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Growin’ Green

Controlling Unsightly Winter Weeds

By Brent Gray

Now is the time to begin doing something about preventing winter annual weeds that show up as young seedlings in the fall and become quite unsightly by mid-winter through spring.  A pre-emergence herbicide applied before these weeds germinate is the most efficient and effective way of control.  Pre-emergence herbicides have little to no effect on weeds that have already germinated so it is important to get the herbicide out soon (late August north to mid-September along the coast).   A minimum of one-half inch of water either from rain or irrigation should follow shortly after the herbicide application to ensure that the herbicide is activated and moves into the surface soil to form a uniform weed control barrier. Pre-emergence herbicides are formulated as liquids, wettable powders or water dispersible granules that are applied in sprayable form, and also as dry granules or coated on fertilizers.  Choose a formulation that is best suited for you and ALWAYS READ THE LABEL for specific application instructions, weeds controlled, and safety precautions. Uniformity in coverage and accurate calibration are essential for weed control success and avoiding turf injury. Extension publications 1532 and 1322 provide information to help select the appropriate herbicides for specific weeds.  These publications can be obtained from your local extension office or downloaded from the web.
Landscape Planning Time
Late August is not the best time to be planting trees or shrubs, but it is a good time for pondering and planning your landscape. The first step is to identify existing problems and opportunities in your yard.  Are there unsightly views that need screening or good views that need framing?  Do outdoor living areas have ample shade in summer? Consider how you use your garden.  Do you have adequate room for outdoor entertaining? Should you plant ground covers to reduce lawn maintenance? If you don’t feel confident about your skills as a designer, consult a local landscape architect who can devise a plan tailored to the conditions in your yard and the requirements of your lifestyle.
September is the time to plant all sorts of things in the vegetable garden,  Most days have high temperatures in the eighties or low nineties and nights are often in the sixties. Leafy salad greens will grow in these conditions. Leaf lettuces will produce well and some of the loose head lettuces like Bibb or Boston will also grow. Seed germination is slow at high temperatures, so starting seed indoors and transplanting may give better results. Crisphead and romaine types tend to bolt in hot weather, so wait until October to start them.
Fans of endive and escarole should plant in September also. All of the potherbs, or greens as we Mississippians say, will germinate and grow in September. Stir fry eaters should plant pak choi, mizuna, and tatsoi. Upland cress is an old plant that just about disappeared from gardens, but is now making a comeback in popularity. Creasy greens were a Southern colloquialism for these sharply flavored greens with a taste comparable to water cress. Upland cress is very cold tolerant and should produce all winter.
Garlic is not often grown in Mississippi. Our wet, cloudy winter months make  this slow growing vegetable a challenge. Adventuresome gardeners should plant  large cloves in September in a well drained soil with maximum light exposure. Garlic takes a minimum of seven months  to produce a bulb, so be sure to locate the garlic planting in an area where you don’t plan to grow something else in the Spring. Weed control is critical since the garlic plant does not produce a large plant and can easily be shaded by annual weeds.
Tomato growers should notice new fruit forming since the temperatures have fallen. Be vigilant in insect management since most plants the insects feed upon have matured and the large population is looking for something to eat.

Horticulture Tips
Wayne Wells, Lelia Kelly, David Nagel

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