As with most disease and pest problems, accurate diagnosis is the important part of controlling a problem and doing so responsibly.
In this case, the image shows aster yellows disease on a purple coneflower. Aster yellows is a disease that is spread through insects that suck on the sap of plants. In most cases, it’s the aster leafhopper that is the carrier of the pathogen.
Aster yellows creates distorted flowers with green tufts, chlorosis of the leaves, stunted growth, and green flower petals. Different species may exhibit slightly different symptoms.
It can spread among plants in the Aster family as well as hundreds of other plant species outside of the Asteraceae family. Including lettuce, garlic, carrot, tomato, chrysanthrmum, petunia, zinnia, coreopsis, and perennial weeds like dandelions.
Unfortunately, if you see signs of aster yellows the entire plant needs to be disposed of to avoid spreading the disease. There is no treatment since it becomes a systemic issue and travels down into the roots. Burn your plant or bury it in your compost so it’s completely covered. The disease will not survive once the plant is dead.
You can plant something else as a replacement as it will not transfer through the root system.
Dry and hot summers slow the spread of the aster yellows disease, while cool and moist summers may accelerate transmission.
*Note for MN residents. It is illegal to dispose of plant material in your trash bin. Especially noxious weeds. Letting them die on site is the best way to mitigate further spread. Choose an area, above ground to pile weeds and pull weeds that germinate.
In this Elements of Landscape Design Series post we are focusing on landscape design using perennials to accomplish your landscape vision.
Incorporating perennials into a garden is a wonderful way to add beauty, diversity, and longevity to your outdoor space. Perennials are plants that live for more than two years, returning year-after-year, and they come in a wide variety of colors, sizes, and textures. Here are some steps to help you successfully incorporate perennials into your garden:
Assess your garden
Before choosing perennials, take a close look at your garden to determine its conditions. Observe the amount of sunlight different areas receive, the soil type, the moisture levels, and area dimensions. This information will help you select perennials that are well-suited to your specific garden conditions and have the best outcome.
Determine your design goals
Consider the overall aesthetic you want to achieve in your garden. Are you aiming for a cottage garden with a romantic, informal feel? Pastel colors are the go-to for a cottage garden. Or perhaps a modern garden with clean lines and bold colors? Understanding your design preferences will guide your choice of perennials and their arrangement.
Think into the future
As perennials mature they will fill in the space and one of the hardest things to do when planting perennials is to consider the spacing between the plants when they are at their mature size. Being impatient and filling out the space right away is going to cause problems in the future, as well as increased chances of fungal and disease issues.
Maintenance and care
As with any garden, perennials require regular maintenance. Be sure to provide proper watering, mulching, and fertilization based on the specific needs of each plant. Regularly deadhead spent blooms and remove any diseased or damaged foliage to promote healthy growth.
Plan for seasonality
Perennials can provide blooms and interest throughout the year. When selecting plants, pay attention to their flowering times to ensure you have a mix of perennials that bloom in different seasons. This way, you’ll have a continuous display of color and texture from spring to fall.
Choose a variety of heights and textures
Incorporate perennials with varying heights and textures to create visual interest and depth in your garden. Combine tall, vertical plants like delphiniums or hollyhocks with mid-height flowers such as coneflowers or salvias, and add low-growing groundcovers like creeping thyme or sedum for a layered effect. Depending on the viewing angle, place tall behind mid-height and then low groundcovers.
While flowers are often the main attraction, don’t forget about foliage. Perennials with interesting foliage, such as ferns, coral bells, or ornamental grasses, can add texture and color even when not in bloom. Incorporating a mix of foliage types can provide year-round appeal in your garden.
Group plants according to their needs
Group perennials with similar growing requirements together. Consider their preferred light levels, moisture needs, and soil conditions. This will make it easier to care for the plants and ensure they thrive. For example, place sun-loving plants in areas with full sun and moisture-loving plants in areas that retain more moisture.
Create focal points
Use perennials to create focal points or anchor areas in your garden. Select a few standout plants, like ornamental grasses, tall flowering perennials, or shrubby varieties like hardy hibiscus, and place them strategically to draw the eye and add drama to your landscape. Small Hydrangea trees are another great focal point option!
Incorporate native species
Consider including native perennials in your garden. Native plants are adapted to the local climate and require less maintenance, making them an eco-friendly choice. They also provide habitat and food for native wildlife, helping to support biodiversity. Incorporate native species: Consider including native perennials in your garden. Native plants are adapted to the local climate and require less maintenance, making them an eco-friendly choice. They also provide habitat and food for native wildlife, helping to support biodiversity.
Remember that gardening is a dynamic process, and as your perennials mature and spread, you may need to divide or relocate them to maintain the desired look and prevent overcrowding. With time and attention, your garden will flourish, and you’ll enjoy the beauty and resilience of your perennial plants for years to come.
Summer-bearing raspberries and fall-bearing raspberries are two types of raspberries that differ in their fruiting habits and growth patterns. Here’s some information about each:
Fruit production: Summer-bearing raspberries, as the name suggests, produce fruit during the summer season. They typically bear fruit on the second-year canes (also called floricanes) that grow during the previous year.
Harvest time: The harvest period for summer-bearing raspberries usually starts in early to mid-summer, depending on the variety and climate. The fruiting season typically lasts for several weeks.
Growth habit: After summer harvest, the second-year canes that produced fruit start to decline and should be pruned down to the ground. New primocanes (first-year canes) then grow during the summer and fall.
Pruning: To maintain healthy growth and encourage fruiting, it’s important to prune summer-bearing raspberries properly. Remove the old canes that have fruited, leaving the new primocanes for the next season’s fruiting.
*IMPORTANT FOR NEW PLANTS* Your new small raspberry plants may look like they died if you only had a cane up that was fruiting the last season. Wait for a bit into spring to see if new canes pop out of the soil before digging them up.
Fall-bearing raspberries (also known as everbearing or autumn-bearing raspberries):
Fruit production: Fall-bearing raspberries have a different fruiting habit. They produce fruit on both the primocanes of the current year and the floricanes of the previous year. This means they can produce two crops in a year.
Harvest time: The first crop of fall-bearing raspberries typically starts ripening in late summer or early fall, like the summer-bearing raspberries. However, the primocanes continue to produce fruit until the first frost, allowing for a second crop in the late fall.
Growth habit: Fall-bearing raspberries grow primocanes throughout the summer and fall, and these canes carry the first and second crops. After the second crop is harvested or frost occurs, the entire plant is pruned to the ground in late winter or early spring.
Pruning: Since fall-bearing raspberries bear fruit on both primocanes and floricanes, the pruning process is slightly different. In late winter or early spring, remove all canes that have fruited the previous year, leaving the new primocanes for the upcoming season’s fruiting. This promotes better airflow and prevents diseases.
Both summer-bearing and fall-bearing raspberries require well-drained soil, full sun exposure, regular watering, and adequate spacing for optimal growth. They are generally easy to grow and can provide a delicious harvest of sweet and tangy berries. The choice between the two types depends on your preference for a single abundant harvest (summer-bearing) or two smaller crops (fall-bearing) throughout the growing season.
Raspberry Management Information (pruning and training raspberry plants)
Support for pollinators is a joint effort – a partnership.
As of July 2022 Monarchs are now on the endangered animal list. As a flagship pollinator – one that attracts attention because of it’s beautiful colors and easier tracking methods – this news is a wake up call that we are losing pollinators at a fast rate. We need to add pollinator plants to our landscapes every year.
What We Need to Do Now
Add plants into our landscapes so there is a succession of blooms spring through fall. You can use pollinator friendly annuals, perennials, shrubs, and trees to accomplish this.
Reduce or eliminate the use of insecticides. Organic insecticides still kill beneficial insects. There are now studies that find that even if the plant isn’t blooming, pollinators will drink dew off of plant foliage. If it’s treated with insecticides it will kill them. If you do need to spray, avoid bloom time.
Plant ecologically sound landscapes. Add a diverse mix of native plants into your landscape to bring in beneficial insects, birds, and pollinators. Predatory birds and insects are a great way to control damaging insects without the use of insecticides.
Plants to Add for Monarchs
Name – Bloom Time
Pale Purple Coneflower – Early-summer Butterflyweed – Mid-summer Milkweed – Mid-summer – Emphasis on Common Milkweed since they lay their eggs on it. Black-eyed Susan – All summer Joe Pye Weed – Late-summer Blazing Star – Late-summer Aster – Late-summer to fall Monarda fistulosa – Late-summer to fall Goldenrod – Late-summer to fall
Click on a map to download the Ecoregional Planting Guide. Each guide will give you information on specific plant traits that pollinators prefer ( color, odor, pollen, nectar, flower shape ) as well as a list of plants to support pollinators in that region. There are many overlaps in plant varieties in these guides. We wanted to include specific regions because we have customers that are from nearby areas that may live in a different zone.
Mankato is zone 4b and in the Prairie Parkland Temperate Province.
Sources: Pollinator Partnership. Selecting Plants for Pollinators, Prairie Parkland, Temperate Province. Published by Pollinator Partnership, San Francisco
Pollinator Partnership. Selecting Plants for Pollinators, Eastern Broadleaf Forest, Continental Province. Published by Pollinator Partnership, San Francisco, USA. https://www.pollinator.org/guides#about
ABOUT POLLINATOR PARTNERSHIP MISSION
“Birds, bats, bees, butterflies, beetles, and other small mammals that pollinate plants are responsible for bringing us one out of every three bites of food.
They also sustain our ecosystems and produce our natural resources by helping plants reproduce.
Without the actions of pollinators agricultural economies, our food supply, and surrounding landscapes would collapse.”
“What is one to say about June, the time of perfect young summer, the fulfillment of the promise of the earlier months, and with as yet no sign to remind one that its fresh young beauty will ever fade.”
– Gertrude Jekyll, On Gardening
This post is about late spring/early summer gardening tips and things to look for that may be showing up soon in your garden.
Don’t forget water soluble fertilizers for container plants. Container plants are in a potting soil that do not contain enough nutrients for all season. Depending on the plant, you will need to add fertilizer to the water or use a slow release fertilize like Osmocote. Follow directions of product and individual plant needs for fertilization. Top dressing containers with compost can also be done to add some nutrients.
Boost for New & Established Plants
Most in-ground soils will benefit from adding organic material like compost and a starting fertilizer like Biotone Starter before planting or Plant Tone after planting. Top dressing the established perennials/shrubs with compost in the spring will give them an extra boost of nutrients. Plants like butterfly bush, delphinium, and clematis like if you put a mound of compost around their root ball.
Newly planted plants in the ground need deep watering so their roots reach down and establish themselves before winter and reduces stress on the plants. Water deeply a couple times a week. If it rains a little (pay attention to how many inches you get with a rain gauge), you can water around your new plants a little more to get water deep into the soil. It helps you conserve water and save time watering. 1″ of water per week is the recommended amount of water. Pay attention to the soil and if it is wet looking, hold off for another day. Best method is to stick your finger in the soil and if it’s dry a couple inches down, it’s time to water.
Remove weeds now while they are small, as they grow quickly. Weeding is easy when soil is damp since it’s easier to pull the whole plant including the roots. Be careful not to walk on soil around your plants to avoid compaction of the soil.
Prevent Fungal Diseases
With rain and warming weather you need to be proactive about fungal diseases. It’s best to prevent it, instead of treating it because once it starts, you can’t get rid of it completely. Treat your plants that have a higher chance of fungal issues with a fungicide before you see signs of it. For example, tomatoes usually get blight so best to treat with Bonide Revitalize or Copper Fungicide before it starts. Make sure to water your plants at the base and water in the morning when possible so the water can dry before it cools off at night. Mulch around your plants as well to help prevent fungus from the soil splashing on your plants.
Insect damage is going to start. Keep an eye on your plants for damage to their foliage. It’s important to remember, a little bit of insect damage is not bad and if you see an insect, it doesn’t mean they are bad. We need to move passed the thought that bugs are icky and nuisance. There are very important insects that are good for the garden and actually improve plant health.
Look for these invasive species instead:
Japanese Beetles: Metallic looking green/bronze beetles flying or munching on landscape plants. They love roses, hollyhock, cherry trees, plums, grapes, blackberries, and linden trees. They can be found snacking on other plants as well. Read more about them here. Incorporate plants that repel Japanese beetles such as catnip, chives, garlic, nasturtium, and white geranium around your susceptible plants. Jumping Worms: Although we haven’t had any recordings of jumping worms in our area, these can be very detrimental to lawns and gardens. There are sightings of these worms in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area so if you are doing any transplanting of plants from that area, purchases of mulches and soils, or any plant swap around our area. Read more about them here so you can know what to do to avoid them or if you see them, how to alert the U of MN Garden Extension. There are no proven ways to eradicate these worms yet.
Getting rid of insects isn’t always easy and great care should be taken if you choose to spray with insecticides, even ones labeled organic. It’s still an insecticide made to kill insects.
*Quick side note about fungus since we have been having cool springs the last couple years. With cool/wet weather you may encounter anthracnose on your plants. If you are seeing brown spots on trees and shrubs early in the spring it may be this.
Starting a Vegetable Garden & Resources
Congrats on starting your vegetable garden journey!
There has been a huge increase of people wanting to grow their own food as well as flowers, pollinator plants and converting lawns to native species so you’ll find a large community, including us, that can help you with all your trials and celebrate your successes.
This post is for bringing the basic info together to start you off. We are always here to answer your questions if you have any if you can’t find what you are looking for, reach out to us!Call, stop-in or email.
Info sheets we like to handout in store for all vegetable gardeners:
You can also read our post about seed starting supplies and steps.
This is a great video and article that covers everything from where to put your garden and soil health. It links out to other resources as well if you want to learn more. Space choice, soil health, etc. can not only be used for vegetable gardening but perennials, native gardens, and other landscaping you’d like to do!
We’d also like to direct you to our Resources page for even more gardening information. You’ll also find info on maintenance of landscape plants and starting a victory garden.
Hope some of this helps as a jumping off point to starting your vegetable garden this year and beyond if you need to look at more resources!
It’s time to embrace your outdoor living space! We are always here to help you on your gardening adventures!
The desire to start gardening and enjoy outside is hard to suppress. Each spring will bring us new weather patterns and it’s best to take Nature’s cues when it comes to accomplishing these yard and garden tasks
YARD AND GARDEN TASKS:
1. Wait to clean up dead perennial matter until temps are consistently around 55F-60F. Beneficial insects will be in their dormant state in leaf litter and dead perennial matter. You should wait to clean up dead plant material as late as possible into the spring.
You can top dress with compost as well as mulch around the root zone of your plants when you see perennials emerging.
2. Clean and sanitize your outdoor containers, bird baths, bird feeders, and garden tools. Check out the new garden decor and tools in store!
3. Prune off dead/damaged branches on shrubs and trees. Late winter/early spring is the best time to prune trees, before their buds are formed. Refer to our pruning guide in regards to shrubs and trees.
4. Clean debris from your vegetable garden and top dress the soil with compost at least two weeks before you plant. Avoid compaction of the soil by using designated walkways. Compaction of the soil will reduce the level of oxygen available for plant roots. Lightly till in compost if you notice your soil is compacted.
5. Early to Mid-April, depending on weather and ground temperature, is the best time to put down new grass seed or ground covers like clover. Wait to scatter seed until day temps are 60F+ consistently before spreading seed. Most seeds, including grass won’t germinate until the soil is 55F+. We carry bulk or bagged grass seed from Ramy Seed in Mankato. If you want to forego a conventional grass lawn, get a wildflower seed mix and scatter the seed in mid to late April.
Please note, if you want to do a weed killer in the same area you want new grass, you will have to wait to over-seed grass until summer or fall. If seeding is more important – forgo the crabgrass or weed killer and just use a lawn food
6. Apply crabgrass killer and weed pre-emergents just before we have consistent 60F days. Most products last 6-8 weeks and timing the application with the weather is important or you may need to reapply. Weeds germinate when soil is 55F. There are many turf products, likes Maxlawn Weed and Feed, that contain fertilizer as well as weed killers so you can accomplish both tasks if you have weeds throughout your lawn. Our staff can help you decide what is best depending on what you want to accomplish!
If you don’t mind weeds, use a lawn fertilizer around the time you have to mow for the first time.
Plant summer bulbs when the soil has warmed to above 40F and the soil isn’t soggy. Usually early April through mid May depending on the spring weather. The soil should be rich and well-draining to avoid bulb rot if cooler temps come back.
Find growing instructions in the store!
Cool Season Hardy and Semi-Hardy Vegetables:
Welcome new gardeners!
Late winter and early spring is the time to start seeds indoors. Our last frost date is projected as May 1- May 15th. The last frost date is what you work from when planting your seeds indoors. Keep your eye on the weather and it will help you know when you can acclimate your seedlings and then transplant outdoors.
First let’s talk about some of our early sowing seeds, cold hardy vegetables like the brassicas family which includes cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage can be seeded in early to mid-March as well as lettuces. These cold-weather crops can be put outdoors earlier and do well in a cold frame or hoop houses as well for an earlier start.
Important seed packet info:
Best time to plant for our zone
How deep to plant the seeds
Days to germination gives an idea how long it takes the seed to sprout
Days to maturity = the number of days from planting to harvest
Seedling thinning & spacing directions
Check if it’s a perennial or annual to help determine where you are placing the plant
Examples of plants sowing times before transplanting outdoors:
**Hardy perennials may require cold stratification or scarification for proper germination
What type of growing medium is best?
AVOID using soil from your yard/garden if possible! It is an easy way to introduce unwanted pest and disease problems. *Most at home compost piles do not get hot enough to kill harmful pathogens.
Some plants may require specific soil/drainage requirements.
Seed Starting Mix
-Fine textured, soiless medium
-Sometimes heat sterilized
-No nutrients, intended for germination only
Standard Potting Mix
-Easily sifted to achieve a fine texture for seed starting
-Available with or without added nutrients
Make your own!
-Many recipes online for DIY germination mix and potting mix
Materials you may need:
– When choosing a size: How many plants do you want to grow? How big is the seed, and how much room do the roots need?
-Provides a controled environment for proper germination
-Soak in water to expand the pellet
-Plant entire pellet into your pots or garden
-With drainage holes: Fill with seeding mix and scatter seeds. Divide and up-pot/plant out
-Without drainage holes: Use under plug trays to catch water/soil
-Fits over most plug trays and open flats
-Short dome for seed starting
-Tall dome for cuttings
-Helps keep soil moist
-Use various sizes to start seeds if desired. Divide and up-pot/plant out
-Choose the RIGHT sized pot when up-potting! Too big and it may not dry out fast enough, causing root rot. (Can up-pot again to a larger size if needed.)
-Plastic, Coco Coir, Biodegradable options
Watering Can/Spray Bottle
-Stream from watering can may be too harsh for seedlings
-Most homes are not warm enough for proper germination
-Raises soil temp 10-20 degrees above room temperature
-Be careful when using in combination with dome and lights!
Lights & Timer
-Supplimental light is essential to growing happy seedlings indoors!
-Prevents weak, leggy plants
-Full Spectrum/Daylight. T8 & T5 Florescent, Standard Bulbs, LED
-Use a timer to make life easier! 14-16 hrs. of light per day
-A light breeze helps grow strong plants!
Caring for your seedlings.
Proper watering is essential.
-Allow tap water to sit out overnight to dechlorinate. Avoid using soft water.
-Keep soil evenly moist until germination
-Know your plant’s specific needs
-Find a routine and water early in the day.
-After germination, allow soil to dry slightly between watering. This encourages root growth! (Avoid “loving your plants to death”, aka over watering)
-Bottom watering keeps foliage dry
-Seedlings do not need nutrients right away. Wait until they have a few sets of true leaves before feeding
-Know your plant’s specific needs
-Half strength, balanced fertilizer works well for most
-Granular soil amendments
-Allows your plants time to adjust to light, temperature, and environmental changes
-Start in the shade on a calm day, for an hour or two. Slowly increase time outside and sun exposure over several days
Here is a pdf version of instructions on seed starting indoors and some guidelines on when to start certain crops!
We carry grow lights, seed starting kits, seedling potting soil, fertilizer, and seeds. Later in the spring we will have vegetables and herbs that we have grown for you to purchase if you don’t get to starting your own seedlings.
Gardening by the Moon – A Fascinating Lore
We have all heard of the moon effecting the water tides but have your heard of it effecting soil moisture?
From The Farmers Almanac, gardening by the moon “is an age-old practice of completing chores around the farm according the the moon phases and that the moon governs moisture.”
Growing in Popularity
It is growing in popularity for various reasons but prominently because people are trying to find ways to stay in touch with nature. If people pay attention to the seasons, weather conditions, and natural patterns they can start to feel more in touch with their environment and surroundings.
There are certain garden centers that plant solely on moon phases and swear by it. We have yet to find current research projects that proves it to be more effective. However, we can find anecdotal evidence of its effectiveness online. To be in touch with your environment and weather conditions is an important part of your gardening success. Even if it is gardening by the moon’s phases or not. On this website , they list some sources of research, anecdotal accounts, and their findings for gardening by the moons phases.
The over arching rule is that people plant specific crops based on the phase of the moon. It is also believed there are better times to prune, build fences, wean animals, fish, etc. What do they mean by better? Everything from better yields, increased growth, stronger fences, juicier meat, and even to more flavorful produce.
The general rules, from The Farmers Almanac website, is “the new and first-quarter phases, known as the light of the Moon, are considered good for planting above-ground crops, putting down sod, grafting trees, and transplanting.
From full Moon through the last quarter, or the dark of the Moon, is the best time for killing weeds, thinning, pruning, mowing, cutting timber, and planting below-ground crops.”
Working on your garden and land by the moon does seem like a good way to keep track of when to do certain tasks. If it produces better yields and healthier plants that would be an amazing bonus!
Conditions Are Important
If you choose to plant by the moon please remember that other planting conditions still need to be paid attention to.
Present and forecasted weather conditions
Specific planting needs of the crops you want to grow
If you have any questions about when to plant something please contact us or stop in and chat about your gardening goals!