Mango Salsa
1 mango,  
peeled and diced
½ red pepper, diced
1 avocado, diced
1 small green chile, finely chopped
Juice of 1 lime
¼ small red onion, very finely sliced,
Handful of mint leaves, finely chopped

Combine all the ingredients, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed about 30 minutes is ideal.


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Time is Running Out to Prune Lilacs    
The lilacs are done blooming, and the clock is ticking if you're planning to prune them.

Lilacs bloom on 'old wood', which means they set flower buds the previous summer. Because of this, if you prune lilacs too late, you will be removing the developing flower buds destined for next years show. In Minnesota, the interval for pruning is about three weeks after flowering or  around July 4th. If you wait too long to prune them, you will be cutting off next spring's flowers.

Lilacs do best in full sun, so if your plant gets too much shade, that may reduce flowering. Occasionally, lilacs won't bloom well because of fertilization. Excess nitrogen can lead to a lot of lush, green foliage but less flower production. Cutting down on lawn fertilizer around the root zone of the lilac should help.

Thin out the interior of the shrub by cutting out old, woody stems. This will keep your shrub nice and full with blooms and new growth. This type of pruning also allows good internal air circulation which will help prevent disease problems like powdery mildew.

If your lilac is an upright leggy shrub, devoid of lower branches and forming a cloud-like head of foliage: cut it to the ground for complete rejuvenation. The best time to do this is in February or March while they are still dormant. You lose blooms that year, but sometimes it's worth it. 

Lilacs trees are best pruned by hand shears or electric hedge trimmers.

Thinning cuts at the base of lilac shrub. 

For more information on maintaining lilacs for cold climates
The Scarab from Hell
Last summer caught many people off-guard as the Japanese beetle (JB) descended upon the landscape like a horror flick. While working under an elm tree last summer, I thought I heard the trickle of an invisible stream and searched to find no such thing. It was only when I looked up that I realized it was something else entirely. To my surprise, a cloud of Japanese beetles were swarming in the canopy, mandibles moving, munching away on leaves. There were so many beetles that I could actually hear their collective eating, something like frying bacon. Grossed out, I had to move on.
When insects eat leaves, plants produce jasmonic acid, a hormone that starts a chain of chemical reactions in the leaves that boost their defenses. Normally this cascade leads to the production of high levels of a compound called a protease inhibitor. When the insects ingest this enzyme, it inhibits their ability to digest the leaves.

Recent research has shown that leaves growing under high carbon dioxide lose their ability to produce jasmonic acid, and the whole defense pathway is shut down. The leaves are no longer adequately defended. Japanese beetles will feast more, live longer and produce more offspring. Japanese beetles are thriving from our climate changed world.
Native to Japan, the Japanese beetle was first observed in the United States in New Jersey, in 1916. Since then Japanese beetles have spread throughout most states east of the Mississippi River. However, partial infestations also occur west of the Mississippi River in states such as Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, and Oklahoma.

Global environmental change is multifaceted. The impact of elevated carbon dioxide on crippling the capacity of plants to respond to insect damage is made worse by the presence of invasive insect pests. The Japanese beetle, as the name suggests, is a recent arrival in the U.S. It is causing considerable damage now, but research suggests its ability to inflict damage will only increase over time.
What can you do?
Soil applications of the systemic insecticide imidacloprid can be used to protect plants that are attacked, and the list is exhaustive. Adults feed on foliage, fruits, or flowers of more than 300 species of wild and cultivated plants. In general, imidacloprid applications should be made a couple weeks in advance of beetle arrival so plants have time to take up the insecticide through their roots and distribute it into the leaves. 

Unfortunately, Japanese beetle traps are ineffective. Japanese beetle traps often increase damage by drawing into the vicinity larger numbers of beetles than are captured in the traps. Insecticidal soap kills adults that are hit by the spray, but it provides no residual effectiveness. Horticultural oil is ineffective whether applied to foliage or sprayed on the adults.

I have found members of the pea family are usually unmolested by the JB. This includes redbud, honeylocust, Kentucky coffeetree, American yellowwood, amur maackia, catalpa, black locust, and amur cork tree.

Close up of the Japanese beetle.

In the same yard, on the same day as the previous picture; a redbud tree with perfect, untouched foliage.

Mountain ash (Sorbus decora) with extensive Japanese beetle damage. I can imagine sitting on this deck in the middle of the summer, wouldn't be too inviting.

Japanese beetle damage to horsechestnut ( Aesculus hippocastanum) leaf.
For more information on plant defense.  

Thanks for reading.  
Happy Planting!    


Faith Appelquist

President & Founder


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