• Jul 25

Japanese Beetles by Karen Weiland, Purdue Master Gardener  

Japanese beetles are one of the most aggressively damaging insect pests of landscape plants and turf grass.  Japanese beetle(Popillia japonica) larvae are a type of white grub that feeds on the roots of grass and the adult Japanese beetles eat the leaves and flowers on more than 300  plant species.  The adults are about 3/8” in length and have metallic green heads and metallic copper- tan backs.  The larvae are a “c” shaped white grub.

The Japanese beetle has a one year life cycle.  After emerging as adults, they basically feed, mate and lay eggs.  In late afternoon, the mated females will seek suitably moist turf grass soil in which to lay her cluster of eggs among the plant roots.  A female can lay 40-60 eggs during her 4 to 8 week life span.  After the larvae have hatched, they start feeding on turf grass roots.  In the fall after the soil temperature drops to about 60 degrees F the larvae move deeper into the soil where they remain throughout the winter.  As the soil warms in the spring the larvae become active again to form an earthen cell and pupate.  A few weeks later they emerge as adults.

Just because you have a large amount of adults feeding on your plants does not mean you have a grub infestation in your grass.  Adults will fly a long way to find food.  But if you do find patches of dead grass in your yard that can be rolled back like a carpet, chances are you have a grub issue.  Grubs will chew off the roots of the grass therefore causing the grass to be unable to take up water during the hot, dry weather of summer.  Starlings, crows, moles, shrews and skunks damaging the lawn may be another indication you have a grub issue.

The adults emerge from the soil in July and their activity is at its peak for a 6 to 8 week time period.  The timing of pesticide application is important in the control of Japanese Beetle grubs.  Because of their egg-laying, the best time to apply grub control insecticide is mid-July through early September using a granular insecticide applied with a spreader.  Always be sure to read and follow thoroughly, all directions on the product label.

There are numerous insecticides available to either kill and/or repel Japanese beetles.  Pyrethroid insecticides offer a 2 to 3 week protection after a single application.  Carbaryle (Sevin) is another good choice but its effectiveness will not last as long as the pyrethroid.  These are just a few of the choices available.  When making your choice, read all label warnings and cautions.  Some products are highly toxic to bees and other pollinating insects and plants grown for food.  Keep in mind, no pollinators=no food!

Another effective but time consuming control method is to simply pick the Japanese beetle from the plant in the early morning and drop it into a container of soapy water.  This would not exactly be my idea of how I would like to spend my morning, but it does work.  Japanese beetle traps are not recommended as they tend to increase the damage done by the beetles by drawing them into an area in larger numbers than can be trapped.

Good luck and as always, Happy Gardening!

More information about gardening and related subjects is available online at www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/garden_pubs The Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service can be reached at 499-6334 in LaGrange Co., 636-2111 in Noble Co., 925-2562 in DeKalb Co and 668-1000 in Steuben Co.

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  • Jul 21

by Rene Hostetler

Even though most of the retailers are now forcing us to think about “back to school” merchandise, I have my feet firmly planted right smack dab in the middle of summer!

It’s July, people!  I’m still going to the beach, spending time on boats, and pulling weeds out of my garden!  It can’t possibly be time to send the kids back to school! I’m sure the kids all feel the same way!

Eventually we will all have to reluctantly move on to the next season, and hopefully you are making some wonderful memories as you enjoy your summer.  And, hopefully, you are recording all of those wonderful memories.  It’s a lot easier these days to do that with cell phones that do just about everything for us including taking half way decent pictures.
It’s easy.  It’s fun.  And you can send your photos to your friends and family in an instant.

You can also Instagram them and categorize them with a hashtag.  To give you some practice at this, we’ve come up with a contest to go along with the whole Shipshewana Story idea.  The next time you are in Shipshewana, take some pictures that represent your experience or your favorite experience.  It could be the scenery, an item you purchased or even some yummy food you enjoyed.  Choose one picture and post it on your Facebook account or Instagram account and label it with the hashtag – #myshipshewanastory.   Leave a comment too to let us know why this was a favorite of yours.

And guess what?  You could win a prize!  The contest goes through the end of August so you still have time to plan a trip and submit your entry. The 1st place winner will receive an overnight and dinner/theater package in Shipshewana!   Pretty cool!

Memories are so important especially when they are of summer.  You might need some warm looking pictures to cozy up to once it’s cold and the snow is flying once again.

Ok….I need to head to the beach!

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  • Jul 11

Using Native Plants in the Garden and Landscape

by Karen Weiland, Purdue Master Gardener

Plants that have lived naturally in our area for hundreds of years are adapted to our climate and landscape.  These plants are called natives and have existed for such a long time because of a complex set of checks and balances in our ecosystem.

Some of the plants we see in our landscapes are brought in from other areas where there are natural controls to keep them inbounds.  When they are transplanted in our area, with no natural controls, they have the tendency to romp through our woodlands, shading and thus choking out our native plants.  By planting natives in our gardens and landscapes we can help to protect and restore the habitats that are lost to human development.

Gardening with native plants is easier because they are not finicky about growing here.  They do not need excessive watering or fertilization and they add to the resources that support our wildlife, such as no milkweed=no monarch butterflies.  Using natives to plant a rain garden enables s rain water to percolate safely into the soil rather than running into rivers and streams and taking with it whatever pollutants in comes across on its way.

There are lists of well behaved, reliable native plants that can be used to attract wildlife, restore the balance of nature and to decorate the landscape and garden on the internet.  The Indiana Native Plants and Wildflowers Society-  www.inpaws.org is a website I like to refer to which has tons of information.   This website also lists what NOT to plant (invasives).  The Interpretive Naturalists at Pokagon State Park are also a great resource for information.  Their email address is pokagoninterp@dnr.in.gov and phone number is 260-833-2012.

A few of the sun-loving native flowers are Yellow Coneflower (Ratibida pinnata), Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), Dense Blazing Star (Liatris spicata) and Obedient Plant (Physostegia virginiana).   Serviceberry (Amelanchier laevis), Black Chokeberry (Photinia melanocarpa) and  Nannyberry (Viburnum lentago) are a few native bushes that can be used for bird habitats.  They offer dense cover for shelter and berries to feed our feathered friends.

If you are in need of some fall color in your garden plant some Spicebush (Lindera benzoin), Winged sumac (Rhus copallinum) or Arrowwood viburnum (Viburnum dentatum).  To bring some winter interest to the landscape Sideoats gramma (Bouteloua curtipendula),  Northern sea oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) and Winterberry holly (Ilex verticillata) are a few natives that can be used.

By the way I just saw some Monarch butterflies flitting about the milkweed in my garden last week…love it!  Go ahead and tuck some natives into your landscape and garden and make a bug happy.

As always, Happy Gardening!

More information about gardening and related subjects is available online at www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/garden_pubs The Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service can be reached at 499-6334 in LaGrange Co., 636-2111 in Noble Co., 925-2562 in DeKalb Co. and 668-1000 in Steuben Co.

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  • Jul 7

Growing and Using Sunflowers By Karen Weiland, Purdue Master Gardener

In my opinion, the happy-face of the plant world is a big, beautiful, yellow sunflower.   They can be grown as a cash crop for their edible seed and oil or for the sunshine they add to a floral arrangement.

Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) grow rather rapidly producing large, rough leaves and seed laden heads.   The yellow petals that you see around the outside of the head are ray petals, attracting pollinators to the disk and the face of the head actually contains hundreds of disk flowers, each of which will form a seed.  Sunflower heads turn with or track the sun during the early stages of their development .  This aids in light exposure and photosynthesis.  After pollination the disk will remain east-facing and eventually turn downward to protect the seeds from solar radiation.

Seeds may be planted about 1-2 inches deep after the soil has reached a temperature of 50-60 degrees and all danger of frost has passed, through mid-July.  Sunflowers prefer well-drained, sandy loam soil and 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight.  Depending on the variety, sunflowers mature and develop seeds in 80 to 120 days.  Sow a new row every few weeks to provide continuous blooms until the first frost.

While the shorter varieties will not require staking, it is helpful to provide support for those that grow more than 3 feet tall or are multi-branched.  Plants that are shallow rooted and weighed down with heavy flower heads are vulnerable to summer storms with wind and rain.

I have not had much of a problem with diseases or insects.  Grasshoppers and caterpillars like to feed on the leaves but not so much that it has been detrimental to the plant or yield.  As with everything else in the garden, good crop rotation will prevent problems with sunflowers.

If you are not going to use the seeds, it is fun to watch wildlife enjoy the bounty.  But if you do want to save them, protect the seed from birds by covering the head with burlap or netting.  Sunflower seeds are considered mature when the back of the seed head is yellow.  Remove the entire head and place it in a bag or wrap it in cheesecloth and hang it in a cool, dry, dark area to finish drying.  After about 2 weeks the seed should be ready for eating.   The birds like them raw but I like them roasted with a little salt.  Arrange the dried seeds in a shallow pan and roast them at 300 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes.

There are so many different varieties and colors of sunflowers to choose from.  Start planting today and bring a little sunshine to your life!

As always, Happy Gardening!

More information about gardening and related subjects can be found online at www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/garden_pubs The Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service can be reached at 499-6334 in LaGrange Co., 636-2111 in Noble Co., 925-2562 in DeKalb Co. and 668-1000 in Steuben Co.

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  • Jul 1

by Rene Hostetler

There’s no time like summertime!  In the summertime you have so many more options for staying active, interacting with nature, and entertaining.  It’s when the relatives come to visit and the family reunions all happen.  The kids are home from school.  You take a vacation and hopefully get some much deserved R & R.  It sounds idyllic, doesn’t it?

But what do you do when you have a house full of people and they need something to do?  And what do you do when the kids start repeating every mother’s nightmare of a phrase…I’m bored! What do you do when you find yourself overtired from too much activity and too many menus to plan and prepare and too much summer?!

Is there such a thing?

For me the solution is always getting back to nature.   I am always refreshed after a walk in the woods, a visit to a garden, a float on a lake, or just sitting on a park bench breathing the fresh air.  One of the amazing things about Indiana is the number of lakes it has.  LaGrange County alone has 72 lakes to enjoy!  Not to mention the Pigeon River where the scenery inspires memories and you find yourself thinking, “Why don’t I do this more often?”   If water isn’t your thing consider a picnic at one of the six county parks where there are playgrounds, hiking trails, picnic tables, and plenty of grassy areas to toss the Frisbee.

Summertime is when you forget the nasty winter we had and you celebrate the joy of getting off the couch and getting outside!  I remember when I was a kid and my neighborhood friend, Margaret would knock on our screen door and ask if I could come outside to play.

Can you come out to play?

Ride bikes! Fish!  Eat food outside (it’s called a picnic)!  Take a hike!  Visit a garden!  Float a boat!  All these things can be done just down the street in LaGrange County!

Or….if that therapy doesn’t work….there’s another really effective therapy…it’s called shopping! And LaGrange County has this other really cool place that’s outside where you can shop.  It’s called Shipshewana!  Yeah…I can get into that too!

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  • Jun 19

Monarchs and Milkweed by Karen Weiland, Purdue Master Gardener

Lite and airy butterflies flitting about are a nice addition to any garden area.  To attract butterflies to your garden, it’s important to understand what it is that they most want out of life…food!  Well and a place to sun themselves out of the wind and a source of water.

In recent times the Monarch butterfly population has declined.  Mowing their habitats and the use of pesticides has been blamed as the culprits.  While butterfly nectar plants are usually in good supply, it’s the needs of the Monarch larva that some folks may be unaware of.

Monarch butterflies depend on milkweed to complete their life cycle.  Female butterflies lay eggs on plants within the milkweed family (Asclepiadaceae).  In the larval or caterpillar stage, a Monarch feeds on the milkweed leaves.  When it is ready to pupate, the caterpillar forms a chrysalis (attached to the milkweed) in which it grows into a butterfly.

Milkweeds contain toxic steroids, known as cardenolides, which have a bitter taste.   Monarchs store the cardenolides in their bodies when they eat the milkweed as a caterpillar.  When the Monarch emerges as an adult, it still has the steroid in its body.  This is a form of defense for them against predators that try to eat them.  They soon learn that the Monarchs do not make a tasty meal.

The common milkweed will grow to about 3 feet, produces a globe-like flower cluster and will bloom in the summer.  This type typically grows in zones 3-9.  It likes full sun and well-drained soil.

So what can you do to help the Monarch population?  Plant milkweed, do not use or be extremely careful with the use of pesticides and plant lots of nectar plants for the adults with a continuous supply from spring through fall.

Among a few of the milkweeds that can be used are…common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) often grows along roadsides and in fields, butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) have showy, bright orange flowers and are native to Indiana and swamp or marsh milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) found near lakes, ponds and marshes, also native to Indiana.  When the stem or leaves are damaged, a white, milk-like substance will ooze out which gives the plant its name. The monarchwatch.org website has numerous listings with pictures of milkweed.

Some examples of nectar rich plants are…garden phlox (Phlox paniculata) native to Indiana, blanket flower (Gaillardia),  goldenrod (Solidago canadensis), joe pye weed (Eupatorium purpureum), blazing star (Liatris spicata), tickseed (Coreopsis verticillata), aromatic aster (Symphyotrichum oblongifolium), native to Indiana and purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) native to Indiana.

The nice thing about planting native plants is that they are adapted to our growing conditions and therefore will grow well without a lot of pampering as long as you place them where their light and moisture requirements are met.

Do your part to help the Monarch and plant some milkweed in your garden.

As always, Happy Gardening!

More information about gardening and related subjects is available online at www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/garden_pubs The Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service can be reached at 499-6334 in LaGrange Co., 636-2111 in Noble Co., 925-2562 in DeKalb Co. and 668-1000 in Steuben Co.

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  • Jun 6

DIY Rain Barrel by Karen Weiland,  Purdue Master Gardener

Using rain barrels to collect and conserve water creates an alternative supply that will not tax the groundwater supply or hike up your water bill.  For each inch of rain that falls on 500 square feet of roof, you can collect 300 gallons of water.  It has become a rather popular do-it-yourself project for gardeners.  I have 4 of them and can tell you they are very easy to make.  Here’s how I made mine.

Gathering the materials-it is important to use a food grade barrel.  Do not use one that had chemicals stored in it as residue could remain and kill plants.  Some people have also used large, plastic, lidded trash cans.  You can use whatever size fits your needs.  I was able to order 55 gallon, clean barrels, from a large farm store.  You will also need a spigot, a bung or bulkhead adapter, a gooseneck elbow, riser blocks, landscape fabric or screen, spray paint and silicone caulk.  Some folks use a diverter system for excess water.  I simply drilled a hole in the side, near the top of the barrel for the water to escape.  I also bought a rain chain that hooks into the gutter drop hole and hangs into the rain barrel.  This is for decorative purposes only and not something you have to have to make the whole thing work.

The first thing I did was to paint my barrel using a spray paint made for plastic. Using a drill bit that is a little smaller than or the same size as your bulkhead adapter, drill a hole near the bottom of the barrel.  I made mine about 4 inches from the bottom.  Don’t make your hole too low.  You will need room to place your watering can underneath to fill.  Unscrew the washer from the bulkhead adapter.  Place a ring of silicone around the neck of the bulkhead adapter and, from the outside of the barrel, thread it into the hole of the barrel.  Screw the washer onto the bulkhead adapter from inside the barrel.  When dry, attach the spigot and gooseneck elbow.

Carefully cut a hole in the lid of your barrel.  This hole should be positioned so it sits under the downspout of your gutter.  Cut enough landscape fabric or screen to cover the top of the barrel and bring it down the sides enough to secure rope around the circumference of the top.  This will create a barrier that will keep mosquitoes, birds and pests from getting into your rain barrel.  Drill a hole or two near the top of the barrel for overflow.  It is possible to use a length of hose or PVC pipe to connect to another barrel so you don’t waste the overflow water.

Set your rain barrel on some sort of blocks to raise it up off the ground, positioning it directly under the gutter downspout.  I used some decorative landscape pavers. Now allyou have to do is wait for the rain.

Using this water for edible crops is questionable since it has the opportunity to contain petrochemical compounds from asphalt shingles or treated wood shingles.  If you are going to use this water for your veggies, avoid getting it on the leaves or fruit and water just the soil.  Give your rain barrel a good cleaning at the end of the season before putting it away for the winter.

As always, Happy Gardening!

More information about gardening and related subjects can be found online at www.hort.purdue,edu/ext/garden_pubs The Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service can be reached at 499-6334 in LaGrange Co., 636-2111 in Noble Co., 925-2562 in DeKalb Co. and 668-1000 in Steuben Co.

Karen Weiland, Purdue University Master Gardener, Purdue Extension, LaGrange County

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  • Jun 3

by Rene Hostetler

Ok, so I’ve spent the last week piecing together a quilt for my grandson, Owen.  He’s 9, and the last time I visited him in Colorado he declared that he had outgrown the quilt I made him when he was born and “would you please make me a new one.”  A big one.  Well, yeah, he’s up to my shoulders now!  I readily agreed and started the wonderful pursuit of just the right fabric.  This really is my favorite part because it requires an artistic eye and appreciation for pattern, color and the texture of the fabric.  And once you put it all together it is truly art.

Now, please understand, I’m not what I would call a legitimate quilter.  I don’t call myself a quilter.  True quilters are in a league of their own.  But I do make quilts… or really nice blankets.  The pieces of fabric are sewn together and the batting, top, and back are all tied together, and that is the process which qualifies it to be called a quilt.

This “quilt” for Owen is my 19th or 20th, and it’s kind of funny.  I just realized I’ve never made one for myself.  I think that’s because there is so much of myself in each one, it just has to be a gift.

I’ve been inspired by the beautiful quilts I’ve seen in the shops in Shipshewana and admire the ability, time, and talent it takes to create such artwork.  Shipshewana is kind of known for beautiful quilts.  And you may be surprised to know that not all of them are made by Amish ladies.

Speakers 2014 Shipshewana Quilt Festival

Because quilt making can be called a way of life for some, a very special event was created to recognize and celebrate quilts and those who live this way of life.  It’s the annual Shipshewana Quilt Festival which offers prizes, lectures, workshops and great fabric deals in some of the local shops.

People who are “real” quilters come from all over the country, and there are quilts to be seen from all over the world.  The 2014 Shipshewana Quilt Festival takes place from June 25 to June 28th, and you can learn more about it and see some great pictures at www.ShipshewanaQuiltFest.com.

No, I probably won’t ever win a prize for one of my quilts, but they get so worn out they have to be replaced when a boy reaches his Nana’s shoulders.  And the smile, hug and thank you is reward enough for me.  That, and seeing him all wrapped up in it.  Like me with my arms around him all night long!

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  • May 27

Gardening Tips    by Karen Weiland,  Purdue Master Gardener

I’m always on the lookout for ways to make my gardening life easier and less time consuming.  I have a few tips that I would like to pass on to you that you may find useful.

To keep my garden twine from getting all tangled, I like to place it in an old watering can with the free end coming out the spout.  You can also use a can with a plastic lid, such as a coffee can, cutting a hole in the lid for the free end of the string and you can store the scissors in the can with the string ball.

Mark inches and feet on tool handles with a sharpie to help measure depth and spacing for transplants.

Fill a pump soap dispenser with mineral oil to use on the metal parts of your tools after you have cleaned the dirt off of them before storing until next use.  Using a spray bottle also works well for this.

A mixture of equal parts of water, white vinegar and rubbing alcohol can be used to clean dirty tools and it takes the salt residue off plant pots.

Garden labels can be made from strips of old mini-blinds.  Just cut to the length you need and use a permanent marker as your writing tool.  You can also use a  wine cork pierced at one end with a length or two of sturdy coat hanger wire.

Saucers of cheap old beer works great at attracting and drowning slugs.  Check the traps every day or two and after a rain for a refill.

To get rid of Japanese beetles, fill a bucket with soapy water, hold it under the beetle laden branch and tap the branch.  The beetles will fall off into the soapy water and drown.  Gosh, isn’t that just awful….not!

Got aphids and mites?  Use a forceful stream of water on them.  Just make sure the stream isn’t so forceful that it tears the plant leaves.  You can also wrap a wide strip of tape, sticky side out, around your hand.  Pat the leaves, undersides too, of the infested plants.

Draw your fingernails across a bar of soap before working in the garden to prevent dirt from accumulating underneath them.  When you are finished in the garden use a small brush to wash away the soap.

Make your own hose guide by pounding a length of steel reinforcing bar into the ground.  Slip two clay pots over it, the first one upside-down, the second one right-side up.

I especially like this tip.  To dry herbs, place a layer of newspaper on the seat of your car.  Place a single layer of herbs on it, then roll up the car windows and close the doors.  The herbs will be dry in no time and your car will smell great!

As always, Happy Gardening!

More information about gardening and related subjects is available online at www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/garden_pubs The Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service can be reached at 499-6334 in LaGrange Co., 636-2111 in Noble Co., 925-2562 in DeKalb Co. and 668-1000 in Steuben Co.

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  • May 20

by Rene Hostetler

I was thinking the other day about how there are just some places that bring the adventurer out in you.  Or maybe it’s that the place makes you feel so comfortable that you are willing to try new things.  Shipshewana is one of those places for me.

It was in Shipshewana that I went shopping in my pajamas for the first time.  I don’t usually appreciate people who shop in their pajamas, but I actually really enjoyed it.  Hey, you don’t have to get up as early to get dressed!  I’m all for sleeping a little longer…especially on a Saturday…in February…when it’s dark…and cold!

It was in Shipshewana that I went to my first auction.  Now that’s an experience and if you’ve never done it, you really should put it on your “bucket list.”  I almost don’t know how to explain it but be prepared for a lot of noise, moving people and dirt!  Yeah, it’s kinda dirty.  Well, you’ve got all that old stuff!

It was in Shipshewana that I had my first taste of kettle corn.  Seriously…I could get addicted!

It was in Shipshewana I had my first and only elephant ride.  Oh, wait a minute that was somewhere else, but they did have an elephant in their Mayfest parade one year!

It was in Shipshewana that I bought the dress I wore to my son’s wedding.  No, it wasn’t the first time I bought a dress, but it was the first time my son got married.  And only time!  Does that count?

I could go on and on, and I’m thinking I’m not done having “firsts” in Shipshewana.  It’s just a happening place and the town is always coming up with fun experiences to encourage people like us to “come on over and set a while.”

Ok, so here’s another first! On June 18 there’s a new event called “Walldogs.”  I’m sure you are as puzzled over that name as I am and it really doesn’t pertain to what happens.  Except the “wall” part.  On that Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday artists will literally be painting some of the walls in Shipshewana.  You can even participate if you’d like.  Kind of like a giant “paint by number” project which will result in beautiful murals depicting all things Shipshewana which visitors can enjoy for years and years.  Still curious?  Check out Shipshewana.com for more info and make some plans to join in.  That will be a true first for everyone involved.  Except, hopefully, the artists!

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