April 27, 1994

Clover Mites on the Move

Clover mites, those tiny, reddish brown specks that crawl across house siding, window sills, walls and counter tops, are again causing annoyance and frustration to Iowans. The mites live year-round in the lawn feeding on grass, clover and weeds, but are only noticed in the spring when a "wanderlust" causes them to crawl at random through the grass, up the house foundation and into the house through gaps in the siding or around windows and doors.

Planting Melons in the Home Garden

Though they take up considerable space and require a long growing season, many gardeners can't resist planting a few watermelons and muskmelons. Their basic requirements are full sun and a fertile, well-drained soil. Heavy, poorly drained soils can be improved by incorporating compost or well-rotted manure into the soil.

Midges--Just Another Nuisance

Midges are found almost everywhere and often occur in huge swarms. It is the large numbers that suddenly appear around the house or landscape that attract attention. Midges range from 1/8 to 1/2 inch and have a long, slender, delicate, mosquito-like body and feathery antennae.

Midges of the type shown are harmless. (There are other species of midges, called the biting midges or no-see-ums that are annoying blood suckers.) The non-biting midges cannot bite or sting and they do not feed on field crops, landscape plants, livestock, pets, people or structures.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Start Your Engines

Many gardeners spend considerable time and money to produce a healthy, attractive lawn. Fertilizers are applied to promote root and shoot growth and produce a dark green lawn. When necessary, herbicides are used to control crabgrass and broadleaf weeds. While fertilization and weed control are important aspects of lawn maintenance, proper mowing is another vital key. In fact, many turfgrass problems can be traced back to improper mowing.

Plant Disease Clinic Highlights

Black Knot

Black knot occurs on cultivated and wild cherries and plum. The disease is caused by the fungus Apiosporina morbosa. Black knot is characterized by the presence of rough, warty black galls which may extend up the branch from a few inches to a foot or more. Fungal spores produced on year-old or older galls initiate infections on young, succulent twigs.


Topping Trees is Harmful

If seeing is believing, then many people must believe that topping trees is an acceptable pruning practice. Even though most tree care professionals disapprove of topping, it seems to be increasing at an alarming rate.

Topping is also known as stubbing, dehorning, heading back, and lopping. But no matter what it's called, it completely disfigures trees by amputating the entire crown.

Vegetable Garden Weed Control

Judging from the number of Hortline calls concerning weed control, 1993 must have been the year of the weed. Gardeners have several options when it comes to controlling weeds in the vegetable garden. The oldest method of weed control comes with cultivation, either hand hoeing or through the use of a rototiller. Cultivation works well for annual weeds such as crabgrass or purslane. However, with perennial weeds, cultivation may initially create a larger problem. Cultivation breaks perennial weeds and their root systems into smaller pieces which grow into entire plants.