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Fall herbicide care

Click below to listen to my Garden Bite radio show:  Fall herbicide care

This is the last week to put down a herbicide for those broadleaf weeds.  These plants are actively growing right now so it’s a good time to get at them.  The broadleaf weeds include dandelion, plantain lily, white clover and wild violets.  After treatment, these guys will begin to die off and by Spring, they should be completely gone.  I kind of like the wild violets and generally let them go, but oh, those irritating dandelions!

Plantain

Plantain

White Clover

White Clover

Remember to follow directions precisely.  Wait to treat Creeping Charlie till after the first hard frost.  Don’t get nervous if you see Creeping Charlie start to grow again in the Spring, it should, hopefully, die off. Although I won’t guarantee that!  It’s a tenacious weed.  Part of me thinks the flowers are very cute and the scalloped leaves add a fun contract to the blades of grass.  That’s the story I’m sticking to anyway!   And a reminder that this is NOT the time of year to worry about crabgrass or other annual weedy grasses as the first frost will generally take them out.

Creeping Charlie

Creeping Charlie

The other nice feature at this time of year is that our perennial lawn grasses ARE still growing which means they have an opportunity to fill in where you’ve killed the broadleaf weeds.  If you use a liquid herbicide you can add a little dishwashing liquid to the mixture.  This will help hold the liquid on the leaves longer providing better coverage.  In late October you’ll want to put down your most important lawn fertilizer application.

repaired lawn

repaired lawn

 

 

 

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Happy Autumnal Equinox

Click below to listen to my Garden Bite radio show:  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.  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.  I’m a bit dubious, perhaps I’ll try it but then again do I want to risk losing my plants?

Right now I’ve got LOTS more “Mighty Sweet” cherry tomatoes ready for roasting.

roasted tomatoes

‘Fresh Salsa’, a roma tomato, makes for greating roasting…  I tossed them with olive oil, sea salt and ‘spicy globe’ basil.  Add some jalapenos and fresh garlic and roast in a warm oven for a couple of hours.  Then I freeze them and use them in all kinds of soups, stews and pasta dishes.

There’s a yellow cherry tomato called ‘Sungold’ that is supposed to be spectacular.

 Tomato ‘Sun Gold’
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Roundup failing

Click below to listen to my Garden Bite radio show:  Roundup failing

Roundup has been around since  the 70’s. when a chemist for Monsanto discovered what glyphosate could do to weeds.  Glyphosate is a broad spectrum herbicide that was introduced under the trade name – Roundup.  It was quickly adopted by farmers, even more so when Monsanto introduced glyphosate-resistantcrops, enabling farmers to kill weeds without killing their crops.

"Roundup"

“Roundup”

n 2007 glyphosate was the most used herbicide in the United States agricultural sector, with 180 to 185 million pounds applied, and the second most used in the home and garden market where users applied 5 to 8 million pounds  and in addition to THAT  industry, commerce and government applied 13 to 15 million pounds .  that’s a lot of chemical use.  And now, weeds are becoming resistant.  In Minnesota, common ragweed, giant ragweed and common waterhemp are the top three weeds resistant to Roundup.

spraying roundup

Giant ragweed

Giant ragweed

Waterhemp in soybean field

Waterhemp in soybean field

Waterhemp

Waterhemp

As farmers discuss the use of other chemicals and more product used, I can’t help but think about the goats I told you about yesterday.  While impractical for corn and soybean fields, it does make those of us who prefer not to have so many chemicals in our food ponder our local CSA’s.  CSA means  community supported agriculture.  CSAs generally focus on the production of high quality foods for a local community, often using organic or biodynamic farming methods..That means fewer chemicals.  That’s not to say they DON’T use them but it may be in a more judicious manner.  I’m not against using chemicals but The problem with ONLY using them is not only a buildup of resistance but also it doesn’t lend itself to more crop rotation which ins better for our soil.

Something to think about!

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Goats for grazing

Click below to listen to my Garden Bite radio show:  Goats for grazing

Buckthorn and white sweet clover are two invasives no one with any acreage wants.  I recently read an article I found really interesting for those of us who prefer not to use chemicals.  Goats have been hired to eat their way through buckthorn and, later, white sweet clover, at the River Bend Nature Center in Faribault.

goats

An entrepreneurial couple started Goat Dispatch and call themselves a landscape cleaning service.  They even have their own Facebook page!  Goat Dispatch placed 10 goats in a fenced area at the Nature Center for controlled grazing.  Talk about eco-friendly and on many levels.  No chemicals but plenty of fertilizer.  Goats prefer broad leafed plants so they eat those before they take out any grasses.  They also like to chew on branches, that means they take out the bark which then kills the plant .  Through their grazing habits, goats reduce the production of seeds by consuming seeding stems. Therefore invasive plant species such as Buckthorn can’t sprout as the immature seeds consumed don’t survive passage through the digestive tract.

goat smiling

Now, is this practical for your front yard, well, not likely unless you don’t live in town.  However, it’s great to know that there are other methods, more natural methods that are being used.

Goat Dispatch Facebook page

 

 

 

 

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The Gopher state

Click below to listen to my Garden Bite radio show:  The Gopher state

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 just came across an article from the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum 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.

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Salt tolerant plants

Click below to listen to my Garden Bite radio show:  Salt tolerant plants

I’ll just go ahead and say it out loud!  The time is near when we’ll hear the scraping of blades on our streets.  The mighty MN Dot trucks (or our local streets and parks department trucks!) will be plowing and salting our streets once again.

Salt accumulates in the soil and affects the roots of plants impairing their ability to absorb water and nutrients.  That’s why you usually see only weeds at the end of your lawns.

Salt tolerant shrubs:

  • Rugosa Roses
  • Alpine Currant
  • Common Snowberry
Rugosa Rosebush (unknown variety)

Rugosa Rosebush (unknown variety)

Trees:

  • Honeylocust (one of my favorites)
  • Jack Pine
  • Poplars
  • Gingko
Honeylocust 'Sunburst'

Honeylocust ‘Sunburst’

Perennials including grasses:

  • Daylilies
  • Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’
  • Russian Sage
  • Columbine
  • Dianthus
  • Barren Strawberry (a good groundcover)
  • ‘Karl Forrester’ grass
  • Miscanthus grasses
  • Little Bluestem grass
Reed grass 'Karl Forester'

Reed grass ‘Karl Forester’

 

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Last chance to plant

Click below to listen to my 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!  Check out White Flower Farm, a link is listed in Favorite Links.

The above Wisteria is only rated to Zone 5, but if you live in southern Minnesota or have a microclimate this beauty might be worth trying.  The above photo is from Sooner Plant Farm.

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Mildew and other maladies

Click below to listen to my Garden Bite radio show:  Mildew and other maladies

This year we suffered through the wettest June on record, then had some very dry times.  That didn’t seem to stop the powdery mildew.  I noticed that my monarda really got it.  Now, I did give it plenty of space when planting but, still the wet weather didn’t help.  I’ve sprayed it with a fungicide and will cut it back and do a thorough fall clean up.

Monarda with powdery mildew

Monarda with powdery mildew

My squash also didn’t perform well.  I have 2 on the vines which, what’s left of them, look awful.  My first thought was too much water and fungal disease took over, then I noticed some weird looking flaking (almost looked like fungal growth) near the base of the vine, I cut it open and there it was the squash vine borer.   Once they’ve invaded, there’s really nothing you can do.  The time for me to have looked for them was late June, which was all wet.

squash blossom with vine borer

squash blossom with vine borer

squash hanging in nylon

squash hanging in nylon

squash vine borer

squash vine borer

The good news is I noticed plenty of soldier beetles.  They’re closely related to fireflies and are classified as beneficials due to their eating habits.  My little soldiers are yellow and black but they can be orange and black.  I’ll have pictures along with more information on my website gardenbite dot com.  Soldier beetles overwinter as pupae in the soil, and females mate but once in early summer. Eggs are laid in soil, where larvae feed for up to a year on the eggs and larvae of other insects.

Soldier beetle

Soldier beetle

 

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Fall picks for the landscape

Click below to listen to my Garden Bite radio show:  Fall picks for the landscape

As we work our way into Fall there are some plants that we all associate with that time of year.  Certainly annual mums, Maple trees and Burning Bush.  But there are some other plants to consider.  Smooth Blue Aster is a true native plant with sturdy growth habit of just 3 feet tall.  The foliage is a waxy blue-gray that stays neat and clean all season long.

Smooth Blue Aster

Smooth Blue Aster

Blueberry bushes are thought of mainly for their fabulous blueberries but as I’ve found out they offer stunning red Fall foliage.  At a previous home, I had some plants from a friend that I believe to be ‘Northsky’, a dwarf blueberry that grows to just 18 inches tall with a 2 to 3 foot spread.  The berries are a beautiful sky blue and are quite tasty and produce prolifically once established.  Remember that blueberries require an acidic soil, which means you’ll have to add peat moss to the planting hole and ammonium sulfate each Spring.

Blueberry 'North County'

Lowbush Blueberry fall color

Lowbush Blueberry fall color

rnamental grasses are spectacular now.  I love them all!  As I don’t have time LIST them all, let’s talk about heaven.  A University of Minnesota cultivar of little bluestem known as ‘Blue Heaven’. It grows to just over 3 feet tall with a stunning combination of blue leaves and burgundy flowers.

'Blue Heaven'

‘Blue Heaven’

Check out a Miscanthus grass called ‘Ferner Osten’ that grows to 5 feet with spectacular burgundy leaves, in August ‘ferner osten’ blooms are pink.  Check out local nurseries or go online to search out some of our native grasses for Minnesota.  I don’t limit myself.  I’ve planted many different varieties.  Just be wary of invasives.

Miscanthus - Ferner Osten

Miscanthus – Ferner Osten

 

Reed grass 'Karl Forester'

Reed grass ‘Karl Forester’

 

 

 

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Peppermint

Click below to listen to my Garden Bite radio show:  Peppermint

I bought a mint plant several years ago, pieces of it have been given to many a relative, friend and acquaintance.  It lives in various areas throughout a couple of places I’ve lived.  That peppermint plant became many plants and never failed to wake up my senses every time I mowed near it, over it or tried to destroy it by pulling it up by the roots.  Mints are aggressive to put it mildly.  I guess you could say they are as aggressive as their intoxicating scent is strong.  There are many types of mint but my Peppermint is one of the prettier plants with NO insect issues (what insect would DARE chew on those leaves!) and no diseases.

Peppermint

Peppermint

It flowers July through September.  This plant thrives in sun and partial sun, in nearly any type of soil although it likes a nice supply of water!  This plant WILL take over where it’s planted.  If you want it in an established garden then you need to sink a pot into the ground and plant in that.  I used it as a ground cover and let it go wild.  Once placed it’s very difficult to get rid of too!

clipping peppermint

clipping peppermint

Peppermint

Peppermint

A favorite use for peppermint is as a flavoring for tabouli (recipe taken from the Vegetarian Times Cookbook, Macmillan General Reference, 1984):

3/4 Cup Boiling water
1/2 Cup Cracked wheat or bulgar
1/2 Cup Minced parsley
1/4 Cup Minced mint leaves
1/2 Cup Green onion, finely chopped
1 Tomato, diced
3 Tbs Oil
1-2 Tbs Lemon juice
1 tsp Sea salt
Pepper and allspice to taste

Pour boiling water over wheat. Let stand 20 minutes. Add parsley, mint, onion, and diced tomato. Combine other ingredients and add to mixture, tossing to mix. Serve on lettuce.

Serves 4.

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