Habitat Restoration for Streambanks and Shorelines: Lecture & Field Tour

Learn how natural plant habitat restoration improves stream and river water quality with Katie Himanga, a Goodhue County Extension Master Gardener and Certified Forester. The first part of the course, on October 20th, consists of a lecture at the History Center and outlines the steps necessary to restore a site’s natural habitat while preserving or enhancing scenic quality. On October 22nd, apply the knowledge to Wells Creek in Old Frontenac and see natural habitat restoration in progress. Contact Red Wing Community Education (651-385-4565) or online to register.

Thursday, October 20th Lecture at the Goodhue County Historical Society | 6-7:30pm
Saturday, October 22nd Field Tour at the Villa Maria Grounds in Frontenac | 9-11am

Time to Remove Buckthorn

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Using the Weed Wrench to remove buckthorn.

October and November are great months to get out and pull all the small buckthorn trees that have popped up during the season. Buckthorn keeps its green foliage long after other trees and shrubs have dropped theirs so it is very easy to identify this time of year.

The Weed Wrench tool makes short work of smaller trees and you can borrow it free of charge from the Goodhue County Extension Master Gardeners.

Call University of  MN Extension, Goodhue County at 651-385-3100 for more information.

Autumn Tree Care

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Oak leaves from Oakwood Cemetary, Red Wing MN (photo by Nancy Lizette Berlin)

This post is a University of Minnesota Extension News Release:

Media Contact: Allison Sandve, U of M Extension, (612) 626-4077, ajsandve@umn.edu

ST. PAUL, Minn. (10/14/2013)—Drought conditions over the last two-plus years have left trees and other perennial plants visibly stressed this fall. Tree stress symptoms include abundant seed production, leaf scorch, early fall colors, leaf drop, limb dieback and yellowing or browning of leaves and needles.

Fortunately, several measures can help enhance tree and shrub health.

Trees and shrubs–especially conifers (such as pine, spruce and cedar) and those planted in the last three years–should be watered generously until the soil freezes. Mulching newly planted trees also helps reduce winter root damage.

Young maples and thin-barked trees may benefit from sunscald protection to prevent the bark from cracking this winter and spring. This usually involves plastic tubes or tree wraps, which are removed in spring. These practices can also help reduce winter animal damage. Other fall management practices which will help reduce winter damage to trees and shrubs can be found at http://z.umn.edu/winterdamage

Protecting trees from rabbits, mice, voles and deer is another major winter concern. Mow or remove tall grass to reduce mice and vole damage. If the bark is removed or severely damaged around the tree, it will die. Protective physical barriers such as tree tubes, hardware cloth or fencing can be done when practical.

Odor, taste and visual repellents can repel many wildlife species, but may have inconsistent effectiveness. Human hair, soaps, garlic oil, hot sauce and animal repellents can be applied to branches and foliage to discourage browsing. Weather, application frequency, animal population and feeding pressure affect the success of repellents. Alternate the repellents since some animals become desensitized to them. A web resource that reviews prevention and control of wildlife damage can be found at http://z.umn.edu/critters

If you’re unsure about what’s causing problems in your landscape, University of Minnesota Extension has a great website to help homeowners diagnose tree, shrub and plant problems or identifying a weed or insect. This site also has links to the University of Minnesota Plant Disease Clinic and Soil Testing Lab: http://z.umn.edu/diagnose

Fall is also a good time to plant trees; water them until the soil freezes. Recommended trees for all regions of Minnesota are at http://z.umn.edu/rectrees. The best time to prune trees is during the dormant season from January to March. Flowering shrubs can be pruned in the summer after flowering.

Source: Gary Wyatt, University of Minnesota Extension agroforestry educator
For more news from U of M Extension, visit http://www.extension.umn.edu/news or contact Extension Communications at extnews@umn.edu. University of Minnesota Extension is an equal opportunity educator and employer.

Keyhole Gardens

by  Karen O’Rourke,  Goodhue County Extension Master Gardener
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“Keyhole Gardening” by G. Elaine Acker in Texas Power Coop’s online magazine inspired me try a 3-D keyhole-style garden in the Spring Creek Community Garden.  This style of garden is  another “no-till” garden method.  It is built on top of existing soil on a site receiving 6-8 hours of sun per day.
I  modified the keyhole garden concept because it is in the Red Wing Sustainability Commission’s plot.  If it were at my home, the outer walls would have been made from brick, stone, recycled concrete or a more permanent material.  At the Spring Creek Community Garden,  I used 13 bales of barley straw, supposedly “weed-free”, from Sargent’s Nursery.
Bales were placed in a modified circle, two bales high to reach approximately 36″ with an inside diameter of 6′ (and, yes, I did have my trusty measuring tape out).  Wooden stakes were driven through the straw bales to help them through the summer.  A “wedge” was made into the circle for a path to easily reach into the tower.
Inside the circle, I placed a 4-foot tall and 1-foot wide chicken wire compost tower supported by three stakes.    This tower or basket, has alternating layers of wood chips, weeds, old hay, composted cow manure, (Cowsmo from Sargent’s Nursery) and will also contain kitchen waste, leaves, debris from the gardens as the summer continues.  It will be watered thoroughly throughout the summer and the plant roots will gravitate toward the tower to seek moisture and nutrients.  Little watering will be done in the area around the tower.
The inside of the straw bale circle around the tower also contains layers of old hay, shredded bark, Cowsmo, cardboard from the recycling center, weeds, etc. with several inches of compost from my composter located in the Master Gardener’s plot, and more Cowsmo – similar to the “lasagna” approach  found online and in a book by the same name available at the Red Wing Library.
What is the purpose of the keyhole garden?   This garden method can:
  • Save soil structure by avoiding tilling
  • Use recycled  materials to create new humus or soil
  • Reduce water use
  • Provide nutrients for the polyculture of vegetation  planted in the soil
 Historically, the keyhole garden came from Africa and has become popular in drier areas of the U.S.  Debra Tolman, a landscape architect from Texas, has several articles, photos and YouTube videos of  keyhole gardens –  just search online under her name or “keyhole gardens”.
Next time you are out to Spring Creek, please do wander over to the straw bale structure in the rear of the garden to view this process.  It will be as new for you as it is for me.