|Image courtesy of Consumer Product Safety Commission|
Monday, June 29, 2020
Thursday, June 25, 2020
|Irises come in all shapes, colors and sizes!|
|Note the orangish beard on the iris above.|
To close for this week, bearded irises should be divided every three to five years, as the plants quickly become overcrowded and don’t bloom well. July or August is the best time to dig, divide and transplant bearded irises.
Thursday, June 18, 2020
When we moved into our home, our yard overwhelmed us. Honestly, it probably does still overwhelm us but maybe we’re used to it by now. The previous owners, and I think the owners before them, spent their summers in the garden and yard, making the yard a beautiful thing. We lead active lives where generally we try and keep up with the weeds and the lawn, yet it will sneak up on us. That is one benefit of this year and the cancellation of meetings, events, etc. We have actually done a better than average (for us) job of mowing, fertilizing, weeding and planting. One weed that has plagued us since we moved in and ever since was mistakenly seen first as a tall, pretty plant with purple, bell-shaped flowers. After about the first year, it became apparent that it wasn’t just a flower but a rapidly spreading menace, aptly named creeping bellflower. It appeared to be pulled out easy enough, until we later discovered we weren’t getting the true roots. Turns out we missed the large, carrot-like rhizomes that bury themselves deep in the soil. Now, we work diligently to try and contain, if not eradicate, this weed that has become the bane of our garden.
|Photo courtesy of University of Arkansas Extension.|
Friday, June 12, 2020
I’m sure most people by now have heard about the recent declines in bee numbers and how worried many people are about the loss of pollinators. A common source of blame for the loss of pollinators is the destruction of their habitat. The good news is, you can help create more habitat for pollinators relatively easily!
Before you go creating pollinator habitat, it’s important to know what qualifies as a pollinator. Many people only think of bees as pollinators, but butterflies, birds, and bats also do the important work of pollination. You can encourage all of these helpful flying creatures to come visit by doing a few things: using integrated pest management, providing food, and providing a place for them to nest.
Using integrated pest management on the nuisance insects on your yard will help keep the pollinators happy. This includes applying insecticides in the early morning or late evening when pollinators aren’t as active and using other non-chemical methods of pest control. This can be as simple as removing food sources for the nuisance bugs or as complicated as finding their native enemies and releasing them.
Pollinators also need a place to nest if they are going to come live in your yard. For most of our native pollinator insects, they live alone instead of in a hive. Most of them like to nest in undisturbed soil or rotting wood. Leaving patches of your garden undisturbed provides a home for those ground nesting pollinators, while leaving some brush piles laying around will provide a place for those that like building nests in wood. Brush piles don’t match the aesthetic of your yard? Instead, you can use untreated wood for your fences and lawn furniture to provide a place for pollinators to live.
And finally, a food source is important. While all flowers provide some sort of pollen and nectar, the ones that have lots of small blooms provide much more. These ones will attract much more pollinators. It’s also important to provide a variety of flowers for the pollinators to sample. You should aim to have flowers blooming all season long, from May to September. Having a variety of early and late bloomers, and a variety of flower sizes and colors will attract the greatest variety of pollinators. You also will want to plant your flowers in groups and make sure you have more than one of each kind. When you think about flowers in native prairie, you rarely see just one solitary buffalo bean, you see several all over the place. This is the way flowers naturally grow and it is better at attracting pollinators. Planting your flowers in drifts of at least 3 of each variety will help keep the pollinators coming back for more.
While a large variety of flowers is important, avoid planting noxious and obnoxious weeds. Some noxious weeds can be quite pretty and probably attract some pollinators, but they spread very quickly and are incredibly difficult to get rid of. Make sure you are checking to make sure you’re not planting something that your neighbors will get quite mad at you for. For this reason, pre-made wildflower packets can be dangerous. If you are planting a wildflower mix, make sure the weed seed percentage is low and the species listed are all acceptable to be grown here. I happen to have some wildflower packets in my office that came from Lake County Conservation District and have all native flower species in them. If you would like one of these packets, feel free to contact our office at 271-4054!
Tuesday, June 9, 2020
A lot of gardens are in now, and with a little luck, some good weather and a lot of hard work, people will be rewarded by the fruits of their labors at the end of the season. With many of those garden plants being broad-leaf vegetables and with many of our other garden plants actively growing and blooming there are occasional problems that pop up.
|Photo courtesy of University of Maryland Extension|
|Photo courtesy of Clemson University|
Monday, June 1, 2020
Right now, ticks are out, so it’s a good time to check your clothing and yourself, and your pets if you’ve been out in the tall grass, brush, near streams, etc. We are most likely going to see the Rocky Mountain wood tick around our area of Montana. While this tick is gross, like all other ticks, one thing it doesn’t do is in Montana is vector Lyme disease. However, it can vector other diseases, such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Colorado tick fever. Once again though, the transmission of Rocky Mountain spotted fever is rare in our state as most cases occur in the south Atlantic region of the country. Colorado tick fever is something that can occur in our state though. Symptoms of Colorado tick fever occur within a few days and include chills, headaches, fever, muscular ache, and general discomfort. Unfortunately, that sounds like a lot of different maladies, so please be careful and check for ticks after having been in any tick habitats.
|Photo courtesy of Colorado State University Extension|