Discover more from The Weekly Dirt with Jessica Damiano
We're back on Standard Time, and I for one am not happy
Plus, controlling black-eyed Susan and dealing with an acorn windfall
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Happy return to Standard Time!
I know many folks like to regain their lost hour of sleep, but as far as I’m concerned, the annual time shift is not my friend. It’s like a thief that robs me of precious sunlight at the end of my day, when I like to tinker around in the garden. And to add insult to injury, it’s compounded by the season’s shortening day lengths.
The notion of daylight saving time is attributed to Benjamin Franklin, who proposed rising an hour earlier to conserve candles, but it didn’t take root until World War II when President Franklin D. Roosevelt started what he called “War Time” in an effort to save resources. In August 1945, after Japan’s surrender, it was renamed “Peace Time.”
Confusion ensued because states and municipalities could opt in or out -- until the Uniform Time Act of 1966 was passed. It’s still not mandatory, and the US states of Hawaii and Arizona (except the Navajo Nation) do not participate in DST. Folks who live there have been sleeping in all along.
Some experts contend the time shift is not only pointless but that could be harmful.
Several years ago, a California Energy Commission report found that little — if any — energy benefits are actually attained when we switch to DST. Another report found that the annual switch messes with humans’ internal clocks and can lower work productivity. And the New England Journal of Medicine asserted that the yearly shifts from DST to standard time and back can actually increase your chances of a heart attack.
And so the debate rages on, year after year, with various states and municipalities threatening either to remain on Daylight Saving Time or Standard Time year-round.
Regardless of your stance, there’s no arguing that plants are affected by the gradual decline of sunlight at this time of year, and how we care for them needs to change with the seasons.
Shorter daylengths tell plants to slow their growth. Houseplants, in particular, will need less water and little (or no) fertilizer until spring growth resumes.
I’ll share more specifics on fall and winter houseplant care in the coming weeks.
📬 Ask Jessica
DEAR JESSICA: I planted black-eyed Susan, not knowing how invasive they were. I dug them all up, but is there anything I can use in the beds to stop them from reappearing? —Mary Jane Behrenfeld
DEAR MARY JANE: Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia spp.) is one of my favorite perennials, and they haven’t been overly aggressive in my garden, although they do spread both by self-seeding and via underground roots. For me, it’s a slow creep, which I see as a positive quality because I want them to fill in.
However, varying regional conditions and microclimates can create different experiences for gardeners growing the same plants in different places.
Digging up as much of the root system as possible, which you’ve done, will go a long way toward limiting their spread. And deadheading those that remain (or continue to pop up) as soon as their flowers fade will prevent propagation by seed. It might take a season or two, but keep pulling up and deadheading, and you should be able to eradicate them.
For those who’d like to keep their black-eyed Susans but aren’t sure how to control the size of their clumps, dig up and divide them every 3 or 4 years during late summer or early fall. You can either replant the divisions elsewhere, give them away or put them into the compost pile.
💡 If you do one thing this week…
Push or blow fallen leaves into beds and borders, where they’ll serve as mulch and protect plant roots over winter. As they decompose, they’ll nourish the soil.
👏 Sunday shoutout
Linda Santorello of Northport, NY, writes, “It’s the end of the tomatoes. But I did manage to grow a tomato family!!!”
That’s adorable, Linda!
Send in your photo, and you could be featured next (bonus points if you’re in the picture!)
📰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, I’ll post the most recent here every week.
LAST WEEK: Spooky plants for goth gardens
BEFORE THAT: How to grow your own cup of coffee — indoors!
You can read all my AP gardening columns here.
📚📺🎵 Random things I enjoyed this week
I’m all caught up and on the edge of my seat awaiting next week’s episode of The Golden Bachelor. I’m pulling hard for Faith! Anybody else?
And Quiz Lady on Hulu is great fun! I love Awkwafina so I hit play the second this movie popped up!
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I’m a freelance writer who juggles various gigs to piece together a living. I spend hours every week writing The Weekly Dirt, answering your questions and sharing advice to help you achieve the garden of your dreams. As much as I enjoy it, I have bills to pay so can’t afford to work for free. If you work for a paycheck, I’m sure you understand.
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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.