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Gardener's Grapevine 2012.03.07

on . Posted in Gardener's Grapevine

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.

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