In our continued efforts to provide educational outreach, the Baltimore County Master Gardeners (BCMG), volunteers who are part of the University of Maryland Extension, offer this newest installment in our monthly newsletters designed to provide timely, informative articles to assist you in your gardening activities.
It's Pollinator Week- Plant Flowers! Save the date for Garden Fest! Knotweed Knowledge. Would you like to be the coordinator for BCMG? Check out the details. Don't forget to visit us at our various educational events.
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2022 Pollinator Week
June 20 to 26
An article by Sara Yosua, Baltimore County Master Gardener
Pollinator Week 2022 is an international celebration in support of pollinator health. This is a time to raise awareness for our essential pollinators and spread the word about what we can do to protect them. Things that you can do to help pollinators range from planting more flowers on your property to actively advocating for pollinator conservation. Pollinator Week is a way to learn about, celebrate, and protect pollinators.
Pollinators are responsible for pollinating about 90% of the flowering plant species on our planet; these plants would disappear if their pollinators are lost. The pollinators are almost exclusively insects, and their populations are declining. There are several reasons for their decline: habitat loss, widespread pesticide use, introduced alien species, and even climate change. How can we let such a crucial service disappear? The answer is that we can not let that happen. Our survival depends on the successful pollination of plants.
Let’s meet our pollinators:
Bees are by far the most important pollinators because female bees gather pollen to feed their young, pollinating the plants in the process. They evolved from wasps shortly after flowering plants first appeared -- like wasps that went vegetarian. Bees are mostly attracted to bright white, yellow, blue, or purple flowers or a sweet or floral scent.
The first pollinators were beetles when flowering plants first evolved about 150 million years ago and are still essential for many ancient species, such as magnolias and spicebush. The flowers that attract them have copious amounts of pollen but little or no nectar.
Flies became pollinators shortly after beetles and are essential for pollinating many food crops today, such as strawberries, onions, and carrots. If you like chocolate, thank the flies that pollinate the cacao tree. Most plants that attract flies have a dull coloring and an unpleasant odor (not unpleasant to flies, of course).
Most adult moths forage at night, so plants that specifically attract moths have white or pale night-opening flowers and emit a strong sweet scent at night. It’s important to have the plants that the caterpillars can eat, called their host plants in order to support moths, butterflies, and many other pollinating insects.
Butterflies are basically beautiful daytime moths. There are about 150 species in Maryland that range in size from ¾ inch to over 6 inches. Adults favor flowers that are red, yellow, orange, and pink. As with moths, the caterpillars have certain host plants to attract the adult butterflies in your gardens. Visit the Penn State Extension site for a list of some common butterfly host plants.
There is an incredible diversity of solitary wasps that play an essential role in pest control and, unlike their social cousins (paper wasps, yellowjackets, and hornets), they are not aggressive. Wasps are attracted to sweet scents and flowers that produce plenty of nectar. Wasps are also known for the key role that some species play in pollinating figs and some orchids.
Many plants have evolved to specifically attract hummingbirds with bright red deep tubular blooms, such as cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) and coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens). But hummingbirds will gladly sip from any good nectar source. Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds are the only species found in Maryland, arriving from Central America in late April and heading back south again in autumn.
The Pollinator Partnership lists seven things that you can do for pollinators:
Talk to family, friends, and neighbors about the importance of pollinators
Support local bees
Conserve resources: use less and reduce your impact
Support science-based efforts for pollinators
Visit the Pollinator Partnership website information about pollinators and ways to help celebrate their success.
It’s Time for Garden Fest!! Held in the Baltimore County Master Gardeners Demonstration Garden, this annual event in conjunction with the Hereford Junior Farm Fair offers a terrific time to visit. Baltimore County Master Gardeners will be out in full force, on hand to guide you through any or all of our garden areas and to answer those pressing gardening questions. The Demonstration Gardens include a Children’s Garden, Bay-Wise Gardens, a Pollinator Garden and Monarch Waystation, Grow-It-Eat-It plots, an Orchard, an Herb Garden, Deer Resistant Gardens, and a Composting area. Expertise, information, and activities will be available throughout the gardens.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE FAIR — https://herefordjrfarmfair.org/homepage
Polygonaceae Thugs An article by Norman Cohen, Baltimore County Master Gardener
The family name, Polygonaceae, is based on the genus polygonum informally known as the knotweed or smartweed family or in the United States, buckwheat family. Polygonum is derived from Greek; poly, many, and goni knee or joint, which refers to the many swollen nodes the stems of some species have. Unfortunately, the species have taken hold in my garden.
Polygonum perfoliatum synonym Persicaria perfoliata or commonly known as Mile-a-minute, devil's tail, and giant climbing tea-thumb, endemic to Eastern Asia, became established in the 1930’s at a nursery in York, Pennsylvania and has since spread to Maryland and 9 other states (aren’t we lucky?). The petioles have 1 to 2 millimeter recurved spines. When mechanically pulling the 10 to 20 foot vines, as I can attest, wear heavy work gloves. The greenish white to yellow flowers appear in late July to August at the end of branches on spike-like racemes. The attractive metallic blue fruit (achene) are segmented and eventually ripening to single glossy, black or reddish-black seed. A wonderful food source for birds and the primary long-distance dispersal agents. In traditional Chinese medicine it is valued for its diuretic and anti-inflammatory.
Fallopia Japonica formerly Polygonum cuspidatum, better known as Japanese Knotweed or Japanese Bamboo, has started to volunteer in the only sunny spot in my woodland garden. Its reputation has placed the plant on the World Conservation Union as one of world’s worst invasive species. Japanese Knotweed was introduced as an ornamental in the late 1800’s and used in erosion control; a variegated form F. Japonica ‘Variegata’ is still sold in the nursery trade, let the buyer beware!
The herbaceous perennial which grows to 4 to 10 feet with hollow stems in which its common name is derived, Japanese Bamboo. Small white flowers which appear in late summer are produced in 4 to 6 inch attractive panicles. The seeds are triangular and dark brown. Due to the stout, large rhizomes, which are root-like underground stems, mechanical removal which I have tried on more than several occasions is near impossible. The only method which has worked is chemical with glyphosate. The fifteen to fifty per cent concentrate is diluted to five per cent and painted on the leaves with a sponge brush. Generally 2 to 3 applications generally take care of business. The fall is the best time of the year to apply the glyphosate although I have been successful in the summer. March 2010 in the UK, Japanese psyllid insect, Aphalara itadori was released in the wild, Its diet is highly specific to Japanese knotweed and shows good potential for its control. The plant’s flowers are valued by some beekeepers as an important source of nectar for honeybees, at a time of year when little else is flowering.
Polygonum pensylvanicum (syn. Persicaria pensylvanica), an aggressive native where it is widespread in Canada and the United States. Common names include Pennsylvania smartweed and pinkweed. The annual weed reaches 6 inches to 6 feet tall. The upright, ribbed stems are branching or unbranched. The lance-shaped leaves reach up to about one inch in length. The blade may be marked with a dark blotch. The pinkish flowers grow at the top of the stem and from the leaf axils. The flowers have 5 pinkish or greenish tepals (when these parts cannot easily be divided into two kinds, sepals and petals) each a few millimeters long. I should not carp too much at least 50 species of birds have been observed feeding on the seeds, including ducks, geese, rails, bobwhites, Mourning Dove, and Ring-necked Pheasant. The seeds and other parts are eaten by mammals such as the white-footed mouse, muskrat, raccoon, and fox squirrel.
Photo Credits: 1. Polygonum perfoliatum- USDA Forest Service
2. Polygonum perfoliatum- USDA Forest Service
3. Polygonum cuspidatum- Inaturalist.org
4. Polygonum cuspidatum- umass.edu
5. Polygonum pensylvanicum- UDSA Forest Service
6. Polygonum pensylvanicum- USDA Forest Service
Keep a close watch on your gardens
An article by Sara Yosua, Baltimore County Master Gardener
This is the time of year when all sorts of creatures are noticing how beautiful and lush your gardens are. It’s also the time that many of the insect pests are working hard at reproduction. Your fruit and vegetable may look perfect from a short distance, but do yourself a favor and look closer. Pests are very adept at hiding from all sorts of predators; if they were easy to find, there wouldn’t be near as many of them. Look for any leaf damage and try to locate the pest. Many pest insects hide, and lay their eggs, on the underside of the leaves on the plants that they eat. By giving that closer inspection every day and removing any pests or their eggs, you will have a much more successful harvest, usually without using any toxic chemicals.
Learn to distinguish between insect pests and the beneficial insects in your garden. When you spot one of your garden predators, such as ladybugs (which are really beetles) or soldier beetles, leave them in place and just pick off the pest and drop them in soapy water. The University of Maryland Extension website can help you learn about the insects in your landscape, https://extension.umd.edu/resource/outdoor-insects-home-landscape, and give you advice on the best control.
Many garden pests have two or more generations in a year and it will make a huge difference in the success of your harvest if you catch that first generation before they’ve laid their eggs, rather than trying to battle the pest explosions that could occur later in the season.
Different pests have different strategies for avoiding danger. Slugs hide underground or in dark, damp places during the day, but putting out a shallow bowl with beer will draw them to their demise when they come out to feed on your plants. Squash Vine Borers are hidden out of sight inside your plant stems. You can avoid these pests by planting your squash seeds in mid-June.
Learn how to deal with insect pests in your garden using Integrated Pest Management with Dr. Mike Raupp in Keep Bugs Off My Vegetables!. And make it a habit to visit your gardens daily to see what’s happening.
Photos by Sara Yosua
1. Ladybird Beetle, beneficial
2. Cross-striped Cabbage Worm, pest
We Are Hiring!!!
Become a part of the MG program team and the UME family!
We're looking for an MG Coordinator for our Baltimore County program.
These are 1-hour seminars held in our Demonstration Garden at the Ag. Center (1114 Shawn Road, Cockeysville). Each 1-hour session is led by Baltimore County Master Gardeners beginning at 10:00 am. Each session has a distinct plan if rain is in the forecast for that day; please see the description for the specific session. June 25, Orchard Garden: “Growing Fruit in Your Backyard”
A conversation in the Orchard based on the premise that no garden is too small to have fruit! Subjects covered will range from site selection to propagation.
Rain plan: We will have a rain date of July 9 if the forecast calls for heavy rain. REGISTER HERE
July 23, Composting Site: "The Basics of Composting"
Introduce the beginner gardener or novel composter to what is involved in establishing a basic compositing system in their home garden or garden space. The overview will include what is composting as well as the materials, average time commitment, and the expected results. Rain Plan: light rain session under canopies, Heavy rain date 10/10. REGISTER HERE
CHILDREN IN THE GARDEN SUMMER SERIES
We will have 3 sessions in the Children’s Garden, especially for kids ages 7-10. Each session will begin at 10:00 and will last an hour. The theme this summer is: Inviting Creatures into the Garden. Each session will focus on beneficial garden creatures. We will demonstrate how each creature helps enhance the vitality of the garden, and we will build creature houses for each participant to take home to their own garden. Rain Plan: Any rain, these sessions will move under cover of the Ag. Center Main Building. There is a $5 fee for each participant, to cover the costs of supplies,
Sign up on Eventbrite is REQUIRED-
July 16 Session 2, “Thanks to Toads” We will explore the differences and similarities of frogs and toads, then discuss how they help keep the bug population under control in our yards. We will be building toad houses. Please dress for paint splatter!!
August 13 Session 3, “Benefits of Bees” We will learn the difference between bees and wasps, how bees help as pollinators in the garden, and their importance for our food supply. We will build bee houses and paint. Please dress for splatter!!!
AMG Tables at Farmers Markets
Catonsville Farmers Market - Every other Wednesday morning from June 29 through September 7 Cromwell Valley Park – Every other Saturday from June 25 through September 3 Hereford Farm Market - Saturday mornings through September 3rd Kenilworth Farmers Market Every other Tuesday afternoon, from June 21 through August 30 Oregon Ridge Nature Center - Saturday mornings until September Towson Farmers Market - Thursday mornings from June into September