As we march closer to fall, it’s time to think about preparing our landscape for the upcoming rains, cold nights and of course weeds. I thought it would also be a good time to think about tearing out overgrown shrubs and trees to replace them with new plants or the same thing.
Our chapter has always targeted our plant sale for November because it is the best time to plant with the winter rains coming, hopefully. But in a perfect world we can expect rains in January through March. So, what to do? Well, here are a couple of thoughts.
First, its time to take a walk through the garden and look closely at what you have already. Are you happy? Are some plants old and need to be replaced? Take a note pad with you and write down your thoughts. Sometimes I like to do this after work, when I’m feeling relaxed. I look at the yard and think to myself, “What would look really cool here?” This could take weeks, but knowing that the rains are coming, now is the time to, as my Dad used to say ‘Johnny, put your nose to the grindstone’. Second, prepare for the weeds, and this is best done by mulching. There are so many ways to mulch and there are some articles that say mulch can encourage weeds. In my experience, when mulch is applied too thin it is ineffective. A thick layer of three inches will put an end to most annual weeds. Perennials, such as Bermuda grass, will not be controlled with mulch, sorry. Further, it’s important to keep an eye on pests. Many pests will show up when you least expect them. I’m going straight to Neem oil now, with a soap spray every other treatment; very effective for spider mites, thrips and aphids. For loopers, which are prone to attack oaks, I use Bacillus thuringiensis. Spray at night, because it breaks down in the sun. It only controls loopers; therefore, it won’t hurt other insects.
This brings me to my last point. Whenever we spray in the garden, even with Neem oil that is totally organic, we need to watch for bees. If you see bees, the rule is to not spray. Spray late in the day when the bees have returned to their hives. I’ve covered a lot. So until next time, Happy Gardening.
– John Nowak, Plant Sale Chairperson.