Crazy Worms

Crazy worms change the soil, by disrupting the natural decomposition of leaf litter on the forest floor. They turn good soil into grainy, dry worm castings that cannot support the understory plants of our forests. This species arrival has resulted in the drop of population (or disappearance) of other plants, animals and fungi.

Crazy worms in residential and urban areas can also cause harm to ornamental plantings and turf. More than others, crazy worms have a voracious appetite, speedy life cycle and a competitive edge. In fact, in areas with crazy worms there are no other species of earthworm. They can cause long-term effects on the forests which are already under pressure from other invasive insects, plants, pathogens and diseases.

Landscape Protection

Your home insurance policy might cover damage to your landscaping under certain circumstances. A standard policy covers damages to “trees, shrubs and other plants” resulting from fire, lightning, explosion, riot or commotion, vandalism and theft. How much it covers depends on various factors.  Please keep in mind that coverage for landscaping doesn’t apply in every situation. For example, if a severe windstorm brings a large tree crashing down on your house, the insurance will cover removal of the tree and the repairs to the structure. But most policies won’t cover the replacement cost of the tree itself.

For claims involving damage to landscaping, a few companies will cover up to 5 percent of the house’s insured value. Some insurers don’t cover trees and landscaping because of the inability to value landscaping. Its vulnerability makes it difficult to establish a premium. Pay close attention to what your policy promises to cover. Coverage is often limited to $500 per plant, up to 5 percent of the coverage on the home. For instance, a policy of $200,000 on a home would result in $10,000 maximum coverage for landscaping. If you have rare or expensive plants, or trees that have been standing for hundreds of years, you might consider additional coverage tacked onto your home insurance policy that specifically covers your unique landscaping. An endorsement can be added to a standard policy, which increases the per item limit to $1,000 for each tree, shrub, or plant.

Riders that protect against wind, snow and hail are also available. It may be a good investment if you have elaborate landscaping or expensive structures under the ground, such as an irrigation system. Remember, trees ripped out by their roots during storms can damage everything in their path. Protecting the resale value of your home is another good reason to look into additional coverage. Research has found that mature trees on the property could boost a home’s selling price by up to 15 percent.

If you already have significant landscaping damage that is not covered by your home insurance policy, there are other options that might help you recoup some of the loss. When it’s time to file taxes, you might be able to claim a loss on your federal income tax. Before you start the major cleanup and replacement, contact an arborist for an estimate of damages. The estimate will not only help your tax preparer in the spring, but will also give you an idea of the amount of landscaping insurance you might need in the future.

Transpiration

Transpiration is the process by which moisture is carried through plants from roots to small pores on the underside of leaves, where it changes to vapor and is released to the atmosphere. Transpiration is essentially evaporation of water from plant leaves. Transpiration also includes a process called guttation, which is the loss of water in liquid form from the uninjured leaf or stem of the plant, principally through water stomata.

Studies have revealed that about 10 percent of the moisture found in the atmosphere is released by plants through transpiration. The remaining 90 percent is mainly supplied by evaporation from oceans, seas, and other bodies of water (lakes, rivers, streams).

Plants put down roots into the soil to draw water and nutrients up into the stems and leaves. Some of this water is returned to the air by transpiration (when combined with evaporation, the total process is known as evapotranspiration). Transpiration rates vary widely depending on weather conditions, such as temperature, humidity, sunlight availability and intensity, precipitation, soil type and saturation, wind, land slope, and water use and diversion by people. During dry periods, transpiration can contribute to the loss of moisture in the upper soil zone, which can have an effect on vegetation and food-crop fields.

Plant transpiration is pretty much an invisible process, since the water is evaporating from the leaf surfaces, you don’t just go out and see the leaves “sweating”. Just because you can’t see the water doesn’t mean it is not being put into the air, though. During a growing season, a leaf will transpire many times more water than its own weight.

Morning Watering

A heat wave can dry surface soil quickly which dehydrates shallow roots, and water is also lost through leaves in hot weather, so your plants will need a thorough watering. This should be done early in the morning, especially if you use a sprinkler to water, since most water from a sprinkler is lost to wind and evaporation during the hot times of the day. Watering in the morning also prevents heat scald which can damage leaves which are watered while the sun is directly overhead. In extreme hot weather, seed and nursery beds may need a second watering later in the day.

During a heat wave, the need for water conservation is heightened. Hand watering has the advantage of delivering just the right amount of water for each crop. It is also a more efficient method of watering compared to sprinklers, since only the targeted crops are watered. Soaker hoses are ideal since they can be used anytime during the day, because plant leaves are not wetted. Soaker hoses can be placed beneath the mulch to access the soil directly while hidden from view.

Watering in the morning is also a great defense against slugs, since conditions are drier overnight. Fungal diseases are also discouraged. It’s also more pleasant for you to water in the early morning while it’s still cool in the garden.

Perennial Plant of the Year

The Perennial Plant of the Year™ (POY™) program began in 1990 to showcase a perennial that is a standout among its competitors. Perennials chosen are suitable for a wide range of growing climates, require low maintenance, have multiple-season interest, and are relatively pest/disease-free. If you are looking for an excellent perennial for your next landscape project or something reliable for your gardens, make sure to check out the Perennial Plant of the Year™ archive list. For information about other perennials, be sure to search the Plant Database.

Since the Perennial Plant of the Year™ was introduced in 1990, the Perennial Plant Association has received frequent inquiries about how the Perennial Plant of the Year™ is selected. The selection process is quite simple – PPA members vote for the Perennial Plant of the Year™ each summer. At that time, in addition to the vote, each member may also nominate up to two plants for future consideration. The Perennial Plant of the Year™ committee reviews the nominated perennials (more than 400 different perennials are often nominated each year) and selects 3 or 4 perennials to be placed on the ballot.

 

New Moon Gardening

As the New Moon begins to dominate the sky its influence on growing things enters a state of rest and equilibrium. Growth is steady and stable. The growth of vegetation during this time is balanced and constant, providing stability to the plants. Their immune systems are fortified and any plant damage is repaired during this phase of the moon.

This is the perfect time to destroy weeds and for tilling the soil. The New Moon is also the correct moon phase in which to eliminate pests. Prune your plants and mow your lawn now to control and moderate their growth. And is the best time to cultivate, harvest, transplant and prune in your garden. Also, you should apply garden fertilizers during the New Moon. Potassium absorption, which improves the overall strength of a plant, will be peaking now.

Apply organic sprays now to fruit trees for maximum effect on damaging parasites. The New Moon encourages stability in the growth of vegetation and discourages anything that poses a threat to natural maturation. Thus, help nature by stepping up your organic insect control during this moon phase.

Till the soil and add any necessary amendments during the New Moon. This is the perfect time to weed your garden. Some say that weeds removed during this moon phase will never grow back. Also, proper soil preparation in your garden now will allow it to breathe and retain moisture.