This is a repost from September 2018. Now that we are past Labor Day, it's time to start thinking about finishing up the garden tasks. Here are a few links with information for the rest of our growing season.
Mowing: According to David Bayer from UWEX Outagamie County the most important cultural practice associated with turf care is proper mowing. Mow high (3 inches) during the spring and summer months when grass reaches 4 inches. Continue mowing in the fall until the grass stops growing. Mow shorter in the last few mowings. For the last mowing set the mower 1 inch shorter to prevent snow mold in spring and to discourage moles, voles, and mice from burrowing in your lawn all winter.
Fertilizer: A fertilizer program is recommended based on your personal preference. A minimum maintenance program is to apply a winterizer fertilizer (26-0-12) in early September. If you prefer a more lush lawn, fertilizer can be applied two times; add an early June application to the September application. For our area a maximum application of three times is recommended; for a high maintenance lawn apply fertilizer in early June, July, and early September. The July fertilizer application can be skipped if a mulching mower is used. These are the active grass growing periods in Wisconsin. Never apply fertilizer during dormant periods.
Seeding: The best time to establish a new lawn or reseed is between August 15 and September 20; mid-May is also a good time. It pays to buy quality seed; it will contain less weed seed and better grass varieties. According to the University Extension, “the only way to evaluate the quality of a mix is to read and understand the label. “ Extension recommends paying attention to these points when checking out labels:
Kentucky Blue Grass is one of the most popular grasses in Wisconsin. It is winter hardy, grows by rhizomes, is soft to touch, and mows well. However it goes into summer dormancy, does not tolerate heat well, is shade intolerant, and has high fertilizer needs. Most sod is Kentucky Blue Grass.
Perennial Rye Grass is quick to germinate, but is not very winter hardy and is intolerant of summer stress of heat or drought. It is usually put into seed mixtures because it is quick to germinate and helps with early erosion control.
Fine Fescues ( Hard, Red, or Chewings) have low fertilizer needs, are slow growing (less mowing), can be grown in shade or sun, and have some drought tolerance. However they are susceptible to disease in high traffic areas, and can get summer patch and snow mold. It is good to have a mix of Fine Fescues to help offset the negatives.
The type of seed will determine the number of fertilizer applications needed and how much you want to mow. For example, a mix with a high percentage of Kentucky Blue Grass may not do well if you plan to fertilize once per year. Each seed type has its advantages and disadvantages. There are none that are perfect for every situation.
UW Extension Bulletins
These bulletins and more can be viewed and downloaded as a PDF file or purchased from the
Three Sisters Garden: This space located near the south end of the vegetable garden displays the
“Three Sisters” combination of Corn, Beans and Squash. For centuries these three crops have been
the center of Native American agriculture and culinary traditions. While planting styles varied,
the concepts for planting these three vegetables near each other were as follow. The corn provides
tall stalks for the beans to climb so they are not outcompeted by the sprawling squash.
Beans being legumes, fix nitrogen through their symbiotic relationship with rhizobia bacteria, and
provide nitrogen to the corn, and the large vining squash leaves shade the ground which helps
retain soil moisture and reduces competition from weeds. The vegetables seeds for this planting
were gifted to us by the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe tribe and include Cherokee Trial of Tears black
pole beans, Bear Island and Mandan Bride flint corn and the Gete Okosomin (big old squash).
In this garden the corn was planted in early June in a swirl with space between rows approximately
two feet. The inter swirl is Mandan Bride and the outer part of the swirl is Bear Island. When the
corn was about 6 sinches tall a single bean seed was planted near the base of each corn plant.
About a week later after the beans germinated the squash seeds were planted several feet around the
edges of the outer swirl of corn.
Seed to Kitchen Collaborative/Organic Seed Alliance vegetable trials: For many years the Spooner
Research Station has conducted field scale organic vegetable variety trials for the SKC project.
The goal of this research is to evaluate new and promising vegetable varieties that have improved
flavor and direct market qualities. These plots are typically 1/8 to over one acre in size and
include replicated and randomized plantings. To increase participation and feedback, gardeners and
fresh market growers can now participate in evaluating select breeding line in their own gardens.
Participating gardeners are sent all the seeds they need for their trials, labels, planting maps
and datasheets. They agree to start the seeds and plant a minimum of 3-4 plant and manage them as
they normally would other crops and provide feedback on how plants grew. In the Display Garden we
have a pepper breeding trial, four different tomato breeding trials, and several potato breeding
trials. More info at https://seedtokitchen.horticulture.wisc.edu/
Children’s Garden and Little Free Library: We now have an officially registered Little Free Library
located in what is now being called our Children’s Garden Area. This Little Free Library features
kids’ books and will be incorporated into our summer Kids in the Garden program.
Organic Mulches in the Garden: Keeping the soil covered is one of the guiding principles of
improving soil health, and mulches are one option. Shredded bark and wood chips are being used in
walkways and under perennial plants, and various locally sourced plant materials are used under and
around annual plants. Organic mulches suppress weeds, help retain soil moisture and enrich the soil
with organic matter and nutrients.
The Teaching & Display Garden is a joint effort between UW-Madison College of Agriculture and Life
Science Spooner Agriculture Research Station, UW-Madison Division of Extension and Master
Gardener and Research Station Volunteers. More info at https://spooner.ars.wisc.edu/
Late Season Issues Mini Webinars
Yard and Garden Cleanup with Diseases and Insects in Mind
Wednesday, August 24, 12:00 p.m.
Be prepared to approach your garden and yard cleanup with a better understanding of strategies you can use to benefit your yard, keeping in mind plant diseases, insects, winter interest and wildlife food.
Presented by: Andrea Ackerman, Horticulture Outreach Specialist, UW-Madison Division of Extension Brown County
Fall “Lawndry” List
Wednesday, August 31, 12:00 p.m.
Fall is a good time of year to give your lawn some TLC. Join us to learn more about lawn fertilizer requirements and recommendations for this time of year, aeration and overseeding, and the basics of weed control.
Presented by: Paul Koch, Associate Professor, Department of Plant Pathology, UW-Madison
Bringing the Garden Inside
Wednesday, September 7, 12:00 p.m.
Get ready to continue enjoying your garden by bringing your plants indoors. You’ll learn about which plants can come in, the requirements for growing plants indoors after they have been outside all summer, and how to properly transition them to their new indoor home.
Presented by: Darrin Kimbler, Agriculture Educator, UW-Madison Division of Extension Iron County
To register for any of these mini webinars, go to https://bit.ly/3g0IfhF
This mini-webinar series is hosted by UW-Madison, Division of Extension, Horticulture. For upcoming events and learning opportunities go to: https://hort.extension.wisc.edu/events/
From: Kevin Schoessow, UW Extension Area Agriculture Development Educator, Spooner Agricultural Research Station
Japanese beetle a voracious defoliator of many landscape and garden plants has been confirmed in many locations in NW Wisconsin in recent weeks. While very common in other parts of the state, this pest has not been known to be in our region until recently. Adults beetle feed on over 300 species of plants. Roses, birch, lindens, grapes, raspberries, Norway maples, beans, apples, plums, crabapples, elms, beech, asparagus, and rhubarb are some of its favorite species. Adult beetles emerge in early to mid-July and feed for about six to eight weeks. This feeding is quite noticeable and concerning especially on prized perennials and on fruits and vegetables. Japanese beetle are tough to control, especially when bees and other beneficial insects are active during the same time. Gardeners need to be cautious in their management decisions and be aware of unintended consequences of treatment options.
To help gardeners and homeowners make informed decisions about management options for Japanese beetles the following resources should be very helpful.
The first is a wonderfully insightful webinar presentation by PJ Liesch, Entomologist and Director of the UW-Madison Insect Diagnostic Lab. The recorded presentation can be found on the Wisconsin Horticulture Division of Extension website https://hort.extension.wisc.edu/videos/ or directly through youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TFFZs2gLAfs
The other is an article title Japanese Beetle
Here’s a preview of their presentation:
Tips for Easier Gardening
Select tools that are best for you:
We often get questions about using pine needles, also known as pine straw in either compost or used as mulch. Same questions for oak leaves. Many believe that using pine straw or oak leaves will acidify the soil and not be suitable for many plants. This year a large donation of pine straw was provided to the Spooner Agricultural Research Station Teaching and Display Garden. Master Gardeners immediately put it to good use as a mulch. Below is an article contributed by Kevin Schoessow, UW Extension Area Agriculture Development Educator, Spooner Agricultural Research Station providing information on this question.
Pine needles, like other leaves, are perfectly fine to add to your compost pile. Keep in mind that pine needles, like other leaves or straw, are high in carbon and are considered “brown” materials and should be mixed in a ratio of approximately 3 to 1 with “greens” like grass clipping or food scraps which are higher nitrogen materials.
Fresh pine needles--because of their waxy coating--take a long time to break down and should be limited to no more than 10 percent of the total brown material added to a compost pile. Shredding pine needles and other materials added to the compost will increase the surface area of these materials and speed up decomposition.
While fresh pine needles, or oak leaves for that matter, have a pH ranging between 3.2-3.8, they do very little to impact the pH of finished compost. The reason is that as needles and leaves break down, they are neutralized by the microbes that are doing the decomposing work. Most finished compost has a pH of 6.8-7.0 which is very neutral.
Another potential benefit of pine needles in the compost pile is that they help maintain good aeration. They do not compact readily and keep air flowing through the pile, which is also important in speeding up the composting process.
The notion that pine needles change compost or soil pH is basically a myth. Even if freshly fallen pine needles that have been added to compost are mixed into soil, they will only have a slight impact on pH and over time this impact will be diminished by decomposing microbes.
Part of the reason this myth continues is because people associate pine trees with acid soil and that it is hard to grown anything under a pine tree. Everyone assumes that the accumulated pine needles are making the soil so acidic that nothing will grow. The reason nothing will grow is because the roots of evergreens are so numerous and shallow that they outcompete other plants for water and nutrients. They also tend to create quite dense shade which is a difficult growing situation for many plants.
So if you are blessed with an abundance of fallen pine needles, rest assured that they are perfectly fine to add to compost--although in limited amounts. Fallen pine needles, sometimes referred to as pine straw, is also a suitable mulch for flower beds, under trees and around shrubs and even in the garden. Remember that the little acid that might be found in pine straw and other leaf materials will be neutralized by microbes and will have negligible effects on soil pH.
The Internet is a great way to get current information on almost any topic, but how do you sort through all the information and find a reliable source? Here are a few tips to limit your searches that will do the sorting for you. This example gives you the results using the various methods in Google for “green bean rust”.
Typing in green bean rust into a search engine resulted in about 1,120,000,000 results! I did this same experiment in 2012 with 8.5 million results, which is an indication of how much the Internet has exploded in just a decade. In trying to narrow it down – here are the results:
The Master Gardener program highly recommends obtaining your information from reliable sources. Preferred sources include academic institutions, government agencies, botanical gardens, and non-profit organizations.
Tip from the Master Gardener Program
While it is better to use a preferred source for information, other sources often come up first when looking things up online. Don’t stop there! Use this as the first step in the process of finding information and searching for more preferred sources. You may learn terms or concepts that you can then apply in a new search with keywords that also use the word “university” or “.edu” to help bring up university sources of information.
Deadheading is the removal of old or spent flowers and is beneficial to most herbaceous ornamentals. Seed production can drain a plant’s energy and cause foliage to deteriorate. Deadheading can promote vegetative and root growth rather than seed production. By deadheading you can prolong bloom periods, initiate a second smaller bloom, improve overall appearance, and prevent self-seeding. Some examples of species that benefit from deadheading are: Daylilies, Hostas, Lady’s Mantle, and Lambs Ear.
Cutting back refers to pruning a plant to renew its appearance or encourage a new flush of growth or flowering, control its height or flowering time. Pinching can accomplish the same objective. If you travel for several weeks, you can cut certain plants by one third to delay bloom time until you get back home. Examples: Dianthus, Candy Tuft, Moss Phlox, Catmint, Geranium Amsonia, Baptisia, Achillea, Aster, Mums, Sedum, Joe Pye Weed.
Pinching allows for experimentation and usually involves removing only the growing tips. Generally do this early in the growing season because it will delay bloom time. Examples: Sedum, Shasta daisy, Joe Pye Weed, Aster, Artemisia.
Thinning can prevent disease, create sturdier stems, and increase the size of flowers. It can often help to increase air circulation to help prevent powdery mildew. Use this on: Aster, Delphinium, Mondarda, Phlox, Bulgeweed, Lambs Ear, and Lady’s Mantle.
Disbudding involves removing side buds so that the plant’s terminal bud produces larger flowers on a longer stem. Removing the terminal bud will cause the side buds to produce smaller but more flowers; it can also eliminate the need for staking. Examples: Mums, Carnations, Pinks, Dahlias, Peonies.
Deadleafing removes individual dead leaves to improve appearance. Examples: Elijah Blue grass in spring, Lady’s Mantle in summer, and Hellebores (Lenten Rose) in the spring.
A great source of information on all these techniques is The Well-Tended Perennial Garden by Tracy DiSabato-Aust, Timber Press, 2006.
Article and photo credit: Sue Reinardy, Master Gardener
Pollinators love verbena! Hummingbirds, butterflies, and moths are all frequent visitors. Bees of all types love verbena, too. Known for withstanding the pressure of hot, dry conditions, Verbena is a member of the Verbenaceae family, which is comprised of 800 species in 32 genera, many of them native to the Americas and Asia. This family is characterized by clumps or spikes of flowers on heat-loving herbs, shrubs, trees, or vines. There are many varied types and habits, including upright and tall, as well as mounded and trailing. Some verbena make great ground covers as well.
Hybrid varieties generally have larger flowers, brighter and more saturated colors, and larger, more weather-tolerant leaves than their species relatives. bred to be more heat, water-stress, and disease tolerant (especially powdery mildew).
Leaves and foliage are often dense and, in many species, “hairy.” Its flowers are small with five petals, arranged in dense clusters. Typical colors include shades of blue and purple, but they can also be found in white and pink shades. Others are bred to withstand heat and humidity with flowers and bulky growth non-stop through the growing season.
While verbena seed is available, many of the newer varieties that have the desirable traits are vegetatively propagated and can be found as young plants at your local garden retailer in the spring.
Verbena looks their best when their soil is kept moist, but not wet as they do not like soggy feet. If the growing medium dries down too much, it can cause flushing, commonly known as cycling-out-of-color where the plant loses blooms but remains green and leafy.
Verbena plants should be placed in sunny locations, aiming for 6+ hours of direct light. Most species perform well in the ground, landscape, hanging baskets and patio containers. For the compact-growing verbena, those work best in pots and do not have the root vigor for garden bed applications. For prolonged flowering, deadhead verbena by removing spent flower heads.
Powdery Mildew (PM) is an unfortunate occurrence on some verbena. The best practice is to look for newer varieties that have a built-in resistance. If PM does appear (it will present as white patches of fluffy fungus on leaves or stem) treat with a neem spray or your favorite fungicide. Catching PM early is the best solution, as this disease can spread quickly, and its fungus blocks sunlight to the plant’s nutrition system, making the plant unable to produce food, which will ultimately cause the plant to perish.
Gardening with verbenas can elevate your landscape design and add texture and color to your patio containers. You’ll appreciate their colorful branches and how well they play with other flowers in your garden.
Credit to https://ngb.org/year-of-the-verbena/
Contributed by: Vicki Gee-Treft, Master Gardener Volunteer
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