“Can I use a weed and feed now to get rid of the weeds and feed the lawn?”.
Well, technically you could, but that’s not what we suggest. Feed the lawn when it needs to be fed, and spot treat the weeds as they need to be treated. AND, you’ll get better results with the spot treating than the weed and feed for weed control. Having said that, the month of October is the best time to go after weeds, whether using a broadleaf weed killer in the lawn (such as Bonide’s Weed Beater Ultra), or a vegetation killer in landscape and flower beds (such as Roundup or Killzall). Sounds weird, but treating this time of the year works so well because the plants have begun preparing for the winter, shooting all the energy they can down into the root system. So when you spray the weeds, they take that weed killer and do an even better job sending it down to the roots for a much better kill! Don’t worry about the crabgrass (frost takes it out), but look at this month to spot treat those lawn weeds, especially the harder to kill selections! I like Bonide’s Weed Beater Ultra for lawn weed control.
“Should I prune or deadhead my Bloomerang lilac that is flowering right now?”.
Only pruning this time of the year would be dead branches or yes, deadheading the spent flowers. After it finishes the bigger flower show in spring (within 2-3 weeks), that’s when you’ll do any major pruning needed.
“When do we usually get our first fall frost?”.
Based on past averages, usually around Oct 18. But always keep an eye on the weather – you never know when that first frost may show up!
“Is there a new hottest pepper and will you have if for 2016?”.
One of our goals is to stay on top of the world’s hottest peppers, and if there is a new King of Heat, we’ll do our best to grab some seeds and grow it! As far as we know, right now, it’s still the Carolina Reaper. Moruga, Butch T, Ghost, Naga Viper, Chocolate Ghost, the new Ghor-Pion, and the past record holders will still be on our list. By the way, we’re putting our 2016 vegetable plant list together; just in case you have any suggestions, email us right away!
“What insecticides do you recommend for indoor use when bringing foliage plants inside?”.
Sprays of water and hand removal are my first two recommendations. Amazing what you can physically remove (bugs) by hand or by rinsing the plants off under warm water. Otherwise I usually keep Insecticidal Soap and Horticultural Oil on hand, as well as Bonide’s Indoor Systemic Insecticide. Even with these, be cautious using insecticides and always read the labels before use.
“We’re cleaning out the vegetable garden next week. What do you suggest we do to help improve the soil for next year?”
ADD ORGANIC MATTER! Fall is the best time for major soil amendments, so take advantage of it! Compost, manures, finely ground leaves, grass clippings, coffee grounds, Pine Soil Conditioner, are all great amendments. You can even add ‘hot’ manures in the fall! Till them in and let the ground freeze and thaw and the organic matter begin to break down and become a part of improving your garden soils. Remember to have the soil tested next spring to see what it may be missing (nutrient levels and the pH).
“As the leaves begin to fall on the lawn, I want to mow them into the lawn and my wife says collect them and pitch them. Help!”
Just tell her the facts. Research has shown that finely ground leaves mowed back into the lawn can be equivalent to a lawn feeding, adds organic matter back to the soil, increases microbial activity, earthworm activity, and after doing it a couple years, actually showed decreases in crabgrass and dandelion populations in the lawn. Plus, you’re not sending these leaves back to a landfill. You could look for a compromise – mow the leaves back into the turf every other week, and collect the leaves in-between, starting a compost pile for future compost to use in the landscape and garden. You can till them into the garden or annual planting areas. You can even use them (finely ground) as a winter mulch where needed. Hope that helps!
“When is the best time to cut back my Butterfly Bush, spring, or fall?”.
Either way works. If you like what you see now, leave it alone for the winter and cut it back in the spring. If you don’t want that look over the winter, cut it back later on this fall. Not now, it’s too early.
“Is it okay to let Mother Nature and her frosts take care of the weeds that are in my beds this late in the year? I’m tired of pulling weeds!”.
You can, but then they’ll just be waiting to start re-growing next spring. Don’t give up on weeds this fall, especially the tough ones. If they’re growing, you need to keep after them. Spray them with Roundup, and for even better action, add a little Spreader Sticker to it. This helps the Roundup stick right to the foliage for even better control. Keep them under control for a cleaner start next spring. And don’t forget to use Preen one last time to keep those winter annual seeds like chickweed and henbit from ever getting started.
“How can I keep squirrels away from my newly planted spring bulbs?”.
Nothing worse than spending time and hard work planting spring flowering bulbs, only to have the squirrels dig them back up and enjoy them for a fall feast! And this can be a really serious problem in heavily squirrel populated areas. So, what can you do? Well, here is a collection of “squirrel proofing your bulb plantings” that you may want to try! -Don’t plant tulips – plain and simple. Squirrels like them as much as they do nuts. -Squirrels can smell freshly planted bulbs, and are always curious as to what you have buried there! So clean up after planting, disguise your planting areas to look normal, and cover the scent of the bulbs. -Plant the bulbs an inch or so deeper than recommended. -Treat the bulbs with critter repellents that list squirrels. Treat the soil (backfill) as well as the top of the soil after planting. Retreat as needed. Note: As we always say, these critter repellents can do a fairly nice job as a deterrent. But when it comes to starving or surviving, critters will normally choose surviving. -Sprinkle a layer of crushed oyster shells or small crushed gravel a few inches above the bulbs when planting. Squirrels may not like digging thru this sharp stuff! -Sprinkle ground red pepper (hot) in the hole with the bulbs, as well as over top of the planted area. Dusting sulfur may work as well. -Lay chicken wire over the area where the bulbs have been planted, and pin it down to the top of the soil. Bulbs will grow thru this, but once the ground has frozen, you can also remove the covering. (Squirrels may not mess with the bulbs once the ground has frozen.) You can also use window screens or something similar – just be sure to remove this barrier before the bulbs begin to grow in the spring. Create a chicken wire basket to plant the bulbs in – basket and all are planted in the ground. Bulbs will sprout and grow thru the wire. This is really only good for pocket planting of bulbs. -Disguise the newly planted area by watering in well, then applying a topdressing of mulch or compost. -Lay thorny branches over the newly planted areas. -Set up a feeding area for the squirrels away from the areas where the new bulbs have been planted. Feed with peanuts or corn, which does a good job distracting them from the bulbs. -Just plant daffodils. Squirrels (and yes, deer and rabbits) pretty much avoid daffodils. Scilla, Allium, Snowdrops, Colchicum, Hyacinths, Grape hyacinths, Fritillaria, Winter Aconite, Glory of the Snow, Snowflake, and Star of Bethlehem are a few other bulbs that the squirrels don’t seem to fancy as a part of their diet. -And if you don’t feel like going thru all of this for spring flowering bulbs, don’t forget about planting bulbs in containers! Plant your favorite bulbs in pots, and over winter them in the unheated garage or shed. Next spring bring them out and enjoy your spring flowers both indoors and out – with your container grown spring gardens – unless, of course, deer and rabbits come along and eat the bulb’s flowers. (No, they won’t eat the daffodils.)