By Brent Gray
Any year-round lawn fertilization program should be based on soil test analysis, turf use requirements, and grower expectations. How-ever, applying a late-season or “winterizing fertilizer” application to warm-season turfgrasses in Mississippi often becomes a controversial management practice. The controversy stems from the concerns for potential winterkill, disease promotion, and the effect on total nonstructural carbohydrates.
Although some research has indicated that late-fall nitrogen fertilization in-creased vulnerability to winterkill and promotion of diseases other studies, including those conducted by Mississippi State University have shown no direct correlation to winterkill but instead prolongs fall color and earlier recovery in the spring. Late fall applications of potassium is a standard recommendation and practice as potassium promotes winter hardiness and disease resistance in turf.
Therefore, a fall application of a winterizing fertilizer formulated to contain lower ratios of nitrogen to potassium, and particularly with nitrogen sources that are released slowly may be just what your lawn needs. Time the winterizing fertilizer application when temperatures begin to moderate and days begin to shorten, but before the turf goes dormant.
Regardless of time of year, lush turf growth stimulated by excessive nitrogen may be more susceptible to certain diseases and insects so be prepared to treat accordingly with appropriate fung-icides and/or insecticides if conditions warrant.
A strong healthy lawn probably can do just fine without fall fertilization but a weak stressed lawn can still benefit from a boost in nutrients. The first official day of fall was Sept. 22 so there still are several weeks of growing conditions left for most of the state.
Watch That Forecast
Vegetable gardeners should be watching their weather forecasts for rain chances. We were very wet two weeks ago, but many of us have seen little to no rainfall since then. Young fall vegetables do not have a well developed root system and will need some irrigation.
It is time to be planning decorations from the garden for Christmas. Gather all the red peppers from the garden and make ristras. Ristras require fresh peppers, so harvest the peppers while they still have moisture in them. Allow the peppers to dry for a few days, them tie the stems together in groups of three with cotton string, putting as many peppers as possible on one length of string. Braid the groups on a length of wire or strong string so the ends stick out in all directions. Put the ristra in a well ventilated place until the peppers are dry.
It is time to plant Atomic Red or Nutri Red and Lunar White or Snow White carrots to brighten up the crudite tray along with the Watermelon or Sparkler red and white radishes.The radishes don’t need to be planted until after Thanksgiving. Chiogga beets create a festive red and white target look when sliced. Garnet Red amaranth sprouts add a reddish to purple dash or color to salads.