Gardener's Grapevine 2012.03.07

Written by David Green.

What’s up with the weather? How many times have you heard that said this winter?

We left church Sunday morning and noticed that all the spring bulbs were coming up. Some were two inches out of the ground. At 11:30 in the morning, the weather was chilly but beautiful. We made a trip to Maumee for lunch to celebrate my mother-in-law’s birthday, and by the time we left at 3:00 it was snowing at a pretty good clip. It’s like the weather can’t make up its mind what to do.

Plants can take mild fluctuations, but not extreme ones. We had some pretty extreme weather shifts this week, with a 60 degree day and then back to freezing and then snowing at will. This can really stress fruit trees, also. They have a set pattern they follow to go from dormant to producing fruit and any drastic changes can really damage fruit production. The weather really wreaked havoc on the south also, with the tornado damage. I think we should all hope and pray that things settle down and follow a steadier, more even pace.

This past Saturday we had a little mishap in front of the neighbor’s house at 1:30 a.m. A pickup truck had an altercation with a lot of things before it came to a stop in a very old maple tree. While most people think that not much but age and weather can harm these old trees, that simply is not true. While that tree only shows some scuffed up bark and a moderate dent, it is stressed and will show more stress in the future. I examined the impact site and realized that there basically is a hollow center to the tree, and after many years that would have weakened it to a point of falling in a good storm. The hit that this tree took will stress it, let water seep inside more rapidly and ultimately bring it down in a much shorter time.

There are other things that stress trees also, like things hammered into them such as nails or decorations, dog urine, animals gnawing at the bark and having their “toes” covered by dirt or mulch.

The toes of a tree are the roots you see sticking out of the ground around the base. The tree breathes through these and while the tree may look well tended with a nice pile of mulch around it, this will stress and eventually kill it. I have to admit that I used to plant flowers around our large maples out front and mulch like mad until I found out that little bit of information.

Trees also thrive better with an occasional pruning and we have an excellent tree pruner here locally. Fertilizing is also very important to a tree’s health. My husband utilizes Barrett’s Garden Center tree expert for information on what to use. Most upscale garden centers have tree experts and carry a full line of products for good tree health. Tree experts provide knowledge on ailments, too.

Art has to treat our crabapple trees ever year as they are prone to a fungus that stresses them and makes them lose their leaves very early. While our gardens need love and attention all year long, so do our trees. As they get bigger, people tend to either forget them or think they are OK on their own since they have survived long enough to get huge.

Well, I don’t think anything is going to fix the poor maple tree that was hit by that truck, but you can give the trees you have a little hug this year and feed them and maybe even have them pruned. Appreciate the old guys as they shade us, give us oxygen and beautify our properties. They deserve it.

  • Front.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

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