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Gardening With Laurie: Rye grass good option for winter lawn

Dec. 16, 2010 at 6:16 a.m.

Laurie Garretson

By Laurie Garretson

This is the time of year that many people don't give their lawns a second thought. Grass may not be growing very much, but with little to no rain, you will still need to water it well every week to 10 days. A little lawn care will help it to be healthy and green in the spring. Also, keep in mind that a moist soil around grass roots will help to protect the lawn from any cold-weather damage.

There is still time to plant rye grass seed. Rye grass can make a good temporary green lawn grass for any bare spots in your landscape. Rye grass will grow well until the weather starts to warm up and your regular lawn grass begins to grow and green up again. Having any bare spots in the lawn, or anywhere else, is an invitation for all kinds of weed seeds to take over. Before sowing rye seed, be sure to loosen the soil and then rake the area smooth. After sowing the seeds, water the area every day or two until the seeds germinate. There are shorter and taller varieties of rye grass. If you don't want to have to mow this winter, you will probably prefer to grow the shorter type.

If you are growing cool-weather annuals, be sure that you feed them some of your organic fertilizer every four to six weeks. Watering will be necessary, unless it rains. To encourage better blooming, regularly clip off dead blossoms.

Flower beds and gardens need to be mulched to provide protection from the cold weather. Leaves can make a good, cheap mulch. Mulching helps to keep roots warmer and moisture in the soil. So, never send any of your raked up leaves to the landfill

Keep all bulbs well watered through the next few weeks if we don't get rain. Do not cut off any of the foliage on your bulbs until it turns yellow and dies back. The leaves are what produce nutrients that are then stored in each bulb. If the leaves are cut off before the right time, the bulbs will not have the ability to bloom at their best for this next season.

Spinach can still be planted, and it's easy to grow. There are three main types of spinach: savoy, semi-savoy and smooth leaf.

Savoy spinach has dark green, crinkly and curly leaves. This type is hardest to wash when preparing it for cooking.

Semi-savoy is a hybrid that has slightly-crinkled leaves with the same texture as savoy.

The smooth leaf spinach has a smooth, broad leaf that makes it easier to clean.

All types have the great spinach taste. Spinach is considered a super food and it likes cool weather to thrive. It turns out that Popeye knew what he was talking about. This super food is full of iron, magnesium, folate, potassium and vitamins K, C and A.

When planting from seed, plant the seeds about - to -inch deep and about 3 inches apart. Plant in soil that's been well amended with compost and a granular organic fertilizer.

For a continuous harvest, sow your seeds every two weeks until the temperatures begin to heat up. Once your seedlings are 4-inches tall, thin them out to about 6 inches apart. Use what you pull up in a salad.

Mulch the plants well and water when dry. When the plants are 6 inches in height, you can begin harvesting the outer leaves. When the plant begins to bolt, it will be time to harvest the entire plant by cutting it off at the base.

Until next time, lets 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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