Tackle late-season gardening chores now for an easier spring
If you’re new here, welcome! To receive The Weekly Dirt in your inbox every week…
Fall begins this week, but make no mistake: It’s not time to stop gardening, just time to shift gears.
In many regions, the spring bulb-planting window is opening, but in others, tomatoes, which wouldn’t stand a chance during the extreme summer heat, should just be going in.
There are other essential chores to tend to, as well, like providing enough water to help perennials, trees and shrubs prepare for dormancy. Unless, of course, you’re gardening under drought restrictions.
I provide details and more tips and chores to accomplish now to keep your garden healthy and help ensure it remains that way through spring in my AP gardening column this week. You can read the whole thing at the link below.
🙏 Many thanks to all who provided feedback on The Weekly Dirt by answering my survey over the past couple of weeks. I’m starting to read and sort through every one of your responses and will use them to guide the direction of this newsletter.
I’m going to keep the 5-question form open for another week, so if you haven’t had a chance to respond yet, you can still…
📬 Ask Jessica
DEAR JESSICA: There is an invasive vine growing in two places on opposite sides of my property, around a large rose bush and a weigela shrub. The Cornell Cooperative Extension and experts at Planting Fields Arboretum have identified it as Oriental bittersweet.
A few days ago, I removed about 30 pounds of the vine, with some pieces as long as 20 feet.
I have osteoarthritis in my hands, and pulling out roots is quite painful. Is there a natural herbicide I can use that won’t kill my other plants or the birds, squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks, etc.?
This vine has killed many of the bushes around which it is twined, and I need to eradicate it ASAP. HELP! —Mary T. Graffeo, New York
DEAR MARY: I’m sorry you’re contending with such a nasty and stubborn weed. Unfortunately, there isn’t an herbicide that will target only the bittersweet without killing nearby plants, grass, etc.
Since it’s only vining in two specific areas, you can gain some control and possibly even eradicate it by cutting it down and then immediately applying glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup) to the open wound on each stem with a paintbrush.
This targeted method won’t expose wildlife or other plants to the chemical and should not harm your rose or weigela if done carefully on a cool, windless day. Be sure to wear gloves and follow the precautions on the label.
You might have to repeat this in spring.
If the vine were out in the open, repeated mowing would weaken and kill it over time, but that doesn’t seem to be the case in your garden.
💡 If you do one thing this week…
Practice good sanitation!
Clear away leaves, fallen fruit and other plant parts from the soil surface and dispose of the debris by bagging it up tightly and placing it in the trash.
Cleaning up is even more critical if fungus, black spot disease or mildew surfaced this year because many diseases can survive in the soil over winter and affect the next season’s garden. Pests, too, can hunker down and hibernate until you plant more “food” for them.
👏 Sunday shoutout
Glenn Koebel of Roslyn Heights documented his granddaughter Juliana’s first foray into gardening this year.
Koebel said he helped the four-year-old green thumb plant various seeds in spring, but “only two radish plants and a cucumber plant grew.” No matter: The digging duo harvested “40-50 large cucumbers for weeks!”
Send in your photo, and you could be featured next!
📰This week in my Associated Press gardening column
I write a weekly gardening column for the AP, so you might have seen my byline in your local paper (or news website) — wherever in the world you happen to be. In case you miss it, though, I’ll post the most recent here every week.
This week, I laid out some crucial late-season gardening tips and chores to help keep your garden at its best — and give next season’s planting a solid foundation.
Before that, I wrote about planting the “hell strip,” dealing with stressed lawns, how to take your garden back from mosquitoes, when and how to harvest potatoes, attracting birds to your garden, saving Monarch butterflies, troubleshooting vegetable gardens and a lot more.
You can read all my AP gardening columns here.
Let’s be friends! Follow me @JesDamiano on Instagram
📧 How’m I doing?
I welcome your comments and suggestions, so please send them along — as well as any topics you’d like to see covered and questions you’d like answered in the Ask Jessica section.
And if you’re enjoying this newsletter, please share it with a friend!