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Gardening: Gardening questions

When should I stop harvesting my asparagus crop?

“Allow spears remaining after July 1 to develop into ferns.” according to Cindy Tong of the University of Minnesota Extension.

We planted several plants in the milkweed family to help the monarch butterfly. Last year the various plants were covered in orange and black bugs. We did not see any monarch caterpillars. Did the bugs eat them?

According to Jeff Hahn, Extension Entomologist at the U of M, home gardeners have been finding orange and black insects on their milkweed and related plants. Some people think they are boxelder bugs, but they are actually insects called large milkweed bugs, Oncopeltus fasciatus.

Adults grow as large as ¾ inch long. They are mostly orange and black including a black horizontal band across the center of the body and black on the end of the wings. The immature nymphs are mostly orange with black wing pads and smaller than the adults.

Large milkweed bugs prefer to feed on common milkweed but will also feed on other related species. They often feed in large groups making them conspicuous on the plants. Despite their appearance, they do not harm the milkweed nor any insects, like monarch caterpillars that may also be on the plants. No action is necessary, the large milkweed bugs are fortunately harmless.

What is worst lawn problem?

Overall, compaction is the #1 lawn problem. Why? Good lawns grow on good soils. When soil particles get squashed together during heavy traffic, the grass roots no longer have access to adequate air spaces for good growth. Clay soils are more prone to compaction than sandy soils, but any lawn can be compacted. A common symptom of compacted soils is water puddling for several hours after a significant rain. Aerate the lawn in several directions in the spring or fall. After aeration, try topdressing with dry compost to create a more favorable growing medium for roots.

How can I tell if I get enough sun for grass to grow?

Grasses are full sun plants. If grass won’t grow in shade, access the situation by observing the shady spot 5 times (8 am, 10:30 am, Noon, 2:00 pm, and 4:00 pm) during a typical day in summer. Add up the number of hours that the site receives direct sunlight. If it’s 6 hours or more, you don’t have a problem with shade.

If it’s 4 hours, then consider shade adapted species of grass.

If it’s less than 4 hours, grass will not grow. Try planting a shade adapted groundcover, or a mixture of shady perennials and stepping stones or mulches.

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