by Denise Sullivan, Field Specialist, Nutrition and Health, University of Missouri Extension
Sweet potatoes or yams…which one lands on your holiday menu? Wait…aren’t they the same thing? Though the names are often used interchangeably, the plants are most definitely different. Yams, a member of the lily family, are monocots, and are native to Africa and Asia.
Sweet potatoes, a member of the morning glory family, are dicots and are native to Central and South America. It also bears mentioning that sweet potatoes are not related to Irish potatoes either, which belong to the nightshade family.
Yams grow as a vine, which produces an underground tuber with a tough, hairy/scaly skin and flesh that ranges from white to bright yellow to purple or pink. Yams can range from the size of a normal potato to weighing over 100 pounds!
Yams are also much starchier and drier than most varieties of sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes produce a root that has a smooth, thin skin with flesh that ranges in color from white to orange, red, purple, or brown. Sweet potatoes tend to be more ‘normal’ in size, though I have seen friends brag on 10 pound-ers at harvest!z
Sweet potato varieties are classified as either ‘firm’ or ‘soft’. Firm sweet potatoes remain firm when cooked and are dry and crumbly, much like a standard baking potato. Soft varieties become more soft, moist, and sweet upon cooking.
Freshly harvested sweet potatoes are often referred to as “green” potatoes and are best to go through a curing process to allow the starches to break down into sugar. Curing happens by holding them for about 10 days at 80-85 degrees F with 85-90 percent humidity with good air circulation, or at lower temperatures of 65-75 degrees F for two to three weeks.
Both firm and soft varieties are a rich source of Vitamin A, potassium, magnesium and fiber, all of which are beneficial for heart health and blood pressure management.
So, why the naming dilemma? According to the Library of Congress and the Louisiana State University Ag Center, the confusion came with the introduction of soft varieties. Southern growers would call the softer potatoes ‘yams’ to differentiate from the firm potatoes, and the term has been used interchangeably ever since. Today the U.S. Department of Agriculture requires labels with the term ‘yam’ to be accompanied by the term ‘sweet potato.’ Unless you specifically search for yams, which are typically found in international markets, you are probably eating sweet potatoes!
When it comes to Thanksgiving dinner, sweet potatoes are a common element of the traditional holiday meal. I must admit though, I wasn’t a fan until I was well into adulthood, primarily because how they were presented to me as a child.
Though I typically enjoy sweet things, a squishy vegetable doused in brown sugar and marshmallows wasn’t at the top of my list of favorites. Then, while at a conference in North Carolina (producer of about half of the sweet potatoes in the United States) I had my first baked sweet potato.
This was the defining moment when I totally changed my mind about this nutrient powerhouse of a vegetable! If you ‘think’ you don’t like sweet potatoes, consider the recipe below as a compromise on your holiday table. You might just change your mind too!
by Cathy Bylinowski, University of Missouri Extension Horticulture Instructor
Sugar maples, sweet gums, and black cherries gave us a beautiful show this fall with their bright oranges, pinks, and yellows, but those leaves fell to the ground in my neighborhood last weekend.
Many of us like the sweet scent of fallen sycamore and oak leaves, but do not look forward to raking them up! If you don’t look forward to filling sacks with fallen leaves, University of Missouri Extension Field Specialists in Horticulture suggest turning at least some of those fall leaves into a valuable resource- compost and mulch!
The carbon content of fallen leaves is a great addition to the nitrogen content of old, annual landscape and garden plants and helps create good compost.
However, it is unlikely that the proportion of fallen leaves to compostable plant material will result in the recommended 30-to-1 carbon-to-nitrogen ratio for a good compost pile.
Since fallen leaves have a carbon-to-nitrogen ratio of about 50-to-1 and freshly uprooted green plants come in around 20-to-1 on average, a good approach is to add twice as much plant material as leaves to the compost bin if possible. This will come close to the recommended ratio and allow for contributions from the kitchen compost pail.
Vegetable food scraps such as apple, banana, and winter squash peels, avocado shells, and salad scraps can be added to the compost pile.
Because adding fallen leaves and garden plants in layers will allow for better decomposition, try to stockpile some leaves and add them in layers to the compost pile.
This will result in several small contributions of leaf material to the bin—a better option than dealing with a lump sum of leaves at the end of the season. Couple this with regular culling of unproductive or fading garden plants and you’ll be able to contribute the appropriate ratio of each to the compost pile on a regular basis and make end-of-the-season cleanup in the yard and garden easier.
If you have more leaves than the compost pile can take, that might mean that you have a lot of shade on your landscape. Heavily shaded areas where turf is difficult to establish may best be converted to a ‘forest floor’ landscape where leaves are allowed to aggregate among shade-tolerant native wild flowers and other perennial plants.
Another use for surplus leaves is to spread them directly onto the vegetable garden to decompose over winter. Decomposing leaves add beneficial organic matter and nutrients such as phosphorus and potassium to garden soil that helps hold nutrients and moisture in the soil and helps prevent soil erosion.
Add a layer of 6-8 inches of leaves and gently work them into the soil. Earthworms appreciate fallen leaves, too. Earthworms also help leaves decompose and add more organic matter to the soil.
Leaves do not significantly alter the pH of garden soil. Even oak leaves, which are acidic when fresh, break down to be neutral to slightly alkaline after going through the decomposition process.
One important item you can consider purchasing for your leaf composting project could be a compost thermometer. Compost thermometers are longer than a typical thermometer and usually have ranges of temperatures highlighted to let you know if the pile is actively composting or not.
It is a good way to know if your leaves and other garden organic matter in your compost pile are biodegrading into a valuable and beneficial soil amendment.
More information about composting and mulching is available in these MU Extension publications. These publications can be downloaded for free at
“Making and Using Compost”
“How to Build a Compost Bin”
Have more fall gardening questions? Please call University of Missouri Extension in Jackson County, at 816-482-5950, contact the Extension Master Gardener Hotline at 816-833-TREE (8733), or explore our website at
by Cathy Bylinowski, Horticulture Instructor, University of Missouri Extension- Jackson County
Like it or not, we are gradually saying goodbye to summer and moving into fall. The daylight hours are already getting noticeably shorter. Many people welcome fall in Missouri because it means cooler temperatures and a chance to do many gardening activities before winter arrives.
Here’s a list of fun and useful gardening activities for September:
Peonies- Never tried peonies? Do you admire their brilliant spring color and wonderful scent in other people’s yards? September is a good time to transplant them and introduce them to your garden. They come in a range of colors: white, pink, and red, and last for decades in a well-drained, sunny spot in your garden. Somewhat shallow planting is required since flowering is reduced or inhibited if the growing points of the crown are set more than 2 inches deep.
Peonies can often remain undisturbed in the garden for 20 or more years without a decline in flowering. Divide them only if growth is poor and plants fail to bloom after years of performing well.
Want more information on more ornamental perennials? Here’s a link to a MU Extension publication Flowering Perennials: Characteristics and Culture: https://extension2.missouri.edu/g6650
Planting cool season vegetables- Yes, you still have time to plant those quick maturing cool season crops that mature in 25- 55 days. Arugula, leaf lettuce, bibb lettuce, radishes, turnip, sugar snap peas, and mustard greens are some of the cool season crops you can plant now in sunny garden and harvest by mid to late October and sometimes on into November depending on the weather.
Choose a sunny area in your vegetable garden. Remove old crop residue. Cultivate the soil and plant seeds of cool season crops. Protect your crops from sudden cold snaps by using floating row cover. It is a spun polyester fabric that lets light and rain in, yet creates a microclimate next to the plants that can be 2 to 3 degrees warmer than temperatures outside the fabric. It is fairly inexpensive and lasts for a couple gardening seasons if stored after use.
Lawn care- September is the prime time to renovate your cool season grass lawn. The cooler temperatures benefit the cool season grass seed as it germinates and weed competition is not as challenging as it is in the spring. Cool season turf grasses include fescue and Kentucky blue grass. For more information on cool season turf grasses and how to manage them, check out the following publications:
Cool Season Grasses: Lawn Establishment and Renovation- https://extension2.missouri.edu/g6700
Cool Season Grasses: Lawn Maintenance Calendar- https://extension2.missouri.edu/g6705
Natural Lawn Care- https://extension2.missouri.edu/g6749
Planting Trees- Planting trees in the fall gives them time to get established when the temperatures have moderated in September and October. Roots continue growing underground even when the above ground temperatures drop to near freezing.
“Right Tree in the Right Place” is a saying to remember before purchasing and planting trees. Do some research on tree species you are interested in and then study the conditions in your yard. Remember to keep in mind over head wires, underground wiring, and other utilities before digging.
Call Dig Rite (1 800 Dig Rite or 811) before digging to have utilities marked, especially if you are planting trees and shrubs in new areas near your home. Here’s a link to a publication on planting trees- https://extension2.missouri.edu/g6850
Need more gardening information? Here are several options:
Plan to attend the free, online Horticulture Town Hall on Wednesday mornings. Register for our Horticulture Town Hall at https://ipm.missouri.edu/townHalls/
Enjoy all the MU Extension educational horticulture videos at https://www.youtube.com/user/MUIPM
And feel free to contact our MU Extension office at 816-482-5850 for more horticulture information.
by Roger Meissen, from interviews with Dr. David Trinklein, University of Missouri Extension
Don’t forget about fall gardening! Dr. Trinklein, Assistant Professor of Horticulture with MU Extension, reminds us that August and September offer a reprieve from the scorching heat of summer and an opportunity to put vegetables on the dinner table well into fall.
Fall planting, sometime called succession planting, puts summer garden plots back into production. Successive sowings of appropriate crops can help you eat from the garden into fall and sometimes into the winter. Falling temperatures means a fall crop often ends up higher in quality than produce grown in the spring and summer.
Succession planting begins with selecting the right crop. Since there is limited time until the first fall frost, choose crops that mature quickly or crops that hold up against freezing temperatures without severe damage.
Seed envelopes often have important information on the back telling you “days to maturity”. You can use that information to help you decide which vegetables you can plant and still get a crop before a frost or freeze.
Bush beans, cucumbers, and summer squash often will bear fruit if planted before late August. These fast-growing plants will have a chance to produce before cold weather. With a little luck and a fall that is warm and long, these vegetables will reward the gardener with a good crop.
Some vegetables can withstand a light frost. Arugula, beets, Chinese cabbage, collards, lettuce (leaf and Bibb types), radishes, spinach, and Swiss chard are some cool-season crops that thrive in the fall.
Leftover seed potatoes can also be planted. They will produce fresh, small potatoes to eat in the fall. Gardeners should not plant recently harvested potatoes. Fall potatoes often do not store well.
Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, and turnips are also good potential fall crops. These hardy vegetables will withstand low temperatures and provide a bountiful harvest well into the fall or early winter. Plant transplants of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower. Kale and turnips can be planted by seed.
Sugar Snap or snow peas are additional possibilities for fall gardening because their pods can be eaten at any stage if an early frost cuts short the growing season. Again, use the days to maturity information to help you plan and plant.
Sanitation is the first step in disease and insect management in the garden. Removing the previous crop and cleaning up plant debris and weeds help lessen problems in the fall garden.
Next, lightly till or hand cultivate soil. Add a general-purpose fertilizer such as a 5-10-5 or 12-12-12 according to label recommendations. (These numbers represent the percentage of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium, in that order, contained in the fertilizer.)
Seeds sown in the fall should be planted slightly deeper than they would normally be planted in the spring. Water often to keep the seed bed moist. This helps with germination.
For crops grown from transplants such as cabbage, transplanting in afternoon or early evening reduces transplant shock.
Vegetables need 1-2 inches of water per week. If weather is dry, some watering will be required. Avoid watering plant leaves to reduce the chance of foliage diseases. Since rust and fungal diseases thrive on heat, they are less of a problem in the fall. Continue to monitor plants for disease and insect damage.
In October, row cover can add a few degrees of protection against frost. Floating row cover is a translucent, spun polyester material that traps the soil’s heat underneath it when it is spread over plants.
Since sunlight can pass through, it can be left in place for several days during a cold snap. This product is relatively inexpensive, can be found at many local gardening stores, and can be reused for several years.
With the right preparation, love and attention, a fall garden can feed the body and soul.
“Gardening is good for the ‘inner self’,” Dr. Trinklein said. “Working in the garden eases tension, restores our spirit and tends to make us feel good about ourselves.”
Contact Cathy Bylinowski, Horticulture Instructor, MU Extension, email@example.com, 816-482-5850, if you have more fall gardening questions.
August gardening information- https://ipm.missouri.edu/MEG/2020/7/August_Gardening_Tips/
by Michelle Warmund, University of Missouri, Division of Plant Sciences
July is the prime time for harvesting and enjoying blackberries. The fruit is ripe when the drupelets are uniformly black. However, sometimes individual or multiple drupelets on a blackberry are off-colored. White, tan, red, or brown drupelet discoloration can be caused by various factors during the growing season.
White drupelet disorder on blackberry often occurs during hot, dry summers. Although drupelets enlarge during the growing season, they fail to turn red (Figure 1). These white or tan drupelets can be interspersed individually among dark-colored ones or in groups. In the past, white drupelet disorder was attributed to stinkbug feeding. However, white drupelets are caused by ultraviolet radiation and high temperatures. In studies conducted on red raspberry, unpigmented or white drupelets developed when fruit was exposed to temperatures of 107°F or higher with four or more hours of ultraviolet radiation.
In another study, researchers found that the use of 30% shade cloth during the growing season reduced white drupelet disorder by 63%, but the total soluble solids (i.e., sugars) concentration of shaded fruit was 1% lower than non-shaded fruit, which slightly reduced blackberry sweetness. Some of the older blackberry cultivars, such as Kiowa and Apache, are more prone to developing this disorder than others, but several are susceptible. While white drupelets on blackberries may not be aesthetically pleasing, affected fruit are edible.
Interspersed red drupelets on ripe blackberry fruit can develop before or after harvest. Excessive rainfall before harvest has been associated with red drupelets that are soft and never turn black. In 2020, red drupelets were observed on the floricane crop Prime-Ark 45 blackberries grown in the field and in high tunnels in North Carolina. Also, a tiny eriophyid mite (Acalitus essigi) is known to cause "redberry" fruit on blackberry.
Late-maturing blackberry cultivars are particularly prone to redberry mite infestations. These mites feed on the fruit core and at the base of berry drupelets. However, these mites are not common in the eastern United States.
Reversion is the most common cause of red drupelets on blackberry fruit after harvest. With this disorder, some of the black drupelets at harvest change to a red color (Figure 2). Reversion occurs on blackberries that are damaged by bruising or fruit compression during harvest or shipping.
Also, blackberries that have a core temperature above 73°F at harvest tend to have a higher incidence of red drupelet than cooler fruit, especially during the early part of the season. Thus, a step-cooling process to lower fruit temperature is used to reduce the incidence of this disorder.
Anthracnose is a fungal disease that produces brown, shrunken drupelets on infected blackberries (Figure 3). Infection occurs in the spring during warm, wet conditions. Pruning to enhance air circulation among plants and removal of old fruiting canes in the dormant season reduces the amount of overwintering inoculum in the planting. Also, weed control improves air flow through the planting during the growing season and helps reduce disease infection.
An application of liquid lime sulfur (Sulforix) can also be applied to dormant blackberry buds just before they begin to produce new growth will control anthracnose. Blackberries infected with this disease are off-flavored and are unfit for sale.
Contact your Jackson County University of Missouri Extension office if you have more questions about berry crops or other gardening topics- 816-482-5850.
by Cathy Bylinowski, M.S., Horticulture Instructor, University of Missouri Extension
Becoming an Extension Master Gardener is an exciting process. The training consists of fourteen classes that will cover the basics of everything you need to know to be a successful gardener. We will cover introductions to soil science and plant biology and then dive into the vegetable gardening, ornamental gardening and landscaping, plant diseases, garden insects, and more.
There are also several orientations to help you learn more about the Master Gardeners of Greater Kansas City chapter.
This year, due to COVID-19 precautions, we are offering the training via Zoom, the online platform that creates our “classroom’ for learning and communicating with one another. The training will last from August 12 to graduation on November 18. If you are able to volunteer, the cost is $200 which covers the cost of a Master Gardener Core manual, a name badge, and other class mailings and supplies.
Most people who go through the training, volunteer during the following year, and become certified Extension Master Gardener Volunteers after participating in a wide range of volunteer opportunities in our region. Extension Master Gardeners help University of Missouri Extension Horticulture Field Specialists share reliable horticulture information with the public through a Gardeners Hotline, Speakers Bureau, the Children’s Program Committee, Demonstration Gardens, and more.
If you are unable to volunteer, you may also take the training for personal enrichment at a cost of $400 for the complete training course.
Please see the flyer for application and registration information or contact Cathy Bylinowski, Horticulture Instructor, firstname.lastname@example.org, University of Missouri Extension, 816-482-5850, for more details. Join us and help others learn to grow!
by Cathy Bylinowski, Horticulture Instructor, University of Missouri Extension
May has been cool so far. We should not have any temperatures lower than 50 at night according to the latest weather forecast for our region.
So that means it is time to plant tomatoes, our favorite warm season crop! Tomatoes are a versatile and nutritious vegetable and an important ingredient in so many of the dishes we like to prepare. Tomatoes are originally from South America. They were first domesticated and cultivated as a crop in Mexico and Central America so they prefer warm climates. They grow well in our hot summers and produce until late fall.
While not trouble-free, following some basic tomato tips will help you have a good chance at success:
Plant in full sun. Tomatoes need 8-10 hours of sun to produce a good harvest.
Choose well-drained soil.
Mulch around the plants by mid-June. Mulching with compost, dry grass clippings, or straw keeps the soil moist and soil temperatures moderated during summer heat.
Mulch keeps the soil from splashing onto the plant leaves, which helps prevent fungal diseases.
Apply a maintenance fertilizer when soil is prepared and before planting tomato transplants. Work it into the soil to the depth of about 6 inches. A fertilizer with less nitrogen is best for tomatoes.
Plant tomato transplants deeper than they were growing in the pots or plastic trays.
Plant tomatoes at least 2 to 3 feet apart. Good air circulation between plants helps prevent diseases.
If we do not get at least 1 inch of rain per week, supplemental irrigation is needed. Water tomatoes deeply, about once a week, around the root zone of the plant. Less frequent and deep watering is better than shallow frequent watering.
Indeterminate tomatoes will keep growing and producing tomatoes until they are killed by a fall freeze.
Determinate tomatoes grow about 3-5 feet tall and stop growing after producing a crop.
Studies show that tomatoes grown on stakes, in cages, or on trellises produce more high-quality tomatoes than tomatoes left to trail on the ground.
Give one or two side dressings of fertilizer at one-month intervals after you notice green tomatoes, about 1/3 of mature size, on the plants.
Watch for tomato hornworms and other insect pests that can damage the plants and fruit. Gardeners have a wide range of methods for insect pest control, from hand picking of pests, strong sprays of water, organic pesticides, to synthetic pesticides. Be sure to read and follow label directions for any pesticides you use.
Here is a link to a MU Extension guide sheet on growing tomatoes which will give you more information for tomato crop success-https://extension2.missouri.edu/catalog/product/view/id/4591/
Mid-May to early June is also a great time to plant other warm season crops such as sweet peppers, hot peppers, eggplant, and sweet potatoes. Contact Cathy Bylinowski, Horticulture Instructor, University of Missouri Extension, 816-482-5850 or 816-252-5051, email@example.com if you have more questions about tomatoes or other vegetable crops. Join MU Extension Field Horticulture Specialists for free Home Horticulture Town Halls on Wednesdays, 11:00am to 12noon, via Zoom- https://extension2.missouri.edu/events/home-horticulture-town-hall. Hear the latest information on a wide range of gardening topics and get answers to many gardening questions. Have a good time gardening!
Image courtesy University of MO Extension
by Cathy Bylinowski, Horticulture Instructor, University of Missouri Extension—Jackson County
It has been a wild spring so far with temperatures all over the place, from freezing to hot. Snow, rain, wind, we have experienced it all. Despite these extremes, I hope you are able to get outside and start gardening during the stay at home precautions and enjoy the spring activities in your yard and garden.
Contact University of Missouri Extension in Jackson County, if you have any questions about plants, insects, or any garden related activities. We are glad to help! Cathy Bylinowski, Horticulture Instructor, firstname.lastname@example.org, University of Missouri Extension- Jackson County, 816-252-5051.
Apples, crabapples and hawthorns susceptible to rust disease should have protective fungicidal sprays applied beginning when these trees bloom.
Pinch azaleas and rhododendron blossoms as they fade. Double flowered azaleas need no pinching.
If spring rains have been sparse, begin irrigating, especially plants growing in full sun.
Fertilize azaleas after bloom. Use a formulation which has an acid reaction.
Canker worms (inch worms) rarely cause permanent damage to ornamentals. Use Bt if control is deemed necessary.
Don't remove spring bulb foliage prematurely or next year's flower production will decline.
Continue monitoring pines, especially Scotch and mugo, for sawfly activity on new shoots.
Begin planting gladiolus bulbs as the ground warms. Continue at 2-week intervals.
Plant hardy water lilies in tubs or garden pools.
Scale crawlers are active now. Infested pines and euonymus should be treated at this time.
Plant summer bulbs such as caladiums, dahlias, cannas and elephant ears.
Begin planting warm-season annuals.
Begin fertilizing annuals. Continue at regular intervals.
Trees with a history of borer problems should receive their first spray now. Repeat twice at 3-week intervals.
Pinch back mums to promote bushy growth.
Keep bluegrass cut at 1.5 to 2.5 inch height. Mow tall fescue at 2 to 4 inch height.
Mow zoysia lawns at 1.5 inch height. Remove no more than one-half inch at each mowing.
Apply post-emergence broadleaf weed controls now if needed.
Zoysia lawns may be fertilized now. Apply no more than 1 pound of actual nitrogen per 1000 square feet.
Watch for sod webworms emerging now.
Place cutworm collars around young transplants. Collars are easily made from cardboard strips.
Growing lettuce under screening materials will slow bolting and extend harvests into hot weather.
Slugs will hide during the daytime beneath a board placed over damp ground. Check each morning and destroy any slugs that have gathered on the underside of the board.
Plant dill to use when making pickles.
Keep asparagus harvested for continued spear production. Control asparagus beetles as needed.
Begin planting sweet corn as soon as white oak leaves are as big as squirrel ears.
Isolate sweet, super sweet and popcorn varieties of corn to prevent crossing.
Thin plantings of carrots and beets to avoid overcrowding.
Control caterpillars on broccoli and cabbage plants by handpicking or use biological sprays such as B.t.
Set out tomato plants as soils warm.
Place a stake by seeds of squash and cucumbers when planting in hills to locate the root zone watering site after the vines have run.
Remove rhubarb seed stalks as they appear.
Watch for striped and spotted cucumber beetles now. Both may spread wilt and mosaic diseases to squash and cucumber plants.
Set out peppers and eggplants after soils have warmed. Plant sweet potatoes now and into early June.
Make new sowings of warm-season vegetables after harvesting early crops.
Mulch blueberries with pine needles or sawdust.
Don't spray any fruits while in bloom. Refer to local MU Extension publications for fruit spray schedule. Fruit Tree Spray Schedule for the Homeowner- https://extension2.missouri.edu/g6010
Birds eat many insect pests. Attract them to your garden by providing good nesting habitats.
Herbs planted in average soils need no extra fertilizer. Too much may reduce flavor and pungency at harvest.
Take houseplants outdoors when nights will remain above 50 degrees. Most prefer only direct morning sun.
Watch for fireflies on warm nights. Both adults and larvae are important predators. Collecting may reduce this benefit.
Gardening Calendar supplied by the staff of the William T. Kemper Center for Home Gardening located at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, Missouri. (www.GardeningHelp.org)
Missouri Department of Conservation
To the uninitiated, a morel does not have the most appetizing appearance. Its brain-like form looks like something out of a campy horror movie, and a morel’s neutral, earthy color doesn’t command much attention. From about late March to early May, however, foraging for these small mushrooms is serious business—a business so serious that many folks refuse to reveal their morel spots even to their closest friends and family.
The question many people ask this time of year is, “How can I find morels?” Well, morels are finicky fungal organisms. The underground portion of the fungus only produces mushrooms in some years—mostly based on soil temperature and moisture availability (but other factors play a role, too). Ultimately, most of what we know about finding morels is anecdotal and widely variable, but here are a few tips to help you narrow down good places to look for morels:
Morels commonly appear after warm, moist spring weather with daytime temperatures in the low 70s and nighttime temperatures in the 50s.
South and west facing slopes are good sites to look for morels early in the season, with north and east slopes being better for later-season morel hunting.
Morels tend to favor tree species such as elms, ashes, cottonwoods, and even domesticated apples. Look around recently dead trees but beware of falling branches.
Areas disturbed by flooding, fire, or logging often produce loads of morels.
Morels peak when lilacs bloom.
Most public lands in Missouri allow the collecting of mushrooms for personal use, but always check the regulations before you collect to be sure.
Remember, these are just general guidelines – morels have been found growing in all sorts of locations and conditions.
Before setting off into the forest, make sure you know how to correctly identify morels. Misidentifying and consuming toxic mushrooms can cause anything from mild stomach issues to organ failure or even death! There are several mushroom species in Missouri, including the big red false morel, which are considered toxic and not recommended for consumption. Consult with field guides or a professional mycologist to be completely confident in species identification before consuming any mushrooms.
Browse MDC’s mushroom field guide for photos of the more common and noticeable fungal species in Missouri.
Morels are often associated with ash trees, dying elms, and apple trees, although they are found elsewhere as well.
Photo credit: MDC Staff
Adapted from information from the William T. Kemper Center for Home Gardening located at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, Missouri.(www.GardeningHelp.org). Additional information provided by Cathy Bylinowski.
There is so much do in the garden in April. It can be overwhelming. Prioritizing projects in your yard or garden that are most important to you is one way to organize spring tasks. Do not forget to enjoy the sheer beauty of the green beginning of spring.
COVID 19 changed our lives this year, but gardening can help provide healthy exercise, stress relief, and nutritious food. Observe preventative measures to protect yourself, your family, and friends from COVID 19. Here is a helpful link to more information- https://extension2.missouri.edu/covid-19-resources-public
Contact Cathy Bylinowski, Horticulture Instructor, email@example.com, University of Missouri- Jackson County for more information on vegetable gardening, landscaping, native plants, and other horticulture topics. Enjoy spring!
When buying bedding plants, choose sturdy transplants that have not begun to flower. When crabapples are in bloom, it is time to plant hardy annuals such as violas outdoors.
Winter mulches should be removed from roses. Complete pruning promptly. Remove only dead wood from climbers at this time. Cultivate lightly, working in some compost or other organic matter.
Fertilize established roses once new growth is 2 inches long. Use a balanced formulation. Begin spraying to control black spot disease. Examine shrubs for winter injury. Prune all dead and weakened wood.
Groundcovers can be mowed to remove winter burn and tidy plants up. Raise mowers to their highest settings. Fertilize and water to encourage rapid regrowth.
Shrubs and trees best planted or transplanted in spring, rather than fall, include butterfly bush, dogwood, rose of Sharon, black gum (Nyssa), red bud, magnolia, tulip poplar, birch, ginkgo, hawthorn and most oaks.
Break off rims from peat pots when transplanting seedlings; otherwise, they can act as a wick to draw moisture away from the roots.
Evergreen and deciduous hedges may be sheared. Prune the top narrower than the base so sunlight will reach the lower limbs.
Easter lilies past blooming can be planted outdoors. Set the bulbs 2 to 3 inches deeper than they grew in the pot. Mulch well if frost occurs.
Enjoy, but do not disturb the many wildflowers blooming in woodlands throughout Missouri. Look for flowering dogwoods and redbuds in bloom. Oaks, hickories, and maples bloom.
Mow cool season grasses at recommended heights. For complete details, refer to University Extension Guide #6705, Cool Season Grasses. Top-dress low spots and finish over seeding thin or bare patches.
Finish transplanting broccoli, cabbage, and other cole crops into the garden. High phosphorous fertilizers help get transplants off to a quick start.
Plants started indoors should be hardened off outdoors in a protected place or cold frame before being transplanted into the garden.
Finish sowing seeds of all cool-season vegetables not yet planted. Make succession sowings of these crops for a steady supply.
Asparagus and rhubarb harvests begin. Remove flower stalks from rhubarb plants, if they develop.
Keep your hoe sharp. Do not allow weeds to get an early start in your garden! Thin crowded seedlings from early plantings of cool season crops such as beets, carrots, lettuce, and radish.
A rain gauge on a post near the vegetable garden keeps track of precipitation so you know when to water. Most crops need about 1 inch of rain per week between April and September.
If you want blemish-free fruits applications of insecticides and fungicides will be needed. Consult University Extension Guide Sheet #G6010, Home Fruit Spray Schedule for more information Plant bare-root or potted fruit trees as soon as the soil can be worked.
Protect bees and other pollinating insects. Do not spray insecticides on fruit trees that are blooming.
Orange, jelly-like galls on cedar trees spread rust diseases to apples, crabapples and hawthorns. Begin sprays for fire-blight susceptible apples and pears using an agricultural streptomycin. Spider mites and codling moths become active on apples.
Miscellaneous Natural Events
Honeybees are swarming. If you see a swarm in an inconvenient place, notify a local beekeeper organization to find a new home for these beneficial insects.
Hummingbirds return from their winter home in Central America.