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Now is the time to test soil

Posted: September 17, 2012 - 6:48pm

Gardeners are aware that fall is drawing near and it is time to prepare yards and gardens for the dormant season.

But first, have your soil tested to determine the soil’s needs.

Now is the time to prune ornamental shrubbery and peach and plum trees. The time to prune is based on the flowering, fruiting, or growth habits of a plant or tree. Pruning is necessary to maintain plant size, to remove dead, diseased or broken branches, to remove undesired growth, or to stimulate fruiting or flowering. All trees and shrubs that flower before the end of June should be pruned after flowering.

Use proper tools when pruning. Tools should be high quality and sharp. Hand clippers are 6 to 9 inches long and are used for cutting branches ¼-inch in diameter. Loppers are 20 to 36 inches long for cutting large woody stems up to 1-inch in diameter. Hedge shears have blades 6 to 12 inches long and are used to shear formal hedges. Pruning saws are 14 to 28 inches long and are used for cuts over ¾-inch in diameter.

To prepare your lawn for the dormant season and to control winter weeds, apply pre-emergence herbicide and lawn fertilizer in mid-September. Fertilize roses for the last time until spring, and also fertilize, divide and repot strawberry plants. Strawberry plants produce runners that take over their container. It is necessary to thin and replant them.

According to the American Camellia Society, “For growing camellia from seeds, the best time to collect seeds from the pods is the latter part of August or early September. The seeds still have sufficient moisture and will germinate quicker. Soak seeds for approximately 12 hours or crack apart the hard coating. Either procedure helps speed germination. Plant seeds in good soil, peat moss, or peat moss and sand.”

For gardening problems, visit the Clemson University Web site at hgic.clemson.edu or call (888) 656-9988 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday.


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