Bunkey has problems [UPDATED]Published 9:53am Monday, September 10, 2012 Updated 11:54am Monday, September 10, 2012
About 10 years ago, Bunkey bought a small forest of potted trees from a nursery that was going out of business. Many of them were not in the best condition — thin, misshapen, scarred bark or with dead tops. He only pruned off dead or broken branches.
Petunia told him many times that he needed to prune all of the lowest branches, but he disagreed.
“They will move up the stem as the trees grow.” Actually, they don’t. A low branch is going to continue to be a low branch, just larger.
He usually had a bruise on his forehead from low growing branches after mowing the lawn. He finally got smart this fall and decided to fix the problem, removing most of the too low branches.
Now is a good, though not optimal, time to prune trees. Don’t put up with a head knocker of a branch — cut it off.
The only trees that really should not be pruned now are the apples. However, if, because you didn’t thin your apples, you now have a broken branch, do prune it off.
Dead or broken branches can be pruned anytime of the year. Oaks should never be pruned in June or July as an open wound on an oak can be detected a half a mile away by the insect that causes oak wilt.
So far, no oak wilt has been detected in Otter Tail County, and luckily, neither has Emerald Ash Borer.
Do watch your ash trees carefully. Look for dying from the top down and report it to the Extension office for a diagnosis. It could just be a lightning strike, or wind damage but don’t take a chance.
Another problem Bunkey is dealing with is ants in the house. Petunia cannot and will not tolerate “bugs” anywhere in her vicinity which means Bunkey, do something. Tiny ants found rooming around the house are usually thief or grease ants.
They are yellow to light brown. They feed on live and dead insects and any greasy food they can find.
While they don’t carry any diseases, a butter dish full of ants would put most anyone off their food.
If, you can find where they are coming in, admittedly easier said than done, you can seal up the crack or hole.
Or, you may be able to find their outdoor nest — again, not very easy.
They will eventually go away at the end of the summer, but that is definitely not soon enough for Petunia.
The best way to deal with the invasion is to treat the outside of the house.
Usually baits take weeks to eliminate the pests. The ants don’t take bait long enough to kill the colony.
For Petunia, the news just gets better and better.
Ants till freeze up. Just great.
Bev Johnson is a master gardener in Otter Tail County.