Winter is for Witchhazel

The cold winter season is enough to keep many plants, and most gardeners, in a state of suspended animation patiently waiting for warm breezes and bright sunshine. But, among these droves of winter evaders, there is one with the fortitude to tempt ‘old man winter’ and produce not solely a plump bud or a greenish stem, but a flower with fragrance and style unlike any other blooming shrub. The plant is Witchhazel and it is the hero of a winter garden. Continue reading

Clean Up for Clean Plants

Autumn has arrived in Kentucky and, as leaves change color and fall from trees, it is time to focus on landscape sanitation. Good sanitation practices can help reduce disease-causing pathogens. These organisms can survive for months or years on dead plant material or in soil, causing infections in subsequent years. Elimination of disease-causing organisms reduces the need for chemical controls and can improve the effectiveness of disease management practices. Following these sanitation practices both in autumn and throughout the growing season can reduce disease pressure in home and commercial landscapes. Continue reading

Composting Fall Leaves

As the fall season progresses, many folks obtain large amounts of leaves and other yard wastes that need to be removed from their property.

When you compost leaves, other yard debris and kitchen waste, a microbial process converts these items into a more usable organic amendment. You can use finished compost to improve soil structure in gardens and landscape beds. You also can use finished compost as a mulch to help reduce weed problems, moderate soil temperatures and conserve soil moisture.
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Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs

While monitoring vegetable and soybean fields in the Lexington area, I have noticed that the number of brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) adults has dropped off as the numbers of nymphs on these crops has remained constant. Last year, BMSB began to gather on the sides of homes the first week in September. This makes me believe that BMSB is changing its behavior from plant feeding to begin searching for overwintering sites, possibly your home. I did spot 15 BMSB on the side of my house on Saturday. So, over the next several weeks we should expect BMSB to gather on buildings in search of suitable overwintering sites. Once inside buildings they will remain active until mid-spring. Continue reading

Fall Cleanup is Essential for Spring Success

Some homeowner’s fall gardens are in full swing now. However, a majority of home gardeners seem to prefer skipping the fall garden ritual as they are ready to forget about dealing with plant disease and insects in the vegetative garden until next spring. Even so, this time of year is actually the perfect time to start controlling next year’s disease and insects. A little work in the fall can prevent a lot of trouble next spring. Continue reading