Gardeners may resume springtime garden work [UPDATED]Published 3:56am Tuesday, May 28, 2013 Updated 6:11am Tuesday, May 28, 2013
If you haven’t taken the guards off your new tree, do it now. They are only meant to protect the tree from rodent damage in the winter.
If you leave them on in the heat of the summer, you may kill your tree. The guard, whether white or black, holds the heat in, raising the temperature of the sap in the trunk.
If it gets hot enough, it will split the bark right open. Now you have a damaged tree that will never be as healthy as it should be.
If you have female boxelder trees, you have boxelder bugs. Only the ‘girl’ trees attract the little stinkers.
You probably don’t know how to tell a male from a female tree, most people don’t. The tree experts say look at the spring blooms. The male tree’s bloom looks like an umbrella. The female bloom is a long, slender flower.
If you had snow mold, simply rake the area and lightly fertilize and water it. That should be enough to get it back to normal. For female dog “spots,” flush with water then a solution of one part vinegar to 10 parts water. Dog urine is highly alkaline. The vinegar will neutralize the area so grass can be seeded in it.
Now is the time to take a careful look at your trees for dead branches. They are quite easy to spot now. Cut them off before the trees leaf out so you can no longer see them.
They are doing the tree no good and can make a nasty hole in a roof or damage the living part of the tree is they blow off in a storm.
If you fertilize, remember, you must water it in or the fertilizer will not be activated.
June bugs are already laying eggs, leading to grubs, leading to skunk damage leading to dead grass and blue air. Since the grubs have a three year cycle, it behooves you to treat your lawn for three years running. This doesn’t guarantee that you will never again have grub damage, but it will certainty reduce the problem for a few years. You have cleaned out your birdhouses haven’t you? If not, get to it. No bird wants some other bird’s stinky, old nest.
To keep the birds pest free, a handful of cedar chips or sawdust (think rodent bedding) in the bird house will reduce the mite and other pest load on the nesting moms and babies.
If you want to help the birds build nests, keep the strings short. The birds can strangle themselves with a long bit of string. Forget dryer lint too. It can get wet. When wet, it stays wet, and wet birds don’t thrive if they live at all. A handful of feathers scattered by the wind is floating gold for most birds.
Don’t put out your hanging baskets or annual pots until the nighttime temperatures are regularly 50 degrees. While lower temps may not kill the plants, it will slow them down quite a bit. Do hit the greenhouses to see what’s new.
By the way, the grafted tomatoes are selling at about $5 and not the $15 the catalogs listed. Try one if you plan to plant only one.
Moral for the week, take proper care of your trees, birds and annuals and you will have a more stress free summer.
If you would like more individual help, call the Extension Office at 218-998-8760 or stop in at 505 South Court St. A Master Gardener is in late Wednesday mornings.
You can call the radio station (1250 AM) each Saturday morning or stop at City Café and Bakery after the radio program to ask a Master Gardener.
Bev Johnson is a master gardener in Otter Tail County.