Northern & Central Midwest

July, 2010
Regional Report

Mushrooms in Mulch

After a rain you may notice a flush of mushrooms appearing overnight in mulch. They are growing on decomposing plant material such as wood chips or shredded leaves. Either rake or mow them off or simply wait for them to dry up. They do absolutely no harm.

Note Perennial Bloom

Make notes as your perennials come into bloom. Write down which ones are weak in bloom and might need dividing. A "doughnut" of foliage circling a dead center is also a clue. Then in fall, after blooming is finished, dig the entire plant and separate or simply dig out half.

Watch for Iris Borer Damage

Watch for iris borer damage. Evidence of this will show up early in the season as water soaked spots on the leaves where the young borers feed before burrowing into the rhizome. You can squash the borers in between the leaf blades. Borers transmit bacterial rot which makes the leaf bases and rhizomes slimy and smelly.

Eat Some Weeds

While you are pulling, think about eating a few weeds. Succulent purslane is great in a salad or stir-fry. The tips of Japanese knotweed are delicious sauteed with garlic. Young, unsprayed dandelion greens give a pleasant tang to salads and are delicious steamed. Violets are extremely high in vitamin C and you can eat the leaves and flowers.

Weed, Weed, Weed

Keep ahead of the weeds by catching them when they are young. If you simply hoe small weeds, you don't have to pick them up. Likewise, weeds that are not blooming can be pulled and left to dry as added mulch. If it bothers you, send them to the compost pile.

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