October 14, 1994
Many gardeners are enjoying a renewed interest in water gardening. Water adds a special effect to the landscape and fish are easy to care for pets. A properly functioning water garden takes care of itself naturally throughout the growing season. Submerged plants and scavengers help keep algae populations from getting out of hand. However, water gardens do require late season attention for their survival.
Fall is a busy time for gardeners. With so much to do, lawn care is sometimes neglected. However, proper lawn care in fall helps insure an attractive, healthy lawn next season. Late fall lawn care includes:
Mowing--Continue to mow the lawn until the grass stops growing. The foliage of cool-season grasses, such as bluegrass, usually stops growing in early November. Mow bluegrass lawns at a height of 2 to 2 1/2 inches in the fall.
Sooty blotch and flyspeck are caused by different fungi that commonly occur together on the same fruit. The sooty blotch fungus causes superficial, black spots or blotches up to 1/4 inch or larger. These spots may merge, causing most the apple to appear blackened. The flyspeck fungus causes clusters of shiny round dots, each of which is about the size of a pinhead. Pm- 673, "Recognizing common apple diseases in Iowa," shows a color photo of disease symptoms. Both diseases cause superficial damage since the growth affects the cuticle of the fruit.
Removing diseased plant material this fall will help prevent disease problems next spring. Many disease-causing organisms can survive the winter in infected plant debris. Plowing or tilling under crop debris can also help prevent overwintering.
There are many common leaf diseases that good sanitation practices will help control. Leaf spot of iris, leaf blotch of peony, black spot on rose, blights on tomato, and scab on apple are just a few examples. If leaf spot problems were evident this year, it is a good idea to remove the plant debris now.
We are once again at the time of the year when the perennial annoyance of "gnats" in the house is driving people buggy. The difficulty is not the occasional fruit fly buzzing around fruit on the countertop, but rather large numbers of fruit flies appearing at windows and over sink drains every day.
The harvest period for most vegetables ends with the first hard frost. However, the quality of some root crops, such as parsnips and horseradish, actually improves with exposure to cool temperatures. Parsnips and horseradish should be harvested in late fall or early spring.
Parsnips produce white to cream-colored roots which have a sweet, nut-like flavor. Cool temperatures convert starch to sugar and give the parsnips their distinctive flavor.