Northern & Central Midwest

May, 2006
Regional Report

Layer Your Garden Refuse in a Compost Bin

Build your compost pile in layers with 8 to 10 inches of "brown" material, such as branches and corn stalks, wood chips, autumn leaves, and sawdust; several inches of "green" material, such as grass clippings, fruits, and vegetable trimmings and weeds, and then a topping of about an inch of soil.

Don't Compost Pet Waste, Meat Products, or Poisonous Plants

When composting, avoid cat and dog manures that may have parasites that will not be eliminated by composting. Poison ivy and other poisonous plants will not lose their volatile oils, and weed seeds may not be killed. Also avoid meat and animal products, fatty foods, and dairy products.

Mow Grass High for Health

Set your mower for a mowing height of 2 to 3 inches. Lawns mowed higher have deeper roots and fewer weed problems, and they look much better. Mowing too close allows weeds to outcompete lawn grasses. Mow at 2 inches when grass is growing rapidly in spring, but raise the height as growth slows in summer.

Watch for Pine Sawfly Larvae

Pine sawfly larvae will feed on mugo and Scotch pine in May. These 1/2- to 3/4-inch larvae throw back their black heads in unison to scare off predators when disturbed. They feed on older needles and can be controlled by handpicking or knocking them into a bucket of soapy water.

Pinch Out Blossoms on New Strawberries

On newly planted June-bearing strawberries, remove the flowers as soon as they appear for the entire first growing season. This will help the plants develop stronger root systems. On everbearing and day-neutral strawberries, remove flowers until July 1, after which time they can be left to bear a late-summer/fall crop.

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