August 2016-September 2016
In This Issue
Planting a Fall Vegetable GardenPlanting a Fall Vegetable Garden
Planting a vegetable garden doesn't just happen in the spring. "Many of the vegetables that we grow in the spring can be planted in late summer or early fall," says University of Illinois Extension Horticulture Educator Ken Johnson.
"By the time summer rolls around many of our cool-season plants that were planted in the spring are past their prime," says Johnson. "They become tough and bitter and will often bolt, like radishes and spinach. By planting these cool-season crops again, you can extend your gardening season and have fresh produce longer."
Johnson says there are several other advantages to planting a fall vegetable garden.
"There are often fewer pest and weed problems in the fall compared to the spring. Many vegetables have better quality when they are grown in the fall.Some vegetables develop better flavor when grown in the fall, particularly after they have gone through a frost. Fall gardens often require less time and labor because the soil has already been worked in the spring."
According to Johnson, vegetables that are typically grown in a fall vegetable garden fall into the semi hardy and hardy categories. Semi-hardy plants,such as beets, carrots, cauliflower, and lettuce can tolerate light frosts as low as 32 degrees F.Hardy plants, such as broccoli, cabbage, radishes,and spinach can tolerate hard frosts down to 28 degrees F.
"To determine when you should plant your vegetables, you need to determine when your first frost usually occurs," Johnson says. "For central Illinois it is generally mid-October. Start with that date and count backwards for the number of days it takes the crop to mature. It's wise to add a week or two for the fall factor because temperatures are getting cooler. Development slows compared to spring when temperatures get warmer."Most of the vegetables grown in the fall vegetable garden,Johnson says, can be directly seeded in the garden. Some vegetables,like broccoli and cauliflower, are best done as transplants. "Unfortunately, transplants are not easy to find in the summer for these plants, so to make your own, start the seed indoors 6 to 8 weeks before you want to plant them in the garden."
Before planting a fall garden, "Remove any crop residues from previous crops and pull any weeds that may be present.Soil can also be tilled and 1 to 1 ½ pounds of an all-purpose fertilizer (per 100 square feet) or composted organic matter can be incorporated.When planting seeds, follow the directions on the seed packets. Make sure to keep the soil moist until the seeds have germinated. Because the seeds are being planted at the end of summer, the soil moisture will need to be monitored closely."
According to Johnson, a light covering of mulch oreven a board can be placed over the seeds to helpretain moisture in the soil. If using a board, he says to remove it after the seeds germinate. "Checking the seed packet will give you an idea of how many days it will take for the seeds to germinate.Make sure to check under the board frequently for sprouting seeds. It's helpful to provide some shade to seedlings in the afternoon while the temperatures are still high and the plants have yet to become well established. After your plants havebecome established, the maintenance is just like any other garden. Make sure to control weeds and pests if necessary, and water when needed."
Get Ready for Fall Tree PlantingGet Ready for Fall Tree Planting
Fall months are looming in front of us, but that's agood thing if you're still looking to plant trees thisgrowing season. With cooler temperatures andusually more readily available moisture, fall is alsoa great time to plant trees. There are some treesthat are best planted in spring as they are slow toestablish new root and those include:
- Red Maple
- Tulip Tree
- Various Oaks
- Japanese Zelkova
Any stone fruits such as cherries and peaches• Magnolias• Baldcypress
Bare-root trees should only be planted in springwhen they're dormant.
When planting any tree – whether it be in fall orspring – the proper steps will increase the chancesof success and establishment. Here are someguidelines for tree planting:
Choose a tree that is right for the location – RightPlant, Right Place.
Contact JULIE to have utilities marked by calling811 or online at http://www.illinois1call.com/
When ready to dig, dig a hole that is 2-3 timesWIDER than the root ball and never deeper thanthe root ball. Digging a hole deeper and then fillingit back in will only cause the soil to settle and thenyou have a tree that's been planted too deeply. If bychance the tree has been grown too deeply whichcan happen, elevate the tree up and remove excesssoil so that the tree is planted at the correct height.On heavy clay soils or heavily compacted soils, youcan plant the tree higher to help with drainage anddig the hole 3-4 times wider than the root ball.
Remove materials surrounding the root ball. If ina container, score the root ball which is especiallyimportant if the roots are circling the container. Ifyou're planting a ball and burlapped tree, place thetree in the planting hole and remove all twine fromthe tree and remove the wire basket and burlap asfar down as possible.
When backfilling, only use the soil that you dug outfrom the surrounding area. If there is a high claycontent mix in organic matter, gently tamp downthe soil to get rid of air pockets but don't overlycompact the soil.
Mulch. Only use organic based mulches. Rockmulch and trees don't get along whatsoever androck mulch doesn't provide the same level ofbenefits as organic based mulches. Mulch yourtrees 2-4 inches deep, keeping the mulch awayfrom being directly on the trunk of the tree. Youcan even create a "donut" mulch ring to help directwater to the root ball after planting. Organic basedmulches help to retain moisture, insulate the soilfrom temperature extremes, prevent mechanical damage from lawn mowers and weed whips byeliminating the need to use them near the trunk ofthe tree, and adds organic matter back over time.
Water. Trees need water during establishment andeven after during dry conditions. The first threeyears after planting are critical for watering newlyplanted trees. Assume 1.5 –3 gallons of waterper inch diameter of trunk every 5-7 days unlessit's hot and dry. Make sure to check the soil aswell in between watering. Surround soil can stealmoisture away from the root ball. If the top fewinches of the root ball are dry, go ahead and water.
Staking. Only stake your tree if it's in a windyarea. All too often we stake trees unnecessarily orimproperly, often times we stake trees to rigidly.
Nocturnal InsectsNocturnal Insects
Remember when you were a kid and the best partof the summer was collecting fireflies in a jar ordiscovering elaborate spider webs? Universityof Illinois Extension horticulture educator KellyAllsup encourages us to reawaken that childlikewonder this summer by exploring natural areasto find the enigmatic inhabitants that come out atnight.
Entomologists use "black lights", which detectlight in the ultraviolet spectrum, to find nocturnalinsects. Shining a black light in front of a whitesheet encourages insects to land and be observed.Non-flying insects like walking sticks can be foundby placing a white sheet under trees and beatingthe branches to see what falls off. Although nottechnically insects, spiders can be found perched inwebs or in the distance using a flashlight to reflecttheir glowing eyes.
"One of the insects you may find flying is the greenlacewing," Allsup says. "Adults are small, pale,and green with delicately veined wings. Eggs aredistinctively stalked to avoid predator insects orcannibalism. Larvae, also known as aphid lions,look like miniature alligators. They use theirhooked jaws to drain fluids out of prey, includingcaterpillars, beetles, and aphids. Larvae can eathundreds of prey, even though they are only in thatstage of their life cycle for seven to ten days."
Another fascinating nighttime insect is the lunamoth. Luna moth adults are a bright lime greenwith a 4-inch wing span and eyespots on theirwings, which are meant to startle predators. Theyhatch from pupae on host plants of walnut, hickory,or persimmon. They emerge in late May to June,with a second generation appearing in late July toAugust.
"The adults live for only seven to ten days, and theironly goal is to reproduce. Females rest on treesand give off pheromones so males can locate them.Mating pairs couple for long periods of time. Theylay their eggs on the leaves of host plants. Limegreen caterpillars with magenta spots emerge andfeed on leaves," Allsup notes.
Big dipper fireflies are a type of beetle. Theirunique yellow flash attracts mates. Some fireflyspecies prey on other species, with the femalesmimicking their flashing patterns to attract and eatmales. Larvae glow, as well. They live in soil eatingsnails and other insects.
Katydids are more often heard at night than seen.They are two inches long, leaf green, and have ovalwings. They live in the tops of trees and on thedeciduous shrubs on which they feed. They breedin late summer to early fall, when the males make loud mating calls at night.
Allsup says another interesting insect to look forat night is the northern walking stick. "Mimickingsticks to evade predators, wingless northernwalking sticks eat leaves in a slow and deliberatefashion," she says. "Eggs mimic seeds, overwinterin leaf litter, and hatch in the spring. Nymphs hidein leaf litter and wait until night to come out andfeed on plants. If attacked, they can release a badsmelling liquid, so try not to startle them!"
The yellow garden spider might not be everyone'sfavorite nighttime creature. These spiders arelarge, with females reaching a "leg span" of up to 2.5inches and with webs up to two feet in diameter.Yellow garden spiders make a new web dailywith a large zig-zag marking in the center. Youngspiders build small webs close to the ground amidvegetation, with webs becoming larger later in theseason. Yellow garden spiders prefer sunny areaswith little or no wind and plenty of prey species.
Another spider to watch for at night, says Allsup,is the ghost spider. "The ghost spider has fangsthat open laterally. These orb-weaving spiders aresensitive to motion. It is easy to see them at night as their eyes will reflect flashlights. Ghost spidersactively hunt for small insects and other spidersat night. During the day, they retreat behind loosebark, folded leaves, or crevices in the garden,"Allsup notes.
Barn spiders often construct orb webs onmanmade structures near lights. They are ovaland usually beige. At night they will be seen in thecenter of the web, but hide during the day. Barnspiders remove, eat, and reconstruct their websevery day.
Wolf spiders are active nighttime hunters thatpatrol the ground for insects and other smallspiders. Once they detect their victim, they chase,capture, and inject it with paralyzing venom. Soonthe victim's dissolved tissues are sucked out.Spookily, their eyes have a layer of light-reflectingcrystals that cause them to shine brightly in a beamof light.
"Their activity can sound threatening, but theyreally just want to be left alone," Allsup states."Also, there is no need to worry about infestations,because the female spider will carry her egg sacson her belly until they hatch and then carry the little spiderlings on her back until they are ready tofend on their own."
So, grab your flashlight and head outside tonight.
Pruning Oak TreesPruning Oak Trees
Oak trees are majestic,but some are in dangerfrom a disease. One ofthe best ways to protectoak trees is to prunethem at the proper time.
You have probably heardthat it is not wise toprune oaks during theactive growing season.
The actual act of pruning does not harm the tree.The problem involves what you will attract to thetree—insects that may carry the oak wilt fungus.
The Forest Service recommends that we halt anypruning of oak trees during April, May, and June.Others extend that ban through July. Fresh cuts inthose months produce sap that attracts sap-feedingbeetles that may have visited nearby diseased trees.If that is the case, they bring the oak wilt fungus toyour tree.
I lost a black oak to oak wilt several years ago. Itdied very quickly once it was infected. The tree'sbranches were injured from a truck and we didn'teven notice it until the top started to brown anddie. Since then, I'veseen several oaks die inmy area.
Become familiar withoak wilt symptoms sothat you can recognizeit in your area.
Leaf symptoms varydepending on the oakspecies involved. Generally, oaks in the red or blackoak group (pointed leaf lobes) develop discoloredand wilted leaves at the top of the tree or at the tipsof the side branches in late spring. The leaves curlslightly and turn a dull pale green, bronze, or tan,starting at the margins. Usually by late summer, aninfected tree has dropped all its leaves.
Oak wilt is particularly threatening because there isno complete control or cure once the fungus infects.The fungus infects through fresh wounds throughthe beetle, and it can spread byroot grafts between trees. Theinfected tree cannot be saved;but you may be able to savesurrounding trees, so a positivediagnosis is important in manycases.
Drought Impacts Trees for Years to ComeDrought Impacts Trees for Years to Come
University of Illinois Extension Educators andMaster Gardeners continue to get calls aboutlarge, old trees that are in major decline. Many ofthese are just now showing symptoms from thesevere drought of 2012. Major weather eventshave a detrimental long term effect on landscapeplants.
Many people feel that large trees won't beharmed by drought because they have large rootsystems. This is not the case. Instead we oftensee substantial tree dieback and death due tothe drought over the next several years. The treecontinues to use up its reserves, and is not able tofully recover water and nutrients needed for longterm growth. Many trees will take three years todie, and some will hang on until five years afterthe drought. As these trees decline, they are moresusceptible to insect and disease infestations.
Unfortunately, there is very little that can be doneto save many of these old trees. Some arboristsare finding initial success using a growth regulatortreatment. The growth regulator slows the tree'soutput of new growth and fruit production,thus reverting its energy production back to itsreserves which are so severely depleted from majorweather events the past 3-5 years. Regrettably, thisis a very expensive treatment without sufficientdata to prove its long term effectiveness.
Plan ahead to prevent this problem in the future. Ifrain does not occur for a 3-week period, considerwatering trees and shrubs once a week untilrains resume. A heavy complete watering is moreeffective than shallow watering. Shallow wateringwill encourage shallow rooting which can lead toroot damage during a severe drought.
Young trees and shrubs are impacted first becausethey often do not have well established rootsystems. When a drought occurs, their leaveslose more water than the root system can supplyand leaf scorch usually occurs. In this situation,the leaves may turn brown starting at the edgesand between the veins of the leaf. If lack of watercontinues, the leaves and shoots begin to wilt.The plants at this point may drop large numbersof leaves because the plant cannot continue tomaintain them. You may even note early fallcoloration of the leaves due to this water stress.Evergreen plants may suddenly turn brownresulting in the loss of the plant.
Ant Control SolutionsAnt Control Solutions
Ants abound in my kitchen. They usually enterhomes after heavy rain like we had earlier thissummer and seek out any sweet treat that maybe on the kitchen counter. After cleaning outthe cabinets, securing better food storage, anddisrupting their ant trails with a solution of waterand apple vinegar multiple times, they are stillentering the home but have been disrupted.
The next and most important step is to find theirnest. Many ants enter homes from outside nestslooking for food. To find their nest, you must tracethe ant trail back to the origin. My ant visitorsare using the compost bin outside our kitchenwindow as nesting. If the nest is discovered, itcan be treated. If it is not clear where the ants areentering, treat a four-foot-wide area around yourhouse. We have not sprayed but have moved ourcompost bins away from the house.
For most, the nesting sites will be in soil underobjects outside like stones, boards, firewood andblocks. They can also nest in wall spaces andunder floors of your home. Repair and caulk cracksthat may allow them access to your home. Somehomeowners may want to contact a professional oruse sweet baits to manage kitchen ants.
These ants you see wandering around the kitchenare the wingless sterile female worker. They comefrom a colony of winged female queens and wingedmales. In June on calm sunny days they may swarmand aggregate to mate. The winged females leaveto find a nest site and the males are left to die. Thequeen is larger and loses her wings once she hasestablished a nest and may live for multiple yearslaying eggs.
Most swarming ants cause concern in homeownersbecause they believe them to be termites. However,identification between the two is simple. Wingedants have shorter back wings than the front andtermites' wings are of equal length. Ants haveantennae that are in an elbowed shape and havethin waists between the thorax and abdomen.
Pest management recommendations from theUniversity of Illinois advise applying sprays orgranules of beta-cyflurthrin, bifenthrin, cyfluthrin,deltamethrin, lambda-cyhalothrin, permethrin,zeta-cypermethriin and watering in afterwarddirectly to individual nests. Always read the labelsof pesticides before using them.
Unless they are causing damage, ants areconsidered beneficial, as they aerate the soil.