I have had the opportunity to spend the entire week with my
youngest son Jake at Scout Camp. We
are having a great time in spite of the sweltering heat. There
is nothing quite like watching your child and his friends
enjoying themselves. They are learning a bit about basic life
skills. One in particular is working together as a pack to
accomplish a given task. They are learning how important it is
to place trust and respect in everyone who surrounds you. The
most amazing thing to me is at the age of eight they
"get it". They understand respect,
encouragement and the importance of being helpful. Not only are
they learning but are also having a total blast. Whether it's
being squirt with the water hose, a squirt gun or anything else
that carries a wet substance. I have so enjoyed my time with my
son as well as with the other children.
anyone else receive hail damage? Here in
Westwood the hail was about golf ball size and the sound of it
coming down through the trees was unnerving. We actually lucked
out. Most of my plants were saved by the huge tree canopies that
cover our property. I know several people who were not as lucky
and some of their plants were heavily damaged. I must say that
as long as I have lived in Kansas City I have never seen hail
that size. Unfortunately there was quite a lot of damage to cars
and roofs of homes. The extended forecast looks like a warm one.
Hopefully we will see some rain soon. It looks as if we might
receive some as early as Sunday.
Father's Day to all of you Savvy Dads!
Trees That Have Been Through Hail and Back...
Some of us saw some pretty severe storms
last Saturday night. The golf ball-size hail at our house was a reminder of
how harsh Mother Nature can be. Since
many of our severe storms carry hail it's important to think
about the implications of hail damage on our trees -
especially those with thin bark. Ned Tisserat, Plant Pathologist
for the Cooperative Extension Service at the
K-State Research and Extension Horticulture office explained
the problem to us several years ago year and the advice is as
good today as it was then. "Hail may strip the bark off trees or provide
entrance points for canker and shoot blight diseases. Thyronectria canker of honeylocust, perennial canker of peach and
Sphaeropsis tip blight of pines may increase dramatically
following a hail storm. A fungicide application immediately
following a hail storm is sometimes warranted. However, the
application should be made relatively soon after the injury
(within a few days). Unfortunately, in most cases fungicide
applications are made well beyond the point they will do any
words, act quickly to thwart any unnecessary disease that might
When Good Mulch Goes Bad...
There's bound to be a few Savvygardeners
out there that had a pile of mulch delivered just before
a recent thunderstorm. If you didn't get your mulch covered be
careful. Hardwood mulch can become a
real problem if left too long in a damp pile. Not only
does it smell bad once it "sours" it can adversely affect plants
that it comes in contact with. Symptoms look like fertilizer or
pesticide burn or water stress. Damage can be severe enough to
actually kill plants - yikes!
Depending on the extent of the injury, plants are often able to
recover. Savvygardeners should water affected plants during hot,
dry periods to prevent further stress.
has soured can still be used if it is "mellowed" before
application. Simply spread the mulch in shallow layers and allow
it to air out for several days until it no longer smells. It may
also be helpful to water the mulch before application to wash
away any toxic substances.
Is That A Volcano In
Speaking of mulch... When mulching
try to avoid creating "mulch volcanoes" at the base of your
trees. Unfortunately it is quite common to see trees mulched in
this manner - a ring of mulch that gets progressively deeper as
it approaches the trunk. While this is better than no mulch at
all, Chris Starbuck at University of Missouri Extension advises
us that there are some real problems to consider:
- When mulch is placed
more than about 4 inches deep, roots tend to "migrate" up into
the mulch during rainy periods or when the area is irrigated.
Then, when drought conditions occur, the plant may come under
severe stress because many of its roots are growing in a
material with much less water holding capacity than real soil.
- The surfaces of the
mulch volcanoes can become hydrophobic due to fungal activity
and will act as very effective umbrellas, shedding water to the
surrounding turf. This could easily kill a young tree by
depriving it of much needed water.
- Other possible problems
with mulch volcanoes are promotion of fungal canker diseases by
constant moisture around the lower trunk, stress from poor gas
exchange by the cells in the bark and damage from rodents that
may take up residence in the volcano.
One of our least favorite parts of summer
is the arrival (or re-emergence) of mosquitoes. This year is no
Eliminating sources of standing water is the most effective way
of keeping mosquito populations in check but it is sometimes
impractical for gardeners. Here are some good tips for
dealing with standing water that can't be removed.
- Drain or empty the water
in dog bowls, wading pools and
birdbaths at least once-a-week.
This will ensure egg-stage mosquitoes never have time to
- Irrigate lawns and gardens
carefully. Where soils have high clay content, for example,
irrigating slowly or irrigating several times lightly will
allow the clay to absorb the water, rather than causing
puddles and runoff.
- Stock ornamental ponds with
mosquito larvae-eating fish, such as goldfish.
- Remove in-water plants from the
edges of garden ponds to allow fish access to the larvae living
and developing there.
- Using a retail product to control
mosquito larvae will be more effective and less costly than
trying to control the flying adults.
Fruit Dropping, Branch Propping...
Don't be alarmed if tree fruit is dropping this time of year.
It's just Mother nature's natural thinning process designed to
prevent excessive loads. Just in case the branch loads remain
too heavy you should thin remaining fruit by hand or prop up
heavy branches to avoid breakage. Most fruit should be spaced 6
to 8 inches apart on a branch.
should be growing rapidly and enlarging
about now. Onions have a
pretty shallow root system and need
regular watering and fertilizing to keep growing.
A light application of fertilizer or
compost along the row will keep them
growing vigorously. Don't be alarmed if you
see a fair amount of the onion developing above the soil line.
This is normal. When tops begin to get weak and fall
over, onion bulbs are about full grown. At
this point, you can break over tops to encourage the necks to
dry. After a few days dig
them up to keep bulbs from
onions to dry with the tops attached for 1 to 2 weeks before
cutting the tops, wiping
(not washing) any excess soil from the
bulbs, and placing them in a cool, dry
location for storage (or eating).
A Cut Above...
The next few months will likely be very taxing for your
fescue or bluegrass lawn. Long, hot and humid days, with little
rainfall can make even the greenest lawns wilt. While it's
probably not possible to keep your turf looking perfectly lush
and green all summer you can prepare it for the heat by raising
the cutting height of your mower. Fescues and bluegrass should
be cut at a height of 3 to 3½ inches. Determine your
mowing frequency by cutting no more than one-third of the blade
height with each cutting. This means cutting when it reaches 4½
inches or so.
"A garden is like
those pernicious machineries which catch a man's coat-skirt or
his hand, and draw in his arm, his leg, and his whole body to
Ralph Waldo Emerson