Steele County, Minnesota

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Karen S.

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Questions (71)

Using leaves to keep weeds down in unused garden spot.

After vegetable gardening for years, I'm approaching 80 and probably unable to have a garden this year. My yard is full of maple leaves that came down after we got our first snows last fall. I'm wondering if I can use them in the garden area to keep the weeds down. Any suggestions?


Steele County MN about 1 month ago

Planting under a tree in heavy clay

Hello - I need advice for a garden under a medium sized tree with shallow roots in heavy clay soil. My lawn is irrigated so the tree has a particularly shallow root system. Currently there is river rock, black plastic (disintegrating), weeds and day lilies, all of which I plan to remove. Directly beneath the tree is dappled shade to part shade (afternoon sun). As you move out away from the tree the garden becomes full sun. Around the tree I was thinking I need some perennials with non-invasive roots that I can find in very small pots (like 2" or 4") so I can plant in very small holes. Also plants that do not require frequent splitting. I'm having a hard time figuring out which will tolerate the heavy clay. Almost everything seems to prefer well drained soil it seems. Farther out I am less concerned with digging to amend the soil with compost so I don't need to be as concerned with the clay soil there. It's more around the base of the tree that I'm worried about injuring or smothering tree roots. I'm open to a non-plant option too...would it be safer to remove the day lilies and plastic and replace the rock and maybe add a bench or similar focal point? I really don't want to harm the tree...our house was built in 2004 and this is one of only 2 mature trees on the property - I can't afford to lose it! Also, am I correct to assume that the black plastic weed barrier is bad for the tree roots? It seems like it is holding them in water...when I peel it back it is hardened mud slick clay with standing water on top, tree roots, and the plastic...the top of the plastic is dry along with the rock. Seems like a recipe for rot if that water cannot drain and also cannot evaporate. Thank you


Steele County MN about 1 year ago

My river birch has turned yellow and doesn't appear to be growing well,...

My river birch has turned yellow and doesn't appear to be growing well, although it has new leaves and seeds. One tree nearby is similar, though not as bad. Looking online it kind of sounds like chlorosis, but the veins of the leaves aren't green and it seems odd to have become iron deficient in an established tree. Have several pics, including one of them. Would appreciate guidance on what is wrong, who to contact and or how to treat.



Steele County MN almost 6 years ago

our Parker pear tree fruit gives us fits. The skin appears to have patches of...

our Parker pear tree fruit gives us fits. The skin appears to have patches of scale which is very unappetizing however once peeled, the meat of the pear is okay. We do NOT spray & we always keep fallen fruit picked up. We have 2 pears trees with 2 apples trees planted in our orchard. What causes these blemishes? We've had this problem the past few years. Doesn't seem to be weather dependant at all.


Steele County MN over 5 years ago


How do I deter or eliminate voles from owning my yard?


Steele County MN 3 months ago

We have several areas in our yard that we are having problems with perinals...

We have several areas in our yard that we are having problems with perinals coming back up. I'm not sure if our soil is the issue but i was looking for some perinals that grow in tough areas?


Steele County MN about 6 years ago

Asparagus Rotting

Why is my asparagus dying as it is coming up? We had a couple good weeks of picking and now it is starting to rot . It is a well established patch 10+ years. I have attached a picture of the spears. Is there something we can do or should we start a new patch



Steele County MN about 3 years ago

ash tree with dead branches

I noticed my ash tree did not seem to be providing as much shade as past years. As I looked up, I discovered a number of smaller dead braches on the interior of the tree and two large dead branches at the crown. I haven't noticed any fungal or insect signs so I think this is likely enviromental stress damage. I was reading on your site about root problems/constriction. I have a large trumpet vine nearby which has insidious roots. Could that cause the problem?


Steele County MN almost 2 years ago

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