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Winter Annuals

February 2012

QuestionI have weeds every year in my lawn that seem to get worse each year. I can’t get rid of them. What should I use? I have attached a picture of them.

 AnswerThe weed in question is henbit, which is in the mint family and a winter annual. You can kill it now with any 2,4-D based herbicide. Most brand names will include broad leaf weed killer in their title. If you have Bermuda grass as a lawn, you can use a glyphosate product (Round-up) but it is only safe on dormant Bermuda--not any other lawn grasses. I have seen henbit blooming already--a nice purple flower. If you have blooms, you will have seeds, which will come up again next fall.

January 2012

QuestionWinter Gardening Tasks


AnswerContinue to clean up in the garden. Since our first killing frost was late, many people still have dead foliage out in the garden. Some late leaves have continued to fall, so those too can be raked and added to the compost pile. If you still have spring blooming bulbs that you haven’t planted, get them in the ground as soon as possible. Remember they need to be exposed to at least 12 – 16 weeks of cool temperatures if they are going to perform at their peak. Winter weeds are the green in your lawn right now. If you plan o spray with an herbicide, do so on a day that is above freezing. Killing winter weeds is not difficult, but the smaller they are, the easier they are to kill. If you have pansies and violas in your landscape, fertilize them on a mild winter day. Deadhead or remove the spent flowers to keep them producing more. Continue to enjoy your poinsettia now that the holidays are over. I like the added color indoors since all the other holiday decorations are gone. Give them plenty of sunlight and even moisture and they will continue to give you color for months. If you can still find them, buy some paper white narcissus and amaryllis bulbs for added color indoors. They are typically in bloom within six weeks of being planted. Amaryllis bulbs can last for years, but paper whites are typically a one season wonder. I toss them after they finish blooming. Seed catalogs are arriving. Start planning your vegetable and flower garden. Try something new this year. We are in the middle of the transplanting season, so if you have plants that need to be moved in your garden, you can do so now through early March. Remember to use caution if you are moving plants in freezing temperatures. Don’t expose the root system to freezing temperatures for long. Have the new hole dug before you dig up the old plant. Mulch and water and they should start putting down roots. No fertilizer is needed until new growth begins in the spring.

November 2011

QuestionYou had a recent article about how to prepare dormant veggie garden and what kind of plastic covering to use. I cannot find the article. My garden has been tilled, fertilized and weeded and now I want to cover it for winter. What kind of covering is best?

 AnswerEarlier in the year I discussed solarizing soil with clear plastic to kill weeds, diseases and insects. That only works when it is hot outside—during the months of July, August and September. You can still use plastic to smother out winter weeds and prevent them from growing this winter, but you would want to use black plastic to prevent light from getting through. Black plastic also warms up the soil earlier in the spring which can allow for earlier planting. Clear plastic used in the winter acts as a mini greenhouse and allows weeds to continue to grow.

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