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    Summer Season Climate Outlook 2017

    The long-range outlook for the summer climate was released on Thursday, May 18. With the recent rains and transition to cooler temperatures, will this trend last for a while? The last couple of weeks of May are more likely to stay on the cooler side of average, according to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. Rainfall is also projected to taper off this weekend, and South Dakota will turn drier again for the rest of the month.

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    Spring Annual Weeds

    There are a number of weeds that pop up very early in the spring and even start flowering before most other plants have shown any signs of growth. Most of these are spring or winter annuals that come back from seed each year. Spring annuals germinate early in the spring while winter annuals actually germinate during the previous fall, overwinter then resume growth the following spring, flower and die. In most cases, these cool season weeds are more prevalent in waste areas, growing on bare soil.

    Read More »

    Controlling Weeds in Perennial Beds

    Quackgrass and bromegrass are often two of the worst weeds in perennial flower gardens and in perennial vegetables like asparagus. Kentucky bluegrass and other lawn grasses can also be a problem. Perennial broadleaf weeds are also other common weeds among flowers and perennial vegetables. They are both aggressive plants that can grow among other plants so tightly that it is difficult to get them out. In addition, plants like quackgrass, bromegrass, creeping jenny and others produce creeping, underground stems called rhizomes that allow the plant to spread a foot or more in a season, producing new plants as they grow.

    Read More »

    Spring Perennial Planting

    There is always something to do in a garden – some pruning, raking, weeding or just checking on things to see what new is blooming or growing. This is also the time for the uncovering of old plants and planting new ones. Planting using bare root plants is a great way to get plants at an economical price and probably find some of those special plants that are just not available from your local garden center or discount outlet store. Now is the time when all those beautiful plants are on display and available, and you just want to buy one of everything! However, you should do some things before you head off to the garden center.

    Read More »

    Growing Micro-Greens

    As the name implies, micro-greens are grown only for a short time before they are harvested, usually only for about three weeks! In addition, they don’t take up a lot of room or need a fully functioning greenhouse to grow them. You can grow them on a sunny windowsill or with supplemental lights. They can be grown in ordinary flowerpots or more commonly in the typical open 1020 greenhouse flats that you will see in your local garden center holding cell packs in the spring.

    Read More »

    Forcing Tender Bulbs Indoors

    Every once in a while, someone will ask me if they can still force their spring-flowering bulbs. Unfortunately, it is likely too late to try to force bulbs like tulips, daffodils, hyacinth etc. which should have been potted up last fall or planted out in the garden. Theses cold-hardy bulbs need to go through a rooting phase, right after planting, and then a vernalization period of nine to 12 weeks before they will flower. If you still have some of these bulbs, they are likely not any good now since they have probably dried out and died.

    Read More »

    Soil Testing Labs

    Crop Producers, agronomists, gardeners, homeowners and anyone else who is thinking about taking soil samples this fall or next spring need to be aware that South Dakota State University no longer offers commercial testing. (Effective Oct, 2011). Below is a list of nearby state or private laboratories that can be used for crop production fields, gardens and lawns. The private laboratories are not necessarily recommended or endorsed, however many will give university recommendations when asked. Crop producers, agronomists, gardeners, and home owners with questions on sample submissions, analysis charges and recommendations should contact the laboratory of interest.

    Read More »

    Ornamental Milkweeds to Try in Your Garden

    Swamp milkweed (Asclpeias incarnate) is native to the Great Plains, and is a great ornamental milkweed for your home garden. Don’t let the swamp milkweed name discourage you from trying this plant, you do not need a swamp to grow it, since it is a very adaptable plant. While it prefers average moisture conditions, it can tolerate periods of dry weather as well as some occasional standing water. It too is perennial but generally not as long-lived as butterfly weed.

    Read More »

    Spring Annual Weeds

    There are a number of weeds that pop up very early in the spring and even start flowering before most other plants have shown any signs of growth. Most of these are spring or winter annuals that come back from seed each year. Spring annuals germinate early in the spring while winter annuals actually germinate during the previous fall, overwinter then resume growth the following spring, flower and die. In most cases, these cool season weeds are more prevalent in waste areas, growing on bare soil.

    Read More »

    Controlling Weeds in Perennial Beds

    Quackgrass and bromegrass are often two of the worst weeds in perennial flower gardens and in perennial vegetables like asparagus. Kentucky bluegrass and other lawn grasses can also be a problem. Perennial broadleaf weeds are also other common weeds among flowers and perennial vegetables. They are both aggressive plants that can grow among other plants so tightly that it is difficult to get them out. In addition, plants like quackgrass, bromegrass, creeping jenny and others produce creeping, underground stems called rhizomes that allow the plant to spread a foot or more in a season, producing new plants as they grow.

    Read More »

    Spring Perennial Planting

    There is always something to do in a garden – some pruning, raking, weeding or just checking on things to see what new is blooming or growing. This is also the time for the uncovering of old plants and planting new ones. Planting using bare root plants is a great way to get plants at an economical price and probably find some of those special plants that are just not available from your local garden center or discount outlet store. Now is the time when all those beautiful plants are on display and available, and you just want to buy one of everything! However, you should do some things before you head off to the garden center.

    Read More »

    Forcing Tender Bulbs Indoors

    Every once in a while, someone will ask me if they can still force their spring-flowering bulbs. Unfortunately, it is likely too late to try to force bulbs like tulips, daffodils, hyacinth etc. which should have been potted up last fall or planted out in the garden. Theses cold-hardy bulbs need to go through a rooting phase, right after planting, and then a vernalization period of nine to 12 weeks before they will flower. If you still have some of these bulbs, they are likely not any good now since they have probably dried out and died.

    Read More »

    Ornamental Milkweeds to Try in Your Garden

    Swamp milkweed (Asclpeias incarnate) is native to the Great Plains, and is a great ornamental milkweed for your home garden. Don’t let the swamp milkweed name discourage you from trying this plant, you do not need a swamp to grow it, since it is a very adaptable plant. While it prefers average moisture conditions, it can tolerate periods of dry weather as well as some occasional standing water. It too is perennial but generally not as long-lived as butterfly weed.

    Read More »

    Sustainable Landscape Design Using Herbaceous Plants

    When it comes to landscape design many people often think of pretty flowers and lush green gardens. Though this is probably true in many cases, plants have a lot more to offer than just looking pretty. A thoughtful design utilizing herbaceous plants can make a site sustainable by providing habitat to animals, protecting water quality, increasing biodiversity, as well as adding social benefits like minimal maintenance and increased property value.

    Read More »

    Houseplants 101: 7 Reasons Your Houseplant is Not Thriving

    So, you want to grow a house plant? Maybe you received a beautiful orchid as gift from a friend, or your mother-in-law has given you her beloved snake plant to take care of while she spends the winter in Florida. You may even be interested in growing a plant in your home purely for your own enjoyment. Whatever the reason, you are having doubts about your ability to care for this plant properly, as your past record is less than stellar. Remember what happened to the last plant that you tried to grow?

    Read More »

    Spring Annual Weeds

    There are a number of weeds that pop up very early in the spring and even start flowering before most other plants have shown any signs of growth. Most of these are spring or winter annuals that come back from seed each year. Spring annuals germinate early in the spring while winter annuals actually germinate during the previous fall, overwinter then resume growth the following spring, flower and die. In most cases, these cool season weeds are more prevalent in waste areas, growing on bare soil.

    Read More »

    Garden Peas

    Peas are one of the first vegetables to be planted in the spring, as they enjoy cooler weather. Few things beat the taste of fresh peas right from the garden – lightly cooked or even raw! Peas are good for you too, with low calories and fat, healthy fiber, Vitamins K, A, B, and C, zinc, copper, calcium, iron, and potassium, all with a low glycemic index. Peas have been domesticated for a very long time; they were found in an archaeological site in Switzerland dating 9000 years ago.

    Read More »

    Growing Micro-Greens

    As the name implies, micro-greens are grown only for a short time before they are harvested, usually only for about three weeks! In addition, they don’t take up a lot of room or need a fully functioning greenhouse to grow them. You can grow them on a sunny windowsill or with supplemental lights. They can be grown in ordinary flowerpots or more commonly in the typical open 1020 greenhouse flats that you will see in your local garden center holding cell packs in the spring.

    Read More »

    Soil Testing Labs

    Crop Producers, agronomists, gardeners, homeowners and anyone else who is thinking about taking soil samples this fall or next spring need to be aware that South Dakota State University no longer offers commercial testing. (Effective Oct, 2011). Below is a list of nearby state or private laboratories that can be used for crop production fields, gardens and lawns. The private laboratories are not necessarily recommended or endorsed, however many will give university recommendations when asked. Crop producers, agronomists, gardeners, and home owners with questions on sample submissions, analysis charges and recommendations should contact the laboratory of interest.

    Read More »

    All-America Selections Announced for 2017

    All-America Selections has just announced its winners for 2017, based on the trial results from this summer. All together eleven exciting new AAS Winners were selected. Each of the following varieties was trialed in North America by professional, independent, volunteer judges during one growing season. Each was trialed next to comparison varieties that are considered best-in-class among those currently on the market. Winners appropriate for our area included the following.

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    Harvesting and Storing Pumpkins and Winter Squash

    The gardening season will soon come to an end, but we can still enjoy the fruit of our labor for months ahead if we take some extra care in harvesting and storage. Pumpkins and winter squash are two vegetables that can last well into the winter with attention to the following practices. For optimal storage life, pumpkins and winter squash should be left on the vine until the fruit are fully mature.

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    Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus

    In recent days we have been asked about numerous tomato plants that were looking sick after being transplanted, with leaves turning yellow, and plants very stunted. In some cases the leaves had some purplish-bronze tinge to them. The soil did not seem to be a factor, as some of the adjacent plants were thriving, with lush dark-green foliage. The suspected agent was a virus, as the symptoms did not fit any of the common fungal or bacterial diseases common in South Dakota, and samples were sent to the SDSU Plant Diagnostic Lab.

    Read More »

    Aronia: Beautiful and Healthy

    Aronia melanocarpa, or simply “aronia,” is an attractive shrub that has recently been gaining more attention in the Midwest – its berries are very high in antioxidants thought to be beneficial for human health. Aronia is also known as chokeberry (berry, not cherry), descriptive of the astringent taninns present in the dark-blue fruit. When fully ripe, the berries, which look somewhat like blueberries or chokecherries, have a sugar content as high as table grapes and sweet cherries, but balanced by high acidity and complex flavors.

    Read More »

    Spring Annual Weeds

    There are a number of weeds that pop up very early in the spring and even start flowering before most other plants have shown any signs of growth. Most of these are spring or winter annuals that come back from seed each year. Spring annuals germinate early in the spring while winter annuals actually germinate during the previous fall, overwinter then resume growth the following spring, flower and die. In most cases, these cool season weeds are more prevalent in waste areas, growing on bare soil.

    Read More »

    Controlling Weeds in Perennial Beds

    Quackgrass and bromegrass are often two of the worst weeds in perennial flower gardens and in perennial vegetables like asparagus. Kentucky bluegrass and other lawn grasses can also be a problem. Perennial broadleaf weeds are also other common weeds among flowers and perennial vegetables. They are both aggressive plants that can grow among other plants so tightly that it is difficult to get them out. In addition, plants like quackgrass, bromegrass, creeping jenny and others produce creeping, underground stems called rhizomes that allow the plant to spread a foot or more in a season, producing new plants as they grow.

    Read More »

    Sustainable Landscape Design Using Herbaceous Plants

    When it comes to landscape design many people often think of pretty flowers and lush green gardens. Though this is probably true in many cases, plants have a lot more to offer than just looking pretty. A thoughtful design utilizing herbaceous plants can make a site sustainable by providing habitat to animals, protecting water quality, increasing biodiversity, as well as adding social benefits like minimal maintenance and increased property value.

    Read More »

    Sod Webworm in South Dakota

    Sod webworm moths are emerging throughout South Dakota. Although these pests are common during the fall, the number of moth sightings and population densities in the Western half of the state are higher than normal. The particular species being found is the vagabond sod webworm. Unlike several other webworm species found in the United States, vagabond sod webworms rarely cause much damage and the adult moths are no more than just a short-term nuisance.

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    Dealing with Drought Stressed Lawns

    Drought is a common concern across the region this summer affecting landscapes in many ways but probably most noticeably in its impact on lawns. Cool season grasses are particularly vulnerable to drought stress when it is accompanied by high temperatures, as we have often had since late spring and into the summer. Watering restrictions have already been imposed in many communities which limit some of the options that home owners have who want to keep their lawns green.

    Read More »

    Drought Conditions Stressful on Lawns and Other Plants

    Dry conditions last fall coupled with a lack of snow this past winter and a dry spring could mean many people will notice that their lawns did not green-up like they normally would and then quickly turned brown following the exceedingly hot temperatures earlier this spring and again during the first part of the summer. Particularly if they mostly have a cool-season grass like Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass or fine fescues. Many of these lawns dried out last summer and fall, did not recover in the fall, and never had the chance to adequately prepare for the winter.

    Read More »

    Fall Yard and Garden Cleanup

    The leaves have fallen off the trees and the frost has hit the garden. Before the snow falls, a few tasks can help make for a healthier yard and garden next year. If you have a mulching lawnmower, instead of raking up your leaves, you may be able to run over them with the mower, returning all that organic matter directly to your lawn. If the layer of leaves is too thick, it may be possible to spread them out and then mulch them with the mower.

    Read More »

    Flowers With Fall Color

    We often think of trees as providing our primary source of fall color, or perhaps it might be the colorful Indian corn or pumpkins that come to mind. But there other sources of fall color too, in our perennial flowers. This goes beyond the hardier flowers that can withstand some frost and still retain their flowers with little damage but rather I am referring to the plants and their foliage itself.

    Read More »

    Latest First Fall Frost Dates

    As the warm fall season continues in October, gardens are still producing and fall planting and harvest activities are in full swing. A pattern of warmer than average weather is upon us. Most of the state still has not seen much frost, let alone a hard freeze, which begs the question, when is the latest first freeze we have seen in South Dakota?

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    America’s Most Weeded: Dandelions

    Dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) are probably one of the most noticeable and common lawn and field weeds of all.  Just about everyone that has a lawn has fought to get rid of this weed at one time or another.  They are very adaptable to the types of soils in which they will grow, can tolerate repeatedly being mowed off to within a couple inches of their lives yet seem to thrive in countless lawns and other non-cultivated areas throughout the northern Great Plains, most of the United States with related species found all over the world.

    Read More »

    Living Christmas Tree Alternatives

    Living Christmas trees are not a new concept. Often this means buying a potted or balled and burlaped, normally hardy tree, from a local nursery, then bringing it into the home, right before Christmas to enjoy for a week or so before planting it out in the landscape. Of course there is usually a problem with that game plan because usually by the end of December the ground has already frozen here in the northern Great Plains.

    Read More »

    Choosing the Perfect Christmas Tree

    Christmas tree lots are already beginning to spring up around the state and Thanksgiving marks the start of the Christmas tree season, with more than 30 million trees being sold between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Another 50 million homes use artificial trees either for convenience or environmental concerns. However, the traditional Christmas tree can be the environmental friendly way to celebrate the holidays.

    Read More »

    Aronia: Beautiful and Healthy

    Aronia melanocarpa, or simply “aronia,” is an attractive shrub that has recently been gaining more attention in the Midwest – its berries are very high in antioxidants thought to be beneficial for human health. Aronia is also known as chokeberry (berry, not cherry), descriptive of the astringent taninns present in the dark-blue fruit. When fully ripe, the berries, which look somewhat like blueberries or chokecherries, have a sugar content as high as table grapes and sweet cherries, but balanced by high acidity and complex flavors.

    Read More »

    Trees and Drought

    A dry summer is not only stressful for people, pets and livestock, but for our trees and other vegetation. Trees require a lot of water to meet their functional needs and long-term shortages can influence growth and survival. Trees signal their water deficit through a number of symptoms. The most common changes in appearance are lighter green to yellow-green foliage, leaf scorch around the margins, wilting leaves and dropping them prematurely.

    Read More »

    How to Remove a Stump

    Spring is the time of the year when people get around to remove trees from their yard. Removing trees and disposing of the brush is a hazardous undertaking and is best performed by professionals who have the training and equipment to safely remove them. However, whether a professional tree service or the homeowner remove the tree, there is usually the question what to do about the stump.

    Read More »

    Fall Yard and Garden Cleanup

    The leaves have fallen off the trees and the frost has hit the garden. Before the snow falls, a few tasks can help make for a healthier yard and garden next year. If you have a mulching lawnmower, instead of raking up your leaves, you may be able to run over them with the mower, returning all that organic matter directly to your lawn. If the layer of leaves is too thick, it may be possible to spread them out and then mulch them with the mower.

    Read More »

    Flowers With Fall Color

    We often think of trees as providing our primary source of fall color, or perhaps it might be the colorful Indian corn or pumpkins that come to mind. But there other sources of fall color too, in our perennial flowers. This goes beyond the hardier flowers that can withstand some frost and still retain their flowers with little damage but rather I am referring to the plants and their foliage itself.

    Read More »

    Woody Weeds: Eastern Red Cedar

    While eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana) is native to South Dakota, and has many positive qualities, it has become a problem species over large areas of the Great Plains. Even so, eastern redcedar remains one of the more important windbreak species, and is still widely planted. Several cultivars of this species are also popular ornamentals. The cones are eaten by a number of wildlife species (cedar waxwings, pheasants, turkeys, rabbits, and others), and it provides dense cover for a number of others.

    Read More »

    Woody Weeds: Tatarian Honeysuckle

    Tatarian honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica) was brought to North America from Asia in the mid-18th century for ornamental uses. In South Dakota it was also used as a windbreak species until the 1980s. At that time severe damage from the Russian aphid (Hyadaphis tataricae) rendered Tatarian honeysuckle undesirable for both windbreak and ornamental plantings. The aphid feeding causes the plant to develop masses of small, thin shoots, known as witches brooms, that are unsightly and detract from the natural growth habit of the plant.

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