25September 21, 2011

The calendar says that fall arrives this week. The weather has bounced around from hot to cold this past week. Maybe the calendar knows something we don’t want to know or maybe want to admit!

The cooling weather means that it is time to begin to prepare our lawn and gardens for that next season that we really don’t want to talk about.

Let’s start with your lawn. If you have not applied lime to your lawn this year, then fall is the time to apply lime. If you are not sure how much to apply, you can buy a ph kit and run a soil test. The test kit is easy to use and will tell you how acidic the soil is in your yard. Once you know how acidic the soil is, you can apply the correct amount of lime to the soil. Weeds grow very well in an acidic environment. Grass does not do so well in an acid soil. Enough said.

You should fertilize your lawn in the fall. The fall feeding of your lawn is probably the most important feeding of the year. The fall feeding helps to boost the growth of roots and those roots store food for future growth of the blades of grass. Come the spring, as the soil warms, the roots begin to push up new blades of grass. This thickens up the lawn and can help to force weeds out of your lawn. Your lawn literally grows faster than the weeds can grow in your lawn.

If you have not applied a grub control to your lawn this fall, please make sure to do so. The Japanese beetles were very active this summer. All of the eggs that were laid during the summer have now hatched and the grubs are feeding on the roots of your lawn. If you stop by the store, we can make sure to get you the correct control method for this time of the year.

Your final lawn chore of the fall is to make sure that the grass is cut short once the grass stops growing in the fall. If you leave the lawn with long blades of grass, the grass will mat down and fungus diseases will kill the grass come late winter/early spring.

Let’s take some time to talk about your yard.

If you planted trees this year, you need to install a tree staking kit on each tree. These kits are designed to stabilize the tree. This process allows the tree to get a strong root system out into the soil. If the tree is allowed to sway in the wind, the newly formed roots are snapped off in the soil. This will then make it harder for the tree to take up water and nutrients now and for years to come.  If you planted any trees that are fruit trees or related flowering trees, the bark of the tree becomes a food to hungry rodents during the winter months. You should apply a tree wrap to the trunk of the tree. This prevents the rodents from chewing off the bark. Once the bark has been chewed off all around the trunk, the tree cannot take up food and water. The tree will die if this happens. This is one of those easy fall chores that can save you a lot of money if you needed to replace the tree.

The perennial beds will benefit from an application of lime and an application of superphosphate. The superphosphate will help to develop a stronger root system this fall and the extra phosphorous will help to develop more flowers in the spring. As the frost kills off the plants, prune out the dead growth and compost the plants. Dead plants left in the garden give the insects and fungus diseases a place to live for the winter.

Once your vegetable garden goes by, you should also pull up and compost the plants. This is done to keep insect and fungus diseases from having a place to spend the winter. Once the plants are out of the ground, apply some lime. Fall is also a good time to add some compost to the soil.  Vegetable gardens will benefit from what is known as a cover crop. A cover crop is a seed that is applied to the surface of the soil. The seed sprouts and the roots help to hold the soil in place during fall and spring rains. The top growth that is put up will be tilled back into the soil in the spring. This adds valuable organic matter to the soil.

Well, I probably have forgotten a few things, but if I have, you can be sure that I will fill you in during the weeks to come.

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

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