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ASK THE EXPERTS

We need the rain

POSTED: October 19, 2011 4:00 a.m.

It has been said money cannot buy happiness. The end to our dry weather would make gardeners and farmers happy.

However, all of the money in the world could not buy rain. I believe it is good that man does not control the weather.

Think about the wars the control of weather would cause. Some would want everyday to be sunny. Others would like rain every third day. Let's not forget the kids who would demand snow during school days.

There are a number of garden jobs that should be done in October. Keep the following tips in mind:

• Fall is the time to control certain broadleaf weeds in the lawn including chickweed, white clover, dandelion, wild onion, plantain, poa annual and cudweed.

• It is too late this year to prune roses because they would become subject to winter injury. However, the rose garden should be raked and cleaned to prevent black spot and other diseases. Additional mulch should be added.

• Move and divide crowded perennials.

• Cut down stems and foliage of herbaceous perennials when the leaves begin to brown.

• As you clean out the flower beds, mark the spots where late starting perennials will come up next spring to avoid damaging them while working in the beds.

• You can reduce the number of pests on fruit trees next year by picking up and destroying all fallen fruit, branches and leaves.

Worms and other pests feed on this fruit, overwinter in the soil, and emerge in the spring to lay eggs and start the cycle all over again.

• A final weeding of your strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries will help keep weed problems down to a minimum.

• Remove any diseased or insect-infested plant material from your garden; it may harbor overwintering stages of disease and insect pests.

If you leave this plant material in your garden, you are leaving diseases and insects that will begin to reproduce again next spring and add to next year's pest problem.

• Many disease-causing viruses overwinter in the roots of perennial weeds.

Tomato mosaic virus overwinters in the roots of ground cherry, horsenettle, jimson weed, nightshade, and bittersweet; cucumber mosaic virus lives in the roots of milkweed, catnip and pokeweed; bean mosaic overwinters in white sweet clover roots; and many cabbage diseases spread from wild members of the cole family.

So, from the aspect of disease control, it is evident that a good fall cleanup is essential.

Clark Beusse is the Dawson County extension agent. For more information, call (706) 265-2442.

 

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