By Gary L. Pierce
N.C. Extension Service
Question: What do we do now?
Answer: If you are reading this, then you probably realize our modern day fear mongers misunderstood the Mayan calendar. All those hours you spent watching shows about Nostradamus, the Mayans and the other star gazers have been wasted. Counting on a meteor to get you out of paying taxes for 2012 won’t pan out very well either.
There’s more bad news. If you haven’t put lime on your vegetable garden, sowed a winter cover crop or put a preemergent herbicide on your lawn, then you want be as successful gardening as the Mayans. The Mayans’ legacy may have accidentally been turned into a doomsday prophecy, but one thing is for sure. They knew about gardening and using a calendar. Most of us need to be more like them when it comes to those two things.
The world’s not coming to an end (at least not an immediate one), and there are still some things we should do outside. First, either run the fuel out of your gardening equipment or add some fuel stabilizer. If you lean toward mechanical chores, then check your mower blades, change air filters and oil.
Second, prepare for pruning. Don’t actually start yet. Fruit trees, small fruit, grape vines and ornamentals are less likely to be hurt by a late frost if you prune them later in the winter. Early pruning (Oct thru Jan) typically makes woody plants sprout out sooner in the spring. Early sprouting usually puts these plants into a timeframe where they are more likely to get zapped. Prune as late as you can. End of Feb thru early March is best.
Third, you may have missed the preemergent herbicide window, but it’s not too late to apply a post emergent herbicide. Lawn burweed has emerged over the past 15 years as a very common lawn pest. If you have what appears to be “sandspurs” in May, then you actually have lawn burweed. The sandspur plant starts growing in the spring, but the actual spurs don’t appear until August. Lawn burweed starts growing in the fall and sets the spurs in the spring. An application of Weed-B-Gone should do the trick. Right now, lawn burweed looks like an innocent little parsley plant. Take out some of your doomsday aggression on them before they get you in May.
For info on pruning fruit trees, visit http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/hil/ag29.html Since we’ll probably be here a few more years, you may even thing about designing a winter garden. Visit http://www.tarheelgardening.com/wordpress/2011/01/13/north-carolina-winter-gardens/ for some ideas. If you don’t have internet access, call me at 910-893-7530 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Don’t blame the History channel for the numerous shows about Nostradamus. They didn’t lead you astray. They were simply trying to pull some viewers from CBS and NBC. FOX viewers alone weren’t enough to keep up their ratings. If you’re young and you have been duped for the first time, then don’t feel bad. This drill has played out many times. Here were the top 10 doomsday misses before 2012. http://www.toptenz.net/top-10-most-famous-doomsday-prophecies-that-failed.php
I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and joyous holiday season! I also wish you all a Happy New Year and many more to come!
Gary L. Pierce
Horticulture Extension Agent