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Pace yourself on garden chores

There's so much to do, and if you are like the typical family, you don't have enough time to get it all done.

That goes for our gardens, too. To keep from being overwhelmed, divide your chores into manageable sections and work a little each day or weekend. That seems to be the only way I keep up with my list.

All about sod: The weather or insects may have taken their toll on your grass. If you are replacing sod in only a few spots, there are a few things to keep in mind. Some of my neighbors do not lay the new sod at the same level as the existing sod. This can lead to quite an adventure in mowing. You end up scalping the higher areas while leaving the lower areas too long.

The soil must be leveled before you lay the sod. After removing the dead sod and raking the area smooth, water the soil a few times so you know how far the soil will settle. Add or remove soil as necessary. Give the area a final raking to remove rocks and debris and end up with a smooth surface.

Now lay your pieces in the bare area, butting new sod securely against existing grass. Don't cut pieces too small or you won't be able to keep them moist.

Keep your newly sodded area moist for a few weeks to establish the roots. Apply a low-nitrogen fertilizer after three or four weeks to help encourage strong root growth. It should be ready for winter at that point.

If you have areas in your yard that are bare, you'll notice that opportunistic weeds will fill the spots quickly if you let them. If you're not going to lay sod or use plugs, it's important to keep the weeds out of these areas and give the lawn a chance to fill in.

Pruning: This is a good time of the year to do major pruning. It's recommended that you never prune more than one-third of a plant at a time, but many of our hardy landscape plants can take a major whacking if necessary.

I wouldn't bother to fertilize; you don't want to force more growth than we normally get at this time of year. Wait till spring.

If you have compost, spread it around your planting beds. The low level of nutrients in the organic matter is good for plants and helps build a good soil.

Veggies: Look for spots in your beds to tuck a few fall vegetables. You don't have to prepare a separate bed; many are happy living among your ornamentals. Some that perform well in the ornamental garden are lettuce, radishes, carrots, bush beans, onions and tomatoes.

Just about any vegetable you might enjoy will probably flourish among the flowers. Some spreading vegetables like squash or cucumber may take up too much room to be practical, but many of these traditional space hogs come in more compact varieties now, or you might think about growing them vertically.

The plants can get quite heavy, so make sure to use a strong trellis.

If you had annuals that made it through the summer, they may be past their prime. Think about replacing them with fresh annuals, perennials or edible plants.

Color me perplexed: I had to butcher my standard bougainvillea again! During winds, it was leaning south, so I tightened the supporting rope. A few hours later it had completely blown over toward the north.

The trunk is just not strong enough to support the head when it gets so large and heavy, and the roots must be shallow.

So I cut off at least two-thirds of the vegetation, definitely not recommended! I retied it and it has managed to remain upright. Solving my bougainvillea problem is just one of many chores on my never-ending list.

Pace yourself on garden chores 09/25/08 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 5:57pm]
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