In a normal year, this column in the middle of December would be talking about how to deal with wildlife in the yard that damage our valuable landscape plants from feeding damage. It's a little different this year.
Whether you cut, split and dry your own firewood or buy it for the winter, good management will reward you with more heat and less smoke. The heavier the wood, given the same moisture levels, the more heat will be released as it burns.
It did not seem to matter whether or not we had disease-resistant or susceptible plants.
One of those diseases is called Helminthosporium. Depending on the time of year, this disease has different common names.
The fireplace or woodburner is not burning well even though I have seasoned wood, whats wrong?
Gardeners already know the benefit of cleaning up and getting rid of diseased plants and plant parts. These go to the curb in the landscape waste bag to be commercially composted.
Colder weather, frozen soil, fallen and windblown leaves and any accumulated snow will force rabbits to take shelter and begin to look for food anywhere they can.
Inside the home is a bit different.
Lawns are speeding up, gardens are slowing down, and Insects are still here
October 12, 2015
Lawns can look pretty tough, especially those areas that because of wind patterns did not remain covered in snow. Maybe it was the path to the garden shed to retrieve the snow blower or the path to the compost bin where the snow had been packed down and icy most of the winter.
Gardeners know about spring and summer bulbs and that we plant spring bulbs in the fall and summer bulbs in the spring. Have you ever considered taking some of those and turning them into "winter bulbs" by forcing them into boom during the winter months when the weather is dark and grey? While this may sound hard to do, it really isn't. There are a number of bulbs that will easily bloom for us. Amaryllis, hyacinth and paper white narcissus bulbs often are sold for just this purpose.
When the soil beneath the lawn is compacted, grass roots grow poorly staying nearer the surface and more readily impacted by droughts. Coring allows the soil to relax and expand into the vacated core. This allows deeper roots. To encourage deeper roots the core allows more soil oxygen into profile along with water.
Voles are active year round and in the summer, their feeding goes unnoticed as they are able to forage over a large area. During the winter, Voles are limited to range and snow cover.
For many, we take them outside to let Mother Nature nurture them back to a better state of health, knowing that once back inside, they will be in less than a perfect growing location.
In the landscape beds, mulches can really play an important role in limiting weed seed germination by keeping the seeds in the dark.
Mushrooms are the "fruiting" structure of the fungus below the surface of the lawn, shrub bed and around the cut stumps of our many ash trees that have been removed. It will not matter if the stump was ground out or not. Fungi are decay organisms, feeding on dead organic matter. Without these fungi, the world would look a lot different.
Last weeks' column briefly mentioned starting seeds for the flower or vegetable garden and that you need to start by reviewing the seed packet instructions. That is just the start of course of what will be a several week adventure. This week I'll answer some few frequently asked questions.
It used to be you would get either a vegetable catalog or a fruit catalog or flower catalog. Many catalogs now contain something for everyone, including the garden gadget addicts. There are catalogs offering heirloom vegetables, flowers, and fruit trees. These heirloom varieties can be some of the best tasting and or more unusual looking fruits and vegetables we get to eat.
There will be several parts about planning for a home orchard that will need some thought even though it may be lots of fun just to jump in and start planting.
Plants have had quite a time dealing with the very cold weather and blustery winter winds. The lucky ones are currently under the snow and well protected. Soil temperatures remain constant and while covered by the snow, temperatures around the stems, twigs, foliage or buds are protected from the dry cold winter winds.
What may be a bit of concern is with the mild winter, so far anyway, is what are the insect populations looking like for 2016 and how are plants going to respond next spring if the dormancy triggers are not fully met.
These are generally known as plant galls. The Master Gardener Help Desks are seeing quite a few branches with galls on the leaves brought in for identification and recommendations on what to do. Plant galls while they can be alarming to find growing on the leaves, are typically harmless to the tree.
Out in the vegetable garden, foliage diseases, especially on tomatoes, are at very high levels. One particular is a disease called Late Blight. Late Blight favors these wet conditions.
All the holiday gift plants will provide us with beautiful foliage and flowers if kept in the coolest part of the home at least at night and returned to your display area during the day. Placing them away from heat registers or other sources of heat will also help.
With all the rain we had earlier in the summer, pre-emergence products may not have lasted long enough and now you can find annual crabgrass or goose grass in the lawn. If the crabgrass is not too big, pulling it up before it sets seed is a start.
Setting out the tender and warm loving vegetables will not be getting ahead really as those plants will just sit there being stressed and set back. They may even be outgrown by plants put in the garden later when it is warmer and more appropriate.
"The State of Illinois has two "legal" lists of problematic plants that require attention -- Noxious Weeds and Exotic Plants.