March 24, 1993
Finding carpenter ants indoors in the winter is an indication that they are nesting somewhere within the walls or floors of the structure. Ants found in the summer are often invaders wandering in from outdoors, but since carpenter ants, like all insects, are cold blooded, ants active in the winter must be originating from a warmed source. Even if the air temperature is very cold, heat from the sun or the furnace may warm house walls and stir dormant ants to activity.
Late winter or early spring is an excellent time to prune trees. Advantages of late winter or early spring pruning are that gardeners can clearly see the tree structure and remove appropriate branches. In addition, wounds will heal rapidly when growth resumes in spring. Proper pruning should prolong the life of trees. Improper pruning can weaken trees and lead to their premature death.
Spring is hopefully just around the corner. A time when dormant buds break, grass begins to grow, and seeds germinate. These seeds have been lying in the soil since last fall, waiting for an appropriate cue such as moisture and a warm soil temperature, to trigger germination. Isn't it amazing that a seed, which can be as large as a 20 pound coconut or as small as false pimpernel which requires 150 million seeds to weigh 1 pound, holds the key for whether or not the species survives the following year. Of course, not all plants rely totally on seed production in order to multiply.
After the wettest winter in a decade, snow mold on turfgrass is likely to be evident over much of the state. Golf course superintendents are especially concerned about this disease, but it can affect home lawns, too.
The first sample of termite swarmers I received this year was collected in Burlington IA on March 15. With the snow and cold, windy weather we've had through mid-March, this "sign of spring" is a welcome sight (in a twisted sort of way).
This article originally appeared in the March 24, 1993 issue, p. 26.
An asparagus planting may produce good crops for 15 to 20 years when good cultural practices are followed. The first chore in the spring is to cut off the dead asparagus tops at ground level. Early spring is also an excellent time to fertilize the asparagus planting. Apply 50 pounds of barnyard manure per 100 square feet. Lightly till the manure into the top 2 or 3 inches of soil with a rototiller or spade. This must be done in early spring before the asparagus starts to grow.