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Gardening with Laurie: October a transitional month for gardeners

By By Laurie Garretson
Oct. 10, 2013 at 5:10 a.m.

Laurie Garretson

Here we are almost mid-October, and it's beginning to show signs of fall-like weather, and the days are getting shorter.

I consider October kind of a transitional month for us gardeners. It's a time when we are starting to feel a relief from the intense summer heat. It's a time when we all enjoy being outdoors again.

As the first cool front comes through the area, it makes us want to get out and plant something. But just a word or two of advice: We can still have afternoon temperatures in the 90s, so plant accordingly.

Many hot-weather plants are still looking good, and the slight cool down in temperature seems to have really revived many plants. Don't be in a rush to pull anything up. As long as they look good, why pull them out?

You can always plant cool seasonal plants among them. All the cool-season annuals, like petunias, snapdragons, dianthus, phlox, violas and marigolds, can be planted right along with your vincas, pentas and moss roses.

Try to hold off on planting pansies until the weather really does cool down. October weather can still be hot and very muggy. Planting pansies in that kind of weather usually is just asking for problems because warm muggy weather usually causes pansies to rot.

Every year about this time, I have many people ask why their pansies died. So play it safe, wait until late October or, even better, wait until November to plant your pansies.

Now would be good time to spread a thin layer of compost on your lawn if it's not at its best. Fall is also the most important time to fertilize your lawn. A good feeding now will help to strengthen the root system. A strong root system will grow a healthy lawn next spring.

Caterpillars have been a bad problem the past few weeks. Usually, they're found in vegetable gardens, but also keep a watch out on your bougainvilleas. I've heard several reports of asp caterpillars on different types of shrubs. The asp caterpillar is known for its very painful sting, and this is definitely one little pest you do not want around. Spinosad or BT Worm Killer will get rid of these pests.

Cool nights and humidity are prime conditions for brown patch in lawns. This fungal disease is commonly seen in the same areas of the lawn year after year. Horticultural cornmeal can be applied to the lawn now as a preventive for brown patch. It can also be applied now for any current problems.

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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