2005 Newsletter Archive

Newsletter 22

Week 22 (8/18/05)


I just wanted you to know that there will not be a newsletter next week 8/25/05.  We’ll be back the following week (September 1st), as we start to head into the fall season!


[What happens if you get scared half to death, twice?]


*WHETHER IT’S THE WEATHER – The spotty showers have been a welcomed temporary relief to some turf and smaller plants, but definitely not the larger things.  Again, don’t let sprinkles and pass by showers fool you.  It’s so dry out it would take days of slow steady rain to get us back to where we need to be.  Keep watering!

   It’s hot and it’s dry in our landscapes, and the larger trees and evergreens are thirsty.  So today we’ll take a look at a $40 investment that just may save you hundreds of dollars in the future.  It’s called a Ross Root Feeder, and they’ve been around for years.  This tool was originally designed for homeowners to feed their trees and shrubs by injecting a water soluble fertilizer into the soil and roots surrounding the plant.

   But, over the years, the Ross Root Feeder has actually become a life saver for watering larger trees and evergreens, especially during heat and drought periods like we’re going through right now.  By deep watering now, you can help to eliminate plant stress due to the drought, which if you don’t, could lead to eventual death of the evergreens and trees.

   Using sprinklers is not a good way to get deep penetration of water into the soil to really benefit the larger trees and evergreens.  But by using the Ross Root Feeder without the fertilizer pellets, we’re able to inject water 15-18 inches down into the soil, right at the root systems, without runoff or water evaporation!

   At the end of the injection tube are several holes where the water jets out.  These jets also help to drill the hole into the ground; turn on the water and let the jets slowly work your injection tube down into the soil.  Once you’re at 15 inches or so, leave the root feeder sit for about ½ an hour or so to inject water into that root zone.  After a ½ hour or so, pull it out, and move to the next location.

   Don’t be fooled into thinking larger trees and evergreens can withstand these droughts because they’re older and well rooted.  That’s not true at all. They need water like everything else.  It’s a serious situation out here right now.  Get out and water today.


[Intaxication – Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.]


*WHATS BUGGIN YOU? Today’s buggy info comes from our good friend Dr. Dave Shetlar, The Bug Doc, Landscape Entomology Extension Specialist, OSU Extension

Social Bees & Wasps Frighten Folks!

   With the dryer than normal conditions this summer, many of the social and solitary bees and wasps have had little trouble building and maintaining their nests. Remember that many of the yellowjackets and social wasps build their nests with a type of paper which is difficult to maintain if it is constantly getting wet from rains! Likewise, ground-nesting bees and wasps have trouble if their burrows are getting filled with water periodically.

I am always a bit amused when I hear of the encounters that homeowners have with social wasps! Just last week, a person called in to report that he had "suddenly" discovered a football-sized bald-faced hornet’s nest just outside his front door. This nest has obviously been building in size since May, yet the homeowner hadn’t noticed it! This just reinforces entomologist’s contentions that most of the social wasps are quite benign, and in fact, beneficial (mainly insect predators).

HOWEVER, now is the time that these social wasps, especially yellow jacket species, bald-faced hornets, and our European paper wasp, become more aggressive in seeking sugary foods. This is the time that people-wasp interactions are most likely to occur. In short, up to now these wasps have been feeding on other insects, primarily caterpillars, sawflies and flies. The wasp workers capture these insects, chew them up and take the "bug burger" back to the nest to feed the helpless maggots (their larvae) that are growing within the individual cells located with each nest. Until now, the queen wasp has been laying eggs that produce only sterile female workers. However, now the queen begins to lay eggs that will develop into new queens and drones. These new queens will have fully developed reproductive organs, but they won’t produce eggs until next spring. New queens and drones don’t forage for food like the workers do, but usually hang around the nest begging the workers for food. In this case, these reproductives prefer high carbohydrate foods rather than the high protein food needed by the larvae.

The workers pick up on the begging and begin to switch their foraging behavior to find foods with high sugar and yeast content. Of course, this means that they become real nuisances around parks, outdoor eating establishments and other places where people like to have sugary drinks, fruits and even beer. And these wasps have a memory! They remember where they were successful in finding high sugar foods and they will return again and again, often after recruiting fellow workers.

This is why outdoor feeding establishments and amusement parks have to be diligent at maintaining self-closing trash cans regularly picking up or washing down food and drink spills and practicing similar sanitary procedures.

The German yellowjacket, eastern yellowjacket, yellow hornet and bald-faced hornet are the most common species of social nuisance wasps found in Ohio urban and suburban areas. Most entomologists claim that these wasps are generally "non-aggressive" except if you get near their nests. This is usually misunderstood by the average person. What we’re talking about is their tendency to sting, not their persistent behavior to pursue food! These wasps can be very "aggressive" in pursuit of their food, but unless you physically restrain them (trap them under clothing, step on them, or get them caught in a soda can), or strike them while flaying your arms in an attempt to shoo them away, they won’t sting.

In fact, I’ve forced myself to be very unafraid of wasps buzzing around me or even landing on my arm or clothing. In most cases, they are simply inspecting me to determine if I’m food or not! On the other hand, if one strikes me or persists in buzzing loudly in front of me, I must assume that I may be close to a nest and this worker is giving me a warning to move away. Honey bees, bumble bees and many wasps do give "warnings" if you are willing to listen! Stinging is really the last resort and the behavior can be very risky for the bee or wasp. Honey bees actually die after stinging because their barbed stinger gets stuck and pulls off the tip of the abdomen when the bee departs.

My general recommendation about social bees and wasps is to try and avoid getting near their nests. They’ll be gone after the first hard frost. However, if you happen to find a nest that has been built under the mulch in a flower bed, a hole in the lawn, or other place where you may regularly need to perform maintenance, control may be necessary. There are all kinds of wasp and hornet aerosol sprays on the market, but these are generally inadequate for control of bees and wasps that nest in the ground or in wall voids. Only the umbrella wasps, Polistes, can be easily hit with these sprays. If you can locate, during the day, where the yellow jackets or bumble bees are entering their nests, try to determine where the wasps or bees land before crawling into the nest chamber. Make a mental note of this. Your strategy will be to dust this area with an insecticide, AT NIGHT, when the bees and wasps are unlikely to fly or be disturbed. My favorite insecticide to use is Sevin 5% or 10% garden dust, but you can find other garden dusts with Pyrethroids. Thoroughly dust the landing spot with the dust so that the next day most of the bees or wasps will walk through the material. Once they walk through the insecticide dust, the insects will carry the material into the nest. There, the bees and wasps will groom themselves and each other, distributing the insecticide throughout the colony. I’ve been pretty successful at knocking out a colony with one application, but sometimes a rain or irrigation can wash away the insecticide dust, so another application may be necessary in a few days.   –Dr. Dave Shetlar


[If Barbie is so popular, why do you have to buy her friends?]



*QUESTIONMARK & THE MYSTERIANS – Here are a few gardening questions from this weeks emailed news bag:

“Why are my tomatoes cracking on the top?  Cracking will vary by variety, but it is the results of irregular watering.  If the tomatoes are dry, then suddenly lots of water, the insides grow faster than the skin and they crack on the top.  Of course, they’re still edible, but just don’t last as long.

“Why aren’t the tops of my tomatoes ripening?”    High temperatures and extreme sunny days will cause irregular coloring (or ripening) of the fruit.  And yes, they’re still very much edible.

“Why are my tomato skins so thick this year?”     Obviously tomato skin thickness will vary by variety, but due to the drought and high temperatures, the skins have become thicker as needed to maintain moisture inside the fruit.  By the way, I really shouldn’t refer to tomatoes as a fruit.  Botanically they are a fruit, but according to the law (Supreme Court), they’re classified as a vegetable.


“We planted a Bloodgood Japanese maple this spring, and over the past month, we’re seeing tips of the leaves turning brown.  What would be causing this?”   -Pretty common (especially for a newly planted one) going through this heat and drought.  Make sure the roots are mulched and you keep even moisture around the roots.  The scorch won’t kill the tree, but will make it look bad.  But, it should be okay as long as you are watering as needed.


“Do you know of a recipe for making a leaf shine for indoor plants?”   -Yes, many.  But they aren’t recommended any more.  The best thing for your plants is to wash them off in the shower or tub and wipe down the leaves.  Don’t use leaf shines.


“My lantana had flowers, but now has small purple berries and no flowers.  Any ideas?”  -Yes, it went to seed.  Cut off those seed heads, and clip back tips of the plant.  Hopefully we’ll get it to re-grow and keep flowering.


“How do bagworms move from plant to plant?”   -Each bag can contain as many as 500 eggs.  In June, when they hatch, you can imagine how small they are!  Well, they get into the wind, and fly to other plants (or stay put on the home plant).  They can also move around the plant they hatch on, as well as onto neighboring plants if the branches overlap and touch.


“My Autumn Joy Sedum always flops over this time of the year.  What can I do to prevent this?”    -1.) Place a grow ring or peony ring over them before they start to grow in the spring (for support) 2.) Cut them in half in early June.  This delays flowering by a couple weeks, but keeps them shorter, stockier, and less apt to flop!


[Arachnoleptic fit – The frantic dance performed just after you’ve accidentally walked through a spider web.]


[Osteopornosis – A degenerate disease.]


 [Where in the nursery rhyme does it say Humpty Dumpty is an egg?]



I’m multi-tasking today, Ed. I’ve got peppers to pickle, herbs to harvest, freezer pesto to make and corn to shuck. So without further chatting, I’ll cut to the chase and share my recipe for pickled peppers . Whoops, I mean, your Mom’s recipe. Nell Wilson really does make the best pickled peppers in the whole world. I’d put Nell up against Martha anytime. And I get to say “I gotcha”, Yardboy.  You know how you and I have our annual pepper competition – whoever shares Nell’s recipe first with our readers or viewers wins. Well, last year I won the competition. This year I’m in first place again. I think that deserves a prize!


Nell Wilson’s famous pickled hot peppers

Count on about 5 pints. This recipe works for any kind of pepper, hot or sweet.

Sterilizing jars:

Wash jars and lids, then place in big pot covered with water.  Bring to a boil and boil 15 minutes.  Keep in hot water until you’re ready to fill them.  Meanwhile, make brine and prepare peppers:


Bring just to a boil and then lower to a simmer:

6 cups clear vinegar, 5% acidity

2 cups water

Up to 2 cups sugar


Wash.  Leave whole with a slit down the center (or poke with a toothpick) to allow brine to soak through, or cut into slices as desired. I like to remove seeds if I slice them, but this is optional.  Place peppers in sterilized, hot jars, packing tightly.  Pour boiling brine over, covering peppers.  Add seasonings, such as garlic, bay leaf, slices of sweet bell, herbs, etc. as desired, or leave plain.  Seal and let cool away from drafts. Store away from heat and light.  No need to process these as the vinegar, if you use 5%, keeps bacteria out.

That’s all there is to this wonderful pickled pepper recipe.  Making your own is so easy and much more crisp and tasty than the store-bought variety.  If you like, chill in refrigerator before serving.


Tips from Rita’s Kitchen:

· Grapes for the freezer: wash and stem. Lay in single layer on a cookie sheet and freeze, uncovered, until hard. Place into containers. The grapes stay separated and are ready to eat when thawed slightly.


(Thanks, Rita for doing this ‘first’ again.  Oh well, Mom always did like you best!)


-Rita Nader Heikenfeld, CCP / Macy’s Regional Culinary Professional / Herbalist / Author / Local TV and Radio Cooking Expert / Adjunct Professor U.C. Clermont College / Community Press Papers     [life@communitypress.com  attn: Rita]


[Did Adam and Eve have navels?]


*YARDBOYS PLANTS TO PONDER – This week, let’s ponder an ornamental plant that for the most part, really isn’t available for you to buy this year, will be a few available in 2006, and many available in 2007.  It’s such a cool plant; I wanted you to start thinking about it now!  This new woody plant is unlike any other plant you put in your garden.  Finely cut dark purple foliage all season long.  Big pink flowers (June) with a light lemon fragrance.  Dark purple-black berries which are edible.  Looks like an exotic Japanese maple, but it’s actually an elderberry.  Loves the sun, will take partial shade, gets 3-6 feet tall and wide, and is easy to grow in the ground or in a pot.  Our plant to ponder this week is Sambucus nigra or ‘Black Lace’ elderberry.  Truly a plant to be considered for the future in your garden! 

    Sambucus nigra ‘Black Lace’


[Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you don’t have a leg to stand on.]

Carol and Ed Knapton, owners of Americas's Best Flowers You’ll Love Your Garden … It’s Our Promise! May the Holy Spirit Guide You! God Bless
Edward Knapton says Keep on Smiling!
Sec – Treasurer Berry Hill Farms, Inc.
DBA Americas Best Flowers Garden Center
4311 Vilas Hope Road
Cottage Grove, WI 53527
608-222-2269 Fax 608-222-1234 Cell 608-698-5627