23September 29, 2016

It looks like we are finally going to get those rainy days that we desperately need. If you listen closely, you may hear your plants applauding!

As the days get shorter, your tomato plants will have less sun to help to ripen those remaining tomatoes. You can help in the ripening process by keeping up with fertilizing your tomato plants. This is critically important if you are growing your tomato plants in containers. Remember; keep fertilizing those tomato plants until the frost kills the plants.

Fall is a good time to apply lime to your lawn. As I have said many times in this column, weeds in your lawn can be a sign that the soil is too acidic for the grass to be able to force out the weeds. Fall is also a good time to fertilize your lawn. An application of an organic fertilizer in the fall will nourish the roots and allow the roots to repair the damage caused by the dry summer. Both the lime and the fertilizer will need water to activate them in the soil. If you apply them before it rains, you will get the benefit of natural irrigation.

In the last week, I have talked to many customers who have had skunks digging in their lawn. This usually means that the skunks are feeding on grubs in the soil. Since we didn’t have too many Japanese beetles this summer, you would assume that there would be few, if any, eggs being laid in the grass. Yet, the skunks are finding grubs so some eggs were obviously laid in the lawn.  If the skunks are digging in your lawn, an application of grub control now will kill the grubs before they can do more damage to the roots of your lawn.

Once your vegetable garden is done for the year, make sure to remove the dead plants and any old vegetables and leaves that may be on the ground. If you leave the plants through the winter, many insects can over winter on the dead plants. Old vegetables may harbor diseases and the leaves that remain on the ground may be covered with fungus spores. Spores are the “ eggs” of the diseases that will infect your plants in 2017. Once the entire cleanup is done, add some lime to the soil. As a final step, spread some winter rye seed on top of the soil. Winter rye is a cover crop for your garden. The seed will sprout this fall and cover the soil with the blades of the rye grass. This helps to hold the soil in places if we get an open winter. In the spring, the winter rye is dug up and turned into the soil. This provides lots of organic matter to the soil and it will release nutrients into the soil.

You still have time to plant some spring flowering bulbs in your gardens. The bulbs of tulips, daffodils, crocus and hyacinth must be planted in the fall if you want them to flower in the spring. It is a fairly easy project to do if you plant the bulbs in clusters of 5 to 10 bulbs. If you have never done this before, it is really easy to do. For the last few years, the bulb industry has promoted the project of planting spring flowering bulbs as “ Dig, Drop, Done.”

Well that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.

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