Our long Montana winter and Spring slowed down the leaves and lawns this year. Later than usual cold temperatures especially impacted Deciduous trees. Our cold Fall came quick and hard. Many of the leaves were killed before they could fall naturally. These sudden temperature swings rob the trees of nutrients and buds for the next season.
If you have some leafy trees that are slow to grow, wait a bit longer before cutting them down. There is still hope that they will emerge. Check your trees for dead branches. If they are dry and brittle, maybe prune them back to good wood. If they snap easily, they will make good kindling. If they bend, they still may leaf out.
Another way to know if your tree is still alive is to examine the bark. If you scrap a bit of bark, on a branch, aside and see green, then the tree is still alive. The smaller trees seem to be most at risk. Roses and some shrubs also have been slow to get started. The roses also had more dead branches than usual.
Be Patient! Normally in the Fall, trees prepare for Winter. Leaves fall off, and next years buds form where the leaf scar is. This helps them survive the winter. If deer and elk, or horses are around, many of these buds get munched. This also contributes to slow tree starts.
Don’t add fertilizer yet. Instead give the trees a few god long drinks of water. Adding a funnel bottle, shoved deep into the ground, helps with deep watering. You want the roots to get soaked. Once the leaves show up, a bit of liquid fertilizer is a good idea.
I have found stiff plastic vodka or other long necked beverage bottles make wonderful funnels. Simply cut the bottom off and shove it into the soil next to your trees and vegetable plants. These really help my tomato plants as well. Deep watering puts the moisture directly into the roots before it evaporates.
Even lawns were slow growing for awhile but the last couple weeks of moisture has really turned the growth on. Now that your lawn has woken up, mow at 3 inches and mulch your grass. The mulch will retain moisture. Watering every other day, early in the morning is perfect. Once a week mowing will do when you have a sharp mulch blade.
Go Green, while it lasts!
For more Montana Grant, find his green thumb at www.montanagrantfishing.com.