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Everything posted by Dsmith74

  1. Dsmith74

    Lawn Fungus

    You'll probably need to post photos or at least a better description of the fungus. "Fungus" could be anything from spots to rust to a fairy ring of toadstools.
  2. None of those are honeysuckle. They're all weeds (mostly Galinsoga quapriradiata I think) that sprouted in the foot print of the vine I yanked out. I've pulled a few straggling honeysuckle vines, but not many. I tried to throw the decomposed mulch back over the disturbed area, but as you can see, it failed. I don't know Galinsoga's seed dormancy capability, so I suppose it could have been seeds coming in and sprouting in the disturbed soil as well. Luckily it's a small area and I've just been hand pulling them for now. I hate to top up mulch since this is a new house (as of a year ago) and I'd rather wait until the borders are adjusted and plans more established and order a load of bark fines all at once. There are a lot of changes that need to be made. But I may have to go get a bag of something and a hunk of cardboard to cover this spot. Supposedly Galinsoga quapriradiata is quite palatable. Maybe I should have cooked them up.
  3. Can you tell where the Japanese honeysuckle vine was?
  4. Actually, those trees aren't going to grow up. One is a silver maple and the other is a variegated Norway maple (and a third was a purple Norway maple, and was the first to go). They are two of my least favorite trees and their days are numbered.
  5. Last summer, much to my relief, I was able to move to a new (to me) home. While the old place had its problems, soil wasn't one of them. Especially when I left, it had a lovely sandy loam. Nearly everything I tried, grew, until the rosy apple aphids, or black vine weevils, or rabbits, aster yellows, or the darling neighborhood children got to it. When I looked at the new place, I suspected the soil wasn't as good. There was dark loam in all of the beds, but I suspected more clay here than at the old house. I also saw a little landscape fabric peeking out. How much of that was there? Time was of the essence since I had already sold my old house. Plus I doubted in this market that I could take a bunch of soil samples and wait for the results before buying. While the landscape wasn't necessarily to my liking, it was pretty well established, healthy, and growing, so how bad could it be? This photo was taken the week after I moved in last August. I didn't do anything last summer except cut the grass. After the first rain I knew was right about the clay. Some puddling here and there, and a spot alongside the hill that was a fairly steep slope got mighty slippery. There were also indications in the landscaping that the soil might not be ideal. A few plants were in (too) small berms. But others were directly in the ground. Were the berms for soil issues or just for decoration? The answer would have to wait. While I wait and plan for perennials I thought I'd throw in a few annuals from seed in a nice sunny spot. That spot in the pic above next to the deck (where the iron table and chairs are) has a great southern exposure. Perfect. But now the question(s) - I know the first step in any home sale is ordering a load of mulch. I did it myself. The question is, what happens then? It could be topping up perfectly maintained beds so the color is even and fresh. I've also seen someone mow down all the existing perennials, shrubs, and weeds to the ground, and just dump mulch on top, with a few colorful shrubs from the big box store popped in for that "TV 'garden' show came through and redid our gardens in a weekend" look. That will be a huge mess when everything comes back the next year. Not to mention, the landscape fabric question. Time for some exploratory digging. Well, the mulch certainly isn't a quick cover-up. These beds have been mulched repeatedly. The broken-down old mulch must be 4" thick and looks great. But look what's underneath it. LANDSCAPE FABRIC! It must be under ALL of the beds. And what's that underneath? Some kind of drain. These caps covered a coarse stone at least a foot deep, with some kind of concrete cylinder at the end. The other end is the garage wall. Maybe for gutters in the past? Who knows. But what about the areas that weren't the drain? A concrete slab? Nope! That is solid clay, with absolutely no organic matter in it at all. Well, only one thing to do - break it up with a fork and cover it back up. Luckily, the decomposed mulch between the new stuff on top and the landscape fabric is basically really nice compost. So back in it goes, followed by the seeds. I can feel the rabbits watching me from their hiding places, just waiting for the first shoot to peek out. Will the rest of the yard be as bad? Stay tuned! Soil samples from the lawn headed to MSU today. They had clay in them too, but obviously not the yellow, lifeless stuff from under the landscape fabric. Can't wait to see what other surprises come back from that.
  6. Just a reminder - if you have Asian Ladybugs like I do, and you have double-hung windows (with screens that don't go all the way up) there's an easy, nonlethal, non-smelly/juicy way to get them out. Just unlock the window and lower the top sash. It doesn't take much - a quarter inch is plenty. Windows in the sun work best. They will politely see themselves out, to go to work in your garden.
  7. Yup! I would not put it on a house. That's an outbuilding, not attached (or even near) the house. And those vines are from when I wasn't in charge of maintaining the place. Had I zoomed out, you would see that they are cut above and below those photos. I just can't get those pieces out without tearing off the siding. I would never plant it again, but it's been there for decades, the hummingbirds love it, and it looks cool because you can only see the top with the flowers peeking over the roof from the house so I just keep hacking at it when it misbehaves. I did order some Bignonia capreolata, which I have never tried before, for my own (new to me) house in town to see if it's a suitable alternative. Also some Parthenocissus henryana to see how it does compared to quinquefolia, which also used to grow on that building, but I couldn't keep it off the power lines to it's gone.
  8. Also, where is the wisteria growing? Because if it's on your house, that's another strike against growing trumpet vine on it. Wisteria is a twiner and goes where you put it for the most part, although it might crush a railing or something if it gets too big. Trumpet vine, on the other hand, is a gripper. It goes where it wants, and where it wants is into any little crack or hole. It will rip the siding off your house for fun. Oh, and in case the suckers aren't enough, sometimes the seeds are viable as well. At least, I assume that's why i found one growing out of the dirt floor of the old farmhouse basement, hundreds of feet from the vine. I assume a varmint hauled it back to the house and buried it for future consumption. This is what it does to our garage Once through, it slithers around inside until it finds the light from the window
  9. Anybody know what this is? About a month ago I found quite a few of these on my Cotinus as I was hacking it back to a reasonable size. Now it is covered with purple leaf-eaters that I'm pretty sure are beetle larvae, and I doubt it is a coincidence. I'm not planning to treat the plant or anything, since A.) I've sold the house and B.) it's Cotinus - I doubt a few beetles will slow it down (and of it does, that's probably a good thing). Just curious, since my best Google-fu hasn't narrowed it down any.
  10. I'm guessing it was probably Dolichovespula maculata (bald-faced hornet) but I'm no expert. Pretty much all wasps and hornets are beneficial. Bald-faced hornets particularly like flying prey, including yellow jackets and they are welcome to them at my house. They only pose a danger if someone were to mess with the hive, which at that location is unlikely. However, that nest is empty. As far as I know, wasps like that all abandon their hives at the conclusion of the colony cycle in the fall, at least here in MI. The newly-fertilized females hibernate elsewhere, and they start a new nest next year. Removing it will neither accomplish nor harm anything (unless he falls off the ladder while doing it). However, be aware a whack with a broom handle will not bring it down like on cartoons. They're firmly attached and quite well constructed. You can remove it intact by cutting the branches to which it is attached, otherwise you'll have to tear it apart. Myself, I can't imagine expending the effort to do either.
  11. Well, "black and yellow striped" describes a lot of the bees and wasps around here. Lots of bees make underground nests. Many of those are solitary and fairly relaxed in temperament. But if there were a lot of them, I'd google yellow jacket (Vespula) and see if anything looks similar. Some of them do make hives underground, and if by "dangerous" you mean can they cause you extreme discomfort, then yes they are. If they are yellow jackets, by this time of year there can be a LOT of workers in that hive, which will all come after you if you cross them and they are easily crossed. But if you don't cross them, most of them will be out hunting other bugs, many of which you probably don't want around. If they're not in an area I or anyone else is likely to absent-mindedly stroll through I leave them alone. Near my front sidewalk would not qualify however, and they would have to go (since disagreements between us tend to send me to the emergency room). The nests don't survive the winter though, so if you can avoid it for the rest of the year it will probably not be there next year - especially if you plug the holes with a few handfuls of soil after they are dead. I was just reading somewhere online of an organic "folk remedy" to eliminate them. How? After dark put sardines at the entrance hole. How can a dead fish kill a nest of angry yellow jackets? By attracting a skunk! I wouldn't do that in your planting beds though. Skunks are little, stinky rototillers. But I'm dying to know if it works. Failing that, I *carefully* use the Raid wasp and hornet killer in the black spray can. Wash your hands immediately after (or wear latex gloves) and try not to inhale a bunch of it. Those nerve toxin pesticides give me the willies. Shoot it in the hole(s) after dark. You don't need to empty the can like many people do. A five second blast should be plenty. Plants that get hit may not be happy about it.
  12. Looks spider-mitey. Especially if you see actual webbing on the leaves.
  13. I'm no arborist, but I've never seen a deciduous tree in a temperate climate "skip a year" when it comes to leafing out. Leaf out, get defoliated, and not grow new leaves until the next year, yes. But never not leaf out at all, then leaf out the next year. I'd want to find out why it is declining before looking for a replacement. If it's a birch-specific disease or pest, then no problem (just don't plant another birch). But if it's a site-specific issue, like a permanent drainage change, or a light change, or some other environmental issue, you will want to make sure and choose something that is adapted to the current conditions.
  14. Looks like four-lined plant bugs.
  15. That is a woodchuck. Also sometimes known as a groundhog, as well as several other words I can't type in a family-oriented forum. They're basically a giant squirrel that can tunnel under fences (and buildings, and woodpiles, and porches, and driveways), with the diet and appetite of about 4 rabbits - namely, your favorite plants starting with the most expensive/hardest to replace and working down from there. Having said that, I kinda like them.
  16. So let's use 4 lbs/1000 sq. ft. The NPK numbers indicate the percentage of the product that nutrient represents. Blood meal (12-0-0) is 12% nitrogen (N), meaning for every 100 lbs of blood meal, you get 12 lbs of N. So, to get 4 lbs of N per 1000 sq. ft., you would need to apply 4/0.12=33.3 lbs of blood meal to every 1000 sq. ft. of garden. Yikes! Your 29-0-5 lawn fertilizer is 29% N, so for 4 lbs/1000 sq. ft you would need to apply 4/0.29=13.8 lbs per 1000 sq. ft. of garden. You would need to consult your spreader's documentation (or do a calibration) to determine what setting to use to get that application rate. However, for me at least, 4 lbs of N per 1000 sq. ft. is a pretty high application rate. I'd worry about burning everything to a crisp, especially using my imprecise hand-held spreader, which is really the only way to apply fertilizer to an entire perennial bed. I'd shoot instead for between 1 and 2 lbs of N/1000 sq. ft. (or between 3 and 6 lbs of lawn fertilizer per 1000 sq. ft.), applied three or four times over the course of several months (or even several seasons). To be honest, though, I have a small yard, so what I actually do is use slow release organic fertilizer (I like the Epsoma "tone" line) that most closely matches the NPK percentages indicated by the soil test, then apply it by hand to individual plants. That way there's little chance of burning the plants, and I can control fertilization plant-to-plant. So some roses need plenty of fertilizer, and might get several heavier applications. The vigorous Nepeta, on the other hand, is on a strict diet to keep it from exploding into a neighbor-swallowing, leggy mess that needs dividing every month and a half.
  17. Hard to judge scale from this pic, but it looks like a praying mantis egg case to me.
  18. Well, the numbers are only half of the calculation. You use the number to calculate how heavily to apply the fertilizer. So blood meal (12-0-0) and anhydrous ammonia (82-0-0) will do the same job - it's just a matter of how much you apply to each square inch/foot/yard/mile. So if you use lawn fertilizer as a replacement for blood meal, you would only use about half as much over the same area. Was there a soil test indicating you need nitrogen? If so, it usually indicates how much you need to add in pounds-per-area. If you could post that number we can figure out how much to apply based on the NPK of the fertilizers available to you.
  19. Dsmith74

    Lawn damage

    Top one looks kinda skunky to me. I wonder what they're finding this early. Are the grubs that shallow this early in the spring? I guess I've never checked. Trails in the lawn are usually voles. With continuous snow cover from November through March, I suspect they had a very good year.
  20. Wish I could say the same. My (<1' high) Fothergilla had about 2/3 of the branches broken off, and not cleanly either. The ones that weren't broken were eaten by a rabbit! My Cotinus had many broken branches too, although it was in a spot where I had to aim the snowblower (which this winter was basically everywhere). That's a well-established plant though, so no worries there. We shall see how little "blue shadow" responds, if at all.
  21. Probably need to provide a little more info to get a good recommendation. Sun? Shade? Wet? Dry? Clay? Sand? 10 foot hedge for privacy? Groundcover? Flowers? Winter interest?
  22. You might be surprised that the robin you spotted may not be one that decided to stay, but in fact one that has recently returned from his southern migration. Migration return dates for casual migrators like robins, which don't migrate in flocks, often follow a bell curve type distribution: a few very early, most in the middle (when people start seeing them), then a few returning very late. This could be one of those few, hardy souls that like to get back first. I took an ornithology class when I was in college in the U.P. (Houghton) where they migrate south with near 100% certainty. We would go out in a van at 6 am looking for birds starting the first week in March. Robins were not numerous, but certainly present. They just tend not to be out singing and hopping around lawns where people, who are still hunkering down inside, would be able to see them easily. That said, in the southern-most parts of Michigan, some robins do stick around all year depending on food supply and accessibility. So it could be a non-migratory type, but not necessarily. Coming back super-early has its advantages (and disadvantages).
  23. The difference with your standard is you can't cut back to the ground (called coppicing) and keep the shape, or even the same plant if it is grafted. So the furthest back you can go is to stubs coming from the knob which all the branches originate, called the knuckle. This type of pruning is called pollarding, and has been done on willows for centuries, with the harvested twigs used for things like fuel (firewood). Pollarding is basically coppicing high enough that your livestock can't eat your new shoots in the spring, leaving you with plenty of meat and no way to cook it. Not sure which willow you have, but if they're anything like other common willows I suspect you could cut it back like that fairly often - perhaps even every year if you want. If I did it often I would trim it back to the knuckle when dormant (no leaves) - that way you know the tree has stored the maximum amount of energy it can to fuel regrow the next year. Make sure, if you do so, that you leave a little stub - don't try and go flush with the trunk. Unlike regular pruning, where you don't want a branch in that spot, with pollarding/coppicing you DO want another branch to grow there, so you need to leave enough stub to save a bud from which that new growth can originate. This is a good project for that really nice, warm, sunny day that comes in early March where you want to get out and do something but don't want to dig in or crawl around on the wet soil. That also allows you to enjoy the colorful bark all winter if you variety has that trait. In fact, that bark (and colorful variegated leaves) are often a trait born only (or at least more dramatically) by young wood, so these days coppicing and pollarding are more often done to encourage those aesthetic traits, rather than for the harvested branches. Well, unless you're on Janet's zoo crew - then it is for both.
  24. Dsmith74

    Pruning Rose Bushes

    Remember - not too much on a happy rugosa in the spring or you get the Suckers Revenge. I guarantee at least one will come up dead center in the middle of your absolute favorite perennial (probably an irreplaceable one that's resentful of disturbance).
  25. The problem is an autofocus camera doesn't know what exactly you're trying to shoot when it's on something thin or fine (like a twig or fennel leaf). 90% of the frame is dominated by the background, so it focuses on that. Depending on the camera, there are a few options that might help. Most point-and-shoot-type cameras can use either a single focus point (usually right in the middle of the screen) or several points. The latter is often the default setting, but the single point is better in the case you describe. Check your manual to see if you have that option, and how to change it. If your camera has a "macro" mode make sure you are using it. That tells the camera you are trying to shoot something very close, so if the caterpillar is close, and the background is relatively far away, it will hopefully be biased for focusing on the nearby object. Most cameras, even the less expensive ones, have some kind of manual focus feature. The problem is it can be difficult to find and use. But if it has it, you can use that to set the focus instead of letting the camera do it. Finally, a "cheat" I often use is a feature generally called "focus lock" or something like that. If you can get the camera to focus on something at about the right distance, you can push a button and lock the focus at that point until you take the picture. So, for example, you could focus on your hand or some other flat, even surface that the camera can easily focus on. Then hit the lock, and swing the camera over and position it at the same distance from the intended subject. Once in focus, take the pic. That's what I use on my iPhone (which has no manual focus feature). Even when I had my point-and-shoot cameras, I found that quicker and easier than trying to mess with the clunky autofocus.
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