We hit a cold bump early morning April 9 on our way to spring, but our weather bureau said the low temperature was 29 degrees Fahrenheit. Fruit trees in the Valley were in bud, some in full bloom, but that temperature drop should not have damaged our fruit crop. A frost table developed by Utah State University indicates that 28 degrees will cause some damage to apple, peach, pear, and cherry crops.
Their calculations indicate 28 degrees will damage 10 percentof the crop of apples, pears, and cherries that are in full bloom or the petals have fallen. Peaches are only affected by that temperature after their petals have fallen. Apricots aren’t damaged until the temperature falls to 27 degrees Fahrenheit.
Keep in mind the weather bureau measures temperatures about 5 feet off the ground, and since cold falls, it would have been colder at the surface of the soil. Most of us have planted brassicas, spinach and lettuce in ground, but they should have withstood that kiss of frost.
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Although many of us are enjoying the gift of April showers, the combination of showers and snow melting in the mountains are creating flood conditions in this Valley. Some trees tolerate standing water for extended periods of time better than others.
Needled evergreens don’t tolerate flooded roots for extended time very well, and may topple over. Trees such as oaks don’t tolerate flooding very well for longer than a week either, but those such as cottonwoods, red and silver maple, river birch, hackberry, sweetgum, sycamore, elm, baldcypress, and willow tolerate standing water for several weeks at a time. Willows are especially thirsty, and can take up so much water they can reduce swampiness if you have a problem with water near or at the soil surface.
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Since time out of mind, far earlier than historic times, humans on this planet have rejoiced at the annual re-emergence of green vegetation. Ancients said the old “king” (of vegetation) was dead, “long live the new king.” Late autumn fertilization of our lawns is giving us early greenup, and although our daytime temperatures are fluctuating, they’re sufficiently tolerable to permit our transplanting hardy plants outdoors to get a head start on the growing season.
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Even if you have in-ground garden beds, you may find growing in containers useful. For one thing, they can be moved around to get optimum sun exposure. Very large containers can be moved if you put styrofoam or empty aluminum cans in the bottom before adding potting soil. If you have an apartment without access to in-ground gardening space, buy some containers and grow food for your consumption or for your soul (that is, flowers).
Containers growing food or spices or herbs also may be located near the kitchen for ready use. Or if your space is loaded with horrible invasive weeds, or consists of rocks or old pavement or concrete, grow in containers. Also, if you’re new to gardening, you can start small with containers.
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There’s a new product on the market, “Roundup for Lawns” that may be of interest if you use synthetic chemicals in gardening. Those chemicals are not considered organic. If you spray the regular Roundup (from Monsanto) on your lawn, you’ll kill grass as well as weeds. That Roundup contains glyphosate, a weed killer, and is suspected of being carcinogenic to humans. Roundup for Lawns does NOT contain glyphosate, but is said to kill a broad spectrum of 250 “difficult” weeds such as dandelions, crabgrass, yellow nutsedge, and clover. There’s no mention of quackgrass or field bindweed in its killing swath, but the label may claim that control. Its active ingredients are MCPA, dimethylamine salt, Quinclorac, dicamba and Sulfentrazone. They’re not known carcinogens as of now, but they may present other health problems. Read the label carefully and follow label directions.
Send garden questions to email@example.com or Gardening, The Statesman, P.O. Box 40, Boise, ID 83707.