Prepare now for spring [UPDATED]Published 1:40pm Monday, October 8, 2012 Updated 3:41pm Monday, October 8, 2012
If you are not a “Martha”, that is your flowers must be in a nice tidy row, now is the time to seed a few annuals. There are quite a few that will readily come back next spring if seeded now.Harbor
A few: marigolds, cleome, annual larkspur, phlox, moss roses, poppies, gloriosa daises, some types of verbena, cosmos, alyssum, cherry tomatoes and asters.
The asters will not look like the hybrids but are still quite attractive. Just sprinkle the seeds on the soil and very lightly cover them.
If you have religiously irrigated your lawn this summer, now is the time to fertilize, kill perennial weeds like creeping Charlie, mow the grass short and aerate if it needs it.
If, however, your lawn is more the color of the Sahara desert, don’t do any of those things.
Keep mowing the grass 3 to 3.5 inches, if you mow at all.
You may have to mow to reduce the weed population. Even aerating can damage a dry lawn. Spraying weeds in a dry lawn is an exercise in futility.
It only works when the weeds are actively growing, not when they are hunkering down hoping you will not notice.
What you can do is fertilize with a slow release nitrogen fertilizer.
You can also spot seed providing you can keep the newly seeded areas damp.
Now is a good time to plant potted trees before the soil temperature drops below 40.
Water any tree planted in the last five years and any of your mature trees that show signs of stress or disease. If the tree dropped its leaves long before its neighbors, for instance, it’s probably dry.
It drops leaves because they lose water to the atmosphere.
Remember the roots of trees are about a third wider than the drip line. Don’t just wave the hose at a tree, water until the soil feels squishy when you walk on it.
If, by a miracle, we get an inch of rain a week, you can stop watering.
If you need to fertilize your conifers, you can do that now before the ground freezes.
Wait to fertilize your deciduous trees till spring, or, between the time it is fully leafed out and before it starts to change color in the fall.
Any good grass fertilizer will do for deciduous trees but conifers need an acid one.
You can prune oaks and elms now but leave any other trees till spring, or in the case of apples, February.
You can hardly wait to get the step ladder out with three feet of snow on the ground to prune your apples, can you?
Bev Johnson is a master gardener in Otter Tail County.