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Gifted Gardener M a r c h

Inside this issue:

Try Blue Flower Color 2 to Convey Calmness Voles: the other unseen 4 menace Making a Difference, 6 One Peel at a Time New Fruit & Vegetable Varieties for the Decade


Wheel Bugs


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SPRING VEGETABLE GARDEN SHOULDN'T BE A REACTION Grow your own seems to be the second step of panic reaction right behind toilet paper hoarding. We tend to react this way and the attitude turns fleeting as the work of producing our own becomes difficult. I challenge you to be a life gardener, not just a reaction gardener. Make this new found desire a way of life that bridges the

Frost/Freeze Damage to 12 plants Try Blue Flower Color 14 to Convey Calmness


food needs for your family. Gardening is not easy and is time consuming and if it isn't for you it should at least let you know more about what it takes to put food on your table. The advertisement below is for a FaceBook video series we are producing each week that explores how to grow and use produce around your home. Make Food Happen!

Try Blue Flower Color to Convey Calmness By Annette Meyer Heisdorffer Agent for Horticulture, Daviess Co. Cooperative Extension

The Pantone Color Institute named Classic Blue the color of 2020 to convey calmness and tranquility. Blue is a great choice for One of the best UK fans, but it will gardening tips not be calm during you’ll ever get is games. There are to plan your new several perennials garden near a and annuals available water source. with blue or hints Make sure you and tones of blue to can run a hose to enjoy in your garden your garden site, and to support UK. so you don’t have ‘Johnson’s Blue’ to lug water to it Geranium (Geranium) forms a each time your plants get thirsty spreading mound about 12 inches in height and 24 to 30 inches wide. The blue flowers appear in late spring to early summer. This perennial prefers morning sun and afternoon shade. It grows best in welldrained, moist soil. False indigo (Baptisia 2

australis) grows erect with stalks of blue, lupine-like flowers in spring. After the flower has faded, the seed

pod becomes an inflated charcoal-black seed capsule. The pods are desirable to use in dried flower arrangements. This plant was used by early Americans as a substitute for true indigo in making blue dyes. Use it as a specimen plant to display its clover-like, blue-

green leaves. False indigo prefers full sun. ‘May Night’ (Mainacht) meadow sage (Salvia X superba or Saliva nemerosa) has deep violet-blue flowers produced on a stalk. The perennial plant reaches 18 inches tall, blooming in the spring. It prefers well-drained soil and full sun. ‘May Night’ tolerates heat and drought conditions. Plumbago (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides) is a low-growing, 10-inch tall perennial. It has a ID=SALMN central crown, making it ideal for a ground cover to help control erosion after blooming to keep the plant looking nice. in small areas. Morning sun and Evening Scentsation TM Petunia afternoon shade show off the marine (Petunia x atkinsiana) has indigo blue blue, phloxlike flowers. It blooms in flowers that are fragrant with hints of late summer through the fall, when hyacinth, honey, and rose. The the foliage becomes a beautiful fragrance becomes more noticeable bronze red. This plant needs wellin the afternoon and evening. This drained soil. annual blooms throughout the Blue My Mind® (Evolvulus hybrid) has growing season. The plant reaches 5 silver-green foliage with blue flowers to 8 inches tall and 30 to 35 inches throughout the summer. The wide. It prefers a moist, well-drained attractive annual reaches 6 to 12 soil. inches in height and spreads up to 24 inches. It is easy to care for and grows The summer snapdragon Angelface® Dresden Blue (Angelonia angustifolia) best in hanging baskets or containers. reaches 18 to 24 inches tall and It prefers full sun and tolerates heat. spreads 18 to 24 inches wide. The Surfina® Sky Blue Petunia (Petunia lavender-blue, 1-inch flowers are hybrid) has beautiful sky blue flowers bicolor with a single white, angelwith a hint of lavender. The fastshaped petal on the downside. growing plant reaches 6 to 10 inches Flowers are produced on spikes. This in height and spreads 8 to 10 inches. This annual plant tolerates heat and is annual flowers all summer long with little care. Deadheading old flower a beautiful addition to patio pots. The (Continued on page 15) flowers do not need to be removed 3

VOLES: THE OTHER UNSEEN MENACE Adapted from FOR-121 Vertebrate Pest Management

Voles, or meadow mice, are small, compact mammals with stocky bodies; small, rounded ears; short legs; and short tails. When fully grown, voles are 4 to 5 inches long. Their long, coarse hair can be blackish, grizzled, or reddish, and they spend most of their lives just below the soil surface.

Often damage by voles is mistaken as mole damage, because meadow voles can create extensive burrow systems, particularly in lush, thick grass lawns. Voles, or meadow mice, are small, compact mammals with stocky bodies; small, rounded ears; short legs; and short tails. When fully grown, voles are 4 to 5 inches long. Their long, coarse hair can be blackish, grizzled, or reddish, and they spend most of their lives just below the soil surface. Voles are plant eaters, so if you find bulbs, tubers, shrubs, or other plants gnawed on at ground level or just below it, the culprit is likely a vole, not a mole. You might find 1inch diameter holes in the turf, indicating the entrance to a burrow system. Prairie and meadow voles feed on tree bark, primarily during the fall and winter. However, pine voles characteristically attack trees of all sizes in all seasons. Most pine vole damage 4

occurs below ground, where the animals feed on rootlets and the bark of larger roots. Voles breed from January through October in Kentucky and can produce an entirely new generation in about 60 days. Vole numbers

fluctuate from year to year; under favorable conditions, populations can increase rapidly. Voles often experience population booms and busts on about a four-year cycle. It is during the boom years that lawn and shrub damage is usually the worst. Vegetation management is the key to managing vole populations. Because voles like thick, heavy mulch and grass, the key is to not provide this type of habitat. However,

limiting this habitat can conflict with other objectives, such as applying mulch around landscape plants. To reduce the potential for vole damage, mulch should be pulled away at least 36� from the base of the plant material and if possible, the ground should be kept clear of any vegetation or mulch, because bare ground minimizes vole activity around plants. A thick, lush lawn, particularly with fescue as the grass species, creates ideal habitat for prairie or meadow voles. Lawns should be dethatched to reduce potential vole problems. To protect individual landscape plants, place hardware cloth cylinders (1⠄4-inch mesh) around the lower trunks and bury the cylinder’s lower edge 6 inches deep. Tree guards that control rabbit damage do not discourage voles, since voles feed mostly underground. In fact, voles have been known to nest under loosefitting guards! For very small vole populations, trapping may be sufficient control. Use ordinary mousetraps baited with peanut butter or apple. The traps must be placed in the runs and then covered with boards. Check traps daily and reset as needed. This method is very time-consuming but is often the only solution, as

there are no chemicals labeled for vole control in the landscape.


Making a Difference, One Peel at a Time By Johnnie Riley Davis Marshall Master Gardener Yes, there is a reason why we should all be composting. According to the EPA, 30-40% of all available food in the US is wasted. Over one fifth of discarded material in landfills is believed to be food. Sadly, the third largest human related methane emission is from landfills. One of the simplest ways for private citizens to make a difference is to set up a Two clues to a compost system in their home. problem with your First, decide where you want compost heap are to place your compost. It an ammonia smell should be away from your vegetable garden or water which indicates well. The preferred location the need for more should be in the shade on a browns, or a flat surface not prone to rotten egg smell flooding. Small amounts of that is telling you compost can be processed in a bin indoors. to reduce Composting methods include moisture and turn cold composting where no for more air. structure is needed, and the inner temperature is low; it requires very little maintenance and takes about a year. Hot composting usually is a confined heap that gets hot enough to kill seeds and pathogens, and works faster, but needs regular turning and wetting. Compost heaps should be made up of brown and green material. The browns are the carbon part of the mixture, 6

and greens add nitrogen. The ratio should be 25parts brown to 1-part green. Browns include yard debris of less than 1 inch, straw, brown leaves, sawdust and newspaper. Greens are grass clippings, eggshells, coffee grounds, vegetable and fruit peels, and herbivorous animal manure (rabbit, cow, sheep, chicken, and horse). Food scraps may be stored in a container near the kitchen sink to routinely add. Items that should not be added to compost include meat, fish, bones, fat, dairy products, chemically treated yard trimmings, plant debris that is disease or insect infested, ash, pressure treated wood, slick paper, pine needles, and thorny trimmings. Two clues to a problem with your compost heap are an ammonia smell which indicates the need for more browns, or a rotten egg smell that is telling you to reduce moisture and turn for more air. About a year after starting, it will be time to cover the heap with a piece of terra cloth and let it rest a few

weeks. Using a framed screen, sift over a wheelbarrow to remove uncomposted material. Adding compost to your soil will improve aeration and drainage, improve water holding capacity, encourage a healthy root system and will add some nutrients. By composting, we all can cut down on the waste of resources, gas, time, manpower, pesticides and fertilizer that goes into producing food in this country.

Protection From Ticks By Dr. Johnathan Larson, Extension Entomologist and Anna Pasternak, Entomology Grad Student Because the Lone star and American dog ticks are active during spring and summer and Blacklegged ticks are active through winter, it’s smart to protect yourself from ticks whenever you spend time outside in areas where ticks may live. Using repellants for your skin (such as DEET or picaridin) can help but treating your clothing with permethrin will provide the best protection. Permethrin is not to be used on the skin and should only be applied to clothing items. Everyone should also be performing routine tick checks after spending time in tick habitat to hopefully intercept ticks before they bite. Treating your pets with tick preventive medicine will keep them tick-free and help to prevent them from accidentally bringing the little bloodsuckers into your yard and house. FULL ARITCLE


New Fruit & Vegetable Varieties for the Decade By Beth Wilson Agent for Horticulture, Pulaski Co. Cooperative Extension

It’s okay to have a few good standbys when it comes to the varieties of vegetables and fruits that you grow. But every once in a while, a new variety comes out that you just have to try. Here are a few new (and newish) varieties.

It’s okay to have a few good standbys when it comes to the varieties of vegetables and fruits that you grow. But every once in a while, a new variety comes out that you just have to try. Here are a few new (and newish) varieties.

borne diseases like Fusarium wilt or bacterial wilt. Most

• Loose-curd cauliflower – This different type of cauliflower doesn’t form one large head. It Photo: Loose-curd Cauliflower by Johnny’s Seeds: Loo is stemmier and is touted as ideal for light rootstocks have strong root cooking or serving raw system and can thereby for dipping. confer higher plant vigor to • Apple-shaped tomato the scion cultivar. – All-America Selections • UFO-shaped pepper – ‘Mad (AAS) gave the thumbs Hatter’ was an AAS winner up to this variety called back in 2017. It’s just a weird ‘Tomato Apple Yellow’. looking pepper that will not The small tomatoes are only be good eating but will bright yellow and the also be a conversation piece. plant could result in ‘up Slightly warm, great for to 1000 fruits per plant’. stuffing. • Grafted tomato or • Potato from seed – AAS pepper plants – There is chose ‘Clancy’ as a winner. consensus that grating a Yes, you plant the seed, grow desirable variety of the transplant (just like a tomato/pepper onto a tomato transplant), and plant strong rootstock can out into the garden. Growing help to control soil8

from seed is a good way to avoid any diseases that may be laying dormant on seed potato pieces. Interesting.

• Caddo blackberry – This new thornless variety comes out of the breeding program at the University of Arkansas by John Clark. No orange rust, anthracnose, or cane/ leaf rust has been detected in research trials.

• Joan J raspberry – This variety came out several years ago. It is a thornless, primocane berry that produces red raspberries.


Wheel Bugs By Kara Back Agent for Horticulture, Taylor Co. Cooperative Extension

The wheel bug punctures victims with its powerful beak, injects a saliva that digests the “innards” of the insect prey, then sucks out the body fluids. If a Wheel Bug lands on you, brush it off gently. If you are bitten, cleanse the area with soap and water and some relief may be obtained by using lotions containing menthol, phenol or camphor

When one studies insects he or she will quickly discover there are several beneficial insects. Yes, we all have heard of the praying mantis, but does the name wheel bug ring a bell?

Wheel bugs get their name from a cog-like wheel looking structure on their back. They are very aggressive looking and they should be, because they are a predator. Adding to that, wheel bugs belong to a group of insects called assassin bugs. The wheel bug is actually the largest assassin bug in Kentucky. Wheel bugs feed on several soft body insects such as sawflies, aphids, brown 10

marmorated stink bugs, moths, and caterpillars (which could be either good if the caterpillars are causing harm to your plants, or bad if you have a butterfly garden). However, sometimes there will be a few good guy casualties along the way, such as honey bees and lady beetles. Wheel bugs can be found in fields, gardens, and in the landscape. They have one generation per year. In the fall, the female lays several dozen eggs in a cluster on a small twig of a tree or shrub. In the early spring, the eggs hatch and small red and black nymphs emerge. Don’t be scared when you see them. They will try to avoid you. However, don’t pick one up to hold it. It can deliver a painful bite. Their beak like feeding structure enables them to pierce their insect prey. This spring keep an eye out for these amazing insects. You just may have a few protecting your vegetable garden and you didn’t even know it.



Our false sense of security comes from the retailers tempting us with their wares about a month and a half before we should be even considering planting.

What we just experienced is not that abnormal for Kentucky. The old adage “if you don’t like the weather stick around” holds true. What has changed is the disconnect from having to make decisions based on the weather and observations. A gut feeling for the weather of the growing season was all the farm families of yesteryear had when deciding whether to plant or not. My uncle recently told me a story of planting an acre of tomatoes in the early ’50s (on black plastic nonetheless, and in Manton) in mid-May and losing them to a frost. We once lost a tobacco crop to a late frost. So these things happen. What was different about this is the freeze that came. Many of our plants can handle a frost (remember frost can occur at 36 degrees) but the freeze was a surprise to many of our most loved natives. For example, Walnut, Pecan, Mulberry, and Catalpa all were frozen and will be set back as a result. My Catalpa was frozen twice this year that will not bode well for its continued success. Frost typically only causes superficial problems (what looks like burn) to our hardier plants but the freeze causes structural damage at the cell level and often results in the death of tissue or entire 12

plants. For example, Beauty Berry was leafing out in April when the last freeze occurred and the result is death of the top of the plant. They have not yet begun to put new growth out from the bottom (or root system). Patience will be the virtue of the day going forward because patience and time will tell the full story of many plants in the landscape. Our false sense of security comes from the retailers tempting us with their wares about a month and a half before we should be even considering planting. I saw tomato plants available on March 16th (that is nuts). The winner in this is the transplant grower that gets to sell you transplants multiple times in a season. So with what just happened weather-wise, we will undoubtedly see some plants stressed in the coming season and will need to pay close attention as we enter into a hotter and potentially dry time of year. A little TLC will go a long way in encouraging their long-term survival.


Don’t Guess, Test


Try Blue Flower Color to Convey Calmness

which are upright petals, and dark blue falls, which are downward bending petals. It prefers to grow in well-drained soil and full sun. The plant reaches 16 to 18 inches wide and 30 to 40 inches in height with the flower stem included.

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stalks is not necessary. It prefers to grow in full sun and welldrained soil and tolerates summer heat. Mealycup sage (Salvia farinacea) is an annual in our area but can reseed itself and come up next year. ‘Fairy Queen’ has dark blue and white bicolor flowers on spikes. The plant reaches 18 inches in height and 14 inches in width. ‘Victoria’ has deep violet-blue to deep blue flowers. The plants are compact, reaching 16 to 18 inches tall. They grow best in full sun and tolerate heat and drought. The flower spikes can be used

in fresh arrangements. Butterflies and hummingbirds are attracted to the blossoms. Summer Wave® Large Blue torenia (Torenia hybrid) grows best in shade to partial shade. The large tubularshaped flowers are two toned with darker blue and lighter blue petals. The carefree annual plant is covered with flowers all summer. The plant reaches 8 to 10 inches tall and 10 to 12 inches wide. ‘Best Bet’ tall bearded iris (Iris germanica) blooms in the spring and may re-bloom in the fall. The large flowers have light blue standards, salvia-farinacea-victoria-blue

Robbie Smith County Extension Agent for Agriculture Phone: 502-348-9204 email:




University of Kentucky Nelson County 317 South Third Street Bardstown, KY 40004

Cooperative Extension Service





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