Q: I have patches of stringy straw- or tan-colored grass in my lawn that is not greening up like the rest. What is it?
Homeowners and orchardists need to train their trees for structure to encourage fruit production and to have a productive, high-yielding home orchard. Just like with dogs, proper training makes a difference. It gives you a tree that can hold the fruit load without needing any additional support.
Q: I need to trim my oaks and maples. Do I do it now or wait?
More and more spring bulbs are showing up with flower stalks well above the soil line waiting for a bit better weather to bloom. There is even an up-side to our temperatures. If it remains cooler, those spring blooms will last longer in the home landscape once they open.
Fungus gnats and drain flies can be lumped together based on their favored conditions, cool temperatures and humidity. Fungus gnats often come in with our houseplants for the winter, as they are stowing away in the pots. Drain flies find their way inside at some point before cold weather shows up and need "open water" to breed.
There are several different kinds of fruit trees to consider – apple, cherry, peach, pear, plum. As we live in northern portion of Illinois, apple is likely the main fruit tree grown in backyards because it is very winter hardy.
All the soil moisture that has the home landscape looking so good right now also encourages any perennial weeds, whether grasses or broadleaves, to grow vigorously too.
Putting a strong clean line on the landscape beds really makes a difference in how they look. It brings out the strong curves that make the bed flow through the yard, and that edge is the important transition from bed to lawn. Grass will grow towards and into the beds about 3 to 4 inches a year, so annual edging is quite beneficial.
Raspberries have perennial roots and crown with bi-annual canes. Each year, new canes appear and grow vegetative manner. Those same canes give us the berries the second year and then die.
This may be your first walk about in the home landscape for 2018.
If you are out in the yard cleaning up beds, watch carefully for emerging spring bulbs and the crowns of early tender perennials.
As a rule, smaller seeds do not last as long as larger seeds, as there is more stored energy in the big ones. This "rule" is especially true if the seeds were not stored in the best conditions. The best place would be in a tight-sealing container in the refrigerator. These seeds are alive the entire time we have been storing them. Lower the storage temperature and the respiration rate lowers too, conserving that energy.
When applied around young trees, we know that it reduces the competition from grass and makes it easier for the tree to establish in the new location. The tree gets more water and has no competition for soil nutrients. A big plus is there is no need to trim grass away from the trunk saving the tree from the destructive string trimmer!
Should we be worrying about any plants that are already up?
Q: My spinach and lettuces are sending up flower stalks before I really got to harvest as much as last year. What is the deal?
Mosquitoes favor warmer temperatures and the right kind of water – permanent, floodwater or stagnant, depending on the species. Permanent bodies of water include ponds and lakes. Floodwaters are retention ponds that are dry most of the time and natural low-lying areas.
Orchard Tree Series: Location Location Location
Spruce are not well adapted to our area, and although they do grow pretty well for us when young, spruce begin to suffer as they mature.
In the early spring, the first spray should be applied while the ground and air temperatures are still quite cold. This will be the dormant oil spray, aimed at overwintering insects. Dormant oils are applied on days where the air temperature will remain above freezing for 24 or 36 hours.