Persistent crab grass calls for chemical relief

Garden Q&A

April 06, 1997

We have a bad problem with crab grass, and I'm ready to resort to chemicals. What should I use, and when should I apply it?

You should apply a pre-emergent herbicide by the end of this week. This material will prevent crab-grass seed from germinating. If you regularly fertilize your lawn, you should avoid herbicides that are combined with fertilizers. It would be overkill to use such products.

We have a 6-foot-high wooden privacy fence surrounding our back patio. Are there some low-maintenance vines I can plant this spring that will cover the fence without destroying it?

There are many nonfussy vines you can select from. Some perennial vines that might work for you include clematis, sweet pea, climbing roses, hops (try the new variegated 'Sunbeam' variety) and mandevilla ('Alice DuPont' variety). Flowering annual vines include morning glory, moonflower, cardinal flower, hyacinth and scarlet runner beans and thumbergia.

The annual vines can be grown in containers or beds dug next to the fence. The perennial vines should be planted in beds.

I'm expecting a shipment of strawberry plants and asparagus roots any day now, and I'm worried I won't be able to get them planted right away because my ground is too wet. What should I do to protect them?

Your bare-root strawberry plants and asparagus roots can be held for five to 10 days if you wrap the roots in moistened mulch, shredded newspaper or peat moss and then cover them with a perforated plastic bag that will allow for good air circulation. Keep your plants and roots in a cool, dry location until you are ready to put them in the ground.

Is it too early to start tomato and eggplant transplants? Also, is it OK to start cucumbers and squash indoors?

Gardeners in Central Maryland should plan to have 6- to 8-week-old tomato, pepper and eggplant transplants ready to set out in the garden by May 15. Before transplanting, keep your plants just 1-2 inches below cool, white fluorescent tubes (this coddling keeps them stocky), and give each plant at least 10 square inches of growing space.

You can start squash and cucumber plants around April 15-20 in Central Maryland -- three to four weeks before you're ready to set them out. When the time comes to move them, handle their roots very carefully.

Checklist

Reactivate your compost piles by pulling out brush and woody materials, removing finished compost and mixing in fresh grass clippings or other nitrogen sources with last year's leaves.

To ward off plant disease, scrub dirt and soil from clay pots, plastic containers and flats (reusable plastic trays) and dip them in a 10 percent chlorine bleach solution. Rinse and let dry before reusing.

Pub Date: 4/06/97

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