Hello again, Gardeners,

Did you notice “again”? Yes, I’m back to writing about my passion and wanting to share our experiences in the gardening world, both successes and failures. That’s how we learn. At least that’s how I learn. And in turn, I will share those experiences with y’all. I only ask one thing: you share what you have learned with all of us. Easy peasy. I’m very excited to be back and looking forward to reuniting with past readers and getting to know the newbies. We’re here to have fun cuz I don’t know everything, but I’m listening.

Okay, down to business now. Is it me or is this heat giving you thoughts of just giving up on Summer gardening? Have you noticed that a whole lot of plants (and insects) don’t like this heat either? I’m not sure that makes us feel better, but I thought it might take some “heat” off of us for choosing to stay inside. Or have you been braving the scorching temps and going all out tending to the fruits of your efforts? Let us know how you do that. I have been consistent in watering my herbs and tomatoes. Yup, still producing some tomatoes. My peppers are in a portable greenhouse and they are putting out some fruit, but I never got them planted in the ground. And I have been watering my lawn. But that’s all I can muster. Way too hot!

Speaking of our lawns, cruising around the neighborhood, I have noticed that most grass is short and brown. Here’s a tip-when we are in a drought, keep your grass taller than normal. This will help keep your soil shaded (cooler) and slows down the sun’s drying forces. Due to the drought, your lawn is basically in a process of early dormancy. You may have brown, crispy, grass, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s dead or dying. Most of our grass types have adapted. It is the grass’s way of conserving energy and water. When the temps come down and we receive more precipitation, it will break dormancy. (No promises).

Kari “Lady ACE” Thomas talks Gardening

That being said, it is very close to the time our southern grasses begin their natural process of dormancy for Fall/Winter.

Don’t panic, be patient. It could be next spring before you see any improvement. Fertilizing with a high nitrogen content is NOT recommended at this time. It can actually cause more stress for the grass. If you just can’t help yourself trying to mother your grass, please use a fertilizer with a slow-release nitrogen and high phosphorus level such as Fertilome Classic Lawn Food (16-0-8) or Fertilome Winterizer for Established Lawns (10-0-14). This will promote root growth and help enhance drought tolerance. Fertilome Winterizer is specially formulated for dormant grasses.

Believe it or not, some weeds are stressed too. Now that sounds like good news to me. Under these drought conditions, we see fewer weeds but there are still some that flourish in this environment such as Kochia, Bindweed, Prostate Knotweed, and deep-rooted perennials. The reason for this is that weeds have a natural dormancy mechanism that protects the seed from germinating in unfavorable conditions. The bad news is some of those weed seeds, especially the deep-rooted ones, will emerge when rain or irrigation returns. Since they won’t have as much competition from fewer weeds, they will emerge with a vengeance. I heard a great quote recently: “ If you give a weed an inch, it will take a yard”. Will that be your yard?

That bit of info allows me to talk about lawn weed killers. The best way I like to control weeds is with preventative measures. Less money invested, less labor for me. Pre-emergent and Post-emergent products are two ways I find work for me. A Pre-emergent actually suppresses the development of a seed before it even becomes a weed. A Post-emergent controls weeds that have already emerged.

Different weeds not only require different solutions, but there are different times when these products should be applied. Read the labels to prevent damage. Of course, some products target specific weeds. Get to know your weeds. As a general rule, Pre-emergents should be applied both in early Spring and early Fall. That’s when most seeds begin to germinate. Think Summer weeds and Winter weeds. I personally don’t want either and since I have St.Augustine grass, I use a granular application of either Fertilome Broadleaf Weed Control with Gallery (can be used on Bermuda)or Ace Southern Weed and Feed that has Atrazine,(not for Bermuda) which is both a pre and post-emergent. Atrazine also comes in liquid concentrate from HiYield. Getting a handle on weeds early will help keep your lawn green and healthy. Another applicable quote (author unknown to me); “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.

Now is the time to get your Fall gardens prepped. Test your PH, add necessary amendments such as HiYield Sulphur or Lime, if needed, and lots of compost manure. Your PH (soil acidity) will dictate what is needed. Shop seed catalogs for the best seed for our plant zone (8A). Transplants will be showing up in stores soon. Don’t forget to use mulch to keep your soil moist, warm, and to suppress weed growth. Mulch, dried leaves, or grass clippings can also be used as a walkway between your rows or raised beds to keep your feet dry and weeds down.

Please share what you do to prepare for Fall gardening.

Being Mississippi, the weather is very unpredictable so be ready to protect your plants in a flash frost or freeze. Row covers, cold frames, and hoop tunnels all help keep your plants safe from Mother Nature’s fury.

I’m here to help you grow your best garden ever. With the proper use of Fertilome and HiYield products (all found at Revell) and of course my hard-learned advice, we can keep you growing season after season.

Kari ‘Lady ACE’ Thomas

To reach out to Kari, call Clinton Revell ACE Hardware, 601-924-4510.