~ September 10, 2008 ~
Perfect? Well, It's Close...
Could it possibly be that Mother Nature has surprised us with an early fall? It sure
feels that way. I was a little frightened by the low temperature of 46° yesterday
morning. Brrr... I know that 46° is not that cold but I guess it depends on who you
talk to. I am a fair weather gal. I prefer the temperatures to be in the mid 65's
to low 70's this time of year. I know what you're thinking... Well sure who doesn't?
I was ready for jeans and sweatshirts, not winter coats.
It has been wet outside so I have been limited in starting some of the things I would like to
get accomplished this fall. More rain is expected tomorrow and into Friday. Good news
for all of you who have newly planted grass seed. If you find
that your seed is not germinating as quickly as it has in the past don't be alarmed.
The ground is still good and warm and will provide the seed with the warmth it needs.
The perfect scenario would be a few warm, sunny days mixed in as well. There I go
again, asking for perfect growing conditions. I am a demanding gardener.
Mulch Ado About Trees...
Fall is a great time to plant a tree. Keeping it alive is an
all-season affair. Mulching is so important for new trees but
it's not as simple as dumping a bag of wood chips at the base of
a tree. Here are some tips to help you avoid the most common mistakes:
pile mulch around the trunk. This keeps the trunk wet, which
can allow diseases and insects to invade. Keep the mulch at
least 6 inches from the trunk.
put on too little or too much. A 1-inch-deep layer doesn't do
the job. A settled depth of 3 to 5 inches gives you the full
benefits of mulch, including good weed control. Mulch depths
of a foot or two are excessive and may smother roots.
apply sour-smelling mulch. If it smells like a litter box it's
probably been stored on a waterlogged site. The ammonia that
builds in this situation can harm your tree. Sour mulch is a
rare occurrence, but your nose will give you a clear warning of
use freshly chipped chips. While the chance of disease
transmission is small it's easy to go zero-risk by aging
chips for six weeks or more before using them around your
Continue Mosquito Control...
In case you haven't noticed, mosquitoes
continue to be present in large numbers and will continue to pose
a threat right up until our first hard frost. Limiting their
breeding area is one of the most effective ways to keep their
numbers in check. Mosquitoes can breed in very small
amounts of standing water, sometimes even in water collected on a
plastic bag or under a small saucer under a plant. Change water
in birdbaths and pets water dishes regularly - at least twice a
Counting On Crickets...
The temperatures are dropping but how much? I guess you
could be a traditionalist and look at a thermometer. Or you
could show your savvy by listening to the crickets. Seriously.
Count the number of chirps a common cricket makes during a
15-second period. Add 40 to the number of chirps. The total
will be pretty close to the actual temperature in Fahrenheit.
Planting Perennials Properly...
Fall is here and that means we're planting perennials at our
house. By planting perennials now Savvygardeners will benefit
from the plant establishing a strong root structure during the
autumn months. This in turn leads to a bigger, healthier plant
Perennials are generally sold in pots or bare-root. Here are the steps to
follow when planting a bare root perennial:
the plant from its package, and carefully remove all loose
packing material (peat moss and sawdust are commonly used).
- Soak the
roots in a bucket of water for 5 to 10 minutes.
the root system, and trim away any rotted, moldy, broken or
elongated roots with a sharp knife or your pruning shears.
- Dig a
hole deep and wide enough to allow the roots to fan out from
the crown at about 45° angle. It sometimes helps to make a
cone-shaped mound of soil in the bottom of the hole and spread
the roots around it. Remember, the crown of most perennials
should be roughly level with the surrounding ground.
the roots with soil and press down firmly. Make sure all the
roots - especially those under the crown are in contact with
the plant well and add a layer of mulch.
Last week we told readers when to pick apples. This week
we'll share with you how long you can store them. Not
surprisingly some cultivars can be stored longer than others.
Some can be stored for as long as eight months and still be
tasty and crispy. The approximate length of time of those
that keep well under refrigerated conditions follows:
For best results:
only the best quality
- Pick as they are first maturing
- Avoid skin breaks, disease or insect
damage, and bruises on individual fruit.
- Store in a plastic bag to help retain
moisture in the apples. The bag should have a few small
holes for air exchange. The bags of apples may be stored in
boxes to prevent bruising if they must be stacked or moved
from time to time.
- Refrigerate at about 35º F.
- Sort about every 30 to 40 days to remove
fruit that may be beginning to rot.
We saw our hummingbird friends again this year but next year we'd like to see even more!
If you're looking for plants that are likely to attract
hummingbirds consider planting these this fall:
A Dandy Time to Stop Dandelions...
So, all summer long you've been battling a few (or a few
dozen) dandelions for control of your lawn. Well, they say the
best way to control dandelions and other broad-leaf weeds is by
maintaining a lush, healthy turf. But you've still got to knock
out those pesky weeds that just won't go away and fall is a great
time to do it. Options are many but generally the most effective
controls result with a liquid broadleaf weed herbicide sprayed
under these conditions:
weeds are actively growing.
moisture is plentiful (never in drought).
temperatures are between 60°and 75°F (never above 80°).
speeds are below 5 mph.
- The lawn
will not receive moisture through rain or irrigation for at
least 24 hours.
- The lawn
will not be mowed for several days before or after the
person doing the applying reads and follows herbicide label
"Why are wildflowers so important to those of us who care
at all for flowers? For me, anyway, it is because they come
like gifts from God (or Nature), and to encounter them in
their natural habitat is an extraordinary aesthetic pleasure."
~ Katherine S. White