Hydrangeas have long held the eyes of gardeners and landscapers for their bigger-than-life ornamental appeal.This horticulturist planted two hydrangeas in the landscape within a few months of buying a house.Hydrangeas have what most horticulturists call multi-season appeal and if you are a gardener who has experienced fading daffodil and tulip foliage, or the yellowing foliage of daylilies at the end of the season then you know what I am talking about.This growing season, I challenge homeowners to try their hand at growing one of the four beautiful hydrangea species that populates central Illinois gardens.
Hydrangea paniculata, also known as panicled hydrangeas, includes favorites from the industry Limelight, Pinky Winky, Quick fire, and Tardiva.These are some of the most winter-hardy hydrangea, and they are also tolerant of urban conditions like pollution.These shrubs grow six to ten feet high depending on cultivar, and bloom early to mid-summer.They bloom on new wood and should be pruned in late winter or early spring.Horticulturist Sandy Mason suggests cutting them all the way to the ground every few years.Larger flower panicles can be produced by thinning the plant to 5-10 primary canes.
Limelight is known for its copious amount of flowers.The foliage turns different shades of red during the fall.
Pinky Winky blooms white that turns pink with age creating a two-tone effect.The flower display is extremely impressive because the strong stems keep the flowers upright, stealing the show.
Quick fire produces smaller, less full, but super prolific white flowers that turn reddish purple, on a plant that is more compact.This plant tends to bloom a month earlier than other panicled hydrangeas.
'Tardiva' grow up to ten feet tall, blooming in the middle of summer and have a looser panicled flower than the others on the list.The bloom goes from white to purplish pink with age.Leaves may turn yellowish or have a tinge of purple during the winter months.
Hydrangea quercifolia, also known as oak leaf hydrangea, is one of my all-time favorite shrubs.It grows about six feet tall and six feet wide in a "roundy moundy" shape.The shrub blooms large cone-shaped blooms that add color starting in May.The blooms last to the end of summer where they have transformed from white, to purplish pink, to brown.It is adaptable and can be grown in full sun to afternoon sun, and boasts large dark green leaves that turn rusty red in the fall and are reminiscent of oak leaves.This plant blooms on old wood, meaning pruning must be done after flowering in late summer.As with most hydrangeas, supplemental watering during drought will keep it happy.
Check in next week for smooth hydrangea and big leaf hydrangea!
Hydrangea Continued –Smooth and Big leaf
Hydrangeas have long had major appeal to gardeners and landscapers in the industry for their bigger than life ornamental appeal.This horticulturist planted two hydrangeas in the landscape within a few months of buying a house.Hydrangeas have what most horticulturists call multi season appeal and if you are a gardener with experience of dealing with fading daffodil and tulip foliage or the yellowing foliage of daylilies at the end of the season then you know what I am talking about.This growing season, I challenge homeowners to try their hand at growing one of the four beautiful hydrangea species that populates central Illinois gardens.
Hydrangea arborescens are known as smooth hydrangea and the most commonly planted cultivar are 'Annabelle'.They usually have large heart shaped leaves equally massive summer flowers.Their colors go from green to white to brown.In nature, this plant is loose and wild looking but in a cultivated setting where additional water and fertilizers are provided it make a nice clump-forming shrub.Flowers appear in June and second floral display in August if spent flowers are removed.These plants respond well to being cut within 6 inches of the ground and remove the outer canes in late winter
'Anablelle' grows three to five foot tall with large round white flowers that are 6 inches round and puts on a show for six to eight weeks.Anabelle will not tolerate full sun unless supplemental watering is provided.
Hydrangea macrophylla is known as big leaf hydrangea.This hydrangea has a rounded mounded habit and asserts either pink blooms in basic soil or blue blooms in acidic soils.They are your litmus tests for soil pH.If consistent moisture is not being applied this species needs to be grown in partial shade.This species has two forms;lace caps or mopheads.The most common cultivars are Endless Summer, 'Nikko blue' and lacecap 'Twist and Shout.' It is best to prune after flowering.Sometimes even the best pruning practices can still leave you with out blooms as harsh Illinois winters can destroy stems;this is why it is best to give them somewhat o fa sheltered location.
Endless summer blooms in July pink and white in Illinois alkaline soils.Endless summer has the unique ability to bloom on new wood and old wood making the bloom more reliable.
'Nikko Blue' reliant on soil pH for bloom colors but blooms in early June.
'Twist and shout' Abundant lacecap blooms all summer long, blooms on old and new wood and has red stems that boast red leaves during the fall months.
Aluminum is what causes the flowers to turn blue and typically, there is enough
Aluminum in the soil, but the pH can lock up the aluminum particles in the soil
making it unavailable to the plant.Lowering the pH by applying aluminum sulfate or sulfur can turn your hydrangeas blue.Sulfur is a safer bet when trying to lower pH as sulfur reduces the chance of aluminum toxicity that can occur from using aluminum sulfate.
An integrated pest management workshop will be held this spring to help growers, local foods coordinators, extension staff, county horticulturists and industry representatives learn about managing common insects, diseases and weeds in vegetable production systems. Read more about Vegetable Workshop to Explore Managing Disease, Insect Pests and Weeds
The Iowa Beef Center and ISU Extension and Outreach have developed the "Calving Management Manual" to cover issues critical to proper care prior to and at calving to reduce incidence of dystocia and minimize deleterious impacts should dystocia occur. Read more about Online Calving Management Resource Now Available
- March Is the Month to . . .
- How to Make a Twiggy Trellis
- Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB), Halyomorpha halys
- Misbranded/Adulterated Pesticide Product
- Five Award-Winning Tomato Varieties to Consider
- Auburn Community Garden Initiative: Growing Community as Well as Plants
- Food & Nutrition: Cooking for Crowds — Food Safety Training for Volunteers
March Is the Month to . . .
By Frank Wertheim, Extension Educator, UMaine Extension York County
- Start your own seedlings. Consider using supplemental lighting. Sunny windows usually do not provide sufficient light and consistent temperatures for optimal seedling development. Seedlings growing in limited light and cooler temperatures develop more slowly, are often lanky, can have a less developed root system, and are more susceptible to diseases such as damping off. Learn more about Starting Your Own Seedlings at Home in our comprehensive bulletin that includes plans for building an inexpensive light stand and a handy instructional video.
- Get your seeds ordered. Maine has several excellent seed companies that have varieties suited to our region. Looking for advice on which varieties to choose? Check out this listing of suggested vegetable varieties for Maine gardens from the researchers at UMaine’s Highmoor Farm or explore the newest award-winning varieties promoted by All America Selections.
- Tap maple trees for making maple syrup. If you have either sugar maple or red maple on your property, you could experiment with making your own maple syrup. Trees make their own sweet sap through photosynthesis for growth and development during the spring and summer months. In the later summer and fall, maple trees virtually stop growing and begin storing excess starches throughout the sapwood, especially in cells called ray cells. In late winter/early spring, the sap is translocated back to the growing points throughout the plant. When we tap trees, we are borrowing a bit of the sugars for our own enjoyment. To learn more, see How to Tap Maple Trees and Make Maple Syrup.
- Prune out broken or crossing/rubbing branches, and remove water sprouts from deciduous trees. The lack of leaves allows a good assessment of form, and the frozen ground prevents damage to the lawn caused by dropping branches. Thin out congested shrubs by removing up to 1/4 of the oldest stems at the base. To learn more, read Pruning Woody Landscape Plants and check out the video Pruning Apple Trees, and also review the pruning section in Growing Fruit Trees in Maine.
- Gardening Internet Search Tips: There is a lot of good information available for gardeners online. However, be careful of “.com” sites that sometimes have inaccurate information. To focus your home garden searches on unbiased, research-based information, try typing “site:edu” after any of your information searches. For example, “Growing Highbush Blueberries in Maine site:edu”. This will lead you to links to sites from universities with dependable information. Also try the eXtension One Search site.
By Liz Stanley, Horticulture program coordinator, UMaine Extension Knox-Lincoln County
A. Gather tools and fasteners.
- Tools for cutting wood: tape measure, pruning saw, hand pruners, loppers, gloves, and band aids.
- Fasteners for connecting twigs: sheetrock screws (1.25” and 2.5”) and double loop rebar wire ties.
- Tools for using fasteners: cordless drill with narrow bit and Phillips head driver, yo-yo for twirling rebar wire ties, and wire cutters.
- For installing trellis: 3/8” rebar or oak stakes. (Wire, yo-yos and rebar can be found where reinforced concrete supplies are sold.)
B. Gather flexible twigs and branches in early spring. Arborvitae is rot resistant with beautiful arches (but you must snip off needles). Mix and match saplings of oak, maple, birch, alder, striped maple, red-twigged dogwood, tulip, and other freshly pruned branches.
C. Create vertical sides. Measure and cut thick sturdy posts and lay them on a tarp.
D. Measure and cut horizontal pieces. Secure these larger pieces with screws. If necessary, pre-drill holes to prevent splitting.
E. Add diagonal braces for strength. Use screws or double loop rebar wire ties. (It’s fun for adults and kids to learn the technique for using a yo-yo and wire ties!)
F. Fill in trellis with decorative patterns. Secure crossing intersections. If longer wire is needed, connect ties together. Pick up the trellis and look at it as you work. The trellis should be strong and rigid.
G. Place your finished trellis. Pound two 4-5’ rebar (or stakes) into the ground and wire the verticals to it. To prevent rot, suspend ends off the ground or place on a brick. Plant clematis or other vines, or use as a fence or screen.
H. Enjoy your trellis year round. They can last for 10 years if made from arborvitae.
Many thanks to Master Gardener Volunteer Linda Redman for teaching so many of us how to make these fun and beautiful garden accessories.
Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, Board of Pesticides Control
The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) has ordered the stoppage of sale and
distribution of a pesticide product manufactured by Southern Agriculture Insecticides Inc., after finding the presence of three pesticide active ingredients not listed on the product label. Triple Action Neem Oil Broad Spectrum Fungicide, Insecticide, Miticide is labeled for use on house plants, trees and shrubs, fruits and vegetables, and lawns, and for use in and around homes and home gardens.
The label lists the only active ingredient as “Neem Oil,” and may be identified by the EPA Reg. No. 70051-2-829. This product is listed for Organic use by the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI). Actions came following an investigation of the product and laboratory analysis that found the presence of the active ingredients malathion, chlorpyrifos, and permethrin, which are not listed on the label.
This product is currently registered in Maine. It is prohibited from use for commercial marijuana production. All other growers who may have purchased the product are being asked to refrain from using it.
For more information about the Board of Pesticides Control, visit thinkfirstspraylast.org.
Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB), Halyomorpha halys
From the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry website
The invasive brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB; Halyomorpha halys) was first discovered in Pennsylvania in 2001, and has caused tremendous crop damage in many mid-Atlantic states. Two to three years prior to noticeable crop damage, BMSB may be seen overwintering in people’s homes often in large numbers. As of 2017, reports of BMSB overwintering in Maine structures have been verified from 67 towns in 12 counties. Reports of overwintering populations help experts predict and prepare for subsequent potential crop damage.
If you believe you have seen this bug in your house, office, garage, etc., please take a photo of it and make a report. We DO NOT need any more reports from towns that have more than 10 verified reports (e.g. Auburn, Berwick, Biddeford, Brunswick, Gorham, Portland, Saco, etc.). See current map of reported sightings here.
- Identifying BMSB: All life stages
- Look-alikes: Many bugs look like the BMSB
- Plants that BMSB attacks
- Report the brown marmorated stink bug (a photo of the bug is needed to use this form).
- Learn more: Includes latest research on managing BMSB
Five Award-Winning Tomato Varieties to Consider
By Kate Garland, Horticulturist, UMaine Extension Penobscot County, with tomato variety descriptions and photos courtesy of All-America Selections.
Many great gardeners get their start by growing tomatoes. There’s something about that juicy fruit, warmed by the summer sun and easily preserved for enjoyment during the winter months, that sparks a passion and excitement in a great number of gardeners. I always love hearing reviews about favorite tomato varieties and feel lucky to get a chance to try out new award-winning varieties in our All-America Selections (AAS) Demonstration Garden at Rogers Farm in Old Town. If you’re looking for something new, here are 5 AAS winners to consider trying this year:
Chef’s Choice Orange F1 is a hybrid derived from the popular heirloom Amana Orange which matures late in the season. Now you can experience the wonderful flavor of an orange heirloom tomato in only 75 days from transplant. Its disease resistance is an added bonus. Chef’s Choice Orange has a wonderfully bright, almost neon, internal color and superior flesh taste and texture for an early maturing orange tomato. Excellent for soups and sauces because the intense color does not fade or discolor when cooked. Home chefs are going to love cooking with this variety as well as eating it fresh.
Average size fruits are 12 ounces but can weigh up to 1 pound. Large 5-foot-tall plants are indeterminate and the leaves cover fruit well to protect from sunburn.
The 1-ounce tomatoes are produced in clusters like grapes on the long vigorous indeterminate vines. The fruit shape is unusual, an elongated cherry type, easy to hold for cutting. The sweet flavor is welcome with glossy red skin. The improved quality is the crack resistance. Juliet tomatoes do not crack, waiting for your harvest. Grow several vines this summer or fall.
Tomato Candyland Red is the only AAS award winning currant-type tomato. Currant tomatoes are smaller in size than cherry-type and are ready to “pop” in your mouth straight from the garden. Gardeners will appreciate the dark red, sweet flavored fruit that can be enjoyed throughout the season. The tomato plant itself has a nice tidier habit than other currant-type plants with the fruit tending to form on the outside of the plant making them easier to harvest.
Sparky is one of the few X-tended Shelf Life (XSL) cherry tomatoes available to home gardeners. Sparky brags about being early to mature, prolific, and very flavorful. Fruits are well suited for market growers and produce a large number of usable fruits per plant. You’ll enjoy gardening with these plants that have excellent tolerance to environmental stresses like heat and harsh growing conditions. Very sweet fruits have an average Brix score of 8.5. Round fruits weigh 1 ounce and are 1inch in diameter. Indeterminate 5-6’ plants produce fruits 60-70 days from transplant.
Red Racer, a cocktail size tomato, produced small, uniform fruits with great taste in the AAS Trials. Cocktail tomatoes have a good sweet/acid balance and are a smaller variety tomato (although larger than cherry or grape tomatoes). These tomatoes are uniform in size and mature as a cluster of fruits. The compact determinate plants produced a huge yield 7-10 days earlier than the comparisons and are ideal for small space and container gardens. One judge summed up this winner saying, “Red Racer is small in size but big in taste!” Available in both organic and conventional seeds.
By Lynne Holland, Community Education Assistant, UMaine Extension Androscoggin and Sagadahoc Counties
A garden by its nature is a growing thing. It is impossible to characterize it at exactly one point in time and decide “it’s done.” The Auburn Community Gardens Initiative is a perfect example of this. This garden project was conceived in 2014, implemented in Spring of 2016, and now is readying its third garden for later this year. A product of the collaboration between the city of Auburn, the Androscoggin Land Trust, the UMaine Cooperative Extension, Saint Mary’s Nutrition Center, and community residents, these gardens continue to grow not just food but also a sense of community in Auburn.
The process has not always been linear, but more like a meandering garden path. Garden sites were located on properties that city officials thought would best make the transformation from an empty lot to a community garden. A three-year Community Block Development Grant through the City of Auburn and grants/advisement from Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation and the National Parks Service provided the support needed for the initial garden on Webster Street to break ground in April 2016 and host its first Harvest Potluck that fall. This garden is located in a walkable neighborhood near a downtown in close proximity to low-income housing, Head Start, and the Auburn PAL Center. The lively collection of 24 raised beds assumed its place as yet another part of this already vibrant and diverse community.
The learning process for this first garden determined criterion for the next community garden that opened in 2018 — a collection of 40 raised beds sited on Newbury St. in the New Auburn area overlooking the river. They were even able to convert an existing large concrete area to a spot for wheelchair accessible raised beds. There’s room for expansion here for future “common plots” as well as pollinator and other specialty gardens, or perhaps even fruit trees.
Plans are in place for the newest community garden site on Whitney Street to begin construction in late 2019 and be ready for planting in spring 2020.
All community garden sites in the Auburn Community Gardens Initiative are now built on city-owned properties, usually the former site of a condemned building or “tear down.” There is a commitment to making sure that the garden is set for success from the start by doing the following:
- All gardens are fenced in to cut down on four-legged marauders. A large gate allows for truck deliveries of mulch, compost, and other supplies.
- The garden beds are all raised beds to allow for new soil and amendments.
- Connection to city water guarantees availability of water even in a drought.
- Subsidized or free plants are often available from various community resources.
- A shed, complete with tools, is included in each garden.
- Plot cost per family is nominal.
- Plot holders are expected to volunteer to help with the whole garden and 80% do.
- A garden coordinator is available to oversee the two, soon to be three, gardens. Charis Heisey helps gardeners with “open garden” weekly events and also keeps an eye on pests, watering and problems so they can be dealt with quickly and organically.
Food & Nutrition: Cooking for Crowds — Food Safety Training for Volunteers
By Kathy Savoie, MS, RD, UMaine Extension Cumberland County
Many organizations and community groups rely on volunteers for a variety of food events for fundraising, fellowship, food pantries or other service to the community. But cooking for a crowd is tricky! How do you store all that food? When is the food completely cooked? How long can you leave food on the serving table? UMaine Cooperative Extension offers a workshop on safe food handling designed specifically for volunteers. Visit Cooking for Crowds to learn more about workshop dates or to request a workshop in your area.
This class meets the Good Shepherd Food Bank food safety training requirements.
There’s a lot to learn about safe food preparation and handling. If you don’t do it for a living, you may not be aware of all the special techniques involved in cooking for a large group of people. It’s scary to think about people getting sick from your meal, but it can happen. More than three-quarters of foodborne outbreaks are blamed on food eaten outside the home.
This workshop covers the following food safety guidelines:
- Planning and Purchasing
- Storing Food Supplies
- Preparing Food
- Transporting, Storing and Serving Cooked Foods
- Handling Leftovers
You will learn up-to-date methods for safely preparing, handling, and serving food for large group functions such as soup kitchens, church functions, and community events. Participants receive the Cooking for Crowds manual, Certificate of Attendance, posters, and instant read thermometers.
University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s Maine Home Garden News is designed to equip home gardeners with practical, timely information.
Let us know if you would like to be notified when new issues are posted. To receive e-mail notifications fill out our online form.
Visit our Archives to see past issues.
Maine Home Garden News was created in response to a continued increase in requests for information on gardening and includes timely and seasonal tips, as well as research-based articles on all aspects of gardening. Articles are written by UMaine Extension specialists, educators, and horticulture professionals, as well as Master Gardener Volunteers from around Maine, with Katherine Garland, UMaine Extension Horticulturalist in Penobscot County, serving as editor.
Information in this publication is provided purely for educational purposes. No responsibility is assumed for any problems associated with the use of products or services mentioned. No endorsement of products or companies is intended, nor is criticism of unnamed products or companies implied.
Call 800.287.0274 (in Maine), or 207.581.3188, for information on publications and program offerings from University of Maine Cooperative Extension, or visit extension.umaine.edu.
University of Missouri Extension
Story sources: Scott E. Poock, 573-882-6359; Stacey Hamilton, 417-466-2148
COLUMBIA, Mo. – Water beds for cows improve comfort and milk production at the University of Missouri’s Foremost Dairy Research Center near Columbia.
MU Extension veterinarian Scott Poock and dairy specialist Stacey Hamilton are part of the Foremost team that researches how the beds improve herds. They monitor cows on cameras and record data about resting times and milk production.
Foremost began using the new beds in fall 2018. Cows adapted quickly, Hamilton says, with an estimated 75 percent of the herd using the beds by the second day.
The amount of rest a cow receives affects the quantity of milk she produces. In freestyle barn operations, dairy operators want cows to lie down 12-14 hours per day to prevent lameness and increase milk production. With the water beds, cows stay longer in stalls and lie down sooner, Poock says. Before the water beds, cows lay down an average of 8.5 minutes after entering a stall. They now lie down within five minutes.
The dual-chamber beds offer extra support for the cow’s knees. Once the cow kneels, the pillows offer a cushion for pressure points with gentle support. Strong joints provide better stability and prevent leg and foot injuries, sores and infections that can reduce mobility.
It is “all about cow comfort” and profit for the herd owner, says Hamilton. “Comfortable cows are happier and make more milk.”
Foremost staff put wood chips in the stalls to cover the water beds and catch waste. If Foremost used sand, it would take 50 pounds of sand per day per 160 stalls. The water beds are an easier option, Hamilton says.
The bovine beds cost about a third more than beds previously used at Foremost. Those beds, made of interlocking chopped rubber pieces, deteriorated with time and use.
Many dairy farms still use sand, straw, wood shavings or grass to keep stalls dry and comfortable for cows. Foremost Dairy is among a growing number of dairy farms using the new technology.
Last year, the BBC reported that cows at Queen Elizabeth II’s farm at Windsor Castle enjoy the luxury of water beds. Queen Elizabeth also pampers her cattle with green pastures and automatic brushes that remove dirt and relieve stress. The queen’s dairy uses robotics to milk cows and clean barn floors.
Meanwhile, across the pond, Foremost cows receive the royal treatment too.
Learn more about the Foremost Dairy Research Center at ForemostDairy.missouri.edu.
Photos available for this release:
Cows at Foremost Dairy relax more since water beds were installed last year. The water beds offer better cow comfort, which leads to more milk production. Photo by Stacey Hamilton.
MU Extension veterinarian Scott Poock sets up a camera to record how long cows rest on newly installed water beds at MU’s Foremost Dairy. Photo by Jessi Dodge.
Photos available for this release:
Cutline: Cows at Foremost Dairy relax more since water beds were installed last year. The water beds offer better cow comfort, which leads to more milk production. Photo by Stacey Hamilton.
Cutline: MU Extension veterinarian Scott Poock sets up a camera to record how long cows rest on newly installed water beds at MU’s Foremost Dairy. Photo by Jessi Dodge.
University of Missouri Extension
Story source: Kaitlyn Bissonnette, 573-882-3001
COLUMBIA, Mo. – Soybean seed treatment provided a bump in yield but did not show much effect on soybean cyst nematode (SCN) egg counts in 2017 and 2018 data from the University of Missouri Strip Trial Program.
As part of the trial, MU researchers studied the impact of ILeVO seed treatment on SCN egg counts and yield. They conducted trials in 19 locations in 2017 and 10 locations in 2018.
MU Extension plant pathologist Kaitlyn Bissonnette says initial data shows that ILeVO did not consistently reduce SCN egg counts and in some cases slightly increased egg counts.
“In the strip trials, we observed quite a bit of variability in SCN egg counts even within a field and between treatments,” Bissonnette says.
The data is consistent with small-plot research at Iowa State University and results reported by the Iowa Soybean Association OnFarm Network.
Researchers took soil samples the first week of planting and the week of harvest to measure the number of SCN eggs in the soil.
In another crop-protection strip trial, Bissonnette looked at whether a fungicide applied to soybeans at the R3 growth stage effectively reduced foliar disease.
The dry 2018 growing season contributed to the low levels of foliar disease. Septoria brown spot was observed at all 10 locations and frogeye leaf spot was observed at eight locations, but levels of both diseases were low. At one location where a susceptible variety of soybean was planted, frogeye leaf spot severity was greater in the untreated strips than the fungicide-treated strips. At all locations, researchers found no yield difference between treated and untreated strips.
Learn more about the program at striptrial.missouri.edu.
About the MU Strip Trial Program
Farmers use their own equipment to conduct on-farm research in their own fields.
Participating farmers work with a specialist from the University of Missouri Extension, or other crop consultant of their choice, to guide the planning, implementation and methodology used for the trial.
This extra guidance helps ensure growers receive a reliable, statistically valid and unbiased evaluation of a particular practice, method or idea.