Composting

fall landscape

In the fall we have a lot of leaves to remove from our lawns. It is not a good practice to leave the fallen leaves on the lawn as it can lead to snow mold if we get a lot of snow that sits on top of the leaves on the lawn. We can mow over the leaves to help reduce that problem, but if you want to get rid of your leaves in another manner, a compost pile is a good way to reuse these leaves and grass clippings.

A compost pile is a good way to recycle fallen leaves and spent garden plants at the end of the season. You can put many types of organic materials into a compost pile and then use that in the spring to amend your garden soil and help with fertility for your plants. Composting is a good way to save money by avoiding purchasing other organic matter to use in your garden and avoiding payments for removal of your yard wastes.

Many materials can be put into a compost pile. Some of these items include:

  • Leaves
  • Grass clippings
  • Straw
  • Non-woody plant trimmings
  • Fruit and vegetable scraps
  • Coffee grounds
  • Egg shells
  • Sawdust
  • Remains of garden plants
  • Shredded newspaper
  • Hay
  • Cornstalks
  • Chopped corncobs
  • Wood ashes

Certain things cannot be placed in a compost pile because they do not or cannot break down in a compost pile or they may draw the attention of wildlife which can cause many other problems.  Do NOT compost:

  • Any plant materials that were diseased, or infested with insects or weeds as those things may not die in a compost pile
  • Grass clippings that have been treated with pesticides
  • Pet feces
  • Meat products
  • Fatty foods
  • Whole eggs
  • Dairy products
  • Peanut butter
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Compost Pile; Photo from Cornell University

Compost piles can be made as just a pile in the yard or it can be placed in a holding unit or a turning bin or even just in a trashcan. The pile should be at least 3 feet long, wide, and tall and it needs to be no taller than 5 feet. The pile should be moist, but not too wet. A good recommendation for this is that it should be comparable to a wrung-out sponge.

The compost pile should be started in layers to help with decomposition.

  1. 4-6 inches of chopped brush or coarse material to help with air circulation
  2. 3-4 inches of damp, low carbon, organic material such as grass clippings
  3. 4-6 inches of high carbon, damp, organic material such as leaves or garden waste
  4. 1 inch of soil or finished compost
  5. Optional layer of 2-3 inches of manure for nitrogen content

After the initial building of the compost pile and that material has begun to decompose, the process is fairly simple. You need to turn the materials often enough to keep the temperature between 110-114 degrees Fahrenheit and to make sure that all parts of the pile eventually end up in the middle to get hot enough to break down. You also need to ensure that the moisture content is correct throughout the process. Additional water may be needed to keep the pile going. As you turn the pile, you can add other items from your garden or your kitchen.

Your compost is ready to use when it has an earthy odor, when it cools off, and when it is dark and crumbly. At this time, it can be tilled into your garden to help reduce compaction and to add nutrients back into the soil.

Finished compost-UFlorida

Finished Compost; Photo by Robert Trawick, University of Florida Extension

 

 

 

Emerald Ash Borer

I had the wonderful opportunity to travel on a professional development opportunity to Colorado last week. I traveled with horticulture and entomology colleagues from across the state to Colorado Springs, Boulder, Denver, and Fort Collins to study how they deal with an almost constant drought and to see the damage from Emerald Ash Borer.

Xeric Gardens in Colorado Springs, CO.

Xeric Gardens in Colorado Springs, CO.

I had a blast at the Denver Botanic Gardens and learned some great information regarding Xeric gardens, or water conserving gardens. I also saw some great new plants to try in the annual and perennial trial gardens at Colorado State University, but my favorite part of this professional development trip was visiting with the Extension faculty from Colorado State University about Emerald Ash Borer (EAB).

Denver Botanic Gardens

Denver Botanic Gardens

Boulder, Colorado is the first and only county to have found EAB in Colorado. We were informed of the steps that Boulder County and the Colorado State Department of Agriculture took to help reduce the spread of this invasive insect into other counties and towns in Colorado. We were then taken to a site with massive damage from EAB to see what this insect does to the trees. It was good for me to see it live for myself to know what to look for in Nebraska.

Photo by Leah Bauer, USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station, Bugwood.org - See more at: http://www.insectimages.org/browse/detail.cfm?imgnum=5473689#sthash.6HVDSdAf.dpuf

Photo by Leah Bauer, USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station, Bugwood.org

As of today, Emerald Ash Borer has not been found in Nebraska, but we should be on the lookout for it as it has been found in Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, and Colorado. EAB is a small, metallic green, wood-boring insect that is invasive. It came to the United States via wood-packing materials from China and was first discovered in Michigan in 2002. Because EAB is an invasive insect, it has no natural predators to keep the population in check.

Emerald Ash Borer attacks healthy and stressed true ash trees, it does not attack mountain ash which is not a true ash species. EAB larvae feed on the inner bark of the ash trees, which causes a disruption of the flow of water and nutrients throughout the tree. If you have an ash tree that exhibits any of these signs, please let me know so we can check it out to ensure EAB does not get into or go unnoticed in Nebraska.

EAB Damage Collage

The damage from EAB can show up in your ash tree as

  • Top dieback
  • Sprouting at the base of the tree
  • Increased woodpecker damage
  • Larval galleries under the bark of the tree
  • 1/8 inch D-shaped exit hole
  • Bark cracks
  • Reduced size of the leaves still on the tree

Insecticide treatments are available for Emerald Ash Borer but are not recommended until the insect has been confirmed within 15 miles of your trees. The insecticides used can be applied either via a soil drench or trunk injection. Trunk injections are only to be done by trained professionals. Insecticide treatment efficacy depends on the size of the tree, the insecticide used and how it is applied, and the damage the tree has already acquired. If it is a high value ash tree, treatments can be effective, but are not feasible on a large quantity of trees.

 

 

 

A Tour of Southeast Nebraska Horticulture with Master Gardeners

MG Tour-group picOn Saturday, September 6, 2014 I took an energetic group of Master Gardeners on a Horticultural tour through Southeast Nebraska. We were even joined by current and past Extension faculty Paul Hay, Larry Germer, and Sondra Germer. This was a fun and educational experience that I am glad I got to share with this wonderful group of Master Gardeners from Gage, Saline, Jefferson, and Lancaster County.

Stop #1 at Kimmel Orchard in Nebraska City

Stop #1 at Kimmel Orchard in Nebraska City

We started out the day at Kimmel Orchard in Nebraska City. We met with Vaughn Hammond, an Extension Educator based out of the orchard, who told us the history of the Kimmel Orchard and the unique relationship that exists between the Kimmel Foundation and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension. Vaughn took us on a hayrack ride through the entire orchard teaching us about the types of fruits they grow and what they have to do to care for all the different types of tree fruits. We were then able to browse the gift shop to purchase apples, cider, and the infamous apple donuts. I purchased apples to make some delicious cinnamon applesauce, Yum!

Stop #2 Lewis and Clark Missouri River Basin Visitors Center

Stop #2 at Lewis and Clark Missouri River Basin Visitors Center in Nebraska City

After lunch in Nebraska City, we moved on to the Lewis and Clark Missouri River Basin Visitors Center. This was a fun place for us to just be on our own to tour the many hiking trails that led to the Missouri River Overlook and to the Earth Lodge that was re-created to look like homes of the Plains Indian. I sure got my exercise here, as the trail to the Missouri River Overlook took a long, steep hill back up to the bus.

brownville arboretum collage

Stop #3 at Governor Furnas Arboretum in Brownville

 

Next, we traveled onto Brownville, for the Governor Furnas Arboretum. We received a tour of the grounds by the groundskeeper who told us all about the process of establishing this arboretum in the first place and how they had the aid of the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum and Kim Todd, UNL Professor in Horticulture. This was a nice place to tour as they had used some under-utilized trees that we don’t see as often in our communities.

Stop #4 at Schillingbridge winery and microbrewery in Pawnee City

Stop #4 at Schillingbridge winery and microbrewery in Pawnee City

We finished the day with a relaxing supper at Schillingbridge winery and microbrewery. This was a good experience for us to see all of the grape vines. We were able to discuss the vineyard with owner Sharon Schilling and she described to us the troubles that come with running a vineyard and winery. This year the grapes have been subject to a dry winter, late frost, and hail that has led to a reduced crop.

We all had a great time on this trip and are looking for ideas for another tour next year. After all the fun and learning, though, we were ready to get home and enjoy our apples and cider as well as relaxing on the sofa.

Fall is here, get your plants ready for winter!

Fall weather is upon us again. We can see the end of summer gardening coming to a close. With that, we can get out in our gardens and take care of many different activities to prepare our lawns and gardens for the winter months.

Photo by V. Jedlicka, Lancaster County Extension

Photo by V. Jedlicka, Lancaster County Extension

Summer bulbs can bring a great deal of color and interest to our gardens, however, they do need to be dug up and stored indoors over the winter. Summer bulbs should be dug up prior to the first hard freeze in the fall. These bulbs should be cured before they are stored by leaving them in the sun for a few weeks. After they have cured, place them in peat moss or similar substance in a well-ventilated, cool area for the winter months. Check periodically through the winter if more peat moss is needed.

Houseplant

Houseplants also should be brought back inside this time of the year to avoid injury due to the nighttime cold temperatures. Before bringing houseplants indoors, you may want to treat them with a general insecticide such as sevin or eight to ensure you do not bring any unwanted insect guests into your home.

Cut back iris and peony plants as soon as the leaves start to turn brown in the fall. Remove all of the foliage above ground and discard it to reduce the spread of diseases such as botrytis and leaf blight that we often see on these plants. Wait until early spring to cut back roses and butterfly bushes due to the hollow stem. Pruning these plants back in the spring will help with their survival as during the winter moisture can get into the cut, hollow stems and freeze and thaw, thereby cracking the crown and killing the plant. You can also cut back other perennials such as coneflowers, dianthus, and many others that die back to the ground each year. This will help to clean up your garden area preparing it for new growth next spring.

Tilled garden

With the end of the vegetable gardening season coming to an end, be sure to clean your garden space before winter as well. If a frost is predicted, be sure to check out your garden before that occurs. Get all of the produce out of the garden before the frost occurs or within the next day or two following the frost so that it can still be enjoyed fresh, frozen, or canned. After the plants are finished for the season, be sure to clean all of the plants out of the garden and either compost them or throw them into your trash. If they had any diseases on them, it is best to not compost them to ensure the disease spores do not get into your compost. You can also take the time this fall to till your garden up as preparation for next spring. If you till your garden in the fall, be sure to put some type of mulch on the soil to prevent wind erosion through the winter. Organic mulches, such as grass clippings, make a good mulch to use for this because it can then be tilled back into the garden in the spring adding organic matter to the soil.

Fall Invading Insects

Photo by Eric Berg, Associate Forester for the Nebraska Forest Service

Photo by Eric Berg, Associate Forester for the Nebraska Forest Service

Fall is my favorite season of the year. The weather is much more enjoyable, the trees turn fantastic colors, and football begins again. With all the fun of fall, however, comes the not so enjoyable entry of insects into our homes.

Most people see the same insect pests in their homes each year. The majority of household pests that we tend to see most often in the fall invading our homes for warmth and food are boxelder bugs, Asian multicolored ladybeetles, and spiders. None of these really warrant any control by a pesticide, they are fairly easy to control and do not do any real damage to your homes or to you.

boxelderbug

Boxelder Bug

Boxelder bugs, or Democrats as some people call them, are a common nuisance pest to enter homes in the fall and they are often seen leaving the home in the spring. These are the insects that are black with a reddish-orange X on their backs. They are a type of a true bug that is found feeding on many trees but they prefer boxelders, ash, and maples.

MultiAsian

Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle

Multicolored Asian  lady beetles are a nuisance pest as well, that we often see in the fall. These are the ladybugs that we find in our homes in the fall. These ladybugs can bite and it can cause pain, but they don’t cause any medical issues. The biggest problem with these lady beetles is that they get in the house and are found all over your home. They are just trying to find a place to hide out for the winter.

Spiders are common in our homes throughout the year, but tend to be found more during the fall and winter. The most common spider that people bring into my office to be identified is the wolf spider. Wolf spiders include one of the largest species of spiders found in Nebraska. They are quite hairy and often times will have 2 white or lighter brown colored stripes down the back of the spider. There are some wolf spiders that can be the size of a half dollar or more, legs and all. These spiders are not poisonous, but they can bite. Most often, a wolf spider will not bite us, but if they do the reaction is mild.

brown_recluse1-Dept of Ento

Brown Recluse Spider

Brown recluse spiders are becoming more common in southeastern Nebraska. These spiders are about the size of a quarter, legs and all. They are a brown color with a darker brown fiddle shape on their back. They can cause a bad reaction in some people, not all people are as sensitive to the bites as others. If you have brown recluse spiders in your home or office, just take the time to look around things that have been stored before you move them. Most of the time, if a person gets bit it is because they accidentally trap the spider between themselves and either an article of clothing or a box. The best way to ensure you do not get bitten is to shake out items when you take them out of storage and watch where you put your hands when you pull boxes out of storage.

Household invading insects and spiders, generally, will not cause any damage to your homes or yourself. The only problems with these insects being in your homes is that they can come in swarms and they have an “ick” factor as most people do not enjoy insects, especially in their homes. The best control for these insects include:

  • Sticky traps around the home
  • Step-on or smash any you see
  • Vacuum or flush any found
  • Seal up all cracks and crevices on your home and door and window screens
  • Indoor/Outdoor barrier sprays can help reduce the population of some home invading insects and spiders
  • Do NOT spray a population of insects found in a wall void, this can lead to a secondary insect population that comes in your home to help decompose those dead insects left in the wall void

 

Fall Lawncare

fall landscapeAs we draw closer to fall, we can start to prepare our lawns for winter. I wanted to take time, this week, to cover all of those items on your fall lawncare “to do” list.

It is now time to reseed your lawns for the fall. This is best done in the late summer or early fall, anytime between August 15 and September 15 of the year. The rule of thumb is that that for each week grasses are seeded before Labor Day, maturation is speeded by two weeks. If you reseed after September 15 you will probably have some success, but not as much. The seed that you put out on the ground may sprout and some might even overwinter, but much of it may die from winterkill because the root systems will not be fully developed. If you are a homeowner who wants to sod an area of your lawn, you can do that until they can no longer cut it from the fields. Do remember to keep newly seeded or sodded areas watered throughout the fall and in the spring.

Bare lawn in need of overseeding.

Bare lawn in need of overseeding.

Good turfgrass choices for Southeast Nebraska include Turf-type tall fescue or Kentucky Bluegrass.   Using seed that is 100 percent of either of these or a mix of the two types would be great choices for Nebraska. You can buy mixes of turfgrass seed, but avoid mixes that contain annual ryegrass, ‘Linn’ perennial ryegrass, or ‘Kenblue’ Kentucky Bluegrass. Make sure that the grass you buy contains less than 0.3 percent weed seed and no noxious weed seeds. We can also use Buffalograss in our lawns for a warm season grass, but warm season grasses should be plugged in June and July.

As for fertilizer applications, the fall fertilization is the most important fertilizer application for a lawn. Two applications in the fall are recommended for Kentucky bluegrass and only one is recommended for tall fescue, but one application for either species is better than none. The timing for fall fertilizer applications is Labor Day and Halloween if you do two applications and Halloween if you do only one application.

The fall is the best time to control broadleaf perennial weeds such as dandelion and clover. You can add a broadleaf herbicide to your lawn fertilizer to get a two-for-one application. It is often sold in stores as a combined product. The best herbicide choices for homeowners would be anything that contains 2,4-D or a triclopyr product for clover and ground ivy or creeping Charlie.

Photo by Nic Colgrove

Photo by Nic Colgrove

If you need to aerate your lawns, now is a good time to do that. You can still aerate your lawns into November if you don’t get around to it until then. Aeration is best done in the spring or the fall of the year, but it is not necessary to do it every year, if you don’t want to. Aeration is done to break up a heavy thatch layer in the grass and to reduce the compaction of the soil. The thatch layer is the layer of dead organic matter in between the grass blades and the soil line. Leaving the clippings on the lawn does not increase the thatch layer, in fact it can actually give you enough nitrogen to replace one fertilizer treatment for the year. If your thatch layer is more than one half of an inch, you may want to aerate your lawn, if it is less than that, you may decide that it is not necessary to aerate this year.

Fall Gardening

Photo by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

Photo by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

With school beginning again soon, fall will be here before we know it. There are a few things that we can start doing to prepare for the winter or to prepare our fall vegetable gardens. It is good that we can finally see the temperatures starting to go down from those terribly hot and humid days so we can get back outside again, comfortably.

Fall vegetable gardens can be planted soon. Most of our fall vegetables should be planted within the first week or two of August to ensure a good fall harvest before the frost takes the plants out. Those plants that you may have planted in the early spring to get to maturity before it got too hot are the things that are usually planted in the fall. For a fall harvest, plant these crops (from Backyard Farmer online calendar at byf.unl.edu):

  • Beets August 1-10
  • Carrots August 1-15
  • Chinese cabbage August 1-20
  • Lettuce August 1-5
  • Mustard August 1-25
  • Radish August 1-20
  • Snap beans August 1-5
  • Spinach August 20- September 15
  • Swiss chard August 1-20
  • Turnips August 1-15 (from Backyard Farmer online calendar)

The first frost in Beatrice, Nebraska occurs on September 29, on average and is within a week either way for the surrounding counties. So the best way to determine when to plant a fall garden is to count backward from the first frost date and compare it to your harvest time listed on the package. For example, if your lettuce says that it takes 50 days to mature, planting on August 1 will give you mature lettuce by the end of September. This will ensure that you will have a harvest before the frost hits.

If you want to extend your growing season even longer, you can build a cold frame. A cold frame is a miniature greenhouse or a box built over your garden. Cold frames are built with a light-admitting lid, such as glass or plastic film, that helps hold in the heat on the plants growing inside. A cold frame is an inexpensive way to extend your growing season because they can be built at home with only a few supplies. It also keeps the air and soil temperature around the plants up to 10 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the surrounding environment.

Photo from Iowa State University Extension

Cold Frame Photo from Iowa State University Extension

Another thing that you can do in the fall is to prepare your vegetable garden for spring. If you are done in your garden and your plants have died due to frost or you are just tired of eating all of those cucumbers, you can clean up your garden in preparation for next year. Removing all of the dead plants will help to reduce the diseases and insects that may use them as an overwintering habitat. Also, after removing those plants you may want to till up your ground to get it ready for next spring. This is also a great time to add any compost or manure to your ground if you need to add some nutrients for better plants next year. After tilling it up, you should put some type of mulch on the bare soil to keep it from eroding or blowing off in the wind, grass clippings are a cheap, easy mulch to use.

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Mosquitoes…Oh No!

mosquitoWe are finally getting some much-needed rain to the area. Most of Southeast Nebraska is either out of the drought or only in the first category of drought, which is abnormally dry. Due to all of this rain we have been seeing, we are also starting to see problems with mosquito populations in the area.

Mosquitoes are a type of insect that is in the same order as flies. These insects have a complete lifecycle, which includes an egg, larvae, pupa, and adult. They are also vectors of many different diseases. Because of these factors, we need to do what we can to eliminate the problem and reduce mosquito populations.

The first three life stages of a mosquito are completed in or near bodies of water, typically standing water, the adult is the only stage not in the water. Because of all the recent rains we have seen in Southeast Nebraska, mosquito populations should be fairly high this year. The mosquitos are out laying their eggs on all the standing water left behind by the recent rain events, which will lead to large populations throughout this summer.

During the summer we all tend to spend a great deal of time outdoors working in the garden, mowing, or just having outdoor get-togethers and grill-outs. It is during this time we really notice the mosquito problem and want to do something to eliminate the problem. This isn’t an easy fix, but there are steps you can take to reduce the problem and make it more enjoyable to be outside.

Bug Spray Collage 2

  • Eliminate any breeding locations for the mosquitoes
    • Eliminate any standing water from your property
      • Clean bird bath’s and pools weekly
      • Dump buckets and old tires that may have water in them
      • Check for low areas in your landscape that may have water sitting in it
  • Make sure your lawn is mowed properly and your shrubs are all pruned correctly
    • Often we find mosquitoes in the edges of lawns where the native grasses are taller and there is a lot of overgrown landscaping. If we keep our lawns mowed, we will have less of a mosquito population.
  • Use bug sprays that have the ingredient DEET in them
  • Use citronella candles around our outdoor functions
  • Even barbeque smoke will help deter mosquitoes from the area
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and long socks to limit skin exposure to the insects
  • Use Bug Zappers
  • Use larval control methods such as Bti products in the bird bath or baby pool
    • Bti is harmful to the larvae of mosquitoes but not to birds, fish, mammals, or other organisms
  • If you are planning an outdoor gathering, you can control the resting adult mosquitoes on lawns, flower borders, smaller trees, and shrubs with a labeled insecticide about three hours prior to the planned event, according to Barb Ogg, Fred Baxendale, and Jim Kalisch from UNL Extension. Just be sure to read and follow all label directions when working with pesticides.

It is best to utilize some methods to reduce your exposure to mosquitoes because they spread many diseases including West Nile Virus, which is currently the most important mosquito-vectored disease in the U.S. Most people who get West Nile Virus have no symptoms or have flu-like symptoms. However, from 2001 to 2009 1,100 deaths in the U.S. were attributed to West Nile Virus. Most of the deaths occurred in people ages 65 and older.

Information for this article came from “Residential Mosquito Control” NebGuide by Barbara Ogg, Extension Educator; Frederick Baxendale, Extension Entomologist; and James Kalisch, Extension Associate.

Storm Damaged Trees

tree pile, pic monkeyFrom the front window of my office I can see a very sad sight, a large mound of tree limbs and dead trees from the storms last week. The thunderstorms that raged through Nebraska on June 3, hit us with hail, high winds, and tornadoes. These storms caused damage to many of our trees.

broken branch pic monkey

Many of our trees had very large branches break off of the tree. This is not a good situation for the tree to be in. The leaves that come off of the tree when a branch breaks were all aiding with photosynthesis, this can be a large shock for the tree when it loses all that photosynthetic material. It also leaves a large wound for the tree that takes time to seal up. If you can get to the location of the break, it is best to go in and clean that break into a good pruning cut. Some of the trees I looked at from the storm, had bark ripped all the way down the trunk of the tree, this is not a good situation for the tree to be in either. When trees have open wounds that are large, it takes a long time for the tree to seal up that location, if it can ever be done. This is a great location for insects and diseases to come into the trees and cause secondary effects on the trees.

Some trees were uprooted on one side of the tree. This is not a good situation for the tree as this caused a great deal of damage to the roots of the tree. According to John Fech, Kathleen Cue, and Graham Herbst from Douglas-Sarpy County Extension, the younger the tree is, the more chance it has to survive storm damage that caused it to lean.

  1. If the tree is 0-5 years old, it has a good chance to survive leaning and should be staked as soon as possible, as long as it is not closely located to people or property.
  2. If the tree is 5-10 years old and is leaning, there is a 50% chance that the tree will survive.
  3. If the tree is more than 10 years old and is leaning, it becomes a hazardous tree. If that tree is in an area where it is in close proximity to people or properties, it should definitely be removed. However, if this tree is on an acreage or farmstead and is further away from people or property, it may be able to survive in that location,
  4. With any of tree damage a Certified Arborist should be consulted to know for sure.

hail, pic monkey

The hail also caused a great deal of damage to our trees and shrubs. As the hail falls from the sky, it can rip through the leaves of many of our plants. Hail can cause holes through leaves and it can fray the edges of the leaves. Hail can also cause wounds on the trunk and branches of younger trees and shrubs, which would be a location for insects and diseases to enter the tree and cause secondary problems to the tree or shrub. There is not much we can do for hail damage to a tree or shrub. Most damage from hail is minimal and the plants can survive it.

 

Integrated Pest Management

Bee pollinating clover

Now that gardening has fully begun, it brings to mind the fact that so many of our fruit and vegetable crops are pollinated by insects. According to the Crops & Soils Magazine for certified crop advisers, agronomists, and soil scientists; more than a third of the food we eat depends on pollinators. Because of this, we need to make sure we are doing what we can to protect and reduce the damage to bees and other pollinator insects.

Bee populations have decreased in the past few years due to a problem called Colony Collapse Disorder, which is still being researched. The scientists are calling the reduced bee populations Colony Collapse Disorder and are attributing it to pesticides, a mite, and poor bee nutrition due to a lower diversity of flowers for the bees to forage. There are things we can do to help the bee populations, including planting a wider variety of plants for the bees to forage for pollen.

Integrated Pest Management, or IPM, is a good way to help reduce pesticides in the environment and help our bee populations. IPM is a method of managing weeds, insects, or diseases by using multiple techniques. Control methods for IPM would include mechanical such as hand pulling, cultural such as tillage, biological such as allowing natural predator insects to survive and chemical such as using pesticides.

IPM practices for insects would include

  • Tilling the garden after the growing season
  • Hand removal of the insects
  • Inspection for eggs to remove prior to emergence
  • Utilizing row covers to protect the plants from damage
  • Scout your gardens often to reduce an insect pest problem while the population is small
  • Try to avoid killing all the predator insects such as ladybugs, praying mantis’, and ground beetles.

Weeds in a lawn

The main idea behind managing weeds in your lawn or in your garden is to reduce locations where they grow and have healthy plants that can out-compete the weed species.  IPM practices for weeds would include:

  • Hand pulling
  • Mowing grass at the recommended 2.5-3 inches
  • Mulching around trees and gardens
  • Fertilizing correctly to ensure all plants are healthy
  • Planting the right plant in the right place

For a disease to occur there must be a susceptible plant host, a disease causing organism, and the proper environment.  IPM practices for diseases would include:

  • Watering plants early in the morning
  • Avoiding watering over the top of the leaves
  • Spacing garden plants and trees correctly
  • Planting resistant cultivars
  • Removing exhausted plant material in the fall to reduce possible diseases to overwinter where the plants will be next spring.

Chemicals are often a good way to manage pests in our lawns and gardens, however if we use an IPM program we may not develop a pest problem in the first place. If a pest problem does occur and chemicals are necessary, just make sure that you are applying the pesticides correctly. Use pesticides only as prescribed on the label, in the correct environmental conditions, and using the correct personal protective equipment. Also, if insecticides are necessary for an insect pest, be sure to apply them later in the evening when bees are no longer active for the night to avoid harming the bee population. It is also best to avoid spraying insecticides on plants that are blooming, so bees cannot be harmed when foraging that flower for pollen.