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Transplanting trees

Click below to listen to my 2 min. Garden Bite radio show:  Transplanting trees

This is the 2nd best time of year to transplant trees.  Once the leaves start to drop, you can safely move it.  Keep in mind, if your tree is larger than 2 inches in diameter, you may want to get a professional to do it.

For you do-it-yourselfers, first thing to do is loosely tie the lower branches to prevent damage and keep them out of your way as you dig a trench around the tree slightly larger than the rootball you want.  Depending on the diameter of your tree, you’ll dig a different size rootball.

Tree transplanting guide

Tree transplanting guide

Using a sharp spade, undercut the rootball.  Use hand pruners and loppers for large or tough roots.  Slide a piece of burlap, canvas or tarp under the rootball and with the help of some good friends with strong backs, lift your tree out of the hole and slide it to your other prepared site.

undercutting a rootball

undercutting a rootball

Personally I use tarps, they slide better, I also use them when digging a hole to pile the dirt on, keeps the lawn cleaner and it’s easier to move around the yard.  Make sure the hole your transplanting your tree to is about twice as wide but only as deep as the rootball.

tree transplanting

Set your tree in its spot, cut away or slide the trap out, then backfill with the soil, water well and mulch.  Add about 2 inches of wood chips or any organic matter.  Keep it watered well till the ground has frozen then add more mulch to a depth of 6 inches.

It’s a good time to plant trees and shrubs.  Most nurseries have great sales going on right now but that’s not the only reason to plant trees and shrubs.  The soil is still warm but the air has cooled off making transplanting of larger perennials a lot easier on them.

Maple 'Autumn Blaze'

I took out a Bur Oak that was planted too close to my home and replaced it with a crabapple.

Crabapple 'Royal Raindrops'

‘Royal Raindrops’ May 2017

One of those tips is to be fairly brutal in pruning those roots.  Leif uses a utility knife and slides it down the sides of the root ball about every inch or two making sure there are no roots winding around the root ball.  Another point is that you can flair roots out as well.  If a tree or shrub starts out with circling or girdling roots, you might as well kiss it goodbye now.

To plant properly, take a look at this video with tree expert, Leif Knecht from Knecht’s Nursery and Landscaping.  This was from my show Dig In Minnesota – 2013


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Happy Autumnal Equinox

Click below to listen to my 2 min. Garden Bite radio show:  Happy Autumnal Equinox

I just love this time of year.  Leaving the windows cracked open at night with that cool air making good sleeping weather, that feeling of nesting as we bring our garden harvests in and can, dry or freeze them for winter.

Ready to roast ‘Chef’s Orange’ with salt, olive oil, garlic and dried Italian oregano from my garden


Where did the one tomato go?

On a cracker, of course!

'Yellow Pear' tomato in dehydrator

‘Yellow Pear’ tomato in dehydrator


In the dehydrator

dehydrated tomatoes

Speaking of freezing, as we see those temps do start to dip,  remember your tomatoes and throw a sheet over them just to be safe.  I have a friend who said you can spray them with water and they’ll be fine.  I did a little research on that and while it MIGHT work, I wouldn’t count on it.

A friend of mine lost his plums to the raccoons when he sent “Ole” to hunting camp.  So,  his wife bought some and made him this…

RECIPE for Plum Kuchen



Plum kuchen

Oh, and the apples are coming in.  ‘Honeycrisp’ are my favorite.  Take a drive and check out your local orchards.  Many offer a whole lot more than just bags of apples.  Oh, the pies, the tortes, the carmel apples, the petting zoos!

As you celebrate the autumnal equinox and begin your nesting routine, reflect on the season and think about the things that worked and those that didn’t so that you can plan for next year.  Then kick back and enjoy the change of seasons yet again!  It sounds like Winter might be more challenging this year than the last couple.  Of course, that could also mean lots more fun with outdoor sports!  What we DO want is snow before any real cold temperatures.  That blanket of white is just what our plants need to keep soil from heaving and lifting new plants right out of the ground.

my maple


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Downed trees – was it wind? Or did it start long ago?

Click below to listen to my 2 min. Garden Bite radio show:  Downed trees – was it wind?  Or did it start long ago?

We’ve been lucky in the upper midwest, while other parts of the country have suffered unimaginable destruction due to storms, we’ve seen (mostly) downed trees.  But perhaps the wind didn’t seem like it should be so strong as to knock that 20 year old maple tree down.

The problem could really have started a long time ago.  Indeed, in the tree’s infancy.  When plants, in particular trees and shrubs, are grown in containers, there’s a tendency for their roots to circle inside the container.  The longer they’re in it, the worse the problem is.  However, that’s NOT the real issue.  Check out this blog from  Deeproot

That happens at planting time.  As I’ve been advocating for years, you MUST root prune any tree or shrub without mercy when you plant them.   To plant properly, take a look at this video with tree expert, Leif Knecht from Knecht’s Nursery and Landscaping.  This was from my show Dig In Minnesota – 2013

When you plant a tree or shrub without loosening those roots and cutting out those that are circled around the root ball, you are killing your plant slowly.

And then comes mulch.  A contractor hires someone to plant trees in a housing development or at a business, they apply mulch like a volcano.  This is an absolute no-no and makes a Master Gardener want to pull over and wrench that mulch away from the trunk.  Always think DONUT when mulching and spread it out where you want the roots to grow.

As my good friend, Arborist Faith Appelquist explains, piling mulch high against the trunk creates the ideal conditions for growing roots where they don’t belong; against the trunk. Roots follow the path of least resistance, encircling the trunk, never changing direction into the soil.

Major no-no!


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Hardy hibiscus aka Rose of Sharon

Click below to listen to my 2 min. Garden Bite radio show:  Hardy hibiscus aka Rose of Sharon

Last Fall I bought, on impulse, a gorgeous hardy hibiscus labeled ‘Luna White’.  It was to grow 3 feet tall.  Turns out it’s actually ‘Strawberry Cheesecake’ and grows to about 5 feet tall!  That’s okay, it’s gorgeous.  So why do you care?  Well, first it’s interesting that plants can be mislabeled.  It happens.  In fact, it’s kind of fun trying to figure out what it is you actually have!

Hibiscus ‘Strawberry cheesecake’

The other reason is that hardy hibiscus, more commonly known as Rose of Sharon, can be planted now.  As a hardy shrub, planting now, with care, will give it a great headstart next Spring!

As I mentioned on my show, during a recent motorcycle trip in Wisconsin, I came across a beautiful red Hibiscus/Rose of Sharon/Rose mallow…  I think I’ve narrowed it down to this ‘Cranberry Crush’.  This beauty grows to about 4 feet tall and the 7 to 8 inch wide red blooms.

Hibiscus ‘Cranberry crush’

Care notes:

Perennial Hibiscus should NOT be cut back in the Fall.  Rather, cut it back to 4-6″ from the ground in the spring.  Since this plant doesn’t leaf out until late, any time in spring before the new growth appears is fine. The stems are quite woody, so a saw or strong pair of loppers is necessary to cut through the thick stems.

If you want to get really bushy and full Hibiscus plants, when the shoots start to come out of the ground and are about 6-10 inches tall, pinch them in half.  The pinch should be made just above a set of leaves, this will improve branching.  Improved branching will yield more flowers.

If you are really dedicated, you can pinch them back 2 or 3 times before the 4th of July.  Each time you pinch, take no more than half of the stem and pinch just above a set of leaves.




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Planting garlic

Click below to listen to my 2 min. Garden Bite radio show:  Planting garlic

If you love garlic so much that you could ward off vampires just from the scent wafting off your body, then you might consider planting it!   I could qualify as I use a LOT for my roasted tomatoes.  I just love the smell.  Although I have been told I might also ward off a loved one!  For zone 4 folks, the beginning of October is a good time.  If you live in Zone 3 then a couple of weeks earlier is sufficient.

Garlic 'Early Italian' softneck

Garlic ‘Early Italian’ softneck

There are a LOT of varieties of garlic but the best type is called a ‘Hardneck’ variety.  They tolerate our climate conditions much better than the softneck type.

Garlic - rocambole hardneck

Garlic – rocambole hardneck

Garlic grows best in sandy loam soil due to it’s texture and draining capabilities.  Make sure you add lots of organic matter to your planting area.  Your soil should be loose and fluffy for optimum growing.  A raised bed is a great option.  Plant cloves pointy side up about 6 inches apart in rows about 24 inches apart.  Three to 5 weeks after planting, mulch your garlic bed with a 3 to 4 inch layer of straw to keep temperatures more moderate.

garlic planting

garlic planting

The cold isn’t the problem its the ground-heaving that can push the bulb out of the ground that’s the problem.  You can remove the mulch in April.  Watering is most critical from mid May through June as garlic has a shallow root system.  For hardneck varieties, it’s recommended that you remove what’s called the scape once it starts to curl.   Your garlic clove yield is reduced by 20 to 30 percent if you leave the scape on.   In some countries it’s considered a delicacy and used in stir fries, salads and steamed veggies.  Garlic scape Recipes

Garlic scape

Garlic scape

PS Garlic is technically a vegetable!  Additionally, when chopping your garlic, the more you slice, pound, grate or chop your garlic, the more of a compound, called allicin, is released. Therefore, if you grate your garlic using the small holes on a box grater, or purée it in a food processor, your garlic will be much more pungent than if it were sliced. This is useful to keep in mind when you’re thinking of saving time by tossing those garlic cloves into the Cuisinart.  A recipe for Roasted Garlic

Garlic parts!

Garlic parts!


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Planting asparagus

Click below to listen to my 2 min. Garden Bite radio show:  Planting asparagus

Gardeners have been growing asparagus (Asparagus officinalis) for more than 2,000 years, so apparently I’m in the minority.  A well-maintained asparagus bed will start bearing one year after planting and will stay productive for 10 to 15 years.

Asparagus - 'Jersey Giant' from Burpee

While many sites I visited recommended optimal planting in the Spring, Fall is just fine as temperatures cool off.  In fact you can purchase 2 year crowns from some nurseries that would be ready to harvest next season.

Asparagus - Mary Washington

Asparagus furrow

As the asparagus begins to grow, gradually fill in the furrow with soil. (Be careful not to cover any of the asparagus foliage.) The furrows should be filled to ground level by the end of the first growing season. Add organic fertilizer (about 1/4 cup per plant of granular) spreading the fertilizer on each side of the asparagus and cultivate it lightly into the soil. Keep your new plants well watered.  Allow year 1 plants to grow into brush which looks like dill or a ferny bush. Late in the fall of the first growing season, after the brush has turned completely brown, remove the brush (old stalks) and any weeds.


To learn more check out The Tasteful Garden and Growing Asparagus in Minnesota home gardens [University of Minnesota] – this works anywhere in the upper Midwest!

Make sure you know whether you’re planting 1st or 2nd year plants.  They can also be grown from seed indoors if you’re so inclined.

Check out my Facebook page “Garden Bite with Teri Knight” for lots more pictures of gardens and to offer suggestions, comments and questions!

A very simple recipe is to sauté the asparagus with some quality olive oil and onion.  I like the red onion and use Tuscan Herb olive oil but there are so many flavors in specialty shops!


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Last chance to plant

Click below to listen to my 2 min. Garden Bite radio show:  Last chance to plant

As the summer fades into fall, it’s our last hoorah for planting.  You still have time to get trees, shrubs and perennials in the ground, taking advantage of the sales.  However, be sure to add in organic matter into your planting hole and water well right up until the ground has frozen.  That’s usually in December.

Never plant too deep.  Place your plant in it’s new home at the same depth in was in it’s container.  You can add a 2 inch layer of mulch, but no more than that for now.

AFTER the ground has frozen you can add more mulch to keep from heaving.

Here are a couple of gorgeous choice plants to consider!

The above is a reblooming iris called Presby’s Crown Jewel!  Check out White Flower Farm, for more info.

The above Wisteria is only rated to Zone 5, but the way the seasons are going, I think, with mulch AFTER the ground has frozen, it’s a lot more doable in zone 4 that it used to be.  The above photo is from Sooner Plant Farm.

Shredded leaves work well for mulch as does grass clippings, pine needles, wood chips and shredded newspaper. If you have a paper shredder, you can use that as well. Be sure to wet down the shredded paper and put down some heavier material to hold down the paper.

Enjoy every moment you have outside!  The warm sun, the crisp night air, the incredible colors of Fall and the sounds of nature! 


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Gophers vs Badgers

Click below to listen to my 2 min. Garden Bite radio show:  Gophers vs Badgers

You know, I hadn’t really that too much about Minnesota being called the Gopher State.  I didn’t attend the University of Minnesota, so have no real desire to wear a gopher t-shirt; and as a gardener, well, I’ve generally been more inclined to do battle with the little rodents.  However, I came across an article called “The Aerator of the Plains”. (scroll to page 7 for the article)

All hail (or Oh Hell)  the Pocket Gopher

Pocket gopher

gopher mounds

From the above photo you can see how they aerate the soil – and damage your lawn!  ugh.

Gopher in soil

A study in Yellowstone National Park estimated that one little pocket gopher may excavate as much as five tons of soil each year.  Whoa, okay, I’m impressed with their work ethic.  Their underground tunnels can run up to 500 feet in length.  The soil that is pushed above ground increases plant regeneration and distribution and allows rainfall and snowmelt to more efficiently permeate the soil.  AND their tunnels are some to snakes, mice and ground squirrels.  Again, not my favorite critters but they DO have a purpose.

Shoshone Indians believed gophers were medicine animals that could cause or cure sickness.

Ahhh, but what about the BADGER State???

Badgers are tough, don’t back down and can dig a mighty tunnel, some down more than 12 feet and 50 feet long.  While they’re native to Wisconsin, the DNR, says the Badger State nickname comes from the lead miners who holed up for the winter in underground shelters in the southwestern part of the state in the 1800’s.  The official nickname for Wisconsin as The Badger State wasn’t adopted until 1957.

sweet looking badger


Badger – not so sweet

the claws….

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Soil potpourri – Organic matters

Click below to listen to my 2 min. Garden Bite radio show:  Soil potpourri – organic matters

There’s still harvesting to do, perennial, tree, shrub and bulb planting; but this is also a good time to start preparing a new garden bed.  Maybe you want to expand your vegetable garden or start a new perennial bed, add some shrubs.   Starting a new garden bed requires some prep work.  You need to kill the existing grass and weeds.  Chemicals are an option but for those of us who would rather not use them, there’s a cheap, organic way to do it but it takes time!

You can lay old carpet, tarps, cardboard, thick newspaper down on your garden bed and let nature do it’s thing.  It doesn’t look pretty but works well.  The coverings hide the sun, squelch the oxygen and don’t allow for much water to pass through, thus killing any vegetation underneath.  The challenge is to keep covering in place.   Do this now and by Spring, you’ll have a good start.

using cardboard to kill weeds

using cardboard to kill weeds

Whatever your plan is, make sure you mix in plenty of organic matter.   Fallen leaves are usually abundant and certainly cheap.  Run your lawn mower over the pile of leaves a couple of times to chop them up before mixing them in.  If you have pine trees, scoop up those dried needles and gently stir those in.

We used to tell you to till organic matter into the first 6 to 8 inches of soil.  Now, I would suggest using a garden fork or just lay the “ingredients” right on top of your existing bed!

If you’ve been composting, good for you!  Check to see how decomposed your material is, if it looks like dirt then you’ve got black gold.  If there are still some small chunks in it, that’s okay it will break down further over the fall and winter months.  But leave the big stuff to decompose longer.   Fold in your grass clippings and if you’re really into it, buy some manure.  Your local nurseries will have bags of composted poo that’s safe to use.  Never use fresh manure in your home gardens, it’s just not worth the risk.  Adding organic materials will add some minor nutrients but, more importantly, will fluff up your soil, improving the texture and drainage capabilities.

long view of hosta, compost, iris 5-26-15

compost with swiss chard

compost with swiss chard

This swiss chard was not finished growing yet!  Sprung back to life in the compost bin.

Leaf mold (it’s just decomposed leaves), grass clippings, kitchen compost and composted manure do wonders by adding micronutrients but, more importantly, fluffing up the soil.  There’s always Creekside Soils!  They have several products to consider.  Click on their link on the right hand side of this page.


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Lawn renovation

Click below to listen to my 2 min. Garden Bite radio show:  Lawn renovation

The time is at hand for all bad lawns to get some rejuvenation. Our lawns are in prime growth period right now, the cooler temps and, usually, more frequent rainfall create this growth spurt.

It’s the second best time to dethatch and aerate your lawn. Thatch is that brownish looking layer of dead tissue between the green grass and the soil. If left alone, thatch can eventually kill your lawn. Renting a mechanical dethatcher is the best and easiest way to rid your lawn of thatch.



Aerating your lawn allows rain, oxygen and nutrients to penetrate the soil. Again, renting a core or plug aerator will give you the best results.

core aerator soil chunks

The ground is still warm so grass seed will germinate well at this time of year plus there’s no competition with annual weed seeds.

If you’re like me, there are plenty of areas that could use it. The most important thing for you to remember is to make sure there is seed to soil contact.   Lawn Renovation

Starting this week, we’ll also be in the best position to start controlling those perennial broadleaf weeds such as dandelions, white clover, creeping Charlie and broadleaf plantain. Like our grass plants, these weedy plants are also actively growing and will actively take up and transport the weed killer throughout the plant.

Fall herbicide for lawns [Iowa State University]

Fall Herbicide – postemergent [Univerity of MN]

For example, dandelions are best treated from about mid-September to early October in cooler zones. Plants will be killed this Fall but the real difference will be observed next spring when there are few to no dandelions in what may have been a previously heavily infested area.

Broadleaf herbicides applied in Fall will be absorbed by the broadleaf weed’s foliage and transported to the roots along with the carbohydrates, resulting in the destruction of the broadleaf weeds. Spring applications are generally less effective than fall applications.  REMEMBER, apply chemicals with caution.  It’s not my favorite thing to do but seems to be a perennial battle with someone wanting a pristine lawn and the other wanting to do it organically!!  😉  Here are some non-chemical methods:

Eartheasy lawn care

Organic weed control from The Spruce

By the way, this is NOT the time to use a pre-emergent for crabgrass, leave that for Spring. Continue to mow your lawn as needed, keeping the height at about 2 ½ to 3 inches long.

By late October, you can cut your lawn back to about 2 to 2 ½ inches long.


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