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Changing weather brings new garden chores

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Here are some suggestions for plants out in your yard as fall approaches. Each year horticulture practices can vary based on weather and location.

Over the summer you may have moved some plants outside. Before night temperatures get too cold (consistently below 55 degrees), bring plants back inside. Be sure to control insects and diseases before they are back near other houseplants. Gradually decrease the amount of light to acclimate the plants and help reduce leaf drop.

You can bring herbs inside to continue growing over the winter. Store any leftover garden seed in a cool, dry place such as a sealed jar with powdered milk in the bottom.


If you have questions, contact Purdue Extension in Johnson County at 736-3724.

Fall is a good time to plant many container-grown or balled-and-burlapped nursery stock. Plant shrubs and trees at the same depth they grew in the nursery and water thoroughly. Three inches of mulch will help to keep in moisture and shield against large soil temperature fluctuations. Tall plants may need staking to protect them from strong winds. Don’t be alarmed if evergreens drop some older needles. This occasional shedding is normal.

The best time to do lawn fertilizing is in the fall once summer growth (stress) is slowing. A lawn given proper nutrients will be more green and dense. A healthy lawn can better tolerate weather extremes (heat, drought, cold, etc). The goal is for your desired grass species to out-compete diseases, weeds, and insects — thus fewer pesticides should be applied.

If broad-leaf weeds have taken over though, early fall is a good time to apply weed killer. Be sure to follow all label directions, and choose a calm day to prevent spray drift. Ideally you should use fertilizers labeled for lawn use since they are formulated more specifically.

The Purdue Turf Fertilizer Calculator (agry.purdue.edu/turf/fertilizerCalculator/index.html) calculates granular and liquid fertilizer needs for your lawn. Having a soil test done is usually a good idea to see where your yard stands on pH and nutrients. If results indicate that your soil has sufficient nutrients, applying more is unnecessary.

After the tops of onions and garlic fall over and the necks begin to dry, dig the onions and garlic from your garden. It is not too late to plant radishes, lettuce and spinach for fall harvest since these grow quickly. Protect remaining garden plants with blankets or newspaper if a light frost is predicted.

Spring-flowering bulbs are usually planted in late September. If they are planted too early, they’ll sprout before winter. Allow them four to six weeks before the ground freezes for good root formation. Remove raspberry canes after they bear fruit. To reduce disease and insect carry-over, clean up fallen fruit, twigs and leaves around fruit trees. Harvest pears when the dots on the skin begin to turn brown.

Sarah Speedy is the agricultural natural resources extension educator through the Johnson County Purdue Extension. She has a master’s degree in animals and public policy from Tufts University, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine and a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Purdue University. Send comments to letters@dailyjournal.net.

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