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Fall reminders

By John Fulton

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[September 08, 2010]  Fall seems to be bearing down on us. The warm days and cooler nights definitely bring to mind that the seasons are changing. This week's column will cover many short topics with reminders, alerts and the to-do list.

Lawn work caHardwaren be in high gear. Reseeding or overseeding should be done this week. Use about 2 pounds of seed per 1,000 square feet of lawn for overseeding and twice that for worked-up areas. A blend with Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, and red or chewings fescue is most common. The idea is to get the grass established before freezing weather, and remember that bluegrass can take up to a month to germinate. The intrusive operations, such as dethatching and core aeration, are also best done at this time.


The last half of September is an ideal time to apply broadleaf weed control for perennial weeds. This will affect young grass, so don't apply any chemicals at this time if you put down new seed. The rule of thumb is that you need to mow new grass at least two times before applying broadleaf products. Combinations of 2,4-D, MCPP and dicamba bought as a pre-mix are most common and provide broad spectrum control. Remember that you can get vapor drift with dicamba if temperatures are over 85 degrees or so. It is best to wait until later in the month with dicamba, to preserve the neighbor's tomatoes.

We are rapidly approaching the time to plant tulips, daffodils and other spring-flowering bulbs. They should be fall planted before a killing frost. That date is usually about the second week in October in our area. Plant larger bulbs 6 to 8 inches deep and smaller ones 3 to 4 inches deep. Mix into the soil 5 tablespoons of 10-10-10 fertilizer and 2 cups of bone meal per 10 square feet of bed area.

It is also time to dig summer-flowering bulbs such as canna and dahlia as their foliage turns yellow. Store them on layers of sawdust or peat moss in a cool, dry place.

The nuisance pest population is really building up. There are the intrusive pests such as crickets, millipedes and Asian ladybugs, and the outdoor pests such as syrphid flies, hornets and mosquitoes. For the ones invading the home, try foundation sprays of bifenthrin or permethrin to help reduce the number in the home. For the outdoor pests, use repellents containing DEET for mosquitoes. Proper sanitation will help with hornets and syrphids. The syrphid flies, which many call sweat bees, are actually beneficial insects eating scale crawlers and aphids.

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Harvest pumpkins before the stems turn brown. The heat has really moved things along this year. Pruning shears are a great way to harvest pumpkins or squash, and you should leave at least 2 inches of stem attached to the pumpkin. Here are some additional tips for pumpkins, even though we are in early September:

  • Choose a pumpkin with a stem, but never carry it by the stem. Pumpkins without a stem will not last long.

  • Select a pumpkin with a flat bottom, so it will stand upright.

  • Avoid pumpkins with holes, cuts or soft spots. These areas will rot.

  • Light-colored pumpkins are easier to carve because the skin is not as hard as darker, orange-colored ones, but they will not keep as well.

  • Wash the pumpkin with warm water and let it dry before carving. Use of a small amount of dishwashing soap in the warm water may help extend the life of the pumpkin.

  • To make the pumpkin last longer, keep it in a cool place until ready to carve. After carving, coat the cuts with petroleum jelly.

  • Carving should wait until three days ahead of Halloween. After cutting, the pumpkin will deteriorate rapidly.

  • The use of a candle in the pumpkin will also make it deteriorate rapidly.

[By JOHN FULTON, University of Illinois Extension, Logan County]

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