Mid-Atlantic

September, 2010
Regional Report

Consider Green Manure

Green manures are legumes or small grain crops plowed under while still in the green stage. Winter green manure crops include rye, wheat, barley and winter vetch. Summer green manure crops include Sudan grass, soybeans and cowpeas. Their turned-underground foliage and roots decompose into nutrients for upcoming seasons' crops.

Vegetable gardeners, here's a farmer's tip. Plant half of the garden to a winter green manure crop in September or early October. Put well-rotted animal manure on the other half, fall plow it, then plant spring vegetables in this part. Come spring, turn under the green manure crop, and plant summer vegetables. Rotate areas each year. After turning under a green manure crop, wait three weeks before planting.

Deadhead Hostas and Daylilies

Pull out or prune off dead flower stalks from hostas, daylilies and other plants that look untidy with dead flower stalks.

Clip Off Dead Branches and Stems

More than in summers past, branches and stems in trees and shrubs have died this season from lack of water. I'm finding dead branches, canes, and wood on hydrangeas, roses and short ornamental trees such as Japanese maples and 'Wolf's Eye' dogwood. Now's a good time to remove them by pruning. Dead branches crack when broken and are white, hollow or brown inside rather than a healthy green.

Do NOT Prune Roses NOW

I know it is difficult to resist pruning roses now. Some rose canes are long, scraggly, and look unsightly. They may be in your way or overhanging other plants. Stake or otherwise move and somehow attach the canes to a trellis or fence or garden ornament to tidy them. Don't prune or fertilize them now though. Pruning stimulates growth, which is not in your roses' best interest. They are storing food in preparation for the cold winter. They're preparing to go dormant. Let nature take her course. Keep pruners in their holder till the golden forsythia blooms...and the roses are just about ready to leaf out.

Watch For and Get Rid of Poison Ivy

We're seeing much more poison ivy now than in recent autumns or springs. Be watchful and cautious while weeding, deadheading and deadleafing. We're finding young poison ivy plants that look, at first glance, like very healthy maple seedlings. Try not to touch those distinct, three-green-leafed plants, even with clothing or shoes. Weed around them carefully then return later to spray them with herbicide.

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