Thursday, June 7, 2012

Hail - Nature's pruning

Widespread hailstorms and rain struck the Front Range Colorado area the evening of June 6 from south Denver to Parker and on south to Colorado Springs. Hail sizes ranged from rice grain to one inch sized and even higher. Copious amounts of rain accompanied the storms. In southwest Denver, my garden received 2 inches of rain and rice grain size hail.

The most important action the day after is to stand outside the garden for a post-event look. Check your raingauge and asses the size of the hailstones; pea-sized hail or less is generally not a big problem for plants. Avoid stepping into gardens because wet soil compacts easily. Turn off automatic irrigation systems. Then go away and wait for soil to dry out.

After a few days to a week, pick up detached branches and leaves. Damage to vegetables often looks worse than it really is. These plants are annuals and respond quickly to pruning. When soil dries and it's time to water again, use a low-strength liquid fertilizer to stimulate new growth. Vegetables that are newly established and reduced to sticks may have to be replaced while transplants are still available. It's also early enough to reseed many vegetables. The plants pictured here will recover nicely without replacement.

Patience and waiting for recovery and new growth are the best actions to take following hail events.

Photo credit:  Hail at base of raspberries with set fruit. Hail damage to summer squash and tomato. All credit Carl Wilson

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