It has been two and one-half years since Gladys and I started writing these articles. The first one appeared on March 6, 2004. A year later a paper published in Grand Island began carrying our writings. My high school English teacher lives here in Lincoln and I am tempted to send him one of my articles for grading. I hope I would get a better grade now than I did in high school in 1950.

          I have had a number of people say they read our articles every week, and some have even told us that they cut them out and file them for reference.  Your support and encouragement is greatly appreciated. If you have suggestions as to topics or people to contact to write a guest article, please let us know.

          The article today will be a little different than previous writings.  I want to summarize some of the suggestions we have given you over the past two and one-half years. I have put them under, DO this fall and DO NOT do this fall but wait until winter or next spring. 


          DO get out a notebook and write down what worked and what didn’t.  What flowers really bloomed this year for you, and what were your disasters?  Write it down. What varieties of vegetables did well and what didn’t? Write it down. I have a hard time remembering in the spring which tomatoes I planted where last year and which ones did really good. You also might want to write down where you got a particular seed or plant so you can go back next year. Did you plant a new shrub or tree this year? Write down the kind of tree or shrub, the cultivar, and where purchased.


          The first thing to DO this fall is to clean up and discard old and diseased leaves and foliage.  Insects and diseases overwinter in old leaves and stems left in the garden.  Iris borers overwinter in the old dead leaves. Blackspot can overwinter in the dead rose leaves and foliage left in the bed. DO NOT put any diseased leaves and plant material in your compost where it can overwinter. For a healthy and productive garden next year, clean up this fall.  


          DO spray those weeds in your lawn after the first light frost, especially ground ivy, henbit, clover, dandelions, and other broadleaf weeds. You will probably need two to three applications of a weed killer (“Trimec”, “Weed Free Zone”, or “Weed-B-Gone II”). Next week I will have a detailed article on “FALL WEED CONTROL”.  

          DO NOT worry about the crabgrass in your yard as it is an annual and will die with the first hard frost.  Control it next spring with an application of Crabgrass Preventer (pre-emergent). If you follow my “Lawn Care by Holidays”, the pre-emergent goes on about Arbor Day which is the last part of April. DO NOT put the pre-emergent on too early as it has a residual of only about 60 to 90 days, depending upon which product you use.  DO put on a second application the first couple weeks in June to control late germinating weeds like foxtail and spurge.

          DO put on a fall fertilizer about Labor Day and a winter fertilizer sometime between Halloween and Thanksgiving. If you fertilize your lawn only once or twice a year, these two are the most important. The more you fertilize in the spring, the more likely you will have disease and insect problems later in the summer.  DO NOT put the winter fertilizer on too early or you will loose the effectiveness of the special winterizer formulation.


          DO NOT fertilize trees, shrubs, roses, perennials, and pond plants after the middle of August. The plants need to begin getting ready to go dormant, not put on new growth. Any new growth produced will probably not mature and harden off, and thus winter kill if we have a normal winter. DO fertilize in the spring. Tree spikes are not recommended as they fertilize only a small area. Trees in the middle of a yard do not usually need any extra fertilization as they are getting more than enough from the lawn fertilizer.


          DO NOT prune most spring blooming shrubs such as lilac, forsythia, bridal wreath spirea, and flowering almond in the fall. If you prune these shrubs now you will be cutting off the flowers for next year. Prune these and most other spring blooming shrubs, right after they bloom. Lilac, Forsythia and Bridal Wreath Spirea are pruned by taking out the biggest, oldest canes all the way to the ground. Remove about 1/4th to 1/3rd of the total number of canes. This will reduce the height of the plant and open it up. This method also helps to control insect damage and borers as they like the old, weak canes. Also by pruning you have a new shrub every 3 to 4 years and more flowering throughout the shrub, not just on top.

          Magnolia trees and shrubs need very little pruning.  Remove only dead wood in the spring. Your Butterfly Bush may be pruned this fall after it goes dormant, or you can wait and see what winter kills and prune next spring. Your hybrid tea, grandiflora, Old English (David Austin), and floribunda roses bloom on new wood so they can be pruned after a couple hard freezes (temperatures in the lower 20’s or colder). Only prune enough so they do not whip in the wind. DO NOT prune most climbing roses as they bloom on old wood. Pruning now will remove flowers for next year.  Next spring prune only those canes that winter killed.

          DO NOT prune fruit trees, most deciduous trees (ones that lose their leaves in the fall), and most conifers (evergreen) trees and shrubs after the first week in August. Pruning stimulates new growth and this new growth will not mature and harden off before winter so will probably winter kill. Deciduous trees and shrubs can be pruned after they have lost all their leaves. The best time to prune fruit trees and deciduous trees is in late February or early March. 

          Conifers (evergreen) can be pruned, if needed, after you are sure they have gone dormant, which will be after a couple hard freezes (temps in the low 20’s). Pruned in mid-December the branches of conifers are good for Christmas arrangements and wreaths and the tree will do better.


          DO spray your indoor plants with insecticidal soap or a contact insecticide containing carbaryl (Sevin), permethrin (Eight), pyrethrins, or bifenthrin (Ortho Max) before you bring them inside. Wait a day or so for the bugs to die and drop off outside. DO use “2% Systemic Insecticide” at the same time.  This is a systemic insecticide that is put on the soil and worked into the top inch, then watered in. Systemic means that the chemical will go down into the soil and into the roots, and then up into the plant. Insect eggs are in the soil and will hatch out after the plant is brought indoors. The young insects will be killed when they chew or suck on the foliage. Most systemic insecticides have a residual of about 30 days so repeat applications all winter is needed.  DO follow label directions!!!

          DO have a good week and take care of your garden and plants.

Copyright 2006