HAILSTORM2.jpgYes, folks. It is that time again. Well it may even be a few days late, but it’s time for our Annual Hail Post.

Often we hear about “gardening with wildlife,” “gardening with children,” “gardening with pets,” etc, but here in the Pikes Peak Region, we also have to get used to “gardening with hail.” There has not been a summer that I’ve lived here (over twenty years now) that we haven’t had hail. And most summers, some parts of our region get super severe hail.

June 6 and 7 brought major hail and rain to the section of Colorado Springs near Citadel Mall and just to the north and east of there. News reports showed cars submerged to their windshields in water and hail. Absolutely amazing (and dangerous!). So of course, homeowners in that area lost entire landscapes. Not surprisingly, the post receiving the most hits at this blog this past week is one of our old favorites, “Hail Protection for the Veggie Garden.”So here are some encouraging and helpful reminders for dealing with hail at this point in the season:

Annuals – Trim back to remove the damage and give a light fertilization with a balanced liquid fertilizer (liquid fish emulsion is a good organic, if smelly, choice)

Perennials – Trim back any damage. If you feel any plants are beyond help, buy and plant replacements. But first (!) consider whether the particular plant is just overly prone to hail damage. Plants with big broad leaves, held nearly horizontal to the stem (think hostas) are always going to suffer in any hailstorm. You might want to consider plants that are still suited to the particular site but that have narrower leaves. Ask for help in finding appropriate plants at any of the local garden centers.

Trees & Shrubs – Some trees and shrubs were absolutely stripped of their leaves. If your tree or shrub is new, a light fertilization may help as it puts effort into putting out a second set of leaves, a rare occurrence that takes tremendous energy on the plant’s part. For mature specimens, just wait and see what they do on their own. They’ve probably been through this before. You can remove damaged leaves and branches from shrubs.

Vegetables and Fruit
– Oh…our poor fruit trees. So many of them are loaded with fruit because we didn’t have a late hard freeze this year. But pick and compost any damaged fruit (and we’ll just hope that leaves some for you to harvest later)
– Since it has been just over a week, you should have a pretty good idea which of your vegetables are going to recover. Remove any damaged leaves, and give a light fertilization of a balanced liquid fertilizer. If the plant does not recover, fortunately it is early enough that you can replace many of them. Plants such as green beans, squashes, and cucumbers can be replanted from seed. You will need to buy replacement plants for others – such as tomatoes, peppers, etc. Your local garden center will be happy to help.

Finally, it’s a good time to evaluate your garden and see if you want to replace some plants with more hail-resistant varieties and to see if there are easy ways to provide hail protection for others.

Contributed by Carey Harrington, Certified Colorado Gardener and Colorado Native Plant Master
Photo courtesy kktv.com

Other helpful posts:
Our Annual Hail Post – 2011 Edition
Hail Protection for the Veggie Garden