Posts from the ‘Garden’ Category

Even if the snow melts, dont rake! (at least not yet) from StarTribune.com


 

Metal bow rake

By deb brown • Special to the Star Tribune

Raking won’t make the snow melt. It won’t thaw the ground. Or give the temperatures a boost. What will it do? “More harm than good,” said Brian Horgan, a turf grass expert and associate professor at the University of Minnesota. While we may have come out of hibernation, our grass has not. “It’s still fragile,” said Horgan. “It can’t withstand wear and tear — and that means raking.” He expects the grass to be rake-ready by the first of May. “It kind of pops up,” he said. “You’ll be able to see it.” What can you do until then? “Go to a park,” he advised.

 I may be stating the obvious, but it’s too early to get your yard and garden ready for the growing season. Although the timing of spring chores can’t be dictated by the calendar, jumping the gun can be a waste of effort, and sometimes a waste of money. Here are some guidelines for what to do, and when:

Lawn care

Try to stay off the grass as much as possible while the soil is still moist and spongy underfoot. Because we had so much snow late this winter, we might have quite a bit of snow mold. If you see matted areas in the lawn, use a lightweight leaf rake to break them up. Usually, letting air and sunshine penetrate is all that’s necessary for grass to recover from snow mold.

If you fertilized the lawn last September, you probably won’t need to fertilize again this spring. However, if you do plan to fertilize the lawn, wait until it’s growing actively enough that you’ve had to mow it a couple times. Only then will grass plants be able to make best use of the nutrients.

If you’ve had a lot of trouble with crabgrass or other annual weeds in your lawn, you can use a product combining fertilizer with a pre-emergence herbicide in the affected areas. If you’d like to try a greener product, use one containing corn gluten meal. It prevents many annual seeds from sprouting and provides a natural source of nitrogen. It does take several years of applications to be most effective.

Pre-emergence herbicides should be applied and watered lightly into the lawn two weeks before crabgrass is expected to sprout. Typically, that means waiting until the last week of April or the first week of May. Because their effectiveness wanes over time, there is no reason to apply crabgrass preventers early. Don’t use these products if you plan to seed, unless you find one designed specifically for use with newly planted grass seed.

Gradually remove mulch

If you mulched your spring bulbs and other perennials, gradually remove the mulch as it thaws. You may choose to leave the mulch between plants, where it will keep the soil moist and help prevent annual weeds from sprouting.

Tender, hybrid tea roses are usually uncovered or lifted around mid-April most years. This year, however, you might want to wait. The canes of hyrbrid tea roses may be damaged or killed if nighttime temperatures drop into the teens.

Unwrap trees

If you used paper or plastic tree wrap to protect young trees from sunscald or animal damage, remove it immediately. The wrap holds moisture against the trunk, which can promote diseases.

If you’re concerned about rabbits and other critters gnawing on the thin bark, create a more permanent barrier. Make a cylinder of hardware cloth or chicken wire and place it around the base of your tree. Be sure to leave an inch or two of space between the cylinder and the trunk. Be sure to remove the cylinder if it begins to constrict the trunk’s growth.

Stay out of the garden

Wait until soil dries sufficiently before working in the garden. You can test for dryness by lifting some soil with a shovel, then making a small ball in your fist. If the soil is dry enough, the ball will be crumbly. If it stays together tightly, it is still too moist. Wait a few days and try again.

Prune with caution

Hold off pruning forsythia, lilacs and other shrubs that bloom in spring or early summer. If you prune now, you’ll sacrifice this year’s flowers.

A few shrubs bloom on new stems that are produced this spring, such as old-fashioned snowball hydrangeas and pink-flowering spireas, for instance. Those may be pruned in spring as they begin to grow, and they’ll still flower this summer.

Wait to prune evergreen shrubbery such as junipers, yews and arborvitae, until you see new growth. Then, you can cut them back as long as you don’t remove all the new growth. These plants will keep growing all summer; you can prune them again in early to mid-July if you want to limit their size. Wait, too, to shorten the new growth of spruce and pines.

Hire an arborist if your shade trees need pruning. It’s not a job homeowners should tackle. To avoid oak wilt disease, oaks can’t be pruned in April, May or June. And though it’s not harmful, some trees — notably maples — will drip lots of sap when they’re pruned in spring.

Keep strawberries covered

Strawberries can be killed when night temperatures fall to the mid-teens, so don’t be too eager to uncover them. When you do, keep the mulching material close by, so you can rake it over the plants if we get a cold spell.

Deb Brown is a garden writer and former extension horticulturist with the University of Minnesota

Even if the snow melts, dont rake! | StarTribune.com.

Fall lawn care practices may be different this year : Extension news : University of Minnesota Extension


Here is an article from the University of Minnesota Extension about our drought conditions in Minnesota and what to do about your lawn and garden this fall.

Fall lawn care practices may be different this year

Media Contact: Catherine Dehdashti, University of Minnesota Extension, office 612-625-0237, cell 651-329-2427,ced@umn.edu

ST. PAUL, Minn. (9/18/2012) —Fall is the preferred time for many important lawn care practices. From fertilization and weed control, to aeration and seeding, there is no better time for cool-season turfgrass maintenance in the Midwest. But this year is different, according to University of Minnesota Extension turfgrass educator Sam Bauer.

“The lack of precipitation in August has caused many of our Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, or fine fescue lawns to turn brown and cease growing,” said Bauer. “In order for your lawn to recover, you will need to begin irrigating regularly.” This means more than just one or two cycles, but enough water to wet the root zone sufficiently to sustain turfgrass health.

If your lawn is stressed from lack of moisture, typical fall maintenance practices that have been recommended in the past may add additional stress. “Concentrate more this fall on creating the best possible growing environment for your turfgrass, and you will reap the benefits during next year’s growing season,” said Bauer.

Here are some tips from Bauer for drought-stressed lawns:

  • Aerate after the lawn’s health has been restored. While aeration is a great fall practice, it further stresses drought-stressed turf and may actually cause the lawn quality to decline.
  • Don’t dethatch or use a vertical mower. This process tears turfgrass leaves and crowns, and should only be conducted when the lawn is healthy.
  • Don’t spray herbicides on a brown lawn. Systemic and contact herbicides used for weed control are more effective when weeds are actively growing.
  • Choose fertilizer sources with at least half of the nitrogen component present in the slow release form. High rates of quick release nitrogen fertilizers can have negative effects on drought-stressed turf. There is also a greater potential for environmental loss of nitrogen when the lawn is not actively growing.
  • Raise the mowing height and mow less frequently to encourage turfgrass recovery.
  • Maintain soil moisture to promote turfgrass recovery.
  • Spot seed and fertilize thin, weak areas with a high-quality turfgrass seed mixture.
  • Perform a soil test to determine fertilizer requirements of phosphorus and potassium.

For more information on lawn care, visit www.extension.umn.edu/turfgrass

Fall lawn care practices may be different this year : Extension news : University of Minnesota Extension.

It’s prime lawn care time | StarTribune.com


It’s the perfect time to attend to your lawn.

As garden chores wind down, you can turn your attention to improving your grass — now and next spring.

Star Tribune photo galleries

Early fall is a time of active growth for grass, both above and below ground. That means regardless of the current condition of your grass, it’s prime time for lawn care. Any effort you put into your yard now will pay dividends not only this fall, but also next spring and summer.

Here’s how to keep your lawn looking great:

FERTILIZE

fall fertilizer

Because turf grasses are growing so actively now, they’re able to take up and make use of fertilizer most effectively.

Apply a high-nitrogen fertilizer in early to mid-September, then water the lawn lightly afterward to make sure the granules reach the soil and don’t wash away. (Nitrogen is always the first of three numbers that give the nutrient analysis of any fertilizer.)

The University of Minnesota no longer recommends a second application later in autumn, because grass is less able to absorb nitrogen then. One fall application will do.

WATER

Though we often receive plenty of rainfall in autumn, it’s not unusual to run into a dry spell.

If we haven’t had rain for a week or so, you should water the lawn, especially if it’s been warm or windy. It best to water deeply, rather than lightly, but how often you need to water depends on the weather. As the temperatures drop, you can water less frequently, but as long as grass continues to grow it will need water — whether from the sky or your sprinkler.

MOW

Keeping the grass taller during summer (2 1/2 to 3 inches) results in deeper root growth. But once the weather cools off, you can gradually reduce the height of the grass. By the final mowing, your lawnmower blades should be set so the grass is only about 2 inches tall. If the grass blades are left too tall going into winter, they can pack down, which makes the grass more prone to disease.

SEED

Scotts ez Seed shaker

 

Early September is the best time to overseed thin patches of grass. Soils are still warm, there’s usually more rainfall, and nights are longer and cooler — all favorable conditions for grass seed to germinate and grow rapidly. Plus, few weed seeds are programmed to sprout now, so there’s less competition.

Scruff the soil so seeds make good contact rather than sit on a hard-packed surface. Aerifying the lawn before overseeding loosens the soil and creates an excellent surface for planting. Fertilize with standard lawn fertilizer or one formulated specifically for use when planting grass seed. Then water lightly as often as needed to keep the soil moist. Water more heavily and less frequently as the young grasses grow. Mow the areas that are overseeded when existing grasses grow too tall. Most important, do not use any form of herbicide in these areas until next year, including fertilizer/herbicide combinations.

WEEDS CRABGRASS

An abundance of crabgrass has been one of this year’s most common complaints. The repeated heavy spring rains interfered with pre-emergence herbicides. So even lawns that were treated for crabgrass may have lots of it.

Because crabgrass is an annual weed that dies over the winter, there’s no point in using weed killers on it now. Instead, plan to apply a pre-emergence herbicide to infested areas next spring.

Natural products containing corn gluten meal also prevent crabgrass, but they take several years of spring and late-summer applications to be the most effective.

PERENNIAL WEEDS

 

Creeping Charlie Herbicide

Ortho herbicide for creeping charlie

By the latter part of September, temperatures will have cooled enough to begin using broad-leaf herbicides on dandelions, plantain, creeping Charlie and other perennial weeds, which spring back from the same roots year after year.Because perennial weeds are storing nutrients in their roots now for next year’s growth, they’ll take in herbicide more readily in the fall. On really tough weeds such as creeping Charlie, you can add a second herbicide application two weeks after the first.

If you prefer not to use herbicides, manually dig out perennial weeds. And remember, the weeds you remove this fall won’t be around to produce seeds next year.

AERATE AND DETHATCH

If your soil is hard or you have a thick buildup of thatch (more than 1/2 inch), your lawn will benefit from core aeration in September. Aeration takes small plugs out of the soil, which allows water, fertilizer and oxygen to penetrate below the surface and encourages good grass growth. (The small cores of soil should be left on the surface of the grass, so they break down and top-dress the soil.) You can rent an aeration machine (it’s hard work) or hire the job out.

Power rake

If the thatch is really thick, rent a dethatching machine, also known as a “vertical mower.” (Again, this is hard work you may wish to hire out.) The machine slices through the grass, bringing up lots of thatch, which will have to be raked up and added to your compost pile.

Aerating and dethatching may be done on the same day, but they will dry the soil rapidly, so be sure to water the lawn once you’re done.

Deb Brown is a garden writer and former extension horticulturist with the University of Minnesota.

via It’s prime lawn care time | StarTribune.com.

Other posts that you may enjoy:

 https://levahnbros.wordpress.com/2009/10/02/fall-yard-care/

https://levahnbros.wordpress.com/2009/05/08/grass-seed/

https://levahnbros.wordpress.com/2009/04/14/spring-lawn-care-thatch-aeration-and-fertilizers/

Lawn dethatching | Lawn gardening | Home lawn care: Gardening.

https://levahnbros.wordpress.com/2012/08/31/lawn-dethatching-lawn-gardening-home-lawn-care-gardening/

https://levahnbros.wordpress.com/2012/09/01/when-should-you-dethatch-or-aerate-your-lawn/

LeVahn Brothers Hardware is located at 12700 Bass Lake Rd. Maple Grove, MN 55369

Find us online at levahnbros.com and also on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/levahnbrothers

You can aslo call us at 763-553-1222

 

When should you dethatch or aerate your lawn?


 

There is a debate going on among our employees about when to dethatch a lawn. Some the guys here say you should do it in the spring when the grass has established its root base. They base their opinion off of what golf courses do for their grass in the spring. Others, like myself, believe it should be done in the fall. If you dethatch your lawn late in the summer/early fall lawns are less succeptible to weeds and crabgrass establishing themselves. Whether you dethatch in spring or fall you need to make sure to give your lawn a healthy drink afterward. At least a 1/2 inch of watering should be done. If you dethacth in the spring you are going to want to make sure to use a fertilizer with a weed killer or crabgrass killer in it after you are done.  Here are a few articles I have found to support only my argument. If the other guys in the store want to defend themselves they’ll have to start their own blog:)

Late summer lawn care:

Lawn aerification: If your lawn has significant compaction problems, the period right around Labor Day and through the early fall is an excellent time to do some core aerification. Lawn aerification machines are usually available through most rental businesses.
9-09_02lawns.jpg
Photo 2: Lawn aerifier. Note the hollow tines for removing soil cores. Bob Mugaas.

Be sure to rent a core aerifier, one that actually pulls cores out of the soil and redeposits them on the lawn or soil surface. The extra aeration in the soil will encourage more active root growth as well as benefit the soil microbial community. Healthy plant roots and a healthy soil microbial population make for a healthy, vigorous grass plant better able to withstand stress along with normal wear and tear of lawn activity. The cores can be left on the soil or lawn surface to naturally decompose. This will also help control the buildup of thatch in the lawn. It is best to make two or three passes over the lawn to increase the number of holes needed to maximize the benefit.

Thatch control: Occasionally, a thick layer of brown fibrous material will build-up between the soil surface and where the grass plant shoots begin to turn green. This brown fibrous mat is known as thatch. It is actually composed of both living and non-living material. Thatch develops from the regular sloughing off of plant roots and other dead and decaying parts of the grass plant. It is however, NOT composed of any grass clippings. While there may be some grass clippings left on the surface, they are not part of the true thatch layer. So, whether you pick up your clippings or not, it will make no difference on the build-up of thatch. The living component of thatch consists of some roots, rhizomes and, of course, the many microorganisms and other living creatures.
If thatch develops at a faster rate than can be broken down by microorganisms, it can accumulate to undesirable levels. Generally, thatch greater than half-inch is undesirable. Cultural practices that contribute to thatch buildup are excessive nitrogen fertilizer, overwatering, infrequent mowing, compacted soils and simply the genetics of the particular grasses. Some grasses are more prone to thatch build-up than others.

Photo 3: Vertical mower or dethatcher; sometimes referred to as a power rake. Bob Mugaas.

Late summer (i.e., early September) is a good time to work at removing excess thatch build-up. Machines known as vertical mowers or de-thatchers can be rented and used to mechanically remove some of the thatch build-up. Leaving the soil cores on the surface will also help begin to break down thatch. In fact, where very thick thatch layers exist, using both a vertical mower and core aerifier may be helpful. If this is the case, thoroughly aerify the lawn, than perform vertical mowing. This operation can be done back to back on the same day if desired. It’s a good idea to follow-up with a quarter to half-inch inch of water to reduce lawn stress incurred from the dethatching and aerification processes.

Taken from the University of Minnesota extension page http://blog.lib.umn.edu/efans/ygnews/2009/09/checklist-for-late-summer—ea.html

Dethatching Drought Damaged Lawns

August 7, 2012

If your lawn has been damaged by the recent drought conditions, chances are that you will have to do some lawn repairs come fall.  Depending on the extent of the damage it might be beneficial to dethatch your lawn.  There are several ways to remove thatch from a lawn from manual removal to using power equipment.  Thatch rakes are found at most home improvement stores.  These rakes have sharp, claw like tines that grab thatch and remove it from the lawn.  This is the most labor intensive way to remove thatch.  If you are dethatching a small patch of lawn it might be easier to dethatch the lawn by using a thatch rake.  Anything over a couple of hundred square feet is best left to power equipment.  Most folks do not have hours to dedicate to the manual removal of thatch.

The most effective way to remove thatch in a lawn is through the use of a power rake.  Most home owners do not own a power rake, but they can rent one at most rental stores.  Power rakes are about the size of your average push mower and can be used by almost anyone.  Most power rakes on the market are constructed using metal blades that spin on a drum.  The blades are usually serrated, which allows them to grab the thatch in the lawn.  Power rake blades spin continuously while the machine is being propelled forward.  Most units come with a bagging system to catch the removed thatch.  There are adjustable settings on most machines which allow the user to choose the depth of the blades.  You only want to set the blades low enough to remove the thatch.  If your blades are removing chunks of dirt and living grass, then your machine is set too low.  Any rental store should provide instructions on how to properly use the machine prior to renting it out.

taken from clean-cut property services http://cleancutproperty.com/529/dethatching-drought-damaged-lawns/

Here’s a few more articles about lawn care, seeding, dethatching and aeration:

https://levahnbros.wordpress.com/2012/08/31/lawn-dethatching-lawn-gardening-home-lawn-care-gardening/

https://levahnbros.wordpress.com/2009/10/02/fall-yard-care/

https://levahnbros.wordpress.com/2009/05/08/grass-seed/

https://levahnbros.wordpress.com/2009/04/14/spring-lawn-care-thatch-aeration-and-fertilizers/

 

Lawn dethatching | Lawn gardening | Home lawn care: Gardening


Here’s a link to a great website with all sorts of good information on lawn and garden care. This particular post is talking about thatch in your lawn what it is and what you can do about it. Lawn dethatching | Lawn gardening | Home lawn care: Gardening.

For more info on what you can do here are a few blogs that we wrote on lawn care:  https://levahnbros.wordpress.com/2009/10/02/fall-yard-care/

https://levahnbros.wordpress.com/2009/05/08/grass-seed/

https://levahnbros.wordpress.com/2009/04/14/spring-lawn-care-thatch-aeration-and-fertilizers/

Lawn dethatching | Lawn gardening | Home lawn care: Gardening.

Adventures In Gardening Vol. #4: Our First Harvest


Josey was very excited about her first harvest

Up until this point the garden has fun but has been mostly work. There has been the excitement of seeing the plants sprout and then grow but my daughter likes to cut to the chase, she wants results. About 2 weeks ago we finally got those results from our peas and beans. Now, it wasn’t a “bumper crop” but it was something tangible that she could see, touch and eat. That’s right, my daughter the picky eater ate her vegetables without sitting at the table for an hour and actually LIKED them. She even asked for more! My son was also impressed. I would have had more pea pods but he kept picking and eating them right out of the garden.  Vegetables do taste better right out of the garden, but there is also something to be said for putting in the effort to get something that makes it taste that much better.

I was thinking…  she also doesn’t like to eat meat. Maybe next year we’ll get a cow in the spring. She could help feed it and take care of it. We’ll fatten it up all summer and then together we could slaughter it  in the fall. That’ll get her to eat hamburger.

Mosquito Repellents and Killers


Are we going to have a bumper crop of mosquitoes this summer?

I hate mosquitoes. I hate everything about them. The biting, the itching, the buzzing sound by your ear as you lay in your tent trying to sleep. Unfortunately, it looks like this year we may have a bumper crop of them. I’m not sure when you were outside last but I did some upkeep in my garden one evening last week and it was all I could do to keep from being carried away by the damned things. With all the rain we’ve had this year I knew it wouldn’t be long before they really showed up.

Whether it’s the West Nile Virus or if you just want to prevent being bitten here’s some tips on what you can do to defend yourself:

Repellents

Q: What type of repellent stays effective the longest?

A: The champion is DEET in a controlled-release formula (which typically involves a 20% to 34% concentration of the ingredient) or in high concentrations (30% to 100%). Controlled-release formulas have a slight edge in duration of effectiveness.

DEET (Diethyl Toluamide) is a chemical. To some people, the thought of applying it to their skin makes them uneasy. Yet DEET has been in use since 1957 and has been repeatedly tested for toxicity. The human body does absorb DEET, but is believed to eliminate it through urine within 24 hours. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the use of DEET and considers it safe when applied according to label instructions.

DEET is the only active repellent ingredient available in high concentrations (30% to 100%) in the U.S. Why? Only DEET’s higher concentrations have been screened extensively for toxicity, a lengthy and expensive process. Such data is required by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which regulates repellent ingredients in the U.S.

In 2008 an alternative to DEET, a 20% formula of the chemical picaridin(p-CARE-uh-din), became available in the U.S. Previously it had been available only in a 7% solution. Picaridin’s advantages over DEET: It does not damage gear (in particular, DEET negatively impacts plastics), usually works better against flies and, in the opinions of many people, smells better. DEET in controlled-release formulas and higher concentrations still outlasts it.

In lower concentrations, active ingredients (DEET included) provide shorter-term effectiveness. The duration of effectiveness will vary by active ingredient.

For example, in an often-cited study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2002, DEET at 6.7% was effective for 112 minutes before the first bite was registered. Citronella, the first widely used “natural” active ingredient (and one that is fading in popularity today), at 10% yielded a bite after 19.7 minutes. A 2004 study produced similar results.

What does that mean for you? Base your choice on the amount of time you plan to spend outside. If you are planning an all-day outing, it makes sense to choose long-duration repellent that contains a higher concentration of an active ingredient—you may have no need to reapply the repellent. If you are planning to be outside for a shorter time, you could choose a low-concentration repellent—usually effective for 1 to 4 hours.

Note: DEET concentrations above 50% do not provide more protection than lesser concentrations, but they are believed to increase the length of the protection.

(taken from REI.com http://www.rei.com/expertadvice/articles/insect+repellent.html)

Spray repellents: There are plenty of choices of products out there that contain Deet. Choose one that suits your needs. I’m not a big fan of the way that Deep Woods Off smells but for circumstances that I want higher protection this is what I would choose. 3M also has a good product called Ultrathon that is very effective. There is also repellents that work better for when you are going to sweat. Off Active is one such product that I’ve used and it seemed to work fairly well.

Using a product high in Permethrin can also be effective in repelling mosquitoes. Repel  has a product that is called Repel Mosquito Stop Clothing and Gear. It is to be used only on clothing and gear and is not supposed to used on your skin. I’m not sure the health risks of this product but based on the warning labels on the back of the package warning against any possibility of skin contact I’d say that if your against using chemicals this is not the product for you.

A new addition to the game is the use of personal repellent devices. These are manufactured by a number of different brands and they generally use some form of clip on device that uses a fan to emit a repellent. Off has a clip on that offers up to 12 hours of protection. I’ve heard good things about these but they are a little to pricey for my peanut butter and jelly budget. The clip on runs around $10 and refills are around $7 plus batteries.

If you just want to take care of a backyard there are a number of choices to kill off and or repel theses nasty bugs.

Bonide has a few of options that do a tremendous job of repelling mosquitoes. Two of my favorite products to use are Bonide’s Mosquito Beater Granules and Mosquito Beater RTS liquid. They both do a fantastic job of keeping your backyard mosquito free. The granules are a 100% natural blend of geranium oil, cedar oil, lemon grass oil, garlic and citronella oil. The liquid formula is Permethrin based and seems to be more effective. It also is effective in controlling fleas, ticks, spiders, crickets and even ants.

Another way to control mosquitoes is to help prevent them from maturing. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in water and the larva need to develop in the water before becoming flying spawns of Satan. You can help prevent this from happening in your yard by not allowing them to have water to lay eggs in. Any puddle can become a breeding ground so after a rain empty out containers that hold water (like playground equipment for instance). If you have a pond you can add all natural EPA approved mosquito dunks that will kill off larva for up to 30 days. Mosquitoes will not lay their eggs in moving water so you could also add a pump/fountain to a pond. Add a Water Wiggler to your bird bath that will not only prevent mosquitoes but it will attract more birds.

A Water Wiggler in your bird bath prevents mosquitoes from breeding and attracts more birds!

If you really want to be serious you could also use a Mosquito magnet. Mosquito magnets emit low amounts of carbon dioxide (provided by an attached propane tank) that attracts mosquitoes to the magnet. They enter the Mosquito Magnet and are trapped inside by a filter system. You periodically need to empty the filter of mosquitoes and also refill the propane tank. There is a bit of upkeep with these machines and opinions are mixed in terms of how effective they are. I owned one at one point but was tired of the maintenance. I stick to the spray and granular products from Bonide and I’m happy with their results.

Another more natural option for mosquito control is to attract bats with a bat house or two. Bats can eat thousands of mosquitoes a night.  Adding a bat house can really help your yard be more bug free. Check out this blog for more details How to Get rid of 1-5000 mosquitoes every night. Try a Bat House.

For more information call us at 763-553-1222

Come in and see us at 12700 Bass Lake Road Maple Grove, MN 55369

Visit us on the web at levahnbros.com

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