The following is from Marsha Overton, University of Illinois Extension, Coles County Master Gardener.
Before I get started on this weeks' article I just want to "Thank" all of you who made this years' "Herb festival" such as success. Also–I believe this year's event had to be one of the nicest as far as weather goes. We were so lucky to be able to have the variety of plants to sell. We really appreciated you stopping by asking questions and purchasing our plants. If there was something you wanted and we did not have, please let us know so we can consider adding it next year. Good luck with all of your plants. If you have any questions please contact us–hopefully we can provide you with the answers.
Well, we finally made it thru April. I sure thought it was a tough month to try and do anything outdoors. One day it would be warm and the next we had our heat back on. One thing is for sure–the weather will only have to get better. Several of our plants got a little "frost-bitten' with the crazy temps –but in all things are turning around.
Several of you have had questions about the trees. Yes several were "frost bitten" and did loose their first round of leaves. But "Mother Nature" is so great–most likely by the time you are reading this your trees will be covered with leaves. Usually we do not notice this second leafing–because the first batch has covered the canopy of the tree.
Although a freeze, especially an unexpected one in late spring, may damage or kill a plant's top growth, its well-insulated root ball in some cases remains healthy and will produce new growth in time. If you have doubts about a plant's ability to recover and rebound, wait a few weeks. You may be pleasantly surprised.
If you're not sure whether a freeze-damaged plant is dead or alive, especially if it's a tree or shrub, perform these quick and reasonably dependable tests: First, check to see whether the young limbs and twigs are pliable by bending them gently. If they snap under the slightest pressure, chances are the plant, or at least that portion of it, is dead. If the limb or twig bends easily without breaking, it will probably bounce back.
Another test is to scratch the bark surface with a knife or thumbnail. If you see green just below the bark layer, that's a good sign. If you see brown, that's bad. In most cases a plant that's dependably hardy in your area will survive a sudden late-spring freeze. It may not look as good as it should for a while, but a little light pruning may make it look a whole lot better. I know we are a very concerned when it comes to our trees.
Did you know? ------that one acre of trees produces enough oxygen for 18 people every day. That a single tree in full leaf, such as an oak, can offer a Sun Protection Factor of 10 to 20.Also, that one acre of trees absorbs enough carbon dioxide during a year's time to equal the amount you produce when you drive your car 26,000 miles? So, yes we love our trees and want to keep them as long as possible.
GARDEN QUESTIONS FOR CENTRAL ILLINOIS
Q) Which herbs are annuals and which are perennials? I am confused over which ones to expect to come up a second year. A) The annual herbs most widely used are anise, dill, summer savory, fennel, coriander, and borage. The perennial herbs include horse-radish, lemon-balm, winter savory, pot marjoram, sage, horehound, mint, tarragon and bee balm. Parsley and caraway are, technically, biennials, but are grown as annuals. All of these grow in full sun and like a well-drained garden soil. Sow annuals as early in the spring as weather permits. Of course you call also grow these herbs in containers.
Q) Can you give me examples of herbs for a kitchen garden? A) These are just some suggestions: Basil, borage, chervil, parsley, summer savory, and sweet marjoram.
Q) Is it true that I need to "rotate" crops in my garden? A) Rotating crops from year to year helps control diseases that over winter in the soil. Do not grow the same vegetable or related vegetables in or near the same location more often than once in three years. Rotate crops from one side of the garden to the other. If your garden is on a slope, plant the rows across rather than up and down. This practice will decrease loss of soil and erosion of gullies during rainstorms. Always check for possible diseases.
Gardening tips for May: Plant tender annuals and herbs near the end of the month. When peonies reach 10 inches, stake or surround with a peony hoop. Allow spring bulb foliage to yellow and wither to produce food for next year. Plant tropical water lilies and lotus when water temperature is over 55 degrees. Begin to harden-off warm season transplants, moving them into a cold frame or other protected area. Over wintered tender annuals or tropicals (such as hibiscus, gardenia, Mandeville, bougainvillea, and geranium) may be pruned, cleaned, fertilized, and gradually introduced to a protected location once night temperatures reach 50 degrees. Houseplants may be gradually moved outside to a protected area.