December 12, 2007
It Could have Been Worse...
It has been an interesting couple of days. We lost power
Tuesday morning at around 11:00 AM. We played cards, put on
sweatshirts and pondered our next move. After much discussion we
headed to a hotel. We boarded Sam Parker and packed up the car.
It seemed to take awhile. You would have thought we were going
out of town for a week. We are
certainly jinxed when it comes to losing power. Even in our old
house. Every time the wind blew or we had an ice or snow storm
it never failed. We would hear that nasty sound that only a
transformer that is about to blow makes and seconds later we
were in the dark. Of course the icing on the cake was that our
neighbors across the street always had power. UGH! The power is
back on (thanks to all of those hard working KCPL people) and
the house is slowly starting to warm
up. We are really glad to be back home.
The greater Kansas
City-area dodged a big bullet. I know that St. Joseph was hit
pretty hard but most of our immediate
area received a 1/4 inch of ice. My parents live in McPherson,
Kansas and they received 1½
inches of ice and their power is out
as well. When my mother spoke to the power company they
explained to her that it might take up to 5 days to get their
power restored. The good news for them is that they own an RV
and are living in it for now. I am relieved that they have a
place to go. So many others without power do not.
This was a
dangerous storm and the damage is still to be determined. The
trees all covered in ice are magnificent to look at but may
suffer long term damage. My advice is to leave those trees alone
that don't have any broken branches. Arborvitae and most
evergreens should bounce back once the ice starts to melt. If
you have some limbs down call Ryan Lawn & Tree at
(913) 381-1505 to make sure that the
tree does not need any additional care and that long term it
will be OK. Consulting a professional will ease your mind and
may just save a tree.
Survived The Storm...
As tragic as an ice storm can be, it is
also an opportunity to learn. In January 2005 the
Wichita area was hit by
the worst ice storm in south central Kansas’ recorded
history bringing the area to its knees
as tree limbs crashed into power lines, buildings and vehicles –
creating enough broad-scale damage to qualify it as a federal
Some trees fared better than others and
our friends at K-State Extension surveyed the damaged and
not-so-damaged and are sharing the results with us. Lessons
learned from 2005 (and still applicable today) and a list of the most resilient trees can be
found in our feature article,
Trees that Survived the Storm...
This week's ice storm likely caused some
damage to your trees and shrubs. As
snow and ice accumulates on branches they sag and may ultimately
break. Here are some tips for dealing with the problem:
For unbroken limbs
that are sagging significantly:
- Don't shake or beat the ice and snow
off of them. This is more likely to cause more damage
than it prevents.
Gently brush off the loose stuff and
leave the rest to melt slowly as temperatures rise.
For broken limbs:
- Remove broken limbs as soon as
- Use sharp tools and make clean cuts.
This will speed recovery next spring and create a better
More On CMA...
Several weeks ago we talked about de-icer damage and the
chemicals and compounds that are least harmful to landscape
plants. The article we cited mentioned
Calcium Magnesium Acetate (CMA) as a safe alternative.
While this seems to be the case it is also apparent that it is
not commercially available for residential use. Many of our
readers asked where to buy this product and we are sorry to say
it is not available. We'll keep you posted if this
Nature's Drip Irrigation?
From the "silver lining" department - one benefit of that
layer of ice
on the ground is its slow release of moisture into the soil. It may not be a
lot of water but because it melts slowly into the soil it can be
a more effective irrigator than a hard rain. You can even
increase the benefit by shoveling sidewalk and driveway ice to
areas of the garden that will eventually benefit from the added
moisture. Just make sure the shoveled snow doesn't contain any
salty or harmful chemical de-icers.
Ashes To Garden?
You may have heard that using wood ashes on
your garden can help make the soil more fertile. Though ashes do
contain significant amounts of potash, they contain little
phosphate and no nitrogen. Most Kansas City-area soils are
naturally high in potash and do not need more. Also, wood ashes
will raise the pH of our soils, often a drawback in Kansas where
soils tend toward high pH. Therefore, wood ashes add little
benefit, and may harm, many Kansas soils. In most cases it is
best to get rid of them. However, one possible use for ashes
would be as an addition to compost. Compost is normally acidic
and the ashes would help neutralize the pH.
Most homes in winter become dry as bone meal. Keep an eye out
for spider mites on your houseplants - they thrive in that dry
air. Females lay about 200 eggs and the life cycle may be
completed in just 7 days. Do the math - it gets ugly fast!
Mower Blades Now...
Last week we
talked about putting the mower away for the winter. Now is also an excellent time
to sharpen mower blades so they'll be ready next spring.
Sharpening rotary mower blades is fairly straightforward. The
following steps will guide you through this process:
- Check the
blade for major damage. If you can't fix it, it likely will need
to be replaced.
- Remove grass and debris from the blade with a
moist cloth. Dry before beginning to sharpen the cutting edge.
- Remove nicks from the cutting edge, using a grinding wheel or
- If using a grinding wheel, match the existing edge
angle to the wheel. If hand-filing, file at the same angle as the
- Grind or file until the edge is 1/32 inch, about
the size of a period.
- Particularly with a grinding wheel, avoid
overheating the blade as this may warp it.
- Clean the blade with
solvent or oil for optimum
winter storage. Avoid use of water as it will promote rust.
Following these tips can help you better prepare your mower for
winter storage and also save you some steps this coming spring.
"The hiss was now
becoming a roar-the whole world was a vast moving screen of
snow-but even now it said peace, it said remoteness, it said
cold, it said sleep."