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Hot Topics

    Japanese Beetles: Do Four O’clock Flowers Help?

    A rumor emerged that there existed a flower which could not only halt the Japanese beetle’s garden invasion but kill them in the process. After some investigation, this mythical plant people talked about was the four o’clock, also called marvel-of-Peru (Mirabilis jalapa).

    Bush Honeysuckle: A Shade Plant with Shady Lookalikes

    Every day I arrive to work in Le Center I’m greeted by a row of honeysuckles. When I would visit Iowa to see my parents, however,  an entirely different outlook about honeysuckles emerged. With an axe in one hand and a spray bottle of potent herbicide on the other, I was fighting a scourge rather than a landscaped plant.

    The Mystery of the Maltese Mushroom

    Maltese plants have several tricks under their leaves when it comes to survival. One plant in particular is not only a survivor, but has a fascinating, strange history.

    Christmas Cacti: A Bit Of Brazil In Winter

    One reason these plants are so robust lies in their homeland, southeastern Brazil. Wild Christmas cacti thrive in rocky, well-drained areas underneath trees.

    Use Soil Health Tests Wisely

    Most gardeners know an unhealthy soil when they work one, no test required. However, if you take steps to improve your garden beds, you may want to know if you are on the right track.

    Garlic Mustard: A Vinegary Disposition

    One aspect of garlic mustard, aside from its annoying growth habit, is its influence on the soil underneath.

    Solarization in the Garden

    Solarization is where transparent plastic (2 to 6 mil) covers a garden bed and uses trapped heat to kill weed seedlings (and some diseases). Common in southern states, more temperate areas such as Maine, Indiana, and Minnesota have found some use in this process and are continuing to explore how to make it more effective.

    Elderberry: A Magic Wand for Colds?

    There appears to be a measurable benefit (compared to placebo) to taking elderberry during the flu, but elderberries have a surprising history with humanity.

    Sparkling Water: Pesticide Panic?

    Linalool is indeed used in insecticides, but looks (and smells) can be deceiving with this plant derived chemical.

    Wasp Control for Lawns

    Ground nesting wasps can be quite the annoyance in late summer. Knowing when and how to control is key.

    Conifer Madness

    Thirty five to forty percent of my service calls deal with trees, and the vast majority of those calls consist of evergreens that often do not live up to their name.

    Creeping Charlie: A Tangled History With Hops

    Considered a garden weed, few people know the old brewing uses of Creeping Charlie and its long lost rivalry with hops.

    Neem: A Pesticide That Is Also a Toothpaste!

    Neem bark and seeds were traditionally used not only as an insecticide, but also as a tonic to treat human aliments such as leprosy, tooth decay, or malaria.

    Vinegar and Epsom Salt as Herbicides

    Spreading Epsom salt to combat weeds is dubious at best. However, horticulture vinegar (properly applied) can be effective at weed control in certain situations, particularly in organic vegetable production.

    Saffron Production in Minnesota?

    Growing saffron in a high tunnel can be done, perhaps even profitably according to new research by the University of Vermont.