Greengirls Helen Yarmoska, Nicole Hvidsten, Martha Buns, Connie Nelson, Kim Palmer and Mary Jane Smetanka are dishin' the dirt from the back-yard garden and beyond. Whether you're a greenthumb or greenhorn, they're eager to learn from your mishaps, mistakes - and most importantly, your sweet successes - all growing season long.

Posts about Weather

Minneapolis homeowners affected by storm can buy low-cost trees

Posted by: Kim Palmer Updated: September 10, 2013 - 10:24 AM

Is there a void in your landscape where a tree used to be?

Minneapolis homeowners who lost trees in the June 21 storm have an opportunity to order a replacement tree for $25. The city is offering about 500 lost-cost trees between now and Sept. 20 (earlier if the trees sell out).

Six species of trees will be available, including hackberry, harvest gold linden, heritage oak (an English oak and bur oak cross), heritage river birch, Honeycrisp apple and royal star magnolia.

If the tree you lost was on the boulevard, hold off. These trees are not to be planted on boulevards; the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is developing its own plan for boulevard tree re-planting, to be implemented in the spring.

To order a tree, visit www.treetrust.org. Homeowners who order trees will pick them up in late September (2-7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 26, and 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28 at the Minneapolis Impound Lot, 51 Colfax Ave. N.) Volunteers will be available at the pickup location to help load each tree and provide a complimentary bag of mulch. 

And if you need help keeping your new tree aIive and healthy, there's a free workshop on tree planting and care, offered Sept. 23, from 6-7 p.m., at McRae Recreation Center, 906 E. 47th St., Minneapolis. No RSVP is required.

Now is the time to water

Posted by: Mary Jane Smetanka Updated: August 26, 2013 - 10:41 AM

 

Brown leaves are dropping from the linden trees that line the boulevard on my way to work, and they’re not dropping because fall is approaching. They’re dropping because it’s been so dry.
Now is the time to water trees, grass and gardens. With trees it’s especially critical, because the damage from drought can be delayed but long-lasting. Often trees don’t show any sign of distress, so the unobservant homeowner may not even know that trees are thirsty. Then a year or two later when people see bare branches at the top of trees, they wonder what’s wrong.
In my garden, I know it’s time to water when the leaves on water-sensitive plants like hydrangea and Joe Pye weed go limp. In a week like this I will give those plants a drink every couple of days, and I water the entire garden every four or five days.
Anything in a raised bed or pot probably needs to be watered at least once a day when temperatures are in the 90s. And if you have a lawn, don’t forget your grass. A lawn needs about an inch of water each week to last through a hot dry period like we’re having now.
So please water!

Late-season planting

Posted by: Kim Palmer Updated: August 13, 2013 - 10:03 AM

 

My tomato dreams for the season are over -- wiped out by last week's hail storm. 

 

At least a dozen tomatoes, in varying stages of ripening, were sheared off my plants and dumped rudely on my deck. I was hoping to salvage the tomatoes that managed to stay on the vine, but after inspecting them over the weekend, it was clear they were a lost cause. Every single one was damaged, the skin pierced in multiple spots by hailstones.

Since that's a recipe for disease, I reluctantly plucked them and threw them away. 

So with six tomato plants, I harvested exactly one -- ONE -- tomato before the destruction. There's still hope for my beets, and I've been enjoying my basil, three kinds, all summer long, as well as mint and salad greens. But all in all, that's a pretty pathetic yield. 

It's way too late to plant new tomatoes, obviously, but I'm thinking about late-season veggies I might try, so this year's growing season isn't such a bust. 

The U of M extension service has some guidelines and suggestions for mid-to-late-summer planting on its website (http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/horticulture/M1227.html).

So tell me, fellow gardeners. What late-season veggies have you tried? What's worked for you? Or should I just resign myself to the farmer's market?

 

 

 

 

 

What's a gardener to do after a hailstorm?

Posted by: Kim Palmer Updated: August 7, 2013 - 10:55 AM

 

It wasn't on my bucket list, but I now have firsthand experience with golf-ball-sized hail. I've seen and heard it crashing, held it in my hand -- and witnessed the carnage it can wreak in a garden.

 

I live in Eden Prairie, where the hail started hammering my house and landscape not long after I got home from work. My husband, who had just left to run an errand, called me with an urgent plea to get the other car into the garage.

I ran outside, ice balls painfully pelting my head and shoulders, and got the car under cover. Back inside, I watched my deck as ice balls and pellets piled up, turning the deck surface as white as a snowstorm. I could see my plants whipping in the wind and driving rain. Two containers blew completely over. 

 

After about 10 minutes, the icy onslaught subsided into softer rain, and I went out to inspect the damage. Wow! At least a dozen tomatoes, in various stages of ripening, were sheared off the plants, sometimes stalk and all. 

 

My giant black elephant ear -- my big splurge of the season -- had lost half its foliage, and what remained was punched so full of holes that the leaves looked like crocheted doilies. My canna were shredded to ribbons. My beets were submerged under a couple inches of standing water. (Apparently the drainage holes I had punched in that big pot were no match for the downpour.)

So much for homegrown tomatoes this year. There are only a few left on the plants, and they're pitted and pocked.

I'll still try to over-winter the elephant ear, but its days as the dramatic focal point of my outdoor "room" are over.

 

I haven't done a complete inventory of my back-yard garden yet, but I know it's not going to be pretty. 

 

What's a gardener to do after a hailstorm wipes out a growing season's worth of growth? 

Here's what plant experts have to say:

Trees and shrubs: These should probably be your first priority. Broken, dangling branches need to be cut off cleanly. Also remove limbs with severe gouges and tears. (Less-serious wounds will probably heal naturally).

Perennials: Damaged plants also need trimming. Unfortunately, the timing of this storm was not good for gardeners. Late-summer hail damage creates problems for plants because some will struggle to produce a new set of leaves, with limited success this late in the season. Damaged plants will be weakened and under stress, making them more susceptible to disease, pests and death. Plants that do sprount new leaves won't have time to harden off before fall, making them more vulnerable to winter kill. You can improve plants' chances by inspecting frequently for signs of pests or disease -- and treating problems promptly. Extra mulch can help protect damaged plants during the winter.

Vegetables: Remove damaged veggies and leaves. It's too late to try planting new tomatoes to replace ones you lost. Better luck next year. Root crops, such as radishes and beets, should survive as long as their tops aren't too badly damaged.

Annuals: These tend to recuperate quickly. Trim them back, fertilize them lightly and give them extra water for a days to promote new growth.

And next spring, when you're surveying those holes in your garden left by hail-damaged plants that died over the winter, consider replacing them with native plants. Because they've adapted to local growing conditions, they're better able to withstand being pelted with hail.

How did your garden hold up last night? 

Tomato time!

Posted by: Kim Palmer Updated: July 23, 2013 - 11:47 AM

 

There's an almost-ripe, red tomato about a day away from being ready for my dinner table.

 

Finally.

It seems like tomatoes are taking longer than usual to ripen this growing season. Many on my biggest plants have been big but hard and green for weeks. My smaller plants are still a long way from producing edible tomatoes. 

I can't help being nostalgic for the weird, crazy growing season of 2010, when I spotted my first green tomato on May 24 and plucked two ripe ones for eating in late June.

This year appears much more typical, with tomatoes starting to ripen in mid-July. (For a calendar of what edibles ripen when in Minnesota, go to: http://www.pickyourown.org/MNharvestcalendar.htm)

Will it be a good year for tomatoes? Or not? So far, I can't tell. My plants look mostly healthy so far, although there are spots on a few leaves, which could hint at end rot to come.

What's going on with your tomatoes this year?

 

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