Weather poses challenges for gardeners

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 21, 2014

Mother Nature continues to offer home gardeners a challenge with icy weather earlier in the week followed hopefully by normal spring weather.
Many are still pondering what to do as not only the cold, but excessively wet conditions make it impossible to accomplish chores that should have been done weeks ago. Many are posing questions about the cold weather and its manifestations. Below are a few questions Cooperative Extension has received over the past few weeks.

Question: Will ice we had last night kill my peach buds? Should I go outside and wash off the ice with the garden hose?
Answer: No don’t wash off the ice. You may do more damage to any blooms left on the tree. Your impending peach crop depends on how cold it got before ice formed. Freezing rain during the day when temps are above freezing and ice is melting will generally not present a problem. Ironically, the freezing water forming ice acts to insulate the blooms at a constant 32 degrees. The formation of clear ice on a bloom is usually a good sign for frost protection as well; the ice is actually protecting the buds. Even if you have some winter damage, peaches and many other fruit trees only need a 20 percent bloom to produce an appreciable crop.

Question: We had some trees cut down and the limbs were ground into wood chips as mulch. Can I use this in my beds?
Answer: Technically, you can use green wood chips as mulch, but like any type of wood, it attracts termites. So be careful using it around the foundation of your home. The newly ground mulch would be best used in walkways, paths, around trees, etc. Compost the material if you prefer to use it as mulch. Also, many have complained about declining plants utilizing green mulch, especially around annuals.

Question: Is now the time for me to spray weeds in my lawn? I sowed the grass seed last fall and was wondering if the herbicide would hurt the grass.
Answer: Now would be a an excellent time to control broadleaf weeds in the lawn. Newly emerging chickweed, henbit and other broadleaf weeds can be controlled with a post-emergence herbicide blend that contains 2,4-D and other herbicides. Well established lawns can tolerate these sprays. A well-established lawn is one that has been mowed at least three times.
Darrell Blackwelder is the county extension director with horticulture responsibilities with the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. Learn more about Cooperative Extension events and activities by calling 704-216-8970, on Facebook or online at www.rowanextension.com .

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