NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

September 25, 2013

Tim's Tips: Time to seed lawn, pull up plants

Tim's Tips
Tim Lamprey

---- — It’s hard to believe that September is coming to a close. Here are a few things that you should be doing around your home.

The end of September is generally thought of as the date by which you should have seeded your lawn. It takes about 21 days for the grass seed to sprout and about a month for the seed to get established before the ground freezes. There have been any number of years when the ground freezes late, but there have also been years when the ground freezes early. It is better to be safe than sorry and get that grass seed down sooner rather than later.

Many of you have had vegetable gardens this year. In many cases, the plants have gone by, and it is time to pull up the plants. It has also been a year that many of you had fungus diseases on your plants. Once the fungus-infected leaves die, the disease forms spores. Spores are like eggs that can over-winter on the dead leaves and also on the soil.

If you have plants that were infected with fungus diseases, you don’t want to leave those plants in the garden over the winter. Doing so will create conditions that will allow those spores to over-winter in your garden. Come planting time in the spring, the spores will be splashed up onto your new plants by rain or by you watering your plants. Remove all those diseased plants and dispose of the plants.

You can compost the plants, but the compost pile must heat up enough, or the spores will survive and the compost will then be infected with the spores of the disease. If you can’t dispose of the plants, bury them somewhere in your yard, but not in any of your gardens. You also want to make sure that any dead leaves or infected vegetables are not left on the ground. These can harbor spores, as well.

Fall is also a good time to lime your soil. If you didn’t lime your lawn and gardens this spring, you may need to do so this fall. You can purchase a pH test kit and test your soil to see if you need to apply lime.

This past weekend, many people came in to the store and told us that the skunks are digging up the lawn. This generally means that the skunks have found grubs in the lawn.

Now is the time to treat your lawn for grubs. Most of the grubs hatched from eggs laid by the Japanese beetles this past summer. If you kill the grubs this fall, you won’t have to apply a grub control in the spring. There are organic options for grub control. A product called Milky Spore will kill the grubs, and it will continue to work in your soil for 10 years or more.

The sooner you apply a grub control, the sooner the skunks will stop digging up your lawn and the less likely that the dog will make a new friend out in the yard.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.

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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 ndn@newburyportnews.com, and he will answer them in upcoming columns.