Lawn and Garden
Control Broadleaf Weeds in Lawns in Late October - Early NovemberLate October to early November is the most effective time to control broadleaf weeds in lawns. Dandelions usually produce a flush of new plants in late September, and the winter annual weeds henbit and chickweed should have germinated in October. These young plants are small and easily controlled with herbicides such as 2,4-D or combination products (Trimec, Weed-B-Gon, Weed-Out) that contain 2,4-D, MCPP and Dicamba. Even established dandelions are more easily controlled now than in the spring because they are actively moving materials from the top portion of the plant to the roots in the fall. Herbicides will translocate to the roots as well and will kill the plant from the roots up. Choose a day that is 50 degrees or higher. The better the weed is growing, the more weed killer will be moved from the leaves to the roots. Cold temperatures will slow or stop this process. Weed Free Zone (also sold under the name of Speed Zone) contains the three active ingredients mentioned above, plus carfentrazone. It will give a quicker response than the other products mentioned especially as temperatures approach 50 degrees. (Ward Upham)
Hardiness of Cool-Season VegetablesCool-season vegetables vary in cold tolerance, with some able to take colder temperatures than others. Semi-hardy crops can take a light frost but are damaged by temperatures in the mid- to upper-20s. Examples include beets, Chinese cabbage, collards, Irish potatoes, Bibb lettuce, mustard, radishes, spinach, Swiss chard, and leaf lettuce. Covering these plants when cold weather threatens can help extend the harvest season. Plants termed “hardy” can take lower temperatures but are damaged when the temperature drops to the low 20s. These include cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, carrots, turnips, and kale. Certain root crops can essentially be stored outside even after the leaves have been damaged or killed by frost. Beets, carrots, potatoes and turnips can be mulched and harvested as needed until the soil starts to freeze in late November to December. Growing vegetables in Kansas can be a challenge, but we have an extremely long gardening season. We can harvest from early April (asparagus) to early December. Winter is a good time to plan and prepare for next year’s crops. (Ward Upham)
Winter Care of Houseplants
During the short days of winter, houseplant growth slows, resulting in a need to change how we care for them. Although frequent watering may have been necessary during the long days of summer, the same amount now could cause problems. Excess water fills air spaces within the soil resulting in roots that receive less oxygen than they need. Water by touch, not by calendar. If the soil is dry an inch deep, it is time to water. Be sure to add enough so that some water flows out the bottom of the pot. This will help wash out excess salts that tend to accumulate within the potting soil. Fertilization also should be reduced. Normally, it is best to apply half the amount of fertilizer for flowering houseplants and one-fourth the amount for foliage houseplants. Too much fertilizer results in plants that become leggy and weak. Location is another factor that should be considered this time of year. Since day length is so short, houseplants may be helped by being moved to areas of the room that receive more light, such as a south-or east-facing window. Avoid placing plants where drafts from doors or direct output from heating ducts may contact them. Relative humidity also tends to be low during the winter. If you do not have a humidifier, frequent misting of the plants or placing them on water-filled trays of pebbles can help raise the humidity. (Ward Upham)
Draining Hoses and Irrigation Lines
Hoses and shallow irrigation lines may be damaged over the winter if water is not drained. If there is a main shut-off valve for the system, close it and then run through the zones to make sure any pressure has a chance to bleed off. Lawn irrigation systems usually have shallow lines. Though some lines may be self-draining, check to be sure there are no manual drains. If manual drains are present, they should be opened. Be sure to map them so they can be closed next spring before the system is pressurized. If there are no manual drains the system should be blown out with an air compressor. Lawn irrigation companies often offer this service. Drain hoses by stretching them out and coiling them for storage. Water will drain as you pull the hose toward you for coiling. Store in a protected place. UV light can make hoses brittle over time.
Questions about your garden, lawn, insects or trees?
Along with calling into our office, you also can bring plant samples to the Extension Center for diagnosis or identification and soil samples for nutrient analysis. If you bring a plant sample, please bring several leaves on a branch or stem, including flowers, fruit, or other distinguishing characteristics. For lawn samples, bring in a 3" diameter core, including roots. For a soil fertility test, please visit with us about procedures for this testing process.
For insects identification, please do your best to keep the insect in one piece. Two methods that work the best for our office to analyze and identify the critter are: Place them in a plastic zip-lock bag or similar container and place in the freezer for a few hours, or (if small like a flea, gnat or leafhopper) place them in a small plastic canister with clear hand sanitizer.