quit her job to tend to her gardens full-time. In this delightful book, Roach dispenses both gardening and life lessons. Read this book review to learn more. Read More ​ The Food Explorer (The True Adventures of the Globe-Trotting Botanist Who Transformed What America Eats By Daniel Stone Do you ever wonder where the tasty vegetables, fruits and spices we consume come from? No, I am not talking about the grocery store, or your backyard garden. I am talking about where in the world they originated and how they got to North America. Enjoy this review of “The Food Explorer” by Daniel Stone. And I am certain that you will be tempted to click on your Amazon app and purchase the book! Read More ​ China Bayles Series By Susan Wittig Albert In the mood for a little light reading while exploring the world of herbs? Master Gardener and herb expert Shari Mayer reviews the “China Bayles” mystery series by Susan Wittig Albert. Each of the multiple volume mystery series centers around a particular herb. Read this article to learn more about this clever and informative mystery series. Read More ​ Gardens of Awe and Folly by Vivian Swift A Traveler’s Guide on the Meaning of Life and Gardens Looking for a book to take you on a journey to gardens for inspiration and beauty? Read on for Linda Holt’s review of Gardens of Awe and Folly by Vivan Swift! Read More ​ Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life This month, we are excited to recommend “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life,” by Barbara Kingsolver, a must-read book for gardeners interested in learning more about the connections between food, sustainability, and community. Kingsolver takes readers on a journey through a year of eating only locally grown or produced food, providing practical advice, personal anecdotes, scientific facts, cultural history, and recipes to explore the complex web of issues surrounding food production and consumption. Her engaging writing style and thoughtful insights make this book both inspiring and informative. Read More ​ Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World Mushrooms – not just for eating anymore. Ren Henry reviews Paul Stamets’ fascinating book about the value that mushrooms bring to the environment. It turns out that mushrooms can help the landscape in ways you probably have never thought about. Read More ​ A Plain Vanilla Murder and Hemlock Now that your outside garden has been put to bed for the winter, take some time to relax and read some entertaining plant fiction. As reviewer Gail Maifeld explains, reading the mysteries - “A Plain Vanilla Murder” and “Hemlock” by Susan Wittig Albert, is not only fun, it’s educational. Read More ​ MICRO FOOD Gardening Intrigued by the idea of growing your greens indoors this winter? Gail Maifeld reviews a book that explains how to practice Micro Food Gardening successfully in your kitchen. Read More 1 2 3 1 ... 1 2 3 ... 3

  • News

    Gardening with Kids Autumn Leaves This page introduces books and fun activities that will help your child to understand why leaves change color and learn that leaves have some things in common with humans. Read More Bleach Dying Dark T-Shirts We’re always looking for activities for our children or grandchildren in the summer. A fun summer project to do with children, or adults for that matter, is bleach dying. It’s cheap, fairly easy, fun and educational. In this article you will learn how to use plants from your garden to create a fun and pretty design through bleach dying. Read More Caring for Indoor Plants with Young Children Even as the weather gets cold, we can still enjoy plants with our little ones. Click here to discover how to help your young child be successful in caring for indoor plants independently. You will learn how to set up the materials needed and show your young child how to dust, prune, identify, and water indoor plants Read More Create Frozen Luminarias Frozen luminaries are both fun and beautiful to create. This article will give you suggestions on using materials you may have around the house and in your winter garden to create a frozen luminary. Read More DIY Suet/Seed Feeders for our Feathered Friends As I write this, it’s nearly Halloween. Outside there is a flurry of activity. A multitude of birds including blue jays, cardinals, woodpeckers (both hairy & downy), house and gold finches, juncos, and my absolute favorites - chickadees, are flitting about. They voraciously attack and consume seeds and nuts in preparation for the rapidly approaching winter. Read this article to see how you and the child in your life can help our feathered friends. Read More Exploring Autumn Nature with Your Child Summer may be over but winter isn’t here yet. Now is a great time to have some outside fun with the children in your life. Take advantage of these last days of fall to show your children how to enjoy what autumn nature has to offer. Here are some ideas for how to make the most of this time of year. Read More Harvest Time with Kids! It’s time to get the kids in your life ready for harvesting all of the bounty around us. Whether you’ve been tending plants all summer or want to visit any number of “pick your own” locations in our area, harvesting is a great way to connect children to produce right where it grows. Read More How to Prepare Your Garden for Young Children Whether it’s children or grandchildren, nieces, nephews, or other little ones, it’s great to include them in the garden. Gardens are a place to grow fruits, vegetables, or flowers, and enjoy nature. Who better to enjoy gardens with than young children? But those little hands and minds can have a hard time if the garden is not designed with them in mind. This article will discuss how to design your garden considering the needs of little ones and how to prepare activities so they can be successful gardening and grow a joy for it. Read More Junior Fall Garden Detectives The blustery days of fall yield a kaleidoscope of leaves across our Minnesota yards and parks. Have your children ever wondered why these leaves transform to new colors in the fall? Help your child become a Junior Fall Garden Detective by gathering clues, using some scientific observations and then searching outside to solve this mystery of why leaves change colors in the fall. Read More Junior Spring Garden Detectives CALLING ALL JUNIOR SPRING GARDEN DETECTIVES! Do you know a child who has wondered how we know it is finally spring in Minnesota? After the long, cold days of our Minnesota’s winter, every child eagerly awaits the arrival of warm breezes, extended daylight and splashable puddles of spring. Help that child become a Junior Spring Garden Detective by gathering clues, using some scientific observations and then searching outside to solve this mystery of spring’s arrival. Read More Junior Winter Garden Detectives Do you know a child who has wondered where all the garden creatures live in the winter in Minnesota? Help that child become a Junior Winter Garden Detective by gathering clues, using some scientific techniques and then searching outside to solve this chilly mystery. Read More Let’s Learn About Evergreens! December is a month when evergreens are seen everywhere—indoors and out! Wreaths and decorated trees fill homes and public spaces, and the fallen leaves on deciduous trees makes conifers even more prominent in our Minnesota forests. This is a great season for growing sprouts and older folks alike to look a little closer at the evergreens around us, to learn which details to look for, and to identify our native trees. Read More 1 2 1 ... 1 2 ... 2

  • News

    A Pest Above the Rest – Japanese Beetles It’s July and our gardens are in their prime! But wait, what is that insect on my beautiful roses? And why do the leaves on my raspberries look like skeletons? Read this article about the dreaded Japanese Beetle and what you can do to minimize the damage they cause. Read More Bird Feeding Bird-feeding is for all of us who enjoy and love watching birds. Inside this article you’ll find information on bird-feeding tips, preventing disease in your bird feeders and an update on the AVIAN (HPAI) bird flu that disrupted this summer’s bird-feeding habits. Read More Boxelder Bugs It’s cool but sunny outside and I would like to walk into my front door but the door and wall are covered with black and orange bugs! They are boxelder bugs and they are looking for a warm home for the winter. Read how to manage these nonharmful but annoying pests. Read More Creeping Charlie (Glechoma hederacea} Is creeping charlie an unwelcome intruder in your garden? Read this article to find out more about why this plant is so hard to eliminate and, even, how you can appreciate and even live with Creeping Charlie in your garden. Read More Eastern Red Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis): Springtime Coquette The Eastern Red Columbine is an erect, branching perennial, up to 2 ft. tall, and is well known for its showy red and yellow flowers. Here are some reasons why they may be a great addition to your landscape. Read More Getting the Jump on Jumping Worms Many of us associate worms in the soil as an indicator of “good garden soil.” Unfortunately, that is not necessarily true in Minnesota these days. “Jumping worms” have become more common in local gardens recently and that is not a good thing. Read this article to understand why. Read More Identifying and Attracting Beneficial Insects Now that the plants in our gardens are starting to bloom, we are also seeing insects on those plants. Some of those insects are certainly pests but others are actually beneficial. We know how pollinators are beneficial insects - many of the foods we enjoy rely on pollinators for fruit and seed development. But how do we identify other insects that are beneficial to our gardens and landscapes in other ways? Read this article to find out! Read More Investigating Insects in the Garden Calling all Family Insect Investigators! Along with plants and people enjoying the summer, many insects are traveling around in our yards and parks, too. Gather your family and friends in July to investigate insects in the Minnesota outdoors. Learn how to identify insects from other types of bugs, view some common Minnesota insects and how to do your own investigations of these creatures. Read More Protecting Our Trees from Invasive Species The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources defines an invasive species as “species that are not native to Minnesota and cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health.” This article defines and identifies the invasive species that can cause harm to the economy, environment, or human health. Read More Taking on Ticks You’ve turned in after a productive day of gardening. Beginning to doze off, you feel something ever so slightly brushing against your thigh. You reach and feel a small hard object crawling up your leg. Lights on. It’s a tic, ambling along, looking for a nice warm place to suck your blood! It is tick season and there is good reason to be wary. Read More Vexing Vole Damage As the snow melts this spring, you may observe trails of dead grass in your yard. Or, you may find that the bark near the ground of your small trees or shrubs has been chewed bare. What is the cause of this damage that occurred over the winter? Most likely, the culprit is voles. Read this article learn more about voles and how you can reduce the damage they may bring to your yard. Read More Why are Those Bugs Swarming Around My Front Door? ​ Read More 1 1 ... 1 ... 1 Diseases, Pests & Wildlife

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    Garden Prep & Care Composting Would you like to save $$$ on your gardening expenses? Homegrown compost can be used to solve various garden challenges while saving you money from buying other product solutions in-store. Read More Cover Crops Cover crops? What are they and why might you consider growing one? Cover crops provide a way to add nutrients into the soil while also controlling weeds. Improving soil health is one of the best ways to improve plant growth and production as regular planting depletes soil of essential nutrients. Farmers frequently use cover crops, but many people don’t realize that they can enhance home gardens, too. Dig into this article to learn more about why and how to incorporate cover crops in your garden. Read More Cover Crops for the Home Garden As you harvest the last of your vegetables and fruits late in the gardening season, open soil space becomes available in your garden. Why not try something new and fill those spaces with cover crops? Read more about cover crops in the home garden. Read More Deciphering Seed Catalogs Seed catalogs start coming in January or February - a good time to start dreaming of your next garden! But there is so much information packed into a seed catalog it can be hard to interpret the abbreviations and array of plant varieties. This article will help you to decipher your seed catalogs so that you can choose the best plants for your garden. Read More Garden Mulch and Jumping Worms There are many things to consider when choosing which type of mulch to use. Aesthetics is one consideration but mulch that will help and not hurt your garden soil is another. This article will help you select the mulch that's right for your garden. Read More Garden in the Minnesota Winter with “Winter Sowing” Itching to get planting? Even in our cold Minnesota we can start our spring gardens. Winter seed sowing is possible using homemade miniature greenhouses and plenty of snow. Here's how... Read More How to Share Your Plants Safely Sharing plants from our gardens is a common and gratifying practice among gardeners. But in these times, we must know how to share plants safely. Safe from what? Jumping worms have become a significant and difficult problem for Minnesota gardens. This particular type of worm has the ability to ravage your garden soil and weaken or kill your plants. This article will help you learn more about this pest and show you how you can still share your plants safe from the spread of jumping worms. Read More Imagining Your Garden’s Possibilities January is a month of fresh starts, a time to renew and begin again. Whether you were pleased or frustrated with your garden in 2021, the new year is a great time to dream about your 2022 garden’s possibilities. Valerie Rogotzke shares some thoughts about how to reimagine your garden. Read More Manure – A Cautionary Tale Manure can benefit your garden in many ways but it also has negative consequences if used improperly. Read this article to learn how to use manure to reap its benefits without hurting your soil or plants. Read More Our State Soil: Lester If you have ever planted anything in the ground, or even just dug a hole, you know how our soil can vary depending on where we live. As a gardener, it is likely you have had your soil tested and amended your soil to provide optimal growing conditions for your plants. Here in Minnesota, mother nature amended some soil on a very large scale and deposited about 400,000 acres of it across 17 counties, perfect for growing crops like corn, soybeans, and alfalfa, right in the heart of our state. Click here to get the dirt on Lester, our state soil. Read More Planning to Promote Success in Your 2022 Vegetable Garden March is a great time to start to plan for your summer vegetable garden. Whether you’re planning your first vegetable garden or you’re an experienced vegetable gardener, there are things you can be doing to enhance the probability of a successful growing season. Read More Planting for a Fall Harvest Late summer doesn’t always come to mind as planting time. But Late July and early August are great times to plant vegetables that grow quickly and mature better in cooler temperatures. Read on to discover which plants you can plant now that will grow successfully well into fall. Read More 1 2 1 ... 1 2 ... 2

  • News

    Gardening by the Month ​ January, A Perfect Time to Re-Design Your Landscape When January brings us huge snowdrifts and blustery winds do you think of Spring? Yes, it’s the perfect time to be thinking about your flower and vegetable gardens and begin making plans for re-designing your landscape. If you have these thoughts, then click on the link to learn more about basic landscape design concepts and current 2024 trends in landscaping. Read More ​ Winter is a Perfect Time to Start Seeds On a chilly February day, the thought of blossoming flowers and growing vegetables seems like a far-off dream. Despite this, February is the perfect month to begin planning your summer garden and organizing a plan for indoor seed starting. Read this article to learn the why, what. how and when for starting your own plants. Read More ​ February - Starting Seeds Indoors If you want to grow plants from seed for your garden this spring, February is the time to start – planning and planting. There is a little more to it than dropping a seed in soil. Read More ​ Lop & Lose While March is the ideal time to prune most trees and shrubs in your garden; note that it is NOT the time to prune those that bloom in the spring. Pruning your spring blooming trees and shrubs may kill blooms that are forming. These plants should be pruned right after they bloom in the spring. Read this article for valuable information about pruning some of your most beautiful spring blooming shrubs. Read More ​ Snowdrops for the Early Spring Garden Are you a gardener that loves to have flowering plants staggered throughout the growing season? Then perhaps you should consider planting snowdrops in your yard. They are the first spring bulb to bloom and they are known to pop up amongst the snow melt. They usually bloom before larger daffodils and tulips. Read More ​ Master Gardener Seed Trials – Choose the Best Varieties It’s March and you may be thinking about starting vegetable or flower seeds for your garden this summer. First, you have to decide what to grow - beans, basil, zinnias, tomatoes? But there are several different varieties of each of these plants. So, how do you know what variety to plant? You can look through the seed catalogs or go to the garden store and peruse the many different varieties on the racks. Confused? The University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardeners can help. Read More ​ I Forgot to Plant My Garlic in October! Planting Garlic in March Are you a garlic lover? Yes, you can buy it at the grocery store but garlic grown in your own garden is so good. Garlic is normally grown in late fall BUT not to worry, if you act quickly, you can plant garlic in March and harvest it in July. Read this article to learn more about planting garlic in the spring or the fall. Read More ​ There Is Science Behind Lawn Care Believe it or not, the snow will melt soon and your thoughts will turn from shoveling to lawn care. Do you continue to use a lot of fertilizer and water on your lawn with mixed results? Are you concerned about the impacts of climate change affecting your lawn? Are you overwhelmed with all the lawn work in the Spring? If you said yes to any of these questions, click the link to learn more about the Science behind lawn care and how it can help you, your lawn and the environment. Read More ​ April - What To Do About Winter Damage As we think beyond winter to spring, you may encounter winter damage to some of your plants. In this article, Karna Berg reminds us how to give your plants a boost going into winter and how to deal with winter damage in a way that will allow plants to recover and, ultimately, flourish. Read More ​ Companion Gardening It’s April and we are starting or continuing to plan our gardens for the new season. Most of us consider the amount of sunlight we need, flower size and color and, probably, our favorite plants. But many of us do not take into account how various plants interact with each other - “companion planting.” Companion planting considers how to enhance the garden or impact plants by growing them in close proximity to each other. Companion planting has the potential to enhance your garden, reduce the need for pesticides, promote stronger plants and take maximum advantage of the space available. Read this article to learn more about why and how to use companion planting in your garden. Read More ​ May - Container Gardening Container gardening provides those with little or no yard an opportunity to grow vegetable, herbs or flowers inside your home or on your deck or patio. In addition, placing containers as part of your in-ground garden can add additional space and/or additional beauty to the garden. This article will help you plan your container garden. Read More ​ How to Pick the Best Perennials for Your Garden May is the month when gardeners’ dreams turn to planting. We dream of a garden filled with interesting, colorful flowers all season. In order to achieve these benefits, you must pick the right perennial for the right spot in your garden. That means you need to start your selection process at home, before you set foot in your garden center which will be filled with tempting plants that may or may not grow successfully in your garden. This article will help you choose the best perennials for your garden. Read More 1 2 3 1 ... 1 2 3 ... 3

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    Recipes & Cookbook ​ Make Chile Rellenos from Your Poblano Peppers Joy Johnson planted a variety pack of pepper seeds that produced an abundance of peppers. In this article, she provides a recipe for using the Poblano Peppers to make Chile Rellenos. She promises that the making is easy and the result is delicious! Read More ​ Chow Mein – A Vegetable “Left-Overs” Recipe Joy Johnson is a prolific vegetable grower. She has found this recipe for Chow Mein not only delicious but helpful in making use of the abundant vegetables in her cupboards. Whether using your own vegetable stash or those purchased at the grocery store, you will enjoy this recipe! Read More ​ What to Do With a Round Zucchini? Have you ever been gifted with a vegetable that you didn’t know what to do with? Read this entertaining article to find out what Master Gardener Joy Johnson made with the large, round zucchini she received from a family member. Her clever recipe will inspire you! Read More ​ A Cinderella Eggplant Recipe Fall is here, and Joy Johnson’s garden is harvested. She picked and stored her veggies with the best intentions to use them all at their peak of ripeness. But when she found a long, skinny eggplant that she forgot about in the bottom drawer of her refrigerator, she made sure not to waste it. Read Joy’s hearty eggplant recipe that tastes great. Read More ​ Lasagna Soup Too many tomatoes? Basil that needs a recipe? This month’s Vegetable Section features “Lasagna soup” that uses both garden vegetables. As fall days become cooler, we can all use a comforting, hearty soup. Read More ​ Root Veggie Tart Root veggies are popular to grow in home gardens, easy to store, and very nutritious. This “Root Veggie Tart” was a winner with Joy Johnson’s entire family. A delicious and nutritious vegetable treat with fresh or stored root veggies. Read More ​ Hang on to Summer – Salads (and More) As fall harvest season arrives, the challenge is to create or try new recipes to fully appreciate the array of tastes available to us. As always, Master Gardener Joy Johnson is ready with recipes, this time, salads that help us to hang on to summer. And just to make sure that you use the abundant apple crop available to us now, she provides a scrumptious apple-centered dessert bar. Let your mouth water while reading these delicious recipes. Read More ​ Making Delicious Meals with Hardy Vegetables Master Gardener Joy Johnson is an accomplished vegetable grower but even she struggled this year with the effects of the hot weather and drought on her crops. Still, she offers 4 tried, true and delicious recipes for using the vegetables that were garden champions this year. You will want to read this article for inspiration in the kitchen! Read More ​ Strawberry Asparagus Salad and a Challenge! It’s July and some of your vegetables and fruit are ripe for picking – yay! Two of these early products are asparagus and strawberries. And, luckily, they go together in a delicious salad. Read Joy Johnson’s article for an easy recipe. And, keep reading for a more difficult recipe for Strawberry Cucumber bread. If you’re up for the challenge, you will be rewarded with a delicious treat! Read More ​ Greek Artichoke Salad Get your early lettuce on the table with other yummy vegetables in this recipe for Greek artichoke salad. Add some baking powder biscuits and you have dinner. Read More ​ Fermenting Your Own Hot Sauce Sometimes just experimenting with your vegetables makes you a winner. Read about how to grow the peppers and make the hot sauce that won over Joy Johnson’s “hot sauce crazy” family members. Read More ​ Raspberry Delights Yes, it’s December and there probably isn’t anything growing in your garden right now, since you live in Minnesota. But not that long ago you may have had a bumper crop of berries that are now in your freezer. Here’s a fresh idea for strawberries, blackberries, gooseberries, and raspberries. Read More 1 2 3 1 ... 1 2 3 ... 3

  • Master Gardener Seed Trials – Choose the Best Varieties

    < Back Master Gardener Seed Trials – Choose the Best Varieties Julie Harris, Dakota County Master Gardener It’s March and you may be thinking about starting vegetable or flower seeds for your garden this summer. First, you have to decide what to grow - beans, basil, zinnias, tomatoes? But there are several different varieties of each of these plants. So, how do you know what variety to plant? You can look through the seed catalogs or go to the garden store and peruse the many different varieties on the racks. Confused? The University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardeners can help. The UMN Extension sponsors Annual Master Gardener Seed Trials to find the best varieties of various vegetables and flowers. In 2023, 235 Master Gardeners from 51 counties, participated in the Seed Trials. Seed Trial participants test 6 different varieties of 8 different plants against each other (6 vegetables and two flower varieties; including one herb). The collective results of the trials are compiled at the end of each growing season and each plant is ranked. Winners are the top performers in each trial. The rankings are published each year by March – in time to help you, the home gardener, learn about and obtain the most highly ranked plants to grow in your garden – or to purchase when harvested. This will be the 42 nd year of the Seed Trials’ existence, so there is ample data on many varieties to inform the home gardener. In Dakota County, Master Gardeners manage two Seed Trial Gardens; one in the First Presbyterian Church Community Garden, South St. Paul and one at St. Joseph’s Church in Rosemount. Some individual Master Gardeners also participate by testing plants in their own gardens. Two Dakota County Master Gardeners – Marc Battistini and Janice Gestner – are among the group at UMN Extension who select which plants will be part of the trials. Master Gardeners receive the seeds from the UMN Extension and grow the plants from seed. The plants are planted in the ground or transferred to the gardens in the spring according to planting instructions. Teams of Master Gardeners prepare the soil, plant the seeds or seedlings, water, weed, and monitor diseases and insects on the plants over the summer. Taste tests are performed when the plants are ready for harvest. Data is kept throughout the summer on each plant variety regarding: flavor, disease and insect tolerance, productivity and germination rate. At the end of the growing season, the data is given to the UMN Extension, which compiles the statewide data and produces the annual report. Dakota County Master Gardeners who work the gardens also provide horticultural education to community members. Produce is donated to a local food shelf. Complete results of the trials are available here . In 2023, the top ranked plants in each category were: Paste Tomatoes – Cipolla’s Pride; Green Pole Beans – Seychelles; Red Carrots – Malbec; Mustard Greens – Mizuna; Small Watermelon – Mini Love; Purple Basil – Amethyst Improved; Melampodium – Derby; and Pink Cleome – Mauve Queen . You can find a complete list of all of the seed trials since 1982 at the same site. In 2024, Master Gardeners will be testing 6 varieties of Swiss chard, Asian long beans, stem broccoli, cilantro, shallots, snacking peppers, helichrysum (strawflowers) and centaurea (bachelor buttons). Look for the results of those trials in winter 2025. Dakota County Master Gardeners also test plants for the PanAmerican Seed Company. These plants include annual flower varieties and some vegetables. Typically, the seeds grown in these trials are plants that PanAmerican is testing in various test trials around the country to help them decide which plants can be successfully grown and marketed. Data on these plants is compiled periodically over the summer and a report is sent to PanAmerican at the end of the growing season. Currently, the primary trial garden is located in Rosemount. Volunteer Master Gardeners around the state, including Dakota County, participate in various projects which improve horticulture and provide gardening information that will be useful to the home gardener. The vegetable and flower trials are one of these projects. Hopefully, you can use this information to grow happy, healthy vegetables (or flowers) for your enjoyment. Photo Credits: Photo 1 – University of Minnesota Extension; Susan Hickey Photo 2 – Robert Hatlevig Photo 3 – Robert Hatlevig Photo 4 – Robert Hatlevig Photo 5 – Jean Chrysler Photo 6 – Jean Chrysler

  • News

    Annuals & Bulbs ​ Protecting Bulbs for Winter Autumn in Minnesota is the time to prepare your bulbs for next year’s growing season, whether that is tucking in your hardy bulbs for their winter sleep (and protecting them from foraging critters!) or retrieving your tender bulbs for indoor storage to spare them from the harsh cold. Read on to learn more about what to do this season for beautiful blooms next year! Read More ​ Overwinter Geraniums the Correct Way As the end of the growing season appears it may be sad to think of your beautiful geraniums’ endless show of color coming to an end. Fear not! While non-hardy geraniums are considered annuals, overwintering your prized plant indoors can carry them through to the following year, giving you a jump start on spring and saving you some money if you usually replace them each year. But beware – it’s not quite as simple as carrying your geranium pot inside and waiting for spring. This article talks about two ways to overwinter geraniums in a way that will maximize your chance of success. Read More ​ What Can Alliums Do For Your Garden? As fall approaches, you might be thinking about planting bulbs that will provide you with a beautiful display in the spring. In this article, Marjory Blare explains why you should consider planting Alliums for that purpose. You may be familiar with varieties of allium used for cooking (for example, onion, garlic, scallion). But there are many ornamental alliums with many different features and colors. Read this article to learn more about the virtues of alliums. Read More ​ The Ws (plus an H) of Bulbs The great thing about planting bulbs is that they will bloom year after year. Here's what you need to know to grow bulbs successfully in your garden and look forward to early spring color. Read More ​ Glorious Amaryllis Amaryllis is a beautiful plant with large, stunning blooms that can be grown as a houseplant year-round. Get ready for some beautiful inside blooms and learn all about growing Amaryllis this winter. Read More ​ Zinnias: Vibrant Accents to a Northern Garden You know that zinnias provide a beautiful flourish to the summer garden. The varieties and colors are endless and can be enjoyed from late Spring into the Fall. But did you know that growing Zinnias from seed is both easy and rewarding? Read this article to learn why you might want to grow your own zinnias from seed this year. Read More ​ Early Spring Blooming Plants Deep in the doldrums of winter, everyone is anxious for spring weather to arrive so that, once again, they can dig in the dirt planting flowers and vegetables. To entice us even more, we’re seeing bulb plants in the stores for sale so we can enjoy them at home until spring finally arrives. In this article, I’ll talk about some of the most popular spring blooming plants for your garden. Read More ​ Harvesting and Preserving Herbs Harvest time is such a fun time of the year. There are so many herbs to harvest and preserve for the upcoming winter months. Some share their bounty year after year, like tarragon and oregano, and others, like basil and marjoram, are planted in spring for a fall harvest. Read More ​ Forcing Flower Bulbs Successfully Need a little color in your home this winter? After all the holiday décor is stored away, forcing flower bulbs indoors is a great way to enjoy flowers, both for their color and fragrance, during the cold winter months. Read More ​ Growing Daffodils Sometimes referred to as narcissus, daffodils nodding yellow, white, or variegated heads, are true harbingers of spring. Daffodils are a colorful addition to your garden with few basic steps. Read More 1 1 ... 1 ... 1

  • News

    Pollinators All About Those Bee Houses Bee house? Pollinator palace? Bug hotel? Check out some ideas for building pollinator real estate with the child in your life and find out why we may want to invite pollinators into our yards and gardens! Read More Bug Hotels and Pollinator Habitats Insect populations are at risk around the globe, with 40% of all insect species in decline and roughly one third of all species endangered. Between the loss of habitat, climate change, and the extensive use of pesticides, our bees, butterflies, and beetles are dying off in unprecedented numbers. This seems an overwhelming problem, but it is one that all gardeners can begin to remedy. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu once said, “There is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.” No matter the size of the garden, every gardener has steps they can take in order to make positive changes for the insects we all need to keep our planet healthy. Read More Building a Pollinator Garden “If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live.” This may or may not be a true Albert Einstein quote but the concept is valid. We need bees and all pollinators. Approximately 75% of the world’s flowering plants require a pollinator to reproduce. Pollinators help produce one-third of our food. It’s hard to imagine a diet without many fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Read More Do All Bees Sting? On one hand, a gardener’s tiny friend, the bee, is usually a docile doer of good, buzzing around from plant to plant, pollinating to provide a bountiful harvest in the future. On the other hand, many fear the small insect with the mighty sting. But do all bees sting? If you are curious, click on the link to learn more about our little friend, the bee. Read More Here a Pollinator Garden - There a Pollinator Garden – Everywhere a Pollinator Garden - Part 2 Master Gardener Brenda Scheer understands how important pollinator gardens are for the environment and wanted to start this type of garden. But how to start? This article is the second in a series of three in which Brenda describes her experience starting a pollinator garden in her backyard. Follow Brenda’s motivation, planning, lessons and tips to build your own environmentally friendly garden. In this installment, Brenda talks about how plan for and choose plants for her native garden. Read More Here a Pollinator Garden - There a Pollinator Garden – Everywhere a Pollinator Garden - Part 1 Master Gardener Brenda Scheer understands how important pollinator gardens are for the environment and wanted to start this type of garden. But how to start? This article is the first in a series of three in which Brenda describes her experience starting a pollinator garden in her backyard. Follow Brenda’s motivation, planning, lessons and tips to build your own environmentally friendly garden. Read More Here a Pollinator Garden - There a Pollinator Garden – Everywhere a Pollinator Garden - Part 3 Master Gardener Brenda Scheer understands how important pollinator gardens are for the environment and wanted to start this type of garden. But how to start? This article is the third in a series of three in which Brenda describes her experience starting a pollinator garden in her backyard. Follow Brenda’s motivation, planning, lessons and tips to build your own environmentally friendly garden. In this installment, Brenda talks about planting and lessons learned. Read More Our State Insect: The Monarch Butterfly The days are getting shorter, the leaves are changing, some days there is a noticeable chill in the air. Time to head south before the snow flies. I’m not talking about Minnesotans who’ve experienced one too many frigid winters, but rather the Minnesota state butterfly, the monarch. Click here to read fascinating facts about the monarch butterfly, renowned for its extraordinary migration. Read More Victoria Road Native Planting Dakota County hosts a unique native garden in the boulevard alongside Victoria Road, spanning the block between Marie Avenue and Douglas Road in Mendota Heights. Not only is it a beautiful sight to drive, bike or stroll alongside throughout the year, but the garden hosts a number of native pollinators including the Rusty Patch Bumblebee, which is on the federal endangered species list! It wasn’t always this way - read on to find out how Mendota Heights staff and Master Gardeners got together with community members in order to create this special place! Read More What’s the Buzz about Bee Lawns? ​ Read More Wild Bergamot, the Bees’ Delight Watching bees and butterflies hovering over lavender-topped Wild Bergamot on a quiet summer afternoon is a delightful moment. It is just one of the reasons to include this native plant in your garden. Read this article to learn more about the environmental benefits and other charms of this beautiful plant. Read More 1 1 ... 1 ... 1

  • News

    Lawn Care ​ The Minnesota Lawn Guide: Attaining and Maintaining the Lawn You Want The Minnesota Lawn Guide, by Melinda Myers will give you tips on growing the perfect lawn in Minnesota. Whether establishing a new lawn, restoring an existing one or fixing spots, this easy to read book will help answer all your questions. Read More ​ What to Do with All Those Leaves? Did you know that the trees in one acre of forest shed as much as two tons of leaves each fall? Your neighborhood may not have that many trees, but even a little bit of raking is hard on the back . . . and it’s no fun for anyone but the kids who jump in the piles! It doesn’t make sense to bag or compost your leaves. Instead, turn them into a valuable natural resource that delivers organic matter and nutrients to your landscape. Read More ​ Fall Lawn Care Fall is the best time to prepare for next year’s healthy lawn. Most lawns in Minnesota have cool weather grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass, tall and fine fescues and perennial ryegrass. Read More 1 1 ... 1 ... 1

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