Thursday, October 16, 2014

Solving Spooky Composting Mysteries

Don't let those frightening smells or creepy pests keep you from being a successful composting queen or king! Fall is the perfect time to start up a compost pile (or add to what you already have). The chart below offers up USU Extension's simple solutions to common compost problems.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Winter Cover Crops

Have you considered growing a winter cover crop? If so, now is the time to pull those dwindling warm season annuals out of your beds and start seeding. Cover crops can be very beneficial to an organic grower in a variety of ways: they provide year-round habitat for beneficial insects, added nutrients back to the soil when incorporated in the spring (green manure) & they keep those empty beds from becoming overgrown with weeds!


"Winter cover crops will not take any space out of production and should only be used in beds that will be planted with warm season crops. Ideally they should be seeded between August and early October, depending on location. If the cover crop is planted late the seedling rate should be increased. Most crops need about 30-40 days to germinate and grow before a frost." -Marion Murray, USU Extension IPM Project Leader.

Winter Annual Cover Crops to consider

  • Hairy Vetch
  • Winter Wheat
  • Winter Rye
  • Red Clover
  • Austrian Winter Pea
  • Pacific gold Mustard
  • Forage Radish

For more information on seeding, managing and irrigating cover crops see these resources from USU Extension.

USU Fact sheet "Cover Crops for Utah Gardens"
USU Fact sheet "Using Winter Grain as a Cover Crop in the Home Garden"
2012 Utah Pests Newsletter "Winter Cover Crops for Plant & Soil Health"
USU Extension Book "A Guide to Common Organic Gardening Questions" 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Tip of the Week: 5 tips on Growing Garlic in the Garden

NOW is the time to start thinking about planting garlic in your garden. Garlic is a hardy perennial that prefers full sun and fertile, well drained soils with plenty of organic matter & it's tasty!


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Attracting Lacewings to your garden.

We are loving the Natural Enemy Spotlight that has been showing up in our USU seasonal "Vegetable IPM Advisory" as of late! The most recent introduction is the Lacewing.
Photo Credit: Ozan Uzel 


"Lacewings are generalist predators and are commonly found in agricultural, landscape, and garden habitats. Most species of lacewing adults are predaceous, while others feed strictly on honeydew, nectar, and pollen. Larvae prey upon a wide variety of small insects including mealybugs, psyllids, thrips, mites, whiteflies, aphids, small caterpillars, leafhoppers, and insect eggs."



Here are some tips on how to attract them to your landscape:

  • Start with using as many different native plants as you can. Try to incorporate native flowering plants in addition to the fancy varieties
  • Plan for nectar and pollen availability all summer long. Seek out plants that have long-lived blooms so that adult natural enemies always have access to food. Consider using flowers that bloom at different times of the year for continuous pollen production.
  • Natural enemies might initially be attracted to an area because of the available pollen and nectar, but will not necessarily stay. In general, predatory insects like to reproduce and generate offspring near a generous food supply of other insects. For example, lacewings like to lay their eggs on plants that are infested with aphids because it ensures the offspring will have food to eat when they hatch into larvae.
  • Avoid using broad spectrum insecticides whenever possible, because they can kill beneficial insects too.  -Bonnie Bunn, Utah State University Extension, Vegetable IPM Associate

For the the full IPM Advisory click HERE 




Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Tip of the Week: Planning and Planting for Fall Harvest

The temperatures are high and the sweat beads up on your brow if you even think about your garden, but maybe planning for fall crops will help bring cooling thoughts!

Midsummer is the best time to start planting hardy vegetables for fall harvest. "Flavor-conscious gardeners will appreciate the exceptional quality of vegetables that ripen in the bright days and brisk nights of autumn. Vegetables that mature in the fall are typically milder and sweeter than those that mature in the heat of summer."-Dennis Worwood

Here are some of the recommended fall crops for our area:

  • Beets
  • Cabbage
  • Kale 
  • Radish 
  • Peas 
  • Turnip
For more information about correctly timing your seeding and transplants check out this Fact Sheet-"Planting Vegetables Midsummer for a Fall Harvest."

A gardeners work is never done, but it's always fun!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Tip of the Week: Powdery Mildew

The Utah Pest team is just released their latest "Vegetable IPM Advisory" which included some great information about Powdery Mildew. This foliar disease is very common in our area, but can be easily avoided with some simple irrigation changes.

What to look for: 

"Cucurbit powdery mildew is showing up on vine crops, especially where plants are crowded or running together. This foliar disease first appears as small circular lesions located randomly on the leaf surface or on petioles. As the infection continues, leaves turn yellow and become distorted. 

Fruits are usually not directly affected, but yield and flavor can be reduced.This disease thrives in humid and shady environments under moderate temperatures (up to 80o F)." -Utah Pest Team

"Severe powdery mildew infection can result in yield loss.  Both powdery mildews cause damage to the plants by reducing photosynthesis.  Once the leaves are covered with white mycelium, they absorb less sunlight and are not able to produce enough sugars to sustain plant and fruit growth.  In addition, heavily infected leaves become necrotic (turn brown and die) and fall off, which can result in sunburn of fruit. " -Claudia Nischwitz, USU Plant Pathologist

Gardening Practices:
"Powdery mildew is favored by dew, intermittent rain, or sprinkler irrigation. Maintaining conditions that favor rapid drying of foliage will help reduce the incidence of disease. Susceptible flowers should be planted in open areas where they will not be crowded and where they are exposed to the sun. Plants in shade are more prone to mildew than those growing in the sun. Prune during the summer to thin out any dense foliage. This will increase aeration within the plant canopy. Avoid sprinkling at night during the month of August and September. Instead, soak the soil under plants as needed." -Utah Pest Team
Chemical Options:
If you find that a fungicide is necessary to control your outbreak, here are some suggestions from the Vegetable Advisory: 
  • Commercial growers: potassium bicarbonate (Kaligreen, Milstop), horticultural oil (Sporatec), sulfur (Cosavet, Kumulus, Microthiol Disperss), Bacillus subtilis (Serenade, Cease, Rhapsody)
  • Residential growers: horticultural oil (Monterey Garden Spray), sulfur (Bayer Natria, Bonide), myclobutanil (Spectracide Immunox).
  • Note: Do not use oil and sulfur within two weeks of each other, and do not spray when temperatures are over 90o F.

To read more click here

Monday, July 21, 2014

Tip of the Week: Cabbage Aphids

APHIDS. They suck. We all know they exist, but did you know there were so many different types? The one recently being reported on in the latest Utah Pest-Vegetable Advisory is the the CABBAGE APHID.

"Cabbage aphid are easy to identify as they have a white waxy coating. These aphids commonly occur in dense colonies, often covered with waxy droplets.

Aphid feeding causes a localized yellowing of the foliage, leaf cupping and stunting of smaller plants. They generally do not cause reductions in yield, but they tend to move deep into head-forming crucifers, thus making the harvested portion of the crop unmarketable." -Utah Pest Team

To manage the cabbage aphid, keep colonies of less than 100 aphids per plant up to heading. Check the youngest, highest and innermost leaves of young plants and pull back wrapper leaves of cabbage. Once heads begin to form you must control aphids! This can be achieved with an application of insecticidal soap. 

For more information on controlling cabbage aphids click here!