2016 Chisago County Master Gardeners Expo Coming Up

The annual CCMG Garden Exp will take place on Saturday, March 19, 2016 at the North Branch High School, North Branch, Minn. The event runs from 8 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. During the expo, registered guests can take part in a variety of classes, including hands-on learning opportunities, and visit with vendors. They keynote address is “Gardening through a Changing Environment” with Pete Bouley from the DNR Climatology Department.

To learn more visit: http://www3.extension.umn.edu/county/chisago/master-gardeners/article/2016-ccmg-annual-garden-expo

The Chisago County Master Gardeners are an outreach of the University of Minnesota Extension Service, in partnership with the Chisago Soil & Water Conservation District and North Branch Community Education.

Abnormal growth on woody plants? Could be Witches’ Broom

Deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs including, but not limited to, pine, fir, oak, willow, spruce lilac, dogwood, and honeysuckle are prone to Witches’ Broom–balls of stunted shoots that look like a bundle of twigs. Witches’ Broom has a variety of causes including infection by fungi, mites, genetic mutations, or harmful environmental conditions.

Witches’ Broom can be managed by pruning out infected branches. This could be an ongoing process if the shoots grow back.

To learn more about Witches’ Broom check out:

  • Katharine Widin article in the September/October issue of  Northern Gardener
  • http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/gardens-gardening/your-garden/help-for-the-home-gardener/advice-tips-resources/pests-and-problems/diseases/witches-broom.aspx

Prepare Your Trees and Shrubs for Winter

Trees and shrubs are susceptible to damage from cold weather and harsh winter conditions. Low snow cover, animal damage and ice breakage can all damage tree bark and branches. However, damage from the sun shouldn’t be overlooked, even in the coldest winters. Sun scalding happens when the sun heats up tree bark, stimulating cambial activity. When the sun is hidden behind clouds or no longer heats up the tree bark, the active tissue dies.

To prevent sun scalding, wrap the trunk with a tree wrap, plastic tree guard, or light-colored material in the fall. The wrap will reflect the sun, keeping the bark at a steady temperature. Remove the wrap in the spring after the last frost.

Learn more at: http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/yard-garden/trees-shrubs/protecting-from-winter-damage/

The Multi-colored Asian Lady Beetle: Beneficial Insect or Pest?

Multi-colored Asian Lady Beetles are easy to spy on the sides of houses and on plants with their spots and variably colored bodies. The small arthropods are prevalent in the spring and summer months where they can often be found in large numbers. While they may seem pesky, they are considered a beneficial insect because they control aphids in orchards and on some ornamental plants, which reduces the need for pesticides.

To learn more about the multi-colored Asian lady Beetle visit: http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/br/lbeetle/

Creating Habitats for Bees

When you think of bees, honeybees and bumble bees likely come to mind. You see them buzzing around flower patches gathering nectar to make honey. However, there are almost 20,000 known species of bees in the world. In Minnesota, there are close to 400 different species. Honeybees and bumblebees make up less than two percent of the bee population. The remaining 98 percent are known as wild or solitary bees. These independent, solitary bees pollinate garden plants, ornamentals, and wildflowers.

Solitary (Wild) Bee Houses

Bees need shelter to nest. While many bees nest underground, 30 to 40 percent of bees use hollow plant stems or holes in wood to build their nests. These cavity nesting bees lay their eggs in small sealed cells where the young bee can complete their life cycle into adulthood. Solitary bee house help extend the habitat of wild bees so they can continue to thrive. These simple structures can be built out of natural materials that are easy to find.

Bundle of sticks – Use hollow sticks or reeds, bundle them and place them where bees can find them. Sticks can be tied with wire or placed inside an open-ended container such as PVC pipe to protect the nest from the sun and rain. Nests should be replaced every couple years so they remain clean and accessible to bees.

Wood Blocks – Holes are drilled into a wood block to provide nesting tunnels. To ensure that the tunnels stay clean, easily-replaceable paper straws or rolled paper are inserted into the drilled holes. Wood should not be treated or insect-repellent.

Where to Place Bee Houses

Bee houses should be placed or hung three to four feet above the ground in locations such as weedy fields, abandoned lots, and recently cleared trees. Flowers should be plentiful near the location during spring, summer, and fall. Bees will emerge from the bees houses in the spring to begin pollination.