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bunches of Aronia berries still on a bush

What is This Fruit… And is it Edible?

In mid- to late-summer, we often get the questions: “What kind of fruit is this?” and “Is it edible?” To identify a fruit, it is helpful to know both plant and fruit characteristics: Woody or herbaceous plant? Vining or upright? Do the leaves attach to the stem opposite each other (i.e., paired), or do they alternate from one side of the stem to the other? What size and color are the fruit? Is each fruit’s stem attached directly to the twig, or are they in a cluster that attaches to the twig? And, one question I find often helpful in distinguishing among smaller fruits, does it have a single pit, or are there several seed in each fruit?

A lush, green cluster of garden peas with several pods developed.

Peas: How to Grow It

The most common type of pea in American gardens is the shelling pea, also called the “garden pea” or “English pea.” Tender, sweet peas are removed from thin, tough pods before eating.

Green beans growing a garden.

Green Beans: How to Grow It

Snap beans, also called “green beans” or “string beans” (although most modern varieties do not have strings) are harvested when the pods contain immature seeds, and the pods are still succulent.

Two dandelions side by side. The left has a bee foraging on it. The right has a hover fly foraging on it..

Why Those Dandelions in Your Yard Aren’t So Bad

While research has shown that pollinators, specifically honey bees, can’t survive on dandelion pollen alone, this doesn’t mean that the dandelions aren’t still important for pollinators.

A white and gray, mold-like growth on an ear of sweet corn.

What's Bugging Your Garden? Smut on Sweet Corn

Smut is a fungal disease that can attack the leaves, stalks, tassels, silks and cobs. While many fungal diseases cause spots on the leaves or stems, smut is much more flamboyant.

a close up of buckthorn berries

Woody Weeds: Common Buckthorn

When considering weed control in tree plantings, the focus is generally placed on the control of herbaceous vegetation (grasses and forbs), particularly during the establishment phase. This focus is appropriate since control of herbaceous weeds is generally critical to establish a successful planting. As these plantings mature, providing perching sites for birds, another weed problem develops – the establishment of competing woody vegetation. These woody weeds are often left unchecked for many years because they look “natural” in a windbreak or other area of trees.

Cucumbers growing on a vine in a garden.

Cucumbers: How to Grow It

Some cucumber varieties form long vines that may ramble or be trellised. Others are bush types that fit more easily into a small garden or even a large container.

What's That Vine?

One of the most frequently asked questions that I have gotten recently refers to a vining plant that looks like it is going to take over the world, or at least a few trees in the yard or a section of a shelterbelt.

Numerous grayish-brown bugs gathering on a green stem.

False Chinch Bugs Back Again

False chinch bugs are active yet again in South Dakota. Although they are normally only a nuisance pest, their populations can become magnified during cool, wet springs.

Black insect with a white spot on the back and orange tipped legs and antennae.

A fly? A hornet? Nope, it’s a sawfly!

This spring, there have been multiple reports of people seeing large fly-like insects in their yards. These insects are sawflies, and all reports thus far have been the elm sawfly (Cimbex americana).