The plant with the little purple flowers that have been showing up in home lawns is called henbit. If you are not sure this is what you have, check the stems. If they are square rather than round, you have henbit. A plant that also is low growing but has round stems and tiny white flowers is chickweed.
Both these plants are winter annuals and start to grow in the fall. They spend the winter as small plants and so most people do not pay much attention to them until they start to flower in the spring. Trying to kill either one at this late stage with a herbicide usually is a waste of time and money. Though plants may be burned back, they will rarely be killed. So what should you do? Remember, these are winter annuals that will die as soon as the weather turns hot. Keep the lawn mowed until nature takes its course.
However, you can do something next fall that will help next spring. Henbit and chickweed usually germinate about mid-October. Spraying with 2,4-D, Weed-B-Gon, Weed Free Zone, Weed Out, or Trimec in late October to early November can go a long way toward eliminating these plants as they are small and relatively easy to control. Choose a day that is at least 50 degrees F. These herbicides will work at temperatures below 50 degrees but the weeds are killed at a slower rate. You may also use a preemergent herbicide for lawns in late September as long as have not recently put down grass seed. Spraying with the postemergence herbicides mentioned earlier will also catch dandelions which the preemergent herbicides will miss.
Spot treating will probably be needed in the spring (March) whichever method of control you use but is more likely with the use of preemergent herbicides. Use Weed Free Zone, Speed Zone, Weed Out, Weed-B-Gon, Trimec, or one of the special henbit herbicides early in the spring before they have put on much growth. (Ward Upham)
Year of Planting: Apply one-half cup of a 10-10-10, 12-12-12 or similar fertilizer per vine as growth begins in the spring. Repeat after one month. Fertilizers should be spread evenly from the trunk out 3 to 5 feet.
Second Year: Apply 1 cup of a 10-10-10, 12-12-12 or similar fertilizer per vine as growth begins in the spring. Fertilizers should be spread evenly from the trunk out 3 to 5 feet.
Mature Vines (3 years and older): If the soil test recommends phosphorus and potassium, use a 10-10-10, 12-12-12 or similar fertilizer at the rate of 2 cups per mature vine. Fertilizers should be spread evenly from the trunk out 3 to 5 feet.
If, however, there are adequate levels of phosphorus and potassium, add 3/4 cup of a high nitrogen fertilizer such as a 27-3-3, 29-5-4, 30-3-3 or something similar instead of the 10-10-10. Though recommended for lawns, these fertilizers will also work well as long as they do not contain weed killers or crabgrass preventers. Fertilizers should be spread evenly from the trunk out 3 to 5 feet. (Ward Upham)
Fruit trees benefit from fertilization around the bloom period, but the amount needed varies with the age of the tree. Normally, trees primarily need nitrogen, so the recommendations are for a high nitrogen fertilizer such as a 27-3-3, 29-5-4, 30-3-3 or something similar. Though recommended for lawns, these fertilizers will also work well as long as they do not contain weed killers or crabgrass preventers. Use the following rates:
Trees 1 to 2 years old, apply one-fourth cup of fertilizer per tree;
Trees 3 to 4 years old, apply one-half cup per tree;
Trees 5 to 10 years old, apply 1 to 2 cups per tree;
Trees more than 10 years old, apply 2 to 3 cups.
You may also use nitrate of soda (16-0-0) but double the rate recommended above. If a soil test calls for phosphorus and potassium, use a 10-10-10 but triple the rate.
On apple trees, last year's growth should be 8 to 10 inches, cherries should have 10 to 12 inches, and peaches should equal 12 to 15 inches of terminal growth. If less than this, apply the higher rate of fertilizer, and if more, apply the lesser amount.
Spread all fertilizer evenly on the ground away from the trunk of the tree and to the outer spread of the branches. Water in the fertilizer with at least 1/4 inch of water if rain does not do the job for you. (Ward Upham)
Gardeners that haven’t grown cauliflower before are often surprised that the heads of most varieties are a yellowish color and not the white they expect. The yellowish hue is a reaction to sunlight. In order to have the heads remain white, the developing heads must be covered to protect them from the sun. This is commonly done by pulling several of the outer leaves over the head when the head is the size of a silver dollar. Hold the leaves in place with a rubber band, tape or soft twine. Plants need to be checked every few days to make sure the curds of the expanding head don’t begin to show. There are some varieties that are self-blanching but watch them to make sure the leaves actually do cover the head. Self-blanching varieties are more likely to “work” in cool weather. (Ward Upham)
The fruit on ornamental pears is quite small; about the size of a marble. However, it can be very messy if it lands on sidewalks or driveways and people squish the fruit when walking or driving. You may have noticed that ornamental pears are producing fruit much more commonly than they have in the past. Why is this so? A little history is needed in order to understand what has happened.
Ornamental pears used to be called Bradford pears. This was a bit of a misnomer as ‘Bradford’ was a specific variety. Ornamental pears were called Bradfords because this was practically the only variety that people planted. Therefore, if you bought an ornamental pear a number of years ago, it was likely a Bradford. All was well and good until people noticed that Bradfords would fall apart after a number of years due to a weak branching structure. Therefore, nurseries started selling “improved” ornamental pears that were not Bradfords such as ‘Aristocrat’, ‘Capital’, ‘Redspire’, ‘Chanticleer’ and various other varieties. It was felt that all of these varieties had a stronger branching pattern that ‘Bradford’ but such may not be the case. Both ‘Chanticleer’ and ‘Redspire’ have shown branch breakage. ‘Aristocrat’ does appear to have better branch angles but more time is needed to make a firm recommendation.
Here is the key. Pears usually require cross-pollination in order to fruit. In other words, you must have two different varieties of pear before fruit forms. When all we had were Bradfords, we had no fruit due to a lack of cross-pollination. Now that we have such a mixture of varieties, we will get fruit as long as two different varieties of ornamental pears bloom at the same time and are close enough that bees can work between them.
This formation of fruit can also lead to a second problem. Volunteer trees can come up from the seed contained in the fruit. Therefore, you may see ornamental pears come up in areas where no one planted them. This has become enough of a problem that several states have added ornamental pears to their invasive plant list.
There are products that are sold as fruit preventers such as Florel but timing and air temperature are critical and our results have been mixed. (Ward Upham)
Most gardeners are familiar with herbicides that can be used to eliminate broadleaves from grasses (i.e. dandelions from lawns). However, gardeners may not be as familiar with herbicides that can take grasses out of broadleaf plants like shrubs. There are two major weed killer types labeled for homeowners that are used to kill grassy weeds in broadleaf plants. On the commercial side, the trade names for these products are Fusilade and Poast. Homeowner labeling is more diverse. I have seen Fusilade sold under the names of Ortho "Grass-B-Gon”. Poast is sometimes sold to homeowners under the Poast label but I've seen it more commonly sold as “Bonide Grass Beater”, “Fertilome Over the Top II Grass Killer", "Hi-Yield Grass Killer" and "Monterey Grass Getter." There may be other trade names, too. Fortunately, you can identify the product by the common chemical name listed on the label. Fusilade's common chemical name is fluazifop, and Poast's is sethoxydim.
If you decide to use one of these products, read the label carefully. Often, a crop oil must be added to the spray solution for the herbicide to work well. Some grassy weeds are not controlled such as bromegrass and sandbur. Mature tall fescue also is not controlled though seedling tall fescue is. Established bermudagrass is knocked back but rarely killed.
Though both these products can be used over the top of numerous broadleaf plants (including iris), there are some differences in labeling. For example, if you need to control grasses in vegetables, choose Poast as Fusilade is not labeled for vegetables. However, Poast products cannot be used on all vegetables and the waiting period between spraying and harvest may be so long as to make use impractical. To see a label for one of the products that contain sethoxydim, see Hi-Yield Grass Killer. (Ward Upham)
For those of you that have been stocking-up on the toilet paper during the COVID-19 crisis I have some bad news…there are insects ("bugs") that will actually feed on toilet paper. Some insects actually have an affinity for toilet paper that may be related to the "softness," which makes it easier for the insects to chew on the toilet paper sheets. One of these insects is the silverfish [Order: Zygentoma (Thysanura)], which is grayish-white, segmented, elongated, and approximately 3/4 inches (19 mm) long. Silverfish have two antennae that move back and forth in motion and there are three long tails or bristles protruding from the back of the abdomen. In addition to silverfish, cockroaches, termites, and booklice may occasionally enjoy munching on toilet paper sheets. Silverfish will start feeding on the outer edges of the toilet paper and move inward.
Most people keep their stockpile of toilet paper in the basement. However, this is a prime environment for silverfish development and reproduction since, in general, basements are humid and damp. The higher the humidity, the faster silverfish will develop and reproduce. In general, the life cycle (egg to adult) takes three to four months. Toilet paper that is stacked on shelves next to a wall provides a nice "buffet" for silverfish.
By the way, the guns and ammunition that are stockpiled will not provide any assistance against toilet paper eating "bugs." However, below are ways to protect your valuable toilet paper from silverfish and other "bugs:"
1. Keep all toilet paper in the original packaging.
2. Place toilet paper in PVC tubes similar to the ones used for drainage that will allow you to stack the toilet paper rolls on top of each other. Be sure to seal both ends to exclude silverfish and other "bugs" from getting at the toilet paper.
3. Place toilet paper in a heavy duty plastic garbage container with a tight-sealing lid. In addition, you can place moth balls in the bottom of the container to repel any "bugs."
4. Place toilet paper in heavy duty Tupperware containers with tight-sealing lids. Again, placing moth balls inside may help to repel any "bugs" from munching on the rolls of toilet paper.
5. Place diatomaceous earth (DE) around stacks of toilet paper to create a barrier. However, make sure there are no gaps in the barrier that silverfish or other "bugs" can get through. If a silverfish or even a cockroach tries to cross the DE barrier, their cuticle will be ruptured leading to a loss of water (dehydration)…and they will die!
Well, I hope this article will help everyone to sustain the usefullness of their toilet paper so that when you have to go…you do not find out too late…that a silverfish or other "bug" has enjoyed your toilet paper before you can use it! (Raymond Cloyd)
If you would like to have your tomato plants produce earlier in the year, there are certain things to keep in mind. Most people who try to get a jump on the season set their tomatoes out early and hope they do well. However, that is often not a good plan as tomatoes have to have certain requirements before they will grow well. Those requirements are an acceptable soil temperature for root growth and an acceptable air temperature for both plant growth and fruit set.
Root Growth: Tomatoes need a soil temperature of at least 55 degrees to do well. Plastic mulch is most commonly used to warm the soil. Several days may be needed to raise the soil temperature. Check the soil temperature 2.5 inches deep in the soil at about 11:00 a.m. If that is not possible, check the temperature before leaving for work and again when you return and use the average of the two. It is best to lay a drip irrigation line before installing the plastic to
make watering more convenient. See accompanying article on laying plastic mulch.
Air Temperature: Plants must be protected from frost. Hot caps or water teepees are placed over the young plants to provide protection as well as provide a higher average temperature to encourage growth. Eventually the plants will outgrow the cover and start to develop flowers. But if the temperature goes below 55 degrees at night, tomato flowers may not set. The plant is not hurt, but the blossom will not set fruit, or, if it does set fruit, the fruit is often misshapen.
How early can you transplant? Start with a date about 2 weeks earlier than normal. (Ward Upham)
Ward Upham is the Kansas State Master Gardener Coordinator and runs the Horticulture Response Center. Other contributors include K-State Extension Specialists.