October 3, 2008

Fight Next Year’s Enemies Now

By Booker T Leigh

When the leaves start to fall, most homeowners are ready to forget about plant disease and insects until next summer.

Normally, fall is the best time to start controlling next year's diseases and insects. A little work now can prevent a lot of problems next year.

Here are some things to do to help control disease and insect problems for next year:

Rake up and destroy leaves of all fruit trees and small fruits. Also, remove any rotten or dried-up fruit still hanging on trees or bushes.

Remove any annuals that have finished blooming for summer.

Don't fertilize your lawn with a nitrogen fertilizer after September. Nitrogen fertilizer applied after September can promote more shoot growth that can be damaged if we have an early frost. Don't cut your grass any shorter than you would during the summer. Cutting your lawn too short can damage the roots if we have a cold winter.

Remove any branches that had an insect and disease problem, unless we have a good amount of rainfall in early fall. Be sure to water your evergreen trees and shrubs just before a freeze. Evergreens continue to lose water through the winter.

Remove any dead and diseased plants from the garden and continue to control weeds until late fall. These old plants and weeds harbor disease and insects.

Mulching is a good way to conserve moisture and prevent weeds. If you choose to mulch your plants this fall, be sure to keep the mulch about 2 inches from the stem of the plant.

For more information, call the Tipton County Extension office at 476-0231, or the Shelby County Extension office at 752-1207.

Booker T. Leigh is extension director for Tipton County.

Originally published by Booker T. Leigh .

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