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July Newsletter


Smooth Sumac (Rhus glabra)

This large, loose spreading shrub usually grows in masses and suckers profusely forming upright branching thickets with and umbrella like low canopy casting light shade below it. It has soft brown bark with smooth green leaves of 11-31 leaves per leaflet which turn bright red in the fall. The flowers form in dense clusters on a panicle which turn to bright red berries that can be eaten fresh or made into lemonade drink. Extract can be made and used as a tonic, astringent, and antiseptic, and the bark can be made into a tea to stop hemorrhaging.

While only growing to a maximum height of 15ft it is a great addition to native spaces and grasslands for its beauty and wildlife value.


June 10th is National Don't step on a Bee Day!!!

Not only are pollinators such as bees, insects, birds, and bats an important part of our ecosystem, they also play a vital role in our food supply. Hundreds of crops grown across the U.S. depend on pollinators for reproduction. Honey bee pollination alone adds more than $18 billion in value to agricultural crops annually. Besides not stepping on them, there’s a lot you can do to help our pollinator population thrive, including planting a pollinator garden and encouraging others to do the same.


Pollinators at Oakes, hard at work!


What a conservation collaboration for this project! Our first installment of a new seeding plot went in this month at the Oakes Nursery with a native prairie seeding and a cover crop planting for Ducks Unlimited. Thanks to the crew at Wild Rice Soil Conservation District for their expertise and tractor use!


Did you beat the wildlife of those currant bushes this year? Currants and gooseberries are native shrub species that are easy to grow. Golden currant is a hardy, low-growing shrub that is loaded with fragrant, yellow blossoms in the spring and then large, marble-sized berries in late summer. Most plants are partly or fully self-fertile so you can grow just the number of plants you need. Black currants contain high levels of vitamin C and are rich in minerals such as calcium, phosphorus and potassium, and phytonutrients and essential fatty acids. These currants have twice the level of antioxidants as blueberries!

Try this recipe from the NDSU Windbreak Cookbook!

CURRANT or GOOSEBERRY JAM 4½ lb. fully ripe gooseberries to make 5½ cups gooseberry juice

1 c. water

1 (1¾-oz.) package pectin

½ tsp. butter or margarine

7 c. sugar, measured into separate bowl

Crush gooseberries thoroughly, one layer at a time, or grind them. Place them in a saucepan; add water. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low; cover and simmer 10 minutes. Strain. Measure exactly 5½ cups of juice into a 6- or 8-quart saucepot. Stir pectin into the juice in the saucepot. Add butter to reduce foaming. Bring the mixture to a full, rolling boil (a boil that doesn’t stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in the sugar. Return to a full, rolling boil and boil exactly one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat. Skim off any foam with a metal spoon. Pour into hot, sterilized jars, filling to within 1/8 inch of the tops; wipe jar rims and threads and seal with two-piece, self-sealing lids.


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