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Garden hose.

, Star Tribune

Get ready, you-know-what is on its way

  • Article by: KIM PALMER
  • Star Tribune
  • September 13, 2011 - 3:52 PM

Grab a sweater. And the hose. With cooler weather rolling in, it's starting to feel like fall, which means it's time to get your yard ready for you-know-what.

Start by serving it a nice big drink. Yes, it was soggy in June, but that was a long time ago. "It's been on the dry side," said Jeff Gillman, horticulturist and associate professor with the University of Minnesota.

If your ground feels moist, ignore the hose. But if it doesn't, it's time to give plants, from perennials to pine trees, a good soaking. "Plants store water now, and they have to be well hydrated to handle winter," Gillman said.

It's also a good time to feed your lawn. Last year, the U downsized its fall care guidelines. One fertilizer application in September is now considered optimal. The U used to recommend a second application in November, but revised that in light of new research indicating that most of the nitrogen never gets to the grass when fertilizer is applied late in fall.

Ideally, you should have fertilized in early September, but you can still do it this weekend. That is, as long as you've kept up with your watering. Fertilizing a parched brown lawn is not a good idea. If yours fits that description, start watering now; if your grass starts actively growing in the next week or so, fertilizing will still be beneficial, according to Brian Horgan, associate professor and turfgrass extension specialist at the U. "Now is the best time for plants to recover from summer stress."

And if you have unripened tomatoes on your vines, it's time to look up a recipe that calls for green ones. "Harvest what you can now," Gillman said. So there's no hope they'll still turn red during the waning days of September? "There's always hope," he said. "But if I'm being honest, it's not going to happen."

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