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  • Garden Prep & Care | DCMGV

    Garden Prep & Care Beware Garlic Mustard in Early Spring Garlic Mustard may be edible and tasty but unless you are planning to cook with it, you will not want it growing in your yard. One of the first weeds to appear in the spring, Garlic Mustard is a noxious weed that is difficult to get rid of. Read this article to learn how to identify Garlic Mustard and how to control it. Read More Companion Gardens Are the Best Linda Stein confesses that she used to arrange her garden by separating annuals from perennials from vegetables. But she has learned that there are many advantages to mixing these different types of plants in the garden. Read this article to learn more about why you would want to mix these plant types and what types of plants you might consider. As you prepare for the upcoming summer, learn more about mixing and matching your edible plants with flowering perennials and annuals to enhance the beauty of your garden, attract pollinators to plants that will benefit from these critters and reduce the need for pesticides by providing plants that serve as natural repellants. Read More 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 Growing Plants Without Soil Although the last few winter months hang on, the hours of daylight continue to lengthen and many of us, including the little ones in our lives, are itching to see green. Green grass. Green leaves. Any new green growth. But even with a desire to have living, green plants around us and in our homes, some kids just aren’t excited about gardening. One reason may be that they don’t like the feel of soil or getting dirty. If this sounds like a kiddo in your life, read on to learn how to grow lovely green things while staying warm, and relatively clean, inside. Read More Have No Doubt, Plant a Garden That Will Resist a Drought In recent years, Minnesota plants and trees have faced pressures from warmer temperatures and prolonged drought. You can foster a healthy, resilient garden by adding species that adapt well to these changes. Read here to find out the type of plants and garden conditions that optimize a drought-resistant garden. Read More How to Avoid Problems When Gardening on your Deck Gardening on your deck or patio provides a number of benefits. It enables those in a multi-unit building an opportunity to grow plants outdoors. It provides an opportunity for those with physical limitations to garden. Growing plants on your deck or patio is a strategy for adding beauty and it might provide an opportunity to grow edibles near your kitchen. But gardening on a deck or patio does present its own potential problems. Read this article to learn how to avoid problems and how to deal with them if they occur. 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 1 2 3 1 ... 1 2 3 ... 3

  • Indoor Plants | DCMGV

    Indoor Plants ​ Give Your Orchid a Vacation Orchids are like school children. They have been cooped up in your house all winter. They have treated you well, stayed healthy, and maybe even treated you to blooms; for that they deserve something special: a vacation! It is easy; you don’t need a travel agent, an airline reservation or even a hotel room: just set them outside. Read this article by avid orchid grower, Paul Wood, to learn how to safely grow your orchids outside in the summer. Read More ​ How to Select an Orchid Have you been intrigued about orchids but don’t know where to start or how to keep them alive? Or, are you already an orchid grower but want some expert tips? This article on orchids is the first of three by orchid expert, Paul Wood. The first article provides great advice about how to choose the right orchid for you. Read on to learn how you can begin to be an orchid grower – and lover! Read More ​ Moving Houseplants Outdoors for a Summer Vacation You have been enjoying your indoor plants during our long, cold winter. But soon it will be time to think about transitioning some of those plants outdoors. March might seem a bit early to think about moving your indoor plants to the outdoors but plants do require a transition time and warm weather will be here sooner than you think. There are many reasons that you might move your houseplants outdoors for the summer. But there are several things to consider to ensure that your plants flourish as a result of this move. Read More ​ 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

  • Yellow Honeysuckle (Lonicera flava) | DCMGV

    < Back Yellow Honeysuckle (Lonicera flava) Jim Lakin MD, Dakota County Master Gardener One benefit of climate change is that it allows us to grow plants that have previously been out of our growing zone. One of those plants is Yellow Honeysuckle (Lonicera flava). A Zone 5 plant, Yellow Honeysuckle is likely to grow well in the southern part of Minnesota. As Master Gardener Jim Lakin explains in this article, Yellow Honeysuckle is a beautiful, vining plant that you should consider for your garden. Although Lonicera flava is not usually native to Minnesota, it does grow wild in Illinois and Iowa. With climate change, it would be well worth your while to give this beauty a go. Yellow honeysuckle should do well in the southern part of the state which is rapidly becoming USDA region 5. In the Twin Cities, planting in a fairly sheltered area would be prudent. You folks up in Duluth probably are doomed to disappointment. Once established, Lonicera flava is a hardy fellow through Zone 5 and should give years of spectacular yellow flowers in the mid to late spring. Yellow honeysuckle is a long-lived native perennial. It does best in full sun but will tolerate partial shade. Beware, however. This sunlight reduction will reduce the number and intensity of blooms. As the vine grows some 10 to 20 feet upwards, you will want to plant it adjacent to a trellis, fence or other sturdy support. A three to six foot spacing between plants is recommended. For the first season after planting, you will want to keep the plant moist although subsequently Lonicera flava is moderately drought resistant. A good covering of mulch helps a lot. Speaking of mulch, it is a good idea to mulch yellow honeysuckle heavily in winter especially in more northerly regions. Don’t heap the mulch around the stem, however, to avoid encouraging rot. The vine also tends to be disease resistant, although occasionally aphids will camp out on the leaves. It also is not the first choice of deer or rabbits on the buffet line. In short, it is a low maintenance plant. Although yellow honeysuckle will fit into most any landscaping scheme, it looks great in an informal or naturalized setting, especially as a border plant in woodlands. It forms tubular, fragrant trumpet-shaped flowers in whorls which attract hummingbirds and many butterfly species with their nectar. The plant will form small round orange to red berries in the late summer into the fall, providing food for birds and many small mammals. Thus, yellow honeysuckle is a big plus to the ecology of your garden. Photo Credits: (All Creative Commons)), Missouri Dept. Conservation (2)

  • Annuals & Bulbs | DCMGV

    Annuals & Bulbs ​ BULBS 101 Snowdrops and daffodils are harbingers of spring, the first flowers to appear after the snow has melted and the days start to lengthen. For many of us, these early bulbs are a wake-up call, reminding us that the growing season is beginning. Of course, if seeing daffodils makes us want them in our own gardens, it’s too late for this year! For many Minnesota gardeners, bulbs have been in our yards for decades. However, if you’re new to bulbs or would just like a more in-depth look at them, this Bulb Primer is for you! Read More ​ 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

  • Swiss Chard – It’s Like Spinach, But It’s Not | DCMGV

    < Back Swiss Chard – It’s Like Spinach, But It’s Not Swiss Chard (Chard) is a dark leafy green that can be used raw or cooked. It also freezes well for winter consumption. Chard can be planted any time during the growing season and re-blooms after harvesting. Not only is it nutritious but it looks beautiful in the garden, as well. Read this article to learn why and how to grow Swiss Chard in your garden. By Mickey Scullard, Dakota County Master Gardener Swiss Chard (Chard) is in the beet family, ( Beta vulgaris) and is very easy to grow. Like spinach, you can direct seed Chard, however, you will want to wait until all danger of frost is past. Unlike spinach, Chard is not sensitive to day length and does not bolt when the days get longer and it gets hot in early summer. Very rarely, if planted too early while temperatures are cold or cool, Chard may bolt. You only need to plant Chard once in the spring and it will keep re-growing after each harvest through Fall. While spinach will regrow if baby leaves are harvested early, it will eventually bolt in early summer. You do not have to plant or replant Chard for a fall crop (which you may want to consider in late August for spinach) and if you miss getting it planted in spring, you can plant it at any time during the growing season. So, if you haven’t planted it yet, go ahead and get some Chard seeds sown. Swiss Chard seedlings You will want to manage the weeds around Chard to prevent it from having to compete for water and nutrients. Keep it regularly watered. If drought conditions exist, leaf growth will slow. As soon as it has sufficient water again, it will resume growing. To harvest Chard, you can pick the leaves at varying sizes based on your preference. Some people will cut the leaves just above the base of the plant (the crown). The leaves do pick up dirt in the stalks and leaves, so you will want to wash it well to avoid a gritty bite. Simply wash well in cool water. You will be able to harvest Chard into the Fall months, sometimes even after the first snowfall. Chard freezes well, requiring simple blanching in boiling water, followed by a cool water bath, and bagging it in a freezer bag. Nutritionally, Swiss Chard provides many important nutrients such as Vitamin K and Vitamin A. It also provides Vitamin C and magnesium and contains antioxidants including beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. It is low in carbohydrates and is low calorie (depending upon how it is cooked). Some studies suggest it can help with blood sugar control, support heart health, reduce blood pressure, and other health benefits. Some articles label it a ‘superfood’. On top of all that goodness, Chard can be a lovely addition to a landscape as the stalks and leaf veins range in color from bright white (Fordhook most common variety), to yellow, gold, green, orange, pink, red, or striped. Some varieties are: “Bright Lights”, “Rainbow”, “Rhubarb”, “Neon Lights”. Paired with annual or perennial flowers, the green, bronze, or purple leaves with their showy veins and stalks add texture and color to containers and flower gardens. Consider adding Swiss Chard to your garden for both its beauty and nutritional values! References: Growing spinach and swiss chard in home gardens Swiss Chard Healthline: Health benefits of swiss chard: Allergy Associates of LaCrosse: Photo Credits: University of Delaware (1), University of Minnesota Extension, Gardening: Swiss Chard (2), University of Wisconsin Extension (3,4,5,6)

  • Learn to Identify Garden Insects – Good and Bad | DCMGV

    < Back Learn to Identify Garden Insects – Good and Bad Alyce Neperud, Dakota County Master Gardener We know that most insects in our garden are beneficial. But when we find insect damage on our beloved flowers, vegetables and fruits, it’s hard not to focus on the damaging insects. A good gardening practice is to keep abreast of the latest research on how to attract good insects and adopt pest management practices to minimize damage from the “bad” insects. By seeking out research-based information on good and bad insects, you can learn about potential damage and a range of control options to make well-informed decisions about managing the pests in your Minnesota garden. Read this article to learn more about good and bad insects and how to tell the difference. Some common pests and how to identify them Leaf Lily Beetle While inspecting my garden in late May, I noticed holes in the Asiatic lily leaves and some red beetles. I confirmed the insect to be a Leaf Lily Beetle, a non-native pest. I learned most of the damage is done by the larva so I inspected the lilies again. As expected, I found muddy brown globs. I cleaned the larva off, removed the beetles and limited further damage by frequent inspection and manual removal of the pest. Leaf Lily Beetle Check out the following articles to learn more about this pest, its lifecycle and control options: Minnesota State Horticulture Society: Scarlet Lily Beetle Infestations Minnesota Dept. of Agriculture (MDA): Lily Leaf Beetle University of Utah: Lily Leaf Beetle Cabbage Worm While working with master gardeners at a local vegetable trial garden, I learned that each year the cabbage is damaged by caterpillars. The first sign of the pest in the garden is a white butterfly with a black spot on each wing. The butterfly and the larva are a match to the imported cabbageworm. Cabbage worm This pest can be difficult to control manually once established and the damage reduces the amount of usable produce. To attempt to control the pest this year, we installed a mesh cover over the cabbage when the small plants were transplanted into the garden. The intent is to minimize damage with early intervention so that the butterflies are not able to lay their eggs. The results for this year are pending but sometimes a new approach is worth trying. Check out the following articles to learn more about common vegetables pests, lifecycles, expected damage and control options from the UMN Extension: Caterpillars on Cole Crops Cropping Calendars for Cruciferous Vegetables, and Pumpkin and Squash under Common insects in vegetable crops Fruit and vegetables crop insects Shrub Rose Pests Three pests attack my shrub roses every year. The damage starts in early May with white spotting on the lower leaves, an indication of sap sucking - Rose Leafhopper . Rose Leafhopper and leaf damage In June I observe green caterpillar-like larvae munching on the leaves - the Rose Sawfly larva (also known as Roseslug ). Leaf damage from Rose Sawfly Adult Rose Sawfly In late June, beetles can be seen destroying the rose blooms - the Japanese Beetle . Japanese Beetle Despite all of this pest activity, the roses can be enjoyed most of the season with some manual control. I squash the leafhoppers early if there is significant damage. I watch for the appearance of the Roseslugs and squash them or drop them into soapy water. This year I also began looking for the sawflies to see if I could disturb them and prevent them from laying their eggs and thus minimize the Roseslug problem. The Japanese beetles are the most destructive and because they are relentless, I knock them into soapy water as frequently as is feasible. The best news is that the pests are mostly gone when the roses bloom a second time in late summer. Check out the following articles to learn more about rose pests, lifecycles and control options: Sawfly and its larvae , Roseslugs are located under Deciduous Trees and Shrubs.(UMN Extension) Rose pests . (UKY, includes Japanese Beetle, Roseslug, Rose Leafhopper and others) What about the good insects? The insects that damage our plants grab our attention but we need to remember that most insects in our gardens are beneficial and play a vital role in the ecosystem. Insects pollinate a wide variety of fruits, nuts, vegetables, and native plants. Insects also decompose plant and animal material, are used in medicine and research and they are an essential food source for many birds, mammals and other insects. An apple exists only when the flower is pollinated. A butterfly exists only when the caterpillar is allowed to mature to adult stage, with essential food sources and the correct host plant. Pollinators Insects that pollinate include wild and domesticated bees, flies, wasps, moths, butterflies and more. Did you know that flies are second to bees in pollination? The syrphid fly appears to be a small bee but is actually a “hover fly” that moves about quickly and feeds on nectar and pollen. I found this pretty little fly hovering and feeding on cranesbill geranium, shrub rose and columbine flowers in my garden. Look for it! Unlike bees and wasps which have two pairs of wings, the syrphid fly has a single pair. It does not sting or bite. Syrphid fly Butterflies are incredibly beautiful and fun to watch, make it your goal to learn about some new butterflies to attract to your garden with nectar and larval host plants for butterflies. Butterfly Gardening . (UMN Dept. of Entomology) Monarch Bumblebees are a joy to watch in addition to the serious pollination work they do. This UMN BeeLab page includes a field guide to identify Minnesota Bumblebees . Bumblebee Predators Some insects are beneficial because they feed on other insects and frequently it is not the adult that provides the most benefit. This is why understanding the insect’s lifecycle and what it looks like in different stages can help us better appreciate their value. Lacewings, in their wingless immature state, eat other insects. Lady beetles are beneficial because they feed on insects, nectar and pollen. Asian lady beetles are a bit larger and are a nuisance if they get in your house, but they are otherwise beneficial because they also feed on soft body pests. Both types have alligator-like larvae, quite different from the domed, hard, round to oval shaped adult beetle. Wasps . There are many types of wasps that help control garden pests. For example, the parasitoid wasp is beneficial because it lays its eggs on pests such as the aphid or imported cabbage worm, to feed on the host. These wasps are tiny so don’t expect to identify them but you may see small eggs or larva on the host. The Syrphid fly is not only a pollinator but also feeds on small insect pests. For more on these and other beneficial insects in Minnesota: UMN extension Beneficial Insects . Tips for successfully identifying good and bad insects In order to know whether you need to take steps to control an insect, you need to successfully identify it. Try this process: Observe Be proactive by inspecting plants and watching for insects when they are expected to appear. Gather Information Take a picture please! This will help you recall details when doing your research What type of insect? Does it appear to be a beetle, butterfly or moth, caterpillar, grub or other? Note size, color, markings, # of wings, etc. Where did you find it? Insect pests tend to be specific to certain plants. Is it on a plant or in the soil? Is there any feeding damage? Sometimes you will have to rely on the damage to do your inquiry when the insect is not present. What time of year is it? Insects emerge at different times of the year, some have annual cycles, others have multiple cycles in one season. Take the information you have gathered and go to reputable sources to identify the insect and how to manage it. Search within the UMN Extension site or another known research-backed site. For a list of Helpful Apps for identifying insects, open the “How to Control Specific Pests” header on UMN Extension Preventing pests in your yard and garden page. Other Resources for assistance: Ask a Master Gardener and Yard and Garden News Anticipate and Plan Accordingly When you’ve learned the lifecycle and the best time to interrupt the lifecycle, you can be more strategic about solving a problem. Keep up the good gardening! We all strive for a beautiful flower garden and healthy fruits and vegetables. So, it is important to identify and control threats from damaging insects early. Try to develop a more observant eye and know when to look; anticipate and plan accordingly. Get to know good insects, learn to attract and protect them! Many resources are available to help you satisfy your curiosity about an insect, or help you solve a problem. But don’t hesitate to ask for help if you get stumped. Additional References on Pollinators Did you know that 70% of native bees nest in the ground: 5 ways to Increase nesting habitat for Native Bees . (Xerces Society) Vegetable Garden Best Management Practices (BPM) for Pollinators including a list of recommended garden plants to support pollinators. An example of a best practice is to plan your garden with flowers, veggies, herbs and fruits intermixed. (UMN) Current status on pollinators and what you can do for them. (MDA) Create pollinator friendly habitat with the Lawns to Legumes program . (The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources) Photo Credit: Alyce Neperud (1, 3, 7, 8), University of Minnesota Extension (2, 4, 5, 6, 9)

  • Grow Beautiful, Healthy Roses in Minnesota | DCMGV

    < Back Grow Beautiful, Healthy Roses in Minnesota Gail Maifeld, Dakota County Master Gardener The rose is one of the most cultivated and popular flowers in the world. Myths and poems are attached to roses which have been popular for centuries. They are prized for their colors, beautiful scents, and size of blooms, from miniature to large. But as any rose grower knows, roses also have a history of being hard to care for and, of course, all forms have thorns. But developments in rose breeding have minimized many of problems associated with growing roses and maximized their attractive qualities. This article will explain how to grow beautiful roses successfully in Minnesota. Roses have had a reputation as high maintenance and difficult to grow in Minnesota. Historically, this has been true of the beautiful “hybrid tea” varieties. Remember the “Minnesota tip?” Hybrid garden roses are still grown in Minnesota and are more susceptible to Minnesota winters. However, over the years, rose breeders have come up with hardy roses for northern climates. “Hardy” roses grow in USDA Zones 3 or 4, need no covering through the winter, are disease resistant, require minimal pest and disease control and bloom profusely. Hardy shrub roses have been developed to meet these criteria. The shrub rose of today is a sturdy, minimal care plant. Shrub roses have excellent disease resistance and are low maintenance with reblooming flowers all summer. But to receive the most from a rose, plant it in full sun (6-8 hours) with moist, well-drained soil. Roses should be planted after the last spring frost or in the fall, six weeks before frost. Prepare a hole wide enough for the roots. Roses don’t like to be crowded so plant 3 feet apart to allow for growth. A general fertilizer or specialty rose fertilizer can be used. Fertilize in the spring to encourage new growth. Stop fertilizing in late July so the rose will begin to harden off. This prepares the plant for the winter cold. Some roses can be grown in containers. Create a hole in the pot twice as wide as the roots, spread the roots and fill pot with soil. Make sure to water thoroughly. Some roses tolerate some shade, but no rose will bloom in full shade. Shade will also make the rose more susceptible to pests and disease such as black spot, powdery mildew, and downy mildew. There are remedies for these problems, and some varieties are genetically resistant to mildew. Common pests that affect roses are Japanese Beetles, aphids, and spider mites. A garden center will have products to remedy these pests but read the product label for use. Also, read the label on the rose bush when purchasing, for information about their resistance to the above diseases and where the rose plant will grow the best. Research the American Rose Society’s lists for which roses grow in your location. Unfortunately, deer are also rose fans. They like to munch on rose bushes despite the thorns. A fenced barrier may be the only effective deterrent. Gardeners love fragrant roses. Fragrant rose petals are often used to make perfumes. Unfortunately, with a focus on disease resistance, hardiness, ease of planting and other growing characteristics, breeding roses for fragrance took a back seat. Not anymore! Easy Elegance “Yellow Brick” has a beautiful aroma and Knock Out rose has a faint floral smell. Plant these varieties along a deck or walkway to enjoy the fragrance. These are some of the breeds of roses that are successfully grown in the north: Knock-Out-Rose - This rose comes in a variety of colors, reblooms all summer and doesn’t require dead heading. This said, your rose garden will look tidy if some dead heading is done. This rose is a medium size shrub so will fit in a border or around annuals and other perennials. Knock-Out-Rose Drift Rose - This is a recent variety of shrub rose. Bushes have tiny flowers and are a good ground cover. Easy to incorporate in a border or on a hill. Easy Elegance Rose - This rose is known for its fragrance and easy-care qualities. They are bred to be disease resistance and tolerate windy conditions. Given a sunny spot in a garden this rose will thrive and reward the gardener with a wonderful fragrance. Cuthbert Grant Shrub Rose Several years ago, the University of Minnesota introduced the Northern Accents series which includes ‘Ole,’ ‘Sven’ and ‘Lena.’ These are “ever-blooming” shrub roses that tolerate Minnesota winters well. The University Minnesota Extension continues to be part of the ongoing “American Rose Trials for Sustainability.” This project’s goal was to identify roses that had a scent while grown under minimal care conditions and to produce roses that would survive without pesticides, fertilizer, and winter with only mulch and snow covers. Roses that would not need to be tipped, buried or use a Styrofoam cap. Information gained in these trials informs the work of rose breeders. A rose is an attractive companion to borders of evergreens, perennial beds of baby’s breath and annuals like verbena. Plant one of the above varieties to enjoy all the favorable qualities of a rose bush. For inspiration in choosing roses for your garden or just to enjoy their beauty, visit the two rose gardens at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. These gardens display 400 varieties of hybrid garden roses and hardy shrub roses. Credits: University of Minnesota Extension, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Minnesota State Horticultural Society; Photo Credit: (All Creative Commons) (1), Gail Maifeld (2,3)

  • The Enchanting World of Fairy Gardening | DCMGV

    < Back The Enchanting World of Fairy Gardening By Mary Gadek, Dakota County Master Gardener Looking for a way to engage the child in your life with the outdoors?! Look no further… read here to learn about the fun and enchanting art of fairy gardening- a creative way of gardening with endless possibilities for the young and young at heart! Capture your child’s imagination as they create a small garden meant to attract the tiny magical beings, called garden fairies. Often found at the edge of the tended garden, garden lore says these guardians of nature are masters of disguise and appear in gardens as small animals, little creatures, or brightly colored orbs of light. Why Have Fun with Fairy Gardening? Whether you believe in garden fairies or just want to engage your child in imaginative play, the small-scale method of fairy gardening offers many benefits to the gardener, including connecting the child with nature while providing them with an immediate creative outlet. Also, fairy gardening can offer a way to teach the elements of landscape design, spacing, and proper irrigation to children. Another benefit of this type of gardening is that it enables a less physically constraining form of gardening for any age. How to Make an Enchanting Fairy Garden The most important tool of fairy gardening is your imagination ! Take some time and develop your plan or the story you want to tell (and attract fairies!) by deciding on the following gardening elements: 1. Theme: It can be anything you want, especially something to reflect a child’s current interests (e.g., princesses, farm animals, favorite movie characters). 2. Location: Determine where to locate your garden - in a container inside your home or outside, or in a small area of your garden. Add good potting soil for your plants and also, to set hardscape figures and structures. Good drainage, like providing holes in your container and the right soil mixture, ensures a long-lasting garden. 3. Plant selection: Choose plants that will grow to the right scale, or size, for a small garden. As you search for the right plants, consider contrasting or complementary colors and shapes of plants that best fit your theme. Here are some resources to help you choose the right plants: 4. Accessorize: Start by “shopping” around your house and garden to find items that match your plan and can shape the story of your fairy garden. Suggestions: Acorns, pine cones, seeds, stones, shells, small branches, leaves, bottle caps, pipe cleaners, straws, discarded toys or parts of toys, and unused costume jewelry or fish tank stones. Craft stores have endless possibilities, too. To pursue an even more magical journey when creating your fairy garden, include the garden attributes that fairies prefer. Fairies enjoy a place to hide, like under a big leaf or behind a smaller rock. Look for small, colorful, shiny, fragrant, or soft items that will attract your neighborhood fairies. Use small ornaments or sparkly treasures. Incorporate fragrant plants (like lavender), choose plants with soft leaves, like lamb ears, or find pods (like milkweed), for a fairy to sleep on. Now you are ready to create your fairy garden! Once completed, feel free to add or change the garden as your child wants, to fully express their imagination (or even try to attract a fairy to live in their garden). As time passes, encourage your child to visit their fairy garden and leave little gifts of nature or special trinkets for the fairies. Here are some examples of fairy gardens found in Dakota County, Minnesota: To further enhance your fairy gardening experience, read: How To Catch a Garden Fairy, by Alice Walstead, a delightful read-aloud for younger elementary-aged children, which allows your child’s imagination to grow and see how making a fairy garden can entice a fairy into your garden! Borrow from the Dakota County Library: ISBN: 9781728263205 Or Buy: Reference: (University of Wisconsin-Madison, Extension, ) Photo Credits: Mary Gadek (1,3,4,5), Marie Smith (2,6)

  • New Chance Garden Project At Dakota County Juvenile Services Center | DCMGV

    < Back New Chance Garden Project At Dakota County Juvenile Services Center Mary Galvin, edited by Julie Harris The Dakota County Master Gardeners partner with the Dakota County Juvenile Services Center in Hastings to plant and nurture a garden that teaches important lessons to the residents of the Center and provides produce for the county’s food shelves. The garden is part of the New Chance day treatment program. Male youth have the opportunity to work in the garden with the guidance of Master Gardeners. Read this article to learn more about how this important project serves as a teaching tool for youth and a source of food for county residents in need. The Dakota County Master Gardeners partner with the Dakota County Juvenile Services Center in Hastings to plant and nurture a garden that teaches important lessons to the residents of the Center and provides produce for the county’s food shelves. The Juvenile Services Center is a secured facility that provides detention and treatment services for youth. The garden is part of the New Chance day treatment program. Male youth between the ages of 14 and 17 have the opportunity to work in the garden with the guidance of Master Gardeners. Mary Galvin and Mary Beth Kufrin lead the project for the Master Gardeners. Several other Master Gardeners volunteer their time and knowledge to the project. What once was a small garden surrounded by turf was transformed into a multi-bed vegetable garden area with lovely wood chip borders and paths. Much credit goes to Dakota County staff and the program participants, who did the heavy lifting to make the garden happen. They prepared the area by removing the turf grass, tilling in compost, and laying out the garden bed areas and walkways with wood chips. This is the third year of the project which receives the enthusiastic support of Corrections and County officials, some of whom help with planting vegetables in the garden in the spring. Board Chair, Joe Atkins, Dakota County Commissioner Bill Droste, along with Community Corrections Director Suwana Kirkland, Deputy Director Matt Bauer, and Director of Community Services Marti Fischbach helped with planting the garden this year. The garden generated over 500 pounds of food last year. Most of this was donated to food shelves but some was enjoyed by youth in the New Chance program under the supervision of a nutritionist. Last year, Master Gardeners met with the New Chance participants to see what they wanted to grow. After a lively group discussion that included some general observations regarding our climate, our USDA zone, and growing season restrictions (which make pineapple and kiwifruit difficult to grow here), they made a list of possible produce to grow. Ideas include watermelon, strawberries, and rhubarb, collard greens, sweet corn, and pumpkins as well as garden staples like peppers, tomatoes, summer squash and onions. The participants also learn about pollinator friendly plants such as Zinnia and Swamp Milkweed. From planting day forward, Master Gardeners are in the garden weeding, watering, and harvesting alongside the staff and kids. One Master Gardener recalled how she described to a participant how food crops come from seeds, which grow into plants, which flower and bear fruit/vegetables, which in turn produce seeds. She said ‘it was like watching a light bulb turn on in the kid’s head as they made the connection.’ Other participants initially were anxious about seeing bees and wasps in the garden, but they also were interested to hear how non-threatening most insects are and how pollinators are essential to food production. In short, the hands-on aspect of the garden was an easy and informal way to educate. Dakota County Commissioner Mary Hamann-Roland, who was a driving force behind the garden, has said, “It’s been a great pleasure to work with the kids and staff and see the joy that the kids find in learning, picking and tasting new vegetables and fruit,” “It’s a metaphor,” said Hamann-Roland, “we need to tend to each other and when we do, we help our world grow.” Photo credits: Mary Galvin (1,2), Dakota County Commissioner (3)

  • No More Stringy Petunias! | DCMGV

    < Back No More Stringy Petunias! Susan Ball, Dakota County Master Gardener Petunias! Bi-colors, tri-colors, bright colors, stripes, ruffles . . . What’s not to love? If you’ve seen petunias in July and August you know what’s not to love. Starting off full and fluffy, as the summer wears on petunias drop their blooms, grow long and scraggly and much less lovable. Read this article to learn what to do to keep your beautiful petunias looking full and fluffy. Petunias! Bi-colors, tri-colors, bright colors, stripes, ruffles . . . What’s not to love? If you’ve seen petunias in July and August you know what’s not to love. Starting off full and fluffy, as the summer wears on, petunias drop their blooms, grow long and scraggly and much less lovable. So, what to do? Yank them out and put new ones in? Give up on them and replace them with a hardier plant, maybe a marigold? However, between replacing petunias and giving up on them altogether there is a third option: pruning them. Read on to learn how to prune petunias successfully. Pruning petunias will keep them full and fluffy all summer long. There is some work involved, but replacing petunias with more petunias or other flowers is also work. And not only that, it’s expensive and it involves running around to big box stores and nurseries to see if either one has any decent flowers left. In addition, pruning your petunias keeps your original design and color scheme in place and involves only minutes of work throughout the summer. To keep petunias blooming prolifically we must remember their mission, in fact the mission of all plants: to perpetuate the species. When the bloom on a petunia drops off its pod it creates a seed which will hopefully go on to create another petunia. Having accomplished its mission, the petunia dies in peace, leaving behind leggy and scraggly branches without flowers. The point of pruning is to send the opposite message to the petunia: you have not completed your mission. You have not set seed (because I have cut off all your seed pods). You must keep blooming, staying full and fluffy, until I decide to stop cutting them off (usually sometime in September, or sooner if we have an early frost). See the photo where the woman is about to cut off the pod where the bloom once grew? You must trim the petunia BEHIND THAT pod, which holds the seed, to convince the petunia she still has work to do and must continue to produce blooms. Petunias have many blooms and their seed pods often hide underneath the bottoms of branches, behind other blooming flowers. If you leave pruning them until they start to look “scraggly”, you may spend anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours pruning your petunias. It’s a tedious mission of search and destroy. There is an easier way . Buy a small pair of pointed scissors with colorful handles (so you can spot them in the soil) available at the Dollar Store or Michaels. In fact, buy one for every pot and bed of petunias if they are at some distance from each other. Stick the scissors point down into the pot or bed next to your petunias. Any time you are out in your yard inspecting or admiring your garden, check your petunias for spent blossoms and spend a minute or two cutting off the empty pods. A minute or two every day or so equals enough time to keep your petunias glorious all season. You can also prune for shape and form. If, in spite of your consistent pruning, your petunias develop leggy branches, find a junction where there is new growth and cut off the branch in front of the new growth . You can also prune any branches that are not keeping to the design or shape you wish. Again, find a junction where there is new growth and cut off the branch right in front of it. Do this consistently and the work will be minimal. Your petunias will outdo themselves producing blooms to complete their mission and you will enjoy full and fluffy petunias all summer! References: / Photo Credits: UMN Extension (1,4 ), Susan Ball (2,3)

  • Bleach Dying Dark T-Shirts | DCMGV

    < Back Bleach Dying Dark T-Shirts Joy Johnson, Master Gardener 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. A fun summer project to do with children, or adults for that matter, is bleach dying. It’s cheap, fairly easy, fun and educational. I think in lists, so this is written as a list, it may seem long, but the actually process goes quite quickly. I just didn’t want to leave anything out, so you can have a successful product. 1. Wear really old clothes and shoes that you don’t care about (or go barefoot). 2. Warn anyone who has cuts or scrapes on their hands, as children often do, this will sting a bit, so prepare them for that. It does do a really good job of cleaning their hands! I would not wear gloves; you need to be able to grab and move wet delicate leaves and coins quickly and carefully. 3. Equipment needed: a. Two large buckets (5 gallon) b. Bleach c. Vinegar d. A medium sized spray bottle to put the bleach in. e. Lots of coins to use as weights. Rocks don’t work, I tried that. f. Water g. Kneeling pad if you’re doing this on the ground. h. A large place to work outside (I strongly suggest concrete). DO NOT work on the grass. The bleach will kill the grass. i. A dark colored t-shirt, one for each person, in their size. I chose black, but red, dark green and navy blue or brown work too. j. Cardboard or layers of newspaper to put inside the shirts so the bleach doesn’t soak through. Remember though, the shirt needs to lay flat. k. Extra-large weights for pressing down leaves that tend to curl. I used a piece of plywood and a wooden block. 4. Process: a. Half fill spray bottles with bleach. Rinse them off in case you dripped some on the outside. b. Fill one large bucket about 2/3 full with cold water. Add 2 cups of vinegar. This is your first rinse water. c. Fill the other bucket about 2/3 full with cold water. This is your second rinse water. d. Go snip or pick some leaves, ferns, flowers etc. Just remember that they need to lay flat. It’s helpful to choose leaves that have hair or fuzz on one side because they will stick to the shirt and you can gently press them flat with your hand. e. Put the cardboard inside the shirt. f. Lay the shirt flat on the concrete. g. Lay leaves and ferns on the shirt in whatever design you choose. h. Weigh them down with coins, being very careful to not let the coin go past the edge of the leaf. i. Use plywood or heavy blocks to press delicate curly or especially stubborn leaves that don’t want to lay flat. (Depending on what you have, it might take a while for them to relax and flatten out) this would be a good time to have a snack and work on identifying the various plants that were chosen. j. Remove any large weights carefully. k. Spritz shirt with bleach by standing above it and spraying straight down. DO NOT spray at an angle or you will get bleach under the edge of the leaves and your design won’t be crisp. l. DO NOT overuse the bleach. Wait about 5 seconds and the shirt should start to fade and show other colors. This part is quite fun, because you never know what colors are going to appear. m. Don’t wait too long. The bleach acts quickly and will eat holes in your shirt if you don’t get it in the vinegar water. n. Quickly and carefully remove the coins and leaves. DO NOT let them tip and drip bleach on your shirt. Remember they are covered with bleach. Any drips will show immediately. If you look carefully at the photos, I was moving too fast and dripped a couple of times when removing coins from the morning glory leaves. You can see that a couple of the leaves have drippy dots on them. o. Pick up the shirt by the shoulders and immediately immerse it into the vinegar water bucket. Swish it around, loosen it up, work the vinegar water all through it while counting to 60. p. Squeeze it gently over the bucket q. Immerse it in the plain water bucket and again swish it around and work the plain water all through it, this time count backwards from 60! r. Gently squeeze the shirt letting the water drain back into the bucket. s. Hang on the clothesline to dry t. Or you can wash all your shirts in your washing machine with a bit of detergent in cold water and tumble dry. Make sure no other clothes get washed with the shirts for this first wash. If you’re going to do this, have an empty, clean bucket or laundry basket by your work area to transport them to the machine. Otherwise, you’re going to have a trail of drips from outside all the way to your machine. u. Throw all your leaves and ferns in the trash. v. Rinse off all the coins in the plain water before returning them to your pocket! w. Throw cardboard away or recycle. x. Empty all of the spray bottles back into the large bleach container and thoroughly rinse them OR clearly label them “Bleach.” y. Empty the water buckets and return all other supplies. Photo credits: Joy Johnson (all)

  • Planting for a Fall Harvest | DCMGV

    < Back 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. Tori Clark, Master Gardener Late summer doesn’t always come to mind as planting time. Some crops like lettuce and spinach can be bitter and hard to grow in the heat of the summer. Late July and early August are great times to plant vegetables that grow quickly and mature better in cooler temperatures. After harvesting veggies like lettuces, radishes, peas and spinach you can easily grow more if you have the inclination for more fresh, garden-grown produce into fall. Before replanting an area remove any remaining plants and allow the area to rest for a couple of weeks. Roots and debris from some plants can cause seeds to not germinate so it is best to wait. Next, remove any weeds, loosen the soil, and add a balanced fertilizer or some compost to replace the nutrients the earlier crop used. Some plants like peas, salad greens, spinach, and herbs such as cilantro and basil grow in as few as 30-50 days and have plenty of time to grow before the first frost. Other vegetables like kale are frost tolerant and continue to grow well into October while being tender and sweet. Whatever you decide to try growing as a late crop be sure to check the seed packages for the number of days to maturity to ensure plants have enough time to grow. The University of Minnesota Extension also has a handy planting chart that shows the types of vegetables best suited to late planting. Photo Credit: University of Minnesota Extension (1)

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