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by Pernell Gerver

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"How to Get Your Lawn in Shape this Fall"

I consider early September through fall to be one of the best times to work on lawns. Growing conditions are right to develop a thick, green, healthy lawn. There are a few lawn care tasks to do at this time of the year that will make the lawn look good right away and improve its future health including fertilizing, weed control, and grub control. Click on a product name below to order it from Pernell Gerver's Online Store.

To prevent perennial weed seeds that sprout in fall as well as fertilize the lawn to green it up fast this fall I apply Organic Lawn Weed and Feed, an easy, one-step lawn care program. I apply it myself with a drop spreader or broadcast spreader anytime now through fall. This safe and natural lawn weed and feed contains an organic, slow-release lawn food that fertilizes the lawn making it green up fast without burning. It also contains a safe and natural pre-emergent that prevents weed seeds from sprouting. This product is safe for people, pets, and wildlife and the lawn can be walked on immediately following treatment.

After applying the Organic Lawn Weed and Feed, I walk over the lawn and spot spray any existing weeds with Herbicidal Soap Spray, also a safe and natural product. This quickly gets rid of any weeds it is sprayed onto.

By using both of these products together you can get rid of even the toughest lawn weeds, including wild violets, ground ivy, dandelion, crabgrass, nutsedge, clover, purslane, and all other lawn weeds.

The most effective, long-term control of grubs is an organic product called Milky Spore Powder Grub Control. Only one application is necessary with the powder. Just one application lasts 20 years or more. I put it on my lawn and garden about 20 years ago and don't have any problems with grubs. I've heard from others that it is still effective and controlling grubs for 45 years with just one application. It is safe for people, pets, and wildlife. In addition to controlling grubs, it indirectly controls beetles since beetles begin as grubs. What's more, if moles, skunks, or birds are digging up the lawn looking for grubs, these pests will go away because their food source (the grubs) will be gone.

Milky Spore Powder Grub Control is easy to apply and you can do it now. All you do is drop a teaspoon of the powder roughly every four feet in a grid pattern throughout the lawn and garden, then water it in for about 10 minutes.

Pernell Gerver's Gardening Q & Aby Pernell Gerver

"Dark Treatment Makes Poinsettia Rebloom for the Holidays"

Q. I have two poinsettias that I put in my garden this year. They are doing very well and have really gotten big in the last two weeks. I want to take them in for the winter and make them rebloom. How is the best way to do that?

A. Poinsettia is a popular plant around the holidays. It's prized for its bright red colorful bracts. Although red is the most popular color of poinsettia, there are also white, pink, and spotted or marbled types. You can make poinsettia rebloom yearly and here is how to care for a poinsettia starting this autumn.

Believe it or not, it's now time to start thinking about Christmas, even though it's over three months away. To make a poinsettia rebloom in time for the holidays, begin a dark treatment in late September. Place the plant in complete, uninterrupted darkness for 14 hours a day, for example from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. The plant cannot be exposed to any light during this time, even streetlights or lamps. Place the plant in either a dark closet or put a box over the plant. During the day, move the plant to a sunny location. Continue the dark treatment until bracts begin to show color, usually in about eight weeks. Color should be visible by late November.

After Christmas, when the colored bracts have faded and fallen off, cut the plant back by two thirds. Reduce watering so that the soil is almost, but never completely, dry. Keep the dormant plant at normal room temperature in bright, filtered light.

Begin regular watering again in April. New growth should begin to show when watering resumes. Pinch back new growth to keep the plant bushy.

Repot the poinsettia when new growth starts. Choose a pot the same size as the original one. Shake off all the old potting soil and replace with fresh, soil-based potting soil. Begin fertilizing once every two weeks with a liquid fertilizer once the plant is repotted. Continue feeding until September. When night temperatures are above 60 degrees, place the plant outside in a partially shaded area. Be sure to bring it back inside in September before frosty weather and repeat the process.

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