Time again to respond to several questions that have been coming to the Extension Office this fall.
Q. How is the best way to handle newly planted trees and evergreens for the winter?
A: Our weather this fall has really been great for the establishment of trees, shrubs and evergreens recently planted and those planted last spring. As a general rule it will take a year for every inch of trunk diameter for shade trees and upright evergreens to recover from being transplanted.
Deciduous trees have a little easier time during the winter months without leaves compared to needle and broad leaved evergreens so a little more care should be taken as winter approaches. Moisture loss through the needles and foliage occurs all winter long. The winter sun and drying winter winds are the culprits.
Before you drain and wind up the garden hose for winter storage, be sure to water all your transplants since spring, especially the evergreens. Without adequate soil moisture those plants will show signs of needle and leaf desiccation. If severe enough bud and twig dieback next spring will be evident. If your plants are in a more exposed area, consider a temporary screen to slow down the winter wind. The screen does not have to be elaborate or fancy, just a structure that slows the wind, lessening the water loss.
Q: What's up with all the mushrooms in the yard this year?
A: We can blame the wet spring and fall if you want. Mushrooms feed on dead organic matter and that can be the excessive thatch in the lawn, bark mulches in the landscape beds and all those decaying roots from the many thousands of ash trees taken by the Emerald Ash Borer. Our area is old enough now that those roots have begun to rot below the surface. This will go on for several years. If the stumps were left it is common to see mushrooms growing at the stump base too. There is nothing we can do except letter nature take its course.
Q: Are there more Box Elder bugs this year, seems like it.
A: Our fall weather pattern has allowed them to continue to roam, looking for the best crack and crevice to overwinter so we are seeing them everywhere yet, especially if you live near wooded areas. On a cooler day with the sun out, they gather by the thousands on the sunny side of a building or tree trunks. The longer they able to be mobile the greater chances of them finding a way into our home. Eventually once under the siding they begin to migrate towards the warmer inside wall and emerge to be found on the drapes, walls and windows. This is not their natural habitat and will exhaust any stored food and die. So are there more than usual, probably not.
Q: What is the best time to take a soil test for the vegetable garden?
A: The preferred time is at the end of the gardening season. Testing in the fall allowed any organic matter applied or fertilizers to react with the soil profile during the growing season and will be read by the testing giving a good accurate accounting of available nutrition for the next growing season.