Archive for Thursday, November 10, 2005

Seize the (warm) day for late garden tending

November 10, 2005

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The calendar shows it's November, but the weather is more like May. With this in mind, there is still time to complete several tasks in the garden. Before the winter chill sets in and we are locked indoors for the next five months, take time to put the finishing touches on the lawn and garden in preparation for winter. Here are a few tasks to consider completing yet this fall:

Control broadleaf weeds in the lawn and garden. Early November is the most effective time to control many annual and perennial weeds. Dandelions usually produces a flush of new plants in late September, and the winter annual weeds henbit and chickweed germinated in October. These young plants are small and easily controlled with herbicides such as 2,4-D or combination products (Trimec, Weed-B-Gon, Weed-Out) that contain 2,4-D, MCPP and Dicamba. Even established dandelions are more easily controlled now than in the spring because they are actively moving materials from the top portion of the plant to the roots. Herbicides applied now will be taken to the roots and will kill the plant from the bottom up. Spray the weeds on a day that is 50 degrees or warmer. The better the weed is growing, the more weed killer will be moved from the leaves to the roots. Cold temperatures will slow or stop this process. The product Weed Free Zone is a relatively new herbicide that contains the three active ingredients previously mentioned plus carfentrazone. It gives a quicker response than the other products mentioned and will work better when temperatures are below 50 degrees.

After controlling the weeds, make a final application of nitrogen to help beef up turfgrass roots. November is the time to give cool-season lawns the last nitrogen application of the season. Why November? Although top growth has slowed, the grass plants are still manufacturing food by photosynthesis. A November nitrogen application helps boost this process. The carbohydrates that are not used in growth are stored in the crown and other storage tissues in the plant. These carbohydrate reserves help the turfgrass green up earlier in the spring and sustain growth into May. So there will be no need to fertilize in March or April. Those early-spring nitrogen applications are less desirable because they can lead to excessive shoot growth and reduced root growth.

Apply one pound of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of lawn area. For this application, use a quickly available nitrogen source such as urea or ammonium sulfate. As always, sweep up any fertilizer that lands on driveways, sidewalks or streets and reapply it.

Finish by planting spring flowering bulbs. We generally plant hardy bulbs such as tulips and daffodils in October to give them enough time to root before winter. But there is still time to plant them now. As long as the soil temperatures are above 40 degrees, the bulbs should continue to grow roots. Select large, firm bulbs that have not begun to sprout. Plant them in well prepared planting beds that have been amended with organic matter such as peat moss, well-rotted manure or compost. Fertilize with a balanced fertilizer such as 5-10-5 or 6-10-4 at the rate of 2 to 3 pounds per 100 square feet of bed. Mix all amendments thoroughly with the soil before planting the bulbs. The size and species of the bulb determines how deep to plant. In general, the depth to the bottom of the bulb should be about 2 to 3 times the size of the bulb, but check the planting instructions for specific depths for each particular flower.

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