By Darrell Blackwelder
For the Farm Carolina
SALISBURY - The unseasonably cool weather caught most people off guard this week. With the change in temperature, homeowners want to be outdoors for fall cleanup and work outdoors. Many have called with various questions about lawns and gardens in which you may have an interest. Here are a few:
Q: A few weeks ago I over-seeded my lawn and now the grass seed is coming up nicely. When should I mow my newly emerging lawn?
A: Make sure your blade is very sharp and cut the new lawn when the grass has reached a height of 4 inches. Mow it as high as possible and often to strengthen the plants' root system.
Q: Is there still time for me to core aerate my lawn and plant grass seed now?
A: Yes, there is still time to seed or over-seed fescue lawns; but for best results, you need to have your seeding done by Oct. 30.
Q: My mother gave me an amaryllis bulb last Christmas and I have kept it over the holidays. I want to bring it indoors and make it bloom again if possible. What do I need to do to make my amaryllis re-bloom?
A: Bring the plant indoors and place the potted bulb in a dark location on its side for 6 to 8 weeks. The leaves will then wilt and die. With a sharp knife, carefully remove the leaves close to the bulb. The bulb should be stored in a cool, dry location such as a basement or carport. After this period of rest, repot the bulb with fresh potting soil. Repot the bulb in a pot one size larger than previous pot. An ideal soil mixture contains one part houseplant soil, one part peat moss and one part vermiculite or perlite. All-purpose potting soils are acceptable. Place the bulb so that the top half is exposed. Firm the soil around the bulb but don't pack too tightly. Go to http://www.usna.usda.gov/Gardens/faqs/AmaryllisBloom.html for more complete information.
Q: I still have pumpkins in the garden. When is the best time to harvest?
A: Pumpkins can take a light frost, but not a hard freeze. When the rind is very hard and the stem is brown is the best time to pluck them out of the garden. Use pruners to cut the stem, leaving an inch or more of stem. Wash the pumpkins in one part bleach to 10 parts water solution to eliminate fungi and bacteria that will increase chances of decay.
Darrell Blackwelder is County Extension Director, Rowan County Center, North Carolina Cooperative Extension. 704-216-8970.