Posts tagged tips

Strip poker and how long does skin take to freeze?

   Not much gardening happening in this weather. But no matter what takes you outdoors, precautions should be followed when it gets this cold.

   Radio station Z-102.9 had an on-air “strip poker” game this morning. The loser had to run outside with whatever clothes she was left wearing. Not the best example for kids sitting at home in another day off from school.

  Hopefully school children have better sense.

 

  The Iowa Department of Public Health offered the following advice for cold weather safety:  

 

   According to the National Weather Service, wind chills will range statewide from 30 to 40 below zero overnight and tomorrow morning when people will be going to work and children will be going to school. In those conditions, exposed skin could freeze within 10 minutes.

    It is best to stay inside if possible, but if you must be outdoors during these extreme conditions, it is very important to protect yourself against frostbite.

   Cover all skin, including hands, head and ears, neck and face, if going outdoors for any length of time, even if only for a few minutes.

Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and a grayish color in affected areas. It most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, or toes. Frostbite can permanently damage the skin, causing scarring, and severe cases can lead to amputation. Signs of frostbite include a white or grayish-yellow skin area, skin that feels unusually firm or waxy, or numbness. A person is often unaware of frostbite until someone else points it out because the frozen tissues are numb.

   If you must be outside for any length of time, make sure you check yourself and your children for these signs. If your skin shows these signs of freezing, go into a warm place immediately. Warm up frozen/chilled skin by pressing against normal temperature skin (put frozen fingers in armpits). Do not massage frozen/chilled skin, do not rub with snow, or place hot items against skin as this could cause more damage. Seek medical attention if skin does not quickly return to normal color or pain occurs and continues.

More information on frostbite can be found at www.idph.state.ia.us/adper/common/pdf/winter_weather/frostbite_factsheet.pdf.

 

  And from St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids:

 

   According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hypothermia occurs when the body temperature falls below 95 degrees.

    Nearly 600 Americans die each year from hypothermia.

 

Victims of hypothermia are most often:

– Elderly people with inadequate food, clothing, or heating

– Babies sleeping in cold bedrooms

– Children left unattended

– Adults under the influence of alcohol

– Mentally ill individuals

– People who remain outdoors for long periods

Symptoms of hypothermia for infants include bright red, cold skin and very low energy.

For adults, symptoms include:

           Shivering/exhaustion

           Confusion/fumbling hands

           Memory loss/slurred speech

           Drowsiness

Frostbite is injury to the body caused by freezing that causes a loss of feeling and color in affected areas.

It most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, or toes. Frostbite can permanently damage the body and severe cases can lead to amputation.

At the first signs of redness or pain in any skin area, get out of the cold or protect any exposed skin. Frostbite may be beginning.

Any of the following signs may indicate frostbite:

           A white or grayish-yellow skin area

           Skin that feels unusually firm or waxy

           Numbness

Hypothermia is a medical emergency and frostbite should be evaluated by a health care provider.

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Eco-debate: real vs. fake

  Throw another log in the annual debate about which is better for the environment: an artificial tree or a real Christmas tree. Living Christmas trees are also an option in Iowa.

   Linn County Master Gardener Gene Frye has some experience in that arena. Frye’s wife was given a potted 2-foot-tall white spruce one year that they used for their Christmas tree.

   After the season, Frye kept the potted tree in his basement, keeping it semi-watered. Once the weather warms, the trees can be kept outdoors in their pots. More watering is necessary when they are outdoors.

   Frye said the tree was used for Christmas for a couple years until he planted it outside. Now the spruce is about 30 feet tall.

   If you want to keep the tree in its pot from year to year, Frye suggested bringing it indoors for the winter. Because conifers don’t go completely dormant, they could dehydrate if left outdoors in a small pot with frozen soil.

   Frye advocated finding a large spot to plant the tree when you are ready to transplant it. Early spring is the best time to transplant conifers in Iowa. For fall planting, late August through September is the best time to transplant conifers.

 

   Find more on the real vs. fake Christmas tree debate, as well as eco-friendly holiday tips in the Sunday, Dec. 14 issue of The Gazette.

 

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Tree planting tips

The following is from Linn County Master Gardener Claire Smith:

 

Oh! The weather outside is delightful!   It’s so great to work in the yard now that it’s a bit cooler and less buggy.  The latest project is creating a stenciled board on the front of a new flower bed that says “Welcome to the Farm.”  Granddaughter Catie will be creatively adding flowers, leaves, butterflies and dragonflies. 

However, as I sat there painting, I couldn’t help but notice that the maple tree in the waterway looks pretty shabby.  We won’t be able to prune it until early winter. Some larger dead branches and some crossovers will need to come out.  The tree is a case of planting a wonderful tree in the wrong location!  Constantly soggy roots were not conducive to a healthy tree and we may need to replace this one.

As mentioned previously,  fall is a good time to plant a tree.  Choose wisely when purchasing one.  Avoid those amazing bargains.  Use a reputable nursery’s stock and investigate the guarantee prior to writing your check.  It’s a good idea to plant a balled or burlap wrapped tree in the fall.  Even a container tree should be o.k.  and will experience less stress than an open rooted specimen.  Ask about the tree’s adult height:  perhaps a dwarf model would better suit your location than a tree that may reach a height of 50-60 feet.  Plant the tree as soon as possible.  Dig the hole two to three times the diameter of the root ball.  The burlap will rot in the ground but remember to remove any rope or stakes. Water the tree well and keep the tree moist even into the winter.   Your tree needs to adapt to the soil in which you’re planting it so don’t amend the soil.  Amending the soil may create unwanted air pockets and prevent water from penetrating onto the roots.  Three or four inches of good organic mulch around, but not up against the trunk, will help to retain moisture

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Mowing tips

   The amount of rainfall we’ve received in Eastern Iowa this weekend alone has been incredible. For homeowners who like a green lawn, it’s a boon. Personally, I don’t mind letting my lawn go dormant to save on the weekly chore of mowing, but it doesn’t look like that will happen anytime soon.

 

   Richard Jauron, of Iowa State University’s Department of Horticulture, offers the following tips for those of us who will once again be getting the mowers out this week:

 

   Sound mowing practices are important during the summer months. Kentucky bluegrass lawns should be mowed at a height of 3 to 3.5 inches during the summer months. (During cool weather in spring and fall, bluegrass lawns should be mowed at a height of 2.5 to 3 inches.) The additional leaf area during summer shades and cools the crowns of the turfgrass plants. Extremely high temperatures at crown level can kill the turfgrass.

When mowing the lawn, never remove more than one-third of the total leaf area at any one time. Accordingly, a lawn being mowed at a height of 3 inches should be cut when it reaches a height of 4.5 inches. Removing more than one-third of the leaf area weakens the turfgrass and reduces its ability to withstand additional environmental stresses. Weakened turf is also more likely to be invaded by weeds.

If possible, mow in the cool of the morning or evening. Mowing at midday may place additional stress on the turf. Also, make sure the mower blade is sharp. Dull blades tear and bruise the leaf tips.

Dormant lawns (those that have turned brown) should not be mowed. Pedestrian and mower traffic could damage the turf.
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

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Coping with the floods

For our out-of-state readers who haven’t heard, floods have been threatening homes and disrupting lives in Iowa this week, with the situation worsening as of today in Cedar Rapids.

 

Once the floodwaters recede, we can hopefully carry on with our lives, including the peace we gain in our gardens.

 

With that in mind, nationally known garden expert Melinda Myers, who visited Iowa earlier this year during the Winter Gardening Fair, offers gardeners advice for dealing with flood damage…

 

As flood waters recede and homeowners, finding themselves a bit overwhelmed, move their attention from wet basements to their landscapes, Myers recommends the following:

 

Assess the damage, manage hazards, and wait for the soil to dry. Then be sure to manage early plantings of food crops safely by washing produce exposed to flood waters.  And play it safe by discarding any garden produce exposed to raw sewage as it can be hazardous to your health. Next, repair damaged soil, and watch for signs of flood damage-induced problems that may appear later in the season such as root rot or pest infestations.

 

Assess damage and manage hazards immediately.  Look to certified arborists (tree care professionals) to help with pruning and removal of hazardous branches and trees.  They have the skill, equipment and expertise to do the job safely and properly.

 

Most trees can usually withstand a week or less of flood conditions. More than this and you will start seeing leaves yellow and curl, branches die and extended periods of standing water can cause death for some trees. 

 

In the garden, seedlings and young transplants may have been killed or washed away. If this is the case, wait for the soil to dry before replanting. Early season crops such as leaf lettuce, spinach and radishes should be washed before eating and no garden produce exposed to raw sewage should be consumed.

 

Soil will also have an impact. When it is caked on the leaves of plants, it can block sunlight, preventing the plants from photosynthesizing (making needed energy) and the leaves can eventually yellow and die. Once the landscape dries out a bit, you can gently wash off any soil stuck on the leaves. Additionally, soil has been adversely affected by the floods. The water logged soil kills many of the micro organisms that help create a healthy soil foundation. The pounding rains and dislodged soil particles can add to soil compaction. Be sure to wait for the soil to dry before you start the rebuilding process.  Adding organic matter such as peat moss and compost will help add needed micro-organisms and start the rebuilding process. 

 

“If your new plantings were washed away and gardens flooded, the good news is that there is still time to plant. If the damage is more extensive, try containers this summer as you rebuild the landscape,” said Myers. “And if you were lucky enough to escape damage – help a friend.  A few flowers can bring a smile in less than 15 seconds and your waterlogged gardening friends may just need a bit of garden relief.”

 

For additional gardening tips, garden podcasts, videos and more, visit www.melindamyers.com

 

Myers, best known for her practical, gardener-friendly approach to gardening, has more than 25 years of horticultural experience in both hands-on and instructional settings. She has a master’s degree in horticulture, is a certified arborist, and was a horticulture instructor with tenure. Myers shares her expertise through a variety of media outlets.

She is the author of numerous gardening books, including “Can’t Miss Small Space Gardening.” She hosts “Great Lakes Gardener,” seen on PBS stations throughout the United States and “Melinda’s Garden Moments,” which air on

network television stations throughout the country. She also appears

regularly as a guest expert on various national and local television and radio shows. She writes the twice monthly “Gardeners’ Questions” newspaper column and is a contributing editor and columnist for Birds & Blooms and Backyard Living magazines. In addition, she has written articles for Better

Homes and Gardens and Fine Gardening. Myers also hosted “The Plant Doctor”

radio program for over 20 years.

 

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