Last year’s drought still affecting this year’s plants [UPDATED]Published 4:19am Monday, July 8, 2013 Updated 6:20am Monday, July 8, 2013
This summer we are seeing the result of the drought that lasted well into last fall. Maples have dead tops.
Many spruce trees that ordinarily would have shrugged off winter winds, died because they went into the winter too dry.
Pines have patches of dead needles, or worse yet, the whole tree is dead.
Apple trees have a bumper crop of blooms. Yes, that is caused by stress too. They are attempting to make up for last years’ dry spell.
While there is no repairing the damage already done, there are some things you can do to mitigate the damages.
Dead trees should be cut down and removed as should the dead tops of trees. Maples in particular will recover and fill the empty space in a year or two.
While the damaged tree will be shorter than its un-damaged sister, it will look fine, sooner or later.
Your apple tree, however, will need some extra T.L.C. Be religious about thinning the apples.
Leave only one apple per clump, and remove all thinned apples from the area. They can be home to apple maggots.
Thinning will reduce the stress on the tree, prevent branch breakage and ensure apples every year not biannually.
Do bag your apples. This will keep the apple maggots from drilling their railroad tracks through your apples resulting in a nasty surprise when you bite into one.
This is a very simple task and should be done now. Put a zip lock or regular plastic sandwich bag on each apple. Zip the bag shut and cut off the ends to let out water.
With regular bags, use the twist ties to fasten the bags to the fruit. You now have a mini greenhouse on your apple. They should be left on until you pick your apples. Bagging prevents not only the apple maggot damage, but a lot of bird pecking damage also.
Deer seem particularly thick this summer. It is very frustrating to gardeners to have their ornamental plants uses as deer treats.
If you can’t fence them out with monofilament, or keep them away with various sprays, you may have to plant plants they, and you, don’t especially like.
Deer and rodents love tulips. Plant daffodils instead. All parts of the plant are poisonous. So are lily of the valley but they are very invasive. Yarrow, another invasive, is both deer and drought resistant. Here is a list of deer resistant flowers. Ageratum, allium, columbine, wax begonia, coneflower, heliotrope, sweet alyssum, peony, poppy, geranium, blue salvia, dusty miller, and marigold.
There are also a few trees and shrubs deer don’t care for. Both the Scots and Mugo pines, for instance.
And the Mugo is tolerant of our alkaline soil. The Chinese juniper is another evergreen to try.
It comes in many cultivars and shapes. Lilacs, nannyberry, and forsythia for flowering shrubs and Japanese Barbary for a thorny barrier are nearly deer proof.
The Barbary can be invasive but it has many cultivars, nice fall color and bright red berries.
This spring it has been too wet. If you notice yellowing leaves on plants, they are most probably too wet.
Not much you can do other than attempt to drain the area, pick off the damaged leaves and hope for the best.
If you would like more individual help, call the Extension Office at 218-998-8760, or stop in at 505 South Court Street.
You may also call the radio station, 1250 AM each Saturday morning or stop at the City Café Bakery following the radio program to ask a Master Gardener.
Bev Johnson is a master gardener for Otter Tail County.