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Gardening with Laurie: Take care of drought-stressed plants, grass

By BY LAURIE GARRETSON
Oct. 6, 2011 at 5:06 a.m.


The weather the past week sure has made it enjoyable to be a gardener. Unfortunately, it is so dry and it sounds like the drought is here to stay for a while. Or so the "powers that be" say so.

Because of the drought and high temperatures this past summer, many people's lawns have taken a hard hit. Many lawns have totally died, with many more close to it. If any part of your lawn is still alive, you have probably been doing some watering. It is important to keep your drought-stressed lawn well watered as it goes into dormancy this winter. Water deeply and thoroughly every time you water. If you plan to over seed your lawn with ryegrass, you will need to water more frequently to get it established.

Now is a very important time of the year to fertilize St. Augustine lawn grasses. Even though the grass blades go dormant as the weather gets cooler, the root systems stay very active. Healthier roots will make a healthier lawn come next spring.

Fall is also a great time of year to spread compost on the lawn. About 1/4 inch of a good compost and some granular organic fertilizer applied to the lawn will help to improve the health of any lawn.

All of you butterfly lovers should be enjoying the monarch butterflies that are now migrating through town on their way to a warmer winter destination. It is very important that we help out these winged beauties during this horrible drought. Because of the drought, there are fewer nectar plants blooming that would normally be available for them. Milkweed is one butterfly nectar plant that doesn't seem to be bothered by the lack of rain. If you have milkweed growing in your yard for the monarch butterflies, don't worry about any aphids you might find on the plant. These tiny pests can be easily washed off the plants with a strong spray of water from the garden hose. Don't use any kind of insecticide on the aphids. Insecticides will harm the butterflies, their eggs and any larval.

October is a good time of the year to evaluate and transplant many types of plants. Take a slow walk all through your landscape and look for signs of heat and drought-stressed plants. Maybe some plants would be happier growing in other locations of your yard. This could be a good time to do some relocating. Wait to transplant any fall bloomers until after they bloom so you can enjoy their blooms. And don't forget to keep watering. Drought-stressed plants will not bloom as well.

Do not forget to keep a close watch on all your vegetable plants. One little cabbage looper, or any other type of worm, can do a lot of damage to your plants in just one night. Be prepared to defend your garden.

Until next time, let's try to garden with nature not against it, and maybe all our weeds will become wildflowers.

Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner. Send your gardening questions to laurie@vicad.com or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.

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