Ask the expert

Wisconsin State Farmer
Birds like this Red-bellied Woodpecker may cause damage to cedar siding in their search for a meal.

Q: I've noticed wild turkeys in my feed her right in the city. Is this unusual?

A: In many parts of the state, wild turkeys are quite abundant, even in our metropolitan areas. Like deer and Canada geese, wild turkeys have discovered that they are safer in town then out in the country where they are pursued by hunters.

Q: How can I keep woodpeckers off of my cedar siding?

A: are many options available. The best defense is to keep changing it up, as the birds will get used to whatever method you employ. Hanging metallic reflecting tape or streamers that curl and bounce in the wind is one of the best methods. Stringing aluminum pie plates or cardboard shapes wrapped in aluminum foil will also work. Even paper plates strung from the eaves have been shown to be effective. Since most woodpeckers are using this as a method of establishing territory and announcing their presence, it's normally only a problem during certain times of year. If they are consistently attacking the wood, it is possible that there are insect pests within.

Q: How do I save the seeds from my marigolds and zinnias?

A: The best method is to allow the plants to go completely dormant after the first frost and freeze, then gather the seeds from the dried flower heads. Marigold and zinnia seeds are quite large and easy to gather. For large volume, snip off the dried seed heads, place in a paper bag and shake vigorously to loosen as many seeds as possible.

Be aware that the seeds you collect will not necessarily come true to type next year. Hybrid varieties often cross with each other, depending on which flower that bee or pollinator visited previously. You will likely get a whole new range of colors.

Q: I want to grow milkweed for monarchs. I see the seeds blowing around now. Can I plant them?

A: Milkweed seeds do not need to be "planted." The best method for propagating them is to simply place them on the soil where you intend to grow them and sprinkle a light layer of sand or soil to hold down the fluff. The seeds themselves should not be covered with soil. Sowing this way can be done anytime during fall and even into winter and next spring. One of the most interesting and fun ways to propagate milkweed is to sprinkle the seeds over the snow in winter, just like Mother Nature does. The seeds will then melt down with the snow, come into contact with the soil in spring and have plenty of moisture for natural germination.