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Tom's Monthly Gotta-Do's


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We have got to do a lot of weeding and pruning. Take it from a guy who has just spent hours in the yard hoeing, pulling and killing weeds then doing the trimming. It is amazing how well the unwanted greenery grows during the rainy season. Add some nutrients from mulches, compost, manures and fertilizers and you have out of control plants.

Some weeds can be spot-killed with herbicides. Most gardeners are familiar with the capabilities of Roundup and similar products that allow use under and near many plants for weed control. Regretfully there is no product to selectively take weeds out of thick established plantings. But there is one for grass control. Check out the Ortho Grass B Gon product. It allows spraying over the top of many broadleaf plants listed on the label to remove grassy weeds. Always follow the label carefully.

When herbicides are not an option, we are busy removing the weeds manually. Some like Cuban purple woodsorrel have bulb-like portions under ground. Where possible try to dig these out. I know it is a chore but it could save lots of work in the future.

Now is the time to reign in out of control limbs and shoots too. Some like the yaupon holly trees, oaks and even crape myrtles send up lots of suckers. There is a Sucker Stopper product on the market and this may help for trees that are on the label. Otherwise you hand prune them or use a string trimmer to cut them down.

Where limbs need to be trimmed back, follow good pruning procedures. Avoid haphazardly cutting or shearing them back to size. Instead, cut them back to buds along the stems, branch angles or back to the trunk or even the ground.

The idea with most pruning is to keep the good natural shape of the plant. For some plants major pruning time is over and these include azaleas, gardenias and camellias. An out of bounds shoot or two might be removed but that is about it.

When you are done with the weeding and pruning I have a list of Tom’s Gotta Do’s that have been keeping me busy – how about you?

Tom's Gotta-do's for October, 2012
Lawn Care:
Weeds have invaded many lawns; control with appropriate herbicides or replace with new sod.
Most lawns are looking good after the rainy season; give care now to continue growth.
Fill bare spots in lawns left from summer pests with sod or plugs.
Seeding time for bahiagrass if over; delay rye seedings until late November.
Lawn feeding time has arrived; use a low phosphorus product made for your lawn type
Lawns fed earlier may only need an iron or minor nutrient application to maintain their green.
Chinch bugs and sod webworms can linger into fall; control as needed
Water turf when it shows signs of moisture stress.
Use soil aeration in compacted and poorly drained soils to encourage better root growth.
Rake out brown leaf blades but delay thatch removal until spring.
Vegetable & Tree Care:
Tomato planting time is about over; select large transplants for the garden.
Remove all declining crops and weeds left from summer.
Plant the warm season vegetables during early October; cool season types later in the month.
Gardeners cramped for space can grow vegetables in containers.
Start seeds for transplants of broccoli, cauliflower and similar vegetables in containers.
Stay alert for caterpillars, aphids and leaf miners; control with natural insecticides.
Trellis or stake all tall growing vegetables to help keep them pest free and easy to harvest.
Add a mulch to the surface of the soil to conserve moisture and keep vegetables dirt free.
Groom summer weary herb plantings and start new ones that prefer the cooler weather.
Install microsprinklers in gardens to water efficiently and conserve water.
Most vegetables need a moist soil; water when the surface soil begins to dry to the touch.
Feed in ground vegetables every 3 to 4 weeks; container gardens weekly.
Fruit splitting on citrus trees is normal and may continue into the fall.
Give citrus a final feeding of the year during early October.
Delay pruning all fruit plantings until mid to late winter.
Landscape Care:
Scale insects have been heavy this year. Check plants and treat as needed.
Many plants have grown out of bounds; complete needed pruning early in the month.
Give hedges a final trimming.
Remove suckers and low limbs from trees.
Give palms and shrubs a final feeding of the year.
Use a slow release fertilizer that can feed in ground and container planting for months.
Crape myrtles are dropping their leaves which is normal as they go dormant.
Poinsettia and azalea pruning time is over for this year except for out of bounds shoots.
Shield poinsettias from nighttime lights starting mid month.
The dry season is ahead; moisten only as needed to conserve water.
Most established trees and shrubs can go a week or more between waterings.
Check container plantings for plugged drainage holes; repotting may be needed.
Maintain a mulch under trees and shrubs; start the mulch several inches from trunks.
Add fall plants to hanging baskets and container gardens.
Edge sidewalks and plant beds.
Replace soil in problem flower beds and planters.
Foliage & house plant care:
Many foliage plants have grown too large for their containers; repot as needed.
Groom outdoor foliage plants and begin moving them to a warm location.
Control insects on plants before moving them indoors.
Begin forcing amaryllis and paper white narcissus for indoor displays.
Obtain new plants for the home.
Remove declining foliage and faded flowers from home and patio plants.
Reduce watering of holiday cactuses to when the surface soil is dry and stop feedings.
Make sure poinsettias, holiday cactuses and kalanchoes receive no nighttime light.
Feed plants in bright light monthly.
Water when the surface soil begins to feel dry to the touch.

October 2012 Plantings

Flowers: African daisy, alyssum, angelonia, ageratum, begonia, black-eyed Susan, blue daze, calendula, candytuft, celosia, chrysanthemums, cleome, coleus, cornflower, cosmos, dianthus, dusty miller, gaillardia, gazania, geraniums, gerbera, heliotrope, hollyhock, impatiens, larkspur, lobelia, nicotiana, pentas, petunia, salvia, snapdragon, sunflower,
sweet pea, verbena and zinnia.

Vegetables: Beet, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, celery, collards, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, onion, peas, potato, radicchio, radish, rhubarb, roquette, rutabaga, spinach, strawberry, Swiss chard and turnip.

Herbs: Anise, basil, bay laurel, borage, cardamom, chervil, chives, coriander, dill, fennel, garlic, lavender, lemon balm, lovage, mint, nasturtium, oregano, rosemary, sage, sweet marjoram, tarragon, thyme and water cress.

Bulbs: African lily, agapanthus, amaryllis, anemone, bulbine, calla, crinum, day lily, gingers, gladiolus, pineapple lily, rain lily, society garlic, spider lilies, walking iris, watsonia. Refrigerate crocus, daffodils, hyacinth, narcissus and tulips for forcing.

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