Creamy Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Soup
1 ½ lb sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
½ head cauliflower, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
6 cup vegetable broth
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp salt
½ tsp ginger
½ tsp red pepper
1 can unsweetened full-fat coconut milk
In a slow cooker, combine all ingredients except coconut milk. Cover and cook on low 8 hours. Transfer soup to blender and process until smooth. Stir in coconut milk and warm through.

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Are you ready
for the Spotted Lanternfly?   
To most people the buds and sprouts of April are welcome heralds of spring. But to people in Pennsylvania, these signs signify the beginning of a long season of dread.
Their worry is Lycorma delicatula, the spotted lanternfly. It is an invasive pest with a voracious appetite and remarkable reproductive talents. Native to Asia, the lantern flies first appeared in Pennsylvania in 2014. Despite a quarantine effort they have also been discovered in New York, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and Virginia.  
A nationwide outbreak would be something of a disaster, some scientists believe. Among the lantern fly's more alarming qualities is an ability to feed on a huge range of plants. It's a major pest for agriculture as it can damage fruit trees, woody trees, vegetables, herbs and vines - though it does not bite or sting humans.
The spotted lanternfly is not a fly but rather a planthopper, a true bug that injures plants with its piercing, sucking feeding method. All four nymphal stages and adults feed. Like aphids, lantern flies feed on plant sap and excrete honeydew- a sticky, syrupy liquid which attracts ants, bees, wasps and hornets. The honeydew promotes the growth of sooty mold which can ruin produce and cover leaves, blocking out sunlight and killing plants.
Another advantage lantern flies have is the ability to lay eggs on almost any surface. While other species tend to deposit eggs on a living plant or in soil nearby, lantern flies can place a bundle of eggs nearly anywhere-wheel wells, train cars, shipping containers. This enables the lantern fly to be excellent hitchhikers and use humans as their primary mode of travel.
Here is a list of the lantern fly's preferred food:
  • Almonds
  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Cherries
  • Grapes
  • Hops
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Plums
  • Poplar
  • Sycamore
  • Walnut
  • Willow
  • Maple
South Korea is the only other country in which the spotted lantern fly is an introduced pest. It was first observed in 2004, and its impact on agriculture there has become a cautionary tale. It spread across the whole country in three years, and it's still a problem there. 
Spectacularly beautiful but nonetheless harmful, spotted lanternflies provide yet another challenge in the never ending battle with invasive species.
The hardest-hit businesses so far have been grape
and other fruit growers.

It's easy to see how camouflaged egg masses of the lanternfly like this one on the trunk of a tree, sneak past human detection and move about the world.
For more information on the Spotted Lanternfly 
Sick Spruces
You can think of a row of spruce like an airport terminal: it's a germ bath. A row of spruce provides year-round privacy, protection from street noise, cover for animals, and a windbreak. They are so common that there is a good chance you have a row of spruce in your yard. Unfortunately for you (and me too), it seems only a matter of time before needles in the lower part of the canopy will start to die. Common reasons for this needle loss are needle cast diseases caused by a host of dreadful fungi; stigmina, rhizosphaera, and cytophera.

Needle disease in the lower canopy of spruce in people's yards is a frequent tree health concern I encounter. The abundant precipitation coming down in Minnesota over the last decade, plus moist conditions within rows of spruce, shade from their neighbors, and even climate change promotes needle disease. I have also observed that irrigating turf grass under spruces contributes to the problem.

Spruce growing all by themselves in the sun and away from other trees and free from in-ground irrigation often do not get problematic needle casts, even when their branches contact the ground. The air moves freely around these trees, and along with sunshine, dries out needles so needle cast pathogens can't produce as many spores. Also, those solo spruce trees are not stressed by growing in shade, and are not growing next to fellow spruce trees that can pass diseases on to them.

Fungicides can protect new spruce shoots from being infected by needle casts, but they won't get rid of current infections on older needles, and the number of treatments needed to prevent disease every year is not usually worth the cost and time invested. Fungicides also don't address the environmental conditions that favor needle casts.
Here are options I recommend to minimize spruce needle cast diseases:
  • Plant spruce in full sunlight as individual trees and not as parts of rows.
  • If you desire privacy or a windbreak of trees, do not plant spruce. Use a shade-tolerant species such as arborvitae, eastern red cedar or deciduous trees.
  • Understand that these trees will eventually need much more space to grow, so make sure that spruce branches will not encroach on other spruce branches.
  • If you currently have a row of younger spruce trees, remove every other spruce once their branches contact other spruce trees' branches.
  • Do not allow irrigation water to contact spruce needles or spray up through the canopy.
  • Diversifying any tree row or forest, regardless of species, can avoid many disease problems.
Besides needle loss, whole branches and leaders can be girdled and killed by the fungus.

Brown needles are full of fungal spores which kill the needles. These needles drop to the ground creating a source of more infection as it splashes back up into the tree. 

Irrigation keeps needles moist and fungus spores easily penetrate wet leaf tissue.  
The spruce in the middle is much more compromised by needle cast disease than the two on the perimeter, which receive more light and air circulation.

For more information on how to deal with spruce decline

Thanks for reading.  
Happy Planting!    


Faith Appelquist

President & Founder


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