By Judy Walker
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Ask a Master Gardener

Master Gardener Intern


August 16, 2018

Last week I was enjoying some time with our grandson in his Rochester backyard, inspecting the progress of a small vegetable garden we had planted in early June. We had just discovered the umpteenth cucumber on the sole cucumber plant and the emergence of the first red cherry tomatoes when I noticed the grapevine draped over the fence alongside the garden. While loaded with grapes, many of the leaves were brittle masses of veins, all of the green eaten away and only the skeletons left, withered and brown. He readily identified what he thought was the culprit: a bronze and green colored bug slightly less than a half-inch long. We picked it off a grape leaf, set it on the patio table and turned on the computer.

We explored a fantastic website hosted by the University of Minnesota Extension called What Insect is This?

Filled with photos and vivid descriptions that place insects into general categories and sizes, we were able to quickly confirm the bug was a Japanese beetle. Had this site left us in doubt as to the source of the grape leaf problem, our suspicions would have been bolstered by a visit to What’s Wrong with my Plant?, another U of M website that allows the user to diagnose problems through a series of decision trees. Sure enough, that site includes a photo of a ravaged grape leaf, and points to the Japanese beetle as the number one suspect. Both sites provide helpful information about prevention and management, and countless links to other sources of relevant information.

Had we still been stumped about the sorry state of the grape leaves, we could have called or emailed a master gardener. The U of M Extension Office sponsors the Ask a Master Gardener program. Master gardeners and master gardener interns will research and respond to your questions using the decision trees, many other resources available to them through the U, other reputable research-based science websites and often-impressive years of first-hand experience. Master gardeners are trained sleuths and if you approach them with a plant problem, they may ask you for additional information to aid in their research. This could include questions regarding the type of plant, planting conditions, how the plant has been cared for, when you first noticed issues, whether you are seeing similar issues in other plants, whether this issue occurred in past years and if there is anything unusual that happened during this growing season.

To Ask a Master Gardener, follow the link to this site and you can pose your questions online or over email: The site allows you to upload photos, a tremendous help in problem-solving. You can also call the Carlton County Extension Office at (218) 384-3511 and the staff will put you in touch with a local master gardener. In Carlton County, master gardeners have identified perennials, vegetables, squash, apples, berries, roses, hostas, trees, birds, animal pests, seed saving, pollinators and general gardening questions as specific areas of expertise. So … ask away!

Or … come to Barnum. It’s Carlton County Fair time, and nothing beats chatting in person! The Ask a Master Gardener Booth is located in the 4H Building next to the fair office, second building to the right when you come through the front gate. We hope to see you there!


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