I hate to say that fall is coming, but the reality is that fall is coming. With the arrival of fall comes, eventually, the dreaded “W” season. So let’s not dwell on the W season and just figure out what you should be doing now in your gardens.
If you have some space in your vegetable garden, you can plant some crops that you can harvest this fall. Now is a good time to put some pea seeds in the ground. I have had the best luck sowing the seeds in mid-August if I want a good crop of peas. You can also plant beans, lettuce, spinach, beets, carrots, Swiss chard and other leafy greens. By planting these plants from seed, you will enjoy fresh vegetables well into the fall.
If you are planning on patching up spots in your lawn or if you need to do over your lawn, it is important that you do the math and get the seed put down sooner rather than later. It takes about 21 days for grass seed to sprout. It takes about another month to month and a half for the roots of the seed to get established in the soil. As a general rule of thumb, you want to have the seed in place by the end of September. Mid- to late August is a good time to put down your grass seed. The soil is warm, yet days are gradually cooler. The cool nights cause dew to fall, which helps keep the soil moist. There tends to be more rainy days, which means you have to water less often.
Every October, we get people in the store who want to put in grass seed. They want assurances that they can seed and have it sprout and grow. The problem is, at that late date, you are battling the elements. When will we get the first freezing of the ground? When will the first snowfall be and how much will we get, and will it last the rest of the season? It is better to start seeding earlier and have to do a bit more watering rather than wait until late and find out that all the work you did was for nothing.
Your lawn will benefit from an application of fertilizer right now. It has been a harsh growing season. Those two heat waves we had will have damaged some of the root system of your lawn. By applying some fertilizer now, the roots will have a chance to get re-established and your lawn will green up again.
While you are putting down your fertilizer, take a look at your lawn and see if there are any weeds growing in your lawn. Late summer to early fall is an ideal time to control those weeds. If you spray those weeds now and kill them, you will still have time to pull out the dead weeds and reseed those bare spots in your lawn.
Late summer is also the ideal time to control Japanese bamboo. This bamboo was planted as a hedge many, many years ago. It has a tremendous root system that spreads from yard to yard. The plant itself can be 6 to 8 feet tall with round hollow stems. At this time of the year, it forms a flower cluster at the end of the growth. This signals that the plant is ready to pull all the food in the leaves down to the roots. If you spray this plant with a weed killer now, all the weed killer is taken down to the roots and they will be killed.
Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.
Tim Lamprey is the owner of Harbor Garden Center on Route 1 in Salisbury. His website is www.harborgardens.com. Do you have questions for Tim? Send them to email@example.com, and he will answer them in upcoming columns.