Got Hail Damage?

Wild summer storms can discourage home gardeners as well as farmers. The best defense is a good offense by using proper cultural practices – location, watering, fertilizing and pruning techniques – from the beginning of the season. When hail happens, trees, shrubs, perennials, and annuals can successfully survive if the proper maintenance is done after damage.

Trees and Shrubs
Prune off any broken branches caused by hail. Use proper pruning cuts, taking care not to cut into the branch bark ridge. If trees or shrubs were split and large limbs were broken, clean the wounds with a sharp knife or pruning shears. Browned leaves will not turn green. To assess the ex-tent of damage, move up the plant and past the leaves to check how far back dead material extends. Dead twigs will snap. Moving further back on the branch, you can use a knife to scrape the top of the branch to look for live wood. Prune twigs and branches at the point where there is live, green wood. Do not apply paint or wound dressings, but let the wound close naturally. If damage is too great, consider removing the plant.

Continue to inspect branch wounds closely and monitor throughout the growing season. Many wounds will callous over with proper plant watering and maintenance. Be vigilant about spotting Fire Blight if humidity and temperatures (60°F to 85°F and relative humidity above 60%) are conducive to the bacterial growth. A preventative spray of horticultural oil in the spring or fall can reduce overwintering egg casings and spores.

Hail often destroys leaves, but trees may have enough reserves to re-leaf. Because this takes a lot of energy, be sure to give the tree adequate water throughout the summer (approximately one inch per week, depending on species). Applying two to three inches of mulch at the base of the trees but not touching the trunk and shrubs will also help moderate soil temperatures and maintain soil moisture.

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Annual flowers and edibles
Plants that are completely stripped of foliage and have broken stems should be replaced. If less than one-third of the plant remains, it is probably not worth trying to save. Other plants with less damage might be salvaged, but they will need time and care to recover.

  • Trim and remove severely damaged leaves so that the energy of the plant is directed to create new growth. After trimming, spray edibles with a copper-based product available at garden centers.
  • Apply fertilizer to promote growth. Pat Appleby of Canyon Creek Nursery suggests Soil Diva either to spray on foliage or as a soil drench. It will enhance microbial activity to stimulate the plants.
  • Water regularly without stressing plants with too much or too little water.
  • Place new plants between damaged ones to provide instant color in the case of annuals – and to help insure a harvest in the case of edibles.

After a very intense storm, the soil around plants tends to form a crust after it starts to dry out. Use a small hand rake to gently work around those plants and break up that crust so it doesn’t form a hard shell.

Perennials often have secondary buds that will provide new growth following hail damage. Perennials also require optimal care following hail so that they not only survive the current season but gain the health to overwinter and bloom again next season. Trim perennials back as far as the extent of the damage is visible. This also applies to perennial grasses.

Apply fertilizer to provide nutrients that will generate growth.

Do not cut back damaged foliage on bulb flowers such as daffodils and allium. The leaves enable photosynthesis which feeds the bulbs though severe damage may cause less vigorous plants the following year.

Water adequately. Xeric plants may need more water than usual to help them recover more quickly.

Living with Hail
In areas more prone to hail, use a cloth designed to protect plants from hail (or sun). Pat suggests using a 30% block to allow moisture and light to reach plants while protecting them from hail. You can also look for finer-leafed plants such as cosmos which the hail often falls through rather than shreds.

Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado
Ask an expert Cooperative Extension
Colorado public news
Interview with Pat Appleby of Canyon Creek Nursery.

~Submitted by Elizabeth Waddington


Yellowstone Valley Food Hub Update

Efforts to launch the Yellowstone Valley Food Hub continue apace. A sold out Chef’s Dinner at the Moss Mansion featured local foods and local chefs. The Last Chance Pub & Cider Mill hosted a hugely popular kickoff for their fundraising project in early summer. Fundraising is expected to continue, but the successes of this summer means the project is on track for a soft launch of the Food Hub this fall.

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The Yellowstone Valley Citizen’s Council initiated the project to link consumers with fresh, local foods grown in South-Central and Eastern Montana. Now that it’s becoming a reality, local food producers are taking up the reins to run the Hub as a collective of family farmers and ranchers. The Hub is initially planning to supply local restaurants and offer seasonal CSA boxes. The Hub’s space for dry/cold storage of produce and meats will make it easier for local producers to get their products to our tables.

The Yellowstone Valley Food Hub is an exciting development for our area and is the first of its kind in Eastern Montana. We’ll have better access to healthier food that’s traveled fewer miles. A reliable supply of local food will bolster restaurants catering to the foodies among us. We will be able to meet our producers, understand how the food was raised, and support our community with our food purchases. Food Hub producers are frequently concerned about methods, promoting minimal use of pesticides and emphasizing ethical and humane care of animals. The Food Hub is a win all around and I’m looking forward to all that it will bring our community.

If you’d like to contribute to the Yellowstone Valley Food Hub, you can donate at https:// For more information, you can contact Annika Charter-Williams at 406-259-1103.

Submitted by Kris Glenn

Importance of Polinators

When people think of pollinators they usually think of bees, but small mammals (including bats), birds, butterflies, moths, flies, beetles, and even wasps all contribute to the web of life through pollination. These animals are part of this magnificent partnership with plants and we are too. Of course there would be no pollinators without plants to pollinate, so we can use our love of gardening to take an active role in this beautiful dance of life by learning as much as we can to understand how it all works and using this knowledge to increase not only the pleasures of gardening in our own back yards (and our front yards!) and beyond, but also to intentionally and actively play a role in contributing to their survival, and in turn, ours. Knowledge is power.

We could not survive without plants. Plants feed us, and the animals that feed us. Plants provide the oxygen we breath. They stabilize and enrich the soil in which they grow, help keep our waters clear and feed and shelter the wildlife all around us. Pollinators are crucial to the reproduction of most of those plants and are directly responsible for a third of our food. Flowering plants reproduce through the transfer of pollen from the male part of a flower (the stamen) to the female part (the stigma) which then produces seeds. More than 75% of all flowering plants rely on animals for pollination, and thus, their reproduction. Conversely, those same pollinators rely on plants for their survival.

We are all tied together in this intricate ecological community. The ways we can contribute are myriad, but do not have to be difficult. As Master Gardeners, we are uniquely positioned to consciously harness our knowledge and passion for gardening to protect our pollinators and improve the quality of our lives and our community. We can plant whole pollinator gardens (and register them with the Million Pollinator Gardener Challenge ( ) like the Amend Park Community Garden did) or simply incorporate the types of plants that most benefit our local pollinators, bearing in mind that native animals evolved with and are most adapted to native plants. Remember too, that those nasty caterpillars eating our flowers and veggies (and feeding our birds) turn into beautiful butterflies, so try to share a little with them. I beg the caterpillars on my roses everyday not to eat too much! Use your valuable knowledge of Integrated Pest Management to limit your use of chemicals whenever possible. When planting for bees, remember to include plants that flower at different times during the growing season and try to plant in groupings of the same plant if possible. Experiment with plants that attract a variety of pollinators and always share what you’ve learned with your fellow master gardeners. Check your field guides, the library, the extension website, and the cornucopia of other websites on the topic for ideas and specifics.

We don’t have to re-landscape our yards to help our pollinators; the sum of the small changes we all make together in our approach to gardening can make a powerful difference in our quality of life now and the future. downloads/60284.pdf Goulsen, Dave. A Buzz in the Meadow. New York: Picador, 2014 Tallamy, Douglas W. Bringing Nature Home. Portland: Timber Press, 2007

~Submitted by Ann McKean


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