Devastating storms took their tolls on Denver gardens last week. If wind, hail and torrential rains left your gardens looking like pesto, follow these tips provided by the professionals at Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado.
- Stay out of the garden as long as it’s muddy as walking on wet soil will compact it. That is not good for the plants.
Assess the damage by going plant-by-plant through the garden.
Prune away badly shredded leaves and broken stems and branches.
Don’t prune off leaves that just have holes in them. The plant needs them to photosynthesize to rebuild its health.
Examine the fruit. Even though zucchini or melons are nicked, they can be left to mature. Think of them like the bargains from the scratch and dent bin. They may not be pretty, but they may still taste great when they’re ripe enough to pick.
For hollow-stemmed veggies like squash, melons and cucumbers, follow the broken stem all the way back to where it comes out of the ground and cut it there.
More about stems and branches. Hollow-stemmed branches with open cuts are an invitation to insects to find a new home. Branches that break in the wind and hail are rarely a clean break. If these ripped areas are left untreated, they are likely to become infested with pests and disease. All of these torn branches need to be pruned with a clean cut and at the proper location on the plant–usually back to where the branch or stem starts.
Fertilize to rejuvenate the plant. To help plants make their comeback, use a water-soluble fertilizer. It is more gentle to the plant than other forms and the nitrogen will give an extra boost for new growth.
How do you make the judgment call on which veggies are beyond repair? If all the leaves have been shredded and there are just broken stems showing, the plant is likely done. If there are some leaves remaining–even with holes in them–you can try to revive the plant. But it may not be able to recover in time to produce its fruit.
What about reseeding? Recently planted beans and some other crops could rot before germination due to overly-moist soil conditions. If you need to replant veggies, get varieties that have the fewest days to harvest and plant them right away. Then hope that frost comes as late as the hail storms did this season!
••• “Cultivate your corner of the world. You grow your garden; your garden grows you.” •••
Friday Jones Publishing will release Colleen Smith’s playful new book “Laid-Back Skier” for fall 2011.
Colleen Smith’s first novel, “Glass Halo”— a finalist for the 2010 Santa Fe Literary Prize — is available in hardcover or e—book.
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