Monday, September 21, 2009

Three Months Of Enjoying The Garden

By Keith Markensen

Crabgrass is in its prime during August, particularly in the southern part of the East, and will soon be producing seeds by the millions. Although it's much better to kill it in the spring when it's merely a seedling, it can be prevented from seeding by the use of one or two chemicals.

Crabgrass killer sold under a number of trade names can be sprayed on the grass before it goes to seed and even though it may not kill the crabgrass, which it is supposed to do, it should prevent seed production. Once in a while it misreads the label, apparently, and damages the blue-grass. But if you are desperate you have to take a chance.

Other materials sold under various trade names can be put on with a fertilizer spreader. Don't forget that these chemicals have to be put on before the crabgrass goes to seed or it will not be worth applying. Unfortunately there is enough seed left near the surface of the ground to keep coming up for the next three or possibly four years so that the program must be carried on for this length of time to completely rid your lawn of crabgrass.

Good Value in Peat

One concern that I know, selling peat moss in small packages, tells me that most of their customers pass up an excellent grade of peat moss which they have for sale and buy a vastly inferior grade because it's darker. In much the same way whenever you find some products being sold as humus they will be very black, very finely powdered and vastly inferior to peat either as a soil conditioner or for growing plants. Actually quite a bit of the humus offered for sale is nothing but muck or sometimes the muck and low grade peat found above the better quality in our peat bogs. Just the same way many gardeners feel that the black soil is a rich soil and that woods soil is the best in the world.

Actually when organic matter is decomposed to the extent that it is almost coal black and powdery it has lost a large part of its value for gardening. So don't be afraid to buy the light colored peats. They should run from 85 to almost a hundred per cent organic matter which is what you are paying for whereas low grade peat and mucks will run as low as 50 per cent and seldom over 75 per cent organic content.

You can have practically three months extra enjoyment from your garden next spring by ordering spring flowering bulbs now. I particularly like the very early spring bulbs, including snowdrops, winter aconites, glory-of-the-snow (Chionodoxa) in its several forms; squills including Siberian, English, and Spanish; grape hyacinths in their several different forms that are late as well as spring blooming.

Pansies for Spring

If you have never grown your own pansies, look online for pansy seedlings, order them for early September delivery. If you will mix about one part peat to two parts soil, preferably in a cold frame and set the seedlings four inches apart you should have magnificent pansies to set out in your garden next spring. Depending on how severe your climate, you want to give them a few inches, at most, of straw mulch over winter.

If your yard gets as dry as mine during August you want to plan to put on equivalent of one inch of rainfall per week even you are in a vacation, it is good to have a vacation watering system to keep your plants healthy. We adjust our irrigation system to have good coverage during the hot summer or a water plants vacation.

All of the books and bulletins tell us that we should start our new lawns in the fall, but they forget to tell us how we can get Mother Nature to put down the necessary rainfall. It's true that you will have weed-free lawns if you will seed them in the early fall, but the problem is to have enough moisture to get your seed to germinate and grow. If you are going to plant seed this fall, start getting your fertilizer now and all the saw dust (fresh or weathered ) or peat moss that you can lay your hands on to rototill into the top four inches of soil unless you have marvelous top soil. Throughout this entire area Kentucky bluegrass is still the best lawn grass or you may prefer to use a slightly superior strain. You will only need a pound to a thousand square feet if you will mix it with a pail of sand and scatter it both ways or use a fertilizer spreader to distribute the seed.

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