Poison Ivy Scouting

Poison Ivy Growing Among Woodsorrel

Whenever I take a walk around our house, I keep my eyes open for poison ivy. In the past couple weeks it seems to have awoke from its seasonal slumber and is ready to take off. The sooner you can control poison ivy the better. In order to control it well, it is important to understand this persistent plant.

The old saying “leaves of three, let it be” has been most helpful for me over the years to keep from getting confused between poison ivy and other look alikes. Poison ivy is a climbing woody vine that loses it’s leaves each winter. Leaves are egg shaped with three leaves per petiole that may be toothed, lobed, or entire. Poison ivy attaches to trees and rocks with aerial roots, which may have a hairy, fibrous appearance. Leaves may take on a reddish hue late in the season. It reproduces by creeping stems, roots, and seed transported by birds. Poison ivy can thrive in many areas that other plants do not.

All parts of the plant contain resins that cause allergic reactions for most of the U.S. population. These resins cause issues if burned, directly touched, or indirectly transferred from one surface to another. Resins are continually present on the leaves, stems, and roots, even in the winter.

Poison ivy is often confused with Virginia creeper, which is a creeping and trailing vine that secures itself to objects with specialized stems call tendrils. Virginia creeper has 5 leaflets, instead of three and is not poisonous. Poison oak is another common mix up. Poison oak has three leaflets, but the leaves look very similar to a classic oak leaf. The lobes have blunt tips and hairs on both the top and bottom of the leaf. Poison oak is not a creeping weed, but rather grows upright from the soil surface. For this plant the “leaves of three, let it be” statement still applies.

Poison ivy and poison oak are responsive to glyphosate, triclopyr, and 2, 4-D herbicides, which are commonly used in poison ivy killers. Always follow the label when using a herbicide and wear adequate protective gear while handling!

     Virginia Creeper

Poison Oak (Photo Credit-School of Forest Resources & Conservation – University of Florida)

IPM- Crop Rotations

In Extension, we often talk about integrated pest management, a way to control a pest from various angles. These angles are cultural, mechanical, and biological options for managing pests.  A pest is simply something unwanted in a particular area.  Pests could be plants, insects, or even mammals at times.  The thought process is that there is no one perfect solution to a problem.  Easy come easy go, some would say.  I guess in this case it would be; easy go, easy come back!

A cultural way to break the cycle of many pests is to plan a crop rotation that involves crops from different plant families. Families in the sense of phylogenies or grouping according to similarities.  For instance, the following plants: tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and even potatoes are all in the Solanaceae family.  As you can tell, many of our garden crop favorites share a lot with one another.

One of the biggest mistakes in crop rotations is to rotate between unrelated plants/crops. This is important because pests can share similar crops and over winter in that specific crop residue.  Take for instance the cucumber beetle; this pest will over winter on cucurbit residue and be ready to re-infect that crop, whether it is a cucumber, pumpkin or zucchini.  This bug will also spread bacterial wilt that can cause a loss of an entire crop with a systemic infection.

The cucumber beetle will not damage tomatoes so planting a Solanaceae crop in an area that a Cucurbitaceae was growing would break that pest cycle. Pests can also be fungal.  A fungus called Alternaria tomatophila causes early blight in tomatoes.  The fungus can over winter in certain cultivars of potato and eggplant, both of which are in the Solanaceae family.

A good crop rotation starts with careful planning and can be successful by utilizing crops with complementary planting and harvest dates. A good rotation for May plantings would be to start with sweet corn (Poaceae).  Sweet corn can be harvested around August and into September.  A crop rotation will prevent certain cutworms and corn borers from being problematic in a specific area.  A good follow-up crop in that area would be garlic (Alliaceae) planted in September/October and harvested in July.  Once July comes, planting a legume (Fabaceae) will help remediate the soil and get the soil ready for the following season, hairy vetch for instance.

There are many rotations that work well in a crop rotation system, utilizing soybeans for a food plot can also be done. Just remember to rotate crops that are unrelated and replenish the soil at times.  This can be accomplished through the use of legumes or fertilizers.  A rotation only needs to be more than one crop; two is good, but three is great!  Get your garden plans in place and dig right in.

Be Cautious if you plan to Roundup your lawn.

There are currently two products on the market that you will need to pay close attention to if you plan to make a herbicide treatment to your lawn.  The confusion is that Roundup is a product that has been on the market since the early 1970’s and contains glyphosate as the active ingredient.  Roundup is a non-selective herbicide that kills any green plant to which it is applied.  With a lawn application this statement would be accurate, but we do have some weeds in cereal grain fields that are resistant to glyphosate.  There many generic products which contain glyphosate and you need to check the label for the amount of active ingredient when comparing products and prices.

 

Roundup for Lawns is a totally different product which does not contain glyphosate.  To make it even more confusing there is a northern and a southern version of this product for different grass options.  The northern version of Roundup for Lawns contains MCPA, quinclorac, dicamba and sulfentrazone.  These active ingredients can be found in many lawn herbicides in different combinations for various weed control options.  MCPA, 2,4-D and dicamba are products used to control broad leaf weeds such as dandelion, ground ivy or mallow.  Quinclorac is often added to provide post-emergent control of crabgrass.  Sulfentrazone is a product that provides control of sedges such as yellow nut sedge as well as some broadleaf weeds.  All of the active ingredients previously mentioned will not kill your lawn grasses.

 

Selecting the wrong Roundup will result in very different outcomes.  Roundup will leave you with a brown dead lawn, where Roundup for Lawns will control selective weeds and not harm your grass.  However both of these products can be harmful to many of your landscape plants if applied to them.  So it is critical to know what active ingredients are in the product, not the product name itself.  As always READ THE LABEL!  The label is the law and must be followed when using any herbicide due to the active ingredient toxicity levels, application rates, personnel protective equipment, and re-entry intervals.

Edible Wild Plants-Risk vs. Reward

This time of year the questions start to trickle in about edible wild plants. Many are interested in identifying and collecting edibles, but this is a hobby that should be pursued with extreme caution. I have been asked multiple times to host an edible wild plant workshop, but the risk of accidental consumption of a harmful plant following an event like that is too great. Therefore, I have yet to get a workshop going and my most responsible overall advice is simply, don’t do it. Unless you are stranded in the wilderness and need to survive on wild edibles, the risk vs. reward odds are not worth testing.

Collecting wild edibles is an endeavor that could start out with good intentions and end in the hospital, or worse. Before you eat any plant or fungus you find in the wild, check, check, and check again to verify it is what you think. Many edibles seem perfectly safe just by looking at them, but don’t forget that there are other factors like pathogens or parasites that could make you ill that are unable to be seen, so eat at your own risk.  If you determine it is “safe” to eat, only consume a tiny bit at a time, just in case something goes haywire. Also, keep an unaltered sample of what you have consumed, so that medical personnel could implement the appropriate treatment in an emergency. Also, remember that some wild edibles, like ginseng, are illegal to collect from state lands in OH. Permits can be acquired in some areas during the designated season for harvest. Don’t forget that in some wildlife areas removal of any vegetation is illegal.

Controlled cultivation is a safer bet. Many people successfully propagate their own mushrooms, herbs, and more. There is quite a bit of information about how to accomplish this task through OSU Extension and other sources. In fact, on Saturday, April 8 there will be a Growing Shiitake Mushrooms Workshop at the Noble County Soil and Water Conservation District Office. Anyone is welcome to attend this free event which will run from 10 a.m. to Noon featuring our local service forester-Adam Komar of ODNR as the guest speaker. Please call 740-732-4318 to RSVP.

Ohio State has a resource handbook about mushrooms that many have found helpful. Find it here: Mushroom Handbook

Looking for a list of edibles in the Mid-West Region? Click here: Edibles List

Save The Date!! “Tick Prevention” at Hocking Valley Community Hospital 4/3/17 at 6pm

With spring upcoming and people starting to head back outdoors it is time to think about protection from ticks.  Ticks are a major vector of many diseases affecting humans, companion animals and livestock and the prevalence of these diseases has been rapidly increasing over the last decade.  On Monday, April 3rd at 6pm at Hocking Valley Community Hospital I will discuss tick diseases, identification and prevention methods.  The class is free and open to the public.

How to identify which tick is important,  different ticks carry different diseases and all ticks carry more than one disease.

Source: Tickencounter.org

We will discuss lifecycles.

Source: CDC

And go over how to protect yourself, your family, your pets and your livestock.   Ticks are tough to repel, many of the most common products are ineffective.

We will discuss what works and what does not work.

Space is limited to about 20-25 and classes at HVCH generally fill up.  The class is free so bring your friends and your questions.

Contact information:

Class instructor is Tim McDermott, DVM from OSU Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources Office. Call (740) 380-8336 or email ljohnston@hvch.org to RSVP.

The Urban Farm – Winter Update

I know I told you all that The Urban Farm was done for the season, but actually there is something important going on right now that will be critical to our success in 2017.  The cover crop seed I planted in November has been slowly growing and helping the overall soil health.  It was very fortunate that we lucked out with lots of rain and moderate temps for the first half of winter.  I go to the farm and take pics every few weeks or so.  Here is the timeline in pictures:

shortly after germination, picture taken on November 29th

picture taken December 7th

some great growth so far. Picture taken January 3rd

Picture taken January 19th.

As soon as the daylight hours increase and it gets warmer, the rye will take off like a rocket, easily getting over 3 – 4 feet tall.

Save the Date!! Seed Starting Class at Bishop Educational Garden, Wednesday March 1st.

OSU Extension and Hocking Soil and Water Conservation District will be partnering to present a FREE workshop at Bishop Educational Gardens, the home of Lilyfest, on Wednesday March 1st from 6:30 to 8pm.

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Basic techniques for starting your own flowers, herbs and vegetables will be demonstrated as well as a discussion on how to construct your own home growing environment.

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Registration is recommended to ensure we have enough seating.  Bring your questions and your friends.  Bishop Educational Garden is located at 13200 Little Cola Rd. Rockbridge, OH 43149  (click for google map)

For more information or to register contact Rebecca Miller, HSWCD,  at 740-385-3016 or Tim McDermott OSUE at 740-385-3222 or email to McDermott.15@osu.edu

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Banishing Bed Bugs

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This article was originally published in The Journal on December 19, 2016.

Recently I heard through the county grapevine that there have been some local cases of bed bugs (Climex lectularius). I have not identified any infestations myself and I hope that will still be true in 2017. In any case, it is always good to be prepared to address a situation such as this. So, let’s start by debunking a prevalent myth about bed bugs:

“Only dirty people get bed bugs.”- False. This is absolutely false.

The spread of bed bugs is more related to the movement of people than it is to cleanliness. However, it may be more difficult to treat or diagnose a case of bed bugs in cluttered spaces and within displaced groups of people, rather than in a spotless environment. Bed bugs are arachnids that are exclusively mobile by crawling. They are sensitive to light and will hide in dark crevices, such as bed frames, mattress seams, and base boards, which is why people often notice bites before they notice bugs. The most obvious sign of bed bug presence is black speckles of feces on crevice surfaces. Bed bugs often use carpeted areas to approach new hosts and climb into luggage, purses, clothing and more.

After hitching a ride to a new environment, they make a new home in your home. You probably won’t notice the first day, or even the first week. That means that by the time you do notice them, they have multiplied. A female bed bug typically lays about five eggs daily throughout her lifespan, which can range from 6-12 months. Eggs hatch into the first of five nymph stages within 4-12 days. Although bed bugs require a feeding between each nymph stage, they can survive for extended periods of time without a meal.

Biting occurs at night and there is usually no pain to the host during the act of biting. Residual effects of the bite can cause mild to moderate skin irritation for 1-2 weeks. Bed bugs rarely transmit disease.  All in all, they are a severe annoyance that is very challenging to eliminate without professional intervention.

If you suspect that you have bed bugs in your home or business get a positive ID. Sticky traps near hiding areas are effective for collecting specimens. Another method that works well is to use clear tape to capture a specimen and secure it to a white or clear surface. Then examine the specimen to confirm if it is or is not a bed bug. Professionally assisted eradication is the most effective method for ridding your environment of these pests. It is very difficult to get effective control using only cultural methods or only with pesticides. It will require a combination of both and may take multiple attempts. Always check furniture for signs of bed bugs when you spend the night away from home and also check before bringing new furniture into your home.

If you fear that you have encountered bed bugs while traveling, there are steps to take to reduce the risk of spreading them to your home. Upon your return, bag and seal clothing and other belongings before you enter and immediately heat treat whatever you can in the dryer. Proceed to washing items in hot water and drying them again. Exposure to high heat will kill bed bugs. Vacuum any upholstery or carpet that you may have contacted on the way in.

Getting bed bugs is not the end of the world, but it can be embarrassing and difficult to treat. I hope that you do not encounter bed bugs, but if it happens hopefully you will know what to do after reading this article.bed_bug_lifecycle

Try, Try, Again

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This article was also printed in The Journal on October 3, 2016.

This spring I had an idea to start a research project by planting some grass seed. I shared the idea with some of my mentors and colleagues and we got to work. It seemed simple enough, but I didn’t get the results that I hoped for. Despite my efforts to create good conditions for the seed, the grass did not establish. Instead, I grew a great big patch of weeds. Oh, how disappointing it was to see so many cocklebur plants and foxtail stems where my grass was supposed to be. I looked at it and wanted to throw in the towel. I had plans for that grass, but it wasn’t there. Now what do I do? Can I fight off these weeds? Do I give up on my project idea? Do I start all over? After thinking all this over and asking for advice, we decided that the project idea is still good. Just because the grass didn’t establish this spring, doesn’t mean it is a lost cause. One thing is for sure, it certainly won’t work if we don’t try. So far, it seems like this project has been a failure, but the only way it can really fail is if we give up. So, I am trying again.

My friend Doug had a similar experience this summer. Doug has specific plans in partnership with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to put in a strip of pollinator friendly plants along a section of his property. In order to follow the developed plan, he would have to wait until Spring 2017 to get started. Doug wanted to get a head start and do something beneficial this year. He had an idea to plant buckwheat this summer in the location where his pollinator plants would go in 2017. Buckwheat is a short-season annual plant that is versatile and low maintenance. Bees, butterflies, deer, and turkeys find it attractive, the grain can be used to make flour for human consumption, and it is very useful as a cover crop and green manure. After investigating his options and talking to people who had success growing buckwheat he decided to plant some.

Doug followed the directions for planting the seed, but the buckwheat didn’t come up within the time frame he expected. He inspected the field and the only remnants of the seed he found were damaged or dead. He called me concerned that he had done something wrong. We kicked around ideas, but were unable to pinpoint exactly what happened. Despite the setback, Doug didn’t give up. He replanted the strip of land with a fresh supply of seed. At the beginning of September, I got a message from Doug with photos of a long strip of white flowers that read, “Hi Christine, So…What do you think of my buckwheat?” “Wow! It’s beautiful!”, I responded.

It truly was beautiful, not just the image of the gorgeous spicebush swallowtail butterfly that sat gracefully perched on a cluster of flowers, but the reassurance that what may appear to be failure on the first try, can blossom into success. Let’s face it, no one is an expert at something they’ve only tried once. We’ve heard the saying a hundred or more times, but let’s keep saying it so we don’t forget, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again.”


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