NDSU Extension - Ramsey County


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April 28, 2014 Horticulture Column

Gardening in your yard!!!

Like I said in the ag column today, this weather is getting old.  I am getting the itch to get in our garden and with these cold temperatures does not make it very conducive for that to happen.  I did get my potatoes planted on Good Friday and the garden was actually quite nice to plant in.  I checked the Crary NDawn this morning and found 4” bare soil temperatures are 35 degrees.  The only thing that will sustain this cold temperatures  is all of the ground insects that will show their face in another month or two.  This past weekend I was going to try to get my garden tilled and of course with the rains has come the time frame of waiting until dryer conditions exist.  I did get my cucumbers started in the house and have a friend starting some watermelons for me so tis the season to start the garden process.  As I was driving around the community, over the weekend, it is easy to notice the spruce tree problems growing even more.  I also cannot help but notice that a bunch more spruce has been planted and planted to close together.  It would seem that we all might learn from the past that a monoculture is not a good thing as we all planted elm back in the 60’ and 70’s and 80’s and what did we get “dutch elm disease” that wiped out that tree population, then we started to increase the Colorado blue spruce population and what did we get “rhizophera needle cast, canker and now stigmina needlecast “.  This is wiping out our colorado spruce tree population.  What can we do to help this problem.  Plant other species but in moderation.  A monoculture is real bad in the tree business as we look at the Ash tree.  The “Emerald Ash Bore is spreading its wings and heading west and north and now been found in several locations in Minnesota.  This insect destroys the ash tree so with the high populations of ash trees in the upper Midwest what will we start on next?  If you are going to plant a monoculture think about air space meaning don’t plant your trees so close to each other.  All of us always use  the excuse that we want a nice looking yard, as we plant, but in 10 years those trees have grown to the point of touching and not allowing air movement and then what happens, “disease pressure”.   In the case of spruce trees there are other varieties that look similar but have a very different genesis to them named Black Hills Spruce and Meyer Spruce.  Try them you will soon see that these will do quite well in our environment.    

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