2:37pm

Thu July 14, 2011
Garden Report

Hail Leaves Gardeners Cleaning Up Messes

The monsoonal flow has brought with it unwanted hail.  Gardeners battle all sorts of conditions in an effort to get things to grow.  And then a hailstorm can blow through reducing the whole garden to mush.

The first thing to do after a hail is to take a deep breath and survey the damage.  The fresh frustrations after the storm make it seem worse than it is.  It's an easy time to be too ruthless; and create more damage than the hail caused.

Annuals, both flowers and vegetables, are the most hail forgiving.  These plants are programmed to grow, flower and seed all in one season.  A little pruning and careful watering bring annuals back to carry on with their mission.  Prune off broken parts as closely to the healthy stem as possible.  If there is no healthy stem, pull the plant.

Clean up as much of the leaf debris as possible.  The rotting leaves can spread disease.  A fan shaped leaf rake is the best way to clean out the leaves.  A back-pack blowers or leaf vacuum also will work.

Keep the garden moist.  Over-watering can add to the rotting disease problems the hail started.  Under-watering can further stress the already shocked plants.  Moderate, regular watering is best.   But let the soil dry out in between watering so the roots get as much air as water.

The hail may have cut off the annual flower blooms; but it may encourage a stronger summer flowering.  For flowers that's OK; for vegetables it may be a problem. Peppers and tomatoes need over thirty days to bloom, set fruit, and ripen. 

Perennial, shrubs and trees are different.  Prune off broken leaves and branches. A light fertilization will encourage new growth.  As always, don’t over fertilize and read the instructions.

If the bark is damaged, watch those wounds closely.  Over the next few weeks the wounds can become entry sites for diseases or insects. 

The plants will only bare the scars of the hail for a few months.  By next month, you and they probably won't even remember this passing thunderstorm. 

tom@throgmortonplantmanagement.com

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