During a drought, it is important to conserve as much water as possible. Making small changes in our daily routines can go a long way. There are also other things we can do to help reduce the impact of a drought. Watch to learn more about what you should do. More information for residents are available from the Connecticut Institute of Water Resources.
Article by Tom Worthley, UConn Extension
This week on Tuesday, August 4, 2020, a striking example of one of those “severe weather events” we hear about from time to time occurred in CT. Tropical Storm Isaias, is being compared in the media to Super Storm Sandy and other severe storms in 2011 and 2012 in terms of power outages and other impacts from tree failures. Severe winds, downpours and tornado threats all were part of the wicked conditions that ripped limbs from and uprooted trees, downed powerlines and damaged buildings and vehicles. Many parts of our state remain without electrical service while crews clean up downed limbs and restore the lines.
For my part, because of the sudden and severe nature of the winds, and the near-continuous rain of leaves and branches falling, I was as nervous I ever remember being about a storm event and the potential for damage to my humble little house from trees and limbs. Sure enough, one large limb did get ripped off and came down about 20 feet from where my car was parked. While there remains, of course, a mess of smaller twigs, leaves and branches, there’s no real property damage, thank goodness, but it was close. The storm seemed to be over almost as quick as it began, and now, just like many folks around the state, I’m faced with a clean-up task. It’s not a real problem for me; that broken limb is at the edge of the woods and will make a nice neat little pile of firewood. I’ll be able to salvage the tree it came from and make even more firewood and a couple of decent oak saw-logs.
For many people, however, the task of cleaning up storm-damaged trees is not as straight-forward and simple. Storm-damaged trees are fraught with abundant problems, dangers, and risks. Cleaning up and salvaging downed, partially down or damaged trees can be among the most dangerous and risky activities an individual can undertake. It cannot be emphasized enough that without a thorough knowledge of equipment capabilities, safety procedures and methods for dealing with physically stressed trees, an individual should never undertake this type of work on their own. The very characteristics that make the wood from trees great structural material can turn leaning, hanging or down trees into dangerous “booby-traps”. Damaged trees can spring, snap, and move in mysterious ways when people cut them, and can cause serious and life threatening injuries. Just because your neighbor or relative owns a chain saw, it doesn’t make them qualified to tackle a large tree that is uprooted or broken. Contacting a Licensed Arborist, or Certified Forest Practitioner with the right equipment, training, and insurance, is the best alternative for addressing the cleanup and salvage of storm damaged trees, and avoiding potential injury, death, liability and financial loss.
That said, there are a few things a homeowner can do about trees that are damaged and/or causing other damage around a homesite:
- First, from a safe distance note the location of any and all downed utility lines. Always assume that downed wires are charged and do not approach them. Notify the utility company of the situation and do nothing further until they have cleared the area.
- Don’t forget to LOOK UP! While you may be fascinated with examining a downed limb, there may be another one hanging up above by a splinter, ready to drop at any time.
- Once you are confident that no electrocution or other physical danger exists, you can visually survey the scene and perhaps document it with written descriptions and photographs. This will be particularly helpful if a property insurance claim is to be filed. Proving auto or structure damage after a downed tree has been removed is easier if a photo record has been made.
- Take steps to flag off the area or otherwise warn people that potential danger exists.
- Remember that even if a downed tree or limb appears stable, it will be subject to many unnatural stresses and tensions. If you are not familiar with these conditions, do not attempt to cut the tree or limb yourself. Cutting even small branches can cause pieces to release tension and spring back, or cause weight and balance to shift unexpectedly with the potential for serious injury. Call a professional for assistance.
- Under no circumstances, even in the least potentially dangerous situation, ever operate, or allow anyone on your property to operate a chainsaw without thorough knowledge of safe procedures and proper safety equipment, including, at the minimum, hardhat, chaps, eye and hearing protection, safety-toe boots and gloves. A chainsaw injury is not something you put a band-aid on and go back to work. It will be a life-altering experience.
An assessment of the damage to individual trees, or more widespread damage in a forest setting is best undertaken by an individual with professional expertise. Homeowners should contact an arborist to examine trees in yards or near to structures, roads or power lines. A Certified Forester is qualified to evaluate damage in the woods to trees and stands and advise landowners about the suitability of salvage or cleanup operations. The CT-DEEP Forestry Division can provide information about contacting a Certified Forester or Licensed Arborist. Check the DEEP website: https://portal.ct.gov/DEEP/Forestry/Forestry or call 860-424-3630. The CT Tree Protective Association maintains a listing of licensed arborists at their web pages: www.ctpa.org .
While a nice tidy pile of firewood from a tree that was damaged in a storm may be the silver lining, it is not worth the risk of injury to yourself or someone else when tackling a very dangerous task without the proper knowledge, equipment or preparation.
We all love our animals, and practicing good hygiene around animals is an important part of staying healthy. We offer tips on practicing good hygiene while still enjoying our animals. We also demonstrate the proper way to wash your hands.
Facemasks and social distancing have become the norm in all parts of our lives. Farm stands, community supported agriculture (CSA) operations; farmers’ markets and pick-your-own operations have remained open despite the pandemic. However, the operations have changed to adhere to regulations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Before you visit the farm or farmers’ market, there are a few things the farmer wants you to
Wear your mask at all times. We are responsible for the health and safety of our
family, workers, and all of our farm visitors. Everyone must comply.
Minimize the number of people in your group. Although parts of the operation
are outdoors, we still have to follow state and CDC guidelines on the number of
visitors on the farm at one time. Reducing the number of people in your group helps.
Keep your children close at all times. If you do bring your children, make sure
they stay with you the entire time.
Don’t eat at the farm. Do not eat anything at the farm. If it’s a pick-your-own
operation, do not eat any fruit in the field. Wait until you get home, wash the berries
or other produce and then eat it. Do not bring snacks from home to the farm either.
Visit http://www.foodsafety.uconn.edu/ for more information on food safety.
Leave your pets at home. We love our animals too, but in these challenging times
we cannot have them at our farms or farmers’ markets. If someone was sick, they
can increase the spread of disease. Please leave your dogs at home.
Practice physical distancing. Even though we are outside or picking in the field we
need to maintain our physical distances from others. Our farms and markets are
setting up signs and marking areas for physical distancing to the best of our ability.
Please help us out and stay conscious of your proximity to other farm visitors and
Stay home if you feel ill. Please help us keep everyone safe and healthy.
Smile. Even with your facemask on, we’ll know that you’re smiling. We can’t wait to
see you at the farm, and appreciate your continued support.
Although these challenging times have created a new normal for all of us, going to a farm stand, pick-your-own operation or farmers’ market can restore some semblance of normal activity. Farmers want you to visit and purchase products. Crops are ripening daily and we all want to enjoy some Connecticut grown foods. Keep these tips in mind as you visit the farm so we can all enjoy the best that our farms have to offer.
To find a farm operation near you visit http://ctgrownmap.com/.
Article by Stacey Stearns and Nancy Barrett
- Check for spider mites on houseplants by misting plants. If mites are present you will see water droplets clinging to the mite’s webbing. Control them by misting daily to keep humidity high after giving them a thorough drenching in the sink.
- Store your opened bags of fertilizer in a sealed plastic bag or plastic waterproof container with a snugly fitting lid in a dry location to avoid caking.
- Check fruits, vegetables, corms and tubers that you have in storage. Sort out any that show signs of disease and dispose of them.
- Tap evergreen branches gently to remove snow and prevent the branches from breaking. If ice forms on tree and shrub branches, don’t try to break it off – you’ll risk breaking branches. It’s best to let the ice melt naturally.
- Amaryllis bulbs may be started now. If they are established bulbs in old pots, two inches of soil should be removed from the surface and replaced with new potting mix.
- If you have a real Christmas tree, recycle it after the holidays are through. Cut off branches and use them as insulation over perennials. In spring, chip or shred branches to create mulch or add to the compost pile.
- Continue to harvest Brussels sprouts. They’ll typically keep even when buried in snow drifts.
- Don’t walk on frozen grass, especially if there is no snow cover. Without the protection of snow, grass blades are easily broken causing die-back in your lawn.
- Drain the fuel tanks of the lawn mower and any other gas-powered lawn tools. Check the belt and spark plugs, change the oil and sharpen the blades.
- Avoid using sodium salts or fertilizers to melt ice on driveways or walks. When possible use sand or kitty litter. This will help prevent salt damage to plant roots.
- Drain hoses and sprayers before cold weather sets in to prevent them from freezing and bursting.
- Wait to spread winter mulch until after the ground has frozen. Mulching beforehand can delay dormancy and makes a good home for voles.
- Do not store apples or pears with vegetables. The fruits give off ethylene gas which speeds up the breakdown of vegetables and will cause them to develop a strange taste.
- Clean the bird feeders and stock them with birdseed and suet.
- Use small stakes or markers where you’ve planted bulbs or late starting spring plants in the perennial garden, to avoid disturbing them when you begin spring soil preparation.
- Keep mowing your lawn as long as the grass is growing. Meadow voles and field mice may damage turf and nearby trees and shrubs if they have long grass for food and cover.
- Inspect your fruit trees. Remove any mummified remaining fruits, and rake up and dispose of old leaves.
- Protect roses from freezing temperatures by placing bark mulch around the base of rose bushes so that the first part of the stem (nearest the ground) is completely covered or mound with soil and protect with a purchased rose cone. Do this after the ground freezes.
- Clean and fill bird baths regularly and consider a heating unit to provide fresh water throughout the winter.
- Pull stakes and plant supports. Clean them with a 10% bleach solution before storing for the winter.
For more information please visit the UConn Home and Garden Education Center or call 877-486-6271.