“Silence is a great peacemaker.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

You have probably seen the words “degree day,” but are not quite sure what this is. Degree days, also known as heat or thermal units, are a way of incorporating temperatures and time into one measurement to quantify the rate of plant and insect development. According to the degree days, we are running on the cool side this year and this may be reflected in later emergence of insects and delayed plant development according to the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, DATCP, pest bulletin.

A bit of phenology, when the blue chicory starts to bloom along the roadside, watch for Japanese beetles and the moth for squash vine borers. The moth is only active for two weeks and this is when it lays its eggs at the base of your squash. Put a teaspoon of powdered carbaryl at the base of your squash plants to eliminate these pests. Usually only one application will do the job. Don’t spray the whole plant because you will kill your pollinators.

Another bit of phenology, when catalpas and mock orange blossom, it’s time to plant fall cabbage and broccoli.

If you have a shady problem area in your yard or need a nice ground cover to fill in where grass doesn’t grow, try Canada Ginger or European Shiny Leaf Ginger. These plants can take heavy shade and moist conditions. They really like an acid soil, but I have had luck in our high alkaline soil of south-central Wisconsin.

Wild Ginger, Asarum canadense, is a native to Wisconsin and very hardy. It makes a great woodland plant combined with hostas, ferns, astilbe and all shade-loving plants. Ginger leaves are kidney-shaped and add texture to the garden. You can purchase Ginger through catalogs or at local nurseries. Remember to mulch to conserve water. If you know someone that has this plant, they may be willing to share or trade.

European Ginger is harder to find and needs to be mulched heavily in the winter as it is an evergreen. The leaves are glossy and beautiful, and even though it needs more care, it is worth it.

The new master gardener class will start Aug. 25. For more information, call 608-355-3250 or visit sauk.uwex.edu and look under the Horticulture section for the application. Class limit is 30 applicants this year.

Contact Phyllis Both by email at pboth@charter.net or by telephone on Monday mornings at the Sauk County University of Wisconsin-Extension office, 608-355-3253.

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