July 15, 1994

Is There A Problem With Sphagnum Peat Moss?

Sphagnum peat moss is widely used by gardeners as a soil amendment. Peat moss loosens heavy clay soils, improves the water holding capacity of sandy soils, and provides organic matter. Sphagnum peat moss is the dead, partially decomposed material that accumulates in the lower levels of the peat bog.

Sphagnum moss, on the other hand, is the living moss that grows on top of a sphagnum bog. Sphagnum moss is used widely in the floral industry for wreaths or to line hanging baskets.

Mowing Safely

The 4th of July is over, summer is in full swing. By this time mowing is no longer the novelty it was just a few weeks ago. Even though mowing the lawn is part of a weekly or twice weekly routine, safety should never be overlooked.

Poisonous Plants

Potentially poisonous plants are a concern to everyone, especially when young children are present. Poisonous plants can be separated into different groups based on their toxicities. Some plants will cause a systemic toxicity resulting in a range of symptoms from mild abdominal cramping to serious cardiac arrest. The degree of toxicity depends on the quantity ingested or the part of the plant eaten. Other plants contain insoluble calcium oxalate salts. Poisoning results in a burning sensation due to the irritation of mucous membranes.

Slime Mold on Turf

Slime molds are more of a curiosity than a threat to turf. These organisms are not parasites. They use plants for support and really only cause inhury if they smother the plant surface. Yellowing of leaf tissue may result. Slime molds are fungi that grow on organic matter and during wet weather "ooze" up onto foliage. This growth may first appear black (or some other color) and slimy, but eventually turn to a powdery substance (usually white, grayish-pink, or gray).

Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus in Tomato Fields

This virus, abbreviated TSWV, has become a serious problem for some Iowa tomato growers in 1994. While most fields we have seen have only a few symptomatic plants, some fields have more than one-third symptomatic plants. Because plants showing symptoms this early in the season seldom produce marketable fruit, this means a yield loss of at least one-third. According to unconfirmed reports, some TSWV-stricken fields have been plowed down. Some questions and answers about this situation:

It's Weevil Time Again

Two of our most consistent perennial pests are the strawberry root weevil and the imported longhorned weevil (two insects with names much longer in proportion than their actual size). At this time, the imported longhorned weevil (ILHW) is active and common; the strawberry root weevil (SRW) will come slightly later in July. Both weevils are active from mid-July to mid-August, and both are harmless but annoying pests.