Friday, March 30, 2012

Save your plant's tender buds from the cold!

FreezePruf ® reduces risk!

Local gardens and gardeners have enjoyed  warm, balmy temperatures throughout  March— a weather pattern virtually nonexistent  during March in years past.   The spring bulbs in bloom, as well as forsythia and magnolias, produce lots of smiles!  Buds are pushing on trees and shrubs all around … spring weather has arrived early in Southeastern Wisconsin!   But then reality sets in… a few days of cold, damp weather, followed by nights with patches of frost .  What can we do to protect the vulnerable new growth on our favorite plantings?

A recently developed product can protect our plants from frost and ice crystals:  FreezePruf®
This amazing liquid can be sprayed on all plant parts until thoroughly wet, including tops and bottoms of existing foliage and flower buds.   Protection should last two to four weeks, depending upon severity of the freeze event. 

The research efforts of botanist, Dr. David Francko ( University of Alabama) who is primarily responsible for this product development, have produced this unique spray for landscapers and gardeners.  He explains the FreezePruf® product enhances each plant’s ability to survive cold, freezing temps.   Ideally, the product should be applied generously  8 – 12 hours prior to an expected freeze event for greatest effectiveness.   

Although this product should not be used on succulents, most  outdoor plants will benefit from a coating of FreezePruf®  (it is both biodegradable  and pet-and-people friendly).    The following link provides lists of plants which have been tested for effectiveness using the FreezePruf® spray for cold protection:

This product can improve the cold tolerance of plants up to  9º F.   FreezePruf®  is a non-toxic form of “antifreeze” for your plants, and can be reapplied to new growth which emerges after  the initial treatment.  An application of FreezePruf® protects the cell membranes and cell walls of stems and leaves, preventing total destruction , even if temps drop below 32º F.   

NOTE:  FreezePruf® is available as ready-to-use spray or concentrate.   Improving our plants’ cold tolerance during April and May is our best defense against frigid cold temps damaging plant tissue.

M. Lynn Schmid,   Certified Master Gardener
A.A.S. Landscape/Horticulture/Arboriculture

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

"Icing on Cupcakes ... Icing on Conifers!"

Here's a cool & refreshing tip on our warm "spring-like" day.
Remember weather can always change in Wisconsin!

"Icing on cupcakes… icing on CONIFERS!"

Envision a delectable cupcake topped with a mound of fluffy white icing… a perfect marriage of delicious cake and creamy topping.  But icing on conifers??? Although the scene shown here is rather typical during winter in Southeastern Wisconsin, ice glazing definitely is not beneficial to conifers.

Frequently, springtime provides our area with a plethora of weather conditions—particularly snow and ice storms.  Because March/April temperatures can hover near 32º F.  any precipitation that falls has a high moisture content, often creating a thick ice/snow load on conifer branches.

As a homeowner, you may elect to brush excess snow from branches, but please do so very gently, with special care.  Before beginning the snow removal process, inspect branches to determine if icicles have formed at branch tips as shown here.  If icicles appear, do not be tempted to remove snow and ice from brittle branches!  My tree care teacher instructed this action could cause serious damage to conifers’ branches.  Since new growth occurs at branch tips, removing snow (and underlying ice) can cause damage to terminal buds, which are preparing to break dormancy with the arrival of springtime.  

Solution:  Be patient!  Allow sun to melt those ice-encrusted branches slowly. Conifer branches should be resilient enough to recover from a temporary icing condition and will generate fresh growth as warmer spring days arrive.

M. Lynn Schmid,   Certified Master Gardener
A.A.S. Landscape/Horticulture/Arboriculture

Thursday, March 1, 2012

March is the Month - Think Green!

March is that transitional month which takes us from winter to spring with its crisp, cool days and resurgence of new life.  Later in March, we can witness tree buds swelling and breaking dormancy, and tiny green leaves emerging … a tree’s life cycle begins again.  March also brings the celebration of St. Patty’s Day, which is rich in traditions, including that popular delicacy:  green beer!    Before partaking in green beer (or your drink of choice) it would be wise to consume a hearty meal like my St. Patty’s Day Soup.  Rich in cruciferous veggies and a broth with a greenish hue, this soup could become a favorite for any winter/spring day. 
From my kitchen to yours… enjoy!   Lynn
St. Patty’s Day Soup
1½ cups green cabbage, chopped
1 cup fresh broccoli, chopped
1 cup fresh cauliflower, chopped
1 cup celery, sliced thin
½ cup white onion, chopped 
(can substitute scallions if desired)

2 TBSP. fresh parsley, chopped
(can substitute parsley flakes)
Sauté above ingredients in TWO TBSP butter, plus TWO TBSP olive oil.
After a few minutes when veggies are tender, add remaining ingredients:
1 quart low sodium chicken broth
10-oz pkg. frozen chopped spinach
(thaw— then absorb moisture w/paper towels)

1 cup cooked chicken, diced
3/4 cup white rice
(cook until tender in salted water, plus juice of one lime)2 TBSP  dry white wine (please use wine you would drink—not “cooking” wine)
2 TBSP  chicken flavored granules
(or chicken soup base) to intensify flavors
Simmer combined ingredients for ten minutes; serve hot  in mugs with crackers or a crusty bread.     Yield:  four servings
M. Lynn Schmid, Certified Master Gardener
A.A.S. Landscape/Horticulture/Arboriculture