Down the Garden Path
Richard Hentschel, Extension Educator
July has brought us a mild summer with a fair amount of rain. It was not until the end of July that our yards and gardens began to look more typical – drying ground with some cracking showing up as the soil did begin to dry. If you missed some of those weeds, by now they are well established in the beds and take quite a bit of effort to get them out. As a reminder, even if the bed is beyond recovery for this year, DO NOT let those weeds go to seed.
This is a good time to take a weed survey in the lawn and decide if any management is needed. Late summer into fall is a great time to make a weed control treatment if the weeds you find are mostly broadleaved weeds like dandelion for example. A fall treatment allows control of those broadleaved weeds that were already in the lawn this spring as well as those that germinated and grew from seed. The weather has been mild and with the regular rains, there have been continuous germination and growth all season. Fall is also a good time to top-dress and re-seed those bare or thin areas so next year you have a thicker lawn, which will compete better with any weeds.
By now, your landscape plants have just about finished for the growing season and from now on will be sending food reserves into the root system for 2015. Depending on our weather pattern, remember to water newly transplanted trees, shrubs, evergreens and perennial flowers to ensure a good root system and high survival rates getting through the plants first winter. Ornamentals have had a good break this summer from the Japanese beetle. Lack of deep soil moisture last f all and the extreme soil temperatures took out a great many. There still has been some feeding, but much less than in prior years. One exception would be where lawns were well irrigated last summer and fall. More beetles would have survived in that setting. Even if a lawn was well watered does not mean there will be lots of damage in your yard, since the beetle typically flies away to forage on a number of different plants in the area.
Out in the garden, long season crops like onions will be naturally finishing off for the year and you can tell this as onion tops will begin to fall over. You can leave them in the ground for harvest later or on a dry day while the soil is not wet go ahead and dig them up and place them in a cool dry location to cure for storage. Swiss chard will to grow up until we get freezing temperatures, so you can continue to harvest, use, share, and donate for several more weeks. If your garden is at its end for the season, be sure to remove any disease vegetable plant parts from the garden. Diseased plant parts should not be home composted, but rather disposed of in the landscape waste bag that goes on the curb for pick up. Healthy debris can be turned under to add to the organic matter in the garden soil.