Extension Educator, Local Food Systems and Small Farms
Extension Educator, Horticulture
May 25, 2012
Are you a locovore? A locowhat? A locavore is a person who eats food from the local area. Locavores aren't loco -- they just like to eat food that has been grown locally to help the environment and the economy. The reasons for selecting local foods include the fact that foods shipped long distances are often picked while they are unripe, can be stored for long periods of time, and are often handled extensively; locally grown foods are "greener", since less energy is required for shipping, handling, packaging, etc.; and buying fresh, locally grown food supports local farmers.
There is no place more local than your own garden. As a gardener, you know the benefits of growing your own food. You understand and appreciate how good freshly picked veggies taste and you also know how they are raised and exactly what goes into them. If you don't have space for a garden or perhaps you live in an apartment, consider growing a few vegetables in containers. Extension has some great information on Successful Container Gardens at http://urbanext.illinois.edu/containergardening
I don't know about you, but I am really excited that farmers' market season is here. According to the Illinois Department of Agriculture's (IDOA) Bureau of Marketing and Promotion Farmer's Market website, http://www.agr.state.il.us/markets/farmers/, there are three farmers' markets listed for Sangamon County and three listed for Logan County. If your market is not listed, contact Kendra Buchanan at 217-524-3297 for more information.
In Sangamon County we have three markets, the Illinois Products Farmers' Market and the Old Capitol Farmers' Market located in Springfield and Pawnee Farmers Market located in Pawnee. The first market to open will be the Illinois Products Farmers' Market located at the Illinois State Fairgrounds. The market is held on Thursdays, from 4-7 pm from May 10 through October 18. The market will offer fresh products including produce, meat, poultry, eggs, wine, baked goods, herbs, spices, vegetable plants, ornamental plants, and flowers.
The Old Capitol Farmers' Market will begin on Wednesday, May 16. The market will be held 8:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturday's May 16 – October 27 and is located on Adams Street between 5th & 2nd streets. With nearly three full blocks of vendors there is an outstanding variety of produce, baked goods, meats, cheese, plants and other specialty items.
The Pawnee Farmers Market is located at the Village Square in Pawnee and is held on Tuesdays, from 4-6 pm from June 7 to September 27, 2012. The market will feature fruits and vegetables, meats and barbecue sauces, tastefully simple products, homemade bath products, and wooden items for your home and garden.
In Logan County, the three markets are the A Lincoln Farmers Market and the Farmers' Market, both located in Lincoln and the Elkhart Farmers Market located in Elkhart. The first market to open is the A Lincoln Farmers Market located at Scully Park (Clinton and Kickapoo Streets). The market is held on Wednesdays from 3-6 pm and on Saturdays from 7-noon from April 28 through October 27. The market will offer fresh fruits and vegetables grown locally, plants, baked goods, homemade dog biscuits, rag rugs, woodworking, and hand sewn items.
The Farmers Market located at Latham Park (Latham Place and Kickapoo Streets) will be held on Wednesdays from 3:30-6 pm and on Saturdays from 8-noon from May 12 to October 27, 2012 (with some exceptions). The market will offer fresh vegetables, fruits, herbs, plants, baked goods, and crafts.
The Elkhart Farmers Market located at the west side of Horse Feathers Antique Store, 104 Governor Oglesby Street, will be held on Saturdays from 7-noon from May 26 through October 27. The market will feature seasonal and local plants, produce, and baked goods.
If you are interested in finding other farmers' markets in Illinois go to the IDOA website mentioned above. If, during your summer travels, you want to find a farmers' market, check out the USDA National Farmers Market Directory at http://search.ams.usda.gov/farmersmarkets/ . Happy eating!
May 24, 2012
Here we go again! We are into May and many area homeowners are reporting problems with their maple trees. Many times the problems begin on one side of the tree, and have the symptoms of brown or dropped leaves. What could be the problem? Well, anthracnose is back again. The fact that one side of the tree is affected is usually a function of wind currents (or the lack of them). The other side will probably show symptoms shortly.
What's anthracnose? It's a disease caused by a fungus. It's present most years, and affects many different plants. On trees, it only affects good quality shade trees. That includes maples, oaks, ash, and even sycamores. Silver maples are not usually affected by anthracnose, but are affected by other leaf spot fungi (that's plural for fungus).
Anthracnose can affect three different ways on shade trees. The first way is by affecting small twigs. In this type of infection, small twigs are actually killed by the fungus. The second way is affecting buds. In bud infections, the buds are killed. The third way is infecting leaves. The leaf stage is the most common, and shows up as dead areas along the tips and edges of leaves or as dead spots between the leaf veins. As these dead areas get larger, the leaves fall to the ground.
There is no cure for anthracnose. Once the fungus has infected the tree, we just have to ride it out. We might have prevented the disease by protecting new buds and leaves before the infection, but that isn't very practical on very large trees. This would take a fungicide application covering the entire tree every 10 days or so from when leaves first expand from the buds, until nighttime temperatures stay over 65 degrees. Usually the first three sprays are the most important to protect new leaves.
That leaves us with good news and bad news. First, the bad news is the infections are just starting and will get worse. There is nothing we can do but keep the trees in good growing condition (water when dry and add a little fertilizer). We can continue to have leaves infected for quite some time. The good news is that rarely is the disease a killer on established trees. Generally the worst that happens is the loss of the small twigs if that stage was infected, or having a bare tree in your yard for a few weeks. I say a few weeks because generally when leaf drop is severe, a new set of leaves comes out within 4-6 weeks. What usually happens is it takes more energy to shoot a second set of leaves, so that is why the water and fertilizer can be very important.
The fertilizer rate for trees is essentially the same as for lawns. Supply about one pound each of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium per 1000 square foot of drip area. This means a tree with about a 30 foot branch spread would require about eight pounds of 12-12-12 or 13-13-13 broadcast around the entire area with branches above it. Of course if you've fertilized the yard, you've already fertilized the tree.
Maple leaf bladder gall is also abundant this year. The gall is yellow to red when it starts out, then turns brown as the year wears on. The cause is a mite feeding on the leaf. The leaf then swells in response to the injury and toxins put into the leaf. The "bumps" are actually leaf tissue. I usually compare it to you getting a mosquito bite. There is no treatment, since the swellings are actually leaf tissue, and there is no damage other than the unsightliness.
May 14, 2012
The alternating warm and cool weather has brought about many interesting things, both inside and outside the house. Inside the house, we have the Asian ladybugs to deal with. We also have them outside, but that is less of a concern. As we begin to clean up flower beds, or piled leaves around the house, we will disturb resting places of the ladybugs. This will cause them to seek a new place, and if it is warm and sunny enough, they may just create a little bit of a nuisance outside. Inside, we have a population coming out of hibernation. They have been there all winter, but have been under or behind things so you didn't know they were there. The best control around the house seems to be a cup of coffee or a glass of water for them to fly into. Seriously, sucking them up with a vacuum, or spraying areas with an aerosol flying insect killer is about as good as you can do.
Another insect becoming active with the warm weather is the ant. We are seeing winged ants being brought into the office on a regular basis. Ants become winged when they are overcrowded in their old colony, and are seeking to start a new one. Many are concerned about the identification of these winged insects to make sure they aren't termites. The process is relatively simple. Just look at the last body segment, and if it has a "pinched" waist, it is an ant. Termites don't have that hourglass figure, but are shaped more like a cigar. There have also been a few termite samples brought in.
May 14, 2012
Everyone seems to have been waiting for warmer temperatures and the appointed date to begin broadleaf weed control programs. Well that time will come, believe it or not. For most of the broadleaf products to work, the temperature has to be over 55 degrees. These chemicals do work better when it is warmer and the weeds are actively growing. The first item of business is to know what type of weeds you want to control. This will make a big difference in what product or products you select.
The main products used for broadleaf weed control in lawns are 2,4-D, MCPP, dicamba, a combination of those three products, and triclopyr. Let's start with the triclopyr since it's probably the easiest to discuss. Its place in weed control is for hard to control weeds and woody plants. It also improves control of violets. It can be added to one, or more, other chemicals to provide broad spectrum control. Some blends now contain trichlopyr, so check the label. There are many trade names for products containing trichlopyr, and they seem to change every year. Just check active ingredients.
2,4-D is the old standby. It is good on carpetweed, chicory, dandelion, lambsquarters, plantains, and wild carrot. There are amine forms and ester forms. The ester will generally give better control of more weeds, is generally not water soluble (except for a hard inch of rain soon after application), but it does have vapor drift potential. MCPP is good on chicory, lambsquarters, and white clover. Dicamba is good on black medic, chickweeds, chicory, dandelion, dock, henbit, knotweed, lambsquarters, pearlwort, purslane, red sorrel, thistles, white clover, wild carrot, and yarrow. The combination of all three products will pick up all of those listed for the individual products, plus a few more such as mallow, speedwell, and wild onion. The combinations are sold under many different trade names so check the active ingredient list for ones you need.
My annual disclaimer for application of these types of products is: "Beware of potential drift from these products." Not only can the spray move under windy conditions while you are spraying, but particularly with dicamba, the products can drift as a vapor for up to two weeks after spraying with hot and humid conditions.
May 14, 2012
It was quite an interesting twist getting a hard freeze with not much frost, and then some frost on the second day. Why not much frost? Well, there really wasn't much moisture to produce the frost. The second day of cold weather, we didn't have much frost until the humidity came up around 6:30 or later. The end result is damage to many plants, and the actual damage is caused by the plant's cells rupturing from being frozen.
Most damaged was new growth on many perennials and tender crops. Some of the more noticeable problems were on evergreens where the new candle growth was killed. Of course grapes really got hit, and so did some of the trees just leafing out such as walnuts and sycamores. Many of the normally frost tolerant garden plants were actually frozen back to the ground. The only really good thing that could have come from it was some damage to flowering or developing sweet gums, but don't hold your breath on that one.
One thing to definitely check is rhubarb. If you notice brown or black around the leaf edges, it is probably best to pull those stalks and wait for regrowth to harvest. The freeze damage of rhubarb leaves releases a toxin back into the leaf stalks, and they are poisonous. It's best to be safe, so when in doubt – throw it out becomes the golden rule.
What can you do about the damage? Well, the best thing to do is wait and see. Most plants in the perennial and frost tolerant groups will being regrowth in four to eight weeks. If you happened to put out some tender crops, such as tomatoes, well...... you probably got to practice on the first batch.
May 14, 2012
The wacky weather has many unintended consequences. If you have an outdoor pet, you may have noticed an unusually early and large number of ticks are out and about. Anyone who has been out in tall grass or wooded areas can probably attest to that as well. Ticks are large, flattened mites that feed as parasites on mammals, birds and reptiles. They hatch from eggs into six-legged larvae that locate hosts and feed before dropping off the host and molting into eight-legged nymphs. Nymphs locate hosts, feed and drop off to molt into eight-legged adults. Adults also locate hosts on which to feed. Males may stay on the host, mating with females coming there to feed. Females engorge on blood to several times their original size, drop off the host and lay hundreds of eggs. With each tick having to find three hosts in its lifetime, many ticks starve before reproducing, although ticks can survive for long periods without food.
Also pay particular attention to pets in wooded areas, or areas with tall grass. Use preventative products when possible. Carbaryl dust may be used on pets and their sleeping areas help control ticks and fleas. Mosquito and tick repellents containing DEET can be used on clothing and body parts for people, but not pets. Permethrin can be used on clothing only, and not sprayed on the body. Be particularly careful of permethrin around cats and dogs, as it can be lethal.