- Author: Marcy Sousa
You should inspect healthy and unhealthy trees on a regular basis. Although some tree failures are not predictable and cannot be prevented, many failures can be prevented. Large trees have a greater hazard potential than small trees and should be inspected more frequently and in greater detail. Always make your inspections from the ground, do not climb the tree or use a ladder to improve your viewing perspective. If you suspect a hazardous condition, immediately contact your utility company and consult an arborist who has the equipment and training to conduct the inspection safely.
Lean: Determine whether the vertical axis of the tree has recently changed and check the ground around the base of the tree for uplift or exposed roots. If the tree was vertical but has moved from the vertical position, it is called a leaner. These are trees that are in the process of falling and could fall completely at any time and require immediate attention.
Multiple trunks: Some trees develop more than one trunk, which are often weakly attached and prone to splitting apart— especially those with narrow angles of attachment. This condition is a concern in large trees. Inspect the point where the trunks meet.
Weakly attached branches: Inspect large branches (greater than 3 inches) at the point where they attach to the trunk. Trees with many branches arising from the same point on the trunk are weak and potentially hazardous. If one branch breaks, the others are more likely to fail.
Cavities, large decay pockets, and other evidence of decay: Inspect the trunk and large branches for cavities or large decay pockets. If you find cavities or decay where branches meet or at the base of the trunk, they are a concern. If a cavity or decay pocket is especially large and is at a key structural location, the tree is more likely to fail.
Mushrooms and conks growing on the bark of trees or on exposed roots indicate root rot or wood decay. As the decay progresses, the wood is weakened and failure is more likely. Do not attempt to clean out or seal a cavity or decay pocket—you may be doing more harm than good.
Trunk and branch cracks: Inspect the trunk and large branches for cracks. If a crack is found, determine if it extends into the wood or is confined to the bark. Insert a pencil or other object into the crack and measure its depth.
Cracks confined to the bark are not usually a problem, but there is reason for concern when the crack extends into the wood. Deep cracks indicate that a separation of the wood within a trunk or branch has occurred and the tree has become structurally weakened. If you find a crack, it is best to have it inspected by an arborist.
Hanging or broken branches (hangers): Hangers are branches that are broken but have not fallen from the tree. They may still be partially attached or completely separated and lodged in the canopy. Inspect for branches that are hanging down from a break point and for branches that have broken off completely and are resting on other branches. Hangers should be removed as soon as possible.
Dead branches (deadwood): Branches that have died will eventually fall off and can cause damage when they fall. Inspect trees that lose their leaves in winter when they are in full-leaf (late spring through early fall). Evergreen trees can be inspected for deadwood at any time. If you find deadwood, plan to have it removed. This does not have to be done immediately, but should not be ignored.
Obtaining professional advice and services: The best assurance of getting quality advice or tree work is by hiring an arborist certified by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) or a consulting arborist who is a member of the American Society of Consulting Arborists (ASCA). Certification does not guarantee quality performance, it is only a means of helping you select an arborist who has a demonstrated level of knowledge and technical proficiency. You should verify that your arborist is insured and check his or her references. When you call for service, the arborist will come out and assess the storm damage to your trees and explain the best way to repair the tree if it is salvageable.
This article was taken from UC IPM publication 8365, Inspecting Your Landscape Trees for Hazards. The full publication can be found here.
- Author: Kathy Grant
Since the drought of the late 1970's, the University of California researchers, UCCE San Joaquin Master Gardeners and many others have compiled an arsenal of resources and tools to help the California gardener cope with a Mediterrean climate and all too-frequent droughts. But studying this material can also be like drinking from a firehose, unless you know where to start. Here is a “rain chain” of ideas to help learn in small sips.
Keep it simple! In a recent conversation with Karrie Reid, UCCE Area Environmental Horticultural Advisor, we discussed the current lack of rain and warmer temperatures, as compared to years past, as well as strategies for good gardening. Her quick summary was, “there is no normal weather or rainfall anymore here in California.” We must adapt to the current seasonal challenges, and tend our landscapes and lawns with prudence. Here are a few of the simple tips she offered for managing a garden during this dry winter season.
- Study CIMIS data for rainfall and ETₒ in your area: San Joaquin County has five different California Irrigation Management Information System, or CIMIS, weather stations in the county, including Manteca, Staten Island, Holt, Ripon, and Linden. Each of these stations are measuring and gathering a data set of information to estimate the evapotranspiration rates for a patch of grass at the station (that's a measurement of the amount of water used). Rainfall is also being measured.
Karrie started our search for CIMIS information using the Ripon weather station data, and learned that the month of November, 2020, ETₒ rate was 2.19 inches, and the rainfall was .14 inches. Simply put, more water was used by the grass than was replaced by rainfall. Bottom line: we needed to irrigate lawns and even moderate and low-water shrubs and perennials in a month that would normally supply that with rain.
- Water deeply, occasionally - To remedy this dry season, water only the plants which are still using water. Dormant, deciduous plants do not use water this time of year. Water landscape plants deeply, but only occasionally.
- Water before frosts or high winds- If frost or high winds are expected, be sure your garden is watered, and not dry. A well-watered plant is buffered and protected from winds and frost.
- Prune after frost, not before- Speaking of frost, wait till after danger of frost has passed before you prune your landscape plants or trees. New growth will be damaged if a sudden frost snap drops temperatures.
- Lawn Watering Guide- Karrie also helped the City of Lodi create the Lawn Garden Watering Guide which is available on the City's Watershed Friendly website. You will need to adjust watering rates based on how much rainfall has fallen for the month; you will also need to know what kind of grass you have in your lawn.
- Warm or Cool Season Grass Water Needs- UC Publication 8044, will help you evaluate your landscape needs and adjust timers. As Karrie likes to say, “Too much or too little water on lawns makes for unhealthy grass.”
- Easy Steps to Setting Your Landscape Controller and Water Usage of Common Landscape Plants This handout is a gem for figuring out how to use your landscape controller, as well as understanding water usage for common plants and our lawns.
- Trees Need Water, too- Estimating Tree Requirements- UCCE's Center for Urban and Landscape Horticultureis a treasure trove of information that will help the home gardener sort out his particular landscape needs. Loren Oki's and Dave Fujino's tree ring contraptionoffer a simple, efficient system to water your trees slowly and deeply.
- Plant a Water Wise Garden- SJC Master Gardeners- Low Water Landscapes October through March is an ideal time to plant new landscape plants. Be sure to keep new plants well-watered until they are established.
- “Catch Rain Where Rain Falls”- Harvest the Rain! Divert Your Downspouts to the lawn- As Brad Lancaster, author of the book, “Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond”, Volume 1, points out, the “small-scale strategies are the most effective and the least expensive…and the benefits are many.” Catch more rainwater where it falls by diverting your downspouts to the garden, away from your house foundation. Remember, rainwater is still nature's free gift!
- Author: Melissa Berg, Master Gardener
Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) is an aromatic perennial plant of the Lamiaceae family that grows throughout Asia, Europe, and the United States. It is a natural hybrid of Water Mint (Mentha aquatica) and Spearmint (Mentha spicata), grows to a height of three feet, has green leaves with sharply serrated edges, and produces a light purple flower.
Although first cultivated in England during the 17th Century, 75% of the world's current supply is produced right here in the United States and while primary peppermint production focuses upon the harvest of its essential oil for medicinal and therapeutic purposes, it is equally popular as a flavoring agent. The many forms available for sale including tincture, tea, oil, capsules, and tablets, as well as both fresh and dried leaves. Direct forms of the herb commercially available for sale aside, consider that it flavors everything from chewing gums, mints, candies, and ice creams to tobacco, toothpaste, cough drops, alcoholic liqueurs, teas, and digestive aids. Aromatic products are equally as varied and include soaps, cosmetics, perfumes, and detergents, as well as being contained within innumerable over-the-counter medications, just to name a few.
The medicinal components are, in fact, derived from the entire plant and include a volatile oil (the essential aromatic oil), phenolic acids (aromatic acid compounds), flavonoids (naturally occurring phytochemicals), and triterpenes (aromatic hydrocarbons). It is the essential oil that contains the three principal active ingredients which make peppermint so valuable a crop. They are menthol, menthone, and menthyl acetate, with the former providing the cooling sensation synonymous with peppermint, and the associated latter two ingredients responsible for its minty aroma and flavor.
Interestingly, the quality of the essential oil is dictated solely by its menthol content which varies according to growing environment, habitat, and climate. While domestic peppermint contains 50 -78% menthol and English peppermint contains 60-70% menthol, it is Japanese peppermint oil that contains a percentage of menthol so high (85%)that menthol crystals are known to form right on the leaves themselves.
Once peppermint is ready for harvest, it is only collected in the cool hours of the morning to ensure afternoon heat does not reduce the available oil content of the leaves. Generally, this occurs just before the plant blooms in July or August.
Setting aside the commercial aspect to growing peppermint, it is a relatively simple herb to grow indoors over winter months. Simply select an eastern facing windowsill to ensure the plant is allowed to enjoy its preferred less intense morning sunshine and cooler temperatures. Use good potting soil with a layer of gravel above the drainage hole and ensure the soil remains evenly moist throughout the growing cycles. As humidity is important to peppermint, fill a water collection tray with water and pebbles below your potted plant (misting between waterings is a viable alternative). Rotating the pot twice a week will ensure your plant grows vertically, and exercise care in fertilizing at more than half strength because excessive fertilizer will result in a loss of flavor once harvested.
As a bonus, despite a nursery seedling requiring about 90 days to mature, it is often possible to harvest a few aromatic leaves within just three weeks of planting. And, if you want to go all out on this window garden box, consider adding Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium), an essential herb in Béarnaise sauce. You will then have a well-balanced food-to-drink ratio in your herb repertoire as long as you contain the peppermint (it has the propensity to outgrow its intended growing zone if left to its own devices).
- Author: Flo Pucci, Master Gardener
Weeds are a constant companion for the home gardener, and they can be a significant pest after a wet winter and if the temperatures are right. Where do these weeds mysteriously come from, one may ask?
Their seed has been dormant in the soil, waiting for the right conditions to come to life. However, weeds do not invade turfgrass appropriately fertilized, watered, and mowed at the correct height and frequency. Also, digging, tilling, and cultivating can effectively reduce or eliminate weeds in the garden and prevent adverse environmental conditions.
Therefore, most weed issues can be managed by using non-chemical methods like mulching, hand-weeding, and keeping the lawn healthy. Nevertheless, if the weed problem is substantial, the gardener may consider the use of a product called a Preemergent herbicide as a control method for these unwanted guests.
What are Preemergent herbicides?
Herbicides are chemicals that kill plants, and no one herbicide will kill every type of weed. Therefore, it is critical to match the product to the specific issue at hand and follow the instruction on the label. Preemergent herbicides work best when applied before the weeds' seeds germinate.
These chemicals also are designated as residual soil herbicides, and the control provided may last from many weeks to several years, depending on the particular compound, the rate used, and soil characteristics. They are used to control annual grasses and broadleaf weeds, and are applied to the soil, often as dry granules and sometimes as a liquid spray, then watered.
Certain preemergent herbicides require activation within 24 hours; others can wait up to 7 days and still others at 21 days. Again, consult the label for more information and instructions for safe application.
When applying anything in the garden, either organic or industrialized compounds, always keep safety in mind. The safe and legal use of herbicides requires following the printed information provided by the manufacturer or formulator of the chemical.
Near this statement, the gardener will usually find one of the signal words, CAUTION, WARNING, or DANGER. These words are a guide to the user to determine the level of toxicity or danger of the herbicidal product. CAUTION means short term toxicity. WARNING indicates that the herbicide is moderately toxic. DANGER specifies high toxicity, corrosiveness, and inducing irreversible damage to skin and eyes, and death if ingested. The use of protective equipment is highly advisable, particularly when mixing a product or making an application.
A better understanding of pests in the garden, together with frequent monitoring, allows gardeners to maximize their control efforts and minimize the use of a chemical in their backyard. Additionally, these practices will help reduce environmental contamination.
Consequently, an integrated pest management strategy is the best course of action to prevent the germination of weed seed as well as to protect animals and children./span>
- Author: Morris Lacy, Master Gardener
Wintertime can slow work in the garden to a halt. Cool and rainy weather is not conducive to being outside and typically
How about letting your “creative license” take charge and express your inner gardening passions? What is your favorite insect? You know, the one you brag about to other master gardeners that you have in your yard? Whatever it may be, let's walk through a way to showcase it artistically in your garden.
Lady beetles are a favorite of many. These are simple creatures which can be easily painted onto a round-flat rock. Find a rock of appropriate size (3-5 inches wide and 1-1 ½ inches tall). Using leftover latex paint you may have
The Praying Mantis is one of my personal favorites to find living in our
Do you have an old wooden baseball bat hanging around the garage? Or a broken shovel handle that you were saving for a rainy day? Incorporate these items into “flies” – Damsel, Dragon, or Butter! Old fan blades make for good wings on the first two and broken leaf rakes work well for the latter, providing an area to artistically design a color scheme of your own. I will let you figure these out, just remember to use your creative license!
Express yourself while you have time during the slow period of your gardening passion!