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Q. My roses are all burned and crispy! Should I cut them all the way back now and strip all the old leaves off?
A. No! Cut all the main stems back about 25% and evenly shape the rose bush. After removing the excessively scorched leaves, you should have some green leaves left that were protected from the summer sun. Clean up the old leaves, flowers or stems that have accumulated under your bush and fertilize it with Dr. Q’s Rose & Flower Food. Water in the fertilizer with a good deep soaking and then add a fresh 1-2 inch layer of Paydirt Organic Mulch. This will help conserve the moisture, reduce weeds and insulate the surface roots. With the cooling weather, you should soon have a new crop of beautiful fall roses that will continue to bloom until the first frost.
(Save the heavy pruning and stripping for December or January to force them into dormancy. This will allow them to store up energy for next years growth.)
Q. Is it getting too late to plant trees this time of year?
A. Definitely not. Fall is the best time to plant fruit or shade trees here. By putting them in the ground now, you give them a head start on next year’s growth. Just because most of these trees go dormant in the winter, doesn’t mean that they stop growing completely. The tops may not do much, but the roots continue to grow all through the cold months, giving the tree a more established root system to handle the new top growth next spring and summer.
Q. What types of vegetables should I plant in my fall garden?
A. Surprisingly, there are many varieties of good cool season vegetables for our area. Leafy crops like cabbage, collards, mustard, kale, lettuce, spinach, broccoli and Brussels sprouts are very good. Root crops like beets, turnips, carrots and radishes are also good. And, then there are peas, onions and many of the herb varieties. For more varieties and information, check out our StarNote #200 – ‘Cool Weather Vegetable Gardening’ available at all of our stores or on our website.
Q. What is the best way to repair my lawn after this summer’s damage?
A. Remove the thatch, or buildup of dead grass and debris, from your lawn. Thatch prevents new seed from rooting properly and robs the existing lawn of vital nutrients and moisture. (Rent a power rake to do the job right.) After this is done, fertilize with our Sod & Seed Starter Fertilizer. If you have a Fescue lawn, over seed the entire lawn with a good fescue blend like Emerald Carpet. If you have Bermuda grass, scalp it and over seed with Perennial rye. All this should be done by the end of October. Once your seed has germinated and you have mowed it at least twice, fertilize it with Dr. Q’s Royal Flush or Winter Gem Fertilizer to keep your lawn looking good through the winter.
Q. With all the rain and humidity we’ve had recently, it seems like the weeds are growing faster then my plants are. What can I do to stop them?
A. You are probably right! With cooler temperatures and the extra moisture, weeds love this time of year. For unwanted weeds and grass around shrubs and trees, use a post emergent herbicide like ‘Round-up’ or Bayer Advanced ‘Dura-Zone’. Be careful, these will hurt desirable plants unless you keep the spray off their leaves and exposed roots! For lawns, spot spray dandelions, spurge and similar weeds with broadleaf weed killers like ‘Weed-B-Gon’ or Bayer ‘All-In-One Weed Killer’. When the weeds are gone, use pre-emergent herbicides like ‘Amaze’ around your trees, shrubs, and flower beds to prevent weeds from sprouting later. And if you are not going to over seed your lawn, you can use ‘Portrait’ pre-emergent to prevent weeds from coming back. (If you are going to over seed, wait until after the new grass has been mowed at least twice before using the pre-emergent.)