February 2017-March 2017
In This Issue
22nd Annual Gardener's PaletteUniversity of Illinois Extension Unit 14, Master Gardeners, and JohnWood Community College will once again offer the popular Gardener'sPalette on March 11, 2017. Join us at John Wood Community College -1301 South 48th Street, Quincy, from 9:00 am – 2:50 pm with registrationbeginning at 8:30 am.
You can select from a variety of breakout sessions that are sure to get youexcited for the upcoming gardening season!
Breakout sessions include: Super Sempervivums!, Sustainable VegetableGardening, Xeriscaping, Create a Shady Garden Respite, Insect Hotels,Aggressive Thugs and Reseeders, Vegetable Container Gardening, Bats,Larval Food Sources, Cooking Demo, Edible Flowers, Vermicomposting,Healing/Memory Gardens, and Native Illinois Plants in the HomeLandscape.
Registration is open through March 3; you can register online at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/abhps/or by contacting your local Extension office. The $40 registration fee includes lunch, printed materials, andentry to the vendor fair. After March 3, the cost increases to $45. For questions or more information, contactKari Houle at 217-322-3381 or email@example.com.
Four Seasons Gardening Program2017 Free Webinars
The winter series of University of IllinoisExtension's Four Seasons Gardening programfocuses on seeds, houseplants, and orchids.
How to Have Healthy Houseplants is scheduled forFebruary 14 and 16. Horticulture Educator RhondaFerree will show you how houseplants add life andbeauty to a home.
Illinois State Master Gardener Coordinator SandyMason rounds out the winter series by coveringMoth Orchids – Start an Orchid Odyssey on March 7and 9. She'll help you learn how to grow, repot, andeven rebloom moth orchids.
All sessions are shown on Tuesdays at 1:30 pmand repeated on Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. They areall available for live home viewing. Contact yourlocal Extension office to inquire about attendingthe webinar at the Extension office. Following thesession, a taped version is available on YouTube.There is no fee to attend or register, howeverattendees must register in advance. Each session isabout an hour long and will provide an opportunityto ask questions with the presenter.
To watch from their personal computer,participants must pre-register at http://go.illinois.edu/4seasons_webinars.
Recorded videos of these sessions can be viewedfollowing the program by visiting http://go.illinois.edu/fourseasonsrecordings.
Conference Set for Small Fruit and Vegetable GrowersGrowers will gatherfor the 2017 GatewaySmall Fruit andVegetable Conference onWednesday, February 15.The program, sponsoredby University of IllinoisExtension, will be heldat the Regency Conference Center in O'Fallon, IL.Registration starts at 8 a.m., and the program runs8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Elizabeth Wahle, U of I Extension HorticultureEducator, says that the program includespresenters from University of Illinois, SouthernIllinois University, University of Kentucky, and fromthe small fruit, strawberry and vegetable growersupport industry.
Topics will include Selecting Insecticides forDifficult Pests or Situations, Cantaloupe andWatermelon Variety Trials, Sugar Enhanced andSupersweet Corn Variety Trial Results, DiseaseManagement in Cucurbits and Tomatoes, BlueberryGrowth and Development, Small Fruit InsectManagement, Strawberries, Covered and Uncovered,Pesticide Drift: Preparing in Order to ProtectYourself and many others.
Advance registration by February 8 is $50 perfarm. Late and at-door registration is $60 perfarm. The registration fee includes one copy ofThe 2017 Midwest Small Fruit Spray Guide ORThe 2017 Midwest Vegetable Production Guidefor Commercial Growers. Industry representativeswill be on hand to talk about their products andservices.
For more details and online registration, visithttp://web.extension.illinois.edu/mms/. Orcontact Wahle by phone 618-344-4230 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you need disability accommodations toparticipate in this program, please call byFebruary 5.
Gardening GoalsGardening Goals
by Kari Houle
Each year I tell myself that I want to accomplish this or that in the garden. I want to try this new variety or try a new plant all together. No matter what, sometimes good intentions go awry and when the end of the year rolls around we might sigh and say darn, that didn't work, but you know what there is always next year!
Its 2017, it's a new year and that means new goals, new intentions, and of course new varieties. As gardeners, we always seem to want to try everything, and sometimes it can be very overwhelming. I'm planning to avoid the yearly thinking process of "oh no, whatever will I do with it all?" This year I'm going to take a portion of my yard and focus on getting it to where I want it or at least a good start on my vision of where I want that to be.
I'm not a formal landscape designer or architect, but I do like being creative. I am inspired by what I see others do or ideas in magazines or pictures on Facebook. Then I stop and evaluate how possible they are for my yard and growing zone. That's part of the process - figuring out what works for you in your yard and garden.
Sometimes no matter how much we like certain plants they just might not be suitable for us even if we should be able to grow them. Here's a great example. My mother can grow ivy indoors without trouble - beautiful, healthy, gorgeous plants. Every single time she gave me a healthy plant that she started from a cutting off her plant, I would bring it home. It wouldn't matter what house I was living in or what I did, I would always get spider mites and that would be the end of it.
This goes for outdoors gardens as well. If you've tried the same plant three times and each time it hasn't survived in your garden – evaluate why. Is it lighting? Is it soil conditions – organic matter, soil moisture, drainage? Might that plant be better suited in a different area of your yard or garden?
One thing that you should always keep in mind about your yard and garden is that it's fluid – it's always changing. Trees grow bigger providing more shade as time goes by and our sunny gardens become shady respites. Sometimes the reverse occurs, trees come down and now that once shady respite might become the perfect location for a sun loving garden or maybe you've always wanted to grow vegetables and now you have that chance.
So what's the point of all this rambling on and on? First, don't assume you have to do it all at the same time, all at once, all in the same year. Give yourself time to plan and tackle a portion of your yard or garden a piece at a time. It will help in feeling you've accomplished something and it can create drive and initiative to work on the next portion of the yard. Eventually, all of it will come together. Let yourself be inspired by things around you, what others have done, pictures, personal passions, etc. Don't be discouraged if something doesn't work. Finally, give yourself time to enjoy your garden and your hard work and the beauty that is the outdoors. Those garden catalogs should be arriving soon – we have plenty of time to plot and plan our 2017 garden.
Boxwood BlightBoxwood Blight
by Diane Plewa and Suzanne Bissonnette
Boxwood blight, a serious fungal disease, has been confirmed in Illinois. According to a University Diagnostic Outreach Extension Specialist, two boxwood samples were submitted to the University of Illinois Plant Clinic in late 2016. The samples came from Lake and Cook Counties in northeastern Illinois; both were from recent landscape additions.
"Although the characteristic leaf spots were not apparent on the samples, defoliation and stem cankers were noted," says Diane Plewa.
The samples were quarantined and, after sufficient incubation, fungal spores consistent with the Calonectria spp. fungi were recovered. The Illinois Department of Agriculture was notified, and samples were sent to the United States Department of Agriculture Animal Plant Health Inspection Service Laboratory in Maryland, where the genus identification was confirmed. Species identification is ongoing.
"To our knowledge, the infected plants were not from Illinois production facilities," Plewa adds.
Symptoms of boxwood blight include leaf spots, stem cankers, and defoliation. Leaf spots usually appear as light or dark brown circular lesions, often surrounded by a large yellow halo. If the infection occurs near the margin of the leaf, the lesion may be semi-circular or V-shaped. Stem cankers are easiest to see on new, green stem tissue. The cankers are dark brown or black, and are often linear or diamond-shaped.
"Defoliation occurs as the final symptom," says Suzanne Bissonnette, Director of the U of I Plant Clinic.
"Because these symptoms can be similar to other, common fungal and environmental problems on boxwood, we strongly suggest submitting samples to the U of I Plant Clinic for confirmation. We recommend scouting boxwood and pachysandra plants, especially those that were installed in the last few years or plants that are near host plants that were planted recently."
Boxwood blight is a potentially devastating disease affecting members of the Buxaceae family. The disease has been found on boxwood, pachysandra, and sarcococca. The disease is caused by the fungi Calonectria pseudonaviculata (syn. Cylindrocladium pseudonaviculatum and C. buxicola) and Calonectria henricotiae. To date, C. henricotiae has not been found in the United States.
Bissonnette adds that boxwood blight was formerly federally regulated, but is now regulated at the state level. "Although it can cause widespread death of hosts in the environment, the spores of the pathogen do not appear to travel extensively, reducing its overall impact. However, in production facilities where equipment can be contaminated and expose hundreds or thousands of plants, the pathogen is a much larger concern."
The pathogen was identified for the first time in the United States in 2011, and has since been found in 18 states. Most are located in the eastern part of the country, though confirmations have been made in Missouri and Ohio.
Oak Wilt Can Devastate OaksOak Wilt Can Devastate Oaks
by Andrew Holsinger
Few things change the look of a landscape as much as the loss of a tree. Maybe it's a reawakening of our aboriginal roots that make us feel naked and exposed once our lofty friends are gone. The outstretched arms of a mature oak wrap us in the comfort of permanence and reliability. Rightfully so since oaks are one of our most long-lived species often with trees reaching 200 plus years old.
Unfortunately, even oaks have enemies. Besides caterpillar bull dozers and caterpillar leaf browsers, oaks have a fungal enemy.
Oak wilt is a serious disease of many oaks and has also been found in Chinese chestnuts. Much like Dutch elm disease and chestnut blight, oak wilt is a fungus. It kills oaks by clogging the water conducting vessels of the tree.
The oak wilt fungus mainly attacks oaks in the red oak group which include oaks with pointed tipped leaves such as pin, shingle, red and black oaks. Oaks in the red oak group are very susceptible to the fungus and often die quickly in just one season.
Oaks in the white oak group which have round tipped leaves such as swamp white, bur and white oaks are more resistant, but can be infected with the fungus. In the white oak group the disease is often localized in one area of the tree; therefore, the tree may live with the disease for many years.
Once a red oak is infected with the fungus, the tree usually starts to die from the top down in late spring and early summer. Leaves may first turn a dull green, bronze, or tan starting at the margins. Immature leaves may also droop and roll lengthwise. Mature leaves usually remain stiff during the different stages of the disease and for some time after the tree dies.
Typically scorching of the leaves is noticed next, often in sections of the tree rather than uniformly throughout the tree. The scorched foliage has a half leaf symptom, with scorching starting at the tip of the leaf and moving toward the base of the leaf. Symptoms progress downward and inward until all the foliage is affected. Defoliation may occur any time after the symptoms appear.
Another diagnostic characteristic of oak wilt is a brown or black streaking which develops in the current-season sapwood of wilting branches. The discoloration appears as longitudinal streaks once the outer branch layer is removed. In cross-section, a brown ring or broken circle of dark-colored tissue may be seen. Discoloration in the center of the stem is not associated with oak wilt.
Oak wilt is spread via root grafts, animals such as squirrels, tools and insects. Avoid pruning oaks during the growing season when sap beetles that can carry the fungus are present. Root grafts can form when two or more oaks of related species are growing close to each other. If one of the trees becomes infected with oak wilt, the disease can spread from one tree to another through root grafts. Oak wilt is the primary suspect when clusters of red and black oaks start dying.
Keep in mind oaks can suffer from environmental issues as well as a foliar fungal disease called anthracnose but it is mainly a leaf disease causing brown edges on leaves in the lower branches. Conversely oak wilt appears first in the upper branches.
For more information on oak wilt and how to properly sample for the disease http://web.aces.uiuc.edu/vista/pdf_pubs/618.pdf or contact your local Extension office for a copy. The only way to make a positive diagnosis is to sample and have a lab such as the UI Plant Clinic (http://web.extension.illinois.edu/plantclinic/) isolate the oak wilt fungus. Oak wilt is a disease you want to diagnose as early as possible to prevent further spread.
Starting Seeds IndoorsStarting Seeds Indoors
by Rhonda Ferree
Are you "itching" to start your vegetable garden? One way to jump-start the growing season is to start seedlings indoors. Growing plants from seed is both rewarding and cost-effective.
There are many advantages to starting your seeds indoors in addition to allowing anxious gardeners to "get their fingers dirty." In theory, plants started indoors will be bigger and produce faster than seed planted directly into the garden. Many of us wait until the cell packs of tomatoes and peppers are available at the retailer. Starting your own seed allows you to raise the varieties you want and not rely on what the retailers have available.
To start your seeds indoors all you need is a container and tray, potting mix, and labels. The container should have drainage holes and could be anything including egg cartons, cell packs saved from last spring, or special seed starting kits you purchase. The tray or flat will collect excess water coming through the drainage hole.
Now start filling the container. Seeds usually germinate best in a light mix developed primarily for starting seed. The germinating mix is readily available at most stores. Fill the containers full and then water thoroughly with a light mist. Most germinating mixes are hard to get wet, so take your time, and keep checking with your finger to be sure the mixture wets thoroughly.
Next, plant the seed and label them carefully. Don't worry about planting too closely, because you will thin them later. Check the seed packet to see whether you should cover the seeds or not. Some seeds need light to germinate and should not be covered. Others should be covered with a light dusting of additional germinating mix. Use a mister to lightly water the covered tops.
Keep the germinating mix moist, but be careful not to over water. You might want to enclose the whole container in plastic or use a clear plastic cover to help create a more humid, greenhouse-like environment. A clear plastic deli container makes a great mini-greenhouse. Once the seeds start to sprout, remove that cover.
Want to learn more about starting seeds indoors? In a rececent four Seasons Gardening webinar, Extension Horticulture Educator Kim Ellson discussed key elements for successful seeding this spring; germination triggers, breaking dormancy, scheduling, seeding methods, damping off, and hardening.
A taped version is available on YouTube. Go to http://go.illinois.edu/fourseasonsrecordings.
Good luck and have fun jump-starting your garden. For more information, go to University of Illinois Extension's "A Taste of Gardening" website at http://extension.illinois.edu/tog/.
Garden Tool CareGarden Tool Care
by Jennifer Fishburn
After the garden is cleaned up and put to bed for the winter, it is time to give your tools some attention. University of Illinois Extension educator Jennifer Fishburn says that garden tools should be cleaned, sharpened, and hung in the correct place after every use, but admits that does not always happen.
"I think most gardeners are like myself," Fishburn states. "Use the tool and be happy that it ended up in the shed and not lying in the yard."
Quality garden tools that are properly cared for will last for a long time. Not only will properly maintained tools last longer, but clean, sharp blades will make garden work easier. In addition, cleaning tools removes disease inoculum that can be in soil and plant debris left on the tool.
Before storing tools for the winter, first remove soil and debris. Use a strong spray of water, wire brush, or putty knife to remove caked on soil. Remove small soil particles and rust spots with sandpaper or steel wool. Lubricate tool pivot points and springs with machine oil.
Sharpen larger tools such as hoes and shovels with a #10 bastard mill file or power drill with a coarse grinding disk or wheel. "To prepare for sharpening, place the tool in a vice, wear a pair of leather gloves and don't forget your safety glasses," Fishburn says. The cutting edge should be sharpened to maintain the same angle as the original bevel. Start with the top edge of the tool, file away from you, and only file one way, maintaining a 45 degree angle. File the opposite side lightly to remove metal burrs. Finally wipe or spray metal parts with a petroleum-based lubricant and rust-inhibitor such as WD-40. "If you haven't sharpened a tool before, it takes practice. If you regularly file your tools, this job will be much easier," Fishburn adds.
Now that the metal parts are clean, the handle needs some attention. Fiberglass handles simply need to be washed and dried. To prevent splinters, sand rough spots on wooden handles with a fine to medium sandpaper. Replace weak or broken handles. Most hardware stores carry replacement handles. Remove dust and rub linseed oil into wooden handles. Let it soak in. Apply until it doesn't absorb into the wood any more, then dry off any remaining oil. Tighten nuts, bolts, and screws. Replace them if they are worn or rusty. Last but not least, apply a band of bright colored paint or tape to the handle. This will help you find tools that have been left out in the yard or in your neighbor's garage.
Bladed tools such as pruners should be disinfected after each use with rubbing alcohol or a 10 percent bleach/water solution. Lubricate moving parts of clippers and pruning shears with oil yearly. Many pruners can be disassembled for sharpening. Use a whetstone to sharpen beveled blades and be sure to maintain the original shape of the bevel. "Before disassembling, it is a good idea to take a picture of the item," Fishburn suggests. "This will aid in reassembling the tool."Store tools indoors in a clean, dry area with blade ends off the ground. Hang tools or store blades upright.
"Don't forget about chemical sprayers," Fishburn says. "These should be cleaned after every use. Before storing for the winter, thoroughly wash and rinse all parts. Most chemical manufacturers recommend triple rinsing of sprayers. Check the owner's manual for other maintenance suggestions such as applying oil to all moving parts. Hang the sprayer upside down until thoroughly dry."
Garden hoses are often forgotten in the fall. Be sure to drain all water from the hose and store it in a dry location. In the winter, water left in plastic hoses will cause the hose to freeze and crack. Store hoses on hose reel supports or coil loosely.Refer to the owner's manual for specific instructions on cleaning and storing power equipment. Avoid costly mistakes such as storing a power washer in an outdoor shed. In general, power equipment such as lawn mowers, tillers, and chippers should be thoroughly cleaned. Remove caked-on soil, plant material, and grass clippings from equipment. Tighten loose screws and nuts. Sharpen blades.
If you don't have the tools or know-how to sharpen mower blades or pruners, take them to a professional. It is best to do this in the fall when they aren't as busy.
"Just think about how nice it will be next spring when you go to the garden shed or garage and find all you garden tools ready for use," Fishburn says.