The trees most likely to die from oak wilt infection are in the red oak group, including northern pin oak, northern red oak, red oak and black oak. The white oak group is more likely to survive infection and includes bur oak, swamp white oak, white oak and English oak.
Tree paint or wound dressing is not normally recommended on pruned or wounded surfaces, but for damaged oaks an immediate light application of these products may be the only defense against oak wilt infection from April through July.
Pruning in spring can be damaging to any deciduous tree because their energy reserves are low as they produce new buds and leaves following the winter months. In general, the best time to prune is in winter when trees are dormant.
As of January 31, oak wilt has been found in all Wisconsin counties except Ashland, Iron, Forest, Taylor, Door, Kewaunee, Calumet and Manitowoc counties. Several of these counties contain the highest abundance of healthy and productive oak forests in the state. Taking recommended precautions will help keep them that way for years to come.
Oak wilt and other diseases move easily on or in firewood logs year-round, so keeping firewood local, or purchasing Wisconsin-certified firewood, is another important component of protecting trees and keeping forests healthy. Visit the DNR firewood page for more information and a directory of certified firewood vendors.
More information, including a recently released oak wilt video, is available at the DNR oak wilt page. Additional information about proper pruning techniques is available from community foresters or through DNR resources such as this tree pruning poster.
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by: Katie Childs, UW-Extension Master Gardener Volunteer
The sap is running and the bees are buzzing...A big cheer for Spring as many of us have suffered from snow and cold fatigue. However, I have some good news to share about the beehives on Golden Pond. Let me bring you up to speed with a bit of a review…
Last November I ‘blogged’ about “Project Honey,” an experimental operation whereby in May, a beekeeper installed a couple of hives near my Gardens on Golden Pond. The colonies not only survived, but thrived near an oasis of perennial beds, along with vegetable and fruit gardens, in an extreme woodsy environment. Over Labor Day, it was
time to harvest the honey from the hives; the process taking several hours, resulted in an abundance of liquid gold!
With the temperature dipping in the fall, the hives were prepped for winter readiness. Along with a honey reserve and protein packs to supplement their winter nourishment, each hive was bound securely with an insulated Mylar type wrap, foam insulation and duct tape. With the temperature falling to beyond minus 30 degrees at times, this
method proved to be sufficient to help maintain the hive temperature during the exceedingly harsh winter months.
Along with the outer protection, the bees had to do their part as well.
Let me explain - the worker bees form a “cluster” surrounding the queen to keep her warm and safe. With thousands of bees shivering and vibrating their wing muscles they can maintain the cluster temperature as follows: the optimal core temp in winter time is 95 degrees; 81 degrees is the average observed in the inside, while 48 degrees is the average temperature for a cluster exterior shell. Who knew, in the winter the workers insulate - in the summer they are a cooling agent.
While the calendar says its spring, our garden scapes and woods may be still covered with snow. However, with the melting well underway, we will soon be checking for daffodils, crocus and tulips popping up. On March 22 the temperature rose to 50 degrees and much to my surprise, I heard a buzzing in a very sunny protected spot a short
distance from the hives. I soon had a confirmation that a honey bee was out and about. On the 23rd - again a warm and calm day - dozens of ‘scout’ bees were seeking pollen and nectar, albeit a bit early. Had they been successful, they would return to the hive and ‘dance’ on the honeycomb. The beekeeper came by to examine the hives and I am happy to report he was pleased at the colonies survival rate and overall hive condition. We are optimistically looking forward to another season of ‘cohabiting’ with honey bees at Gardens on Golden Pond!
HONEY BEE FUN FACTS
FEED THE BEES PLEASE!
Photo Credit: Carla TePaske
We all are starting to dream of our summer gardens. Sometimes while we are planning our gardens we want to try something new. If you have not tried growing herbs, I suggest give it a go this garden season. There are so many wonderful ways you can use herbs in your cooking, drinking and daily health.
We will be sharing ways to use herbs here on the blog and at our garden events.
A simple recipe to get your taste buds ready for fresh herbs.
Soften the amount of butter you want in a warm bowl with a fork.. add a squeeze of lemon and two or three tablespoons of chopped herbs. Shape into a ball. Cling film and store in the fridge. Slice off as you need it.
Great for .. potatoes, veggies, chicken and on toast.
Herbs to try..
Carla TePaske, NCMGV
Photo Credit: Carla TePaske
California is experiencing a fabulous Spring! California received rain, wonderful rain to make everything grow.
With that the painted ladies enjoyed a fantastic early season.
Do you remember Wisconsin's Autumn of 2017? We also had painted ladies visit our gardens as they took a break during the migration.
Continue to read on about the current butterfly news happening in California and some Wisconsin butterfly history.
Substantial rainfall in the deserts near the Mexican border, where the North American painted ladies lay their eggs, is the reason for the unusually large swarms. The rain caused plants to thrive, giving the painted lady caterpillars plenty of food to fuel their transformation, said Arthur M. Shapiro, a professor of evolution and ecology at the University of California, Davis.
Source ~ The New York Times ~ click here to read more
An unusually wet winter in Southern California has given way to a super bloom of wildflowers and an explosion of Painted Lady butterflies.
The black and orange insects usually keep a low profile as they make their annual migration from the deserts of western Mexico to their breeding grounds in the Pacific Northwest. But this year, they're hard to miss. Scientists say that extra plant growth has allowed their population to boom into the millions.
Source ~ WBUR ~ Click here to read more
September of 2017 Wisconsin was blessed with a similar event. Our mild spring weather allowed for an early northward migration. In 2017 Painted Ladies were spotted in Iowa as early as March 10th, which is earlier than normal. With such an early arrival, the butterflies were able to have two generations instead of just one.
For us Wisconsinites, the abundance of butterflies would not be visible to us, because they typically migrate at an elevation several thousand feet in the air to take advantage of favorable wind currents. Using the wind they can travel up to 100 miles a day, and reach speeds of nearly 30 miles per hour. September of 2017, Wisconsin had strong southern weather flow that brought the Painted Ladies down. It is not efficient for a tiny butterfly to try and fly against the wind, so they took a break and were busy refueling on Autumn flowers such as goldenrod, asters, zinnia and sunflowers. It truly was a magical September for Wisconsin and I am sure that is how California folks are feeling this Spring!
Carla TePaske, NCMGV
Photo Credit: Carla TePaske
Is your mouth watering?
Oh, the taste of home grown tomatoes. Oh, the taste of that first BLT!
While researching growing tomatoes in Zone 3, MGV Carol Taylor and MGV Russ Parker found Casey's Heirloom Tomatoes. caseysheirloomtomatoes.ca/about/about-me-----.html
Casey's Heirloom Tomatoes is a fascinating story. Click on the link above to learn more.
If your mouth is watering for a BLT, be sure to come and join us for our Annual Plant Sale and pick out your favorite Heirloom Tomatoes.
Annual Plant Sale sponsored by North Country Master Gardener Volunteers, Saturday, May 18, 8:00 -11:00am (or until plants last) at the Station Building, 1035 E. Maple Street (Hwy 70). For sale: Heirloom Tomatoes, Peppers, Natives, Herbs, and Cannas
Carla TePaske NCMGV
,Sequel to: Sugar Maple Sap is on the Run!!
Once you have collected your buckets of sap from your sugar maple trees you will want to process it as soon as possible to avoid bacterial contamination. The processing will produce the thick rich amber color that we expect from maple syrup. Straining, boiling, and skimming constitute the processing. You will stain at the beginning and end of the processing, in the middle you will boil and skim.
Strain your fresh sap through about 10 layers of cheese cloth, or a clean white cotton weave (not terry) dish towel or specially made filters, in a sieve or colander or filtering frame suspended over a clean bucket or the pot in which you will be boiling the sap. Straining gets out any debris that got into the sap during tapping. If you can't process your sap right away store it refrigerated.
Unless you are doing a small batch, you will want to do the initial boiling out of doors as the steam that rises off the boiling sap will be thick and sticky. You will need a heat source (a wood fire and plenty of wood or a propane cook top), a large wide pot (aluminum, enamel or heavy iron), a large skimming spoon and a candy thermometer.
Your fire should be nice and hot before you start and your pot should be securely suspended above it--on a grate suspended between cinder blocks possibly. Fill your pot about 2/3 full to begin as it will come to a boil more quickly. If you have multiple pots and a big enough fire you can cook down more sap at once. You will be feeding the fire and watching the boiling pots so plan on spending the full afternoon on this process. Add sap to your pot as it boils down but be careful not to splash the hot sap onto yourself. Add only enough sap that you keep the boil up to keep the evaporation process moving along.
Foam will form on top of the boiling sap. Skim off the foam and discard periodically.
Use the candy thermometer to check the temperature of the boiling sap. As the water boils out the temp will rise. The sap will be done when the temperature reaches 219 degrees (7 degrees above the water boil temp at your altitude for your thermometer). If you are working with a small enough batch you can do the final boil to temp on your stove top in the kitchen. When the boiling sap is ready it will be very foamy (do not skim this foam).
At 219 degrees the syrup will still seem thinner than you want it to be but as it cools it will thicken up. Cool it down a bit before straining again. Once it is strained, bring back to 200 degrees then ladle into sterilized, preheated pint or quart jars to 1/2 inch from the top, wipe the rim, cover and tighten rims to snug. Let cool slowly out of any draft, on a towel with a few inches air space between the jars. If you get a good seal--the lid pops and dimples inward as it would when canning--you can store the jars at room temp. Otherwise, store in the refrigerator as you would an open jar of syrup. You can also process in a water bath as you would jelly or jam.
If you find you really like the process of taping your trees and making your own syrup, there are many supplies that you can purchase online or at hardware stores that will make the process easier and more exact.
Here are some articles on processing your sap into syrup:
There are lots of YouTube videos on processing your maple syrup. All of them have a little bit different take on how to do it. Here are a few videos (do a Google search on "how to make maple syrup YouTube" for more) :
Article by Pam Davies
If you live in NW Wisconsin, this is the time of year when, you will see buckets hanging from trees. The trees are sugar maples and the sap is sweet and running up the trees from the roots to get the spring leaf buds going. The sap runs when the days are in the 40s and 50s and the nights are below freezing drawing the sap back down into the roots. The cycle begins again when the temp once again rises and will last until night time temps are above freezing and the leaf buds open out.
If you have a sugar maple tree that you want to try to tap, get yourself a 5/16 inch drill bit, a cordless or hand drill, a hammer, a tapping spile and a bucket with handles. White plastic food grade buckets work well. Mark 2 inches on your drill bit with a marker or a piece of tape.
Note: you will also need a sugar maple tree at least ten inches in diameter.
On the south or west side of the tree about four feet off the ground, drill your hole at a slight upward angle, tap in your spile gently so as not to go too deep or split the bark then hang your bucket. The sap will appear watery and colorless or almost colorless and only slightly sweet. Check your bucket daily or more often if the sap is really on the move or your bucket is small. You will need to change out the bucket or empty it into another when it is full. The bucket will be very heavy if left to fill up to the top so change it out while you are still able to handle the weight.
If the outdoor temp is above 45, store your sap, covered, where it will stay colder. A sheltered shed or garage that stays colder will do fine.
You will need 10 gallons of sap to make 1 quart of syrup. You can place up to 4 taps per tree if it is at least 25 inches in diameter. When you have all the sap you need or the sap is changing color or nighttime temps no longer drop below freezing, simply pull out the spile, the tree will heal up in a few weeks. Don't reuse the hole next year.
More info on tapping your sugar maple trees:
Next time: Making Maple Syrup
Article by Pam Davies
Now is a great time to get out there and prune your deciduous scrubs while they are still in a dormant state from their long winter nap and have not started leafing out yet.
Many shrubs have a lovely natural shape and if you have made allowances for their mature size, will need only minimal pruning. Cutting out dead and diseased branches is important to the health of your shrub. Proper pruning is also important when you want to control the size and shape of your shrub or when it has gotten totally out of control and you need to rein it in. Severely pruning an overgrown shrub that is beginning to fail can rejuvenate at. Overgrown spirea and potentilla can be cut down to a few inches from the ground for complete rejuvenation while other scrubs would not survive such extreme pruning and will need to be rejuvenated over two or three years of less severe pruning.
Do not prune shrubs that flower in the spring such at lilac, weigela, or forsythia as you will be pruning away the flower buds for this years spring display. Prune these right after they are done flowering unless they are in a bad way and will not give you a good display of flowers then go ahead and prune for future year flowering.
Late winter/early spring is great for pruning spirea, potentilla, boxwood, viburnum, American Cranberry bush and ninebark (if you do not care about blooming) among others. Google "when to prune" followed by the type of shrub for specific instructions for your shrubs.
Thinning out dead or old branches, heading back a branch to the joint with another branch or to a leaf bud, rejuvenating or cutting back the entire shrub severely, sheering with hedge sheers to create shape, and pinching off shoot tips are the basic pruning techniques. These techniques may not be appropriate for all shrubs.
Without leaves, you will be able to see the wood and the shape of the shrub very well. Look it over closely before beginning for dead or diseased branches and any branches that run counter to the prevailing direction of the other branches or are rubbing up against other branches. Now notice which branches look old and which are the newer growth by diameter. Now that you have really looked at the plant, begin by cutting out all the dead and diseased wood down to the ground. Then prune out old wood, the biggest and gnarliest branches, down to the base of the plant or as close as you can get. If the plant is too overgrown, this may be difficult; gloves and even goggles will help you survive this ordeal.
Next, look at those branches that are counter to the direction you want to encourage or are rubbing against other branches causing damage. Cut these down to just above the collar of the branch (where the branch meets the main branch) or cut them down to the ground if need be.
Try not to prune more than about one third of the total volume of the scrub.
Lastly, you will prune for size and shape where appropriate. Keep in mind that when pruning for size and shape, unless you are sheering a hedge, you will want to look carefully at the branch to determine the best place to cut. Cut back only as much as you need to of the secondary branching. Cut just above an outward facing leaf bud cutting at an outward and upward angle being careful not to damage the leaf bud or, if you must cut the whole secondary branch, cut just about the collar (not through the collar) where the branches meet.
You will need:
Gloves to protect your hands from sharp twigs and spikes. Eye protection is a good idea too.
You will want a good set of sharp hand pruners. For larger shrub a bypass lopper (as opposed to an anvil type lopper) and a pruning saw are recommended. Make sure these tools are sharp and clean. They should also be disinfected between cuts with rubbing alcohol or 10% bleach to water to reduce the risk of spreading disease.
Here are some useful link from pruning deciduous shrubs
Final installment of Seed Starting Indoors
Part 1 Seed Starting Indoors
Part 2 More on Seed Starting Indoors
The biggest mistake I make with my seedling is giving them too much sun and wind when I bring them outdoors for the first time. The poor little guys get their leave singed and some get blown over and have to be staked up. After spending so many weeks tending these seedlings, you would think I'd be a little more careful. But it is easy to get busy cleaning out beds and getting ready for planting. The sun moves and what was dappled shade becomes direct sun in a short time.
The sun in late May is very powerful and can burn the tender leaves of even the hardiest plants when they haven't been "hardened off" yet. Hardening off is the process of acclimating the seedlings to the outdoors before planting them in the garden. (You will want to harden off store bought seedlings that have been sheltered in a greenhouse as well). This will take at least ten days to two weeks. Begin hardening in a sheltered spot in shade then dappled sun for a few hours the first few days, increasing exposure until the plants are reveling in their new environment.
Do not fertilize during hardening off. The plants will be under stress adapting to these new conditions. Do water them before they wilt. They will dry out quickly in the sun and breeze.
After the first 4 or 5 days of hardening during which I bring the seedlings indoors at night, I have a couple of wagons that I put my flats into and pull them into the garage at night where they will get accustomed to the cooler night temps as the garage is detached and not heated.
Toward the end of the hardening off period you will be leaving the plants outdoors fully exposed through the night unless nighttime temps get into the 30s or low 40s especially for tomatoes and peppers.
Before planting in the garden, be sure that soil temps are warm enough to encourage root growth and avoid putting your seedling into shock. The warmer the better is a good rule of thumb.
Hardy plants such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, cabbage, onions, leeks and parsley can take ground temps as cold as 40 degrees but if they have been started indoors and are not used to those temps you might want to wait until the ground warms a bit more. You can sow these seeds directly into the ground at these soil temps.
Half-hardy plants such as celery, Chinese cabbage, lettuce, and endive can take soil temps down to 45 degrees.
Tender plants will need soil temps of at least 50 to 65 degrees. Basil, tomatoes and peppers, need the warmer soil temps. Squash, pumpkins, and sweet corn can take the cooler while Cucumber and muskmelon like the middle range.
One rule of thumb uses the science of phenology as the test of when to plant. Phenology looks at what is happening with other species and times the planting season by how other species are developing. For instance, when lilacs are in full bloom plant your veggies is an over generalized rule of thumb; phenology can get much more specific. Here is a link to a UW-Madison Extension article on phenology.
Some people like to plant by moon phases once the threat of frost has passed.
Check out this Mother Earth News guide to planting by moon phases https://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/living-homegrown-how-to-schedule-your-planting-by-the-moon
Your beds should be fully warmed and the soil turned to a depth of at least 8 - 12 inches depending on what you are growing. Working the soil when it is too moist will create clumps that will harden and be inhospitable to your seedlings. Wait until the soil is dry enough that it will break apart when turning it. Turning with a shovel can be better than using a tiller as a tiller can create "hard pan" below the blades that will discourage root penetration and good drainage. If you have a large garden, however, a tiller may be the only way to go. Till every other year or so to avoid hard pan build up. Take care to walk only in paths to keep your tilled soil from becoming compacted by trodding on it.
Amend the soil as needed before planting. Add some peat or Perlite to loosen up compact silty soil. If you have a lot a clay in the soil you might want to add some sand as well. A good friable soil will contain silt, sand and clay as each contributes to the proper texture of the soil for root growth and drainage, and the ability of the soil to hold moisture and nutrients. Adding organic matter to this mix (peat or decomposed leaves, wood chips, bark or straw) provides nutrients and a medium for beneficial bugs and bacteria to thrive. Add fully composted manure (100%) to your soil if you think it is depleted. (Watch for a soil testing article on this site). Mix your amendments into the soil well and let it sit for a few days or longer before planting. This lets the soil settle out to a more uniform texture and temperature and allows microbials to get going.
Once your plants are in the ground, water them then use the same week fertilizer solution (quarter strength) that you used on your seedlings. This will give the seedlings a little boost to get started and help them not go into shock in their new environment. After that, water as needed but sparingly to get the seedlings used to dealing with a less regular watering schedule but don't let the seedlings wilt.
You will want to think about mulching to keep moisture in and weeds down. Laying down newspaper (2 or 3 pages thick--no color ink) around the plants then covering this with chips, grass clippings, straw, or leaves is a tried and true method. The paper and mulch will decompose over time and can be dug under in the fall or raked aside, dried and covered, and used for mulch in the spring.
A couple of notes on mulch. Straw, hay, grass clipping and leaves can bring with them weed seeds. You can sprinkle a pre emergent such as Preen or corn gluten meal over the mulch to keep weeds from germinating in the mulch. Also, be aware, if you are having a particularly wet spring or summer you may want to push the mulch away from the plants so the soil has a chance to dry out. A good drying out cycle between rains or watering helps to keep down fungal growth. Plant spacing and exposure to wind also helps to keep fungus at bay.
A few notes on starting seeds in the garden, do not mulch until plants are at least a few inches tall. Be careful not to get pre emergent on beds that will be seeded as this will prevent germination. Seeded beds must be kept moist so will need to be monitored at least twice a day. You can cover the seeded beds with a plastic tent to keep moisture in while seeds are sprouting.
Good luck with your seedling, have a great growing season and watch for more articles here!
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