Thursday, September 6, 2012

September: A Time of Change in the Garden

 Hello again,

Good gardening friend Paul Parent of the Paul Parent Garden Club sends out a great newsletter every week with pertinent gardening topics. I encourage you to go to his website to sign up for his newsletter. Paul can also be heard every Sunday morning from 6 AM to 10 AM at his website or at WBACH (104.7 FM) every Sunday morning from 6 AM to 9 AM.

Paul recently sent out some great material relating to September Garden Tasks!

"We have now lost over 2 hours of daylight every day, and the way we garden must change in the days to come. If we are going to solve problems around our yard we must act fast, and some of the traditional ways we have been gardening need to change also. The fall season is a wonderful time to get back into the garden after all of the heat of summer. This is a season of planting fall flowers; our shrubs and trees will soon be changing the color of their foliage, changing the landscape around us, and we will be planning for next spring by planting Dutch flower bulbs. This is also the best time of the year to repair or even plant a new lawn from seed around the house. So here is a check list of things for you to do in your yard during my favorite time of the year, the season known as fall.

Let's start with the lawn, because we want our lawn to be "the best on the street" and fall is the best time to make it happen. Begin by walking on your lawn and examining it closely so you know what you have to do. Do you have broad leaf weeds, crabgrass, or insect problems? If so, here is what you have to do. Broadleaf weeds can now be controlled with a product like Weed Beater by Bonide now that the 85 degree days are behind us. If you're still experiencing hot weather, wait or the products could hurt your good grass. 

Remember not to cut your lawn for at least 3 to 4 days before applying the product and the same after you have applied it, so the product has a large leaf surface from the weed to absorb the product for better results. Tough weeds like clover, creeping Charley, and ajuga should get a second application 7 to 10 days later to destroy these very strong lawn weeds. Keep the kids and pets off the grass until it has dried completely. No rain or irrigation for 24 hours after you apply the product so it has time to get into the plant and kill it.

Crabgrass is a big problem right now and no weed killer will kill the plant as it is mature and making seed for next year. What you HAVE to do is let the grass grow a bit taller than normal so the crabgrass plant can develop long stems that hold the seed heads. Each crabgrass plant can make 500 plus seeds and when you mow the grass consider bagging the grass clippings as they are full of seeds for next year. If you do not have a mower with a bag attachment borrow your neighbor's lawn mower or you will spread the seed all over your lawn making it a worse problem for next spring. If you're beginning to notice a red coloration in your lawn, you have crabgrass growing in it and it is making seeds, so bag it up and dispose of the clippings with the trash; do not put your clippings in your compost pile, as composting will not kill these seeds.

Insects are still active in your lawn and if you're beginning to notice birds digging in your lawn, or irregular shaped dead patches in the lawn, it could be Japanese beetle grubs damage. This will soon be followed by skunks or raccoons digging up your lawn in large patches--just like a farmer tills his fields. It is too late for the traditional products like Season Long Grub Control or Grub-X, because the season is coming to an end and they will not work with the cooler weather ahead of us now. (At Skillin’s we recommend applying the all natural Milky Spore bacteria for best long-term grub control).

This is the best time of the year and MOST EFFECTIVE time to kill Japanese bamboo--while it is in flower. The plant is now full of upright broom-like white flower clusters. When this happens all the reserve energy normally stored in the roots is on the top of the plant making flowers that will in the weeks to come become new seeds for even more Japanese bamboo plants for your yard. Because all the energy is out of the roots, the weed killers you apply can travel from the foliage directly to the roots and can kill 75% or more of the existing plant. Use Kleen Up by Bonide now; repeat in a week to 10 days and watch the plant slowly turn brown and DIE! Applying these products during the growing season is not effective--only now! This spraying of the plant will also make the seeds sterile and they will not germinate, so if you're going to do only one thing in the garden this week let it be this. Do not cut it down until late October or in the spring.

In the rose garden I want you to STOP fertilizing your plants for the year! This will cause the plant to prepare itself for the winter months and build strong and thick tissue instead of new succulent growth. Your plants will continue to flower if you water regularly with 3 to 5 gallons of water per week and cut back the faded flowers to just above the third set of leaf that has 5 segments to it. By October build a mound of bark mulch 12 to 15 inches high and just as wide to insulate the graft on all your grafted roses for added winter protection. The only roses you do not have to do this to are your Rosa Rugosa or beach roses.

What your roses will need is a good spraying now--and again in 2 to 3 weeks--to control insect and disease with products like Bayer Advanced Insect, Disease and Mite control or Bonide Rose RX 3 in 1 spray. Once the foliage drops from the plant, be sure to remove it and keep your rose bed clean of infected foliage to prevent problem next year. Your rose bush will continue to flower as long as the weather stays mild; it is not uncommon to have roses in bloom well into November if cared for properly.

Fall is also the best time to kill moss growing in your lawn and garden. Most garden centers have moss killers that you can apply now and the grass growing around it will fill in the space in the weeks to come. Now that the moss is dead you should still add limestone, wood ash from your stoves, fire pits, or Fast Acting Lime to reduce the acidity level in your soil, which will help prevent future growth of new moss plants where you just killed them. As you clean up your garden, be sure to add lime, wood ash, or Magic-Cal to keep the soil sweet and productive. Your vegetable garden will become more productive; lilacs love a sweet soil and the plant can make more fragrant flowers. Also clematis vines love lime for the same reason--so start creating a better environment for your plants to grow.

Newly planted shrubs and trees should also be fertilized with an organic plant food for slow feeding of the plant until the ground freezes. Chemical fertilizers like 10.10.10 could force new growth if we have a mild and moist fall, while organic fertilizers feed slowly and most of this fertilizer is stored in the roots of the plant to help keep it strong during the winter and a give a quick start-up when spring weather arrives. Use Plant-Tone for deciduous plants and Holly-Tone for all evergreens. After you cut back your perennials for the season, you can also apply organic plant foods to help keep them strong for the cold weather ahead, do not use the stronger chemicals for the same reason.

Any tree you planted this year that is over 6 feet tall should also be staked with a tree support kit to prevent wind damage during the winter months. If you planted fruit frees, be sure to wrap the trunk of the plant from the ground up to the first branch with Hardware cloth to prevent mouse, rabbit and other animal damage during the winter. Push the wire into the ground a couple of inches and leave an inch of space between the wire and the trunk of the tree to prevent animals from eating the bark of the plant when the snow gets deep."

Thanks Paul Parent!

Mike Skillin
Skillin's Greenhouses
September 6, 2012

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