~ June 9, 2010 ~
Whoa, that was quite a storm we had last night. We had four inches of rain here and I know that
some areas received as much as six. At times during the storm it was impossible to see across
the street it was raining so hard. What a deluge! Unfortunately we received a bit of water in
our basement. UGH! Always something. I took a look outside this morning and noticed most of
my perennials pounded into the ground. That kind of rain really beats up the plants and just
tends to run off. The good news, no need to water anytime soon!
I took a trip to Marion, Kansas on Monday and I couldn't believe how beautiful the drive was.
I am originally from McPherson, Kansas and my parents are presently settled in Marion. I have
driven the Flint Hills many times and always forget how beautiful the drive is. I love driving
over one hill to the next catching a glimpse of cows and horses all perfectly happy grazing amongst
the green grass. The wheat was such a beautiful color of gold. It was certainly picture worthy
however I do not have the eye or the talent of taking a picture that my husband possesses. I was
delighted to see the deep contrast of the golden wheat next to the field of deep green soybeans.
The Kansas countryside is beautiful. Always worthy of a drive.
When Good Mulch Goes Bad...
There's bound to be a few Savvygardeners out there that had a pile of mulch
delivered before or during the rains we've had recently. If you didn't get that
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
Mulch that 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.
Is That A Volcano In Your Garden?
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 the 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.
Blackspot On Roses...
A common disease of roses is blackspot, a fungal disease that can
cause defoliation of susceptible plants. Look for dark, circular
lesions with feathery edges on the top surface of the leaves and
raised purple spots on young canes. Infected leaves will often
yellow between spots and eventually drop. The infection usually
starts on the lower leaves and works its way up the plant.
Blackspot is most severe under conditions of high relative
humidity (>85%), warm temperatures (75 to 85 degrees F) and six
or more hours of leaf wetness. Newly expanding leaves are most
vulnerable to infection. The fungus can survive on fallen leaves
or canes and is disseminated primarily by splashing water.
Cultural practices are
the first line of defense.
susceptible roses unless you are willing to use fungicide
Follow this link for a list
of blackspot resistant varieties.
water off the foliage. Drip irrigation works best with
Plant roses in
sunny areas with good air movement to limit the amount of
time the foliage is wet.
leaves that have fallen and prune out infected rose canes to
If needed, gardeners can protect foliage with a regular spray program of
effective fungicides. Recommended fungicides include
tebuconazole (Bayer Disease Control for Roses, Flowers and
Shrubs), myclobutanil (Immunox), triforine (Funginex),
thiophanate methyl (Fertilome Halt) and chlorothalonil (Broad
Spectrum Fungicide, Garden Disease Control.
One of our least favorite parts of summer is the arrival (or re-emergence) of mosquitoes.
This year is no exception. 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.
Dealing With Storm Damage...
The Kansas City metro has been hammered by storms recently. As always, some areas are hit
harder than others. If your trees were victims of wind, hail, or lightning you'll want to
make sure to act quickly and appropriately to ensure proper recovery. Iowa State Extension
has published a great article called Managing Storm Damaged Trees.
You can view the PDF here.
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.
Taxing Times For Turf...
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 3Ĺ 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 4Ĺ inches or so.
"Why are wildflowers so important to those of us who care
at all for flowers? For me, anyway, it is because they come
like gifts from God (or Nature), and to encounter them in
their natural habitat is an extraordinary aesthetic pleasure."
~ Katherine S. White