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Janet Macunovich

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Janet Macunovich last won the day on July 12 2017

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About Janet Macunovich

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  1. (photos coming! We are working out a photo file size issue... Grr, how we wish computers were as fathomable as plants are!) Hi Margie! It is getting too big for that space.. Is it possible someone has been cutting suckers/new stems off of the bottom for a while? Because a viburnum that becomes that open normally begins sending up new shoots from the base of the big trunks but I don’t see any in the photos. The absence of suckers doesn’t mean it WON’T generate new growth to cut out a trunk but the presence of suckers would be reassurance that cutting out a main trunk will result in new growth you can then keep smaller. So I am wondering if it is actually healthy. Can you send me some pictures of the base of the shrub - the place where the trunks meet ground? If it was mine I would cut out the two widest – outside edge – trunks, right at ground level. I don’t need more photos to tell you to go ahead and do that but I would feel better if I knew more. _I_ never mind losing a plant to learn something but you might, especially a shrub that’s part of your screen! Janet
  2. We wrote in What's Coming Up #234 about bulbs that can become weeds, even take over whole properties. We know there are probably troublemakers we missed, and stories worth telling about all such bulbs. Tell us here and between us we'll save others some grief.
  3. Welcoming your experience with annuals, herbs and short lived perennials that can be sown in place outdoors in fall and thinned in spring to grow in place... maybe even naturalize. What plants have you grown this way" Would you recommend those plants to others? Any tips for managing self-sowers? Any photos welcome! Janet & Steven; related to our recent article "Seed the Spring."
  4. If the weed is flat to the ground and has milky sap then it is dotted spurge/prostrate spurge (Euphorbia maculata) and /I may have hopeful news. If it is an upright, milky sapped spurge (Euphorbia peplus known as petty spurge and radium weed), that is more work. Not knowing what the second weed is but hoping "dense" means it is flat to the ground, let's go with hopeful, first. Midsummer is explosion time for weeds. Even with preemergent herbicide (which we do not recommend; we avoid its use for several reasons we've listed before) or mulch in place, some weed seeds will be in position to sprout when summer rains come and days are long. Lots of light and water and weed seedlings can grow huge in days. For instance, on July 4 we went out of town to work leaving a just-bared bed and returned four days later to a solid cover of crabgrass seedlings. The hopeful thing here is that the spurge and probably the other weed are sunlovers, totally intolerant of shade. If you pull those that are right next to the desirable plants' stems, then cover everything else with a two-thick layer of newspaper or single layer of yard waste bag -- hold the paper cover down with bricks or anything or with a layer of mulch. In a few days the covered weeds will be dead and the nutrients they stole from the soil will be beginning the return trip as the dead weeds rot. The seed bank that gave rise to the weeds is still there, though. Leave the paper in place,, spread mulch or start hoe-ing regularly to prevent the next explosion. Pictured below are (left to right) dotted/prostrate spurge, the milky sap that's proof it's Euphorbia, radium weed, and then chickweed which I hope is your other dense weed because it like dotted spurge can be killed by covering.
  5. They are gypsy moth caterpillars Pam. The paired red dots one part of the body, paired blue dots on the other are definitive. Not desirable as caterpillar or moth. They have been spreading west across the continent for 70 years and can explode in numbers, defoliating large treed areas - they eat many tree species. Depending on where you are in North America, government-run control may be in play with the Extension service or Agriculture department keeping tabs on where they are reported, mapping hot spots and directing hatching-time aerial spraying of a bacteria that infects caterpillars. There is another biological control, a fungus that infects and kills them. It was released decades ago as a natural control and seemed for many years to have been ineffective but now seems to be established and effective (https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/gypsy-moth-outbreaks-in-michigan). Report them - one route is via the invasive species network https://www.michigan.gov/invasives/0,5664,7-324-68002_71241-379403--,00.html Kill what you see - they can be squashed, or since they migrate down the tree trunk daily, then back up to eat leaves, a sticky trap around the trunk catches and immobilizes them. Search for products such as Tanglefoot. Learn to recognize the later-summer egg masses and destroy them to reduce next year's population. Healthy trees can usually survive defoliation one year, especially late in the year but repeated defoliation can kill.
  6. We have been seeing southern blight, Sclerotium rolfsii for about 15 years in our part of Michigan. Back when, it did not occur much in northern gardens and farm fields but warming climate allowed it to move north. So it's theorized. If the leaves suddenly wilt, brown and die on a hosta in mid-summer, tug on them and see if they are rotted right where they join the crown. If they are, take a look at that bud. If it is dry or deformed, chances are pretty good you are looking at southern blight. It is a fungal disease (Sclerotium rolfsii) that can affect hundreds of plant species and it can reside in the soil. So remove any suspect hosta and destroy it. https://www.apsnet.org/edcenter/disandpath/fungalbasidio/pdlessons/Pages/SouthernBlight.aspx Remove the hosta, and the soil immediately around it. Discard them as NON-COMPOST because 140F composting temperature does not always kill this fungus. Alternatively, bury the affected plant and soil deeper than size inches. Then plant with something resistant to southern blight. Ornamental grasses and woody plants are the best bet. The bulletin from U of Kentucky (link below) has very good images and clear replanting strategy. So many plants are susceptible - the one fault I find with the UofKY bulletin is the short list of susceptible plants. We usually see the growing points/buds/eyes of hostas with southern blight looking like the UofKY sweet potato example.http://plantpathology.ca.uky.edu/files/ppfs-gen-16.pdf Janet
  7. Thank you! We have seen that fork and did wonder if the strap connection would bear up. Now we know - you look like someone who gives tools a serious workout!
  8. Sorry to say, burning bush does that sometimes - a branch or two will simply up and die mid-season. Not a bacterial blight - it does happen to leaves still growing but they do not blacken and die instantly (as we say of blight "it looks like the wicked witch of the west just zapped them). Instead, the leaves go through color change like you describe, then do not fall but end up brown and dry. Sometimes the next year the whole bush just goes, the same way, mid-season. A fungus that gets into the wood seems to be responsible: Sclerotinia sclerotiorum. (It's sometimes called "White mold", but the appearance that gave it that name is more likely to occur inside tissues when it infects flowers and stems of the hundreds of non-woody plants it can infect.) Sometimes just the couple of branches die back. We used to say dieback from this fungus was closely linked to drought years, perhaps because it is best able to kill already-weakened wood. However, for the soft-tissued plants it affects, 10 days of cool wet weather seems to open the door to infection. More on this disease at https://ipm.illinois.edu/diseases/rpds/1008.pdf Since this fungus is most prevalent on herbaceous (soft) plants, much of this very informative bulletin deals with handling the disease or agricultural and floral crops. Prune out the dead wood looking for discolored wood and bark to be sure you cut below all the infected area. Sterilize your saw or loppers after the cut - use bleach or peroxide. If it is a very important plant you may want to follow up next year with a fungicide on the newly-forming leaves and new twigs, since this is when the fungus first invades the wood, when it is new and green. ----------------- Sorry to be giving you such a delayed response. We've fallen behind this year. Pandemic lockdown delayed all our April work and we gardeners know April will NOT be held back. So catching up April meant running like heck all May and June to compensate. Now we are mostly back on track outside but most of our administration time has been and still is being taken up by Forum work you do NOT see. We are getting a much needed upgrade and reprogramming to make the Forum simpler to use from cell phones, easier to join, and better able to repel ad-bots. (We spend time every single day kicking out ad-bots that made it partway through to becoming members. Most would fail then and never get past that point but some would get through the last defenses - it's all a numbers game, bots trying out combination after combination to break security codes. So we kick them out at failsafe #1.) Anyway, we are back now, catching up and enjoying this!
  9. Like all spruces, dwarf Alberta spruce is best pruned as it reaches maximum allowable height or width because it will not regenerate from needle-less wood. You can cut a spruce branch back to its furthest-back side branch that still has needles, then let that space fill in as that twig beefs up, branches and grows out. (Please note that sometimes the very last branch with needles is not productive enough, can't produce on its own enough sugar and starch to keep growing and also provide its branch with all the starch it needs -- leaves keep their branch alive and fed! So we should more accurately say you can cut back to the furthest-back vigorous side branch.) So if you look inside the spruce to see how deep its foliage continues inside the outline, you will know how far you can cut it back. Most dwarf Albertas (they are a dwarf form of white spruce, Picea glauca 'Conica') have foliage only 3 or 4 inches deep into the tree, so they can only be reduced by 2 to 3 inches. If we start pruning when the branch tips first reach their space limit, we can keep them pretty much indefinitely at that point. We just cannot go in reverse very successfully. So your dwarf Alberta spruce should probably go - unless you want to start pruning it now and enlarge thebed on the lawn side. Prune it by shearing an inch off its exterior, then thinning to let light reach foliage even deeper into the plant. As you thin, cut back to side branches and be sure to remove stubby needle-less tips. It can be tedious or, like weeding a large bed, become a meditation. If this is a summer home and you are looking to screen that window from outside eyes I would replace the spruce with something deciduous, faster, and simpler to keep small. Simpler but requiring pruning every year or two. Rose of sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) comes first to mind. It's fast to grow, and summer blooming on new wood. Let it grow until it is the height the dwarf Alberta is now, then begin cutting it back by 3' every fall or spring as part of cottage close-up or opening. Within 3 or 4 weeks of spring budbreak it will be back up to screen the window. Choose a sterile (seedless) variety such as 'Diana', 'Aphrodite', 'Minerva' or 'Azurri Blue Satin' to avoid the #1 rose of sharon problem, which is its prodigious seed production that leads to hundreds of seedling rose of sharons coming up in beds and lawn all around. (However, if you plant for pollinators and hummingbirds, the sterile rose of sharons are not the best. Their nectar production is low and the configuration of the actual flower parts makes it difficult for pollinators to gather nectar.) Sorry to be so long in replying. We have fallen behind this year because the pandemic lockdowns delayed April work. Spring work can never truly be made up, only compensated by lots of extra May-June work. At the same time we have been devoting the administrative time we have left to upgrading the website including a long-needed revision to this forum to make it simpler to use from cell phones. But as of this week we have spring work covered and are reaching back to catch up on all else!
  10. Help us find good sources for bare root trees. We list our sources and others we have heard about, in What's Coming Up #231, Bare Root Tree Sources. https://gardenatoz.org/whats-up/tip-cuttings/bare-root-tree-sources/ If you can, add to our list or provide a first hand review of a nursery where you've bought bare root trees. Post here or send us an email! Thanks Janet
  11. Let's help everyone out - post those photos here that you take to send to me and Steven to ask "How can I save this tree? It seems to have the root problems you showed us in Plant it Well Even if The Roots are Wrong.* I didn't know all that back when I planted it." *(You can watch that on our Youtube channel.) https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFIHfvmcv0wJc9Sdh7tTJug Then we can all see the problems and talk about rescue operations! For instance, J.S. sent this photo, from the base of a 100' maple: And we say, chisel that root at the lines marked below and lift that obstruction to trunk growth out of there. Chisel, not saw, or saw only starter cuts then chisel because you must be careful not to cut into the bark of the rightful trunk and roots. If it's the only root like that around the tree base you have bought the tree many years of life. If there are more roots like that, call an arborist to have the tree's growth rate evaluated, the other girdles cut out, and a timetable set to watch for improvement or decide on other action.
  12. You can build the area up - no soil against the tree trunks and I hope you caught Chapter 5 of our Earthwise Soil Prep webinar for the explanation of determining how much of the tree's root zone you will be affecting. If you add soil over an area that's 1/3 or less of the tree's root zone and you guard the other 2/3 from damage you can transform a garden. But you might have unrealistic expectations of the area. With large trees overhead your garden has to be considered the junior partner. That is, plant with the expectation that your garden will NOT be lush and jam packed. But that doesn't mean it must look thin and poor. Choose your places under the trees to add up to maybe 40% of the space and plant that 40% heavily and with impact. Maybe one central spot has a mass of Japanese painted fern -- good in dryish areas and in some varieties so gray-white in leaf color it looks from a distance like a spotlight in a shady area. And places to right and left of the fern have huge leaf yellow-and-green variegated hostas. Between planted spots leave graceful space in curving-edged chunks or in actual paths with benches or wood sculptures along the way. I hope this helps! Janet
  13. So sorry we were so slow to get here but brava for your research and solution! You don't need this, then, but for others who might not find such good guidance as you received: Basically what your soil analysis indicated was a need for some nitrogen (about half the plant's annual needs), no phosphorus and between 3 and 4 times as much potassium as nitrogen. 1-0-3.5 Any fertilizer with that ratio, including 2-0-7, 4-0-14 or 12-0-40, will do the same. However, those good people you talked to are right on - you usually have to create your own mix. Use the ingredients label and the math most of us gardeners would like to avoid to figure this way: An average amount of nitrogen (N) in garden soil is 2 pounds in 1,000 square feet. The numbers on a fertilizer label are percent of a nutrient by weight. N is first, then phosphorus (P) then potassium (K). So a 500 square foot garden needs about 1 pound of nitrogen (N). 10 pounds of blood meal 13-0-0 supplies 1.3 pounds of nitrogen - 10 pounds x 13% = 1.3. Since the soil test says your garden has half its needs - needs only a 1% N fertilizer - 500 square feet of your garden needs only 1/2 pound of N. 1.3 pounds of N is enough for about 500 square feet of garden for a year. 5 pounds of blood meal per 500 square feet is good for your garden: 5 x 13% = 0.65. More is not a problem if it is an organic fertilizer like blood meal (carbon-based compounds like blood meal don't "burn" like a water soluble form such as a blue powder). Since your garden needs 3 times as much potassium as nitrogen, you need 1.5 pounds of potassium for 500 square feet. 5 pounds of muriate of potash 0-0-60 supplies 3 pounds of potassium - 5 x 60% = 3. So 5 pounds of muriate of potash will last you two years.
  14. They are right: Anyone growing strawberries must plan for invasiveness because it is strawberry plants' nature. More importantly, honoring that invasive nature is how you harvest the best crop year after year. Young strawberry plants bear fruit but 2nd year plants bear best. So: A) Plant your starter plants with room to spread about 8" to all sides. Straw mulch helps keep weeds down and fruit clean. This is what a springtime strawberry patch should look like, with room between plants so that after bloom season the new runners can set down roots. B.) Let those year 1 babies set fruit if you like. (Or not; books often say not, better to let new plants direct all energy into creating daughter plants. I find it makes no difference to the home grower. A farmer will see a difference that may make the yield from first-year harvest not worth the cost but that does not apply on backyard scale.) C) Let the plants send their runners into adjacent free space, where they will set down roots and bulk up in year one. They will produce in year 2. D) In early spring of year 2, remove at least some of the original plants and any plants that are beyond bounds and small because they got a very late start in year 1. E) Topdress the resulting bare spots with compost or soil plus slow release natural carbon based fertilizer such as mixtures of fish meal, blood meal, feather meal, etc. The objective is too create fertile bare space once again so the year 2 plants have room to spread. It is the Year 2 offspring that will be the most productive in year 3 of the planting. You can keep this up nearly forever if you make sure to complete E. In the doing, you contain wanton spread. Another option is to grow the strawberries in a barrel or box with holes cut in the sides. The plants are tucked into the holes and their runners and fruited stems just hang into space. Barrels can look good and only the lowest level of plants that can reach the ground must be curtailed. But the arrangement is too demanding of intricate work, for me. To keep the plating young and bearing well the gardener must clip off husky runners, pull original plants and keep replanting the little windows in the barrel sides. Otherwise the whole colony becomes decrepit. That's too limiting for me, to have only those windows to plant and no easy way to mix in new soil and nutrients except in a very limited spot; unless you use water soluble fertilizer which does not encourage crumbly great soil. Eggplant. Pretty simple to grow. Susceptible to all of the tomato's/nightshade family's pests so should not be grown where tomatoes (or potatoes or peppers or petunias or flowering tobacco) were grown during the past couple of years. Water the soil around the plant, not the leaves unless there has been no rain for a couple of weeks then shower the plant including leaf undersides early in the day. Dry foliage - less leaf disease. Occasional hard rain - insect eggs knocked off. Thrives only in warm soil so don't set out plants until crabgrass germinates (Ma Nature's soil thermometer) or a manufactured soil thermometer says 60F. Patrol daily and pluck off/clip off every discolored leaf. Do not agonize over the loss just do it. Keeps fungal problems way down. This plant would be far larger and bear larger fruit if it had been groomed along the way to remove discolored leaves. The small yellowed areas are where fungus is at work, draining the plant's nutrients. Little dead dots are from sucking insect damage, probably thrips that could have been curtailed with occasional showering and removal of first-infested leaves. Hope this helps. I am posting it on our Forum to perhaps nab other tips.
  15. Lilacs are born to survive! Yours will. You and a pruning saw can help it along. Cut the borer-inhabited stems now - every cane bigger around than a shovel handle, cut it off at ground level. Then get all that wood out of the yard or burn it so the borer caterpillars inside cannot emerge, turn into borer moths and lay eggs on some other lilac to start all over. Cut now! Those borers are about to emerge. The borers need decent-sized wood to have enough cambium to sustain them, once they gnaw their way in. So there will not be enough sustenance in the young shoots that are there now or will sprout from your cut-down roots and stem base. New canes won't bloom for two or three years and after that they will have another 2 or 3 years of being small enough in diameter to be pretty safe from borers. If a lilac is pruned regularly to renew the wood - that means taking an old cane or two out every year, right to the ground - and you let new replacement shoots come up, it will stay ahead of borers. So cut yours all the way back now -- all the canes that are bigger in diameter than a shovel handle - and mark your calendar for 2 years from now to begin taking a shovel-handle-sized cane or two out every year. Those you do not cut will bloom and the borer-free life the shrub has been leading can continue.
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