It is time again for my annual reminder. I have found that the more I do in the fall, the better it is for most plants, and the easier it is in the spring. Also, I have found that the better I prepare my flower garden, my vegetable garden, my lawn, my trees and shrubs for winter, the healthier they are in the spring. Many diseases and insects over winter in the debris from dead leaves and flowers in your garden and so they need to be removed. These are some of the things you can do:

        Get out a notebook and write down what worked and what didnít this year. What flowers really bloomed for you and what were disasters? Write it down. I have a hard time remembering in the spring which tomatoes I planted where last year and which ones really did well. I also write down which row in the vegetable garden had what kind of plant. Every year I try to rotate and move things over one or two rows. You might also want to write down where you got the plant or seed that did very well so you can go back next year.  Make a note of any particular productive or unsatisfactory varieties of vegetables that you planted this year. Such information can be very useful when planning next years' garden. I drew a map of my garden and the 13 rows. Each year I write in what I planted where. It really helps as next spring I wonít remember but can turn to my record.

        Did you plant a new shrub or tree this year? Write down the kind of tree or shrub, the cultivar, where purchased, and where planted. Be sure and save that tag that came with the tree or shrub. I also have a drawing saved in my computer of my rose bed with the name of each rose. Without that map I canít seem to remember what the names are.

        Remove any diseased or insect infested plant material from your garden, as it may harbor over-wintering stages of disease or insect pests. If you leave this plant material in your garden, you are leaving diseases and insects which will begin to reproduce again next spring and add to next years' pest problem. Do not put these in your compost pile.

        Be sure to keep strawberry and raspberry beds weed free. Every weed you pull now will help make weeding much easier next spring.

        Reduce peony botrytis blight and hollyhock rust by removing and disposing of all old leaves and stems this fall. Do not put any diseased leaves and plant material in your compost. Removal will reduce the carryover of the diseases during the winter and you will have less trouble next year. Apply a copper fungicide (Bordeaux) to the peony bed after stems are cut and removed, and again in the Spring when new shoots are about 1 to 2 inches high. Either liquid or dust is ok.

        Inspect trees and shrubs for bagworm capsules. Remove and destroy them to reduce next year's pest population. Do not just put the bags in the garbage can. If the eggs hatch and the worms crawl out, they will climb back into the tree or shrub. Destroy the worms and eggs by soaking the bagworms in a pail of water for an hour or so. Or step on the bags so the eggs are destroyed.

        Remove all mummified fruit from fruit trees and rake up leaves, twigs, and fruit on the ground and dispose of them in the trash to help control disease. Do not put any diseased leaves and plant material in your compost. Good sanitation reduces reinfestation of insects and diseases the following season.

        Iris borers overwinter in the old leaves and stems left in the garden and 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 and cause problems next year.

        Make sure tender plants have proper amount of mulch, straw, pine needles, etc. to protect plants for the winter.

        Make sure tender plants have proper amount of mulch, straw, pine needles, etc. to protect plants for the winter. I usually put mine on after the first hard frost. You can put it on too early.

        After the first light frost, dig up or spray those weeds in your lawn, especially ground ivy, henbit, clover, and dandelions. Apply Trimec (Earl May Lawn Weed Killer or Weed-Be-Gone II), Clopyralid, or Triclopyr (Earl May Super Brush Killer). Super Trimec (Earl May Super Brush Killer), works best on those weeds. It is the same as Trimec only stronger. Also, Trimec must be applied when air temps are 60 degrees F. or higher to be effective, while Super Trimec (Earl May Super Brush Killer) may be applied when air temps are 45-50 degrees F. or higher so works better than Trimec in the cool days of late fall and early spring.

         Any of the products listed above needs to be applied 2 to 3 times, 7 to 10 days apart, for maximum effectiveness. One application usually is not enough for control. . These products will not kill your grass when applied according to label instructions. Make sure you read the label and the list of active ingredients to see what the weed killer contains. Remember, Glysophate (Kleen-up, Round-up, Kills All) will kill your grass as well as the weeds. Always follow the manufacturerís recommendations because more is not better. Be careful you donít kill your flowers, shrubs, and trees as well as the weeds. Weeds destroyed now will not go to seed early next spring. Many weeds sprayed next spring will usually still set seeds and those seeds may germinate next summer or next fall. Most weeds have a waxy surface so be sure and use a sticker-spreader (Turbo or Acme Sticker Spreader) to make sure the weed killer sticks to the leaf of the weed.

        Donít worry about crabgrass now as it will die with the first frost (mid to late October). To control crabgrass next year, put a pre-emergent on your lawn any time during the last two weeks of April, and to make sure you donít have last germinating crabgrass like the last two years, put on a second application in early June, just after Memorial Day.   

        Apply a winter fertilizer to your lawn after about the middle of October. I used to say after Halloween but the turf specialists have moved up their recommendation.

        Bring tropical plants in after spraying with insecticidal soap and putting systemic insecticide in the soil.

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