~ October 6, 2010 ~
Was That Jack Frost?
So did everyone survive the frosty scare? Sunday morning brought the first, and unexpected frost
for many in the greater Kansas City-area. Those living in outer lying areas were more susceptible
to frost then those of us living in the city. I don't think that we here in Mission Hills ever saw
temperatures drop to frost levels. The coldest temperature we experienced was 38° on Monday morning.
When I awoke early Monday to walk Sam Parker, I stepped outside and thought, "I'm going to have to
wear a winter coat". I could see my breath it was so chilly; but no signs of frost. The first official
frost date for our area is typically mid October which is right around the corner. Of course Mother Nature
has her own agenda and unfortunately we are at her mercy. The good news is that the ground temperature is
still warm so it will take many days of temperatures at freezing or below to freeze the ground. I think it
is safe to say that we have plenty of time to plant trees, shrubs and spring bulbs.
Boy is it dry! We have not seen rain for a couple of weeks and it doesn't look like there is a chance of rain
for the next seven days. I have been busy watering all of my evergreens. I want to make sure they go into winter
hydrated which will help protect them from many of the harsh elements of the season. I hope that you are still watering.
I think we become weary at the end of the summer once the days are not as hot. The temperatures are supposed to
bounce back up into the 80's this week. It will feel dry and warm so if you haven't been watering, now would be
a good time to do so.
Don't Dig Too Deep...
Planting a tree this fall? Great idea! Just make sure you do it right.
The planting depth of a new tree is extremely important and often
done improperly. Trees that are planted too deep may not grow as fast
or be as healthy as those planted properly.
Here's what to do. Dig a hole twice as wide and slightly shallower than
the root ball. Roughen the sides and bottom of the hole with a pick or
shovel so that roots can penetrate the soil. The root collar (where
the trunk and roots meet) should be at least even with, and as much
as an inch and a half higher than, the final grade.
Bedtime For Gardens?
We are often asked how and when to "put the garden to bed."
The term "putting the garden to bed" means preparing the
garden for winter and the weather will dictate when that
date is. Our first frost is normally in mid-October
(any time now). How "hard" that first frost is will help
you decide whether or not it is time to cut back all perennials
and rid the garden of all annuals. We always like to squeeze
as much time as possible out of the fall garden knowing that
once that hard frost hits winter is well on its way. We'll
keep you posted on the weather and when that first hard frost is
Why Isn't My Red Maple Red?
Why do some red maple trees have yellow fall foliage instead
of brilliant red? Although fall color will vary with different
environmental conditions, in many cases the yellow foliage of
these red maples is simply due to the genetics of the individual
tree. Unnamed red maple trees grown from seed are not always
brilliant red. They have highly variable fall color. If you want
a red maple with red foliage in the fall, choose named,
vegetatively propagated red maple cultivars such as Red Sunset,
Magnificent Magenta or Autumn Flame. October Glory has
outstanding foliage color but is late in acclimating for winter
and can be damaged by early cold snaps. However, even these
"good" cultivars will vary in the level of "redness" from year to
year. A number of things can reduce the intensity of color
including extreme heat or drought during the summer and cloudy
days and warm nights in the fall.
What are those round bumpy lesions that are appearing on some local
oak trees? Very possibly Oak Galls. A number of tiny non-stinging
wasps, mites and flies are the culprits behind abnormal growths that
develop on the leaves of twigs of oak trees. These galls can include
growths that are round, spiny, flattened, elongated or star-shaped.
Generally, these gall insects do not cause significant damage to their hosts
though some of the leaf galls can cause deformity to make a tree
unsightly. Also, severe infestations of twig galls can cause
twig dieback or, in rare cases, death. However, just because a
twig is covered with galls does not mean that it is dead. Twigs
that otherwise look like a solid mass of galls may still leaf out
in the spring.
More details and a photo are available here...
To protect your young trees from deer damage, there are a
number of deterrents you can try. Hang bars of strong-scented
soap, mesh bags filled with human hair, paper bags of dried blood
(bloodmeal), or strips cut from white plastic bags on trees that
are likely to be attacked. Remember, deer will become accustomed
to most any deterrent, so alternating items will help.
Thankfully, Christmas is still a way off but if you are planning on
displaying home-grown poinsettias it's time to start planning.
Poinsettias are short-day plants and must be tricked into
blooming for Christmas. Follow these steps: Find a dark, cool
(around 55º F) place where the plant will be kept at
"night". It must be absolutely dark as even short exposure to a
light bulb will throw the process out of kilter. Place the
poinsettia in this dark place at 5 PM and leave it there until 8
AM the following day. Between 8 AM and 5 PM place it in a sunny
window where temperatures will remain near 70º F. Do this
for 11 weeks, watering and fertilizing as usual. With care and
patience you should have healthy, blooming poinsettias for the
If It's Growing We're Mowing...
When do Savvygardeners stop mowing their lawns? When the
grass stops growing of course. As long as it continues to grow
keep bluegrass cut to 2 inches and tall fescue to 2½ inches.
Don't forget to keep the leaves from piling up and smothering the grass
"The person going out to plant wears gloves on her hands.
She lifts out the first shovelful of earth and empties it to
one side. It is neither wet nor hard, merely moist, easily
poured. It contains air and well-made air channels and is
therefore light in the way good bread sponge is light. Its
fresh, earthy fragrance rises up, familiar and provocative;
and suddenly the planter knows why she wore gloves. It
was for the pleasure of shucking them off and taking a
handful of the fresh earth up in her bare hands, to smell
its satisfying perfume and feel it against her skin. Now is
the moment for an intimate renewal of kinship with the
~ Rachel Peden