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Master Gardeners of Douglas County: Gardening Columns

Lilac—Spring's Aromatic Flower

In the Garden with Extension Educator Larry Zilliox, May 22, 2008

Lilacs along with roses are some of our more aromatic flowers. Who doesn't remember their childhood spent at grandmother's when the lilacs were blooming? That aroma was imprinted on my brain and I have associated spring with blooming lilacs ever since. We also use the blooming time as a phenology indicator that our soils have warmed up enough to plant warm season vegetable crops in the garden.

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Dandelion Time

In the Garden with Extension Educator Larry Zilliox, May 15, 2008

We know spring has arrived by looking at our lawns and seeing bright yellow flowers. The dandelions are putting on their annual show. Kids love the plant, picking it and rubbing it on their friend's cheeks leaving a buttery yellow color. Adults hate them because they are a sign of a neglected yard. Our dander really gets up when the seeds start blowing into our yard.

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Is it Spring Yet?

In the Garden with Extension Educator Larry Zilliox, May 5, 2008

A recent article peaked my interest in the Yard and Garden News on the University of Minnesota Extension website by Charlie Rohwer and Chris Currey where graduate students in the Department of Horticulture posed this question "How do plants know when it is spring?" The article seemed appropriate to the recent late season snowstorm and the below normal temperatures that followed.

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Browning Evergreens

In the Garden with Extension Educator Larry Zilliox

April 28, 2008

Now that it has dried up and warmed up people are getting out and assessing winters damage to their plants. One of the first things they are noticing is the browning of foundation evergreens. The severe cold along with the strong winds last winter caused the needles to dry out and in some cases die. People are saying that the plants look orange and the needles are dry.

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Garden Chores

In the Garden with Extension Educator Larry Zilliox

April 14, 2008

When the first few days of nice warm weather appears we rush out into the flower garden to see what has survived. Our first instinct is to start uncovering everything and let it awaken to the new season. As we all know Mother Nature is unpredictable during this time frame and can send us some chilling weather. I recall last year we had several days in late March that reached the 70's, then the following week not a day above freezing. It killed a number of fruit trees that must have been in a vulnerable stage. I lost two apples and a cherry out of my orchard. You may have heard friends talk about how the trees blossomed and then died the next week. Hopefully that will not happen again.

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Soil Testing

In the Garden with Extension Educator Larry Zilliox

April 7, 2008

One of the springtime questions I often get is should I fertilize my garden and with what kind of fertilizer mixture. It is a difficult question to answer without information on the soils in the garden or lawn. An additional factor this year will be the cost of the fertilizer. The price of fertilizer has sky rocketed making it an economical decision in addition to nutrient need. Here are some guidelines you might consider this spring.

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Spring Surprises

In the Garden with Extension Educator Larry Zilliox

March 31, 2008

It is interesting how many people have commented on how tired they are of winter. I would think the intense political coverage would be tiring but, I believe it has been invigorating to our political process this year. People are openly talking about the options before them and changes they would like to see. This has invigorated community leaders to discuss the future directions they would like their communities to take. This awakening to discuss our future direction relates well to our anticipation of the first walk through our dormant gardens.

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Plant Cleaning

In the Garden with Extension Educator Larry Zilliox

March 24, 2008

Some days just can't get any better than this morning. The sun appeared bright and clear lighting up my sun room in full glory. I opened my refrigerator to look for something to make for breakfast and noticed my last two lemons from my lemon tree. A couple of juice oranges laid on the counter ready to be squeezed. A refreshing summer drink is lemonade and orange juice so why not make up some with these fresh fruit. Both fruits are very juicy so it made a nice batch to be enjoyed later in the day. It was time to water my plants before leaving for work. Lo and behold to my surprise on my lemon tree were the first buds of the year starting to burst open. I knew that it was going to happen soon as the tree had sent out new shoot growth the past couple of weeks. The flowers are very sweet smelling, strange as the fruit is sour, and give off an aroma that can be smelled as one walks into the house. Now I know I will have to be around next week to hand pollinate the open flowers and then wait to see how successful I was by the number of lemons on the tree. I think I will kick back my feet this weekend and enjoy that glass of orange/lemon drink. Oh yea the day keeps getting better with the warm rays of sun shinning in my office, enough to want one to find a reason to be out side the rest of the day.

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Bugs Bugs Bugs

In the Garden with Extension Educator Larry Zilliox

March 10, 2008

Bugs Bugs Bugs
Over the next month or so, depending on when spring arrives, we will be seeing bugs in our home. Already people are bringing insects into the office wondering where they are coming from. I think the most common "bug" we will see this spring is boxelder bugs. They hibernated in large numbers last fall and will come alive when the outdoor temperatures get into the 50's during the day time. They have been over wintering in our homes, having crawled under the siding last fall. I know some individuals who have had them all winter finding a half a dozen a day. I wonder how many they will have once it warms up outside and the bugs start moving out. Fortunately, most will make the right turn and return to the open environment. They are hungry after their long rest and are anxious to find food.

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