Time to get growing

The last day of the Home & Garden Expo was a good day for gardeners. Jerry Kluver, of Hy-Vee’s Get Growing program, gave a talk covering all kinds of garden issues.

Kluver brought samples of various weed killers, pest poisons and fertilizers, explaining when each one should be used.

Spring is later than usual this year, he said.

Regarding lawn fertilizer, “You’re not even going to think about putting the first application on this year, because we are a month late,” he said. “I usually say the first of April, but don’t even put it on until the 15th of April.”

It will be time soon to rake through the lawn and bring up all the old debris, he said.

“Grass won’t even think about germinating until about the first week of May this year,” he said.

He recommended gardeners take soil samples and send them in for testing, possibly using one of the kits available at Hy-Vee. The results are sent to a lab, and come back with details on what the soil needs.

“You might be surprised at what your lawn needs or does not need,” he said.

“Weed and feed” should be applied to lawns by May 15, and grub control some time between July 1 and 15.

Grubs in lawns will attract skunks, raccoons, moles and gophers, he said.

He touched on how to care for or prune lilacs, rose bushes, hydrangeas and fruit trees, taking numerous questions from the audience.

Don’t use lawn fertilizer on a garden, he said, and remember different kinds of plants need different kinds of nourishments.

“I love triple super phosphate, with potatoes,” he said. “A lot of people don’t think about that when they plant potatoes. They put all nitrogen in there, and they get all tops. It’s the same way with tomatoes.”

People don’t realize that lilacs can get very rootbound, and sometimes need their roots chopped back with a spade, he said, or that special care needs to be taken to keep slugs and snails off hostas.

To kill off Creeping Charlie, use a spray bottle that attaches to a hose, set so that every gallon of water pulls out three ounces of mix. Fill it a third with spreader sticker, and the rest of the way up with Weed-B-Gone, to create a mix that won’t wash away easily in the rain. Also, beware of cheap grass seed mixes, he said, because some contain tall fescue.

“Do not buy tall fescue. That’s for sheep and horses. It’s a broadleaf seed and it’s nasty,” he said.

Kentucky Bluegrass mixed with perennial rye is the best grass, he said. Creeping red fescue is okay, in spite of its name.

Dorothy Telschaw said she always enjoys going to Kluver’s presentations.

“It’s always helpful, and it’s always good to hear some of the things again so you don’t forget from one year to the next what you’re supposed to be doing,” Telschaw said.

“We have tried to kill off the Creeping Charlie before, and didn’t know we need to put the sticker stuff on, along with the Weed-B-Gone.”

Judy Payne said the talk was helpful to learn about the latest products.

“We just got the soil tester. I took two pages of notes,” she said. “Just information on hostas, new products and ideas. And how to keep the deer away without a gun.”