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Gift Idea for an Indoor Kitchen Garden

Here is a great gift idea for that special person on your list who loves to cook AND really appreciates healthy, fresh food.  The good thing about this gift is even if that person has never grown anything or even if that person has no place to grow things they can be successful!

Click here to learn more about the Miracle-Gro AeroGarden system for growing herbs, salad greens, vegetables, and flowers.

This time-lapse video shows lettuce growing in the Miracle-Gro AeroGarden System.

 

 

Is It Too Late to Put Down Grass Seed?

Homeowners will typically ask this question after their lawn does not bounce back during cooler fall weather like they thought it would.  They wonder if there is an advantage to seeding in early winter rather than waiting till spring.

Professional turfgrass managers call this practice “Dormant Seeding”.  Often time professionals are forced to seed in winter because their athletic fields are in use during optimum seeding times.

Click here to read a good article on dormant seeding published in Ground Maintenance.  The article was written by Dr. Bridget Ruemmele, an associate professor of turfgrass science at the University of Rhode Island.  Even though the article is directed to professional turfgrass managers, I think you will find this info useful if you are considering dormant seeding.

If you decide to put down grass seed this winter that will germinate when the soil warms, remember to not use a regular crabgrass preventer come early spring, click here to learn about a crabgrass preventer that will prevent crabgrass while allowing your new grass seed to germinate.

Click here to learn about all the Scotts grass seed options for your lawn.

Click here to learn about all the Scotts grass seed options for your lawn.

 

Time is Ripe for a Mouse Invasion

Our house in Ohio was an older home in a wooded area that was prone to an annual mouse invasion during the onset of cold weather. Dudley, our cat, was a good signal that there was a mouse in the house when he would get all stirred up or if he spent long periods of time staring at the bottom of the frig, washer or the door to the garage.

A mouse can squeeze through a dime size hole to gain entry into your home or garage

A mouse can squeeze through a dime size hole to gain entry into your home or garage

Here are some signals that may alert you to mice in your house:

Are your pets upset?

They can get stirred up when they hear and smell rodents in the house.

Can you see rodent droppings?

Rat droppings are shiny black, blunt at both ends, and ½ – ¾ of an inch long. Mice droppings are smooth, with pointed ends, usually about 1/8 – ¼ of an inch long.

Do you see small tracks and tail trails in dusty areas?

Look for them in corners, along baseboards, and near sources of food.

Do you see areas where wood has been gnawed?

Tooth marks that are 1/8 of an inch long may indicate rats; small, scratchy ones may indicate mice.

Do you see smears along baseboards and other areas?

Those could be rub marks caused by grease and dirt on rat fur.

Is there a heavy musky odor in the house?

Rats and mice smell bad.

Click here to see all the trap options to rid your home of mice and other rodents.

Should You Lower Your Mower for the Last Cut of the Year?

I get this “last mowing of the year” question around this time.   Some folks say:  “Take it down lower.”  Others say:  “Leave it long.”

My answer:  Continue mowing your grass until it stops growing at the recommended mowing height that you have been using all season.   Different kinds of grass types like different mowing heights, so here are some guidelines for how tall your grass should be after you mow.  The higher end of the range is good during the hot summer months.  The lower end of the range is good for spring and fall.  So for example, if you have been mowing 3 inches or taller, you could drop your mower a notch, however do not scalp your lawn for the final mowing of the year.

·         2-1/2 to 4 inches for Bluegrass, Ryegrass and Fescue

·         2 to 4 inches for St. Augustinegrass and Bahiagrass

·         1 to 3 inches for Centipedegrass

·         1/2 to 2 inches for Bermudagrass

·         3 /4 to 2 inches for Zoysia

And one more thing, if you have only fed your lawn once this fall, you still have a chance to really boost your lawn’s root system with a feeding of Scotts Turf Builder WinterGuard Fall Lawn Food this month.

Do not mow your lawn too short for your last cut of the year.

Do not mow your lawn too short for your last cut of the year.

Should You Feed Your Lawn in November?

For many lawns the answer is YES and here is why: If you have northern grasses (like Bluegrass, Fescue or Ryegrass), your grass roots are still growing in your soil that is warmer than your air temperatures.  Even if you’ve already fed this fall, another feeding now can really help build your grass roots.  So put on your coat, gloves and feed your lawn one more time with Scotts Turf Builder WinterGuard.

You won’t be alone.  Expert turf researchers will be doing the same thing with their lawns.  For example, Ohio State University turf experts say you should get your last winterizing feeding down by the middle of November.  Virginia Tech, Penn State and Michigan State Agronomists also agree that you get a big benefit from a November feeding. So, even if you are in the far north, this coming weekend is not too late to get your lawn fed.

Even if you have fed your lawn several times this year, feeding your northern lawn in late fall will help create stronger roots.

Even if you have fed your lawn several times this year, feeding your northern lawn in late fall will help create stronger roots.

I have more good news for you. Rather than raking your tree leaves, save time by mowing them to dime size just prior to feeding. This will help them “compost on your lawn”.

One last bit of advice. If you’ve got weeds and want to spread Turf Builder Fall WinterGuard Weed & Feed instead of Turf Builder WinterGuard, your mid-day temps need to still reach 60 degrees the day you apply.  Be sure to apply to moist foliage on a day when no rain is forecasted.  If you put down grass seed earlier this fall, your new grass needs to be old enough to have been mowed 4 times before you put down a weed control.

Remember to Feed Your Shade Lawn

For those of you with northern lawns (cool-season grasses like Kentucky Bluegrass, Fescue and Perennial Ryegrass), remember to feed your lawn the is fall with Scotts Turf Builder WinterGuard.  When you fertilize while your grass receives sunlight you maximize photosynthesis, which builds carbohydrate reserves in the grass roots to help when sunlight is limited during shady times.  So feed shady lawns just prior to or after tree leaves drop AND again in spring before tree leaves develop.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This Fescue lawn in Atlanta receives about 4 hours of filtered sunlight a day.

And the good news:  You do not need to rake your leaves if you are able to mow them to dime size or smaller.  Research has shown that this mowing practice along with a good feeding of Turf Builder WinterGuard helps to compost the tree leaves in place to benefit your grass and soil.

Here is a link to one of my blog postings that gives 6 tips for growing grass in the shade.

How to Discover Showy Fall Plants for Your Landscape

This is how Rita and I have discovered great plants that showoff in fall and winter AND were easy to grow in our local area.  This idea sounds so simple.  Yet we did not think of it till a friend suggested this to us many years ago. 

Her suggestion:  visit local public gardens that have their plants labeled.  One of our favorite gardens also labeled the year the shrub or tree was planted so you could readily gauge the relative size it would grow in your landscape.  The most important benefit to visiting gardens this time of year is to see the flowers, fruit or foliage color.  You can accomplish almost the same thing by looking at plant material in a garden center this time of year however it is not as easy to see how the plant will look in the future when it starts to really show its stuff.

Our Beautyberry shrub, Callicarpa dichotoma produces masses of purple fruit that will provide food for birds after freezing weather (Click photo to enlarge)

Our Beautyberry shrub, Callicarpa dichotoma produces masses of purple fruit that will provide food for birds after freezing weather (Click photo to enlarge)

Our Purple Muhly Grass, Muhlenbergia capillaris attracts lots of attention as the plumes move gracefully with the slightest breeze  (click photo to enlarge)

Our Purple Muhly Grass, Muhlenbergia capillaris attracts lots of attention as the plumes move gracefully with the slightest breeze (click photo to enlarge)

Winterberries (a type of Holly) will need a male plant nearby to maximize fruits on the female plant

Winterberries (a type of Holly) will need a male plant nearby to maximize fruits on the female plant

And the good news… fall is a great time of year to plant new trees and shrubs.  The main tips from the experts are:

·         Dig a hole twice as wide as the container or root ball

·         Do not plant too deep.  For trees make sure the soil level is where the roots begin to grow from the tree trunk.

·         Make sure the new plant is not dry going into winter.  A good layer of bark mulch will help hold moisture.