Home, Garden, and Yard

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    Home, Garden, and Yard

    Q

    A friend has recommended an Epsom salt solution for my garden plants. How are Epsom salts used here? I know they add mag to the soil if it is depleted but I didn't think they were used in alkaline soils... do they have any benefits? Will they help me grow blueberries etc., stuff that needs acidic soil? Research says that Epsom doesn't change the ph much but I know sulfur is good.

    A

    I do not recommend Epsom salts - which is basically magnesium sulfate.  Magnesium is not at all limited in our Utah Soils and our soils have a tendency for high salinity. Magnesium is the central atom of chlorophyll. (Just as reference the largest industrial magnesium producer is MAGCORP which is located on the western bank of the Great Salt Lake) Epsom salts have been recommended in gardening books based in the northeastern US soils where magnesium is limited.  Best amendments to add to your soil is organic matter - or even better is to get a soil test from Utah State University Analytical Labs (www.usual.com) for $14 to know your basic soil profile - pH, texture, salinity, phosphorus and potassium levels.

    Posted on 27 Mar 2009

    Maggie Shao
    Horticulture Agent, Salt Lake County

    Q

    A landscaping company planted 6 jaquemonti birch in my yard at the end of May. Two of them recently began developing darkish brown leaf spots in the center. They are getting plenty of water. On one of the leaves I found very tiny black insects. I did not find insects on any of the other leaves. What could the problem be and what should I do about it. I picked the infected leaves off that I could reach. I also collected the insects.

    A

    From your description there may be two different things happening.  The first possibility is that this particular type of tree is not heat tolerant and the leaves may be scorched because of our hot and dry weather conditions.  This problem usually shows up in July and August with newly transplanted trees being the most susceptible because they have yet to develop extensive root systems. I have included a link below that has more information on leaf scorch.

    The second possibility is that what you are seeing is a fungal disease. Fungal diseases usually start out as dark brown to black spots. These spots will spread and eventually grow together and in severe cases the leaves may die and fall off. When we have long periods of cool wet weather, like we did this spring, fungal diseases can be more problematic. If it is a fungal disease the good news is that now that we are having much hotter and dryer weather you should see a significant decrease in the spread of this problem. Below is a link with more information on a common fungal disease in our area. If it is fungal, some things you can do to help your tree out are to make sure to pick up and discard any of the leaves that fall off of this tree. This will help reduce the spread of the fungus.  When watering the tree try to avoid getting water on the leaves. If the tree is watered by sprinklers make sure to run them early enough in the day so the leaves will be dry before nightfall. Below is a link with more information on watering trees. You can also apply a protective fungicide spray at bud break and to the newly emerging foliage next spring. 

    http://utahpests.usu.edu/plantdiseases/htm/ornamental/leafscorch

    http://utahpests.usu.edu/PLANTDISEASES/htm/ornamental/anthracnose

    http://extension.usu.edu/files/publications/publication/HG-523.pdf

    If neither of these look like what you are seeing on your trees please bring a sample into our office at 2001 S. State Street #S1200 for help with diagnosis.  

    Posted on 10 Aug 2009

    Heidi Wayman
    Horticulture Intern, Salt Lake County 

    Q

    A portion of my backyard is very shady and the grass looks sparse and unhealthy. Any suggestions on what to do to make it look good and healthy again?

    A

    Most grass in our Utah landscapes are Kentucky Blue Grass and it does not like much shade.  It looks  sparse because it is not getting enough light to grow properly.  Tall fescue tolerates shade better and you might consider reseeding that area with tall fescue.  However, if there is heavy shade, there are no grasses that grow in full shade.  You could look at USU Publication on Turfgrass cultivarshttp://extension.usu.edu/files/publications/Turfgrass.pdf for more information.

    You may consider using plants more tolerant of shade like some other ground cover such as Vinca (Vinca minor) or Kinnikinnick (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi). 

    Posted on 5 May 2009

    Maggie Shao
    Horticulture Agent, Salt Lake County

    Q

    About the end of July, some of my Hostas start turning yellow and eventually almost white. These get more sun than the rest. Is that the problem or do they need more fertilizer at some point.

    A

    It sounds like your hostas are getting a little more sun than they would like.  Adding fertilizer will not help the plant if it is already stressed by too much sun.  You can help control the yellowing and fading by adding a thick layer of mulch around each plant that will help them retain water.  Thick leaved and fragrant hostas usually perform better in sunnier locations.  I have included a list of some varieties of hostas that are more sun tolerant.

    'August Moon'
    'Blue Angel'
    'Francee'
    'Halcyon'
    'Honeybells' 
    'Invincible' 
    'Krossa Regal'
    'Lancifolia'  
    'Pearl Lake' 
    'Royal Standard'
    'So Sweet'
    'Sun Power'.
    'Sugar & Cream'

    Posted on 1 Oct 2008

    Heidi Wayman
    Horticulture Intern, Salt Lake County 

    Q

    Are there master gardeners in the Millcreek Township area?

    A

    Master Gardeners are volunteers for the Extension Service.  First started in Washington State University in 1972, Extension Agents trained willing and experienced gardeners who provided education and advice, extending research based science advice to the public.  The Master Gardener program is in every state associated with their land-grant university and Extension Service.  Utah State University Extension began Master Gardener training in the early 1980s based on the model from Washington State.  The Master Gardener Volunteer programs are trained and coordinated by USU Extension county offices.  In Salt Lake County, we have volunteer programs throughout the county, and though we have 200 Master Gardeners on the roster, many of them are "alumnae" who have gone through the training but are no longer actively volunteering.  There are no specific projects in Millcreek and personal information due to privacy issues cannot be release regarding home addresses of Master Gardeners.  Active Master Gardeners volunteer at approved Master Gardener projects.  To see some of these projects, click on this link http://extension.usu.edu/SaltLake/htm/horticulture-gardening/mgprogram/mastergardenerprojects

    Master Gardener projects are selected based on the following criteria:
    The criteria include:

    Educational for Master Gardeners
    Educational for Public
    Cooperative Partners working together with Master Gardeners
    Advancing Utah State University Extension Horticulture Education mission
    Providing Service to Salt Lake County communities
    Goals of the project meet USU University Extension goals 
    Sustainable projects that take into consideration, water wise management and Integrated pest management (reduce use of chemicals)  

    For general information about the Master Gardener program in Salt Lake County, click on the following linkhttp://extension.usu.edu/SaltLake/htm/horticulture-gardening/mgprogram

    Posted on 5 May 2009

    Maggie Shao
    Horticulture Agent, Salt Lake County

    Q

    Can an olive tree survive in Utah?

    A

    Olive trees, the kind that are used to produce the olives we eat are trees that are native to the Mediterranean area.  This area has a long, hot growing season and mild winters.  This is one reason that olive trees do not do well here.  Our growing season is typically not long enough for olives and we often get late spring frost that can damage the blossoms and destroy any developing fruit. Olives also do not like cold winters and will be permanently damaged if temperatures drop below freezing.  While it may be possible to get a tree to grow, if it is given enough protection, odds are that it would not produce any fruit. 

    Posted on 10 Oct 2008

    Heidi Wayman
    Horticulture Intern, Salt Lake County 

    Q

    Can Blenheim apricots be grown in Cache Valley? If so, what problems might I expect?

    A

    Blenheim apricot is popular in California, but it should be cold hardy in Utah, at least along the Wasatch Front.  However, it has not been bread to have a delayed bloom.  Late frosts are common in Northern Utah, and you may not get much fruit production out of it.  I would recomend growing varieties such as Moorpark, Moongold, Sun-Glow, or Chinese (Mormon).  Out of these, Moorpark has the best reputation for good flavor, but it is a poor canner.  Moongold is good for canning or eating.  Chinese is supposed to be the most cold hardy.  Its fruit is good but is somewhat smaller than the other two varieties. 

    Posted on 27 Mar 2009

    Taun Beddes
    Horticulture Agent, Cache County 

    Q

    Can citrus and avocado trees be planted and grown successfully in Salt Lake County?

    A

    Citrus and avocado trees cannot be grown successfully in our landscape because they are not cold hardy to survive our Utah winters.  However, some citrus trees that are on dwarf rootstock can be grown in containers, such as Meyer Lemons or kumquats, which are brought into a heated garage or greenhouse overwinter.  Then they can be brought back outdoors when there is no longer a threat of frost.  

    Posted on 14 May 2008

    Maggie Shao
    Horticulture Agent, Salt Lake County 

    Q

    Can I grow bitter melon, gourds, thai chili peppers, hmong cucumbers, peas, green peas, sugar snap peas, and lemon grass in Clinton? When should I plant them?

    A

    Peas, radishes, lettuce and onions are considered cool season vegetables that you can plant as soon as you can work the soil in the spring.  Melons, tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers should be planted when the threat of frost is gone. Attached is a link to a variety recommendation with planting dates.  http://extension.usu.edu/files/publications/publication/HG_313.pdf

    Posted on 1 Jun 2009

    Jaydee Gunnell
    Master Gardner and Horticulture Agent, Davis County 

    Q

    Can I legally drill a small water well (or two) under 30 feet deep in my back yard without a permit?

    A

    Legally, no.  All water, surface and ground, belongs to the State of Utah.  One can make application at Utah Division of Water Resources to put said water to beneficial use.  If application is approved, you are allowed to use the water according to the conditions prescribed by the State Water Engineer.  Will Atkin is in the State Water office in North Logan.  If you want to pursue an application, Will can be reached at 752-8755.  

    Posted on 16 Jul 2009

    Clark Israelsen
    Agriculture Agent 

    Q

    Can I use smoke bombs to kill gophers in my yard if I have a garden? Will the chemicals affect the vegetables I plant?

    A

    Smoke bombs are a good way of getting rid of moles, voles, gophers (pocket gophers), ground hogs, ground squirrels, rabbits (which sometimes live in other creatures' burrows), and woodchucks. The bombs releases a sulfurous smoke that asphyxiates these tunnel dwellers. Simply light the fuse, place it lit end down into the hole entrance, and quickly cover the device and the hole with soil.

    For smoke bombs to work, the target animal needs to be at home. If you see the animal and scare it into its burrow, you know it's home. Generally, most of these animals are home at night.

    Since the gas produced is a sulfur based smoke, it should not harm the vegetables that are planted after eliminating the pest. If there are vegetables growing in the garden already, you should be a bit careful particularly if the pest is burrowing around your root vegetables (carrot or potato). Always follow the directions on the packaging when using these devises.

    Posted on 19 Mar 2008

    Dan Drost
    Vegetable Specialist

    Q

    Can we use rabbit droppings in our vegetable & flower gardens or is the acidity too high? How does it compare to manure?

    A

    Any manure added directly to a garden may be problematic Rabbit droppings as well as any animal manure (chicken, horse, cow) when added directly in the garden, the microbes (fungi and bacteria) use available nitrogen in the soil to decompose the manure, and nitrogen is less available for plant growth.  All manure is best utilized after being composted in a compost heap.  Water, microbes, and the composting process will make the nutrients in rabbit droppings more available to plants.

    Here is an excerpt from Cornell University on using animal manures in gardens (http://www.gardening.cornell.edu/factsheets/orgmatter/index.html#manures): 

    Using manure: Manures differ from each other because of their source, their age, how they were stored (piled, spread, turned over or not), and the animal bedding material, which may be mixed in. For that reason it is difficult to provide precise guidance about how long manure should be aged before use, or how much to use.

    Composting is the safest way to make the most of manure's nutritional potential - if the logistics of making and hauling compost are viable. For direct use in the garden, first aging manure for 6 months is a good rule of thumb. Many farmers and gardeners spread fresh manure in the fall or winter, and till or turn it in at spring planting time.

    When manure is spread in the spring, even if aged, it is safest to wait for at least one month before planting crops, since the microbial activity it stimulates may interfere with seed germination or plant growth before that time.

    Posted on 18 Jun 2009

    Maggie Shao
    Horticulture Agent, Salt Lake County

    Q

    Can you tell me how to get rid of the Star of Israel that is in your lawn?

    A

    You are probably asking about Star-of-Bethlehem, Ornithogalum umbellatum.  This is a very common weed in turfgrass and University of Tennessee has a good fact sheet on this weed, click onhttp://www.tennesseeturfgrassweeds.org/admin/Lists/Fact%20Sheets/Attachments/6/W216_starofbethlehem.pdf.

    Posted on 27 Mar 2009

    Maggie Shao
    Horticulture Agent, Salt Lake County

    Q

    Chickens in garden before planting? Good idea? And get them on the lawn to eat any weeds?

    A

    Allowing chickens to range around the garden plot is a good idea for the following reasons:

    1. They will scratch and loosen the top layer of leaves and debris that has accumulated over the winter and eat larvae and insects they find.
    2. Their manure will add nutrients to the soil.

    Chickens on the lawn won’t hurt the lawn, but will be of minimal help in weed control. Most weeds that cause trouble in lawns are deep-rooted and perennial. In most instances, the occasional lopping off the top by chickens won’t really help. If you choose to let chickens roam on the lawn, be sure the grass has not recently had herbicides and/or insecticides applied. These may be harmful to the chickens or deposited in eggs that are laid.

    Posted on 27 Mar 2009

    David Frame
    Poultry Specialist

    Q

    Do cottonless Cottonwood shed cotton after 7 to 10 years or are they always cottonless?

    A

    Male clones of cottonwoods should not produce cotton- only the female trees produce the seeds ("cotton").
    Sometimes you will hear of cottonless cottonwood trees later developing cotton but they were probably mislabeled.
    Some hybrid cottonwoods sold are listed as "sterile female hybrids."  These are not cottonless because they are not male.  The "sterile" refers to the fact that the seeds they produce are incapable of germinating.  However, they still produce the cotton to distribute the seed.
    If you have a cottonwood that produces cotton and you don't want to cut it down, you can use Florel  to prevent cotton development in female trees.  You will need to check the label to see when to apply it.

    Posted on 15 Jun 2009

    Julia Tuck
    Horticulture Assistant, Utah county

    Q

    Do garden vegetables such as tomatoes and cucumbers require sun protection,(shade), during the hot part of summer?

    A

    Vegetables such as tomatoes will benefit from some shade during the hot part of the summer in a desert climate. Indirect sunlight or filtered works fine. Keep in mind that in order for tomatoes to set fruit you will need to lower the temperature around the plants. Shade will help with this. Also, you may consider using some mister nozzles over the plants and run them at brief intervals in late afternoon.

    Posted on 21 Jan 2009

    Rick Heflebower
    Horticulture Agent, Washington County  

    Q

    Do you have a list of good varieties of produce producing plants to grow in this area? I am looking to plant fruit trees this fall and start a garden next year.

    A

    There are too many varieties of fruit trees and vegetables to list here.  We have two booklets, one called "Growing Vegetables, Recommended Varieties for Utah" and another called "Home Vegetable Garden: Variety Recommendations for Utah"   Both of these list varieities by name, as well as planting dates, days to maturity, etc.  We also have a booklet entitled "Fruit and Nut Variety Recommendations for Utah"    
    I suggest that you come in and take a look at these booklets.  There are new varieties coming out all the time, so it is impossible to always be up-to-date.  I enjoy trying a few different varieties of vegetables every year.  If you buy your vegetables at a reputable nursery, you should get things that will grow here.  For your trees, ask the nurseryman if it will grow in your hardiness zone and in your soil pH. and texture.

    Posted on 1 Oct 2008

    Pat Fugal
    Horticulture Assistant, Master Gardner, Utah County 

    Q

    Do you have any suggestions as to where to buy or how to make a truly sturdy tomato cage? The "standard" metal ones I have bought at garden centers have always tipped over when the plant has gotten big.

    A

    You can pound metal fence posts in at both ends of your tomato row and run bailing twine, or some other sturdy material, from one fence post to the other, looping it around a wire on each tomato cage, then on to the next cage as you go.  When you get to the bottom of the row go back up the other side, doing the same thing. With it's tied on both sides of the cages it will keep the row of tomato cages from falling over like a blown-down fance.  

    Another possibility is to pound in stakes at each tomato cage and tie the cages to the stakes.

    I made some very tall and sturdy cages out of concrete reinforcing wire (4" squares).  I still pound in stakes at the top and bottom of the row and tie the tomato cages to the posts though. 

    Posted on 22 May 2008

    Pat Fugal
    Horticulture Assistant, Master Gardner, Utah County 

    Q

    Do you have the names of companies or individuals who spray fruit trees in the spring and summer to prevent bugs and disease?

    A

    USU Extension does not keep a list of commercial pesticide applicators that would spray home orchards.

    When hiring any pesticide applicator, be sure that they are licensed and registered. You can see a list of Commercial Pesticide Applicators at the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food webpage,http://ag.utah.gov/licenses/Cur_Lic.html

    If you would like to know how to manage pests in your home orchard, USU Extension has a very useful publication titled "Home Orchard Pest Management Guide", available online athttp://extension.usu.edu/files/publications/publication/HG_137pdf

    In addition, the USU Extension Integrated Pest Management website offers frequently updated "Tree Fruit Advisories" so that home orchard growers will know when to watch for and spray for certain tree fruit pests. The link to that site is: http://utahpests.usu.edu/ipm/htm/advisories/treefruit

    Good gardening!

    Posted on 4 Apr 2007

    Maggie Wolf
    Horticulture Agent, Salt Lake County

    Q

    Flowering Pear trees. I have some mature "Chanticleer" flowering pears. For the last 2 years, the new foliage has emerged with curled leaves and a white, cottony substance. This condition seems to lessen with the hot weather, but the foliage doesn't seem to totally look healthy like when the trees were younger. What is it and can it be treated?

    A

    Difficult to diagnose with just that description.  It could be powdery mildew from infected buds that infects newly emerging leaves.

    Here is a description from PNW Online Plant Disease Management.  Go to http://plant-disease.ippc.orst.edu/disease.cfm?RecordID=806 and see if this is what you have.

    We also have Plant Pest Diagnostic Ask a Master Gardener clinics in Salt Lake County every Monday from 1 to 4pm for the months of June, July and August in our USU Training Room, 2001 South State RM S1008.  You can bring in photos or samples of your plants and have volunteer Master Gardeners help advise you.

    Posted on 9 Jun 2009

    Maggie Shao
    Horticulture Agent, Salt Lake County

    Q

    Hi, I have a lot of two year hybrid poplars that we've planted for a wind break and the leaves near the trunks are beginning to turn yellow. I've read that this can be because of lack of water or too much water or not enough fertilizer. It's July and we water them every day because of the 90+ temps. Any suggestions?

    A

    It sounds like too much water.  I prefer deeper and less frequent watering, normally established trees need a good soak every week to 10 days.  Also, frequent watering does not force the tree to grow deep roots that go after water and will sustain a tree through hot days.
    Frequent watering also washes away the nitrogen so a tree will rob nitrogen from older leaves to keep growing.  This best explains your described your situation.  If it were not enough water you would see browning of outer leaves especially those on the south and west side that get the brunt of wind, sun, and warm temperatures.  Slowly cut back on your watering intervals but increase the amount.  let the hose run longer but put more days between watering.  We don't normally encourage fertilization of trees, especially not in the heat of the summer where it encourages lush green growth.  Spring and  late fall would be better.

    Posted on 16 Jul 2009

    David Drake
    County Director, Agriculture and 4-H Youth Programs Agent 

    Q

    Hi, I just recently bought a house in Taylorsville in a older neighborhood. I have noticed some clover that is sort of a deep purplish color coming up all through my yard. What is it and how can I get rid of it?

    A

    Don't know what you are describing exactly.  It possibly could be Oxalis, creeping wood sorrel that has shamrock type leaf, purple, and yellow flowers.  The best way is to bring in a fresh sample to our office for proper identification in order to offer a good management solution for control.

    Our offices are at the Salt Lake County Government Complex, 2001 South State Rm S1200, and our offices are open M-F 9am to 5pm.  We also have a Plant Diagnostic Clinic on Mondays from 1 to 4pm, where the public is welcome to bring in samples for identification.  This clinic is staffed by volunteer Master Gardeners who want to help you with your gardening questions.

    Posted on 11 Jun 2008

    Maggie Shao
    Horticulture Agent, Salt Lake County

    Q

    How can I control earwigs in my home and garden?

    A

    The earwig got its name from an old superstition that it could crawl into peoples’ ears while they sleep and bore into the brain. This belief is not true. Earwigs can, however, chew into plants and cause damage and can be a nuisance around the home. Consider this information for control.

    The most common type of earwig found in home yards in Utah is an exotic species called the European earwig. Earwigs are easy to recognize from their cerci, the large, pincer-like appendages on the hind end. Cerci are used in self-defense and courtship and will deliver only a mild pinch to humans. The earwig body is flat and elongated and red-brown in color. Earwigs are one-fourth to one and one-fourth inches in length. Adults have a short pair of leathery wings covering a folded pair of membranous wings. They are weak fliers and move mostly by crawling. Earwigs can emit a foul smelling, yellow-brown liquid from their scent glands. They are omnivorous and will scavenge on dead insects and decayed organic matter, prey on live insects and chew on living plant material including leaves, flowers, stems, fruits and roots.

    Earwigs are pests outside the home because of the damage they can cause to ornamental and garden plants, and a nuisance when they enter homes seeking shelter and food. If damage to garden plants is apparent or many earwigs enter the home, control measures should be considered. Garden plants commonly injured by earwigs in Utah include annual flowers (especially marigolds, dahlias and zinnias), herbs (especially basil), roses, raspberries, strawberries, apricots, peaches, sweet corn tassels and silks. Because earwigs are beneficial due to their predaceous and decomposer feeding habits, they should only be controlled when causing harm. Earwigs are nocturnal. If chewing injury to plants is apparent but no culprit can be found during the day, check the plants at night with a flashlight. If shiny, slime trails are present, snails or slugs are the culprit rather than earwigs.

    For earwig control, focus on the outside of the home where populations increase during spring and summer. To reduce their entry into your home, create a clean, dry border using gravel or stone immediately around the foundation wall. Eliminate hiding places near the foundation such as groundcovers, climbing vines, weeds, thick mulches and vegetation and piles of debris, leaves or wood. Earwigs hide under mulches in plant beds during the day, so be sure to select mulches with smaller-sized particles to reduce refuges. Seal cracks and crevices around windows, doors and cable holes in walls. Apply insecticides (see recommended products below) around the foundation, flowerbeds and turf within several yards of the home. In late spring to early summer, suppress earwig populations by targeting sites where they congregate (sites where females brood their young), and on plants when injury appears. Place traps in the evening and collect and remove earwigs in the morning. Effective traps include shallow cans with vegetable or other odorous oils, moist rolled newspaper and cardboard boxes baited with oatmeal or bran. Be sure cardboard containers have pencil-sized holes near the bottom for entry.

    Apply an effective insecticide in the late evening just before earwigs come out to feed. Recommended insecticides include permethrin, esfenvalerate, bifenthrin, pyrethrins, carbaryl, malathion, azadirachtin and diatomaceous earth. Use enough water in the application to cover plants and carry the chemical into the top layer of soil or mulch where earwigs hide. Not all insecticide products are registered for edible plants. Read the product label carefully before making an application. 

    Posted on 22 Jul 2005

    Diane Alston
    Hort-Entomologist Specialist 

    Q

    How can I get rid of Bur Buttercup? We have tried poisons over the past few years with little result. This year we tried a pre-emergent with little to no results. What can we do do get rid of them?

    A

    I'm sending you a link to the range plants of Utah and specifically the fact sheet on bur buttercup. Click onhttp://extension.usu.edu/rangeplants/htm/bur-buttercup/ .

    This is a winter annual, which means the seeds germinate in late fall and overwinter and really kick off growth in the spring.  

    At the bottom of the page, there are recommendations for managing bur buttercup. 

    Posted on 5 May 2009

    Maggie Shao
    Horticulture Agent, Salt Lake County

    Q

    How can I tell if the spider I found is a hobo spider?

    A

    Exact identification of the hobo spider often requires examination under a microscope. When observed with the naked eye, even those familiar with this spider can be fooled by other species that resemble it. In general, hobo spiders have a tan to brown thorax and legs and a grayish abdomen. The abdomen often has a "chevron" pattern (like sergeant's stripes) of yellow markings, though this is usually most noticeable in immatures.

    There are several ways to tell if a given spider is NOT a hobo spider:

    • The spider has dark bands (like multiple arm bands) around its legs.
    • The spider has distinct black markings on the thorax or abdomen.
    • The spider is larger than a fifty-cent piece (including the legs).

    Additional information and images of the hobo spider are found in the Hobo Spider fact sheet. 

    Posted on 14 Sep 2006

    Alan Roe

     

    Garden

    Q

    A look at gardening catalog terms

    A

    This time of year, gardening catalogs are a regular item in the mailbox. Many catalogs sell quality plants that are often affordable. However, it is important to weed out many of the superlatives and catch phrases used in the catalogs. Consider this lighter look at gardening descriptions, and their meaning for Utah gardeners.

    Color all year. This is merely referring to the colors you will turn throughout the year as you recall what you paid for the plant. May need protection. This suggests that a thug from the company will be sent to your home to jerk out the plant unless you order more plants from the catalog. On the brighter side, occasionally thugs only rough up the plant, which actually may stimulate new growth. A must-have for every garden. Just another way of saying, “This plant will throw down enough seed the first 24 hours after it is planted to cover Nebraska.” Your neighbors will soon appreciate the term “must have,” because they will have no choice in the matter. Attracts wildlife. Any plant with this label should be given as a gift to the neighbor, because the best way to enjoy wildlife is from a distance. Who wants a raccoon, deer, starling or your Uncle Harold flitting through your flowers or tromping through your vegetable garden?

    Old favorite. In other words, “We produced too much seed and need to get rid of it.” The fact that it was the only plant the first immigrants to America could get to survive does not make it a favorite today. World-record size. Remember it is quality, not size, that counts when it comes to most vegetables. The largest kohlrabi in the world may look good in a picture, but have you ever tried to eat one? Save yourself the money and go taste your favorite maple tree — the flavor and texture will be about the same. Blooms all season. What they don’t tell you in the fine print is that the season they are referring to is in some remote village in northern Yukon where the summer is measured in hours, not days. Our choice. Let them keep it.

    Improves in beauty each year. This means that for the first couple of years, the plant will look like it was dragged through a fire and then stomped on to extinguish the flames. By the third or fourth year, any growth at all will be appreciated, and by the time you leave this life yourself, it may actually start to bloom. Free with every order. It didn’t sell last year, so we’ll get rid of it somehow.

    In reality, many of the plants received from a reputable catalog are of good quality — you just need to be cautious. It is a good idea to consult first with others who have ordered from a specific company. However, the best policy is to first check with your local nursery or garden center to see if they have the plant you are looking for. 

    Posted on 11 Mar 2005

    Jerry Goodspeed
    County Director, Horticulture Agent, Weber County

    Q

    A week ago I was given an easter lily with white trumpet flowers. The plant was very dry, so I watered it, and it dose seem healthy. The blossoms are gone.

     

    1. What, where and when is the best time to plant outside? I would like to plant it in a pot with other flowers.
    2. The spot is quite shady, gets a little sun, will it be ok?
    3. How should I winterize the plant when it gets cold, so I can have it come out nicely next year?
    4. Will it multiply, where I can get other plants? or, How can I plant other starts from the plant?
    5. Is there literature on growing easter lilys in Utah?
    6. Can I expect blossoms again this summer or fall?
    A

    No publications specifically about Easter Lily care for Utah, but it is similar to other lilies that grow from bulbs, that they need at least half a
    day of sun, for the leaves to produce sugars throughout the summer and send those sugars into the bulb for blooms next spring.  There are a couple
    of concerns for success in that our soil pH is alkaline and they prefer a more acidic soil pH and the lilies may not be cold hardy enough to survive our
    winters. Easter Lilies are intensely managed to produce blooms for Easter and sold as houseplants.  You can plant you Easter Lily outside after
    the blooms are spent but you should select a site with sun and afternoon shade for the plant to produce food through photosynthesis to send those sugars
    back into the bulb. Be patient. It may take a couple of year's for your plant to build up enough resources to set flower buds.

    This link to an article from North Dakota about Easter Lily care
    http://www.ext.nodak.edu/county/cass/horticulture/inform/indoor/easter.htm

    Here is an article on easter lily care from University of Nebraska
    http://lancaster.unl.edu/hort/nebline/EasterLily.shtml 

    Posted on 15 Aug 2007

    Maggie Shao
    Horticulture Agent, Salt Lake County

    Q

    Are pine needles a good top mulch or addition to my compost pile? Others have said pine needles are poisonous. I live in Washington Terrace and my soil is sandy by nature.

    A

    Pine needles as mulch are not poisonous.  They make an excellent mulch and are becoming more and more common as a mulch in flower and vegetable gardens and around trees and shrubs.  They stay put in winds and rain, allow water to easily drain through, discourage weed seed germination, and prevent erosion.  As mulch, the needles last about 2 years, and can easily be removed and replaced with fresh needles, or covered with new.  Apply mulch about 3-4 inches thick in fall or spring.  Ideally, it is best if you can work the compost you apply into the soil.

    Pine needles have a minimal effect on the pH level of soil.  Utah soils are very alkaline (high pH) and many plants we grow in our gardens could benefit from the addition of any materials that lower the soil pH.

    Posted on 26 Feb 2007

    Marion Murray
    Intergrated Pest Management Project Leader

    Q

    Are there any crops I can plant now (mid-July) in my garden as my early vegetables finish? My sugar snap peas, onions, beets, spinach, etc. have all left empty space in the garden I'd like to put to use. What are the best choices for fall harvest in the Salt Lake Valley?

    A

    There are many things planted now that can be harvested before the snow flies. The cool season vegetables usually won't germinate now, it's too hot, but some warm season vegetables would work. Herbs such as basil usually will be ready as well as certain beans such as Strike bush beans (45).  Bush pickle cucumbers (45) also would work.  I will send you the link to USU publication, with many vegetables varieties and one thing to look for is the number is parenthesis after the variety which indicates days to harvest.  


    Home Vegetable Garden Variety Recommendations for Utah
    http://extension.usu.edu/files/publications/publication/HG_313.pdf

    For more information on growing fruits and vegetables go to our Salt Lake County Extension website under horticulture

    http://extension.usu.edu/saltlake/htm/horticulture/fruit-and-vegetable-info

    There is a listing of fact sheets on about 60 vegetables that will give you specific information on growing conditions.

    Good Gardening!

    Posted on 30 Jul 2008

    Maggie Shao
    Horticulture Agent, Salt Lake County

    Q

    By the end of June, our apple tree looked sickly, with faded, curling brown leaves. I am wondering if the leaves look the way they do because my husband doesn't spray regularly or because the tree is not getting enough water in our arid climate. When he does stick to a schedule, it seems that the leaves don't look much better. This is a tree that is nearly twenty years old. I have never noticed an infestation of bugs. Apples have gotten smaller and smaller by the year, most have worms. The tree is in our front yard and I really would like it to look healthy, regardless of whether or not we get eatable fruit. What should we do?

    A

    It sounds like your tree is on its "last legs". Perhaps the root system is compromised in some way. Curling leaves might indicate herbicide damage. Wormy apples are due to codling moth. Some apple trees (Jonathan, especially) are very susceptible to powdery mildew, which affects the leaves.  In other words, there are many unanswered questions; I cannot tell you a firm diagnosis. 

    If you would like to bring a small limb into our office, we may be able to help you better.

    Posted on 16 May 2007

    Maggie Wolf
    Horticulture Agent, Salt Lake County

    Q

    Can I grow strawberries in pots? Will they survive winter in pots? Will they produce if they only get afternoon sun? Where can I learn more on this topic?

    A

    Strawberries do very well in pots, as the root volume required is relatively small.  You do need to remember that maintaining plants with a small root volume require more frequent watering.  At peak production, strawberry plants can transpire a relatively large amount of water, so they may need to be watered daily, if not more often.

    Optimum growing temperatures for strawberries are between 70 and 85F. So for warmer parts of Utah, some afternoon shade in the summer is beneficial. Keeping the roots cool in the summer with light colored pots will also help. Too much shade will result in vegetative plants that don't produce much fruit, or produce fruit that is sour.

    Winter survival will depend on how cold it gets, and how much you protect them.  Buried under snow, or even under straw or sawdust mulch will help keep the roots and crowns from being damaged.  Since they are in pots, you can also consider moving them to a shed or unheated garage where they will also receive some protection. 

    Posted on 9 May 2008

    Brent Black
    Fruit Specialist

    Q

    Can I recycle garden waste without composting?

    A

    Most garden waste is useful without composting it. Think of it as precomposting. Using garden waste can reduce the flow of green material sent to the landfills, improve the soil and increase the health of most plants. Here are some ideas to try before sending yard waste to the dump or the compost bin.

    • Grass-cycling. The easiest way to reduce yard waste is to leave the grass clippings on the grass and not bag them. It is a great way to return nutrients and organic material to the soil. It reduces the water requirements of the lawn and cuts mowing time significantly. Grass-cycling does not increase the thatch layer and can be beneficial to the soil.
    • Use grass clippings as a mulch. Save grass clippings for your vegetable or flower garden. Later, the clippings can be worked into the soil, which improves tilth and workability. However, they should be dried before being used as a mulch. Do not pile wet, fresh clippings more than an inch deep at a time or they will turn into a stinky, sticky mess.
    • Shred leaves. Shredded leaves in the fall can be used as a mulch around the trees, shrubs and perennials. By spring, the leaves decompose and add precious organic matter to the soil. Leaves can be shredded by running over them with a lawn mower. This is usually easier that raking them up, even though it makes a lousy leaf pile for jumping.
    • Work leaves into growing areas. If the leaves are shredded first they are easier to rototill, but shredding is not required. Adding some nitrogen into the area will speed decomposition.
    • Use evergreen needles for mulch or a soil amendment. They will acidify Utah's alkali soils while increasing the organic content. Conifer needles break down slowly but still improve the soil over the long haul.
    • Shred all dead annual plants. After they are shredded, they can be worked into the garden or flower beds. The lawn mower works well for this, too. Be careful of annuals that reseed themselves, though. They can become weeds in a garden. These include marigolds, snapdragons, cosmos, calendula and alyssum.
    • As a last resort, compost. The most productive method is to build a compost pile and compost all garden, yard and kitchen waste. Composting is a lot easier than most people believe and, if done correctly, has no unpleasant odor. Compost is the best soil amendment, improving the tilth, workability, drainage and nutrient holding capacity.

    Posted on 15 May 2000

    Jerry Goodspeed
    County Director, Horticulture Agent, Weber County

    Q

    Do ants eat one another?

    A

    Sometimes, probably. Food preferences vary among ant species, season, and environment. Here are some links to good, trustworthy information about ants:

    http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7411.html#LIFE

    http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/2000/2064.html

    Posted on 16 May 2007

    Maggie Wolf
    Horticulture Agent, Salt Lake County

    Q

    Do you have information on average last spring freeze dates in Utah?

    A

    With spring approaching, it is time once again to think about planting and gardening. Knowing the average last frost date gives gardeners the opportunity to make specific plans for planting both hardy and tender plants in the garden.

    Consider these average last spring and first fall freeze dates.

     

    Location

     

    Avg. last

    spring freeze

     

    Avg. first fall freeze

     

    Avg. freeze free days

     

    Beaver

     

    June 4

     

    Sept 16

     

    104

    Blanding

    May14

    Oct 11

    149

    Castle Dale

    May 22

    Sept 23

    124

    Cedar City

    May 19

    Oct 2

    135

    Coalville

    June 15

    Sept 2

    78

    Corinne

    May 13

    Sept 29

    139

    Delta

    May 16

    Sept 28

    135

    Farmington

    May 5

    Oct 10

    158

    Heber

    June 8

    Sept 7

    90

    Kanab

    May 4

    Oct 23

    171

    Logan

    May 25

    Sept 25

    158

    Manti

    May 22

    Sept 27

    127

    Moab

    April 18

    Oct 16

    181

    Nephi

    May 15

    Oct 1

    138

    Ogden

    May 5

    Oct 10

    157

    Panguitch

    June 20

    Sept 2

    74

    Pleasant Grove

    May 11

    Oct 9

    151

    Richfield

    May 26

    Sept 19

    116

    Roosevelt

    May 15

    Sept 27

    134

    St. George

    March 29

    Nov 1

    216

    Salt Lake City

    April 26

    Oct 16

    172

    Tooele

    May 3

    Oct 15

    164

    Vernal

    May 27

    Sept 20

    116

    Cold hardy vegetables can be planted four to six weeks before the last frost date. Some of these include broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, onions, peas and spinach. These crops thrive in cool weather and should not be planted late in the spring. Pea seeds, for example, can actually germinate when soil temperatures are about 40 F while tomato seeds germinate best when soil temperatures are above 65 F. Beets, carrots, chard, onion sets and radishes are hardy plants that can be planted two to four weeks before the last frost date.

    Plants that are not cold hardy should be planted around the frost-free date. These include beans, squash, corn and tomatoes. Peppers, eggplant, cucumbers and melons require hot weather to grow well and should be planted about a week after the last expected frost. These plants may be injured if planted too early and consequently may not grow or flower well throughout the rest of the season. To get a jump on the season, several of these warm season vegetables may be started by seed inside, and then planted outside when temperatures warm.

    If planted indoors, tomato and pepper seeds should be planted six to eight weeks before the last frost. The seedlings should have a bright light source such as a south window or a fluorescent light structure placed several inches above. Squash, cucumbers and melons should be seeded about two to three weeks before transplanting to the garden.

    Posted on 22 Mar 2004

    Loralie Cox
    Horticulture Agent, Cache County

    Q

    Do you have information on spring-blooming perennials?

    A

    Spring-blooming perennials are some of the first plants to bring color back into the landscape. If you don’t have any, now is a good time to plant them. Most spring bloomers are easy to grow and adapt to varying growing conditions. Consider planting one or some of these.

    Pig squeak (Bergenia cordifolia) has very large leaves, which are its major attraction. This semi-evergreen’s large, shiny foliage turns maroon in color in the winter. When it blooms in the spring, it sends up a stalk with small white and pink flowers. Dutchman’s breeches (Dicentra cucullaria) is a relative of the old-fashioned bleeding heart. This perennial is not often grown in Northern Utah, but can be found in shady, moist spots in some landscapes. Its blossoms are white with a touch of cream and have delicate foliage. Several plants are called creeping buttercup, but Ranunculus repens is the spring blooming perennial. It makes an attractive groundcover and produces yellow flowers all spring. However, it is classified as a weed in several states, so keep it in check if adding it to your yard.

    Foxglove (Digitalis) is famous for its tall spikes of color that emerge in late spring. It grows well in shady locations. Creeping phlox (Phlox subulata) is a familiar early blooming perennial. Its purple, blue, magenta and white blossoms in the early spring are quite spectacular. These perennials are ideal for creeping over walls or down hillsides. Candytuft (Iberis) is sturdy enough to be called a shrub. This semi-evergreen does not die back to the ground in the winter, and is covered with white flowers for several weeks in the spring. Newer varieties even dabble at producing flowers throughout the summer. There are two plants known as rockcress, and both of these low-growing plants bloom in the spring. Alpine rockcress (Arabis alpina) has white flowers and works well as an accent plant. Common or purple rockcress (Aubrieta deltoidea) comes in a purple to rose-colored variety. Both of these plants look great in the spring, but should be planted with perennials that look good during the summer and into the fall, because rockcress does not. Other early spring bloomers to consider include columbine (Aquilegia), basket-of-gold (Aurinia), forget-me-nots (Myosotis) and the ever-popular dianthus. They all have blossoms for about three to four weeks. Plant them with summer and fall-blooming perennials so that once they quit blooming, they can gradually fade into the background.

    Posted on 8 May 2006

    Q

    Do you have information on water-wise annuals?

    A

    You remember annuals — we plant them every spring hoping they will survive and bloom until the first frost in the fall. Of course, half of them are taken out by the last frost in the spring, which arrives exactly one week after planting them.

    With the low water year we’ve had, this may be the year to try new annuals. Consider using those that are classified as water-wise. They are able to survive and look great with limited water.

    The following water-wise annuals thrive in hot, dry locations. Try them in a flower bed that gets full sun or in a spot where other annuals have collapsed from heat in the past. Some may be easier to find than others, depending on your area. Check with your local nursery or favorite gardening catalog.

    • Dahlberg daisy. This is a low-growing annual. It has small, yellow flowers that cover the plant until the first freeze in the fall. It struggles in the inserts in the nursery, but within a couple of weeks after planting, it eventually takes off, reaching a width of about 1 1/2 feet in diameter. · Creeping zinnia (Sanvitalia). This is another low-growing plant that fills in large areas quickly with yellow to orange, brown-centered flowers. Unlike other zinnias, it is not prone to powdery mildew. · Globe amaranth (Gomphrena). This plant reaches a height of 1 - 2 feet. The flowers are shaped like a large clover flower and can be found in red, pink, white, purple and yellow. This flower dries well and the color lasts for months.
    • Annual statice. This flower reaches a height of about 2 feet, comes in a wide variety of colors and also is great for drying. The foliage resembles a fuzzy dandelion leaf and remains close to the soil. The flower bolts to about 18 inches, creating a spectacular show.
    • Madagascar periwinkle (annual vinca). This works well in any annual bed. The vivid pink, rose, purple, white and salmon colored flowers last for long periods of time. The plant reaches a height of about 1 foot and spreads about half that wide.
    • Cockscomb (celosia). Cockscombs have plumed flowers that can look like something from a distant planet. Although the flowers are a little different, they are very colorful and large, sometimes reaching 18 inches in diameter. They are very showy in a landscape.
    • Gazania. This annual once came only in yellow and closed up if the sun passed behind a cloud. The newer varieties range in color from orange to pink, burgundy and other combinations. They are also better bloomers than in the past and stay open even on a cloudy day.
    • Melampodium. This is another low-growing plant with yellow, daisy-like flowers. The foliage has a much bolder texture than the Dahlberg daisy and the flowers are larger.
    • Salvia. This can give your landscape splashes of red, pink and even blue color. The plants range from 10 inches to 2 feet tall. They are very hardy and can be used as an accent or for a backdrop.
    • Strawflower. This excellent drying flower blooms in colors of gold to red and burgundy. Strawflowers reach a height of more than 2 feet and hold their color for months.

    Posted on 14 May 2004

    Jerry Goodspeed
    County Director, Horticulture Agent, Weber County

    Q

    Do you have nutrient information on fall vegetables?

    A

    Your mother always told you to eat your vegetables, and she was right. Vegetables are powerful foods packed with health-promoting substances and energy. Just because the leaves are falling and a chill is in the air doesn’t mean fresh vegetables are hard to find. In fact, fall root vegetables are some of the most nutrient-packed vegetables around. Consider the benefits. • Potatoes come in all sizes, shapes and colors from Yukon gold to red russets. A naturally fat-free food, one medium baked potato or one cup of mashed potatoes has about 145 calories and provides 35 grams of energy-boosting carbohydrates. It also provides about 25 percent of the daily need for collagen-supporting and wound-healing vitamin C and 650 mg of potassium to aid muscle and nerve activity.

    • Winter squash comes in many varieties, including butternut, acorn and spaghetti. The dark orange and deep yellow color of winter squash indicates a vegetable packed with power. On average, one cup of baked winter squash cubes provides a slimming 80 calories, 18 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of disease-fighting fiber and nearly 100 percent ofthe daily need for vitamin A.
    • Parsnips are often overlooked, but are a high energy, low-fat, nutrient-dense vegetable. One medium parsnip has 115 calories with 6 grams of fiber, and like other fall vegetables provides plenty of vitamin C and potassium.
    • The nutritional value of sweet potatoes is often masked by brown sugar, marshmallows and butter.A plain baked sweet potato contains 115 calories and has 4 grams of heart-healthy fiber. Like other orange and deep yellow vegetables, sweet potatoes provide more than a day's worth of vitamin A.Keep the fat and calories down bytrading the candied sweet potatoesfor a baked sweet potatoserved with light margarine and cinnamon.
    • Turnips add a tangy flavor and a sharp bite to soups, saladsand side dishes. One medium turnip has only 30 calories yet includes 25 percent of the daily need for vitamin C. Turnips are a fair source of potassium with nearly 200 mg.For a nutrition boost, cook turnips with the greens. This will onlyadd 30 calories, but will boost your vitamin C intake to 40 mg, over half the daily need, and provide plenty of vitamin A.
    • Carrots are one of nature’s portable snacks.Three ounces of baby carrots (10-15sticks) are a nutritional bargain. With your crunch you get only 30 calories and a day’s worth of vitamin A as beta-carotene. To trim food costs, purchase raw whole carrots, peel and cut into sticks.

    For a nutrient boost at the table, try these recipes.

    Dilly Potatoes

    1 pound potatoes, boiled, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes (about 4 cups) 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons fresh dill or 2 teaspoons dried dill weed

    Toss hot potatoes with olive oil, salt and dill. Serve as a side dish. Serves 4. Nutrients per serving: 164 calories, 31 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 3 g protein, 3 g fat, 19 percent vitamin C, 15 percent potassium.

    Stuffed Acorn Squash with Cranberries

    4 acorn squash 2 1/2 cups prepared bread stuffing 1 cup cranberry sauce

    Cut squash in half and remove seeds. If necessary cut a slice off bottom so squash will stand upright on baking sheet. Prepare stuffing according to package directions. Fill each squash with 1/3 cup stuffing and bake at 400 degrees F. 45-60 minutes or until squash is tender. Before serving, top each stuffed squash with 2 tablespoons cranberry sauce. Makes 8 entrees. Nutrients per serving: 275Calories, 56 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 4 g protein, 5 g fat, 39 percent vitamin C, 22 percent vitamin A, 27 percent potassium.

    Posted on 7 Nov 2003

    Pauline Williams
    Family & Consumer Sciences and 4-H Agent, Salt Lake County 

    Q

    Do you have tips for growing cauliflower and celery?

    A

    Cauliflower and celery can be two of the more difficult vegetables to grow successfully in the vegetable garden. Both are cool-season crops that prefer temperatures in the 60 to 70 degree range for best performance. At higher temperatures, cauliflower will not head normally and celery will produce tough woody stalks. Both require adequate water and fertilizer for optimal performance.

    Here are some things you can do to encourage head formation on cauliflower.

    • Cauliflower should be grown as an early spring or fall crop. Most gardeners have success with the “Snowball” cauliflower varieties as these mature in 55 to 65 days from transplanting. It is best to grow five to six week-old transplants and plant them two to three weeks before the last spring frost.
    • Grow them at an 18 by 18 inch spacing in soils that have been enriched with well-rotted manure or compost. Once the plants are growing, be sure to avoid water stress by mulching around the plants with grass, straw, newspaper or other organic materials. These help keep the soil cool and moist. Water so that the plants never dry out, especially when the heads start to form.
    • Avoid fertilizer stress by supplying the plants with a complete fertilizer preplant and with additional nitrogen five to six weeks after transplanting.
    • Hot weather closed to heading will affect the appearance and quality of the head. Always tie the leaves around the head when you can see it is the size of a silver dollar. This helps keep the head white and makes it less bitter.
    • For fall cauliflower, plant in late July for harvests in late September or early October. Heavy frosts on the plant before the head forms will delay development or may injure the growing point, so adjust planting to give the plants time to mature in your production area. Harvest the heads about two weeks after tying the leaves around the head.

    Here are some things you can do to encourage sweet, tender stalks of celery.

    • Celery requires from 100 to 120 days after transplanting to mature. Therefore, plant it early in the spring several weeks before the last frost.
    • It is best to start with transplants. These require 12 weeks to be of sufficient size for planting in the garden. When transplanting, be sure to incorporate plenty of compost or well-rotted manure. Plant 8 by 8 inches apart. This close spacing helps to blanch the stalks and smother weeds.
    • Once the crop is established, mulch heavily with straw, grass clipping or other organic materials.
    • Like cauliflower, celery likes moist soil. Do not let the soil dry out. Moisture stress is the main cause of stringy, tough stalks. Celery also requires large amounts of fertilizer. Apply a complete fertilizer with the compost and then after transplanting, apply one half tablespoon of nitrogen fertilizer per four plants every two weeks throughout the summer. Too little fertilizer will not allow the stalks to grow tall and succulent.
    • Harvest whole plants when they begin to size by cutting them below the soil. Some gardeners blanch celery with paper wraps, by mounding soil around the plants or by growing them in a drain tile. Blanching does not affect flavor but does lighten the color of the stalks.

    Posted on 1 May 2000

    Dan Drost
    Vegetable Specialist

    Q

    Do you have tips for growing water lilies?

    A

    Ponds are becoming increasingly popular in the landscape. The sound of running water is peaceful and the sight of rushing water is refreshing and relaxing. It is helpful to have a place in the yard to enjoy nature and be away from the stress and cares of life. One of the key components of a pond is the plant material that grows there. Plants provide many benefits to a pond. Aquatic plants have the ability to live in standing water. They add interest, provide shade and protection for fish and help keep the water clean and aerated. Many water plants also bloom and add color.

    The most popular blooming, aquatic plants are water lilies. They have large, round leaves with beautiful flowers that add yellow, white, pink, red and lavender colors to the pond. There are two types of water lilies ­ a hardy variety and a tropical variety. The hardy variety can over-winter in most Utah ponds. The tropical variety either grows as an annual or must be protected from our harsh environment during winter. Hardy water lilies prefer a sunny location in the pond. They also prefer a calm location and should be placed away from waterfalls and splashing water. They grow from rhizomes (modified stems) and thrive when placed 18 to 24 inches below the water surface. Blooms begin to emerge about mid-May and blossom throughout the summer until the first freeze. Tropical water lilies are not hardy for our location. If left in the pond, they will die with the first hard freeze. They prefer shallow water that is 6 to 10 inches deep, and do better in a warmer pond and location. Tropical lilies come in both day and night blooming varieties, and their flowers are available in a few more color combinations than the hardy lilies. Water lilies can be purchased already growing in a pot or as a rhizome that needs to be planted. With patience, growing your own can be a rewarding experience. Consider these tips.

    • Plant water lilies in a large pot before placing them in the pond. Use a plastic pot or one that will not deteriorate in water. The pot should have holes in the bottom and the sides to allow water to move through the pot.
    • Fill the pot with a silt-loam or clay-type soil. Leave 2 to 3 inches of space at the top. Some nurseries sell specific soil to use in aquatic plant pots. Do not use a potting soil mix or a light soil for water plants. These contain materials that will float out of the pot and make a mess in the pond.
    • Place the rhizome at a 45 degree angle in the soil. Planting it close to one side of the pot is usually recommended. The rhizome will have an eye or offshoot that is the growing point of the lily. It should be placed at the top of the soil and not covered up. Put two to four fertilizer pellets in the soil at the time of planting to ensure a good start for the lilies.
    • Once the rhizome is planted, cover the soil with pea gravel or a few large rocks. This helps keep the soil in the pot and around the lily. Again, be aware of where the offshoot is placed.
    • Once the lily is planted, it is ready to be placed in the pond. Water the pot well before setting it in the pond.
    • Place rocks or other pots on the floor of the pond to raise or lower lilies so they are at the right distance from the surface of the water. Since hardy lilies are planted a little deeper, they may take slightly longer to reach the surface and start blooming. To speed this process, start them in a slightly more shallow section of the pond. As they begin to grow, set them down deeper. Once the lilies reach the surface with their leaves, the beautiful blossoms are not far behind.

    There are many varieties of lilies, and each has a different color and leaf shape. Consult your local nursery to find out what is available. You may also want to visit the pond section of the nursery just to enjoy the sounds and sights.

    Visit http//extension.usu.edu for more information on Utah State University Extension. 

    Posted on 7 Aug 2003

    Jerry Goodspeed
    County Director, Horticulture Agent, Weber County

    Q

    Do you have tips on pickling vegetables?

    A

    Crispness is the hallmark of a good pickled vegetable. Crispness comes from the vegetable’s natural pectin — the same pectin we extract from apples and citrus to make jams and jellies. Consider these tips for pickling crisp vegetables.

    Use only just-picked vegetables for pickling. The most important factor in getting crisp pickled vegetables is to start with fresh, just-picked vegetables. Vegetables become soft as the pectin structure changes due to microbial activity, excess heat or improper handling. As each day passes, vegetables lose crispness. Once a vegetable is soft, it cannot be made firm again.

    Use only top quality vegetables for pickling. For cucumber pickles, use cucumbers intended for pickling that are no more then two inches in diameter. Remove the blossom end, since the blossom harbors microbes that can cause softening. Start with crisp, raw vegetable varieties.

    Use only safe, research-based recipes to pickle foods. It is important to have the proper acidity level to produce a safe product. Consider research-based recipes found in the USDA Complete Guide to Canning, the National Center for Home Food Preservation Web site at www.homefoodsafety.com or through Utah State University Extension.

    Use low-temperature pasteurization. Cucumber pickles may be processed for 30 minutes at 180-185 F. Use a thermometer to be certain the water temperature remains above 180 F the entire 30 minutes. Keep the temperature below 185 F to avoid breaking down the pectin, which causes softening of the pickle.

    Reconsider refrigerator pickles. Instead of heat treating pickled foods, some recipes call for keeping them at refrigeration temperatures. For many years this method was thought to be safe. However, recent evidence that Listeria monocytogenes can survive in these foods has led to a recommendation against this method until further studies are performed on its safety. Until further studies are completed, it is recommended to use the low-temperature pasteurization method above, even if the foods are placed in the refrigerator.

    Consider these methods to firm pickles meant for canning:

    Use of alum. If high quality ingredients are used and up-to-date methods are followed, firming agents are not needed for crisp pickles. If you choose to use firming agents, alum (aluminum potassium sulfate) may be used to firm fermented canned pickles, but has little crispness effect on quick-process canned pickles. Alum will increase firmness of canned fermented pickles when used at levels up to 1/4 teaspoon per pint. Addition of greater than 1/4 teaspoon alum per pint decreases firmness.

    Use of calcium to firm pickles. Lime (calcium hydroxide) can improve pickle firmness. Food-grade lime can be used as a lime-water solution for soaking fresh cucumbers 12 to 24 hours before pickling them. Excess lime absorbed by the cucumbers must be removed to make safe pickles. To remove excess lime, drain the lime-water solution, rinse and re-soak the cucumbers in fresh water for one hour. Drain and rinse again.

    Use of Ball Calcium Chloride Pickle Crisp. This product is a food grade calcium chloride salt. It provides the calcium to help firm pectin, but does not have the hydroxide component that can lower the acidity of pickled foods. Follow the manufacturer’s directions.

    Use of ice to firm pickles. Soak cucumbers or other vegetables in ice water for four to five hours before pickling.

    Use of grape leaves to firm pickles. Historically, grape leaves are sometimes added to pickle products. The tannins in grape leaves inhibit the pectinase enzyme (a chemical that breaks down and softens the pectin structure). However, this enzyme is located at the blossom end of the cucumber and if it is removed, this process is redundant.

    Canned pickled vegetables will retain their quality for one year and will begin to lose quality and nutrition over the second year. After the second year — if the seal is intact — the food is safe, but the food will be of low quality and low nutritional value. When pickling low acid foods, it can’t be emphasized enough that research-tested recipes and processes should be followed. Incorrect acidification can result in botulism food poisoning.

     

    Posted on 23 Sep 2005

    Brian Nummer
    Food Safety Specialist
    Q

    Earlier this season we sprayed with Dursban, can we still eat the fruit?

    A

    When pesticides are used according to their label directions, residues are kept to a minimum, food quality and appeal increase and sprayed food products are safe to eat.

    Dursban is a trade name for the pesticide chlorpyrifos and is used around homes and gardens. Lorsban is another trade name for chlorpyrifos and is mostly used on agricultural crops.

    If Dursban was applied as the label instructed, your fruit should be safe to eat. In addition to applying the pesticide correctly, you must also pay attention to the “intervals to harvest” which is how long you should wait after spraying before picking the produce. This interval allows time for the pesticide to break down and decrease the residue on the fruit to a very low level.

    Your question probably comes from the recent EPA decision to remove some chlorpyrifos uses. This EPA regulatory action was taken primarily to increase the level of safety and reduce potential exposures to children.

    To enhance the safety of our food supply EPA removed chlorpyrifos from use on tomatoes and apples after they bloom and foliar applications on grapes — all high intake foods for children.

    To reduce potential exposures to children as well as the rest of the public, EPA will prohibit the use of chlorpyrifos in and around homes, including lawns and gardens, and around schools, parks and other areas frequently used by children. Agricultural uses will see reductions in rates and in frequency of applications. Intervals to harvest and worker reentry intervals will be increased.

    Residential use of containerized baits will continue as well as use in other indoor nonresidential areas where children will not be exposed, such as warehouses, manufacturing plants, food processing plants, railroad boxcars, etc. Outdoor use will continue in areas where children will not be exposed, such as golf courses, road medians, fence posts, utility polls, landscape timbers and other similar wood products. Public health uses for fire ant and mosquito control will also continue. Usage for termites around homes will gradually be phased out over the next five years starting with full barrier home post construction applications in 2002.

    Foods that can still be treated include cranberries, strawberries, citrus, apples (before they bloom), figs, pears, nectarines, cherries, peaches, plums, grapes (nonfoliar), almonds, pecans, walnuts, onions, peppers, kale, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, cucurbit (gourds), asparagus, roots and tubers, corn, lentils, beans, peas, sorghum, tobacco, wheat, alfalfa, peanuts, soybeans, sunflower, cotton, sugar beets, mint, bananas and as a cattle ear tag. There are about 825 registered products containing chlorpyrifos. About half of chlorpyrifos use is in agricultural settings and half in nonagricultural settings. An estimated 24 percent of all use of chlorpyrifos is as a termiticide.

    All of the regulatory actions have different time frames for implementation to take effect, but all will be completed by the end of 2005.

    Reports from some government agencies and retailers indicate that there is some confusion about what to do with chlorpyrifos products on hand. Use was not prohibited for already purchased products and there is no recall of products. People can use what they have according to label directions. There is concern that many people are going to discard their chlorpyrifos products into the trash, which means the insecticide will end up in the landfill. If this happens with large numbers of containers all over the United States, you can end up with more pollution than if the product was used as it was supposed to be.

    The recommended method of disposal for pesticides is to use it all according to directions on the label rather than throw it into the trash. This distributes the pesticide at a low rate evenly over a large area. Then, sunlight, microorganisms, moisture and other environmental chemicals can break down the pesticide molecules and decrease the toxicity to that of carbon dioxide, sulfur, phosphorous, chlorine and nitrogen, which are already major components of our environments.

    You can continue to purchase and use Dursban and other chlorpyrifos products as instructed on the label until supplies are no longer available or the manufacture has been stopped. With careful use you should be able to realize the benefits that the product has to offer and avoid the inherent risks that come with using pesticides.

    Posted on 26 Jun 2000

    Howard Deer
    Pesticides and Toxicology Specialist 

    Q

    How can I protect my raspberries from insect pests?

    A

    Just as berry fruits approach maturity and are ready to pick, there are fruit-eating insects that can reduce the harvestable crop and contaminate the berry product. Some of the common fruit-eating insects observed in Utah include the stink bug, lygus bug, earwig, grasshopper, and several species of fruit-eating wasps. These insects suck or chew into the individual drupelets or may remove the entire fruits. Frequent inspections of ripening fruits (several times per week) by physically shaking the canes to dislodge insects onto a cloth or plastic tray can provide early-warning and help prevent fruit-eating insects from causing economic yield loss. If damaging insects are detected, the most common method of management is insecticide application. It is very important to carefully observe the pre-harvest or required time interval between application and picking fruits. Pre-harvest intervals are listed on product labels. Recommended insecticides that have low toxicity to humans include neem oil (Azatin) and spinosad (Success, Entrust). Conventional insecticides that will deter fruit-feeders include carbaryl (Sevin), malathion, permethrin, and esfenvalerate.  

    The consperse stink bug (Euschistus conspersus) and green stink bug (Acrosternum hilare) are large (1/2 to 5/8 inch long), brown or bright green bugs with a shield-shaped, flattened body. They feed on individual drupelets causing them to shrivel. Stink bugs release a bad odor and contaminate the berries at harvest. Lygus bug (Lygus hesperus) are small (1/4 inch long), green and brown bugs that are attracted to flowers and developing fruit. They cause misshapen fruit similar to stink bug by feeding on individual drupelets. They are usually present at low density and do not cause economic damage to raspberries.  

    The European earwig (Forficula auricularia) is ½ to 3/4 inches long, shiny brown, and with a pair of forceps-like claspers at the tip of the abdomen. They are nocturnal and their presence or damage may go unnoticed until harvest. Earwigs feed on fruit and foliage.  Foliage feeding is of little concern. Management requires the removal of daytime harboring sites and prevention of access to fruit before it ripens.  Remove weeds from around the base of canes and vines.  Keep rows clear of prunings and debris under which earwigs could nest. Earwigs can be trapped by using Tanglefoot® or a similar adhesive material applied to the base of canes to prevent their crawling into plants. To monitor for earwigs, place boards or rolled-up newspapers in the fields in spring and monitor weekly for earwigs that hide under the boards or in newspapers. Treat the ground and lower canes with carbaryl at the beginning of spring activity when earwigs are found.

    In areas where berry fields are situated near open rangeland or undeveloped land, grasshoppers may move onto canes near harvest to feed on fruits and leaves. Fruit-protecting insecticide treatments described above may be effective. Placement of insecticide bait (bran coated with carbaryl or Nosema locustae, a protozoan biological control) around field borders when young grasshopper nymphs are first observed may also reduce grasshopper populations. Repeat applications of bait will likely be required to cover several months of grasshopper activity and to replenish baits after rainfall or irrigation events. Insecticide baits are not effective at killing adult grasshoppers.

    Two types of wasps are common berry-eaters: the yellow jacket (Vespula germanica) and European paper wasp (Polistes dominulus). They may also be a nuisance to workers by stinging them. Yellow jackets nest in the ground. If ground nests are detected, they can be treated with conventional insecticides, dug up and removed to destroy them. Also, placing commercial traps that contain heptyl butyrate bait at the perimeter of berry fields can reduce wasp numbers. The European paper wasp builds umbrella-shaped nests under the eaves of buildings and other protected sites. Paper wasps are not attracted to yellow jacket traps. Removal of nests and protection of fruit near harvest with one of the insecticides mentioned above may provide some control. 

    Posted on 20 Jun 2007

    Diane Alston
    Hort-Entomologist Specialist

    Q

    How can I safely dispose of excess pesticides, including herbicides?

    A

    Pesticide use requires disposal of either excess pesticides or empty pesticide containers. You can reduce the pesticides or pesticide containers you need to dispose of if you follow these practices:

    • Purchase only the amount of the pesticide needed for a single season.
    • Calculate the amount of pesticide needed to treat the site. Mix that amount and apply it with properly calibrated equipment. Carefully mix and load so there is no spillage.
    • Minimize liquid wastes, including spray material left after an application and the water used to wash and rinse the spray equipment. Use liquids according to application directions.
    • Protect pesticides so they remain useful and the labels are legible. Store them in a cool location, out of the sun and in locked cabinets. Keep them in their original containers and out of reach of children or animals. Sunlight, moisture and excessive heat or cold can destroy pesticide effectiveness. Use older products first.

    If you have on hand more than you need:

    • Read the storage and disposal section of the label for special disposal instructions.
    • If label directions allow, apply excess pesticides in a second application.
    •  If you cannot use all yourself, consider giving the pesticide, in its original container, to another applicator to use according to label directions.
    • See if your county and city health departments accept home and garden pesticide products for disposal.
    • Safely store pesticides until an acceptable method for disposal is available. This may involve storage for extended times and safe storage is difficult.
    • See if there are requirements for the proper cleaning of pesticide containers before disposal. Directions are in the storage and disposal section of the label. Most commonly, cleaning is accomplished by triple rinsing containers with water or shaking out paper or plastic bags. To triple rinse:
    • Empty pesticide container into spray tank and allow container to drain for 30 seconds.
    • Add rinse water to container so it is onefourth full.
    • Rinse container thoroughly, pour rinse water into spray tank and drain for 30 seconds. Do this procedure three times.
    • DO NOT pour pesticides down the drain or into water.
    • DO NOT pour pesticides on the ground.
    • DO NOT burn excess pesticides.
    • DO NOT use pesticides for other than their labeled uses.
    • DO NOT discard pesticide containers in unapproved areas.
    • DO NOT reuse pesticide containers.

    Posted on 4 Sep 2000

    Howard Deer
    Pesticides and Toxicology Specialist

    Q

    How can I stay on top of yard and garden problems?

    A

    The best monitoring device for yards and gardens is a simple stroll through the landscape every evening or two. If you pay attention to certain areas, and know what to look for, most infestations can be spotted while they are small and easy to control. If you forget, and only venture into the garden once every week or two, what was a small problem has become gigantic and is much harder to control. Here are some monitoring tips:

    • Know where to look and what the damage looks like. Look for plants that appear damaged. Some pests eat chunks out of leaves, soft herbaceous growth and even wood. Examine the leaves - especially those close to the ground.
    • Slugs and snails normally take bites out of the leaves in their territory. They often eat the margins of the leaves, leaving only the veins and stalks in their wake. They also may leave a slimy trail, but not always. Since they feed at night, they are usually off sleeping, oblivious to our fretting about the damage during the day.
    • Other night feeders are the black root weevils. This group of nasty insects removes perfect little semi-circular shapes around the edges of many plants. Their damage begins to appear this time of year. The adults and larva live in the soil, and the black adults come out to feed at night. Grasshoppers are another common leaf-eater. They consume nearly anything that is in their path including berries, small trees and napping dogs. Normally they do their damage throughout the day, where we can see them.
    • Feel the leaves of the plants while strolling through the yard. If they are sticky, aphids are probably to blame. They also roll the leaves as they begin to feed. This is another symptom to look for on the plants. Aphids do not bite, but they do suck on plants. The ground may also be a little sticky under a tree that has an aphid infestation.
    • Mites are another sucking insect. However, they do not normally leave a sticky mess as they eat. Mite damage is evident when the leaves start to turn yellow, rust or other off color. If you suspect mite damage, hold a white piece of paper under the leaves and shake them a little. If the small dots on the paper start to move, chances are they are mites.
    • Occasionally, you may spot some leaves that are beginning to wilt. This can be an indication that the plants are either getting too much or too little water. Dig around the base of the plant to check the moisture level and condition of the roots. If the soil is bone dry three to four inches down, more water may be needed. If the soil is damp, the plant may be suffering from root rot or another problem associated with over watering. Often the soil will smell a little musty and old. Cut into a root and examine it. It should be firm and white. If it is soft or mushy, with brown, purple or black streaks, it is rot. Let the soil dry out and adjust your watering schedule.
    • Over-watering also contributes to iron chlorosis. This is most noticeable on the newer leaves of the plants. They turn a yellowish color while the veins remain green. Examine both the newer and older leaves to see if there is any difference in their color and growth.
    • Look for other plants that appear to be off-colored. Compare them with similar, healthy plants. Monitoring the landscape regularly makes it easier to notice any change in appearance. It is also much easier to control a pest problem while it is still small and before it gets out of hand.

    Posted on 24 Mar 2001

    Jerry Goodspeed
    County Director, Horticulture Agent, Weber County

    Q

    How can I store my fresh garden fruits and vegetables?

    A

    Proper care at harvest and correct storage make it possible to enjoy your garden’s bounty for weeks or even months into the winter. No single storage method is correct for all fruits and vegetables. Here are some tips for specific produce.

    • TOMATOES should be picked just before the first killing frost. Pick those that are just turning slightly pink or those turning light green or slightly white. They need not be individually wrapped, but keep them in a single layer as it’s easier to check for spoilage. Keep them at about 50 to 55 degrees. They will ripen at 70 degrees. They don’t need to be put in sunlight to ripen and may sunburn in a window.
    • GREEN PEPPERS that are firm, mature and the correct color can be kept for two to three weeks in perforated bags in a cool location.
    • ONIONS should be left in the ground until there is a hard frost if the tops are still intact. If the tops fall over on their own or dry up, the onion bulb should be harvested. They can be dug and left on top of the ground to cure for a few days and then put in a shady area until the tops and scales on the outside of the bulbs are dry. The most important thing is good air circulation. Do not put onions in paper sacks or boxes. Once they are cured and dry, place them in mesh bags (or use old pantyhose) so they will continue to have good circulation. Store them in a cool, dry location.
    • POTATOES are best left on the vine in the soil. As long as the vines are green and growing keep potatoes watered to increase your yield. Once the vines have died down you should leave the potatoes in the ground for 10 to 14 days to allow the skins to cure so they will scuff less when they are dug. Remove loose soil and wash the potatoes if you wish. Make sure the potatoes are thoroughly dry before storing at 35 to 40 degrees. When using potatoes from storage, bring them to room temperature for a week or so before using them. This will reverse the process of starches turning to sugar at the cooler temperatures.
    • PUMPKINS and WINTER SQUASH should be left on the vine until the rind is hard and cannot be easily scratched. Leave an inch of stem to prevent rotting at the crown.
    • PARSNIPS, CARROTS and BEETS can be stored right in the ground. Once the tops have frozen, mulch over the row to keep the ground from freezing so hard that you can’t dig the vegetables. Label your rows so you can find what you want when snow covers the ground. If you don’t store these root vegetables in the garden, dig them before the ground freezes. Remove excess soil, cut off stems, and store in a pit or storage cellar. Beets will not keep as long as carrots. Parsnips develop better flavor after several weeks in cold, moist conditions.

    Posted on 28 Aug 2000

    Bill Varga
    Horticulture Specialist

    Q

    How do I get rid of morning glory?

    A

    The true answer is: you don't. But you can slow it down and manage it.  When temperatures are cool enough (80 daytime max), and bindweed is in the lawn, you can spray it with an herbicide containing 2,4-D. You cannot spray these weedkillers while temperatures reach above 80 for one or two days after spraying, because the chemical will volatilize and float over to nearby plants and damage them. In areas where there isn't any other desired plants, you can spray bindweed with a broad spectrum herbicide containing glyphosate (like Roundup).http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7462.html

    Bindweed is really loving our hot weather, because our Kentucky bluegrass is heat stressed and not competing well. A vigorous, healthy lawn can usually out-compete bindweed.  Three to four inches of mulch over soil will keep bindweed under control, too.

    Here's a link to more information about field bindweed: 

    Posted on 1 Aug 2007

    Maggie Wolf
    Horticulture Agent, Salt Lake County

    Q

    How do I get rid of snails and slugs?

    A

    Slugs and snails are one of the most universal garden problems.  These mollusks are not insects, so insecticides are not effective.  Slug and snail control starts in late summer or fall, and each over-wintering pest lays up to 400 eggs which will hatch in the spring.  Clean up debris and weeds where they hide in the fall and apply bait during the growing season.
    Iron phosphate is an effective snail/slug control and has little off-target toxicity.

    Posted on 13 Jun 2006

    Karl Hauptfleisch
    Salt Lake Master Gardener

    Q

    How do I get rid of squash bug?

    A

    Squash bugs are very difficult to control. Insecticides are not very effective, but if insecticides are used they work best against the very young nymphs.

    • If you plan to use insecticides, sprays should be applied when small nymphs are present, which generally occurs early in the season.
    • Before spraying, check plants carefully to make certain that small nymphs are present. Squash bugs hide on the underside of leaves or down near the base of the plant.
    • Nonchemical methods of control are usually as effective as insecticides. Serious attack by squash bugs can be avoided by planting sensitive varieties early so harvest is complete by early August.
    • Once harvest is complete, remove the squash plants from garden. Plants left in the garden allow the bugs to build up to higher numbers, which will lead to greater problems the following year.
    • Plant varieties of squash that are less sensitive to the bugs. Zucchini seems to be the variety most sensitive to attack by squash bugs. Other summer varieties and most winter varieties seem better able to tolerate feeding by squash bugs.
    • Squash bugs are active during the day. At night the bugs hide under boards or other objects. This behavior can be used against them in small scale plantings such as gardens. Place boards near the plants (between rows or around the garden edge) and early every morning turn them over and squish all the bugs you find.
    • Squash bugs also seek out sites like wood piles or sheds to spend the winter. Large numbers of bugs overwintering in these sites can lead to high numbers of bugs in your garden the following year.

    Posted on 4 Oct 2007

    Mike Reding
    Integrated Pest Management Coordinator

    Q

    How do I get rid of the subterranean creature(s) (moles?)that pushing up piles of freshly excavated dirt in all my flower beds and into my sprinkler valve boxes?

    A

    To control wildlife, you normally exclude the pest or change the habitat. or both. For moles, trapping is the most effective control method.  There are some toxicants (baits) that are also available.  I would contact places like IFA that carry traps and baits and see which they prefer.  If you use baits, you will need to be careful of "non-target" species.  Don't leave the bait out where other animals or birds may eat it.
    I hope this information is of use to you. 

    Posted on 21 Nov 2007

    Julia Tuck
    Horticulture Assistant, Utah county

        

    Holidays

    Q

    Do you have tips for reducing holiday trash?

    A

    Americans throw away 25 percent more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year’s than they do at any other time of the year. This translates into an extra 25 million tons of garbage sent to landfills and incinerators.

    It takes valuable resources to dispose of the additional waste, and even more resources to make the materials in the first place. For example, according to The Use Less Stuff Report, 2.65 billion holiday cards are sold in the United States each year. That is enough to fill a football field 10 stories high. If each person sent one less card, 50,000 cubic yards of paper would be saved per year.

    Consider the following tips to reduce holiday waste and save money.

    Choose a living Christmas tree. When the holidays are over, plant it in your yard or donate it to a local school. Another option is to purchase an artificial tree that can be used each year. Give movie or concert tickets, gift certificates or make a donation to a local charity in someone’s name.

    Be creative when wrapping gifts. Look around the house for unusual wrapping materials. Old baskets, children’s artwork and scrap fabric work well and can be reused on other occasions. Consider hiding children’s presents around the house and leaving clues rather than wrapping the gifts. Buy rechargeable batteries for children’s toys and home electronics. Forty percent of annual battery sales occur during the holiday period. Consider giving batteries and a recharger as part of the gift. Be a smart shopper. To reduce trips to the store, begin your shopping on the phone or Internet, then organize shopping trips so that driving time is reduced. Bring your own shopping bag or use one large bag for all purchases.

    When sending gifts by mail, package them with reused boxes, bubble wrap or peanuts. Wrap boxes in brown paper grocery bags for mailing. Use dishes and glassware for parties rather than buying disposable paper goods. If your party is larger than your dish and glassware supply, try renting these items. Cut the cards. Review and trim your holiday card list. Consider those on your list who might prefer an electronic card instead. Save the cards you receive and use them as gift tags, decorations and wrapping material. Consider giving homemade baked goods or crafts as gifts. Get the kids involved in making holiday cards, decorations and ornaments instead of buying them. Remember what the holidays are really about. In the midst of all the pressure to buy the right gifts, get things mailed on time and prepare your house for guests, don’t forget that giving and getting are the least important parts of the season.

    Posted on 9 Dec 2005

    Kerry Case
    Utah House Program Coordinator

    Q

    Do you have tips for selecting and caring for a christmas tree?

    A

    Many Utahns will soon visit their local tree grower or tree lot in search of the perfect Christmas tree. Selecting a good tree and proper care for it once it is home can ensure a safer, more enjoyable holiday season. Consider these tips.

    • Before going shopping, measure the area in your home where the tree will be placed.
    • Measure both width and ceiling height.
    • Remember that several inches will be cut from the butt end, but also that the stand will add several inches to the tree’s overall height.

    To ensure that the tree will remain evergreen through the holidays, check for freshness and moistness. Once needles become dry, they usually stay dry -- even when the tree is placed in a stand with water. The best way to ensure that your tree is fresh is to buy from a local grower or from a retailer you know and trust. Trees shipped into Christmas tree lots from out of state may be fresh, but some can be old and dry. Gently pull on several needles to check for freshness. If many come off, look for another tree. Also, lift the tree and strike the butt end on the ground. If many needles fall from the twigs, the tree is probably not fresh. You can also break a few needles to see if they are moist and fragrant. Don’t worry if old unattached needles have accumulated inside the crown. Though these needles can be messy, they do not indicate a poor tree and can easily be removed. Fir and pine trees hold needles better than spruce trees. Check the color. Some trees are sprayed with blue-green dye. Though the dye can be harmless, it can be hiding a dry tree. Be sure tree limbs are strong enough to support lights and ornaments. Limbs should also be well placed to give the tree a pleasing shape. Minor defects in the tree can often be turned toward a wall and can also lower the purchase price. Once a fresh tree is brought home, re-cut a thin section from the butt end and place the tree in a pail of water until you are ready to decorate it. Keep the tree outside and away from sun and wind so it does not become dry. When you are ready to bring the tree in, cut the butt end again if it has been stored more than three or four days. This cut section can be hung with a ribbon and made into an ornament by marking the rings with significant years in your family’s history. Most sections will have seven to 10 growth rings. Once inside, the tree should be placed in a sturdy stand that holds at least one gallon of water. A fresh tree can lose this much or more water a day. Place the tree away from heaters, furnace vents, televisions and other heat sources. Lights on the tree should be UL approved and protected by an inline fuse. Small pinpoint lights work well because they stay cool. Don't be sentimental about old Christmas tree lights. Old lights with cracked insulation or loose sockets should be discarded. Turn lights off when the tree is unattended. Flammable decorations should not be used on a Christmas tree with electric lights. Candles should never be used to light a Christmas tree or wreath. A fresh tree that is watered daily can stay moist and safe for several weeks. If a tree is displayed in a public building, it should be kept no longer than 15 days and should be treated with a fire retardant solution.

    Christmas trees can be useful even after they are taken down. Trees can be placed in the yard to add greenery and act as a bird haven until spring. They can also be used for firewood or chopped and used as mulch. Many communities have programs to gather trees after Christmas to be chipped as mulch or used for other purposes. Choose-and-cut trees are available from Christmas tree growers throughout Utah. Use the same selection tips to buy a choose-and-cut tree as you would a pre-cut tree. Some growers will cut the tree for you, and others will have you cut your own. For the locations of local growers, contact your county Extension office. For additional information on Christmas trees, visit http://extension.usu.edu/forestry/HomeTown/General_UtahChristmasTrees.htm or http://extension.usu.edu/forestry/HomeTown/General_ChristmasTrees.htm.

    Posted on 27 Nov 2005

    Michael Kuhns
    Forestry Specialist

    Q

    Do you have tips on buying and caring for a fresh-cut christmas tree?

    A

    A fresh-cut Christmas tree can delight the holiday senses. However, most live Christmas trees in Utah are not grown here. They are usually brought in from other states. The following are suggestions on where to obtain freshly cut, Utah-grown Christmas trees.

    • Land management agencies. Christmas tree permits (for both individual tree buyers and commercial cutters) are sometimes available from Utah's land management agencies. Call your local agency office for up-to-date information. Agencies that sometimes have trees available are the USDA Forest Service at http://www.fs.fed.us/ (click on “By State” box and enter Utah to get Utah National Forest information); Bureau of Land Management at http://www.ut.blm.gov/ (click on “Directory” for a listing of field offices); and the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands at http://www.ffsl.utah.gov/ (click on “About Us” for a list of area offices).

    • Tree lots. Occasionally you may find tree lots that sell pre-cut trees harvested live from Utah’s forests. These can be excellent places to get a fresh tree. Tree species you are likely to find on these lots include pinyon pine, subalpine fir, Douglas-fir and lodgepole pine.

    • Choose-and-cut trees. Utah has relatively few businesses that sell locally grown Christmas trees. Visit http://extension.usu.edu/forestry/HomeTown/General_UtahChristmasTrees.htm to see several Utah listings.

    Once you’ve selected the perfect tree and brought it home, consider these tips for care.

    Re-cut a thin section from the butt end and place the tree in a pail of water until you are ready to decorate it. Keep the tree outside and away from sun and wind so it does not become dry. When you are ready to bring the tree in, cut the butt end again if it has been stored more than three or four days. This cut section can be hung with a ribbon and made into an ornament by marking the rings with significant years in your family’s history. Most sections will have seven to 10 growth rings. 

    The tree should be placed in a sturdy stand that holds at least one gallon of water. A fresh tree can lose this much or more water a day. Place the tree away from heaters, furnace vents, televisions and other heat sources.

    Lights on the tree should be UL approved and protected by an inline fuse. Small pinpoint lights work well because they stay cool. Don't be sentimental about old Christmas tree lights. Old lights with cracked insulation or loose sockets should be discarded. Turn lights off when the tree is unattended. Flammable decorations should not be used on a Christmas tree with electric lights. Candles should never be used to light a Christmas tree or wreath.

    A fresh tree that is watered daily can stay moist and safe for several weeks. If a tree is displayed in a public building, it should be kept no longer than 15 days and should be treated with a fire retardant solution. 

    Christmas trees can be useful even after they are taken down. Trees can be placed in the yard to add greenery and act as a bird haven until spring. They can also be used for firewood or chopped and used as mulch. Many communities have programs to gather trees to be chipped as mulch or used for other purposes after the holidays. 

    Posted on 25 Nov 2004

    Michael Kuhns
    Forestry Specialist

    Q

    How can I be realistic in my holiday expectations?

    A

    As the holidays approach, we anticipate being together with family and friends, giving gifts and observing family traditions. The enjoyment of the season can be diminished, however, if our expectations are not reasonable.

    For some, the holidays can bring feelings of sadness, particularly in contrast to the way things are “supposed” to be. The holidays can be especially difficult for those who have experienced the death of someone close and are facing the season for the first time without that person. Even after many years, the holidays can become a marker of how many years it has been since a loved one died. Divorce, family disruptions, illness, financial problems or other kinds of loss or change can also make the season difficult.

    Whatever your situation, it is important to be realistic in what you expect from the holidays. Consider these tips.

    • Focus on traditions that are meaningful or start new ones. Some holiday traditions may not fit as well as they once did if there have been family changes such as death, remarriage or children getting older. Spending the holidays in a different way may bring new enjoyment to the season. This may work better than trying to recreate a Christmas from previous years when the family was in a different stage.
    • Avoid a “now or never” frame of mind about the holidays. We may think, “If this party, gift or family activity isn’t just right, the whole season will be ruined and we won’t have the chance to make it right for another year.” Or, “The children will never be this age again. They have to love every minute and have every toy.” We set ourselves up for a letdown when we tell ourselves that the holidays are our chance to get everything just right.
    • Be realistic in financial expectations. Financial worries over not being able to do or buy the things we see depicted in advertisements or that we see others doing can lead to feelings of inadequacy and sadness. Be realistic in how much you can spend and what works for you and your family.
    • Focus on one or two things you enjoy and plan to do those. Pace yourself. Which holiday activities really bring enjoyment? Are there other activities you impose on yourself or your family that aren’t as enjoyable? Don't let the things that matter most be at the mercy of the things that matter least. What is going to mean the most to your family or loved ones? It may simply be time spent together rather than a frantic rush to plan or do one more thing.
    • Be aware of fatigue. Being overtired can result in feelings of depression if the quest for holiday cheer becomes too frenzied.
    • Be reasonable. Instead of saying, “Things just have to go well,” try, “It will be nice if ...” And instead of, “I just can’t stand it if ...” remind yourself, “It will still be OK even if ...”
    • Plan things to look forward to when the holidays are over. The Christmas season is a great time, but it isn’t the only happy time. Remind yourself that there are many opportunities to show love for your family and friends throughout the year.

    Posted on 12 Dec 2003

    Tom Lee
    Family & Consumer Science Program Leader & Department Head, Financial Management Specialist

    Q

    How can I keep my poinsetta alive beyond the holidays?

    A

    Poinsettias are native Mexican plants. They love the holiday season because they are short-day plants that require long nights to launch their color change. The colorful bracts of these plants are leaves, not flowers, with the most common bract color being red. The flower buds are the red or green buttons in the center of the bracts that open to a small yellow flower. Healthy poinsettias have dark green leaves below the bracts and foliage all the way to the base. With proper care and attention, your poinsettia can brighten your home for months to come. Consider these tips.

    Poinsettias need a minimum of six hours of indirect sunlight each day. Protect the plants from freezing temperatures, especially when transporting them. Place them in a light-filled room away from drafts. They do best in rooms between 55 and 65 F at night and 65 to 70 F during the day. Keep poinsettias away from cooler locations and avoid exposing them to temperatures below 50 F. Water poinsettias when the soil is dry 2 to 3 inches down. The plants are very sensitive to overwatering and will develop root rot quickly if kept too wet. Water the pot thoroughly, letting excess water drain out of the bottom. Apply an all purpose, water-soluble fertilizer once a week to keep plants healthy during the holidays. Once the colorful bracts drop off, reduce watering and fertilization to give the plants a rest period. Trim the poinsettia back so that just a few leaves are left. With proper care, poinsettia bracts can be maintained until about March or April. Once they begin to fall, cut the plant back, leaving about six buds. For the first couple of weeks, the plant will resemble a stick. Water and fertilize as before, and by May it will begin to leaf out again. For an interesting, unusual outdoor plant, poinsettias can be taken outside in the spring when the danger of a freeze is past. Place the plant in a shady location, and it can be enjoyed throughout the summer. To keep the plant small and compact, cut it back about mid-July and early September to stimulate branching. Beginning the first of October, put the plant in complete darkness as soon as the sun sets, allowing a minimum of 14 hours of darkness. A bag can be placed over the plant, or it can be set in a closet throughout the day. By the end of November, it will start to color and you will be able to enjoy it for another season.

    Posted on 29 Dec 2005

    Jerry Goodspeed
    County Director, Horticulture Agent, Weber County 

    Q

    Is it safe to use outdoor lights inside on the Christmas tree

    A

    You would want to read the label on the lights to see if they are suited for indoor use.  Many lights are labeled as indoor/outdoor lights.  However,outdoor lights are too hot for the indoor Christmas tree so make sure youread the package carefully before purchasing them. They look so similar to indoor lights that you might not realize they are outdoor if you don't look closely.

    Posted on 12 Dec 2007

    Marilyn Albertson
    County Director, Family and Consumer Sciences Agent, Salt Lake County

    Q

    Think citrus this holiday season.

    A

    Fresh citrus has a strong traditional association with the holidays and gift-giving. Oranges, grapefruits, lemons and limes are readily available during the holiday season. Citrus fruits make a great holiday gift that is also packed with nutrients. Eating just one orange provides 130 percent of the daily value of vitamin C, 28 percent of fiber and 12 percent of folic acid. It contains only 70 calories and is fat free, cholesterol free and sodium free. Consider this information on the nutrients in citrus fruit.

    Vitamin C improves the immune system. It acts as an antioxidant and helps form collagen, a protein needed for healthy skin, teeth and bones. It also aids in iron absorption. Fiber reduces the risk for certain types of cancer, helps lower blood cholesterol levels and helps control blood glucose levels. Folic acid helps prevent serious neural tube birth defects and may lower the risk for heart disease.

    When shopping for citrus, look for fruits that are firm and heavy for their size with bright, colorful skins. Avoid fruit with bruised, wrinkled or discolored skins. This indicates the fruit is old or has been stored incorrectly. Peel thickness will vary depending on the season, weather and growing conditions.

    Oranges can be stored at room temperature for several days. For longer storage, refrigerate them in a plastic bag or in the crisper. Don’t worry when shopping if you run across a Valencia orange with a slightly green-colored skin. Green-tinged Valencias are actually at their best — fully ripe, sweet and juicy. The fully ripe fruit occasionally “regreens” in warm weather. After the fruit turns a bright orange color, the skin reabsorbs chlorophyll causing a ripe orange to look partially green.

    Consider these citrus recipes for the holiday season.

    HOLIDAY THREE-CITRUS TOSSED SALAD

    1 head romaine lettuce torn into bite-sized pieces (about 8 cups) 1 grapefruit peeled and cut into cartwheel slices with slices quartered 1 orange peeled and cut into cartwheel slices with slices quartered 1 cup red bell pepper strips 1 small avocado, peeled and sliced crosswise

    LEMON SESAME DRESSING

    3 tablespoons lemon juice 3 tablespoons vegetable oil 1 tablespoon sesame oil 1 tablespoon honey

    In large bowl, combine all salad ingredients and chill. Mix dressing ingredients and shake well. Toss salad with dressing. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds, if desired. Makes 6 servings (about 10 cups).

    WINTER CITRUS WASSIL

    4 cups water 1 cup sugar 6-8 cinnamon sticks 12-16 whole cloves 8 cups orange juice 1/2 cup lemon juice 4 cups pineapple juice orange and lemon slices

    In a large saucepan, bring sugar, water and spices to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add orange, lemon and pineapple juice and simmer. Place orange and lemon slices in punch bowl. Pour hot punch over citrus slices and serve. Makes about 16 cups.

    FRESH FRUIT AND CHEESE SANDWICH

    1 pkg. (3 oz.) light cream cheese, softened 1 small banana, chopped grated peel of 1/2 orange 1 teaspoon brown sugar 8 slices raisin or whole wheat bread 2 oranges, peeled and cut into slices

    In a bowl, combine cream cheese, banana, orange peel and brown sugar. Spread 4 slices of bread with cream cheese mixture; top with orange slices and remaining bread. Makes 4 sandwiches.

    Posted on 17 Dec 2004

    Pauline Williams
    Family & Consumer Sciences and 4-H Agent, Salt Lake County

    Q

    Tips for safely installing christmas lights

    A

    The Christmas season is upon us, and outdoor decorations are being purchased and unpacked with anticipation. The holidays are enhanced by exterior lighting, but it is important to exercise caution when selecting and installing them. Each year, holiday lighting contributes to injuries caused by electrical shock, falls and fires. Holiday lighting fires annually cause property damage in excess of $16 million. Consider the following to avoid injury as you decorate for the holidays.

    • When purchasing outdoor Christmas lighting, look for labels marked with UL or ETL. This indicates the product has been tested by an independent laboratory recognized by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Outdoor lights with these labels satisfy the minimum standards for product safety.
    • When selecting lights for exterior installation, be sure the packaging states that it is designated for outdoor use. Outdoor lighting is weatherproof and designed for temporary operation in harsh winter weather. Do not purchase used Christmas lights or lighting not in the original package.
    • When selecting outdoor lights, consider purchasing strings with miniature, low-heat producing bulbs. These lights require less amperage and are less likely to overload electrical outlets.
    • Purchase appropriately sized timers to automatically turn lights on and off. Lights should be turned off when people are not present and they should not be left on overnight.
    • Electrical outlets for exterior lighting should accommodate three-prong grounded plugs and should be on an electrical circuit protected by a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). Portable outdoor GFCIs can be purchased at hardware stores if this circuit protection is not available.
    • If extension cords are required for outdoor lights, use those designed for outdoor use with three-prong plugs. Never use an indoor cord or a cord without the third prong. Plug the cord into a grounded outlet and select a cord with the shortest length that works for your project. Do not use a 100-foot extension cord for a 10-foot distance. Keep outdoor electrical connections above the ground and out of the snow and water. If extension cords must cross walkways, tape them down.
    • When connecting outdoor lighting, be careful not to create a maze of extension cords, plugs and wires that all come from the same electrical outlet. Electrical outlets and timers used for Christmas lights should be readily accessible for quick disconnection or adjustment as necessary.
    • When installing lights, be sure to read and follow the manufacturer's instructions. These instructions should be stored with the lights and referred to when purchasing replacement bulbs and on future installations.
    • Check the manufacturer's guidelines to determine the number of light strings that may be safely plugged together. If the packaging does not indicate the number, connect no more than three light strings together.
    • Before installing newly purchased or previously used Christmas lighting, plug the string in and make sure all the bulbs operate properly. When unpacking outdoor lights used during previous years, carefully inspect them for frayed, loose or bare wires and damaged bulbs or sockets. Discard damaged light strings.
    • One of the greatest dangers when installing outdoor lighting involves the use of ladders. Use a high-quality, sturdy ladder that is the proper height. Be sure it is securely positioned. To avoid falls, move the ladder as necessary rather than leaning on it from side to side.
    • When installing outdoor lights, use screw-in hooks or other fasteners that will not damage the insulation on the lighting strings. Nails and staple guns can easily cut or damage insulation and conductors.
    • Refer to the manufacturer's guidelines to determine the recommended spacing for supports and the maximum span allowed for the light string. Christmas lights are generally designed to span distances of only a few feet and should be supported at intervals every few feet.
    • Securely attach outdoor light strings to buildings, trees or other objects to prevent displacement by wind or other weather conditions. When possible, point the lamp sockets down to avoid moisture buildup and do not operate light strings with missing bulbs.
    • Unplug outdoor lights when replacing bulbs so there is no danger of shock. Reduce damage to lights by handling them carefully when installing and removing them and when packing and storing.
    • Remove outdoor lighting at the end of the Christmas season. Christmas lights are not designed to withstand prolonged exposure to sun and weather.

    Posted on 21 Nov 2003

    Richard Beard
    Agricultural Systems Technology and Education Specialist

     

    Home

    Sub Topics

    Preparedness
    Q

    I have some water pipes to my tub on on a outside wall. What can be done to keep them from freezing and breaking?

    A

    Protecting plumbing fixtures within and/or adjacent to the exterior walls of a bathroom where the bathtub is against the exterior wall.

    Not knowing your specific circumstances, the age of your home, or the construction details, I will offer some general suggestion to solve the problem.  I hope the following will be of assistance.

    Short term or immediate solution:

    An electric space heater placed in close proximity to a metal tub and close to the plumbing fixtures (pipes, fitting, faucets, etc.) will raise the temperature of these materials above freezing and prevent the pipes from freezing.   In some cases the wall may actually need to be opened to allow access to the plumbing fixtures.  When the temperature is very cold (less than 20 degrees F) it may be necessary to leave the water running (both hot and cold) to prevent freezing.  Both of these strategies are not cost efficient, are not the final solution, but may be necessary on a short term basis.     

    Permanent Solution:

    When the weather allows for home repair activities, the bathroom plumbing fixtures in and/or adjacent to the exterior wall(s) must have their insulation and the insulation of the exterior wall significantly increased (also the floor and ceiling of the bathroom may need insulating). Suggested changes might include increased wall insulation (more and/or new insulation), insulation wrapping for the pipes, and foam sealing of all opening that allow air to move between the inside and outside of the home.  If possible a cabinet door access may need to be installed so the plumbing fixtures can be accessed from inside the house during cold weather.  The door access may be left open to allow heat to enter the area or to supply supplemental heating (in an enclosed, well insulated small area the heat from a single incandescent light is sufficient in climates such as Utah).  Home improvement stores also sell a variety of thermostatically controlled heating cables that can be affixed to plumbing fixtures.  When fixtures with these cables are exposed to cold temperatures the cables provide electric heat that prevents freezing.  There are a variety of freeze protection devices on the market to choose from and/or you may also decide to contact a professional for such home repairs.

    Posted on 22 Jan 2009

    Richard Beard
    Agricultural Systems Technology and Education Specialist

    Q

    Box Elder bugs have emerged already and are breeding. They get into the house and crawl all over the west facing exterior house wallsand are all over the vegetable garden beds. How do I erradicate them?

    A

    USU Extension has a Fact Sheet about Boxelder bugs. You can find it at this link:http://extension.usu.edu/files/publications/factsheet/boxelder-bugs06.pdf

    These bugs are very difficult to control. Fortunately, they don't harm people, homes, or plants. But they can be a terrible nuisance.

    One suggested control is to drown them. Line up some plastic trays underneath the wall where the bugs are congregating, then spray water down the wall so that the bugs are washed down into the trays of water. Because they don't swim well, most of them will be trapped and drowned.

    To keep them out of your home, seal all cracks and crevices. You can use sticky traps in windowsills to help catch some.  

    Posted on 4 Apr 2007

    Maggie Wolf
    Horticulture Agent, Salt Lake County

    Boxelder Bug Management.

    Please read over our fact sheet for more information . In general, they are very difficult (if not impossible) to eradicate. Boxelder bugs are considered nuisance pests, but sometimes they can damage fruit. Mostly they accidentally move into homes for warmth during the winter and that’s when they really become a bother.

    Posted on 14 Apr 2008

    Erin Hodgson
    Extension Entomologist

    Q

    Can you give me information on cleaning after a flood?

    A

    The recent series of storms that walloped southwestern Utah caused flash floods and impacted many communities in the area, especially St. George. Because of the saturated ground and above-normal snow packs in some areas of the region, other parts of the state could be deluged with floods over the next few months.

    If you think you could have flooding in your area this spring, do as much as you can now to reduce the chances of it entering your home. It is important make sure water coming off hills, roads, etc., be directed away from the house, especially window wells or doorways to the basement. This can be done with landscaping. Also repair any openings in the foundation where water might enter through cracks.

    Unfortunately, attempts at prevention don’t stop everything, and if you do receive flooding in your home this spring, consider these tips for cleanup.

    • Get organized. Set priorities. Remove contaminated mud first. Next scrub with detergent, then wash with a disinfectant. Thoroughly clean and dry your house before trying to live in it
    • Remove water from the basement slowly. If your basement is full or nearly full of water, pump only 2 or 3 feet of water each day. If you drain the basement too quickly, the pressure outside the walls can be greater than the pressure inside the walls. That may make the walls and floor crack and collapse.
    • Remove contaminated mud. Shovel out as much mud as possible, then use a garden sprayer or hose to wash mud from hard surfaces. Start cleaning walls at the bottom or where damage is worst. Remember to hose out heating ducts, disconnecting the furnace first. Make sure all gas and electrical lines are turned off before cleaning around water.
    • Clean and disinfect. Scrub surfaces with hot water and a heavy-duty cleaner. Then disinfect with a solution of ¼ cup chlorine bleach per gallon of water or a product that is labeled as a disinfectant to kill germs. Laundry bleaches containing chlorine should not be used on materials that could be damaged or fade. Disinfect dishes, cooking utensils and food preparation areas before using them. Thoroughly disinfect areas where small children play. Don't mix cleaning products. A combination of chemicals can give off toxic fumes. Be sure to read labels on all cleaning materials.
    • Dry ceilings and walls. Flood-soaked wallboard should be removed and thrown away. Plaster and paneling can often be saved, but air must be circulated in the wall cavities to dry wood framing materials. There are three general types of materials used for insulation in the walls, and each must be treated differently. Polystyrene sheets might need only to be hosed off. Fiberglass batts should be thrown out if muddy, but may be reused if dried thoroughly. Loose or blown-in cellulose should be replaced since it holds water for a long time, supports mold growth and can lose its antifungal and fire retardant abilities.
    • Prevent mildew growth. Take furniture, rugs, bedding and clothing outside to dry as soon as possible. Use a fan or dehumidifier to remove moisture, or open at least two windows for ventilation. Also use fans inside to circulate air in the house. If mold and mildew have already developed, use chlorine and water to retard mold growth. Mold has a musty odor, and if you can smell it, it is growing on wet surfaces. Dry things as quickly as possible. Vacuum floors, ceilings and walls to remove mildew, then wash with disinfectant or chlorine bleach. It is important to work in a well-ventilated room and wear a two-strap protective mask to prevent breathing mold spores.
    • Clean and dry carpets and rugs as quickly as possible. If sewage-contaminated floodwater covered the carpeting, discard it for health safety reasons. Also discard if the carpet was under water for 24 hours or more. To clean carpets and rugs, drape them over a clothesline outdoors and hose them off. Work a disinfecting carpet cleaner into soiled spots with a broom. To discourage mildew and odors, rinse with a solution of 2 tablespoons bleach to 1 gallon water, but realize that bleach and disinfectants may discolor the carpet. If the carpet is flooded, it is important to get it off the floor. Dry the floor as quickly as possible using a wet/dry vacuum, fans and dehumidifier. Be sure the carpet and floor are dried thoroughly before replacing carpet. Padding is nearly impossible to clean, so it should be replaced.
    • Remove hardwood floor boards to prevent buckling. Remove a board every few feet to reduce buckling caused by swelling. Clean and dry wood before attempting repairs. If you have wood subflooring, remove the floor covering (vinyl, linoleum, carpet) so the subflooring can dry thoroughly. It may take several months for all the boards and subflooring to dry. Open windows and doors to expose the boards to as much air as possible.
    • Motors on electronic appliances must be reconditioned or replaced. To clean surfaces, use a heavy-duty cleaner and hot water, then a bleach solution. Refrigerators, freezers and ovens with foam insulation and sealed components may have little water damage, but should be cleaned and disinfected since they hold food. If walls are not sealed, insulation needs to removed, cleaned, and if necessary, replaced.
    • Get a cost estimate from a professional for repairing televisions, radios, computers and similar equipment to determine if they are worth repairing
    • When using sprayers, wet vacs, vacuum cleaners and other cleaning equipment, use an extension cord with a ground fault circuit interrupter or install a GFCI in the electrical circuits in damp environments. Be careful to avoid electrocution.
    • Hire a professional to replace or recondition electrical wiring and equipment.
    • Wash mud off valuable items before they dry. Photographs, books and important papers can be frozen and cleaned later. Store articles in plastic bags and place them in a frost-free freezer to protect from mildew and further damage until you have time to thaw and clean them.
    • Call your insurance agent. If your insurance covers the damage, your agent will tell you when an adjuster will contact you.
    • List damage and take photos or videotape as you clean. You'll need complete records for insurance claims, applications for disaster assistance and income tax deductions.

    Posted on 25 Mar 2005

    Leona Hawks
    Extension Housing Specialist

    Q

    Can you please tell me how much more efficient it is to cook with a crock-pot rather than using an oven?

    A

     You would assume it is more efficient.   The crock pot web site, if you google it, came up with the following example.  Hope this helps.

    Some ovens run at 120volts, some 220, 240 etc... Lets say we're using a stove with 220volts X 10amps = 2200watts in an hour. The oven's heating element is controlled by the temperature of the oven (which you set), so it's turned on and off to maintain a desired temperature. The heat is kept in the oven by the insulation. So during one hour, the heating element is turned on and off a few times. Depending on your oven and the temperature, the heating element may only be used for a fraction of an hour, say 10 or 15 minutes. So, really, your energy consumption is only 1/4 X 2200 = 550 watts (maybe more, maybe less). 

    Crock pots run at 120volts with low amps. If we cook with a crock pot that runs at 120v X 1.5amps = 180 watts (This is about medium heat). If we let the crock pot cook for 8 hours, you get 180 X 8 = 1440.

    So you see, crock pot cooking could actually use twice as much energy as using ovens! Of course, keep in mind that different pots, with different sizes, amps etc... will have different results. If you had a small crock pot, you'd be using less energy.

    Posted on 10 Jan 2008

    Nedra Christensen
    Utah State University Extension Dietician

    Q

    Do you have a list of ingredient substitutions for cooking and baking?

    A

    It is frustrating to be in the middle of a baking project and find you are missing a key ingredient. Before making a trek to the grocery store, remember that your cupboards may still hold options. A recipe substitution can sometimes alter the flavor, color, texture or volume of the food, but will still result in an acceptable finished product. The following is a list of ingredient substitutions.

    Baking powder, 1 teaspoon. Substitute with 1/4 teaspoon baking soda plus 5/8 teaspoon cream of tartar; or 1/4 teaspoon soda plus 1/2 cup fully soured milk or buttermilk; or 1/4 teaspoon baking soda plus 1/2 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice used with milk to make 1/2 cup; or 1/4 teaspoon baking soda plus 1/4 to 1/2 cup molasses. (Note about molasses in order for carbon dioxide to be released and cause the product to rise, an acid ingredient must be present to react with the soda. Molasses is acidic enough that it releases carbon dioxide.)

    Yeast, active dry, 1 tablespoon. Substitute with 1 package active dry yeast; or 1 compressed yeast cake.

    Whole egg, raw, 1 large. Substitute with 2 egg yolks; or 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon thawed frozen egg; or 2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons dry whole egg powder plus an equal amount of water. Equivalents1 large egg = 3 T.; 5 large = 1 cup.; 6 medium = 1 cup.

    Cream, half & half (12-16% fat), 1 cup. For use in cooking and baking, substitute with 7/8 cup milk and 3 tablespoons butter or margarine; or 1 cup evaporated milk, undiluted.

    Cream, heavy (36-40% fat), 1 cup (2-2 1/2 cups whipped). For use in cooking and baking, substitute with 3/4 cup milk and 1/3 cup butter or margarine.

    Milk, 1 cup. Substitute with 1/3 cup instant nonfat dry milk plus 1 cup minus 1 tablespoon water; or 3 tablespoons sifted regular nonfat dry milk plus 1 cup minus 1 tablespoon water.

    Milk, sweetened, condensed, 1 can = 1 1/3 cup. Substitute with 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons dry milk plus 1/2 cup warm water; mix well, add 3/4 cup sugar and 3 tablespoons melted butter or margarine. Stir until smooth. Or 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons evaporated milk, 1 cup sugar and 3 tablespoons melted butter or margarine. Heat and stir until sugar and butter dissolve.

    Buttermilk or sour milk, 1 cup. Substitute with 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice plus enough milk to make 1 cup. Let stand 5 minutes. Or 1 3/4 teaspoons cream of tartar plus 1 cup milk; or 1 cup plain yogurt.

    Sour cream, 1 cup. Substitute with 1 cup plain yogurt; or 7/8 cup sour milk plus 1/3 cup butter.

    Granulated sugar, 1 cup. Substitute with 1 cup corn syrup, 1 cup molasses or 3/4 cup honey (decrease liquid called for in recipe by 1/4 cup); or 1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed. For each cup of honey in baked goods, add 1/2 teaspoon soda. Equivalent1 pound granulated sugar = 2 1/4 cups.

    Brown sugar, 1 cup (firmly packed). Substitute with 1 cup granulated sugar. Equivalent1 pound brown sugar = 2 1/4 cups firmly packed.

    Corn syrup, 1 cup. Substitute with 1 cup sugar plus 1/4 cup water.

    Honey, 1 cup. Substitute 1 1/4 cups sugar plus 1/4 cup water.

    Flour used as thickener, 1 tablespoon. Substitute with 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch, potato starch, rice starch or arrowroot starch; or 1 tablespoon quick-cooking tapioca.

    All-purpose flour, 1 cup sifted. Substitute with 1 cup unsifted all-purpose flour minus 2 tablespoons; or 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour. Equivalent1 pound = 4 cups sifted or 3 1/3 cups unsifted.

    Shortening, solid, 1 cup. For use in baking, substitute with 7/8 cup lard; or 1 1/8 cups butter or margarine (decrease salt in recipe by 1/2).

    Shortening, melted, 1 cup. Substitute with 1 cup cooking oil.

    Cooking oil, 1 cup. Substitute with 1 cup melted shortening.

    Butter, 1 cup. Substitute with 1 cup margarine; or 7/8 to 1 cup hydrogenated fat plus ½ teaspoon salt; or 7/8 cup lard plus ½ teaspoon salt; or 4/5 cup bacon fat, clarified; or 3/4 cup chicken fat, clarified; or 7/8 cup oil.

    Allspice, 1 teaspoon. Substitute with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves.

    Pumpkin pie spice, 1 teaspoon. Substitute with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ginger, 1/8 teaspoon allspice and 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg.

    Chocolate, 1 ounce. Substitute with 3 tablespoons cocoa plus 1 tablespoon fat.

    Semisweet chocolate, 1 ounce. Substitute with 1/2 ounce baking chocolate plus 1 tablespoon sugar.

    Cocoa, 1/4 cup or 4 tablespoons. Substitute with 1 ounce (square) unsweetened chocolate (decrease fat called for in recipe by 1/2 tablespoon).

    Cornstarch (for thickening), 1 tablespoon. Substitute with 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour; or 2 tablespoons granular tapioca.

    Lemon juice, 1 teaspoon. Substitute with 1/2 teaspoon vinegar. 

    Posted on 14 Aug 2003

    Georgia Lauritzen
    Food and Nutrition Specialist

    Q

    Do you have any snow removal tips?

    A

    Hand injuries, muscle strain and overexertion are as common as the snow that falls this time of year. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Proper use of snow removal equipment can reduce injuries and keep you safe. Consider these tips.

    Snow shoveling is the most common method of snow removal. Lightweight, aluminum shovels work best, and a long handled, square ended shovel works well to remove ice from concrete surfaces. Reduce strain on muscles and joints by partially filling the shovel rather than heaping it full. If you have thick crusts of ice over concrete surfaces, you may need to use a metal bar to break the ice and/or apply a chemical snow and ice melt.

    The majority of commercial ice and snow melting chemicals are formulated so they are not harmful to concrete. However, these chemicals stimulate the frequency of the freeze-thaw cycle and this can damage unsealed mortar, new concrete or concrete surfaces that are cracked, porous or aggregated. Follow the manufacturer's directions when applying these chemicals to driveways and walkways.

    Powered snow removal equipment is especially helpful, but can inflict serious injury to people and property if not used properly. Inexperience is a frequent cause of accidents. Read the operator’s manual and heed instructions for safe operation and prevention of injuries and accidents. Remember to wear eye protection. Hearing protection should be worn if engine noise is excessive or the equipment will be operated for long periods of time.

    Check fuel and oil levels, and learn how to quickly stop the snow blower and shut off the engine. Newer models are equipped with improved safety features and increased engine horsepower for better snow removal and reduced clogging. Newer models have levers that must be engaged from the operator station in order for the machine to function.

    Areas where snow will be removed should be cleared of sticks, rocks, water hoses, tools, toys and other debris. Snow removal equipment can throw snow more than 20 feet, and solid objects, such as rocks or ice chunks, can travel three times that distance. Be cautious when operating snow blowers in reverse. Operators may easily slip or trip and could back over themselves or become pinned.

    Snow blower accidents and injuries occur most often when a hand or other object is placed in the discharge chute. If the discharge unit becomes clogged, turn the engine off and use a wooden dowel or plastic rod to remove snow. Do not use hands to remove the blockage. Even with the engine turned off, the discharge unit may spin when clogged snow becomes dislodged. To prevent clogging, do not overload the equipment. If snow is heavy, walk slowly with the snow blower, and/or remove a narrow strip of snow with each pass. Keep the discharge unit turning at high-speed.

    When operating, the snow blower’s discharge chute should always be directed away from people, animals, vehicles and other property that could be damaged by flying debris. When removing snow from an inclined surface, travel up and down the slope rather than across the face of the slope. A slope that rises more that three feet with each ten feet of horizontal travel is too steep for snow removal equipment. Be cautious when changing directions on a sloped surface. It is easy to lose control of a snow blower when it is leaning.

    Under windy conditions, throw the snow with the wind. The wind will help disperse the snow and prevent it from settling on cleared areas. When removing snow from a gravel driveway, set the blades an inch or more above the gravel to prevent it from being launched through the discharge chute.

    Be cautious when refueling. Keep snow blowers and fuel away from flames, sparks or excessive heat. Store fuel in a ventilated area and allow the engine to cool before refueling.

    Consider age, maturity, and physical ability when permitting older children to operate snow blowers. Children should not operate snow blowers unless they are closely supervised and the terrain is free from hazards.

    Remember to dress properly when working outdoors. Wear snug fitting clothing in layers and sturdy shoes that provide traction on icy surfaces. Pay close attention to cold temperatures and your level of exertion. Do not work to the point of exhaustion, and remember to take frequent rests indoors.

    Posted on 26 Jan 2005

    Richard Beard
    Agricultural Systems Technology and Education Specialist 

    Q

    Do you have some tips on clothing storage?

    A

    Now is a good time to go through your closets and put winter items in storage. Keep the following tips in mind as you store your clothing.

    • Make sure clothing items are clean before storing. Stains, perfumes, hair care products or body oils left in the clothing fibers can intensify during storage and can permanently damage the clothing.
    • Dirt on the clothing or crumbs or tissue in the pockets can attract insects. Prior to cleaning the entire garment, turn any pockets wrong side out and use a brush to remove any debris.
    • Vacuum the storage area well to remove any crumbs, dust, hair or lint that might attract insects. Regularly vacuum the rugs where they fit close to the baseboard. Good housekeeping is critical for preventing or controlling clothes moth damage.
    • Storage temperature should be moderate--in the 60s or low 70s--and should not be in an area with excess moisture or strong sunlight. Use closets with tight fitting doors.
    • Try suspending wall to floor cotton drapes in front of clothing to keep dust and moths away. Wash the cotton fabric to remove any sizing and do not use perfumed fabric softener in the final rinse or dryer.
    • damage. The natural cedar oil evaporates and a fresh treatment of cedar oil should be applied every two years.
    • Storing garments in plastic cleaner bags can cause damage to the fibers.
    • For clothes moth control, a new "bio-repellent" has been developed as an alternative to mothballs. Besides being toxic, mothballs leave an unpleasant odor in clothing and can cause fabric to discolor if it comes in contact with the garment. The new product uses a highly effective formulation of lavandin oil and is available in a lavender scented sachet that can be placed inside drawers and storage boxes, or hung in closets without damaging clothing. The lavandin oil is in gel form and turns to a powder when the sachet needs to be replaced. In an average size storage area one of the units should protect clothing for one season. Larger closets and those in daily use may require two or more units. The product should be available in stores in the insect repellent section. Be sure to read the label prior to use.

    Posted on 22 Mar 2001

    Karen Biers
    Entrepreneurship/Home-Based Business Specialist

    Q

    Do you have tips for cutting utility costs?

    A

    Many consumers have experienced the shock of opening the utility bills this winter. Costs have increased for several reasons. Electric companies are sending power to more homes than ever, while also working to upgrade failing equipment. In addition, oil prices soared to record highs in 2005. Add inflation and power-hungry electronics in the home, and consumers have a near guarantee that utility costs will go up. Consider these tips for cutting utility consumption.

    Turn the thermostat down. For every degree lowered on the thermostat, about 3 percent will be saved on the heating bill. If you turn the thermostat down 10 degrees when you are at work and again when you go to bed, for a total of 16 hours, you can save about 14 percent on heating costs. An easy way to do this is to add a programmable thermostat to automatically turn the heat up or down at certain times of the day. These cost between $25 and $75. Wear sweaters or sweatshirts when you are home. Add an extra blanket to the beds.

    Install energy-efficient shower heads and faucet aerators. They reduce the amount of water released by up to 50 percent with almost no noticeable difference in pressure. Defrost the freezer twice a year to reduce running costs by 10 percent. Replace air filters every two months during heating season. The furnace will run more efficiently and use less energy. Wash clothes in cold water and don’t over-dry clothing. Liquid detergent works well in cold water. Special cold water detergent can be purchased, but can be costly. Clean the lint filter in the dryer each time you use it to increase drying efficiency. Shower, don’t bathe. A bath uses about twice as much hot water as a 5-minute shower. Don’t leave the faucet running while washing dishes or brushing teeth. Running water only when necessary saves thousands of gallons of water a year, as well as the energy to heat it.

    Use the dishwasher. Washing and rinsing dishes by hand three times a day uses more hot water and energy than washing one load a day in an automatic dishwasher. Run your dishwater only when it is filled to capacity. This will cut the costs of energy, water and detergent. Always use the shortest washing cycle. Scrape dishes before loading them in the dishwasher. Use task lighting when working at a desk or workbench and turn surrounding lights off. Consider using small appliances for cooking rather than heating the oven. Portable frying pans, electric grills, crock pots, microwave ovens and toaster ovens are great alternatives. Use glass or ceramic pans when baking in the oven. You can reduce the oven temperature by about 25 degrees and cook foods just as quickly. Do not open the oven to preview the food. Each time you open the door, the oven temperature drops 25-50 degrees. Watch the clock or use a timer instead. Use fans wisely. In just one hour, a hard-working bathroom or kitchen fan can expel a house full of warm air. Turn fans off as soon as they’ve done the job. Limit the use of the traditional fire. Fires actually suck heat from a room. If you have a gas or electric fireplace, be sure to use the blower to spread the warm air throughout the room. Close off seldom-used rooms and shut the heater vents in the rooms. Turn the water heater down. A water heater should be kept around 120 F. This reduces power usage without a noticeable difference to the user, and constitutes 30 to 40 percent of your energy bill. A water heater set too high can also cause burns. Keep heating vents clear. Blocked vents prevent heated air from circulating efficiently. Open curtains and shades on south-facing windows during the day to allow solar radiation to warm inside airspace. Close curtains and blinds at night to retard the escape of heat. Block air leaks. On a windy day, hold a lit incense stick to draft areas such as chimney flashing, recessed lighting, windows, door frames, ducts, flues and electrical outlets. Install door sweeps, caulk, weatherstripping and outlet gaskets where cold air is entering. If you leave a room, turn the light off. If you leave the house, turn the computer off. These are two of the biggest electricity consumers next to heating and cooling. A computer burns 100 to 200 watts of power sitting idle. If you leave it on while asleep or at work, it can cost about $5 a month. Leaving lights on can waste another $5 to $10 a month.

    Use fluorescent lights inside and out. Fluorescent lights produce the same amount of light as a standard bulb and use only about one-third the power. Insulate pipes. If you can see pipes in an unfinished basement or under the house, wrap them in insulation. This will keep the water in the pipes warm, causing you to use less hot water from the water heater. It also provides warmer water faster to faucets. Create a “warm room.” Lower heating bills by heating just the portion of the house that you spend the most time in. Heat the room with a portable electric heater rather than the furnace. Don’t use the dishwasher’s “heat dry” cycle. This wastes energy. Dishes will air dry within a few hours. Run your dishwasher at night on air dry. Sign up for budget billing for your natural gas and electric bills. This allows you to pay the same amount each month throughout the year, rather than paying high bills in the winter and low bills in the summer. At the end of 12 months, an assessment is done to ensure that you pay only for the energy used. Contact your energy provider for information. 

    Posted on 26 Jan 2006

    Adrie Roberts
    County Director, Family & Consumer Science Agent, Cache County

    Q

    Do you have tips for organizing the garage?

    A

    Though it may not seem like the best time to clean the garage, now is actually the perfect time to tidy up the structure that protects your vehicles and countless other items. There is no distracting yard work this time of year, and a clean, organized garage is a great way to start the new year.

    A garage is indicative of a family’s dynamics and often serves as the catchall for busy lives. Its primary function should be to provide protection for automobiles. However, the convenient access, security and ease of concealment it offers make it an ideal storage space for a variety of other items.

    During the warm season months when cars are often parked outside, it is easy to let miscellaneous items pile up in the garage. Garages often serve as a storage place for lawn and garden equipment, automotive and power tools, home repair and maintenance supplies, bicycles, household chemicals, engine fuel and lubricants. Many also include a freezer or second refrigerator, extra furniture and appliances, sports equipment, children’s toys, snow removal equipment, trash containers, wheelbarrows and ladders.

    Depending on garage size, these items may be organized on shelves and suspended from the walls or ceiling to provide sufficient floor space for vehicles. Organizing the garage can be done in stages, which can significantly reduce the time and effort required. Consider these tips:

    The first step is to reduce the number of items stored. Donate appropriate things to charity, sell items if possible, discard unnecessary materials and return borrowed items to their owners. If something has not been used in the last few years, consider getting rid of it. The second step is to relocate items to other storage areas. Where appropriate, move items to the basement, attic, closet or other areas. For safety reasons, gasoline powered equipment, petroleum products, flammable gasses, paint, bulk fertilizer, pesticides and cleaning chemicals should not be stored in the home. Small quantities of some chemicals can be stored indoors. The next step is to remove items from the garage floor. When feasible, items should be stored against the walls or hung from the ceiling. Some exceptions include equipment with wheels/tracks and an engine, larger recycling bins and trash containers. This step leaves floor space clear for vehicles. If further organization is needed in the garage, consider remodeling to accommodate modern storage systems. The remodeling step integrates storage techniques with components and containers sold at home improvement stores. Storage system components include shelves and cabinets mounted on walls; hooks and hangers attached to the ceiling and walls to store ladders, wheeled carts and odd-sized equipment; and ropes and pulleys to suspend bicycles, canoes and other lightweight items from the ceiling. Remodeling can be expensive and can require time and effort, but it is a viable option for increasing garage storage space. Regularly used hand tools can be displayed on a wall over a workbench with storage drawers underneath. Hand tools can also be stored in tool boxes. Long handled tools such as rakes and shovels can be hung on walls, placed in tall cabinets or stored in vertical storage racks. Small tools and similar materials can be kept in a portable container for ease when transporting.

    If the garage has an attic or exposed ceiling joists, this space can be used to store seasonal decorations and other items that are accessed annually. Cargo nets can be suspended from the ceiling to store inflatable items, cushions for lawn furniture and other lightweight materials.

    Possibly the most versatile accessories in modern storage systems are plastic storage containers with lids. These containers are stackable and available in a variety of sizes. Many commercial storage systems integrate plastic containers with shelves and mounting brackets. Clear plastic storage containers are especially helpful, and some storage containers are available with wheels.

    Once the garage is organized, maintaining it should become a family affair. Setting rules will be helpful. Some might include that the parking area must stay open and that items removed from their new storage places be promptly returned.

    For many people, automobiles are second only to the family home in value and should be protected. In addition, a garage without clutter offers a protected setting for weekend projects and an organized place where stored items can easily be found.

    Posted on 10 Feb 2006

    Richard Beard
    Agricultural Systems Technology and Education Specialist

    Q

    Do you have tips on energy efficiency in the kitchen?

    A

    The average homeowner causes more air pollution from home energy use than from driving the family car. According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, if every household increased the energy efficiency of its major appliances by 10-30 percent, it would decrease demand by the equivalent of 25 large power plants.

    Since the largest amount of home energy is used in the kitchen, it is wise to begin there to make changes that will reduce energy and save money. Consider these tips.

    Lighting. Switch to compact fluorescent bulbs. They use 75 percent less electricity than incandescent bulbs and last up to10 times as long.

    Insulation. Insulate plumbing pipes. If possible, add insulation to walls or ceiling space.

    Windows. Make sure all windows are sealed tightly. If new windows are an option, consider high performance features such as double or triple panes and those with low-e coating.

    Appliances. Kitchen appliances account for approximately 30 percent of total household energy use. Replacing old appliances with more efficient models can make an impact on overall energy consumption. If this is an option, determine what your family needs from the appliance, including size, style and features. Check the Energy Guide label. These are required by the FTC on most new appliances. Consider purchase price and potential energy savings. Some models are more expensive initially, but will make up the difference through energy savings in only a few years. Look for the EnergyStar logo — it means the EPA and U. S. Department of Energy determined the appliance was significantly more efficient than other models.

    Refrigerators. Refrigerators can use between 8 and 18 percent of total household energy. If your refrigerator was purchased before 1993, it is likely using 30 percent more electricity than a new model, and 40 percent more than a new EnergyStar model. Models that are 16-20 cubic feet with the freezer on the bottom or top (rather than side-by-side) are the most efficient. Extra features such as ice makers and auto defrost make a model more expensive and less efficient. To make your existing model as efficient as possible: 1) Place refrigerator away from stove, dishwasher or other heat source. 2) Vacuum the coils on the back twice a year. 3) Check the tightness of the seals by closing the door on a dollar bill with half hanging out. If it pulls out without resistance, it may be time to replace the rubber seal. 4) Check refrigerator and freezer temperatures and adjust settings. 5) If your unit has an anti-sweat or moisture control switch, turn it on in the summer and off in the winter. 6) If you have a spare refrigerator for soda and such items, put it on a timer and program it to turn off for several hours each night.

    Dishwashers. Many dishwashers on the market now have energy and water saving features. As with other kitchen appliances, read the energy label and look for the EnergyStar logo as a guide. These models use 575 kilowatt hours per year or less. Eighty to ninety percent of the energy consumed by dishwashers is used to heat the water. Therefore, reducing the amount of water used and heated is the best way to reduce energy consumed. A dishwasher more than 10 years old will likely use about 60 percent more energy than new EnergyStar models. To run your dishwasher most efficiently: 1) Run the dishwasher only when it is full. 2) Choose the shortest cycle and/or energy saving cycle, or turn off the heated drying. 3) Rinse dishes with cold water if pre-rinsing is required. 4) In the summer, run the dishwasher in the evening when it is cooler.

    Ovens. Microwave ovens use about 50 percent less energy than conventional ovens, making them a more efficient way to cook. Self-cleaning, conventional ovens not only reduce elbow grease, they also reduce the energy consumed in cooking because they generally have tighter seals and better insulation. However, if you use the self-cleaning feature more than once a month, you'll end up using more energy than you saved.When you clean the oven, do it right after cooking to take advantage of residual heat. You can save energy in any oven by not peeking at food while it cooks. Each time you open the door, the temperature decreases by 25 F. For this reason, consider an oven with a window in the door. Convection ovens use fans to circulate hot air around food as it cooks. They cook more quickly and at lower temperatures. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates convection ovens are 23 percent more efficient than conventional ovens.

    Ranges. Solid disk elements and radiant elements under glass stove tops are easier to clean than conventional electric coils, but they take longer to heat and use more electricity. Halogen elements and induction elements are more efficient. Stovetop reflectors that are kept clean reflect heat better and save energy. Gas stoves with an electric ignition use 30 to 40 percent less gas than those with a continuous pilot light. A blue flame indicates the unit is running efficiently. A yellow flame means ports need to be cleaned. With gas stoves, consider a quality ventilation system to remove any combustion fumes. With gas or electric stove tops, match the size of the pan to the heating element. More heat will get to the pan and less will be lost to the surrounding air. A 6-inch pan on an 8-inch burner will waste more than 40 percent of the energy.

    Posted on 6 Feb 2004

    Kerry Case
    Utah House Program Coordinator

    Q

    Do you have tips on table etiquette?

    A

    Where does the bread plate go? When do I put the napkin on my lap? When is it appropriate to use salt and pepper at the table? With holiday meals just around the corner, these are questions that may concern hosts and guests alike.

    Good table manners are a matter of common sense and should reflect the most logical choices. One of the most important things to remember at the table is to be natural, without drawing attention to yourself. Consider these dining tips.

    Posture. When eating, sit close enough to the table that each bite can be brought to the mouth without having to lean forward. Sit straight at the table without being stiff.

    Elbows. Elbows should not be placed on the table, but kept close to the side so they don’t interfere with those sitting next to you. When a hand is not in use, place it in your lap, or if it is more comfortable, rest your forearm on the edge of the table.

    Table settings. An attractive table setting makes the food look appetizing and it gives the host/hostess an opportunity to express creativity. It also gives guests the chance to see the effort that has been made in their behalf. 

    Place settings. Each place setting should consist of the main plate in the center, with the forks placed on the left (salad fork goes on the outside) and knives on the right with blade pointed in. Spoons are placed to the right of the knives, and the water glass is placed at the tip of the knife. A second beverage glass would be placed to the right of the water glass. The bread and butter plate belongs at the tip of the forks, and the salad plate goes to the left of the forks and a little above. When no bread and butter plate is used, the salad plate may go at the tip of the forks. The napkin is placed directly to the left of the forks and dinner plate, but if the table is crowded, it may be placed under the forks, directly on the plate or in the center of the place setting.

    Napkins. When seated at the table, wait until the host or hostess places the napkin on his or her lap or when he or she asks the guests to proceed. When the host or hostess picks up his or her fork, you may pick up yours and begin to eat. The napkin remains in your lap until after the meal and should then be placed loosely gathered on the table next to the plate. If you need to leave the table during the meal, the napkin should be placed on the chair and then back in your lap after you return to the table. 

    Utensils. Silverware is placed in order of its use. Always remember to begin with the silverware on the outside of the place setting and work from the outside in. If in doubt, watch the hostess or someone else at the table who is confident in using the utensils. Cut up food as it is eaten, not all at once. When finished eating, place the used fork and knife on the plate, sharp side of knife facing in and the fork next to the knife.

    Beverages. Wait to sip beverages until your mouth is empty and has been wiped with a napkin. The only exception is when your mouth has been burned with food — then it is appropriate to drink with food in the mouth. Do not gulp or guzzle drinks. 

    Conversation. When talking at the table, there should never be food in your mouth. Chew with your mouth closed, without talking. Guests should not draw attention to themselves by making unnecessary noise with their mouth or with silverware. 

    Seasonings and condiments. Guests should always taste the food before asking for salt and pepper so they do not offend the cook. When you use the condiments on the table, place a portion of each condiment desired on the plate beside the food, not directly on the food itself, i.e., cranberry sauce is placed on the dinner plate, not on the meat. If there are no condiments on the table, it is not polite to ask for them.

    Formal service. Guests are usually served from their left, and plates are cleared from their left. Drinks are served from the right and cleared from the right. 

    Informal service. When a serving dish is passed around the table instead of being served individually, it should be passed counterclockwise. You should take a reasonable portion and never take more than can be finished. 

    Reaching. Guests may reach for food that is close to them, as long as they do not have to stretch for it and do not reach across another guest. If the food is across the table, ask politely for it to be passed.

    Finger food. Some foods may be eaten with the fingers. If you are not sure if it is acceptable, follow the example of the host or hostess or use the neater and easier way to eat the food. When finger foods are served, take the food from the serving dish and place it on the plate before eating it.

    Removing food from mouth. If a piece of food must be removed from the mouth, do it the same way that it was put in and place it on the plate. A pit or small bone should be removed with fingers. The most important thing to remember when removing food is to do it with as little show as possible.

    Natural table manners take practice, and the best place to practice is at home. Once good table manners become automatic, you will feel more relaxed and comfortable, and the conversation and food will be the focus of the meal, not manners.

    Posted on 12 Nov 2004

    Margie Memmott
    County Director, Family & Consumer Science and 4-H/Youth Agent, Juab County

    Q

    How can I add some color to my home now that the holiday decor is gone?

    A

    If your home looks empty and dreary after taking down the holiday decor, consider an exotic plant to help spruce things up. Many indoor plants are easy to grow and will lighten up a room with splashes of color.

    • The Chinese Lantern, which is also called a flowering maple, has a maple-shaped leaf with a white edge variegation. It produces striking orange blossoms periodically and prefers a cool room (around 65 degrees) and direct southern light.
    • The Bloodleaf and Purple Heart plants, both of which have red to purple colored leaves, enjoy subtle lighting.
    • The Aluminum plant has silvery foliage and requires less light.
    • The Snake plant is upright with a yellow variegation on the leaf edges.
    • Some plants that may require a bit more attention include the Nerve plant, which has a deep green leaf with red to pink veins; the Watermelon Peperomia, which is gray-green with unusual color patterns; and the Polka Dot plant, which has pink splotches. They all need to be kept on the moist side.
    • The Croton is one of the most colorful indoor plants. The leaves can display shades of red, yellow, light green, orange and almost black. They need plenty of light and should not be moved once a permanent location is found.
    • The Tricolor Dracaena also needs good lighting to keep its colors of green, pink and white. The upright and palm-like appearance makes it a good choice for a corner.

    Posted on 24 Jan 2000

    Jerry Goodspeed
    County Director, Horticulture Agent, Weber County

    Q

    How can I control the large numbers of insects congregating on the exterior of my house?

    A

    On warm autumn and winter days several species of insects can become a severe nuisance as they congregate on south-facing exterior walls of buildings.  In addition to their large numbers on the outside, they can enter buildings to seek shelter.  Of these nuisance insects, boxelder bugs (a scentless plant bug), are the most numerous.  Leaf-footed bugs and ladybird beetles can also be found seeking warmth and shelter on buildings. Adults become active on warm days and emerge from hiding places, returning to shelter as temperatures drop at the end of the day. 

    Boxelder bugs are about ½ inch long and easy to recognize because of their distinct coloration: dark gray to black background with red markings on their wings and a red body underneath.  Immature boxelder bugs are smaller and bright red with black legs.  Leaf-footed bugs are larger, 1 to 1 ½ inches long, with a brown body and leaf-shaped “wings” on their hind lower legs.  Leaf-footed bugs can give off an unpleasant odor when handled.

    The main methods to reduce insect populations and their nuisance to you and your home are by cultural practices, exclusion, mechanical removal, and insecticides.  Boxelder bugs primarily live and feed on female boxelder trees which is a species of maple and to a lesser extent on other plants (other maple, ash, fruit trees, grape, strawberry).  They primarily feed on the developing seeds.  Removal of female boxelder trees that produce the winged seedpods can reduce boxelder bug populations if there are not other nearby sources of trees and bugs.  Along riparian areas, tree removal is unlikely to yield results because boxelder trees are too numerous.  The value of the tree must also be considered and may not justify anticipated reductions in insect numbers. Insecticides can be applied to boxelder trees during the summer when the bugs are young, but again if other sources are nearby, satisfactory results may not be achieved.  Carbaryl (Sevin) and other insecticides registered for ornamental trees can be applied to the trunk and limbs to kill young boxelder bugs.  Leaf-footed bugs feed on a wide range of trees, shrubs, vines, and some herbaceous plants.  Removal of host plants is impractical for control of leaf-footed bugs. 

    Exclusion of insects and mechanical removal are effective non-chemical control methods.  Caulk and seal cracks in foundations, and around windows, doors, and utility conduits.  Remove insects with a broom or vacuum in places where they congregate and after they enter buildings.  Wash them from surfaces with a stiff spray of water from a hose-end nozzle and sweep them up.  Applying insecticidal soap or a homemade solution of mild hand dishwashing soap, such as IvoryÒ, mixed in water (5-10 drops per gallon of water) can deter the insects. Always test a soap solution on a small area before applying it to a large area.  Soaps can stain certain materials and even etch glass if the wrong type of soap is used.

    There are many insecticides registered in Utah for boxelder bugs and other nuisance insects.  Common active ingredients include carbaryl, cyfluthrin, cypermethrin, lambda-cyhalothrin, permethrin, and pyrethrins.  As with soaps, always test on a small area first to avoid staining or damaging finished surfaces due to oils or other ingredients in insecticide formulations.  Most insecticides applied to exterior surfaces tend to have short residuals because they are rapidly degraded in sunlight and weather.  Adult insects also tend to be tolerant of insecticides because of their thick exoskeletons and ability to disperse rapidly and avoid contact with insecticide sprays.

    Generally the most successful management of boxelder bugs and other insects congregating on exterior surfaces will be achieved by a combination of the above control and exclusion methods and increasing your tolerance to their presence.  The number of days when high numbers congregate is usually brief and they soon will disperse back to their native vegetation.  Visit the Utah State University Extension “Insects and their Relatives” web site for more information on boxelder bugs and other insects:   http://utahpests.usu.edu/insects/.

    Posted on 3 Nov 2006

    Diane Alston
    Hort-Entomologist Specialist

    Q

    How can I prevent a wildfire from destroying my home?

    A

    The National Interagency Fire Center predicts near to above normal fire activity for the 2005 wildfire season, and southwest Utah has had nine fires to date. A campground and several homes have been evacuated, outbuildings have burned, I-15 has been closed and summer is still in its early stages.

    If you reside within or adjacent to wildlands, be aware that a few hours of light-duty yard work done now can save your home or cabin from being destroyed in a wildfire.

    According to USDA Forest Service Research Physical Scientist Jack Cohen, it’s the little things that cause homes to burn in a wildland fire. Consider the following tips to protect your home and property.

    Remove debris. Collect and remove dead vegetation such as leaves, needles and sticks that accumulate within a minimum distance of 30 feet from your home. This will significantly reduce the ignitability of your home. However, to be effective it must be done on a regular basis, depending on the type and amount of vegetation surrounding your home. When you see pine needles and leaves accumulating in the valleys of the roof and in the corners of the deck, it is time to collect and remove them.

    Move firewood, construction materials and other flammable items so they are at least 30 feet away from your home, especially during the summer.

    Enclose the eaves of your home with soffits. Screen all vents and other openings. This will reduce the chances that blowing embers could start a fire in an attic space. If wasps can get in, so can burning embers.

    Be sure propane tanks are located at least 30 feet from any structure and surrounded with 10 feet of clearance.

    Prevent flames from directly hitting your home by appropriately pruning or cutting highly flammable trees and bushes. Evergreens and scrub oak tend to be highly flammable, while aspen and broad-leafed ornamentals tend to be less flammable.

    Make sure that emergency personnel can easily locate and identify your home. Be sure house numbers are clearly marked and unblocked.

    Provide enough overhead and turnaround space for entering and exiting of fire fighting equipment.

    Take the time to protect your home. Homes that do not meet these minimum specifications are less likely to receive full consideration by firefighters since they pose an unnecessary risk to personnel and equipment.

    For a list of firewise plants for Utah landscapes or other wildland fire education materials, contact USU Extension Forestry at 435-797-0560, or visit extension.usu.edu/forestry. 

    Posted on 15 Jul 2005

    Darren McAvoy
    Forestry Program Associate

    Q

    How can I prevent timber theft on my forest property?

    A

    The history of timber theft in the United States goes back at least as far as the classic feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys, which one researcher found to be the original dispute between the two families. But it is still a common problem. Here are several steps you can take to protect yourself from timber trespass.

    1. Know your property boundaries:
      • The best alternative is to hire a qualified and licensed surveyor with the skills to locate and mark your boundary corners and lines.
      • A second alternative is to obtain the assistance of a professional forester. It is important to understand that foresters typically use handheld compasses, as opposed to the highly technical equipment of a surveyor, and are not qualified to monument property lines and corners. But they may be able to help you locate your approximate boundary locations and take steps to minimize conflicts with adjacent forest land owners.
      • Another alternative is to do it yourself. If you are familiar with using a map and a compass, this may be a good choice for estimating property boundary locations, but it is most helpful if the corners have already been surveyed and marked.
      • Another alternative (which is not necessarily recommended) is to do what one couple from Idaho did: from previously surveyed property corners of their heavily-wooded 10-acre parcel, the husband and wife each started at opposite ends of the unmarked property line. By loudly banging together pots and pans while listening for each other and marking the way towards each other, they put a boundary line that later proved to be accurate within 20 feet!
    2. Clearly mark the boundaries:
      • The best protection is making your property lines clearly visible. This can be done by hanging brightly colored pieces of flagging within eyesight of each other along the line. These lines should be inspected annually to ensure that no trespass has occurred. Absentee owners might consider contracting a forestry consultant to make annual boundary line inspections. Also consider posting your property boundaries with appropriate signs.
    3. When trespass occurs:
      • Be certain of where the line is and that trespass did, in fact, occur.
      • If the trespass is in progress, be courteous but firm, confront the violators and get as much information as possible about who they are working for, where the timber is being shipped, and whose land they think they are operating on. If personal contact does not persuade them to leave your property, call your local sheriff immediately.
      • If timber was removed from your property you are entitled to the value of the wood that was removed, and in some cases double or even triple the value. This is often determined by a stump cruise, where a professional forester will count, measure, and record the tree species of each stump found within the trespass area and develop a value estimate of the wood removed.
    4. When you harvest timber:
      • The best alternative is to be able to harvest up to an existing, well-marked line that was located by a professional surveyor, although most logging-unit boundaries are less well defined. In the absence of a survey line, set up a “cutting line agreement,” preferably in writing, with the adjoining property owner.
      • Contact the adjacent owner and explain the methods used to locate the line, who located the line, and offer to walk the line with the owner to ensure agreement of the line placement.

    Posted on 24 Jul 2000

    Darren McAvoy
    Forestry Program Associate

    Q

    How can I protect my home from a wildfire?

    A

    Many of Utah’s smaller communities and rural developments are built in forests, woodlands and rangelands that have not seen fire in more than one hundred years. The logical interpretation of this lack of fire is that the surrounding countryside is unlikely to burn. As the grass, brush, and trees continue to grow, however, fuels build up, and so does the corresponding fire danger, as experienced in Utah this summer.

    Having wildland fires is not a choice that anyone gets to make. Wildland fires can and will continue to burn, and in some cases they will take homes with them. Fire plays a vital role in the wildlands of Utah. Even if we could physically and economically remove fire from our landscape we probably wouldn’t want to, because fire can do good things for Utah’s forests and rangelands. We can choose to make our homes more resistant to wildfire. Here are some specific tips to help your house withstand an inevitable fire event:

    • Remove dead leaves, pine needles, and sticks that fall on or near your house to reduce the ignitability of your home. Remove these on a regular basis, depending on the type and amount of vegetation, within a minimum distance of 30 feet from your home.
    • Move firewood, construction materials and other flammables at least 30 feet away from your home, especially during the summer.
    • Enclose the eaves of your home with soffits and screen all vents and other openings. This will keep out the blowing embers that can start fires in your attic space.
    • Prevent flames from directly hitting your home by appropriately pruning or cutting highly flammable trees and bushes. Note that evergreen and scrub oak tend to be highly flammable, while aspen and broad-leafed ornamentals tend to be less flammable.
    • Widely spaced trees and shrubs are a compromise between the Sahara Desert look and a pyromaniac’s paradise.
    • If you own a big piece of manicured property, buffer it from adjacent wildlands by maintaining a fuel break of lowgrowing plants 30 to 70 feet out from buildings.
    • Don’t dump litter on the edge of your property or in adjacent woodlands. It looks bad, it’s a fire hazard and, anyway, that’s why there are local landfills.
    • Protect your tree crowns (and home insurance premium rates) from catastrophic fire by pruning trees 10 to 20 feet above the ground.
    • If you want firefighters to do their job, landscape your property so their equipment can reach it. Fences, trees and retaining walls located in the wrong place can let in the fire and keep out the fire department.
    • Create a buffer zone for your entire neighborhood. Follow the maxim, “be kind to (i.e., cooperate with) your neighbors.”

    Posted on 11 Sep 2000

    Darren McAvoy
    Forestry Program Associate 

    Q

    How can I snake proof my home?

    A

    In recent weeks, the reported number of rattlesnake encounters throughout Utah has increased. In addition to having snakes show up in yards, county Extension offices have reported calls from concerned homeowners about snakes appearing in houses.

    The increased visibility of rattlesnakes can be attributed to several factors. In some cases, the snakes' traditional habitats have been disturbed. These disturbances include housing developments, drought and fire. Loss of habitat means loss of prey. Snakes' movements may increase as they search for suitable habitats and prey.

    In some cases, human dwellings on the foothill ranges can provide rattlesnakes with suitable habitat alternatives. Dense shrubs, wood piles, debris and man-made structures not only afford snakes good cover and concealment, but a readily available prey source of mice, ground squirrels and prairie dogs.

    There are no repellents or toxins registered to control snakes. All snakes, including rattlesnakes, are protected by state law. The best method of snake proofing your home is to make the habitat unattractive to snakes. Consider these tips.

    • Keep lawns mowed and weeds and other vegetation trimmed.
    • Remove potential snake and prey hiding places such as wood piles, rock piles and debris. If you have a mouse problem and live in areas inhabited by rattlesnakes, chances are high that you will also have a snake problem.
    • Seal foundation cracks with caulk or concrete mortar. Pay special attention to areas where pipes or wires enter buildings. This will prevent snakes from entering in search of food and shelter.
    • Contact your local Utah Division of Wildlife Resources conservation officer if snakes frequent your area. They can assist youn in removing the reptiles. 

    Utah is home to 31 species of snakes. Of those 31 species, only seven are venomous. Therefore, if you see a snake, the chances of it being venomous are not extremely high. However, if you live, work or play in areas of Utah inhabited by venomous snakes, you should exercise caution.

    Posted on 26 Jul 2001

    Terry Messmer
    Professor & Wildlife Resource Specialist 

    Q

    How can we promote peace in our home when there is not peace around us?

    A

    There are several things a family can do to make home a place of peace, even in a violent and uncertain world. The lessons children learn from family and other trusted adults in the community will have a lasting impact on them. Consider the following points.

    Avoid fostering hate and prejudice. When confronted with terrible acts of aggression in our community and world, it is easy to develop fear, suspicion and hatred for a person or group of people. Teach children to separate the person from the behavior; to condemn an action without condemning or hating a person. It is especially important for parents to overcome prejudices and fears. Children who learn prejudice from parents are likely to carry those feelings throughout their lives.

    Decrease the violence in your child's world. Video games, the Internet, movies and popular music all have the potential to influence youth. Parents can limit both the amount and the kind of media messages that come into their home. Extended exposure to news coverage showing violence should also be limited.

    Treat children with respect and teach them to respect others. There are opportunities every day in homes, churches, neighborhoods and schools for concerned adults to teach the values of respect for the rights of others, respect for self and personal responsibility for actions. Speak respectfully to children. Show respect by taking time to listen to them and by taking their ideas seriously. Talk about how your values have guided your actions in specific personal situations. Teach kindness. Children aren't born knowing how to get along with others, but research has shown that even infants have a natural sense of empathy or concern for others. Children learn through countless experiences in the home, school, church and other settings to develop that inborn characteristic into kindness or unkindness. In general, if children are treated with kindness, they will treat others with kindness. Obviously children will encounter unkindness from other children, adults and even from people in their own home. But if adults treat youth with kindness, this will help youth treat others that way. Discipline without violence. All children sometimes misbehave and all parents get frustrated and angry at times. How we deal with these situations sends a message about dealing with anger that is far more powerful than what we say. Hitting, yelling or using other coercive methods will likely teach children to deal with problems in these ways.

    Be a positive role model. As parents, grandparents, teachers and others who care about youth, we need to remember to live our lives as if someone is watching us. Someone is. Our youth are constantly watching our example, including how we deal with frustration, anger and conflict. By your example, help children learn to disagree without being disagreeable. Help them learn to express their ideas without being hostile. Help them look for things they share in common with others, not the differences. The next time you consider acting violently, think about the lesson you are teaching and respond the way you hope your children will respond when they become adults. Chances are high that they will act the way they were taught at home.

    Posted on 28 May 2004

    Tom Lee
    Family & Consumer Science Program Leader & Department Head, Financial Management Specialist

    Q

    How do I keep mice out of my house?

    A

    House mice are considered one of the most troublesome and economically important rodents in North America. Originally a native of Asia, they arrived in North America with early settlers. They are very adaptable and frequently live in close association with humans. They are probably the most common wildlife species in towns and cities.

    With the onset of cold weather, mice migrate to structures as they search for food and shelter. They will eat a wide range of food, but prefer foods high in fat and sugar. Some favorites include chocolate, bacon, butter and nuts. Most water requirements are filled by the food they eat.

    Because they are most active at night, mice can roam undetected throughout a household. If you see them during the daytime, this could indicate you have several mice in the house. Mice have a high reproductive rate. Within a matter of months, a pair of mice can produce several litters. With abundant food, each litter can have 10-12 young. These litters can then begin producing mice within two months of birth.

    In addition to nibbling on food, mice can nibble and cause structural damage. They also regularly urinate and defecate. The presence of droppings and the musky smell of urine coming from cupboards or drawers is also an indicator that you have mice in the house.

    To prevent mice from turning your house into their house, consider these tips.

    The best control method is to prevent them from getting in. To exclude mice from structures, seal all holes and openings that are larger than one-fourth inch. Use heavy materials such as concrete mortar, sheet metal or heavy gauge hardware cloth. Also, be aware of open doors to garages, houses, barns or other structures. These are open invitations to mice. Make food in the house as inaccessible as possible. Store bulk foods in rodent-proof containers. Make sure spilled food items and crumbs are cleaned up. A leftover cookie behind the couch cushion can feed a mouse for more than a week. In most cases, mice can be easily caught using glue or wooden snap traps. Because mice have poor eyesight but excellent senses of touch and smell, they tend to travel close to walls and other objects. Thus, traps should be set close to walls where mouse activity is seen. For effective control, set at least six or more traps in the house. To increase effectiveness, use small amounts of fresh bait. Peanut butter and chocolate work well as bait. Do not use cheese since it tends to go rancid quickly, thus losing its attractiveness as a bait. Also, you may want to bait the traps without setting them for a day or so. When you notice the bait has been taken, set the trap. Because mice can carry diseases, it is important to remove them from the house as quickly as possible. They should be bagged and disposed of in an outside garbage container or buried.

    Do not use rodenticides (poisons) to control mice in homes. Mice that feed on poison baits may die in the home. As they start to decay, the resulting odor may cause further problems. Devices that repel mice using ultrasonic or electromagnetic waves are advertised widely this time of year; however, there is no scientific evidence to support manufacturer claims that these devices work. For more information, contact you local county Extension office for a copy of the Extension Bulletin “Mice” or visit the USU Extension Web site at http://www.extension.usu.

    Posted on 17 Sep 2004

    Terry Messmer
    Professor & Wildlife Resource Specialist

    Q

    How do I keep my pipes from freezing?

    A

    Winter has hit with a vengeance this year. It is important to bundle up and be prepared for the cold weather. Your pipes are no different.

    When unprotected waterlines are subjected to freezing temperatures for several hours, the water also freezes. As water freezes, it expands and can cause pipes to crack or split. Later, if the waterline has pressure when it thaws, a homeowner will have a water leak that can cause substantial damage.

    To understand the damage that can be caused from a broken waterline, imagine you have placed a plug in the kitchen sink drain, turned the faucet on high, and as water begins to run to the floor, you leave home for the day. This is similar to what will happen if a frozen water pipe cracks, thaws and sprays water inside your home while you are asleep or away. If the leak is inside a wall, below the floor or above the ceiling, it can be extremely difficult to get at, as well as expensive to repair. Consider these tips to protect your pipes.

    Explore various insulation options. Waterlines located in areas where temperatures commonly drop below freezing should be protected. In many cases, unprotected pipes, fittings and other plumbing equipment can be enclosed in pre-formed insulation sleeves. These sleeves resemble tubes and are available in varying diameters. Plumbing insulation is also available in formed shapes that fit snugly around plumbing fixtures. The insulation slips onto pipes and fixtures through slits that are cut the length of the sleeve or shape. Another insulating option is strips of foil-faced fiberglass. These are wrapped around pipes and fixtures and secured in place with tape or wire.

    Cover pipes properly. For plumbing insulation to work properly, it must completely cover the pipes, fittings and fixtures that are exposed to cold temperatures. Insulation should fit snugly around the plumbing, and all insulation joints must fit tightly and be taped securely. Before installing insulation, make sure there are no water leaks that will saturate and render the insulation ineffective. Remember that insulation will not protect pipes from prolonged freezing temperatures unless there is some source of heat and/or periodic water flow.

    Prepare waterlines if you leave your home unattended during the winter. It is best to turn off the water, shut down the water heater and drain water from the plumbing system. If it is possible, leave the furnace on and the thermostat set near 50 degrees. This will protect your home and belongings from harsh winter temperatures, and if a water pipe does break, the damage will be minimal. If you are going away for only a few days, have someone stay in the house if possible. This will eliminate the shutdown and startup procedures.

    Be cautious when thawing frozen waterlines. If your pipes freeze, a plumber may be your best contact. If you opt to do it yourself, shut off the main supply line first. Then open the faucet in the frozen line. If the waterline or faucet is frozen, begin thawing at the faucet. Gradually raise the temperature of the pipe so the ice will melt. When frozen plumbing is heated gradually, the trapped water will not boil and rubber or plastic faucet parts will not melt. Waterlines may be thawed using a space heater, heat lamp, heat tape, hairdryer or towels soaked in hot water wrapped around the pipes. Be cautious when using electrical appliances in wet locations. To avoid burns, do not use boiling water to thaw pipes. Also, do not use an open flame to thaw frozen waterlines, due to the fire hazard. If there is a chance a frozen water pipe will leak when it thaws, open other faucets in the house to drain water from the plumbing system. If a hot waterline or a main waterline serving the home freezes, it is often necessary to turn the water heater off. Keep buckets or other containers nearby to collect water when thawing frozen pipes.

    Don't count on the running water technique. During cold temperatures, homeowners sometimes turn a faucet on and leave the water running to prevent the waterline from freezing. Although this technique will work, it wastes water and should only be done when other, more permanent solutions can't be used. Also remember that hot waterlines will freeze and seldom is hot water left running.

    Teach adults and older children where the main water shutoff is located and how to shut the water off. Being able to do this in the event of a water leak can greatly reduce the damage to your home.

    Posted on 9 Jan 2004

    Richard Beard
    Agricultural Systems Technology and Education Specialist

     

    Q

    How do I remove mildew from fabric?

    A

    Launder item in the hottest water safe for fabric. If stain remains sponge with hydrogen peroxide, rinse, and relaunder.

    Posted on 12 Sep 2006

    Pauline Williams
    Family & Consumer Sciences and 4-H Agent, Salt Lake County

    Q

    How should I bury rain gutter downspouts? How far away should the extension go away from the house? How deep should the end of the extension be?

    A

    Ideally, soil level will slope away from the house so gravity will carry downspout water away from the house foundation.

    If you need to bury the downspout to carry rainwater away underground, take a look at this online resources:

    http://clark.wsu.edu/horticulture/smallFarmProgram/water-diversion.pdf

    Posted on 27 Feb 2007

    Maggie Wolf
    Horticulture Agent, Salt Lake County

     

    Q

    I am concerned about hantavirus. What can you tell me?

    A

    For many, warm weather signals the time for spring cleaning, both inside and out. Inside cleaning often includes organizing winter’s accumulation of equipment and tools, which may also house overwintering insects, spiders and rodents.

    If we share a home or out building with rodents, there is also the possibility of exposure to hantavirus. A recent alert by USU Extension Veterinarian Clell Bagley warned that states surrounding Utah have recently reported human hantavirus infections, occurring earlier this year than expected. Cases of hantavirus occur primarily in the spring and early summer – which coincides with activities such as spring cleaning garages and sheds, or opening summer homes where mice may have taken up residence for the winter.

    Hantavirus infection is usually spread by inhaling the virus, which is in droppings, urine and saliva of infected rodents. Although uncommon, the virus can also be passed to humans through a rodent bite. The common deer mouse is generally the vector of the disease in the western United States. Deer mice are about 2-3 inches in length, with a tail equally as long. They come in a variety of colors from gray to reddish brown with a white underbelly and a tail with sharply defined white sides.

    Humans contract the disease when they breathe air permeated with the virus. The danger occurs when breathing contaminated dust while working in or cleaning a problem area. There is a greater potential for problems from hantavirus during wet years, since increased vegetation supports a larger rodent population. The best strategy for preventing hantavirus infection is to control rodents in and around the home. Consider these tips.

    Begin by sealing holes inside and outside to prevent entry. Check for gaps or holes the size of a pencil or larger. Keep grass and shrubs away from the foundation of the house to discourage rodents from nesting. Potential entryways are around windows and doors and electrical, plumbing and gas lines. Reduce rodent populations around the home by trapping. Choose an appropriate snap trap. Follow instructions printed on the package before setting the trap using a small amount of peanut butter (about the size of a pea). Position the end of the trap next to the wall so it forms a “T” with the wall. Place traps in outbuildings and areas that may shelter rodents. Spray trapped mice with disinfectant and place in a double plastic bag for disposal. Predators such as non-poisonous snakes, owls and hawks may also help reduce the number of rodents in an area.

    Take precautions before and while cleaning rodent-infested spaces. Open doors and windows for cross ventilation and leave the area for at least 30 minutes. When cleaning, do not stir up dust by sweeping or vacuuming droppings or nesting materials. Wear rubber, latex, vinyl or nitrile gloves. For severely contaminated areas, obtain and use a respirator during the cleaning process. Spray urine and droppings with a disinfectant or a mixture of bleach and water, allowing it to soak for 5 minutes. Use a paper towel to pick up droppings and place in a plastic bag. Steam clean or shampoo upholstered furniture and carpets. Wash bedding and clothing in hot water and wash gloved hands with soap and water or spray a disinfectant or bleach solution on gloves before removing them. 

    Posted on 7 Apr 2006

    Loralie Cox
    Horticulture Agent, Cache County

     

    Preparedness

    Q

    Do you have information on what to store in a disaster supply kit?

    A

    We have recently seen that disasters can strike anywhere, at any time of the year, swiftly and without warning. Most people don't think of a disaster until it is too late; then they suddenly realize how unprepared they are. Local officials can be overwhelmed, and emergency response personnel may not be able to reach those who need help right away. Those who are prepared can reduce the fear, confusion and losses that come with disaster. They can be ready to evacuate their homes, know what to expect in public shelters and know how to provide basic first aid. One of the first steps toward preparedness is the creation of a family disaster supply kit. This will help families get through the first days after a disaster. The development of a kit will make a stay in a public shelter more comfortable, should it become necessary. Kits should be stored in a convenient place known to all family members, and items should be stored in airtight bags or containers. The kit should be replenished twice a year and should include six basic items:

    Water. Store in clean plastic containers. Recycled plastic soda bottles with tight fitting screw-on caps work well. Be sure they are thoroughly washed and rinsed. Store 1 gallon per day per family member (2 quarts for drinking, 2 quarts for food preparation/sanitation). Children, nursing mothers and those who are ill will need more. A three-day supply of water should be stored for every family member.

    Food. Store at least a three-day supply of non-perishable foods. Select foods that require no refrigeration, preparation or cooking and little or no water. If you must heat food, pack a few cans of Sterno. These fuel canisters burn for approximately two hours for a can size of 3-3/8 inch diameter. Make sure you rotate the stored foods into your regular diet to keep the supply fresh. Include the following items in your kit: ready-to-eat canned meats; fruits and vegetables; canned juices, milk and soup (if powdered); extra water for cooking; staples such as sugar, salt and pepper; high energy foods such as peanut butter, jelly, crackers, granola bars and trail mix; vitamins, infant food and food for special diets; comfort/stress foods such as cookies, hard candy, instant coffee and tea bags. Depending on your diet, you may want additional items.

    First aid kit. Assemble a first aid kit for the home and one for each vehicle. An approved American Red Cross kit may be purchased, or a kit may be assembled with the following items: sterile adhesive bandages in assorted sizes, 2-inch and 4-inch sterile gauze pads (four to six of each), hypoallergenic adhesive tape, triangular bandages (three), 2-inch and 3-inch sterile roller bandages (three rolls each), scissors, tweezers, needles, moistened towelettes, antiseptic, a thermometer, tongue depressors (two), sunscreen, a tube of petroleum jelly or other lubricant, assorted sizes of safety pins, cleansing agent/soap, latex gloves (two pairs), non-prescription drugs, aspirin or non-aspirin pain reliever, anti-diarrhea medication, antacids, syrup of Ipecac (use to induce vomiting if advised by the Poison Control Center), laxatives and activated charcoal (use if advised by the Poison Control Center).

    Tools and supplies. Various tools and supplies may be needed for temporary repairs or personal needs. Include these items in your disaster supply kit: battery operated radio and extra batteries, flashlight and extra batteries, non-electric can opener, utility knife, map of the area (for locating shelters), cash or traveler's checks, change, credit cards, fire extinguisher (small canister ABC type), tube tent, pliers, tape, compass, matches in waterproof container, aluminum foil, plastic storage containers, signal flare, paper and pencil, needles and thread, medicine dropper, shut-off wrench to turn off household gas and water, whistle, plastic sheeting, mess kits or paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, emergency preparedness manual, toilet paper, soap, liquid detergent, feminine hygiene supplies, personal hygiene items, plastic garbage bags with ties, plastic bucket with tight lid, disinfectant and household chlorine bleach.

    Clothing and bedding. Your disaster supply kit should include at least one complete change of clothing and footwear per person. Items to include are: sturdy shoes or work boots, rain gear, blankets or sleeping bags, hat and gloves, thermal underwear and sunglasses.

    Special Items. Family members often have special needs, and you may want to include additional items in your kit. For babies: formula, diapers, bottles, powdered milk and medications. For adults: heart and high blood pressure medication, insulin, prescription drugs, denture needs, contact lenses and supplies and an extra pair of eye glasses. Entertainment: games and books. Important family documents (keep these in a waterproof, portable container): wills, insurance policies, contracts, deeds, stocks and bonds, passports, social security cards, immunization records, bank account numbers, credit card account numbers and companies, inventory of valuable goods, important telephone numbers and family records (birth, marriage, death certificates). Also include extra sets of home and car keys and a cell phone. Next week’s column: A 4-step family preparedness plan. 

    Posted on 7 Feb 2005

    Leona Hawks
    Extension Housing Specialist

    Q

    How can I develop an emergency preparedness plan for my family?

    A

    One of the first steps toward personal emergency preparedness is the creation of a family disaster supply kit. The next step is to develop a family preparedness plan. A plan can help family members be aware and well versed in what to do in the event of an emergency. This is important since essential services may be cut off, and local disaster relief and government responders may not be able to reach you immediately following an emergency. Knowing what to do to protect yourself and your household is essential. Consider these steps to develop a plan.

    1. Do your homework. To find out which disasters could happen in your area, contact your local emergency management or civil defense office and the American Red Cross. Learn how these disasters might affect your family and request information on how to prepare and respond to each potential disaster. Learn about your community's warning signals, what they sound like, what they mean and what actions you should take when they are activated. Learn about local, state or federal assistance plans. Find out about the emergency response plan for your workplace, your children's school or day-care center and other places your family frequents. Develop a list of important telephone numbers (doctor, work, school, relatives) and keep the list in a visible location in your home. Ask about animal care. Pets may not be allowed inside shelters because of health regulations.
    2. Create a family disaster plan. Discuss the need to prepare for disaster with your family. Explain the danger of fire, severe weather (tornadoes, hurricanes) and floods to children. Develop a plan to work together as a team and share responsibilities with family members. Discuss the types of disasters that are most likely to occur and how to respond. Establish meeting places inside and outside your home, as well as outside the neighborhood. Make sure everyone knows when and how to contact each other if separated. Decide on the best escape routes from your home. Identify two ways out of each room. 
      Make a plan for pet care. Establish an out-of-town family contact (friend or relative). Call this person after the disaster to let him or her know where you are and if you are okay. Make sure everyone knows the contact's phone number. Learn what to do if you are advised to evacuate.
    3. Make a checklist of duties that need to be performed, and update as it becomes necessary. Establish an out-of-town family contact (friend or relative). Call this person after the disaster to let him or her know where you are and if you are okay. Make sure everyone knows the contact's phone number. Learn what to do if you are advised to evacuate. Post emergency telephone numbers by phones (fire, police, ambulance, etc.). Teach children how and when to call 911 or your local EMS number for help. Show each family member how to turn off water, gas and electricity at the main valves or switches. 
      Teach each family member how to use a fire extinguisher (ABC type) and keep it in a central location. Check it each year. Install smoke detectors on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms. Stock emergency supplies and assemble a disaster supply kit. Learn basic first aid. At the very least, each family member should know CPR, how to help someone who is choking and first aid for severe bleeding and shock. The Red Cross offers basic training for this. 
      Identify safe places in your home to go for each type of disaster. Check to be sure you have adequate insurance coverage for disasters that could happen in your area.
    4. Practice and maintain your plan. Test children's knowledge of the plan every six months so they remember what to do. Conduct fire and emergency evacuation drills. Replace stored water and food every six months. Test your smoke detectors monthly and change the batteries once a year. In conjunction with a family preparedness plan, working with neighbors can also save lives and property. Meet with neighbors to plan how the neighborhood could work together after a disaster until help arrives. Members of a neighborhood organization, such as a homeowner’s association or crime watch group, can introduce disaster preparedness as a neighborhood activity. Know your neighbors' special skills (medical, technical) and consider how to help neighbors who have special needs, such as disabled and elderly persons. Make plans for child care in case parents can't get home. This information can assist you in protecting yourself and your family in case of a disaster. It is wise to have an emergency plan before the disaster strikes.

    Posted on 10 Feb 2005

    Leona Hawks
    Extension Housing Specialist

    Q

    Is canning on a ceramic top stove recommended? I just waited one hour for my steam caner to reach a boil sufficient to start timing my peaches. I know you don't recommend steam caners but I've used them for 8 years (on electric and gas stoves) and had no problems. I'm concerned since it took so long to reach a boil that my peaches will be over processed. My stove has worked fine with all other tasks I've done in the past 7 months..this is the first time I've tried to bottle fruit with it. I would love to hear what you think.

    A

    Most manufacturers do not recommend using a ceramic cook top for canning.  The size and weight of the pan and extended cooking times can damage the cook top – and may void the warranty if the manufacturer advises against it.  Please double check your use and care book or call the 800 number for the manufacturer for their specific recommendations.  The hour time to come up to temperature will result in an over processed product.

    Posted on 26 Sep 2008

    Joanne Roueche
    Family and Consumer Science Agent, Davis County 

    Q

    What are recommended methods and amounts for personal water storage?

    A

    When severe flooding hit Washington County this January, five bridges were washed out. The town of Gunlock was isolated and the water supply was severed. One prepared resident stored 50 gallons of water prior to the flooding. This sustained him and his neighbors for several days until emergency crews could restore the bridges and the town’s water supply.

    With the threat of flooding still in the forecast for many areas in Utah, consider these recommendations for water storage:

    Store at least one gallon of water per person per day for three days. If you have pets, add more to that amount. Suggested containers for storing water include 2-liter soda pop bottles, plastic juice containers, glass canning jars and commercial containers made especially for storing water.

    Wash the container in warm soapy water, then rinse to remove all traces of food residue. Food residue can support illness-causing microorganisms that can grow during water storage. 

    Municipal tap water stored without pretreatment can contain potentially dangerous bacteria. These bacteria can cause illness in people with lower immunities, including the very young, the very old and the sick. Therefore, all stored water should be treated to kill these potentially dangerous microorganisms. 

    To store water in glass canning jars, fill the jars with clean water, leaving ½ inch headspace. Attach rings and new metal lids. Fill boiling water canner half full of water, and heat to approximately 140 F. Place water jars in canner. Heat to boiling, then continue boiling for 20 minutes. Remove jars from the canner and allow to cool. Remove metal bands after metal lids have “popped,” indicating a vacuum seal. Canned water may have a white mineral precipitate or ring on the surface. This is normal and expected. Do not store all of your water in glass since it may break.

    For water storage in plastic or stainless steel containers, a chlorine treatment is recommended. Clean the containers and lids in warm soapy water and rinse. Fill with clean water and add 1/8 teaspoon (8 drops) liquid bleach per gallon of water if using a municipal water supply. Attach cap and shake well. Place water in storage. 

    Bottled water is a quick and convenient method of storing water. However, bottled water in most states is only required to meet the same standards as municipal tap water. This means that dangerous microorganisms can also grow when commercially bottled water is stored. Bottled water labeled “sterile” or “distilled” is treated to remove microorganisms and is the preferred commercial bottled water for storage. 

    For emergency sources of water, you can use collected rainwater, snow, water from streams, rivers, ponds, lakes or springs. Do not use water that has floating material, flood water, toilet water or saltwater. The best method to treat outside water is to boil it for five minutes. If a heat source is not available, bleach can be used. Add ¼ teaspoon (16 drops) liquid bleach per gallon. Allow the water to stand for 30 minutes before drinking. If water is cloudy, allow it to settle and decant the clear water before disinfecting with bleach. 

    Water can be obtained from some stored foods and beverages. Hot water tanks, pipes, ice cubes or water softeners also contain clean water. However, since the water supply may have become contaminated during an emergency situation, it is best to disinfect the water by adding ¼ teaspoon of liquid bleach per gallon. Allow the water to sit for 30 minutes before drinking. Water beds, toilet tank reserves and pools are not good sources of drinking water since they may contain hazardous chemicals.

    Posted on 9 May 2005

    Deloy Hendricks
    Extension Food and Nutrition Specialist
    Brian Nummer
    Food Safety Specialist

     

    Orchards

    Q

    A large branch has died on my apple tree. What could have killed it?

    A

    More than likely a canker killed the branch on your tree.  Cankers are caused by fungi, and the most common species on fruit and ornamental trees in Utah belong to the genus Cytospora.  Cytospora will attack a number of ornamental and fruit trees including peach, cherry, apricot, apple, poplar, willow, birch, and aspen.  Cytospora, and most canker-causing fungi, enters the wood through wounds as small as.  Once the pathogen has established itself in the wood, there is no way to remove it.  It will grow slowly over a period of several months, so that once you notice it, the best management option is to remove the diseased limb. 

    Areas affected by cankers will have sunken and darker, discolored bark.  If you scrape the bark away, the wood underneath will be   Prune out the affected limb at least 6-inches below the canker.  Disinfect your pruners between each cut with a mixture of bleach and water.

    Posted on 22 Feb 2007

    Marion Murray
    Intergrated Pest Management Project Leader

    Q

    An ornamental cherry tree that has been planted for 3 years suddenly dropped all of it's leaves. Leaves were green one day; gone the next. A neighbor verified some of the branches are dead (using a scratch test); others are still green. Tree has been watered by sprinkler, also deep watered with slow hose twice during the summer. The base of the tree does not seem to have any borer damage. Tree is in full sun. Any ideas?

    A

    Regarding your question about your ornamental cherry dropping leaves suddenly; with out seeing the tree or knowing more about how much water your sprinklers are supplying I can only venture a guess.  It is a distinct possibility that the tree may be getting too much water from the sprinkling system.  Cherry trees especially don’t like to have “wet feet”.  And in heavy clay soils (which are typical) the water tends to hang around for extended periods of time.  A good indication of whether this is the issue, dig down next to the tree and observe the soil conditions.  If it is sticky and mucky you know it is too much water.  You may also get a musty smell indicating the presence of rotting organisms.  Once the roots rot away the tree has no way of getting water up to the leaves, this can cause the tree to drop the leaves.  Another thing to look for are circling roots that can “choke” the tree and or the tree being buried too deep.  When a tree is planted too deep, the soil around the trunk will rot the conductive tissues away which will also prevent the conductive tissues from supplying water to the leaves. 

    Posted on 14 Aug 2007

    Jaydee Gunnell
    Master Gardner and Horticulture Agent, Davis County 

    Q

    Apricots and peaches--what causes the reddish or purple-brown spots on new leaves, buds, shoots and fruit?

    A

    It is called Coryneum Blight or "shot hole" disease.  It is a fungus that infests during cool, wet springs.  It first forms dark spots with brown centers on the leaves.  These centers eventually fall out, leaving a "shot-hole" appearance.  The fruit has rough, corky blemishes with a red ring around the spot.  Control includes: keeping leaves and fruit dry from sprinkler spray, proper pruning, maintaining good tree vigor and a fall clean up of debris around the base of the tree.  A fungicide maybe applied in the fall after all the leaves have fallen, again in the spring at pink bud stage, full bloom and when leaves begin to appear.
    Reference: “Coryneum Blight of Stone Fruits”, athttp://extension.usu.edu/plantpath/fruit_diseases/fd_coryneum_blight.htm

    Posted on 13 Jun 2006

    Karl Hauptfleisch
    Salt Lake Master Gardener

    Q

    Can GF-120 be used by home gardeners to control Cherry fruit fly? How should it be applied?

    A

    There is a product GF-120 that is listed in our Home Orchard Pest Management Guide. It is a spinosad bait type of product. The PNW Insect Management Handbook suggests applying this product every 7 days at a rate of 1 gal. per acre with a D2 nozzle (without a core). This would be about the same as 7.7t sp per gal. The reentry interval is 4 hours. The pre-harvest interval is zero days.   

    Posted on 12 Jun 2007

    Shawn Olsen
    County Director, Agriculture Davis County

    Q

    Can we grow the new Honey Crisp apple here?

    A

    The Honeycrisp apple will do just fine here.  It was developed by the University of Minnesota Horticultural Research Center and is considered a very cold hardy apple variety.  Attached is a website with more informationhttp://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/horticulture/components/5877_01.html.  Let me know if you have any further questions.  

    Posted on 2 Nov 2007

    Jaydee Gunnell
    Master Gardner and Horticulture Agent, Davis County

    Q

    Can you plant ONE apple tree and get fruit? Everyone says you have to plant two different varieties, but I only have room for one tree.

    A

    It's true that most apple varieties need to cross-pollinate for good fruit set. There are a few cultivars that are self-fruitful. If the label or catalog description doesn't mention that the tree is self-fruitful or self-pollinating, plant another cultivar to be sure you have good fruit set.

    You can find a chart that lists several apple varieties and which other varieties they will successfully cross-pollinate with at:

    http://extension.missouri.edu/explore/agguides/hort/g06001.htm

    Most tree fruit catalogs suggest pollinator varieties or show a table with compatible pollinator varieties listed.

    If you have room for only one tree, you could buy an apple tree that has a different variety grafted onto it for pollination. Crabapple trees may suffice if they are close enough. Or you can find a friend with a pollinator cultivar blooming at the same time as your apple tree, cut out a branch, and hang it in your tree in a container of water (to keep the flowers fresh longer). If bees are active that day, this may provide enough different pollen for good fruit set.

    Good gardening! 

    Posted on 4 Apr 2007

    Maggie Wolf
    Horticulture Agent, Salt Lake County

    Q

    Can you please give me an idea of when I need to spray my fruit trees (I have one each of nectarine, peach, apricot, apple and cherry).Can you let me know when, based on the weather in Cache county? What is the name of the best spray to use?

    A

    Unfortunately there is not a magic spray that can be sprayed on all fruit trees, with the exception of dormant oil.  This should be sprayed within the next couple of weeks to help control aphids, scale, and other pest and some diseases.  Do not apply it once trees have leafed out or you have had problems with shothole fungus (Coryneum Blight) that also needs to be treated with an appropriate fungicide.  Captan is labeled for this.  The following hyperlink will lead to a Website that provides info on when to spray or trap insect pests http://utahpests.usu.edu/ipm/htm/advisories/treefruit. You may subscribe to the Website for regular updates on current insect and disease sightings and outbreak predictions, and highlights upcoming concerns for tree fruit growers. A traditional pesticide good for controlling coddling moth on apples is Sevin (carbaryl).  For trees such as cherries and peaches Malathion can be used if needed.  Consider using alternatives more sustainable to these including traps and baits.  The Utah plant pest diagnostic lab has more specific info on this http://utahpests.usu.edu/.

     

    Posted on 19 Mar 2008

    Taun Beddes
    Horticulture Agent, Cache County 

    Q

    Can you tell me the names of some good Apricot and peach trees to grow around here? Also, my space is limited so I just wanted to plant one of each kind of tree. Will they still be able to pollinate?

    A

    Many varieties of apricot and peach trees are self-fertile, so they won't need a pollinator and will still produce a crop.

    For apricots, find a variety that says "late blooming" - this helps avoid loss of crop to late spring frosts.

    It has been many, many years since fruit tree variety trials were conducted in Utah, so there are probably many newer  varieties that will perform well. Here are some of the older recommendations:

    Apricot: Chinese, Moorpark, Perfection

    Peach: Red Haven, Cresthaven, Gleason Elberta, Angelus

    Newer variety possibilities:

    Apricot: Harglow, Sungold, Moongold, Goldcot

    Peach: Reliance, Intrepid 

    Posted on 17 May 2007

    Maggie Wolf
    Horticulture Agent, Salt Lake County
    Q

    Do I have borers in my peach trees?

    A

    If you see oozing holes at the base of your peach tree including the surface roots, you probably have peachtree (crown) borers.  They attack about the first of July each year, and once the borers are inside the tree there is no control. 
    Recommendation: Spray the lower trunk and exposed root system in early July and again the first week in August with an approved insecticide.  Follow label instructions.  Organic controls include beneficial nematodes.

    Posted on 13 Jun 2006

    Karl Hauptfleisch
    Salt Lake Master Gardener 

    Q

    Do you have an email list I can subscribe to that informs me when to spray my fruit trees?

    A

    You may add your email address to the Utah State University Extension Integrated Pest Managment Tree Fruit Advisories at http://utahpests.usu.edu/ipm/htm/advisories/treefruit

    Posted on 23 Apr 2007

    Maggie Wolf
    Horticulture Agent, Salt Lake County
    Q

    How can I keep my pears and apples worm free?

    A

    If you want worm-free apples and pears this fall, you should act now to protect them from the codling moth, a major apple and pear pest. Using insecticide sprays is probably the easier method of preventing worms from getting into your fruit. There are also a number of other preventable steps you can take to keep worm numbers down.

    • Pick up and destroy any fruit that drops prematurely from trees in June and July, since the fruit that falls us usually infested with worms. The worms will develop into new months that lay eggs, hatch worms and invade your crop again later in the summer.
    • Place corrugated cardboard bands (2-3 inches wide) around trunks of apple and pear trees with the fluted side against the bark. This will proved a good pupation site for the insect larvae before they emerge as moths once again. Use trunk bands from late June through the early fall. Remove bands occasionally to check for the presence of fine silk webbing with worms or pupae inside, then destroy the bands and replace them.
    • The best defense against worms invading your fruit is to use a registered insecticide. Based on the first activity of codling moths in the Cache Valley area and the temperatures since then, it is predicted that the first insecticide spray should be applied to apples and pears by June 1. First sprays should go on five to seven days earlier for warmer areas of Northern Utah. Check with your local county Extension agent for an update on when to spray in your area.
    • Fruit will need to be protected until you pick it or until the first part of September. Reapply sprays based on the protection interval of the product you use (Imidan, 18-21 days; Diazinon, 10-14 days; Malathion, 5-7 days; Dipel or other Bt products, 3-5days).

    Posted on 14 Sep 2006

    Diane Alston
    Hort-Entomologist Specialist 

    Q

    How do I get rid of codling moth?

    A

    Codling moths lay their eggs on apples and pears. The eggs eventually develop into larva that bore into the fruit. It is the larva or worm that becomes a worry to gardeners and fruit growers.

    Over the past few years, many products to control codling moth have been taken off the market or their use has been restricted to professionals only. However, a few effective products remain on the market, both old and new.

    Mike Pace, Extension agriculture agent and Tony McCammon, horticulture assistant, both from Box Elder County, conducted trials last year to determine which products are most effective against codling moth. Their findings follow.

    • The most important finding is controlling the first generation of the pest, including timing the spray to coincide with the results of Utah State University’s trapping and monitoring. Other important practices include spraying for proper coverage and thinning the apples appropriately. When two apples touch because of inadequate thinning, spray coverage is diminished. One small, unprotected spot leaves an entrance to the apple that a worm will likely find.
    • Some products work better than others. The most successful insecticides are Sevin and Malathion. Sevin is 89 percent effective and Malathion gives 75 percent protection when each is sprayed according to label instructions. For most homeowners, this amount of control is acceptable.
    • Organic controls that were tried include Syd-X (coddling moth virus), Last Call (pheromone attract and kill product) and apple bags. Syd-X is not readily available for homeowner use, but showed great promise with 70 percent control. It may be on the market in the next few years, but is expected to be expensive. Last Call was found to be a little worse than not spraying at all. It did a great job of attracting the moths, but did very little to kill them. The apple bags had a 98 percent success rate after two cover sprays were applied before putting bags on the apples. The down-side to apple bags is the time spent placing a bag around each apple, then removing it later in the year. Apple bags, which can be found on the Internet, are specially designed to protect apples, but not damage them.
    • Another product not included in the trial, but which is reportedly successful, is Spinosad. Sold under different trade names, this organic product is derived from the fermentation of a naturally-occurring organism. It has proven successful in some research applications. As with all products, be sure to read and follow all label instructions carefully when applying.
    • Contact your local county Extension office for the specific timing of coddling moth control in your area. 

    Posted on 26 May 2006

    Jerry Goodspeed
    County Director, Horticulture Agent, Weber County 

    Q

    How do I keep the little white worms out of my cherries?

    A

    The western cherry fruit fly adult is a small true fly with dark bands on its wings.  It over winters in soil under cherry trees and adults emerge the following spring from late May to early June in northern Utah.  Once the fruits take on a salmon to rosy blush in color they become soft enough for female fruit flies to penetrate the skin to lay eggs. After the eggs develop under the skin, they hatch into white worms that feed on the flesh of fruits.  You find these small, white worms when you take a bite or remove the cherry pit.  Consuming fruit fly larvae is not harmful, but most Americans don’t prefer to have a little extra protein with their fruit.  Here are some tips on how to keep the worms out of your cherries:

    • Insecticides are the primary control for cherry fruit fly.  Begin protecting fruit when it turns salmon to rose in color.  It is most effective if all cherry trees in an area are treated to prevent flies from emigrating from infested sites.  Let your neighbors know and encourage them to spray to help keep the fruit fly populations down. Effective insecticides for the homeowner include spinosad (Success or Entrust), permethrin, carbaryl (Sevin), methoxychlor, malathion, pyrethrum (Pyganic), endosulfan (Thiodan), and azadirachtin (Neem, Azatin).
    • For helpful cultural control, place plastic landscape fabric or another barrier on the ground under the canopy of cherry trees to prevent larvae in dropped fruit from burrowing into the soil where they will pupate for the winter.  Landscape fabric placed in the spring will also prevent adults from emerging from the soil.  Keep the fabric in place year-round and prevent a buildup of soil and debris on top that would provide pupation sites for the fruit fly.

    Posted on 14 Sep 2006

    Diane Alston
    Hort-Entomologist Specialist

    Q

    How do I know when it is time to pick my pear tree?

    A

    The fruit can be ripened on the tree, but for better quality,
    they are best picked early and allowed to ripen indoors. A few guidelines to use in determining whether pears are ready to be picked include: healthy fruits begin to drop; there is a change in fruit color from green to yellow; and the stem separates easily from the branch. To pick pears, grasp the
    fruit firmly and twist or roll it to make the stem separate from the tree. Give the pears the "lift test." Put your index finger on the stem, lift the pear from the normal vertical orientation to a horizontal or flat position, perhaps with a slight twist. If the fruit "snaps" off cleanly between the stem and the twig, the pears are ready to strip from the tree. If you have to wrench off the fruit either breaking the twig or the fruit stem, the fruit is probably not ready. On larger trees, fruit growing in the top often ripens earlier than fruit in the shaded interior.

    If pears are picked before they are fully ripe, they should be ripened at a temperature of 60° to 70°F. This will result in optimum quality and smoothness of flesh. If you want to keep pears for a longer period of time, store the freshly picked fruit in the refrigerator.

    Posted on 9 Aug 2007

    Maggie Shao
    Horticulture Agent, Salt Lake County 

    Q

    How do I protect my peach trees from insects?

    A

    If any of your peaches survived the spring freezes then you will definitely not want to share your precious harvest with the insects this year. There are two primary peach insect pests in Utah that attack the fruit, twigs and trunks. It is important for home gardeners and commercial orchardists to protect their crops as uncared for trees serve as a source of insects for neighboring peaches.

    Peach twig borer is a small brown moth as an adult and a chocolate brown caterpillar in the young stage. This insect overwinters as a mature caterpillar on twigs and limbs in a small chimney-shaped cocoon. When new buds begin to swell with warming temperatures in the spring, caterpillars emerge and feed on buds and in elongating shoot tips. An excellent preventive control for peach twig borer is to spray peach trees with a dormant oil (highly refined petroleum oil) at first bud break and show of color in the spring. The oil will coat the limbs and suffocate the overwintering caterpillars before they become active. If the insect isn't controlled in the spring, and twig flagging (drooping terminal shoots) occurs, prune off injured shoot tips to remove insects before they complete development to an adult.

    Subsequent generations of the peach twig borer caterpillars will bore into peach fruits in June through September, especially entering at the stem end where they are difficult to detect. The most effective way to protect fruit is to use a protective insecticide spray. Timing sprays is important to avoid more treatments than necessary and ensure effective control. The first spray is typically due in mid June in northern Utah. Check with your local USU Extension county office for the proper timing for your area. Two Utah State University web sites with information on home horticulture, timing of tree fruit pest controls and integrated pest management are http://www.slcoedcr.org/usu/html/horthome.html and http://extension.usu.edu/coop/ag/environ/ipm/index.htm. Effective insecticides include endosulfan (Thiodan), phosmet (Imidan), diazinon and methoxychlor for the home gardener and chlorpyrifos (Lorsban) for the commercial grower.

    Another peach insect pest that can girdle and kill trees if left unchecked is the greater peachtree borer. This insect is a day-flying clearwinged moth with a steel blue body with yellow stripes. The adult moths lay eggs in cracks and crevices near the base of peach, apricot and nectarine trees beginning in early July in northern Utah. Cherry and plum are also hosts, but are not attacked as frequently in Utah. Upon hatching, the caterpillars bore under the bark and feed in the cambium layer. Repeated attack by borers can girdle and kill trees. Obvious signs of borers are sapping holes with a buildup of sawdust on or under the holes. The most effective control is to kill eggs and larvae with a protective insecticide treatment. Endosulfan (Thiodan) (Lorsban for commercial growers) should be applied only to the lower trunk (avoid limbs and fruit) the first week of July in northern Utah and repeated in the first week of August. A mechanical control for borers already present in trunks is to insert a wire and puncture the insect in the spring to early summer or fall. Use of pheromone mating disruption is very effective in orchards one acre or larger. Contact your local USU Extension office for more information.

    Posted on 14 Sep 2006

    Diane Alston
    Hort-Entomologist Specialist

    Q

    How do I prune cherry trees?

    A

    Traditionally, both sour and sweet cherry trees are trained to an open center form.

    Here is a website I’ve found that has a couple of good diagrams and photos of an open center tree form:http://www.uga.edu/fruit/chapter1.html  (scroll down a little further than halfway through the webpage).

    As you can see there, you want to select 3 to four scaffold branches that are evenly distributed around the perimeter of the tree trunk. Therefore, you will top the tree above the highest scaffold branch.

    Take care to leave about one-quarter inch above the topmost branch to allow the cut to heal without harming the top branch. Angle the top cut away from the uppermost scaffold branch so that any rain will run off and not pool on a horizontal cut surface (this could cause rot of the heartwood). 

    Posted on 27 Feb 2007

    Maggie Wolf
    Horticulture Agent, Salt Lake County

     

    Q

    I am wondering if the worms in cherries are safe to eat? They are so small it doesn't really bother me to eat them but I don't want to if they could make me sick or continue to live and grow inside me.

    A

    The worms are actually maggots of the Western Cherry Fruit Fly.  I couldn’t find references on whether or not it is safe to eat, but I would caution you because of the nature of the maggot is to eat the fruit, and possibly damage it.  The damage caused by the worm could possibly allow other pathogens like bacteria enter the fruit that may make you sick, so I would stay away from blemished fruit.  As for living in your stomach, the gastric environment is pretty acidic and the maggots would probably not survive in that environment.  

    One consideration about controlling the western cherry fruit fly is possible infestation to neighboring trees.  Your infested tree could be a source for neighboring cherry trees, so a good idea is to use mulch or barrier around the base of the tree to reduce pupation (adult fly emergence).

    There is more information that can be found on the following link to a USU fact sheet on Western Cherry Fruit Fly.

    http://extension.usu.edu/files/publications/factsheet/ENT-102-06.pdf

    Posted on 5 Sep 2007

    Maggie Shao
    Horticulture Agent, Salt Lake County

    Q

    I had my apple tree pruned this spring and ever since then apple suckers have been coming up all over my yard; especially in my grass. Nothing I've sprayed seems to kill off the suckers, including round-up and sucker stopper. What do you recommend to erradicate apple suckers?

    A

    It is not common for apples to sucker all over the yard.  Normally they are confined to the area around the base of the tree and then they are simply pruned back every year. One problem with killing the suckers is it may damage the tree.  Roundup is usually effective against these suckers.  You may need to add a sticker/spreader in the solution to get better penetration.  You can also try a chemical called triclopyr (sold as brush-b-gon). Be careful, this can damage or even kill the apple tree.  

    Posted on 7 Sep 2007

    Jerry Goodspeed
    County Director, Horticulture Agent, Weber County 

    Q

    I have a 6-year old dwarf braeburn apple tree. It has gotten very tall and a large part of the tree split off in a windstorm. I need to prune it back and am wondering when I can safely do so.

    A

    Early spring is the best time to prune most deciduous trees, such as apple. The tree should be completely dormant, but wait until the absolutely coldest part of winter is probably past. Early to mid-March is usually ideal. 

    Posted on 28 Sep 2007

    Maggie Wolf
    Horticulture Agent, Salt Lake County

    Q

    I have a bartlett pear tree. A Limb is almost black, but growth was still coming out of the ends, so i didn't prune it off the tree all the way in the spring. Now other parts of the tree are turning black, some of the leaves are curling and turning black as well as some of the fruit. Can I save the tree, or do I need to pull it out. Also will this spread to my other two nearby peach and apple tree.

    A

    Bartlett pear is very susceptible to fire blight, a bacterial disease that can eventually kill the entire tree.

    Here is a link to more detailed information about fire blight:

    http://utahpests.usu.edu/plantdiseases/htm/fruit/fireblight

    and here is a link to a webpage with pictures of fireblight:

    http://utahpests.usu.edu/htm/photo/id.2/gid.15

    Apple is also susceptible to fireblight, but peach is not. Always watch your orchard carefully. If you see a branch tip showing the typical "crook" and blackened leaves, prune the branch back at least 12 inches below any discoloration. This will most likely prevent the disease from spreading into the rest of the tree.

    On the other hand, are you sure your tree was not freeze damaged a couple of weeks ago? Blackened leaves are often caused by freeze damage. My grape plant was damaged , but new growth looks okay. If you see new, healthy leaves growing from the same branch tips where leaves are blackened, perhaps the tree is fine.

    Posted on 5 Jun 2007

    Maggie Wolf
    Horticulture Agent, Salt Lake County

    Q

    I have a grove of plum trees that make a nice addition to the landscape, but too much fruit is a problem. Is there something to treat the tree with so it doesn't produce fruit?

    A

    There a couple things you can do.  There is a product called Florel Fruit Eliminator - a hormone that you spray on.  You should be able to find it at a good nursery.  The word is that it works well the first year and then not as well in succeeding years.  It seems as though the trees develop an immunity to it.  Another way would be to use the garden hose and physically spray the tree when in bloom to knock off the blossoms.

    Posted on 13 Feb 2008

    Linden Greenhalgh
    4-H and Agriculture Agent, Tooele county  

    Q

    I have a peach tree that I want to save - it's almost completely dead because of borers. There are some healthy branches on it still, and I'm wondering about the possibility of grafting some of this stock onto another peach tree I have. Where can I find out how to do this?

    A

    Success in grafting depends on tissue compatibility, good technique, appropriate timing, and luck. You need luck for the elements out of your control - the weather is one example.

    Scion wood - the cuttings of the tree you want to save - should be taken from the tree during dormancy. Although you could take cuttings as early as December, it's usually better to wait until about February (unless we have had an unusually mild late winter and tree buds are already swelling). The longer you wait to take the cuttings, the shorter time the cuttings will need to be stored. Storage opens opportunities for mold, rot, desiccation, and other accidental damage. Graft the scion onto the new tree in spring when bark just starts to "slip" - this is when the tree is coming out of dormancy.  Usually, this is around late March, but every year is different. Staggering some of your grafts time-wise may help you catch the "just right" time and weather conditions.  This spring would have been challenging for grafting, because of the early heat, late frost, and subsequent heat again. When weather is mild, there is a better chance that the graft will "take" since there will be less stress on the tree.

    Here are some links to good online publications or downloadable publications about grafting: 

    http://www.ext.nodak.edu/county/cass/horticulture/fruit/graft.htm

    http://www.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/ho/ho39/ho39.pd 

    http://www.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/ho/ho39/ho39.pdf

    Posted on 3 Aug 2007

    Maggie Wolf
    Horticulture Agent, Salt Lake County

    Q

    I have been spraying Captan on my fruit trees for several years. This year I discovered at IFA that Captan is no longer allowed, so I purchased malathion (57%). Is there any problem spraying the malathion over the Captan? It has been three weeks since the last spray of Captan. I'd like to spray tomorrow (7/30), so it would be helpful to know as soon as possible.

    A

    Captan is a fungicide and primarily for control of apple scab, black rot, lotch, Botrytis blossom infection.  Malathion is one of several
    insecticides used for control of codling moth.  So they have very different functions - malathion is not a fungicide.  I have copied a section below about Captan which states it should not be used with lime or other alkaline materials or with oil within 4 days.  Malathion is often prepared in an oil solution so caution should be used if timing is too close to last Captan spray.  My question for you is what are you treating your fruit trees for??
    It is best to use an appropriate chemical when you have identified the pest, generally we do not recommend spraying as a preventative.

    For more information on apple codling moth, here is the link to USU Fact
    Sheet on codling moth
    http://extension.usu.edu/files/publications/factsheet/ENT-13-06.pdf

    There also is information at USU Extension website for more information on Integrated Pest Management is a strategic approach to plant and animal care that seeks to suppress pest populations while minimizing pest control costs and environmental disruption.
    http://utahpests.usu.edu/ipm/


    Captan 50W or 80W formulations are used at 6.0-8.0 lb/A of Captan 50W or 3.75-5.0 lb/A of Captan 80W, for control of diseases on apple; other formulations should be used according to label direction. On apples Captan has proven effective in the control of apple scab, black rot, Brooks spot, Botryosphaeria rot, blotch, bitter rot, Botrytis blossom infection, fly speck, and sooty blotch. Captan=s residual life is  elatively short, consequently, sooty blotch, fly speck, and fruit rot control may not be satisfactory where sprays are discontinued more than 3 weeks prior to harvest. The higher indicated rates are for severe summer disease pressure. 
    Captan may produce frogeye-like spotting of the foliage of Delicious, Stayman, and Winesap early in the season. The small spots do not enlarge and are no cause for alarm. The inclusion of sulfur in the spray mixture may increase this type of injury.

    Captan should not be used with lime or other alkaline materials. Do not use it with oil or within four days of an oil spray. Do not use in
    combination with EC formulations of parathion. Captan should be used with caution in bloom sprays, especially on varieties which are hard to pollinate (e.g. Red Delicious). Captan has been shown to severely reduce pollen viability for 24 - 48 hours after application.

    Although new Captan labels permit application to apples up to the day of harvest, Captan has a 4-day re-entry interval which makes pre-harvest application more restrictive. A label exception is made for the last 48 hours of the re-entry interval during which workers may enter the treated area to perform hand labor or other tasks involving contact with anything that has been treated, without time limit, if they wear  ll of the following: coveralls, waterproof gloves, shoes and socks, and protective eye wear. http://www.caf.wvu.edu/kearneysville/profile/critfung.htm

    Posted on 5 Sep 2007

    Maggie Shao
    Horticulture Agent, Salt Lake County

    Q

    I have many different types of fruit trees in my yard. Yellow Delicious, Gala, Jonathan, Macantosh, Elberta Peaches, Stanley Plums, Danjo Pears, Barlet Pears, Apricots, Bing Cherries, and Elderberries. When is the best time to harvest each of these?

    A

    Apples - seeds are brown inside, apples start to drop, some people like to wait closer to frost
    peaches - color and they start to soften fall from tree
    pears - seeds are brown inside (D'anjo after frost, Bartlett when they turn lighter green)
    apricots - color and soften
    Cherries dark color
    Elderberries - blue and powdery

    Posted on 31 Aug 2007

    Linden Greenhalgh
    4-H and Agriculture Agent, Tooele county 

    Q

    I have purchased a few acres in summit county at about 9500 feet elevation. The property is in the middle of a meadow, with no natural trees. I would like to plant some evergreen seedlings. Will they grow? I am wondering why the meadow would not already have these types of trees, if they would in fact grow there. Can you recommend the best type of tree for success, or am I better off saving my money? There are evergreens growing all around the meadow a few hundred yards away. Thanks.

    A

    Doug,  You are asking the right question - why are there no trees there now? If trees haven't been removed some time in the past (i.e. it is a natural meadow), then the most likely cause is that the site is a little drier than a tree needs (trees need above about 18 inches or more of precip a year, & much of that needs to come in the growing season; spruces & firs need more like a minimum of 25 inches a year).

    Ironically, the site also could be too wet. If the area is water-logged or soupy most trees won't survive.

    So, if the site is a little too dry in summer, all you have to do is irrigate. You could plant junipers (toughest and best), Douglas-fir, Engelmann or blue spruce, or white or subalpine fir (least tough).

    Until the trees get up in height you might need to fence them to protect from deer damage. 

    Posted on 9 Jan 2008

    Michael Kuhns
    Forestry Specialist

     

    Water

    Q

    Can I use laundry water to water plants and lawn instead of just sending it into the sewer?

    A

    "Can I use laundry water to water plants and lawn instead of just sending it into the sewer, and if so is there some where I can go to find more information on this?"

    We are assuming you live in Utah. If not, you will need to check with your state environmental quality and/or health department. Utah does not currently allow the use of graywater piped directly from the home for irrigating landscapes. Exceptions can be made for certain experimental systems. If you want to pursue this begin by contacting your local health department.

    Many other western states do allow the use of graywater and there are few problems. There are some good resources on the web. Take a look at the following sites:
    http://www.graywater.net/
    http://www.wvu.edu/~agexten/hortcult/homegard/graywate.htm
    http://ag.arizona.edu/AZWATER/arroyo/071rain.html
    http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/lv-other/2001/jul/06/512048650.html 

    Posted on 12 Sep 2006

    Nancy Mesner
    Program Leader, Water quality Specialist

    Q

    How deep should perennials, annuals, and lawn be watered?

    A

    "I have just read your pamphlet (online) on how to water trees and shrubs. The article states that trees and shrubs should be watered to a depth of 18-20 inches. How deep should perennials, annuals, and lawn be watered?"

    As the online bulletin suggests, I would water your trees and shrubs to an average depth of about 18-20 inches. I would encourage you to water your lawn to a depth of about 6 inches- if your soil is that deep. Your perennials and annuals should be watered to a depth of about 6-8 inches (similar to turfgrass or a little deeper if they will be competing with the turfgrass for water).

    Posted on 12 Sep 2006

    Nancy Mesner
    Program Leader, Water quality Specialist 

    Q

    How long should I run my sprinklers to irrigate my lawn properly?

    A

    While this seems like a simple question, it is actually rather complex. Different sprinkler heads emit different amounts of water and it is impossible to know exactly how much water your system puts out over a period of time without actually testing it. The manufacturer's specifications for the sprinkler heads will list a precipitation rate, but this is water pressure-dependent and you should still test your system. Testing can be done with something as simple as a soup cans or a milk cartons, or you may obtain irrigation catch cups for this purpose from your county USU Extension office. The testing is described in detail on the following website:http://www.uc.usbr.gov/progact/waterconsv/pub_select.html

    Posted on 11 Sep 2006

    Nancy Mesner
    Program Leader, Water quality Specialist

    Q

    I am currently looking to put in a turf grass and I wanted to know which would be the better choice between Buffalograss, Blue grama, crested wheat grass or Sideoats grama grass?

    A

    "I live in Tooele. I am currently looking put in a turf grass and I wanted to know which would be the better choice between Buffalograss, Blue grama,, crested wheat grass or Sideoats grama grass? My soil is heavy clay and is full of rocks. I do intend on planting a couple of shade trees in the area in question. You advice would be greatly appreciated."

    It all depends on the time of the year you desire green/blue grass. Buffalo grass and Blue gramma are warm season grasses and will be dormant most of the year except for June July and August. It is hard to get established as well but can be satisfactory. Chested wheat grass is a cool season grass and will look its best during spring and fall. It will tend to go dormant in the heat of the summer but green up early spring and stay green late into the fall. Both choices will work however, the grasses mentioned are not very shade tolerant. Shade trees in the are could pose a problem. To see these grasses up close and personal come to the Tooele County Extension Office at 151 North Main in Tooele. We have 4' X 4' plots of these grasses for your viewing pleasure.

    Posted on 12 Sep 2006

    Nancy Mesner
    Program Leader, Water quality Specialist

    Q

    I am going to Hydroseed this weekend and need to know how much to water so that it germinates correctly.

    A

    "I am going to Hydroseed this weekend and need to know how much to water so that it germinates correctly. I have an automatic system and the soil is a sandy loam."

    Hydroseed normally places a mulch-like carrier along with the seed. This material absorbs water and slows drying at the soil surface. However, frequent, small doses of water are still necessary to germinate the seed and carry young plants through the sensitive germination and establishment phases. After hydroseeding, irrigate once a day with a relatively small amount of water (0.1-0.2 inch) until germination occurs. Periodically check the hydroseed layer to insure it is remaining moist during the heat of the day. If you are in an extremely hot, dry area and the layer appears to be drying out, you may have to irrigate twice a day until germination occurs. After germination back off and irrigate once every other day with approximately 0.25 inch of water. Continue to irrigate every other day for about 1 month to allow the grass root system to establish. After 1 month gradually return to the normal irrigation cycle recommended for your area. 

    To determine how much water your system is applying use straight sided cans or catch cups available from your local County Extension office. Place several cans at different locations in the landscape. Turn the sprinkler system on and catch the output for 10 or 15 minutes. Measure the amount of water in each can and calculate the output rate in inches per hour. Use this output rate to determine how long you have to run your system to apply the desired amount of water.

    Posted on 12 Sep 2006

    Nancy Mesner
    Program Leader, Water quality Specialist

    Q

    I am looking to plant Buffalo grass, which type of Buffalo grass would you recommend for Tooele?

    A

    There are several varieties of Buffalograss that will do well in Tooele. I would recommend Texoka, Cody, Bison, Sharps Improved, Legacy (vegetative), 609, or Bowie (seed). For your information, there is also one supplier of Legacy Buffalograss sod in the state. That is Lake Mountain Farms in Sandy. There phone number is (801) 562-9090. Good luck!

    Posted on 11 Sep 2006

    Nancy Mesner
    Program Leader, Water quality Specialist

    Q

    I have noticed quite a few brown areas in lawns in the Salt Lake area, including my own.

    A

    "I have noticed quite a few brown areas in lawns in the Salt Lake area, including my own. I have tried to be water-wise when watering my lawn. Every 3 days, I water after the sun goes down or after 6 pm in shaded areas only. The settings were max 15 minutes and I recently added another 5 minutes. But the brown areas aren't showing any significant improvement. My neighbor waters more often than I and her lawn has a huge brown area that appeared in the last couple of weeks. Another neighbor said it was because there is some kind of insect infesting the lawns in the area but I have also heard it is because of the early onset of the hot days. I know if the problem is the heat I will just have to wait it out. But if it is insects, what do I do?"

    The brown areas that you are seeing in your lawn are to be expected given the temperatures we are currently experiencing here in Utah. You are to be commended for your water-wise irrigating, but even if you were to pour the water on right now, it is still very likely that you would have brown areas. The reason for this is that the cool-season grasses we typically grow here in Utah are not well-adapted to the current high temperatures. Rest assured, however, that even though you may have brown areas, the grass is not dead. It is only becoming dormant in order to protect itself from heat and drought. In the fall, as the temperatures cool off, grass will revive and become green again. In fact, you could apply as little as 1" of water per month right now and the grass would still be fine in the fall. This is known as survival watering because it keeps the crown (where growth originates) of the grass plants alive even though the leaves are dormant. It is most likely that your problem is heat related, but if you are concerned about insects, I would encourage you to take a sample of your lawn into your Utah State University County Extension Office for examination. The sample should include 2-3" of soil as well as the grass.

    Posted on 12 Sep 2006

    Nancy Mesner
    Program Leader, Water quality Specialist

    Q

    I have someone with about ¾ of an acre and they want to plant some kind of grass that won't require a lot of water or mowing but is good for children to play on.

    A

    "I have someone with about ¾ of an acre and they want to plant some kind of grass that won't require a lot of water or mowing but is good for children to play on. They have some water for the property and are going to put in two big sprinklers in hopes that will cover the area. They dont want any animals on it. They are willing to try different types of plants on the acreage. Can you recommend anything for her?"

    Tall fescue works well in a low maintenance situation. It needs regular watering to remain green during the summer, but slightly less water than Kentucky bluegrass. Fescue is more tolerant of prolonged drought than Kentucky bluegrass. This would be the best choice if this person expects a lot of kid play on it during the year. Buffalograss still needs some irrigation during the summer, but will use significantly less water (½ of that needed by Kentucky bluegrass). Buffalograss will be brown (dormant) during the cooler times of year, from October to April. When Buffalograss is dormant, it shouldn't have a lot of traffic, i.e. soccer games, etc. Some activity is fine. It is more expensive to plant and a bit more difficult to establish than Kentucky bluegrass or tall fescue. Crested wheatgrass is the best solution if you don't want to water at all once the grass is established. It will create a nice green turf in spring and fall, but will be dormant during the summer.

    Posted on 12 Sep 2006

    Nancy Mesner
    Program Leader, Water quality Specialist 

    Q

    I have thinned out my scrub oak as a fire preventative, but I keep getting lots of runners. How do I control the runners?

    A

    It's good you've thinned your oak for fire hazard reduction. However, Gambel oak reproduces by forming sprouts along it's root system (the runners you mention) that grow quickly to fill gaps in the canopy. This sprouting is actually encouraged by thinning or pruning. It is possible to reduce sprouting by applying glyphosate (Roundup) or triclopyr (Ortho Brush-B-Gon) to stumps, but since the stump is connected by it's root system to adjacent trees, you may end up harming remaining trees you don't want to remove. You also can spray emerging sprouts with the same chemicals, but again may harm remaining trees. Therefore, the best and only way to handle the sprouts, unless you want to eliminate oak from an area completely, is to mechanically remove the sprouts by pruning, mowing, digging, etc. There's really no other way. By the way, we have a fact sheet on Firewise Plants available athttp://web2.ad.ext.usu.edu/htm/publications/publication=6278.

    Posted on 11 Sep 2006

    Nancy Mesner
    Program Leader, Water quality Specialist

    Q

    I live in Provo and have two large dogs. They have made my back yard dirt. To fix this, should I sod or hydro seed?

    A

    "I live in Provo and have two large dogs. They have made my back yard dirt. To fix this, should I sod or hydro seed? I want a fix before winter. I also want to know what kind of grass is good for having dogs on it."

    You are facing a difficult challenge. Dogs, and especially large ones, can be very tough on a lawn. I would recommend sodding the area, especially this late in the season. If you were to hydroseed, you'd run the very likely risk of having your dogs disturb the seed before it could get established. If you use sod, be sure that you apply sufficient water to allow it to establish before winter and try to minimize dog traffic if at all possible.

    Posted on 12 Sep 2006

    Nancy Mesner
    Program Leader, Water quality Specialist

    Q

    I want to revamp my lawn area plant more drought tolerant plants. Is there a way I can adjust my sprinklers to work with my new landscape - without digging the system up or hiring a professional?

    A

    The process is called retrofitting and you will be much more successful with it if you have a reasonable idea of the design of your current sprinkler system. You will also be more successful if your landscape irrigation system is separated into different zones or run from different valves. If your current lawn area is on its own irrigation zone or valve, you may choose to do something as simple as removing the nozzles from the existing sprinklers and replacing them with multi-outlet emission devices. These devices allow you to run dripline from the sprinklers to specific plants in your landscape and may have room for up to 8 outlets. This is the most efficient way to irrigate your new drought-tolerant plants and there are several manufacturers of such equipment. You might also choose to irrigate your new landscape with your current system and adjust your irrigation schedule to compensate for the lower water requirements of the plants. This would be particularly effective for irrigating a drought-tolerant ground cover. Another strategy would be capping sprinkler heads that are no longer needed in your new landscape. Whichever you choose, these are all methods that you could do on your own without digging or hiring a professional.

    Posted on 11 Sep 2006

    Nancy Mesner
    Program Leader, Water quality Specialist 

    Q

    I would like to replace my dying grass with wildflowers on a sandy, hill on S. mountain. What kind of wildflowers are drought resistant and would they grow well, and where could I buy them?

    A

    Wildflowers such as blanket flower, penstemon species, oriental poppies, coreopsis and globemallow are suggestions for drought resistant species for your situation. Granite Seed Co.,http://www.graniteseed.com/mixes/index.html is good place to look for information about wildflowers as well as a good wildflower seed supplier.

    Posted on 11 Sep 2006

    Nancy Mesner
    Program Leader, Water quality Specialist 

    Q

    If I don't have enough water to fully irrigate all of my crop land should I try to spread the water across all of the acreage, or irrigate fewer acres with closer to full irrigation?

    A

    Concentrate the water on fewer acres or on the crop giving the highest economic return. It is best to fully irrigate the acreage that can be fully irrigated with the available water, and let the rest of the area go.

    Posted on 11 Sep 2006

    Nancy Mesner
    Program Leader, Water quality Specialist

     

    Q

    It is July 6th and I have a dirt yard now. Is it too late to plant a few trees and shrubs and would it be better to hydroseed now or wait until September?

    A

    The timing of your hydroseeding depends largely on the turfgrass species that you are trying to grow. If you will be seeding any of the cool-season grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescues or the fine-leaf fescues, it would be better to wait until the weather cools off in the fall. The fall is the best time to seed those grasses. If you will be using a warm-season grass such as buffalograss, this time of year would be alright for seeding although June would have been better.

    Posted on 11 Sep 2006

    Nancy Mesner
    Program Leader, Water quality Specialist 
    Q

    The governor's initiative says that I shouldn't water between 10AM and 6 PM. Won't I have disease problems if I irrigate at night?

    A

    This is a common misconception. While it is true that irrigating at night will increase the humidity in your landscape, it will not be enough to encourage diseases if you are not over-watering. This is a good reason to monitor your irrigation carefully and to follow an appropriate irrigation schedule.

    Posted on 11 Sep 2006

    Nancy Mesner
    Program Leader, Water quality Specialist 

    Q

    This year we've noticed that many of our scrub oak trees have not shown any leaves. Adjacent properties have the same issue.

    A

    "We recently purchased property that has quite a few scrub oak trees. Last year these trees were full of leaves. However, this year we've noticed that many of our scrub oak trees have not shown any leaves. Adjacent properties have the same issue. We've also noticed that many of the scrub oaks in Wasatch and Summit counties have not yet produced leaves? Is the drought causing this or are there other factors? Our property does not have irrigation access."

    Many trees and shrubs are suffering from late frosts we've had this year in northern Utah. Even cold-hardy plants have been frozen back. Past years' droughts usually don't matter in terms of their effects on this year's foliage so early in the year, as long as you currently have adequate moisture. If it's currently very dry then it could be drought, though the trees would have leaf-out and then later shown signs of drought injury. There also are a number of pests that can cause shoot dieback or temporary defoliation of Gambel oak; go tohttp://web2.ad.ext.usu.edu/drought/htm/publications/publication=5775

    Posted on 12 Sep 2006

    Nancy Mesner
    Program Leader, Water quality Specialist

    Q

    We live in a rural area and our indoor and outdoor water source is a flowing artesian well. It's only August, and the well is no longer "flowing." What has to happen for the well to start producing water?

    A

    "We live in a rural area and our indoor and outdoor water source is a flowing artesian well. It's only August, and the well is no longer "flowing." We're still able to get water indoors via a pressure pump/holding tank (it takes our pump about 5 minutes to refill the water holding tank after one "flush"), but fear that will soon end. Any suggestions? Also, what has to happen for the well to start producing water?"

    I suspect that you are experiencing temporary loss of water pressure from your well because of this year's drought conditions. As you probably know, the source of an artesian well is groundwater that is under pressure. As a result, when you tap into this groundwater region (called an artesian aquifer), the water flows freely at the surface. Under drought conditions, groundwater levels may drop, causing a reduction in the underground pressure on your water source. Because of this, the water is no longer flowing freely at the surface. For the water to begin flowing again, the groundwater source needs to recharge. In other words, we need rain (or snow) that will soak into the ground and eventually restore the water to your aquifer. I can't predict when your well will begin flowing again because I don't know the exact conditions of your site. How fast the aquifer recharges depends on many things, including local soils, underlying geology, other groundwater sources, etc. You might try not using the artesian well at all for a few days. If the pressure seems to come back fairly quickly, you may get pressure restored to your well relatively soon once we get some rain again. Keep in mind, however, that water movement through the ground is very slow compared to water movement on the surface. Meanwhile, you have several options until the pressure in your well is restored: 1. You can take care of some of your water needs by using bottled or stored water; 2. You can use an alternative source of water (such as trucking in water) to fill your holding tank; 3. You can explore pumping water from your artesian well source; 4. You can explore putting in a new well. For the last two options, you will need to contact a well digger or pump installer to discuss this with you. Your local Utah Water Rights offices keep a list of licensed water well drillers in your area. Their numbers are: Cedar City: 435-586-4231; Logan: 435-752-8755; Price:435-637-1303; Richfield: 435-896-4429; Salt Lake: 801-538-7240; and Vernal: 435-781-5327. The Utah Division of Water Rights in Salt Lake City (801-538-7240) can verify that a contractor is licensed and bonded. Remember, if you store water, be careful to use a clean container and treat it as needed. Check out the Water Storage fact sheet on the Extension Web site (FN 176). If you develop a new well, you will also want to get the well tested. Contact your local Health Department for assistance.

    Posted on 12 Sep 2006

    Nancy Mesner
    Program Leader, Water quality Specialist

    Q

    What causes tomato blossom end rot? How do you treat it?

    A

    Blossom end rot can be caused when calcium and/or water levels in the root zone are low. In our soils, generally calcium is plentiful and low water levels are the cause of the deficiency in the fruit. When water in the soil is in short supply, the plant takes up insufficient amounts of calcium to meet the plants demand. Since calcium is transported in the xylem with the water, during conditions when water is in short supply, most of the water is transported to the leaf and very small amounts are transported to the flowers. This causes a localized deficiency which is expressed as the development of a brown leathery patch on the blossom end of the fruit. This just happens to be the area where fruit growth is most rapid. What conditions cause blossom end rot. There are several. These include low soil moisture levels (water stress), high temperatures (high water demand by the plant), high salinity levels in soils (less available water for plant use), low humidity levels (greater transpiration by leaf so less water and calcium goes to the fruits) and rapid plant growth rates (high demand for calcium) to meet cell wall requirements. Cultivar differences also exist. Small fruited tomatoes are less prone to the disorder than large fruited types. This is due to the rate of cell growth and demand for calcium in the fruits.

    How can it be controlled? First try to maintain more even soil moisture levels. Don't let the soil fluctuate greatly from wet to dry and then wet again. Second, maintain more even growth rates. Excess nitrogen in the soil accelerates growth and makes the plants more susceptible to blossom end rot. If salts are a problem, see what can be done to leach them out before growing tomato or water with a less salty water source so the salt levels of the soil does not build up. Finally, after you have done all of these other things, try growing a smaller fruited cultivar, thin the number of fruits on a cluster to 2-3 and spray the plant periodically with calcium nitrate or calcium chloride (4 grams per liter of water) starting about a month after planting. Do every two weeks through the main flowering period. 

    Posted on 11 Sep 2006

    Nancy Mesner
    Program Leader, Water quality Specialist

    Q

    What is the best way to plant wildflowers?

    A

    "Do we need to rake up the dead grass before we plant? What is the best way to plant the wildflowers? For our front yard, if we plant drought resistant grass, do I have to remove the dead Kentucky bluegrass first? Also, are wildflowers and native grasses bug/slug resistant?"

    First, you need to make sure the grass is actually dead. If it's still alive you will start seeing some growth when the temperatures start to warm up (about March). If this is the case, allow the grass to grow up a little in early spring and then treat it with Round-Up. Either way, you will need to remove the dead sod before you plant your wildflowers. I would suggest broadcasting the wildflower seeds and then raking over them to make sure they are covered. It will be important the first year that you control the weeds - this will cut down on the possibility of future weed problems. Once you get the wildflowers established, they will have a much better chance of out competing the weeds. In general, native plants do tend to be more insect and disease resistant.

    Posted on 12 Sep 2006

    Nancy Mesner
    Program Leader, Water quality Specialist 

    Q

    What kind of grass does well in St. George with minimal watering and how/when can we start it from seed?

    A

    "I am a new home owner in Saint George with absolutely NO former gardening experience (aside from killing a few house plants). I actually have many questions but will limit it to two.
    1) What kind of grass does well in this area with minimal watering and how/when can we start it from seed? The soil is very sandy, never tested and the lawn will have moderate to heavy traffic. 2) What is a good gardening resource for a beginner who is entirely illiterate in gardening terms and techniques but still wants to do it all "myself.""

    Your choice of grass in the St. George area is going to be somewhat dependent on your expectations for your lawn. Two possible species for you to use are tall fescue and buffalograss. Tall fescue is commonly used in St. George. It is a cool-season grass that looks very similar to Kentucky bluegrass. It is also very deeply-rooted which allows it to survive drought stress well. There are several tall fescue sod suppliers to choose from in your area and seeding is also an option. Another possibility for you is Buffalograss. It is a warm-season grass that has a more blue-gray color than Kentucky bluegrass or tall fescue. While there is a Buffalograss sod supplier in Sandy, it might be more cost-effective for you to seed due to your location. The big question in deciding which species to choose is how much watering do you want to do? Tall fescue has a water requirement that is slightly less than Kentucky bluegrass. This means that you would need to apply approximately 30 inches of water to it each year. Buffalograss, on the other hand, uses about 1/4 the water of Kentucky bluegrass and so you would need to apply approximately 8 inches of water to it each year. The only drawback of Buffalograss is that is is a bit slow to repair itself and does not respond well to traffic. If you anticipate a great deal of wear from pets or children, you may want to look more closely at tall fescue.

    Posted on 12 Sep 2006

    Nancy Mesner
    Program Leader, Water quality Specialist

    Q

    What types of grass use the most (or least) amount of water?

    A

    In Utah, the most commonly-used type of grass is Kentucky bluegrass. Unfortunately, it also uses more water than any other turfgrass species. Other options that will do well in Utah's climate but use less water are Tall fescue, the fine leaf fescues, Buffalograss, Blue grama, and Crested wheatgrass. Tall fescue uses from 10 to 30% less water than Kentucky bluegrass and fine leaf fescues use slightly less than that. Buffalograss and Blue grama grass use approximately 50% less water than Kentucky bluegrass. Crested wheatgrass can actually survive without any supplemental irrigation once it's established.

    Posted on 11 Sep 2006

    Nancy Mesner
    Program Leader, Water quality Specialist

    Q

    Where can I find an extensive list of drought tolerant trees, perennials and shrubs?

    A

    We are working on a list of low water use plants to add to our website, so keep checking for that!

    There is currently a lengthy publication on our Extension website called ‘Water Wise Landscaping' that has a list of plants starting on page 37 (http://web2.ad.ext.usu.edu/drought/htm/publications/publication=5859) as well as a bulletin on ‘Selection and Culture of Landscape Plants in Utah (http://web2.ad.ext.usu.edu/drought/htm/publications/publication=5859). Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District has a website highlighting the drought tolerant plants in their demonstration garden (http://www.jvwcd.org/STF/stf.html). The Salt Lake City Dept of Utilities just came out with a really nice park strip guide with some perennial plant suggestions (http://www.slcgov.com/utilities/conservation/pdf/parkstrip.pdf

    Posted on 11 Sep 2006

    Nancy Mesner
    Program Leader, Water quality Specialist

    Q

    Would Zoysia grass be a good alternative to the bluegrass?

    A

    "I have heard the name Zoysia grass as a grass that uses much less water than the bluegrass mixes many of us have here in Utah. Can you tell me anything about it? Would it be a good alternative to the bluegrass? Would buffalo or blue grama grass better options? I have fairly large grass areas in my yard and would like something that would be more drought friendly."

    Zoysiagrass has come up a number of times in the past couple of weeks, primarily because of some advertisements for Amazoy. In short, Amazoy, or zoysiagrass is not a good option here in northern Utah. While there are a number of cold hardy zoyisagrasses, I wouldn't recommend them. Amazoy is actually a variety called Meyer zoysiagrass, which has been around since the 1950's, so even if you wanted to use zoysiagrass, there are much improved varieties being sold. I don't believe anyone is selling zoysiagrass in northern Utah, however.

    Posted on 12 Sep 2006

    Nancy Mesner
    Program Leader, Water quality Specialist

     

    Yard

    Sub Topics

    Spring Yard Care

    Q

    I have tall thin Junipers in my backyard. They resemble a Hollywood Juniper but I am not sure of their species. They are 25 years old and have begun to look like they are dying, the needles are turning brown and falling off. Is there anything I can do to save them?

    A

    Junipers are some of our most hardy landscape plants, but can develop problems when the weather is very hot (such as it has been this summer!)   I suspect your junipers need more water. They are mature trees now,
    and their root systems are probably quite extensive. Realize that they may have extended their roots outwards at least 25 feet (same as their height).So, if you have be watering only as much as usual, and these trees are
    surrounded by lawn, they are probably heat stressed and need more water. 

    I usually recommend watering trees extra during the hot summer months, making sure to deliver the water over most of the root zone, applying the water slowly enough so that the soil is wet 12 to 18 inches deep. This deeper soil moisture will be available to the trees but not to the lawn grass, so you can be sure that the trees will be able to take it up. Soaker hoses are great for this purpose, since they emit water very slowly and the water can percolate down into the soil without running off down grade.    

    When junipers are stressed, they are very attractive to spidermites. You can check for spider mites by holding a white piece of paper under a branch, striking the branch sharply, and catching the "dust" onto the paper.  Watch the dust a moment. If pieces of "dust" start crawling around, the tree is infested with spider mites.    To control spider mites without significantly harming the beneficial mites and insects that prey on them, try spraying the trees with a sharp stream of water every few days. This, plus the extra water you will provide, will probably help the trees regain their vigor. A shot of nitrogen fertilizer over their root zone would probably help, too. Apply the fertilizer before doing the deep watering so that it reaches the deeper tree roots (and won't be "stolen" by the lawn grass). 

    Posted on 15 Aug 2007

    Maggie Wolf
    Horticulture Agent, Salt Lake County

    Q

    Spotted spurge is taking over my lawn. What can I do now, in these hot August temperatures, to knock back this weed problem?

    A

    Spurge, and most other weeds, tends to grow in exposed soil and areas where lawn turfgrass is not growing well. I encourage you to first analyze why your lawn is not able to compete against this weed.  Are you watering too  requently? Was the soil contaminated with de-icing salts? Are you mowing with the deck too low?    If the weed is infesting a flowerbed, cover the bare soil with mulch.  This will greatly retard weed infestations.   Eliminating the weed habitat will make lawn and garden maintenance easier in the long run.  

     To get immediate control, you could pull the spurge (wear gloves since the milky sap can be irritating to some people)or cut it off at the soil line with a hoe. There is an herbicide that controls spurge and has no high-temperature constraints. It's a blend of triclopyr and clopyralid; one brand name is "Confront". There may be other brand names available, too.    USU Extension's publication titled "Yard and Garden Weed Control" is a useful tool in selecting weed management strategies. You can download it from this website:
       http://extension.usu.edu/files/publications/HG508.pdf

     If you choose to use an herbicide to help control spurge, be sure to follow all the label directions and restrictions. Specifically, there are directions on the "Confront" label for avoiding use where this chemical might contaminate groundwater. 

    Posted on 15 Aug 2007

    Maggie Wolf
    Horticulture Agent, Salt Lake County 

    Q

    Can you suggest some hardy perennials for my landscape?

    A

    The following perennials are sure-fire, low-maintenance choices for the landscape. They look good, bring class to the landscape and are some of the tougher, more dependable plant choices.

    Hummingbird fuchsia (Zauschneria). This plant is low-growing, can be trained to cascade over rocks and walls and has a bright red/orange flower that blooms from August until the first freeze. Like the name implies, it attracts hummingbirds as well as butterflies. It is not related to the prima donna fuchsia (as the name might suggest), but the flower is somewhat similar.

    Bee Balm (Monarda). This perennial has a deep-red blossom that flowers about mid-summer. It attracts bees and butterflies and grows from one-and-one half to three feet tall. It spreads by rhizomes, and is a good choice for a background planting or for use in a less formal garden.

    Hosta: For shady locations, hosta is a great choice. Hostas are grown for their unique color combinations and leaf shapes. Many varieties are available.

    Coral Bells (Heuchera): This is another plant that is happiest in shady areas, and also has beautiful foliage. In addition, most send up attractive red to pink colored flowers in the spring. This native to the Intermountain area grows about 8 to 12 inches tall with flower spikes that can reach a height of nearly 18 inches.

    Daylilies (Hemerocallis): Many people may have had a bad experience with the old-fashioned orange daylilies that used to crowd ditch banks and fields, but the newer varieties are interesting and attractive. Their color combinations and length of bloom have increased over the past few years, making daylilies one of the more delightful, prolific perennials for our area.

    Gaura: This perennial grows between 2 to 3 feet tall and flowers from late May through the first frost. Its graceful stems are covered with small pink or white blossoms that are attractive in a background planting or can fill in empty spaces in a flowerbed.

    Crocosmia: This perennial is related to the iris, so its foliage is quite similar. In July it produces beautiful, vivid red flowers that stand about 4 feet tall.

    Posted on 20 Aug 2005

    Jerry Goodspeed
    County Director, Horticulture Agent, Weber County

    Q

    Could you please identify the pine-like tree on the north side of our home? The needles are on two sides of the twig rather than on all four sides. They (the needles) are very soft and are dark green. At this time of the year (Sep), the trees bear red berries. The trees are approximately 35 years old and are 12-14 feet tall. Thank you very much for your assistance!

    A

    It is a Yew (Genus Taxus).  There are several species namely English and Japanese.  You can put this in a search on the internet and maybe pick out your particular species.  Yews have male and female plants with the fruit bearing being female.  The berries are poisonous. 

    Posted on 27 Sep 2007

    Linden Greenhalgh
    4-H and Agriculture Agent, Tooele county 

    Q

    Do I need to prune my trees this spring?

    A

    There are many reasons a tree or shrub may need to be pruned. For ornamental and shade trees:

    • Remember that the tree limbs and branches will stay at the same height for the entire life of the tree. The growing point for the tree is located in the top terminal bud, and the rest of the tree will only grow in circumference. If the branch is four feet off the ground today, it will be four feet off the ground in 20 years.
    • You can safely prune most trees through the end of May. Most pruning is done before the tree leaves out because it is easier to see where to prune and easier to get into the tree. I recommend pruning in March and early April.
    • Do very little pruning on ornamental trees. Prune wood that is dead, diseased or injured and branches that cross (rub) or grow back into the center of the tree or are out of place. Be sure to keep the natural shape of the tree intact. 

    Fruit trees are normally trained and pruned to increase their productivity and keep their size under control. It is best to prune them on an annual basis, starting the first year they are planted. Too many people wait until the tree is five or ten years old before they consider pruning. Begin training a fruit tree the first year it is planted.

    • Don’t let firsttime pruning intimidate you. Decide for yourself how you want the tree to look in five, 10 or even 20 years, then start to shape it as you prune. The main objective of pruning fruit trees is to keep the tree open, allowing light to penetrate into the center of the tree.
    • New fruit trees normally need four to six branches to form the lower scaffolding. In orchards, many trees are trained with a central leader, or main trunk, with many scaffolding layers. For backyard orchardists with only a few trees it’s best to prune fruit trees as an open vase. An open vase tree has only one scaffolding layer and the center of the tree remains open.
    • To create this shape keep five or so branches that are kept should be three to five feet off the ground, and spaced evenly around the tree. This is the framework for the open vase. As these branches grow they become the major wood which produces the fruit. Picture the tree as a giant solar collector, and space the branches around the tree to optimize the amount of sun it can collect.
    • Apple, pear and cherry trees naturally try to grow a central leader, or a main trunk system. Removing the leader to create an open vase makes the tree take on an unnatural shape. The branches may each try to become the main trunk and grow upright. Discourage this by training branches to grow in a horizontal direction by either tying them down with string, placing weights out on the ends of the branches or placing a spacer in the fork to force a wider angle.
    • Most spacers are made with a piece of 1 x 1 wood with finishing nails placed in both ends to keep it steady. Be careful whenever bending and forcing a branch down. Do this after the sap starts to flow in the tree so the wood is pliable. Begin forming only young wood branches. Do not try to bend any wood more than a year or two old. This is another reason it’s important to begin training a tree when it is young and the tree is still pliable enough to bend.
    • Leave spacers in the tree for a year or two, then remove them or place them in another part of the tree. Trained wood will remain that way for the rest of the tree’s life.

    Posted on 3 Apr 2000

    Jerry Goodspeed
    County Director, Horticulture Agent, Weber County

    Q

    Do you have information on soil testing?

    A

    As with humans, when a plant is sick, it looks miserable for a while, receives extra water, gets thrown some expensive granules, and is expected to get better. However, when the plant dies, we are surprised at its lack of stamina, then place a new one in the same spot. When that one dies, we scratch our heads and wonder why we have such poor luck with plants. As with humans, there are tests that can be run to help diagnose problems in the landscape. One that is very effective is a soil test. It is the first thing that should be done when problems persist in the landscape. The test analyzes essential components that may cause problems in the soil. It is also a good indicator of how to correct the problem. Here is what a soil test will show.

    Texture. The texture of soil is the percentage of sand, silt and clay. This indicates whether the soil is heavy in clay or has a high sand content. Knowing the texture helps determine irrigation needs. It also makes a difference when it comes to selecting plants and deciding which will grow well in an area and which will not. Lime. The lime content of soil is the percentage of carbonates. This is not a problem in northern Utah. We have more than enough lime, and it rarely poses a problem. It is not necessary to add lime to our soils. pH. The pH is a measurement of the acidity of the soil. The pH is a scale from 1 to 14, with 1 being extremely acidic and 14 very alkaline or basic. Most of our soils fall in the range of about 7.5 to 8.5. This is an acceptable range for most plants. Soil test results may be a little higher or lower than that. This information can help in choosing a more acidic fertilizer or other options when amending the soil. Salt. Some soils are high in salt, which can cause plants to be stunted, thin and susceptible to other problems. Salt levels that are too high do not allow the plant’s roots to absorb water properly. Not correcting the problem can lead to perennial problems and frustration. Phosphorus. Most soils in Utah have sufficient phosphorus, but occasionally they are slightly deficient. A soil test indicates how much to apply to supplement plant needs in the landscape. There are often more soils with excess phosphorus than not enough. Knowing that levels are high can be beneficial so you can discontinue applying it to your soil. Potassium. This is another element that is normally abundant in our soils. However, it can become deficient, especially if the topsoil is removed when a new home is built. These are the basic components that are addressed by a soil test. Knowing the amount of these elements in the soil will not solve all plant problems, but will provide a good place to start. A basic soil test kit can be picked up at any Extension office. The kit is free, and the cost of a routine analysis is $14. It is worth the investment to learn how to solve or avoid soil problems.

    Posted on 1 Apr 2006

    Jerry Goodspeed
    County Director, Horticulture Agent, Weber County

    Q

    Do you have some advice on how to control mallow weeds? This has been an ongoing problem that even the powerful herbicides can only contain for just a few weeks. They always come back and completely overrun my garden. Any advice?

    A

    As you have discovered, a mature mallow weed is quite tolerant of most yard-and-garden herbicides, including Roundup and 2,4-D. The herbicides often cause mallow to go yellow, and some of the plants may die; but many eventually recover to become even tougher than they were before they were sprayed.
    You probably also have found that pulling, hoeing or rototilling large mallow plants is difficult and only partially effective. Then, there is also the problem of mallow seeds in the soil. Mallow is a prolific seed producer, and its seeds can lay dormant in the soil for years before germinating. In a typical garden there are thousands and thousands of mallow seeds already in the soil just waiting for the right time and conditions to germinate. Whenever those conditions occur, a few new mallow seedlings will emerge; but the majority of the seeds remain dormant awaiting a future opportunity.
    Each time it rains or whenever the garden is irrigated, a few more mallow seeds will germinate. So, even if you were successful in killing all of the emerged mallow plants with a single herbicide application, a new flush of seedlings would still appear after each watering or rainfall event for the next several years.
    The best advice I can give is to be persistent, and to kill or remove mallow plants when they are small. The strategy is to deplete the soil of its mallow seed supply by eliminating all emerging mallow plants before they have a chance to make more seeds and replenish the supply in the soil. Pulling, hoeing or rototilling can be very effective against small mallow plants. Mallow is also much more sensitive to herbicides when in the seedling and early vegetative stages (before plants get more than two or three inches wide).
    Whichever control method you choose, do it early in the development of the weeds. That's when they are easiest to control, and it's the only way to deplete the soil seed supply. It will probably take several years of weeding every couple of weeks before you see the results of reducing the number of dormant mallow seeds in the soil. But in the long run, I believe that's the only way to make real progress.

    Posted on 26 Apr 2001

    Steve Dewey
    Extension Weed Specialist

    Q

    Do you have some pruning tips for ornamental and shade trees?

    A

    Here are some pruning tips for ornamental and shade trees:

    • When trimming trees, remember that the tree limbs and branches will stay at the same height for the entire life of the tree. The growing point for the tree is located in the top terminal bud, and the rest of the tree will only grow in circumference. If the branch is four feet off the ground today, it will be four feet off the ground in 20 years.
    • You can safely prune most trees through the end of May. Most pruning is done before the tree leaves out because it is easier to see where to prune and easier to get into the tree. I recommend pruning them in March and early April.
    • Do very little pruning on ornamental trees. Prune wood that is dead, diseased or injured and branches that cross (rub), grow back into the center of the tree or are out of place. Be sure to keep the natural shape of the tree intact.

    Posted on 12 Apr 1999

    Jerry Goodspeed
    County Director, Horticulture Agent, Weber County

    Q

    Do you have tips for edging my lawn?

    A

    Although it is more work, finished, neat edges can make a landscape look polished and attractive. Lawn areas may look green and lush, but if the edges are uneven or untrimmed, the whole yard can seem unkempt.

    Consider these tips to keep your landscape tidy.

    • Remove and prevent grass from growing where it cannot be easily reached by a mower. This helps reduce edging time. Spray a non-selective herbicide such as Round-up or Finale to kill the grass and weeds around trees, fence posts, walls and rocks. Leave a large grass-free zone around trees and a smaller strip around rocks, fences and walls.
    • Mix a pre-emergent herbicide such as Surflan with Round-up to prevent grass and weeds from returning. This kills existing weeds and deters germination for a few weeks.
    • Design the landscaped area so it requires a minimal amount of edging or trimming. This means trees, shrubs and flowers should not be placed in the lawn, but in separate planting areas. Surround fences and rocks with some sort of edging material to prevent weeds and grass from growing up the fence or around the rocks.
    • Consider the many materials that can be used as an edge around flower and shrub beds. Cement, redwood binder board, vinyl, rubber, bricks and other materials reduce the amount of trimming required. There is no perfect edging material, however. Each has benefits and drawbacks. Thick black rubber edging material holds its shape for many years, but can be expensive. Cheaper vinyl and plastic products are inexpensive, but tend to lose their shape over time. Redwood eventually wears out but is attractive and natural looking for many years. Cement, bricks and other hard materials last for many years, but can also be costly. Cement edging appears cold in a landscape and makes it difficult to change the shape of beds. Bricks are usually very moveable, but can be too mobile at times. Visit your local nursery or home improvement store to see available options.
    • A cost-free option to maintain a clean appearance and keep grass in its place is to cut a 6 inch deep line between the bed and grass with a spade or shovel. A small scoop shovel leaves the straightest edge. This process needs to be repeated two or three times a year. Though it is cost free, it creates more regular work than the other methods.
    • For information on other yard and garden topics, visit http://extension.usu.edu/

    Posted on 1 Aug 2003

    Jerry Goodspeed
    County Director, Horticulture Agent, Weber County

    Q

    Do you have tips for making my yard more colorful this spring?

    A

    Color is starting to creep back into our landscapes. Bulbs and a few shrubs are beginning to blossom, and soon the spring perennials will be blooming. Before long we will be rushing to the nurseries and garden centers to pick out annuals of every hue and color to fill empty spaces invading our landscapes. Here are some tips:

    • Make a plan for what to plant in those vacant spaces. Designing the flower bed before ever looking at a flower or entering a garden center ensures that the flowers will fit the design, instead of the other way around.
    • First thing to do is measure the flower beds. Then, using graph paper draw the beds to scale. Typically, make one square on the paper equal one square foot. Make drawings as accurate as possible to the actual shape of the beds; and then make several copies.
    • Next, use colored pencils or crayons to start the design. Draw in borders and group plantings, indicating desired colors and mixes. Play around and have fun with the design. Do not think about what type of flowers, just use the colors and pretend any color is available. If you don't like the design, you can always grab another copy and start again.
    • You do not have to be an artist to design a beautiful flower bed. Any color will look better than brown. Certain colors will give different effects. Warm colors such as red, yellow and orange, bring a sunny feeling to a cool shady area. Cooler colors such as blue, green and violet bring a soothing coolness to a hot patio or walkway.
    • Complementary colors provide eye-catching, dramatic plantings. Complementary colors are opposite each other on the color wheel. These might include planting blues with oranges, purples with yellows, or reds with greens. Some of my favorite designs include complementary plantings. Purple nierembergia is wonderful planted with the deep yellow Dahlberg daisies.
    • Harmonious colors are next to each other on the color wheel. Examples would be combinations of red with purple or orange, blue with purple or green, yellow with green or orange, or orange with yellow or red. These plantings are not as vivid but have a more softening effect. This is why red geraniums look at home surrounded by violet and pink lobelia or alyssum.
    • Monochromatic plantings can also be quite attractive. These color schemes use different flowers in a single color throughout a flower bed. For example, an all-pink garden might use pink geraniums, petunias, verbena and vinca. The different hues and forms add interest and appeal.
    • After determining the colors needed to fill the design, calculate the amount of flowers by counting the number of squares on the graph paper in any color. Most annuals are planted on about one-foot centers. I prefer them closer together, so they fill in quickly and look full the whole summer.
    • The last step is going to the nursery to buy the flowers in the desired colors, taking them home and incorporating them into the beds. Try different annuals from year to year. Try to stay away from the predictable petunias and marigolds as often as possible. There are many other beautiful annuals with fewer problems and that are in less demand during the spring planting rush.

    Posted on 22 Feb 2001

    Jerry Goodspeed
    County Director, Horticulture Agent, Weber County

    Q

    Do you have tips for naturalizing a landscape with bulbs?

    A

    Many gardeners have good intentions when it comes to planting bulbs. Each spring, they renew their commitment to plant bulbs in the fall. But, sometimes the handful of bulbs that finally gets planted doesn't seem to make much of a difference. It often seems like it takes a truckload of bulbs to make any impact in the landscape. This is both expensive and fills up the garage when gardeners forget to plant them. There are other less expensive options that produce beautiful results. Naturalizing an area with bulbs is one solution. Naturalizing is creating an area, however large or small, in the landscape where bulbs are planted in an informal, random pattern. Consider these tips.

    Locate a naturalized site in an area that can remain undisturbed while the bulbs are growing. It can be as small as a 10 x 10 garden bed, or as large as the entire backyard. The bulbs planted in this area should increase from year to year. The spot that is chosen must have good drainage. Wet, water-logged soil reduces bulb growth. Be creative as you choose a location. Crocus planted in a parking strip can create a beautiful show each spring as the flowers bloom up through the grass. Of course, the area cannot be mowed until after the foliage begins to die back. A shrub and tree bed or an informal perennial bed work well, too. Raised areas or slopes make great naturalizing areas. The area should also be fairly permanent so the bulbs can remain undisturbed for many years.

    To promote a feeling of nature in the area, plant the bulbs randomly. Be sure to stay away from rows and patterns. Mother Nature is not known for symmetry. Too often we think bulbs have to be planted in formal patterns. That works well for large formal gardens, but most home landscapes are better suited for natural, random plantings of bulbs and flowers. Throw the bulbs into an area and plant them where they land. Large groups of similar colors can be planted, but be sure to use variety by mixing colors, sizes and spacing.

    The most common bulbs for naturalizing are daffodils, narcissus and crocus. They come in a variety of colors and sizes. Others to consider include the drumstick allium (Allium sphaerocephalon), Asiatic lilies and galanthus (Galanthus nivalis). All naturalize quite well, are long lived and will add lovely color to the landscape. Muscari can be used, but it often spreads more than most gardeners want. Tulips can also be used, but many of the newer varieties die out after a few years of neglect.

    When using small bulbs, plant them by paths or sidewalks so they don’t get lost in the rest of the bulbs. A few can be thrown in with other bulbs, but most need to be planted randomly in highly visible areas.

    If you can only afford a few bulbs each year, start with a small area and gradually expand in the future. A small spot with lots of color is much more eye-catching than a large area with a bulb every 10 or 20 feet.

    As fall turns to winter, take a leap of faith and plant some bulbs now. Your almost heavenly reward will come next spring. Visit http://extension.usu.edu/cooperative/aska/ to see other Ask A Specialist columns.

    Posted on 29 Sep 2005

    Jerry Goodspeed
    County Director, Horticulture Agent, Weber County

    Q

    Do you have tips for newly planted trees?

    A

    Many trees were planted in Utah this spring. Most trees do a good job taking care of themselves after planting; however, trees still need care and assistance to ensure their quality and health.

    Consider these tips when caring for newly planted trees.

    • Water trees thoroughly at planting time, then once a week (adjusted for significant rain) through the first growing season. Water more often on sandy soils or during very hot, dry weather. A light sprinkling that only wets the soil surface is not enough. Water must penetrate 6 to 12 inches to reach most of the tree's roots and to encourage deep rooting. If irrigation water is limited this summer due to drought, be sure to give adequate water to your trees or they may decline in health and die. Lawns that die due to lack of water can be replaced fairly quickly; trees cannot.
    • Stake newly planted trees that are more than 2 to 4 feet tall if they are at risk of catching wind. Trees should be staked loosely since some bending is needed for the trunk to develop naturally. Anything that wraps around the trunk, such as wires or cords, should be well padded to avoid damage to the tree's bark and outer growing layers. Stakes should be removed after one or two years. If roots are not well established by then, it is likely they will not become established at all.
    • Mulch newly planted trees and established trees. This is one of the best ways to ensure a tree's health. A 4-foot or larger circle of wood chips, compost, or other coarse organic mulch 4 inches deep helps control weeds, keeps roots moist, reduces soil compaction, and keeps the mower away from the tree's trunk. If turf is already established around the tree, place the mulch directly on the turf. Any grass that is not shaded out by the mulch can easily be pulled.
    • Do not fertilize new trees. Fertilization is not necessary for most trees and should not be done at planting time or for a year or two after planting. If fertilization is to be done, wait until twig growth has returned to a normal rate. This indicates that the tree is no longer suffering from transplanting shock. Use a complete, granular fertilizer spread on the surface under the tree's crown and water it in well. Avoid using weed-and-feed fertilizer-herbicide combinations around trees since they may cause damage to trees. 

    Follow these steps and keep an eye out for insect and disease problems and your new tree will give you years of enjoyment. For more on tree planting, care and selection see the web site at extension.usu.edu/coop/natres/forests/index.htm.

    Posted on 28 Jun 2001

    Michael Kuhns
    Forestry Specialist

    Q

    Do you have tips for safely removing snow from sidewalks and driveways?

    A

    Hand injuries, muscle strain, and overexertion are just some of the snow removal injuries associated with each season’s first major snowfall. As winter arrives and snow blankets the walkways and driveways, here are some tips to help you remove it.

    • Dress properly and pay close attention to the cold temperature and how tired you become. Clothes should be snug fitting and worn in layers. Shoes should be sturdy and provide traction on icy surfaces. Don’t work to the point of exhaustion and take frequent rests indoors to warm up.
    • Snow shoveling, although labor intensive, is the method most commonly used by homeowners. The shovel does not require an operator’s manual, seldom fails to start, and will work when other equipment will not. Lightweight, aluminum shovels work best and surface conditioners such as Teflon, silicon, or wax can be used to prevent snow buildup on the shovel surface. A typical snow shovels holds lots of snow, but partially filling the shovel rather than heaping it full will reduce strain on muscles and joints.
    • Powered snow removal equipment can seriously injure people and animals, and cause damage to property from flying debris. The equipment produces toxic exhaust fumes and operates on fuel that presents a fire and explosion hazard.. Eye protection is also important and wear hearing protection if the engine noise is excessive or the equipment will be operated for long periods of time.
    • Please remember the following guidelines for safe snow removal with a snowblower. Review the snow blower operating manual and put the equipment where it can be easily accessed. Inexperience is a frequent cause of accidents. Check the fuel and oil, and make sure the engine will easily start and stop. Know how to quickly stop the snow throwing or blowing unit and shut the engine off if a problem arises. Do not operate snow removal equipment when it is dark or visibility is poor.
    • Newer models are equipped with improved safety features and increased engine horsepower for better snow removal and reduced clogging. Snow blowers and throwers sold today have a lever that must be engaged by the operator for the equipment to operate. If the lever is released the drive train is disengaged and snow discharge stops. This safety feature has the advantage of stopping the machine if you lose control of the power unit for any reason.
    • Clear the areas where snow will be removed of yard debris, sticks, rocks, water hoses, extension cords, toys, and such. Snow removal equipment can throw snow 20 feet or more and solid objects such as rocks or ice chunks may travel three times that distance.
    • Accidents and injuries occur most often when a hand or other object is inserted in the discharge chute and comes in contact with the turning blades of the blower/thrower unit. If the capacity of a snow blower/thrower is exceeded by wet, heavy snow, the discharge chute will clog. The high-speed augers, blades, and/or paddles are slowed and can become plugged. Don’t overload the equipment. If snow is heavy, go more slowly and remove a narrower strip of snow with each pass. Avoid overloading the machine and keep the discharge unit turning at high-speed.
    • If the discharge unit becomes clogged, resist the temptation to reach into or place an object such as a stick in the discharge chute. Turn the engine off and disconnect the sparkplug wire or electrical power. Use a wooden dowel or plastic rod to remove snow. Under no circumstances place your hand inside the discharge chute to remove the blockage. Even with the engine turned off, the discharge unit may spin when clogged snow is dislodged.
    • When operating snow blowers and throwers direct the snow discharge chute away from people, animals, windows, vehicles and other property that may be damaged by flying debris. Be careful when turning because the direction of snow discharge will change.
    • Travel up and down the face of slopes, rather than across the slope when removing snow from inclined surfaces. A slope that rises more that three feet with each ten feet of horizontal travel is too steep for traditional snow removing equipment. Take special care when changing directions on sloped surfaces. It is very easy to loose control of a snow blower or thrower when it is leaning to the left or right.
    • Under windy conditions, start on the upwind side of the area to be cleared and throw the snow with the wind. The wind will help disperse the snow and prevent it from settling on cleared areas.
    • When removing snow from a gravel driveway, set the blades an inch or more above the gravel to reduce the likelihood that gravel will launch through the discharge chute.
    • Electric snow blowers have an electric motor that can also cause injury and electricity has the added hazard of electrocution. If the electric cord becomes caught in the machine, severe shock or electrocution can result. Begin snow removal close to the outlet and continue outward to minimize the chance of running over the power cord.
    • Young children should not be allowed to operate power equipment. Age, maturity, and physical ability should be considered when permitting older children to operate this equipment. Young people should be closely supervised.
    • Take care when refueling snow blowers and throwers. Keep gasoline powered equipment and fuel away from flames, sparks or excessive heat. Store fuel in a ventilated area. Allow the engine to cool before refueling and fill fuel tanks outdoors. If you would like learn more about snow removal equipment, try the local dealers or the Internet site http://www.whatsthebestsnowblower.com/access.shtml.

    Posted on 4 Dec 2000

    Richard Beard
    Agricultural Systems Technology and Education Specialist

    Q

    Do you have tips for success with African violets?

    A

    First discovered in the country of Tanzania, African violets are native to eastern Africa. A baron from Germany spotted the delicate flowers and sent them back to his native country for research. For the first few years they were only grown in botanical gardens and conservatories. It wasn't until 1926 that they were introduced to the commercial industry in the United States.

    Since introduction, African violets have become one of the most popular house plants grown in this country. They have been crossed, radiated and mutated to develop new colors and flower shapes. About the only colors African violets are not available in are yellow, orange and a vivid red. African violets can be touchy about their surroundings and growth requirements but, if given proper care, will bloom and look attractive most of the year. Here are some tips:

    • Start with a potting soil mix that drains well. Some nurseries sell potting mixes specifically formulated for African violets. When creating your own soil mix, be sure it drains well and is not easily waterlogged.
    • and has drainage holes in the bottom. Sometimes African violets are planted in pots with large drainage holes, but the pot is then placed in a colorful aluminum foil liner that nullifies the ability of the pot to drain. These plants die quickly from root rot.
    • insect or disease. Check the top inch of the soil. If it is still moist, the plants do not need to be watered. Once the top inch of soil dries, water thoroughly, allowing the water to drain out the bottom of the pot.
    • African violets bloom best when crowded. The leaves should hang above the soil but not touch the edge of the pot where salts collect that can injure the plant. If leaf stems lay across a wet rim of the flower pot, they may rot. To prevent this, cover the rim with paraffin or aluminum foil.
    • African violets do best in bright, indirect light. Place them in a room that receives about 12 to 15 hours of light a day. A room with a southern exposure is best, or one with large windows facing east or west. If fluorescent lighting is used to supplement sunlight, be sure to provide a minimum of 15 hours of light a day. The lights should be placed within 6 to 12 inches of the plant.
    • African violets prefer daytime temperatures around 70 degrees, and cooler nights of about 65 degrees. The higher the humidity the better. Utah is not known for its high humidity, so this may need to be supplemented by using a humidifier or a humidifying tray.
    • Fertilize plants with a product specifically designed for African violets. Apply it monthly from spring through fall. Let the plants slow their growth during the winter by reducing the amount of fertilizer. If minerals from fertilizing accumulate on the soil surface, water heavily to flush the soil, allowing them to drain well, or repot.
    • Only a few pests bother African violets. However, the leaves and flowers should be inspected periodically for any visible signs of insects or damage. Remove dead flowers when they begin to droop.

    Posted on 1 Mar 2001

    Jerry Goodspeed
    County Director, Horticulture Agent, Weber County

    Q

    Do you have tips on firewise landscaping?

    A

    A landscape that gives a home or building the best chance for surviving a wildfire is one that provides a defensible space. Fires need fuel, oxygen and heat to burn. Defensible space landscapes are low in fuel and help keep fire away from the structure so that firefighters have a chance to defend it. Consider these tips in providing a defensible space landscape for your home:

    • Cut tall grass near structures. A fire in dry grass burns quickly and is very difficult to control.
    • Create a 30-foot zone around your home that contains only well-managed, firewise plants.
    • Examples of firewise plants include mowed and irrigated turf, moist perennials such as irises and daylilies, and a few well-pruned and maintained, widely-spaced broadleaved trees and shrubs. All plants and trees will burn if a fire is severe enough, but some are more fire prone than others. Conifers such as pines and spruces tend to be fairly flammable, while many broadleaved trees are more fire resistant.
    • Remove all trees and shrubs from within 10 feet of homes and buildings. Dense brush burns quickly and can act as a ladder for low flames to reach into larger trees or homes.
    • Maintain a fuel break of low-growing plants 30 to 70 feet away from homes and buildings on larger lots. Fuel breaks act as a buffer between the manicured landscape near the home and adjacent property. This becomes especially important in a severe fire. Houses located high on steep slopes need wide, clear spaces to protect them from fires burning uphill. Local wind conditions may also warrant more widely-cleared areas.
    • Rake leaves and twigs from under trees and shrubs to reduce fuel loads. Tree litter that accumulates on roofs and in gutters should also be removed regularly. Litter accumulated on lower branches of trees and shrubs should be removed as well as litter in adjacent wildland areas if possible. Litter should then be placed in an approved landfill.
    • Prune tree branches. Prune branches 10 to 20 feet above the ground on large trees to prevent low fires from reaching the tree crowns.
    • Thin dense tree groups. Though the grouping of trees is a commonlyused landscaping technique, it can be hazardous in fire-prone areas. Thinning these groups will slow the spread of fire.
    • Remove firewood and other combustible materials from areas around buildings. Firewood should be stored on the outside edge of your defensible space.
    • Make sure firefighters can reach all parts of your property. Place fences, trees and retaining walls so they don't restrict firefighting equipment access.
    • Cooperate with neighbors to provide large defensible spaces. In areas where lot sizes are small and homes are close, neighbors should work especially hard to have firewise landscaping. If you properly maintain your lot but your neighbor's overgrown lot is only 10 feet from your house, none of your preparations will keep your structure safe. If there are many neighbors who aren't being cautious, ordinances or restrictive covenants may be necessary for everyone's protection.
    • Check your landscape on a monthly basis and attend to problems before they become serious hazards. 

    These techniques will not guarantee complete fire safety; however, firewise landscaping can greatly increase a home's chances of survival if a fire occurs. A list of firewise plants is available at your USU County Extension office or on the Web site at extension.usu.edu/publica/natrpub2.htm.

    Posted on 12 Jul 2001

    Michael Kuhns
    Forestry Specialist

    Q

    Do you have tips on managing grasshoppers in my yard?

    A

    During the current drought cycle, grasshoppers have become a common occurrence in the home yard. There are hundreds of species of grasshoppers in North America, but only a few of them cause economic damage to plants. The short-horned or Acridid grasshoppers are the primary culprits. The slant-faced grasshoppers (angled faces, long, thin bodies) feed primarily on grasses; spur-throated grasshoppers (projection under their throat) feed primarily on herbaceous plants; and banded-winged grasshoppers (brightly colored hind wings that rattle when they fly) feed on both grasses and herbaceous plants.

    Most problems occur in home yards when large populations of grasshoppers migrate from surrounding open fields, range and other less disturbed grasshopper egg-laying sites. Eggs are laid in undisturbed ground in the summer and fall, then over-winter. Eggs hatch the following spring, and emerging young (nymphs) feed on green vegetation. When field vegetation begins to dry, large flushes of grasshoppers migrate and overrun nearby succulent landscapes and gardens. The best way to combat grasshoppers in these circumstances is to work with neighbors to coordinate treatment. Consider these tips.

    A number of insecticide choices are available to kill grasshoppers. They include acephate (Orthene), azadirachtin (Neem), bifenthrin (Talstar), carbaryl (Sevin), cyfluthrin (Tempo), diazinon, malathion, permethrin (Astro) and pyrethrin. Most of these are not labeled for food crops, so be sure to read and follow label directions carefully.

    Two biological insecticides are effective on grasshoppers. Beauveria bassiana is an insect-attacking fungus. Nosema locustae is a protozoan that, upon ingestion and sporulation in the gut, infects fat tissues of the grasshopper. Nosema is slower acting than conventional insecticides and can take 4-6 weeks to kill grasshoppers.

    Insecticide baits offer a longer-lasting option for grasshopper control. Baits formulated with grain to attract feeding grasshoppers include Nosema locustae (Nolo Bait, Semaspore) and carbaryl.

    Grasshoppers are easier to kill in their early nymphal stages. Older nymphs and adults are the most voracious feeders and cause the main injury to plants. If grasshoppers move to your property from surrounding land, place a 6-8 foot band of bait around the property border and into the adjacent field. Do this in late spring to early summer when populations of small nymphs begin to increase. To maintain active insecticide, re-treat every two to three weeks while grasshopper populations are increasing (during egg hatch), and especially following heavy irrigation or rain.

    Other management strategies include spot or target spraying nymphs when they are seen feeding in the yard, or treating adjacent vacant lots or fields that have nymph infestations.

    Remember that not all grasshoppers will cause harm and low numbers can be tolerated. Most insecticides are not selective (Nosema locustae is an exception), and beneficial insects and spiders will be killed as well as pests. For effective grasshopper suppression, it is important to start early when grasshoppers are small and to maintain control until eggs have hatched and new waves of nymphs are no longer detected. Once flying adults are on the scene, it is too late for effective control that year.

    For more information, visit http://extension.usu.edu/insect/fs/grassho3.htm to view “Grasshoppers in Utah: General Biology” by Edward W. Evans or visit

    http://extension.usu.edu/insect/fs/grasshop.htm to see “Grasshoppers and their Control,” by Alan H. Roe.

    Posted on 19 Jul 2004

    Diane Alston
    Hort-Entomologist Specialist

    Q

    Do you have tips on planting trees and shrubs?

    A

    Research shows that the better the treatment a tree receives at planting, the better its chances of living a long, healthy life. It is true that trees are tough and can survive a great deal of mistreatment. However, a poorly planted tree may survive a year or two or even longer, then slowly die as a result of poor planting practices. This may be hard for gardeners to believe, since many tend to think that if a tree has lived for a couple of weeks, the planting job must have been successful. Mike Kuhns, Utah State University Extension Forestry Specialist, has said, Why put a $100 tree in a $1 hole?" Consider these planting tips to maximize the financial and aesthetic value of your trees.

    • Dig wide. The recommendation for planting is to dig the hole two to three times as wide as the root ball. For example, if the root ball is 24 inches wide, the hole should be 48 to 72 inches across. This guideline stems from the fact that most tree roots grow in the top 6 to 18 inches of soil. A wider hole gives the roots a larger area to grow into as well as more area for collecting water and nutrients.
    • Don t dig too deep. Many years ago, people thought the deeper the hole, the better. Trees planted this way simply sunk into the soft soil and died a slow death. Tree roots grow where the water and nutrients are located, which is normally in the top layers of soil. Because of this, it is important to give the roots ample room to grow out, not down. Do not dig the hole deeper than the height of the root ball. This means once the tree is planted, the soil level should be where the roots begin to flare out of the trunk. The soil level should be the same as it was when in the pot or on the ball when burlapped.
    • Be careful when placing the tree. Once the hole is dug, lower the tree into the hole. Carefully remove the pot or packing material, disrupting the roots as little as possible. Pack the soil around the ball of roots as the material is removed. After the tree is securely in the hole, water it thoroughly.
    • Backfill with native soil. The roots will eventually need to grow into the native soil, so fill the hole with the soil that was removed when it was initially dug. Mix compost or other organic matter into the native soil before backfilling to help the roots get established. A good ratio is 70 percent native soil to 30 percent organic material.
    • Do not over-water. One common problem with newly transplanted trees is over-watering. Remember that tree roots need oxygen as much as they need water. Build a moat around the tree where water can be applied. This will help keep water off the trunk. Water the tree only after the top three to five inches of soil has dried. Although it may seem reasonable to keep the soil wet all the time, this actually pushes oxygen away from the roots, killing the tree faster than if it had been under-watered.
    • Plant now. Fall is a great time to plant a tree in the landscape. Cooler weather reduces the stress on a newly planted tree, allowing it time to get established before rain and snow comes this winter.

    Posted on 11 Sep 2003

    Jerry Goodspeed
    County Director, Horticulture Agent, Weber County

    Q

    Do you test soil?

    A

    Yes.  The USU Extension office supplies “soil test kits” which include a labeled shipping container, a plastic bag for the sample and an order sheet with sample collection instructions.  Take a representative sample, fill out the form, enclose a check (there is a small fee for the basic analysis), and send the package to the USU Analytical Labs in Logan, UT.  Results and recommendations are sent directly to you within two weeks.

    Posted on 13 Jun 2006

    Karl Hauptfleisch
    Salt Lake Master Gardener

    Q

    Does it help to aerate in the spring and fall? Also if there is a lot of dead grass and thatch build up would it be beneficial to power rake in the spring?

    A

    Aerating in the spring and/or fall can be very beneficial in compacted areas or areas with excessive amounts of thatch.  Aerating enhances the movement of air and water though the soil and improves conditions for plant roots.

    As for your thatch question, how much thatch is there?  As much as 0.5 inches is fine.  If you are working with a home lawn, I would not recommend power raking except in cases of EXTREME thatch buildup (i.e. 2 inches or more).  Power raking is actually quite stressful for the grass since large amounts of healthy roots are also pulled up.  If you feel that some action is necessary, I would recommend aerating in spring and fall with a core aerator as a start.

    Posted on 19 Oct 2007

    Kelly Kopp
    Water Conservation & Turfgrass Specialist

    Q

    Due to the dry season, the weeds are overtaking our lawn. Besides watering, is there a weed killer I can apply when it is so hot? Is there a fertilizer or food that would help it?

    A

    The most common broadleaf weed herbicide contains 2,4-D, which can volatilize and drift to nearby plants and damage them when temperatures are hot. There are a few other herbicides, but most are effective when temperatures are not so intense. I would recommend that you hand-pull weeds in areas of greatest concern, and try to prevent seed set in the others.  Weeds are often a function of watering practice. If your lawn is in good health and you water properly, weeds are much more easily controlled.  Water lawns only as often as absolutely necessary. By allowing the top one inch of soil to dry between irrigation, you are killing any weed seeds that are sprouting immediately after the irrigation.

    Train the Turfgrass to grow deeper roots by wetting the soil at least 8 inches deep every time you irrigate. (Test it by digging a hole and looking at the soil or by poking a long screwdriver down into the lawn - when you meet resistance, that is where dry soil begins).  Thatch buildup creates a good place for weeds to germinate, because this spongy layer between grass blades and the soil retains water longer than soil would. If thatch is thicker than one-half inch, core aerate this fall or late summer (once hot temperatures subside). Too much nitrogen fertilization can lead to thatch buildup, because grass is growing faster than the clippings and dead roots can decompose.

    Also, don't forget to raise the mower deck so that the soil surface is more shaded (this will discourage weed growth there). And, taller grass plants grow deeper roots, so you can go even longer between irrigations (thus allowing the soil surface and/or thatch layer to dry out and kill weed seed that may be germinating).  Review the USU Extension publication "Basic Turfgrass Care" and follow the maintenance guidelines therein. You can download that publication at http://extension.usu.edu/files/gardpubs/hg517.pdf

    You can shop for a weed control that doesn't have an temperature limits - be sure to identify the weeds you want to control, read the herbicide label carefully and follow all label directions.

    Posted on 1 Aug 2007

    Maggie Wolf
    Horticulture Agent, Salt Lake County

    Q

    How and when can I transplant small, 6-12 inch and medium, 5 ft joshua trees? The latter is more important at this point since it would be a shame to lose it.

    A

    The only recommendations I could find about transplanting Joshua trees are for Arizona, so just move up the dates (our growing season is much shorter here than there). Take a look:
    http://www.arizonacactussales.com/tips/joshua.htm
    I know Joshua trees can survive here in the Salt Lake Valley, but try to avoid low areas where cold air can pool - those are frost pockets.   The root system you dig up to transplant will be fairly shallow. You must support the trees with stakes at least one year so that they won't fall over.

    The smaller plant has a better chance at surviving, since the tall plant will have much higher water demands and relatively fewer roots. Be sure to give the plants extra irrigation this fall and next spring until the root systems can regenerate. But, don't keep the soil too moist or the roots will rot. 

    Posted on 9 Aug 2007

    Maggie Wolf
    Horticulture Agent, Salt Lake County

    Q

    How can I attract hummingbirds to my yard?

    A

    Many people enjoy watching hummingbirds zip through their gardens. The trick to keeping them in the garden is to grow plants that provide the food they need. They are not picky eaters, so a number of attractive plants can provide portions of a meal for them. The majority of their diet consists of flower nectar, which they supplement with small insects.

    Hummingbirds feed from morning until dusk. This provides them the energy that keeps them in constant motion. They consume as much as half their body weight in one day. In order to eat this much, they must move quickly and visit as many plants as possible.

    Red and orange flowers are the preferred target of most hummingbirds, especially if the flowers are trumpet-shaped. A number of annuals fit this bill, including nicotiana, annual phlox, nasturtium and zinnia. Nicotiana and annual phlox are taller flowers which are recommended because the birds can spot them easily. Consider these additional flowers to attract hummingbirds:

    Tall perennials that attract hummingbirds include hollyhocks (Alcea rosea), delphinium (Delphinium), foxglove (Digitalis), red-hot poker (Kniphofia), Maltese cross (Lychnis) and cardinal flower (Lobelia). The cardinal flower, the Maltese cross and the red-hot poker are nice additions to the garden because they bloom later in the year. Hummingbirds are attracted to the orange flowers on Lion’s tail (Leonotis). The plant grows anywhere from 2- to 6-feet tall, and produces clusters of flowers every 6- to 10-inches along the upright stem. Hummingbird fuchsia (Zauschneria) blooms around the middle of July, and continues to produce flowers into late fall. It is loaded with orange flowers and is great for trailing over a rock or from a planter. Low-growing perennials that attract hummingbirds include columbine (Aquilegia), coral bells (Heuchera), lupine (Lupinus) and bee balm (Monarda). Monarda grows between 1 ½-to 3-feet tall, can be covered with attractive crimson to pink flowers and also attracts bees. A number of vines also attract hummingbirds. Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) is probably the most noted. This vine is easy to grow in most locations with the proper support. It has attractive orange flowers and is reminiscent of flowers found in an old-fashioned, grandmother’s garden. Another vine with orange flowers is the trumpet-creeper (Campsis radicans). This plant can be somewhat aggressive, but with proper care makes a nice addition to a hummingbird garden.

    Shrubs can also entice hummingbirds into an area. Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus), shrub honeysuckle (Lonicera), beautybush (Kolkwitzia), butterfly bush (Buddleia) and weigela (Weigela) all have attractive flowers. These shrubs work best when placed in the background or used as an informal hedge or border around a garden. Selecting these plants for your garden does not guarantee hummingbirds will make your yard a favorite outdoor dining destination. Even so, you will enjoy the benefits of attractive, bright flowers in the landscape. 

    Posted on 8 Jul 2004

    Jerry Goodspeed
    County Director, Horticulture Agent, Weber County

    Q

    How can I conserve water and still have a nice lawn?

    A

    Despite what the snow-covered peaks might indicate, we do not have as much water as those who live in most other states. Without supplemental water, many of our non native plants and turf grasses would dry up and die.

    In water short years, here are some tips for conservation:

    • Automated sprinkler systems make watering convenient for most gardeners. Once we figure out the electronic puzzle, we can become Mother Nature, controlling the elements within our own realm. What we sometimes forget is that we are not as wise as Mother Nature so we neglect checking the watering system to make sure it is in harmony with our plants. Few plants, other than water lilies and a few bog plants, actually enjoy being watered every day.
    • Contrary to popular belief, grass is not a bog plant. Grass actually does best with extended periods between watering. Many lawns in our area are still flood irrigated once a week, and they look great.
    • It is true that when a lawn is first established and the roots are shallow, it needs constant attention and moisture. However, as the grass begins to grow the roots stretch further into the soil, eventually reaching depths of more than 10 inches. Sometimes plants have to be trained to grow deeper roots by slowly extending the period of time between watering from one day to two, and then three, etc. Roots develop wherever they find water and nutrients. Watering every day doesn't encourage the roots to stretch and grow because the water is always available right at the surface. Then, if the water is cut off for a day, the plants begin showing signs of drying. Unfortunately our first response is to turn on the hose and try to revive what we think is dying grass.
    • The best response is to let the lawn struggle a little to grow. The best time to do this is in the spring. As the weather warms, instead of increasing the frequency of watering, increase the amount of water applied when watering. The grass will not die, but will become healthier as the roots extend into the soil.
    • and die if not watered on a constant basis. Lawns in sandy soil can still go three or four days between watering, but the roots need to be trained to adapt. There are lawns in sandy soil that are flood irrigated once every week and they look great. It just depends on how well you train the lawn.
    • After watering once, go out and check to determine how deeply the water is penetrating. Grab a long screw driver and push it into the lawn. It will easily slide through wet soil, but will stop and become difficult to push once it hits dry ground. Mark this spot on the screw driver with your finger and pull it out. Measure the depth it extended into the soil. This indicates the level water is penetrating the soil.

    Posted on 17 May 2001

    Jerry Goodspeed
    County Director, Horticulture Agent, Weber County

    Q

    How can I make my lawnmower safe?

    A

    Each year, hospital emergency rooms treat more than 60,000 individuals with lawn care-related injuries. A majority of the injuries occur in young people under the age of 16 and are primarily attributed to unsafe practices rather than equipment malfunctions.

    Safety guidelines recommend that children under the age of 12 not operate power equipment. A person's body size, strength, coordination, experience and maturity affect his or her ability to safely operate a lawnmower. To improve the safety of mowing equipment for young people as well as adults, consider the following tips.

    • Review the operator's manual and the manufacturer's recommendations for safe operation. Perform regular maintenance on your mower as outlined in the operator's manual. Prior to using your mower, check for worn or loose tires, belts, guards and covers. The mower blade(s) should be sharpened periodically to improve quality of cut and maintain operating efficiency.
    • Always wear safety glasses, snug fitting clothes, long pants and work shoes when mowing. In some instances hearing protection is also necessary. Mower shields and guards must remain in place and operational for personal protection. Know how to turn off the lawnmower in an emergency. Never bypass safety kill switches or levers or disable controls that stop blade rotation. Older mowers without safety equipment should be replaced with newer models with modern safety features.
    • Do not place hands or other objects in the discharge chute or under the deck while mower is operating. Remove objects and debris from the area prior to mowing. Objects such as rocks, stumps and sticks easily become dangerous projectiles. If a mower has an open discharge chute, direct it away from people, animals or fragile property since injuries from objects launched by mower blades account for many accidents. Do not operate mowing equipment around children.
    • Never leave a running mower unattended. Larger commercial mowers sometimes allow the mowing blade to be disengaged while the engine is running. If operating this type of mower, take special care when removing the bag to empty clippings or when performing other activities near the mower when the engine is running.
    • Accidents frequently occur when mowers are operated on inclines with wet, slippery grass. To avoid this, wait until the grass on the incline is dry, then mow across the slope with a walk-behind mower or up and down the slope with a riding mower. Never allow passengers on riding mowers.
    • Do not use the self-propelling power of a mower to transport it over a gravel road or other debris-covered surface. Disengage the blade or turn the mower off and push it rather than mowing over a dangerous surface.
    • Allow fuel-powered mowers to cool before adding fuel or working on the engine. Do not add fuel while the mower is running and do not mow or add fuel while smoking. When turning power equipment off, allow all rotating parts to stop before attempting repair or adjustment. Always remove the spark plug before attempting repairs or blade adjustment on gasoline powered equipment. If using an AC electric powered mower, mow when the grass is dry to reduce the chance of electrical shock. Also take special care to prevent mowing over electrical power cords.
    • As with all power tools, do not hurry when operating. People who mow at excessive speeds are risking injury and death. Work cautiously to protect yourself and others. For additional information related to lawnmower safety and equipment, visit http://users.1st.net/mkw94/safety.htm, http://www.shrinershq.org/Prevention/mower6-98.html or http://www.whatsthebest-lawnmower.com/safety.shtml.

    Posted on 18 Jun 2004

    Richard Beard
    Agricultural Systems Technology and Education Specialist 

    Q

    How can I tell when my pears are ripe?

    A

    Pears are best when they are ripened off the tree (except Asian varieties).  Fruit left on the tree will not have a good flavor or texture.  Pick fruit when it is mature, hard and green, or cut it open and see if the seeds are turning from white to brown/black, if they are it is time to harvest them and allow them to finish ripening off the tree.  To harvest pears lift up the fruit gently (do not twist or pull), if the stem does not separate easily from the branch, allow the fruit to remain on the tree a few more days.  Winter varieties usually need about six weeks of cold storage before they are ripe. 

    Posted on 13 Jun 2006

    Karl Hauptfleisch
    Salt Lake Master Gardener

     

    Spring Yard Care

    Q

    Do you have tips on early spring lawn and yard care?

    A

    In early spring, you can reduce the tangle of weeds that appear in your yard, prune your trees, reduce garden pests and help your lawn become healthy and green. Proper care of your lawn in the spring will help promote a healthy landscape throughout the year. Consider these tips.

    • Core aeration, where small plugs are removed from the soil, has proven to be more beneficial to turf than power raking, which was a common yard care technique several years ago. Aerating allows better air, water and fertilizer penetration into the soil. It also helps reduce the thatch layer and minimizes compaction that produces unhealthy roots. It can be done any time the ground is free from snow. Heavily used areas and clay soils may need to be aerated twice a year, once in the spring and again in the fall. Normal soil types and use areas are usually fine with one aeration in the spring, and sandy soils only need it every two years.
    • If a fall fertilizer was applied last year, the grass may not need it again until mid or late- May. If there was no fall application, a fertilizer high in nitrogen can be applied now. Consider using a slow release fertilizer, such as sulfur-coated urea. These fertilizers are more expensive, but only need to be applied every two to three months to keep the lawn looking green and lush.
    • You can begin mowing your grass as soon as it starts to grow, leaving it between 2 1/2 to 3 inches tall. You should begin watering when the lawn looks dry or begins to show early symptoms of water stress.
    • Weeds, such as spurge, crabgrass and foxtail, are common in July and August and should be controlled in the spring since they are nearly impossible to remove midsummer. Weeds germinate and are small in the spring so they go unnoticed. Nip them in the bud by applying a pre-emergent such as Galleria, Halt or Dacthal to the lawn now and then again in early June. These products must be applied before the weeds begin to germinate since they kill the young germinating annuals, not the established weeds.
    • Cleaning up debris around the yard and garden will help keep pests under control. They love to hide under old dead plant material and organic matter. Controlling the first generation of most insects greatly reduces their number throughout the summer. A clean garden eliminates a breeding area or a place for insects to gather.
    • Control broadleaf weeds in early May with a broadleaf weed killer. These weeds include dandelions, clover, black medic and chickweed. They need to be treated before the weather warms to above 85 degrees.
    • When trimming ornamental and shade trees, remember that the tree limbs and branches will stay at the same height for the entire life of the tree. The growing point for the tree is located in the top terminal bud, and the rest of the tree will only grow in circumference. If the branch is four feet off the ground today, it will be four feet off the ground in 20 years.
    • You can safely prune most trees through the end of May. Most pruning is done before the tree leafs out because it is easier to see where to prune and easier to get into the tree. I recommend pruning in March and early April.
    • Do very little pruning on ornamental trees. Prune wood that is dead, diseased or injured and branches that cross (rub), grow back into the center of the tree or are out of place. Be sure to keep the natural shape of the tree intact.

    Posted on 8 Mar 2001

    Jerry Goodspeed
    County Director, Horticulture Agent, Weber County

    Q

    How do i get rid of morning glory?

    A

    The true answer is: you don't. But you can slow it down and manage it. 

    Field bindweed, often called morning glory, is indeed enjoying the hot summer we are having this year. It is just the edge it needs to compete more effectively against the cool season grass lawns most of us grow. As with any weed management, irrigation practices are important, although less so with this weed, since it grows from roots. But it also produces seed which can germinate and grow quickly in the right situation.

    Water lawns only as often as absolutely necessary. By allowing the top one inch of soil to dry between irrigation, you are killing any weed seeds that are sprouting immediately after the irrigation. Train the Turfgrass to grow deeper roots by wetting the soil at least 8 inches deep every time you irrigate. Test it by digging a hole and looking at the soil or by poking a long screwdriver down into the lawn - the dry soil begins when you meet resistance. Thatch buildup creates a good place for weeds to germinate, because this spongy layer between grass blades and the soil retains water longer than soil would. If thatch is thicker than one-half inch, core aerate this fall or late summer (once hot temperatures subside). Too much nitrogen fertilization can lead to thatch buildup, because grass is growing faster than the clippings and dead roots can decompose. Also, don't forget to raise the mower deck so that the soil surface is more shaded, this will discourage weed growth there. Taller grass plants grow deeper roots, so you can go even longer between irrigations thus allowing the soil surface and/or thatch layer to dry out and kill weed seed that may be germinating.

    Review the USU Extension publication "Basic Turfgrass Care" and make sure that your lawn care company is following the maintenance guidelines therein. You can download that publication at 

    http://extension.usu.edu/files/gardpubs/hg517.pdf

    When temperatures are cool enough (80 daytime max), and bindweed is in the lawn, you can spray it with an herbicide containing 2,4-D. You cannot spray these weedkillers while temperatures reach above 80 for one or two days after spraying, because the chemical will volatilize and float over to nearby plants and damage them. In areas where there aren’t any other desired plants, you can spray bindweed with a broad spectrum herbicide containing glyphosate (like Roundup).http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7462.html

    Bindweed is really loving our hot weather, because our Kentucky bluegrass is heat stressed and not competing well. A vigorous, healthy lawn can usually out-compete bindweed.  Three to four inches of mulch over soil will keep bindweed under control, too.

    Maggie Wolf

    Utah State University Extension

    Horticulture and Technology Agent

     

    This weed is correctly called field bindweed.  It is a very difficult and persistent problem.  The plant propagates by seed and underground rhizomes.  Early “weeding” of young plants reduces and sometimes eliminates their growth.  However, established plants with a deep root system are extremely hard to control and a broadleaf weed killer should be applied during the blooming season or in the fall after the first frost. 
    Recommendation:  Grow a vigorous lawn to compete against bindweed, or apply mulch 3 inches deep over it.  Occasionally pull sprouts or spot-treat with perennial-rate glyphosate.

    Karl Hauptfleisch

    Utah State University Extension

    Master Gardener

    Posted on 17 Mar 2008

    Maggie Wolf
    Horticulture Agent, Salt Lake County
    Karl Hauptfleisch
    Salt Lake Master Gardener 

    Q

    How often should I use the mulching blade in my mower? Is every time I mow OK?

    A

    Mulching blades may be used every time you mow as long as the lawn is not allowed to get too long between mowings. In the spring, when the grass is rapidly growing, you will need to mow more frequently or bag or rake the clippings. When the grass becomes high or you try to cut off too much at one time, the mulch blade cannot do its job. Later in the summer when it is hot and the grass slows down, it is not a problem.

    Posted on 12 Apr 2001

    Rick Heflebower
    Horticulture Agent, Washington County 

    Q

    I have been searching for a Globe Maple (globosum) for my landscape. I can't find this tree anywhere and I am quite desperate and would appreciate any help you could give me in locating one.

    A

    There are several different maple species with cultivars called "Globosum." They include Norway Maple, Red Maple, and Sugar Maple. If you are in Utah, the tree you want is: Acer platanoides "Globosum" (Norway Maple variety Globosum). If you can't find it in stock, you should be able to go to any full-service nursery and ask them to order one for you."

    Posted on 12 Apr 2001

    Larry Rupp
    Program Leader and Landscape Horticulture Specialist

    Q

    Last October we purchased three 7-foot pine trees from a nursery. We planted them successfully in our yard. I just noticed this weekend that some of the branches towards the bottom look like they're dying (turning color, appear to be drying out). Is this normal after winter? Or would it be a sign that the trees haven't received enough water during the winter?

    A

    It depends on which needles are dying. If it is the older needles (those closer to the center of the tree) you are probably okay. If the young needles near the tips of the branches are dying, then there is most likely a problem. At this point, I would recommend that you wait until spring and see if there is healthy new growth from the tips. It is not uncommon to have some stress during transplanting, but if you get good new growth you should be okay. Conifers can dry out during the winter, and it is hard to say without knowing your local conditions. In general most pines should be okay unless we get a cold, windy winter with little precipitation.

    Posted on 12 Apr 2001

    Larry Rupp
    Program Leader and Landscape Horticulture Specialist

    Q

    What can you tell me about Turtle Grass--value, strengths, weaknesses, how and where to plant, etc?

    A

    Turtle Grass is fairly new to us here in southern Utah. There are some pros and cons. It requires less water and fertilizer to maintain good color. However, It does not appear to be as durable (doesn't repair itself well )as bluegrass or tall fescue, so it would not be a good choice for a backyard, for example, where children would be playing. USDA researchers indicate that it would probably do well in an arid climate but, in places of high humidity it may not have good disease tolerance.
    It is something we hope to do a little testing with here in the future. Turtle Grass sod is fairly expensive (almost double the price of regular sod).

    Posted on 12 Apr 2001

    Rick Heflebower
    Horticulture Agent, Washington County 

    Q

    Will the Prairie cultivar of Buffalo grass do well in the Grantsville (Tooele County) area? If not, which grass would be best for a new home? My goal is to conserve water and minimize the number of mowings each summer. Also would you recommed Meyer Zoysia grass for this area?

    A

    The cultivars that you noted are not the best for this area. The winter may kill the Prairie cultivar of Buffalo grass. A better choice would be 609 or Legacy. 609 will remain green longer than Legacy and you would water them normally about every 10 to 14 days during the hot part of the summer. They both will brown earlier in the fall than Kentucky Blue and stay brown longer in the spring than Kentucky Blue. Zoysia grass of any kind is not recommended for this climate. They are warm season grasses and do not do well here.

    Posted on 12 Apr 2001

    Wade Bitner
    Horticulture Agent Salt Lake County