Posts tagged tips

Getting ready for Japanese beetles

   I’ve been keeping a careful watch for Japanese beetles in my garden and enjoying my roses before the pesky beetle begins its annual invasion. The city of Cedar Rapids sent out the following today, (June 8, 2009) which made me wonder if Japanese beetles had already emerged. City arborist Daniel Gibbons, who wrote the article, assured me that he hadn’t seen any. Yet.

Japanese beetles

Japanese beetles

But, they will arrive, worse in some areas than others. If you haven’t seen this foreign invader yet, be grateful. Whether or not you have, read the following from Daniel Gibbons to learn more:

Japanese beetle has become one of the most destructive and frustrating pests for gardeners, farmers, and green industry professionals.  A transplant from Japan during the early 1900’s, Japanese beetle (Popillia japonica Newman) populations have enjoyed explosive growth across the East and Midwest.  Damage inflicted by various stages in the beetle’s life cycle can be severe to turf grasses, agricultural crops, and over 300 ornamental trees and landscape plants.  The USDA estimated in 2007 that control measures alone cost over $460 million.

Success of the non-native Japanese beetle can be primarily attributed to a lack of natural predators and a supportive climate and food source.  Although eradication is not feasible, successful management leading to reduced populations will minimize pest damage.  Those who succeed in managing Japanese beetle do so by gaining local cooperation, using an integrated approach to natural and chemical control, and by shrewdly selecting plant material when designing a garden or landscape.

Local cooperation is critical because of Japanese beetle mobility.  Despite the best efforts of one property owner, beetles from neighboring yards are usually a significant problem.  Success will increase if adjoining neighborhoods and property owners cooperate with sound management techniques.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is simply the use of multiple control techniques to reduce the comprehensive use of pesticides.  When properly used, IPM creates a healthy biotic environment in which populations of undesirable pests are reduced over time by the introduction of predatory elements, resistant plants, and targeted use of pesticides when necessary. 

Natural predators of Japanese beetle include microscopic nematodes (Heterorhabditis bacteriophora), naturally occurring soil bacteria (Bacillus thuringiensis), and the spores of Bacillus popillae (referred to as “Milky Spore”).  The success of these and other products can be effective, but depends on adherence to application and storage directions, climatic and soil conditions, and the presence of other pesticides or chemicals which may be harmful to these living organisms.  Products such as Milky Spore will become more effective over the span of several years when the bacterium has had time to establish.

Application of pesticides may be used to reduce heavy infestations, but should be performed by competent and trained applicators.  Some chemicals may only be used by licensed pesticide applicators.  Considerations in choosing insecticides to control Japanese beetle will include application method, seasonal timing, location, type of plant material being protected, and the presence of sensitive environment features such as waterways.  Assistance in choosing the latest formulation of pesticide for a particular site may be obtained from local garden shops or government extension agencies.

Finally, avoiding plants and trees that are susceptible to Japanese beetle is the best method to reduce the pest’s impact on a particular landscape or garden.  Keeping landscape plants healthy will also increase resistance.  The following trees are specifically targeted by Japanese beetle: Linden, Birch, Norway and Japanese maple, pin oak, beech and horse-chestnut.  Trees that show resistance to the beetle include hickory, red maple, tulip poplar, dogwood, northern red oak, pine, spruce, arborvitae and hemlock.  Resistant herbaceous plant groups include: Columbine, ageratum, coreopsis, coral-bells, showy sedum, hosta, and forget-me-not.  Herbaceous plants to avoid in areas where beetle populations are high include: rose, hibiscus, evening primrose, clematis, sunflower, peony, zinnia, asparagus and morning-glory.

Despite recent challenges with Japanese beetle, thoughtful management can reduce the impact to community gardens and landscapes.  Education, cooperation and savvy IPM practices will also reduce the impact on our pocketbooks, while promoting a healthy and vibrant growing season.

More information on Japanese beetle may be obtained through the following online sources: “Managing the Japanese Beetle: A Homeowner’s Handbook”    http://www.aphis.usda.gov/publications/plant_health/content/printable_version/JB3-07.indd.pdf

Iowa State University – Iowa Insect Information Notes http://www.ipm.iastate.edu/ipm/iiin/node/125

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Emerald Ash Borer larva found in Iowa; UPDATE: ash tree protection

An infestation has not been confirmed, but officials are scouting northeast Iowa after an Emerald Ash Borer larva was found.  Iowa State University extension sent out tips today (June 5, 2009) on protecting your ash trees. See those tips at the end of the following info that was released Thursday (June 4, 2009) from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship:

ELKADER – Efforts to scout portions of northeast Iowa for the presence of emerald ash borer (EAB) have intensified following the submission of an EAB larva to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.  The larva was reportedly from Clayton County, however no additional EAB larvae have been found and no signs of infestation have been spotted in the immediate area. As a result, an EAB infestation cannot yet be confirmed.

 The EAB larva was reportedly found in a small sentinel tree at the Osborne Welcome and Nature Center in Clayton County.  The tree was established by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources with funding from the U.S. Forest Service.

 Officials from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, DNR and Iowa State University Extension have been conducting extensive scouting of the tree and around the Osborne Center this week.

 The Osborne Center is located approximately five miles south of Elkader and approximately 60 miles southwest of where an EAB infestation was confirmed in Wisconsin in early April of this year.

 Additional experts are returning to the area in the upcoming weeks to place traps in the immediate and surrounding area, during the next one-two weeks, to determine if an EAB infestation is present in the area.

 Officials from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and Iowa State University Extension will also be hosting two public meetings on Tuesday, June 16th at the Osborne Center about this discover.  The officials will meet with timber industry representatives 1:00 p.m. and then host a public meeting for residents that evening at 6:30 p.m.

 EAB detection in Iowa was the result of collaborative team members looking for this pest since 2003. From visual surveys, to sentinel trees, to nursery stock inspection, to sawmill/wood processing site visits, and hundreds of educational venues [meetings, phone calls, written correspondence, media interviews, and 1-on-1 conversations], the Iowa EAB team has been working to spread the word about this invasive insect and to protect the state.

 The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) is native to the Orient, and was introduced in the United States near Detroit, Mich. in the 1990s.  EAB kills all ash species by larval burrowing under the bark and eating the actively growing layers of the trees.

Emerald Ash Borer

Emerald Ash Borer

 Iowa State University Extension will issue a separate news release providing EAB management recommendations.

 The metallic-green adult beetles are a half inch long, and are active from May to August.  Signs of EAB infestation include one-eighth inch, D-shaped exit holes in ash tree bark and serpentine tunnels packed with sawdust under the bark.  Tree symptoms of an infestation include crown thinning and dieback when first noticed, epicormic sprouting as insect damage progresses, and woodpecker feeding.

 “We started our scouting efforts in the park where the larva was reportedly found and are spreading outwards. We have a five-mile radius grid that is going to be thoroughly investigated for any additional signs of EAB,” said Robin Pruisner, State Entomologist with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

 If an infestation is ultimately confirmed in Iowa, officials have a plan is in place to help stop the spread of EAB that would include a quarantine prohibiting the movement of hardwood firewood, ash nursery stock, ash timber or any other article that could spread EAB from infested areas.

 Clayton County is one of the top producers of forest products in Iowa.  The county has an estimated 66 million woodland trees and an estimated 6.6 million ash trees.

 EAB has been killing trees of various sizes in neighborhoods and woodlands throughout the Midwest. Ash is one of the most abundant native tree species in North America, and has been heavily planted as a landscape tree in yards and other urban areas. According to the Iowa DNR, Iowa has an estimated 58 million rural ash trees and approximately 30 million more ash trees in urban areas.

 The Iowa Emerald Ash Borer Team includes officials from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa State University Extension, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the USDA Forest Service.

 The movement of firewood throughout Iowa and to other states poses the greatest threat to quickly spread EAB.  Areas currently infested are under federal and state quarantines, but unknowing campers or others who transport firewood can spark an outbreak.  As a result, officials are asking Iowans to not move firewood and instead buy wood where they are staying and burn it completely.

 To learn more about EAB please visit www.IowaTreePests.com or for additional resources Iowans can visit http://www.iowadnr.gov/forestry/eab/index.html

Ash leaf damage/ Deb McCullough, Michigan State University

Ash leaf damage/ Deb McCullough, Michigan State University

From ISU Extension:

AMES, Iowa — The presence and new discovery of emerald ash borer (EAB) in states adjacent to Iowa has increased interest in this exotic, invasive insect and what Iowans can do to protect ash trees (Fraxinus species) on their property.

ISU Extension is collaborating with Iowa state regulatory agencies and local officials to prevent introduction of EAB into Iowa and limit its spread. For a full list of EAB detection and education activities, please visit our website at: www.extension.iastate.edu/pme/EmeraldAshBorer.html

Treatment options to protect ash trees from this destructive pest are available but careful and thoughtful analysis is needed to circumvent spread of false information and excessive and needless use of insecticides. Forest, horticulture, and insect specialists with Iowa State University Extension have developed a guide that outlines your management options against EAB.

The first step for many is confirming that you do have an ash tree. Only ash trees are susceptible to EAB attack, but all species and cultivars of ash trees are at risk.

Second, is the ash tree growing vigorously and in apparent good health? Trees must be healthy and growing for treatments to be effective. Ash trees with mechanical injuries, loose bark, thin canopies, and those growing on poor sites (limited rooting area, compacted soil or other stresses) are not worth treating. If your ash tree looks healthy and is important to your landscape, then preventive treatment options may be considered.

Insecticide control measures against EAB should not be used unless you live within 15 miles of the confirmed EAB infestation. Treatment outside this risk zone is not advised. Protecting ash trees with insecticides is a long-term commitment. Most treatments will need to be reapplied annually or twice per year for an indefinite number of years to protect the tree. With that in mind, most homeowners would be ahead to remove and replace susceptible trees.

Treatment timing is critical and must be matched to insect life cycle. After mid-June treatment is not recommended because it takes time for the systemic insecticide to be distributed within the tree (from 2 – 8 weeks depending on the application method).

Ash tree damage from Emerald Ash Borer/ Mark Shour, ISU Extension

Ash tree damage from Emerald Ash Borer/ Mark Shour, ISU Extension

The recommended time of application is early to mid April each year. If the tree is large (more than 16” diameter), a treatment in early fall is also suggested. So the next window for treatment for trees in Iowa would be mid to late September 2009.

A new Iowa State University Extension publication, PM 2084, Emerald Ash Borer Management Options,  will be available on June 12. The North Central Region Integrated Pest Management Center’s Insecticide Options for Protecting Ash Trees from EAB was issued in May 2009. Both can be found at www.extension.iastate.edu/pme/EmeraldAshBorer.html

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Mixing pets and plants

The following is by Linn County Master Gardener, Claire Smith:

    So the kids talked you into getting a dog.  But you want to keep your lawn attractive.  With planning, it is possible to mix pets and plants. Perhaps container gardening is the answer for your flowers.

            If a kennel and run is not in your vision, design a cobblestone or decorative pebble area in an interesting shape with some large rocks then train your dog to use only that area. Good drainage is a necessity.  Diluting urine will help eliminate yellow spots in the lawn.  Wherever you choose to let the dog urinate, hose that area thoroughly and routinely.  Raised beds are functional, easy to work in, and will control urination on the gardens. 

            Select sturdy plants.  Coneflowers and Liatris are good possibilities.  One poke from a thorny plant will deter your pet.  Barberry Bushes have showy purple, gold or variegated foliage and outstanding fall color.  Viburnum flowers in spring and exhibits flashy fall color.  Flowering trees will provide above ground level color.  If you’re absolutely in love with a fragile looking delicate plant, put it in a hanging basket or an elevated planter.  If you plan to use evergreen shrubs, note that squirrels, chipmunks, and other small critters may move in around them creating potential for altercations and injury between the wildlife and your pet.

            Puppies are inquisitive, and plants like Hollyberry, English Ivy, and Yews are poisonous.  If you question a plant’s toxicity, inquire at your local extension office, Master Gardener Hort. Line (319-447-0647), or your veterinarian before purchasing it. 

            Whether you’re gardening for pets, wildlife or the environment, it’s a good idea to limit the use of chemicals.  A pesticide with a taste attractive to insects may also be attractive to your pet.  Read the label directions thoroughly: look for pet safe. 

            The safest mulch for your pet is leaves and cut grasses.  Mow, bag, and use generously.  Even if Rover investigates what’s under the mulch, he can’t hurt himself by ingesting a chemical.  Plus, you’re not feeding the landfill.

            Just as kids need discipline, pets can learn respect for plants and lawns, too.  Spend some time and effort learning the ropes together.  With effort, and a good pooper-scooper, it is possible for flora and fauna to coexist.

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Getting back to Earth

To some of us who grew up gardening, the process comes naturally. How can you not know how deep to plant a radish seed or realize you have to wait until the danger of frost has passed to plant your tomatoes? Actually, I’ve heard from people who grew up gardening and despise it now. That includes a couple editors here at The Gazette, who prefer to stay as far away as possible from watering cans, trowels, or anything else that reminds them of the back-breaking labor of their youth. 

   But, as mentioned in  today’s (4/19/09) Gazette article: http://www.gazetteonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090419/NEWS/704199992/1002/NEWS

more and more people are moving toward gardening, as a way to help the Earth and save money on food budgets in these tough economic times. To that end, Iowa State University Extension has come up with a great beginner’s guide to home gardening, especially tailored for Iowa.

 

Even experienced gardeners will find helpful hints on beets, potatoes, squash and numerous other veggies, along with everyone’s favorite: weed control.

 

You can find the guide here: http://www.ipm.iastate.edu/ipm/hortnews/2009/4-8/introduction.html

 

 

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Spring pruning tips

Richard Jauron, extension horticulturist at Iowa State University, offers the following on spring pruning of berries and other small fruits:

Small fruits that are commonly grown in home gardens include raspberries, grapes, gooseberries, currants and blueberries. For maximum production, small fruit crops need to be pruned in late winter/early spring (March/early April). Proper pruning procedures for raspberries, grapes, gooseberries, currants and blueberries are outlined below.

Raspberries
The pruning procedures for raspberries are based on the growth and fruiting characteristics of the plants.

Summer-Bearing Red Raspberries
Remove all weak, diseased and damaged canes at ground level in March or early April. Leave the most vigorous canes, those approximately 1/4 inch in diameter when measured 30 inches from the ground. After thinning, remaining canes should be spaced about 6 inches apart.

Also, prune out the tips of the canes that have died due to winter injury. Cut back to live tissue. If the canes sustained little winter dieback, remove the top 1/4 of the canes. Cane-tip removal or “heading-back” prevents the canes from becoming top heavy and bending over under the weight of the crop.

Red raspberries sucker profusely from their roots. Plants should be maintained in a one- to two-foot-wide hedgerow using a rototiller or spade. Remove or destroy those shoots that emerge outside the one- to two-foot-wide hedgerow.

Fall-Bearing Red Raspberries (Two Crop System)
Follow the same pruning procedures as described for the summer-bearing red raspberries. This pruning option provides both a summer and fall crop.

Fall-Bearing Red Raspberries (One Crop System)
Prune all canes back to ground level in March or early April. While the plants won’t produce a summer crop, the late summer/early fall crop should mature one to two weeks earlier. Also, total crop yield is typically larger using the one-crop system versus the two-crop system.

Maintain the plants in a one- to two-foot-wide hedgerow.

Black and Purple Raspberries
Remove the small, weak canes, leaving only four or five of the largest, most vigorous canes per clump or plant. Cut back the lateral (side) branches to 12 inches in length for black raspberries and 18 inches for purple raspberries.

Grapes
Grapevines produce fruit clusters on the previous season’s growth. Before pruning, a grapevine may have 200 to 300 buds capable of producing fruit. If the vine is not pruned, the number of grape clusters would be excessive and the grapevine would be unable to ripen the large crop or produce adequate vegetative growth.

To maximize crop yields, grapevines are trained to a specific system. The most common training system used by home gardeners is the four-cane Kniffin system. The four-cane Kniffin system is popular because of its simplicity. In the four-cane Kniffin system, the canes of the grapevine grow on two wires, one located three feet above the ground and the second six feet high.

If using the four-cane Kniffin system, select four canes on the upper wire, two going in each direction. Also, select four canes on the lower wire. To aid identification, some gardeners tie brightly colored ribbons or strips of cloth on those canes they wish to retain. All remaining one-year-old canes should be completely removed.

Going back to the upper wire, select two of the remaining four canes (one going in each direction). Prune these canes back to one or two buds. These short one or two bud canes are referred to as renewal spurs. The renewal spurs provide the shoots or canes that will produce next year’s crop. Prune the remaining two canes on the upper wire back to eight to 13 buds. The number of buds left on the fruiting canes is determined by plant vigor. If the grapevine is vigorous, leave 13 buds per cane. Leave only eight buds per cane if the grapevine possesses poor vigor.

Prune the four canes on the lower wire the same as those on the upper wire. When pruning is complete, no more than 60 buds should remain on the grapevine. When counting the number of buds on the grapevine, include both the buds on the fruiting canes and those on the renewal spurs.

Gooseberries and Currants
Gooseberries and currants produce the majority of their fruit on 2- and 3-year-old shoots. Shoots that are 4 years old and older produce very little fruit. After the first growing season, remove all but six to eight vigorous, healthy shoots. The following year, leave four or five 1-year-old shoots and three or four 2-year-old canes. After the third growing season, keep three or four shoots each of 1-, 2-, and 3-year-old growth. A properly pruned, established plant should consist of nine to 12 shoots. Pruning of mature plants consists of pruning out all 4-year-old shoots and thinning out some of the new growth.

Blueberries
Blueberry plants are shrubs like currants and gooseberries. Blueberry yields and fruit quality decline when blueberry shoots (stems) reach 5 years of age. In late winter/early spring, prune out any dead or diseased stems. Also, prune out stems that are 5 years old and older. Allow one to two new shoots to develop each year.

The pruning of small fruits really isn’t difficult. It requires a basic understanding of plant growth and pruning techniques, proper pruning equipment and (sometimes) a little bit of courage.

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I Spy

Linn County Master Gardener, Claire Smith, submitted the following about springtime preparations:

 

I spy, with my little eye, something green.  It’s tiny, a sliver, and there’s another and another right there in my yard.  Under the melting snow and ice, live grass is trying to peek through.  Is it my imagination to expect green grass in early March?  As soon as we endure the annual State Girls’ Basketball Tournament snowstorm, it will be spring in Iowa!  Then, we can dig into yard work. 

Initially we monitor the gardens’ environments.  Disease prevention can save future headaches.  Start by removing unwanted leaves, branches and other debris deposited by wind or critters. Prune or trim back the stems you left for winter interest.   Peruse your garden catalog for species and varieties that are disease resistant.  Know if your new plantings prefer shade or a sunny setting.   Plan plantings to provide adequate airflow.   Humidity and wetness under the canopy are often conducive to disease so spacing is important. Maintaining good plant vigor through proper watering and fertilizing will make your plants less prone to disease.  As you plan your garden, consider the water source.  How many trips will you need to make with a watering can or how far will you have to drag a hose?  Is a rain barrel feasible in or near the bed?  How about a soaker hose?  I have two beds near the road ditch.   I alternate running the soaker hoses from a spigot beside the house.  I also have a water barrel mounted in a wagon to use for beds where no running water is available.   Proper timing with fertilization will be important.  Follow label directions on packages.   Retain the water and feeding directions for further reference. 

Compost amends the soil.  Use it abundantly!  Mulch is a valuable asset.  It helps hold moisture, chokes out weeds and prevents too much water from splashing on the underside of plants during a heavy rain.  I stock up my season’s supply as soon as each becomes available.

 Bird houses are a wonderful addition to a garden.  A water feature will attract birds and butterflies.  Both come in all manner of shapes and size. 

Remember to check out the rakes and shovels and tune up the lawn mower.  As soon as the soil is above 50 degrees, it’s time to plant!  

 

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California Dreamin’ – tree style

The following is by James Romer, Extension Horticulturist at Iowa State University:

   This time of the year gives many gardeners an empty feeling. It is hard to keep warm and dry when temperatures dip below zero and it snows every other day. It is reminiscent of those classic song lyrics — “All the leaves are brown and the sky is gray … California dreamin’ ….” Anyway, this is a great time of the year to do some planning and pruning.

   The late dormant period (February to early April) is an excellent time to prune deciduous trees. The absence of foliage at this time of year gives the home gardener a clear view of the tree and allows him/her to select and remove appropriate branches.              

   Proper pruning improves the appearance, maintains the health and prolongs the life of trees. Improper pruning destroys their natural beauty, weakens them and may lead to their premature death.

   It is essential to make proper cuts when pruning trees. Do not make flush cuts. Flush cuts are cuts made as close as possible to the trunk or main branch. Flush cuts produce large wounds, destroy the tree’s natural mechanisms that promote healing and slow the “healing” process.

    When pruning trees, make the final cut just beyond the branch collar and branch bark ridge. The branch collar is the swollen area at the base of the branch. The branch bark ridge is the dark, rough bark ridge that separates the branch from the main branch or trunk. Pruning just beyond the branch collar and branch bark ridge retains the tree’s natural defense mechanisms and promotes the healing process. When a branch is pruned properly, a slightly raised area remains on the trunk or main branch. However, do not leave stubs.

   Do not apply wound dressings to pruning cuts. The application of wound dressings or paints doesn’t stop decay and may actually inhibit or delay the healing of wounds.

   There is one exception with not applying paint to oak trees. Oak wilt is a fungal disease that is lethal to many oaks. Oak wilt infections occur most commonly in spring and early summer and are spread from infected trees to healthy trees by sap-feeding beetles. To reduce the risk of the spread of oak wilt, don’t prune oaks from April 1 to July 1. If oak trees must be pruned between April 1 and July 1, for example, to correct storm damage, immediately apply a latex paint to all cut surfaces to avoid attracting sap-feeding beetles to the wounds.

   Use the three-cut procedure when cutting large branches to prevent extensive bark damage. Make the first cut about one to two feet from the main branch or trunk. Cut upward and go about halfway through the branch. Make the second cut a few inches beyond the first. Cut downward completely through the branch. Make the final cut just beyond the branch collar.

   Some trees, such as maple, birch and elm, bleed heavily when pruned in late winter or early spring. However, the heavy bleeding doesn’t harm the trees. (The trees won’t bleed to death.) Eventually the flow of sap will slow and stop. Heavy bleeding of susceptible trees can be avoided by pruning in late June or early July.

   The pruning of deciduous trees by the home gardener should be limited to small trees and the removal of smaller branches that can be reached from the ground in medium to large trees. Branches high up in large trees and those near utility lines should be left to professional arborists. Professional arborists should have the proper training and equipment to safely perform the job.

    If that’s not enough to do, another enjoyable winter activity is to leaf through garden catalogs. Many contain colorful plant photographs. Some carry specific merchandise, such as seeds, perennials, roses or fruits. Others carry a wide variety of products.

    Also, visit a bookstore or public library and browse through some of their gardening books. Excellent reference books for home gardeners include “Manual of Woody Landscape Plants” by Michael Dirr; “Continuous Bloom” by Pam Duthie; “Herbaceous Perennial Plants” by Allan Armitage, and many others.    

    Remember also that your Iowa State University Extension county office has numerous publications on gardening in Iowa. Most of these publications also are available from the ISU Extension Online Store at www.extension.iastate.edu/store.

So get busy planning, pruning and dreaming about plants for this spring.

 

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