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Will our lawns recover?

The goodness of our vegetable gardens is coming in quickly now. If you are into canning and preserving, there is a lot to do in the garden. There are even some flowers, depending on if you are in an area that has had rain, that are still coming on strong.

The rains are a hit and miss even in our area. It seems that it is a story of the haves and the have nots. The biggest question that I have been fielding is will our lawns recover. Lawns are dormant now and may remain so into winter provided it doesn’t rain. It is not a time to panic. Instead, be aware that there are other things that we should not be doing while we wait for the rain to appear again.

The first is to make sure that you stop all traffic on the lawn. Foot traffic is okay but if it is over the same pathway, again and again, the lawn may be damaged due to compressing the soils. Keep lawnmowers, particularly riding lawnmowers off the grass as much as possible. Fertilizing the lawn now or treating weeds is something that should also be placed on hold. The use of fertilizer on dormant lawns may even go as far as damaging the lawn or killing it. The same goes for weed control. We are now past the ability to do anything about the weeds except to try to hand weed them off of the lawn. When there has been a serious lack of rain, the plants (even weeds) do not take up the chemicals as they should and the chemical will not work as well as it should. Gardeners can resume using a riding mower on their lawns once the grass is truly growing again.

Moving on to another topic that many of us find interesting and is often a note of debate among gardeners: insecticidal soap. The use of soap as an insecticide in the vegetable or flower garden is something that we can add to our arsenal. There are two or three brands of ready-to-use insecticidal soap on the market. They all work equally well. Gardeners can also make their own. The debate is usually around how well they work.

As we are all trying to do our best to keep our gardens going and keep the insects out of the garden that are trying to eat our plants, we all have to remember what we use on the insects we don’t want will equally cause problems for those that we do want-our pollinators. The U of M Extension is working on how insecticidal soap works (it is not quite understood): we do know that insecticidal soap washes off the protective coating on insects which causes them to dry out (U of M Yard and Garden newsletter). 

Soapy water sprayed onto larger insects sometimes works and sometimes it doesn’t work. Aphids and other soft-bodied insects can be killed with soapy water. The only way Japanese beetles are affected by soapy water is by catching them and dropping them into a container of soapy water. Otherwise, it will not affect them. If you are making your insecticidal soap, use 2 teaspoons of soap into a gallon of water. Just as it doesn’t do any good to use more of a chemical insecticide, it doesn’t do any good to use a stronger insecticidal soap. The use of too much insecticidal soap will cause leaf burn on plants. There are a few plants that are sensitive to insecticidal soap — tomatoes are probably the most seen around our area with a few others in the tree or shrub category. For more information, please visit https://extension.umn.edu/yard-and-garden-news/coming-clean-soap-garden.

As we start to ease into fall time, please remember that if you are interested in becoming a U of M Extension Master Gardener, you will need to apply. This is completed online but a paper copy can also be sent to you if that is what you wish. Classes are held online and not in person. Please contact me if you are interested. The Lyon County Master Gardeners will also be offering a Fall Gardening presentation day on Oct. 2. Please watch for more details as the date becomes nearer. For more information on gardening or how to become a Master Gardener, please email me at s.dejaeghere@me.com

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