Garden Questions

Garden Questions of the Week

“With this cold weather, can I stop mowing the lawn?” -NO, unless it stops growing, you need to keep mowing. Granted this will slow it down a bit, but as long as it keeps growing, you keep mowing. Remember- once you do stop mowing, feed the lawn its last fall feeding, and then go have your mower serviced!

“I haven’t planted my spring bulbs yet! Now with this cold weather, is it too late?” -Not at all! Now is a great time to plant. As a matter of fact, you can plant all this month and next and even into December if needed. But sooner the better. Don’t forget to plant a few in containers to over winter in the garage and have for ‘portable’ pots of spring colors next spring.

“What are the rose bushes I’m seeing right now that are red and in full bloom this late inn the season?” -Knockout roses, and last year, a few still had flowers past Thanksgiving!

“When can I dig my cannas and dahlias up for the winter?” -Once the heavy frosts take out the foliage, dig them up, clean them up (remove foliage and soil), and store them in a dark, dry, cool place 45-50 degrees. Plastic crates, cardboard boxes, etc make for good storage containers. Newspaper, dry peat, perlite, sawdust etc are good materials to store the bulbs in.

“It’s almost November; time to cut back my roses now?” -Absolutely not. Rake up fallen leaves, but do not cut the roses back yet. We’re still a long way from putting these roses to bed for the winter. I’ll let you know when the time is right.

“When is the best time to cut back my Butterfly Bush, spring, or fall?” – Either way works. If you like what you see now, leave it alone for the winter and cut it back in the spring. If you don’t want that look over the winter, cut it back later on this fall. Not now, it’s too early.

“Is it okay to let Mother Nature and her frosts take care of the weeds that are in my beds this late in the year? I’m tired of pulling weeds!” -You can, but then they’ll just be waiting to start re-growing next spring. Don’t give up on weeds this fall, especially the tough. If they’re growing, you need to keep after them. Hand pulling still works. Or spray them with Roundup; for even better action, add a little Spreader Sticker to it. This helps the Roundup stick right to the foliage for better control. Get rid of weeds now for a cleaner start next spring. And don’t forget to use Preen one last time to keep those winter annual seeds like chickweed and henbit from ever getting started.

“Do you know how to distinguish an Asian from the other Lady Beetles?” -They have dots or black markings on the back of the head that form an “M”. Look closely next time you see a Lady Beetle. Hey, did you know that the Lady Bug (or Lady Beetle) is Ohio’s state insect? There are over 450 species found in North America. Did you know that the Black Racer is the Ohio state reptile? Of course, you know “Hang on Sloop” is the state rock song, but do you know the state beverage? It’s tomato juice!

“I heard you saying that it’s better to NOT have grass growing around the base of a tree. Why’s that?” -Well, research has shown that grass around the base of a tree can actually compete with trees (especially newly planted ones) for nutrients and water, and will slow down their growth rate. And, having grass around the base of a tree also sets the tree up for possible lawn mower damages (mowing and nicking the tree) and long term string trimmer damages (string trimming around the base of the tree). So if you have grass growing around the base, get rid of it and replace with a nicely mulched area. Remember to mulch 1-3 inches deep, and never place the mulch against the trunk of the tree. When finished mulching, your mulch ring should look like a donut! Speaking of mulching, be sure to lightly mulch around newly planted trees and shrubs after planting. But if you’re winter mulching, don’t do that until the ground temperatures dip close to 40 or into the 30’s. The idea is to keep the soil at that temperature throughout the winter. We’ll talk more about that at a later date.

“When is the time to apply WiltStop on my evergreens for added winter protection?” WiltStop is an all natural anti-dessicant that helps to seal moisture inside evergreen needles and leaves to help protect against moisture loss and winter burn. But it’s too early to apply WiltStop. We’ll do this later in the fall, possibly around early to mid December. We can also use it to help winterize the rose canes, again later this fall.

“I would like to use the leaves I collect for winter mulching or for adding to the soil. But I need them to be ground up in smaller pieces. Any suggestions how to grind them up?” -If you’re collecting whole leaves, simply place them in an empty garbage can, a few at a time, get out the string trimmer, and use it like a food blender. It’ll chop those leaves into small pieces, perfect for the garden and for mulching. Make sure you use eye protectors when doing this, and do be careful!

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Ron Wilson

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