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John Fulton

John Fulton
Former County Extension Director

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In The Backyard

Horticulture columns and tips done on a timely basis

Fall Reminders

Posted by John Fulton -

Fall seems to be bearing down on us. The warm days and cooler nights definitely bring to mind the seasons are changing. This week's offering will cover many short topics with reminders, alerts, and the to-do list.

Lawn work can be in high gear. Reseeding or overseeding should be done this week. Use about two pounds of seed per 1000 square feet of lawn for overseeding and twice that for worked up areas. A blend of grasses with Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, and red or chewings fescue is most common. The idea is to get the grass established before freezing weather, and remember bluegrass can take up to a month to germinate. The intrusive operations, such as dethatching and core aeration are also best done at this time.

The last half of September is an ideal time to apply broadleaf weed control for perennial weeds. This will affect young grass, so don't apply any chemicals at this time if you put down new seed. The rule of thumb is you need to mow new grass at least two times before applying broadleaf products. Combinations of 2,4-D, MCPP, and dicamba bought as a premix are most common and broad spectrum. Remember you can get vapor drift with dicamba if temperatures are over 85 degrees or so. It is best to wait later in the month with dicamba to preserve the neighbor's tomatoes.

We are rapidly approaching the time to plant tulips, daffodils, and other spring-flowering bulbs. They should be fall planted before a killing frost. That date is usually about the second week in October in our area. Plant larger bulbs six to eight inches deep, and smaller ones three to four inches deep. Mix into the soil five tablespoons of 10-10-10 fertilizer and two cups of bone meal per 10 square feet of bed area. It is also time to dig summer flowering bulbs such as canna and dahlia as their foliage turns yellow. Store them on layers of sawdust or peat moss in a cool, dry place.

The nuisance pest population is really building up. There are the intrusive pests such as crickets, millipedes, and Asian ladybugs, and the outdoor pests such as syrphid flies, hornets, and mosquitoes. For the ones invading the home, try the foundation sprays of bifenthrin or permethrin to help reduce the number in the home. For the outdoor pests, use repellents containing DEET for mosquitoes. Proper sanitation will help with hornets, and the syrpid flies (which many call sweat bees) are actually beneficial insects eating scale crawlers and aphids.

Harvest pumpkins before the stems turn brown. The heat has really moved things along this year. You should leave at least two inched of stem attached to the pumpkin, and using pruning shears is a great way to harvest pumpkins or squash. Here are some additional tips for pumpkins, even though we are in early September:

  • Choose a pumpkin with a stem and never carry it by the stem. Pumpkins without a stem will not last long.
  • Select a pumpkin with a flat bottom, so it will stand upright
  • Avoid pumpkins with holes, cuts or soft spots. These areas will rot.
  • Light colored pumpkins are easier to carve because the skin is not as hard as darker orange colored ones, but they will not keep as well.
  • Wash the pumpkin with warm water and let it dry before carving. Use of a small amount of dishwashing soap in the warm water may help extend the life of the pumpkin.
  • To make the pumpkin last longer, keep it in a cool place until ready to carve. After carving, coat the cuts with petroleum jelly.
  • Carving should only be done three days ahead of Halloween. After cutting, the pumpkin will deteriorate rapidly.

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