Encouraging Maturity - Even Garden Plants Need It

By: Keith Markensen..

Out West gardeners should be changing their practices now to encourage maturity in woody plants so as to prepare them for winter. Reducing the amount of watering helps to do this.
Avoid any practices that encourage woody plants to carry on soft, succulent growth into late summer. Avoid over-cultivation in fact, letting a few weeds grow (as long as they do not go to seed) will aid in sapping up excess moisture and discouraging late growth.
Do not fertilize woody plants and herbaceous perennials in late summer, especially with high nitrogen containing fertilizers. Feeding of these plants should be limited to the early part of the growing season. Do not prune in late summer or fall for similar reasons. Late pruning stimulates new, soft, succulent growth. Pruning should be confined to the late winter, spring and early summer months.
Don't let down on insect and disease control, just because the best part of the growing season is over. Many folks believe that just because the hottest part of summer is past, the diseases and insects arc on the wane. They forget that these pests hibernate over winter in the soil and plant debris. Constant attention to pest control right to the end of the growing season pays dividends in helping make: the garden more free of pests the next year.
Watch for Garden Mites
Watch the garden for infestations of red spider. These mites attack a host of plants: raspberries, junipers, spruce, phlox and many others. They are not visible to the naked eye. They congregate chiefly on the under sides of foliage, and multiply abundantly during hot, dry weather. They have, piercing-sucking mouth parts, and leave numerous tiny punctures throughout the leaf surface where they feed, giving the plants a grayish-green or yellowish cast. Malathion is an effective spray for homeowners. Use it according to directions and apply the spray under good pressure, directing it particularly to the undersides of the leaves Repeat the spray at weekly to ten day intervals as long as necessary.
Iron chelates are important in feeding iron to plants. Lack of iron causes foliage of many plants such as potted tree roses to yellow. The yellowing starts between the veins of the leaf of a plant and such yellowing becomes progressively worse as the deficiency symptoms become more pronounced. One of the most successful chelates for alkaline soils has been Sequestrene 138. Use it according to manufacturer's directions. Some of the plants most subject to iron chlorosis are spireas, potted roses, strawberries, raspberries, plums. apples and mountain ash.
This is a good time to take notice of new varieties and kinds of plants. Visiting friends gardens, flower shows and fairs, will offer opportunities to see new kinds of plants and varieties, Check plants in your own garden and take note of what you want to save, and what you want to discard, It does not pay to save seeds of some kinds of plants, Saving seeds of F1 hybrids isn't desirable, since you will not get the same variety in the next generation, but rather a mixture of colors, forms and types. Unless you want to select for new types, saving F1 seed just isn't a good practice.

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