May 25, 2010

Hailstorm Cleanup 101

I discussed these few garden restoration tips with Linda Cavanaugh on the KFOR 4:30 news this afternoon.  Here is a review of what we covered in this short segment, with just a little more elaboration.

  • Damaged, dangling limbs and branches from trees and shrubs need to be cut off cleanly, both for safety and disease prevention.  Consult a guide or expert if you are not familiar with proper pruning technique. 
  • Perennials, plants that come back year after year (with any luck!) should be groomed and lightly trimmed of damaged leaves and stems.  Remember that perennials rely on their foliage to produce food and maintain vigor.  Remove too much and you can stress the plant even more, making them more susceptible to disease and death.  Fortunately, we have a lot of growing season left for many perennials to flesh out and produce an abundance of new leaves.  
  • Annuals, like your begonias, impatiens, coleus, etc. will be the first to recover (unless they were completely flattened and transformed to mush........).  Cut them back, hard if necessary.  Water and fertilize to get them going again (too bad it doesn't work on us gardeners) and they should soon show signs of growth and renewal.  Ditto for most of your vegetables.  Some of them you may have to start over.  Sadly, in this case you may have lost time as well as plant material.
  • Do clean up all debris as soon as possible.  Piles of debris, especially rotting leaves and blooms, provide a perfect breeding ground for slugs, sow bugs and other pests.  Your damaged plants are especially vulnerable to such assault now, so clean up is critical.
  • Other considerations:  you may have lost seed heads on the self-seeders you rely on each year to keep that beautiful stand of larkspur, columbine, foxglove or some such going.  Don't deadhead those that remain.  These few may be what is required to keep these beauties coming back year after year.
  • Plant lots of zinnias, sunflowers, basil and cleome seeds now to make up for what you've lost, and give you cutting material for later this summer.
One last thing.  When surveying the storm damage with your insurance claims adjuster, don't overlook
all of the damaged (and often pricey) pots, birdhouses, bird feeders, garden furniture, etc. that took a hit along with your roof, windows and gutters.  These will have to be repaired or replaced as well to restore your gardens and landscapes to their former grandeur.

And they were grand weren't they?

And with a lot more sweat equity, they will be again.

That's what spring is for.

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