March 30, 1994

Comparison of Winged Ants and Termites

Ants: Wings of different sizes; antennae "elbowed"; pinched "waist." Termites: wings of equal size; antennae straight; no pinched "waist."

This article originally appeared in the March 30, 1994 issue, p. 38.

Disease Watch for Spring 1994--Apples and Strawberries

Apples and Strawberries

It's the time of year to get your sprayers out of the shed and take them for a test drive. Green tip has already occurred in far-southern Iowa as this is written (March 25), and strawberries won't be far behind. After the rain-soaked nightmare of 1993, we're looking for a better growing season in 1994. To help insure a good crop, now is a good time to anticipate the major disease problems, take preventive action when possible, and plan spray programs when necessary. A look at the major springtime diseases on each crop:

New Guinea Impatiens

New Guinea impatiens (Impatiens x hawkeri) are still considered new comers to the world of bedding plants. Most are grown in hanging baskets or patio containers. Gardeners who have tried New Guineas in the past may have been disappointed in their garden performance. Uninformed retailers sold them as impatiens for full sun. In Iowa, full sun is not a good location for best growth. New Guineas grow best where they will receive morning sun and afternoon shade. An eastern exposure is ideal.

Mosses in the Lawn

Mosses are common in many lawns this year. Mosses are small, thread-like plants that form green mats on the soil surface. Mosses are adapted to a wide range of environmental conditions. Mosses can be found in moist and dry sites, sun or shade, and in acidic or alkaline soils.

The appearance of mosses in a lawn is usually a sign of poor growing conditions. Conditions that encourage moss growth include excessive shade, low fertility, poor drainage, compacted soil, or any combination of the above.

Removal of Winter Mulch on Strawberries

Gardeners anxious to get their yard and garden chores done in spring may be tempted to remove the mulch from their strawberry beds in March or early April. A portion of the strawberry crop may be lost, however, if the mulch is removed too early in the spring. Removal of the mulch plus several days of warm weather may encourage the plants to bloom before the danger of frost or freezing temperatures is past. Temperatures of 32 F or lower may severely damage or destroy open flowers. Since the first flowers produce the largest berries, a late spring frost can drastically reduce yields.

Planting Roses

If your hybrid tea roses didn't make it through the winter, then you may want to try hardy shrub roses. Many shrub roses and old-fashioned roses are winter hardy in Iowa without protection. Shrub roses are easy to grow in all parts of Iowa and are beautiful landscape plants when planted in groups of three or more. They are available in a wide range of colors but their flowers are not as refined looking as the hybrid teas.