Week 23 (9/1/05)
I can’t believe that it’s the first day of September, that this weekend is Labor Day weekend, and that college football has returned. Tonight it’s the UC Bearcats football kickoff, and then it’s Buckeye Football on Saturday. Oh yeah, it’s also turf month, time to plant fall color month, time to buy spring flowering bulbs, and the beginning of the best planting time of the year. And definitely one of my favorite times of the year!
*WHETHER IT’S THE WEATHER – Mother Nature has blessed most of us with some great rainfall this week. Check your rain gauges to see what you received and go from there. Remember, we do not want to have our trees, shrubs and evergreens going into the fall and winter under a drought stress. Just because you may have received 2-3 inches over the past week doesn’t mean your established plants are all set for the fall. It’s a weekly measurement. No rain for the next week or two would put us right back where we were, watering with the sprinklers, Ross Root feeders, etc. Only time will tell, but I will be curious to see what, if any, plant damages occur in the aftermath of this summer’s drought, especially to larger trees, stressed trees, and evergreens. Hopefully natural rainfalls will be with us as we head into the fall season.
[Did you hear about the new support group for people who cannot stop talking? It’s called “On and on Anon”.]
[The Energizer Bunny was arrested and charged with battery.]
*QUESTIONMARK & THE MYSTERIANS – Here are a few gardening questions from this weeks emailed news bag:
“I have clumps of crabgrass here and there in my lawn. I want to seed, but what do I do about the crabgrass?” -Nothing; just slice seed right through it. Or, you can dig it out, or spray Roundup right in the center of the clump and kill it first, then slice seed through it. It is an annual and will die with the first god frost. The best defense against crabgrass is a thick lawn and using a pre emergent crabicide next spring. We’re seeing a lot of crabgrass thanks to the drought and thinning of the lawns. It really steps up to the plate when the grass thins out!
“Our black eyed Susan’s look awful. If we pull them up will they come back next year?” -Don’t pull them up. Shear off all the nasty foliage and throw it away (in case of foliar diseases). They may regrow a bit yet this fall.
“Is now a good time to divide ornamental grasses?” -Nope. That’s best done in the spring.
“I’m harvesting broccoli and it tastes like dirt. Any idea why?” -It’s probably due to the heat (broccoli is a cool season plant). Rita Heikenfeld tells me she picked some kohlrabi last week and it tasted like tin, due to the heat of the summer.
“Can I plant rhododendrons right now?” -Absolutely! Don’t forget, we’re getting into thee best time of the year for planting almost everything!
“I’m seeing a lot of ads for ‘Winter Pansies’. What are they, and do you sell them?” -They are a pansy / viola that have been bred for winter hardiness so you’ll have color all fall, and again next spring. We won’t have pansies / violas labeled ‘Icicle’, as ‘Icicle’ is a branded name used for marketing purposes. America’s Best pansies are the same ones, though, with the same hardiness, same everything, just not labeled ‘Icicle’ ours are called “Winter Survivors”.
[The colder the x-ray table, the more of your body is required on it.]
[The sooner you fall behind, the more time you have to catch up.]
*Now’s the time to stop feeding those roses, those trees and shrubs, those evergreens and groundcovers, etc, to allow them time to slow down, stop growing, and begin to ‘harden off’ and get ready for the winter season. The only feeding now should be for annuals, perennials as needed, tropical plants if needed, and of course, those container grown plants. Be sure to still use a ‘starter fertilizer’ when planting new trees and shrubs, and you can do your ‘fall feeding’ of trees and woody plants AFTER they have started to go or have gone dormant in the fall. It’s also time to stop severe pruning of woody plants, including roses, again to not promote new growth, and allow the existing growth to slow down, stop growing, and begin to ‘harden off’ for the winter. Yes, individual branch removal, light pruning, deadheading as needed, can still be done; just don’t do the severe pruning now on woody plants, or pruning that may promote new growth. Feel free to continue to prune annuals and perennials as needed.
You will find spring blooming bulbs now available at the garden stores. Buy early for a good selection, but plant later in the fall for better growing results. Now is the time for planting mums, asters, pansies, and all those fall favorites.
[What is a free gift? Aren’t all gifts free?]
*MRS. N.’S CONTAINER RECIPES –
[My wife has to be the worst cook. Her specialty is indigestion. –Rodney Dangerfield]
*SEPTEMBER MEANS TURF MONTH! - September is here, that means turf month, and what you do to the lawn this month is the backbone to how well it can perform next year. So, let’s take a look at 3 very important things you should be doing: core aerating, seeding, and feeding.
Now before we can do any of these, we need to make sure the soil has good moisture. If it hasn’t rained, water the lawn a day before for a couple hours. Also, mow it 2 days before, so that it’s at a lower height, and easier to perform our tasks at hand.
Our first project is to core aerate the lawn, using a core aerator. This machine actually removes plugs from the soil, and deposits the plugs on top. These holes help to open up the soil for better water and fertilizer absorption, better airflow to the roots, and helps to loosen heavy compacted soils. This should be done annually if you have lot’s of foot traffic or heavy soils, and can be done spring or fall, as long as the grass is actively growing. By the way, the cores of soil will dry, break down, and return to the soils surface, so leave them be.
Next, we’ll be over seeding to help thicken the lawn, which is one of the best defenses against those pesky weeds. And the best way to do this is using a seed slicer. The seed slicer slices through the existing grass, and deposits the new grass seed into the soil, which is very important for good seed germination. For over seeding existing lawns, be sure use a compatible seed, or the same seed as the existing grass.
Now’s the time for the first fall feeding, so with this lawn, we’ll apply a starter fertilizer. If we had not sown new seed, we would use a high nitrogen fertilizer. This feeding, along with a late fall feeding, are the 2 most important feedings of the entire year.
Then, let’s set up the sprinklers, to make sure we keep good moisture for those new seeds to germinate and get growing. Make sure you keep the soil evenly moist for the next several weeks.
What you do to the lawn now really does determine how well it can perform next year, so get out and take care of your lawn this month!
[Cannibal – someone who is fed up with people.]
*ITS TIME TO SEED! - September is here, and that means turf month! What you do for your lawn in the fall, like core aerating, seeding and feeding, will be the basis to how well it will perform next year. The window for seeding has just opened, so let’s take a look at which grass seed is right for your yard.
The first 2 weeks in September are thee best 2 weeks for seeding, versus any other time the rest of the year. So, you head out to the local garden store to buy some seed, but when you see all these bags, how do you know which is the best to use? Well, here are a couple rules to follow:
If you’re overseeding an existing lawn, use the same type of grass seed growing now, or one that’s compatible. And if you’re not sure what you have, cut a 12 inch square of your turf and take it with you to the garden store. The pros there can help determine what’s growing in your lawn.
In most cases, older lawns are usually a mix of bluegrasses and perennial ryes. This is a mix that’s been around for years. So look for this type of a mix on the seed label.
If your lawn is a bit newer, it may be a type of tall fescue, which is my favorite for our area. Again, you’ll find many types of tall fescues. A blend of tall fescues is the best way to go. And remember, tall fescues are stand alone grasses. It’s them and nothing else, which means you do not sow these into an existing bluegrass / perennial rye lawn.
After sowing new seed, it is important to use a starter fertilizer to help get those seedlings off to a great start. A starter fertilizer will be lower in nitrogen, and higher in phosphorus. Research has shown that this is very important to the success of new seeding, so don’t skip this feeding.
[Eclipse – what an English barber does for a living.]
*TIME FOR THE FIRST FEEDING - Did you know that feeding your lawn in the fall are the most important feedings of the entire season? Feeding in September and again in late fall are the 2 most important feedings for your lawn, and will be the basis of how well your lawn performs next year.
So, now that September is here, which fertilizer do you use? You actually have several choices, but the bottom line is this: If you have a newly seeded lawn or have overseeded the existing lawn, use a starter fertilizer like 11-22-22, or 20-27-5. These are very important for helping to get those new seedlings up and growing and they do a nice job feeding any existing turf.
For established lawns, use a slow release high nitrogen fertilizer, and yes there are many to choose from. That would be Step 4 in the Scott’s 4 Step program, or you could use Super Turf Builder, or use my favorite, Greenview’s Fall Fertilizer. Again, slow release high nitrogen feeding.
And if you prefer a non synthetic lawn food, you can use Hollytone’s Plant food or Milorganite, both of which are all natural fertilizers. Apply your choice of these lawn foods now, and then we’ll look at feeding one last time, around Thanksgiving. Remember, these fall feedings are thee most important feedings for your lawn.
[Avoidable – what a bullfighter tries to do.]
*FROM THE GARDEN TO THE KITCHEN/ HEY RITA WHAT’S COOKIN? –
I had an email yesterday from one of your readers. It went something like this: “Rita, I’m a loyal reader of Ed’s newsletter and because you’ve been such an advocate of growing herbs, I’ve done just that. Now all my herbs are begging to be used. I love the herbal oils at Italian restaurants and also the kind you can buy at gourmet stores. Any chance you have recipes for these to make at home?” But, of course I do! Isn’t it great to know, Yardboy, that our readers are learning to grow and use these healthful plants? That’s why my motto is “The Best Doctor is The Cook!”
RITA’S HERB DIPPING OIL
(Wonderful paired with balsamic vinegar. Add more of any ingredient, to taste.)
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon each fresh herbs or 1 teaspoon dry: minced rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil
Dash red pepper flakes
Pour olive oil into small saucepan or skillet. Add herbs and spice. Slowly cook until garlic is golden but not brown. Do not allow to boil. Pour into shallow bowl and surround with French bread. If desired, pour a bit of balsamic vinegar into the center of the oil, or serve separately. This should be stored in the refrigerator and re-warmed gently.
SPICY PIZZA OIL
(Great to drizzle on pizza just before you pop it in the oven. Fabulous on veggies, fish and poultry, also. Go to taste on the herbs and spices here. You can always add more.)
1 cup olive oil
2 sprigs ea: fresh oregano, basil and thyme (use 2” sprigs of each herb or more to taste)
2 teaspoons whole peppercorns
1/2 to l teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
Pour olive oil into small saucepan. Add herbs and spices. Slowly cook until fragrant. Do not boil. Let cool until room temperature. Strain and refrigerate. Oil may cloud up but will become clear at room temperature.
Tips from Rita’s kitchen: To add garlic, add minced garlic to taste right before you use the oil.
LEMON THYME OIL
(The slightly minty aroma of thyme with a hint of lemon is delicious on poultry, with grains and seafood. Also makes a great oil for salads. Regular thyme can be substituted.)
1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup fresh lemon thyme leaves and stems
1 large lemon
Remove peel (zest) from lemon. Pour olive oil into small saucepan. Add thyme and lemon peel. Slowly cook until fragrant. Do not boil. Let cool until room temperature. Strain and refrigerate. Oil may cloud up but will become clear at room temperature.
-Rita Nader Heikenfeld, CCP / Macy’s Regional Culinary Professional / Herbalist / Author / Local TV and Radio Cooking Expert / Adjunct Professor U.C. Clermont College / Community Press Papers [firstname.lastname@example.org attn: Rita]
[Relief – what trees do in the spring.]
[Did you hear that the first restaurant built on the moon isn’t doing very well? It’s got great food, but no atmosphere.]