The Great Outdoors


Doug Hackbarth - Broadview Florist & GreenhousesGardening is supposed to be a relaxing hobby that one should look forward to each and every day. A hobby where you simply plant flowers and seeds, sit back and enjoy the wondrous beauty and feel proud of your hard work and accomplishments. But what happened? Today all I see are weeds and disease in my “beautiful” gardens. Now the real work begins.

Gardening, as in life, is not always just the good times but sometimes we must work for greatness. I’m not going into the “life” aspects but when it comes to gardening, it can be as easy or as difficult as you make it. Once the weeds and diseases get ahead of you, “well, you’ve got trouble my friends” and getting out of this trouble really can be tough. The following paragraphs are about what you should have done and what you now need to do.

When it comes to weeds, keeping ahead of them is the early solution. Two weeks after you plant your flowers and/or vegetables, start watching for the weeds. As soon as they are visible (only half an inch tall), get rid of them. Do this every week while your gardens are growing. Pulling up weeds while they are small is so much easier than allowing them to get large and well rooted, especially just after it rains. If plants are spaced far apart, you may want to mix up some Round-up or Kills-All type weed killers and carefully spray around your plants, again while they are young and small. Be sure to use these types of weed killers as they only kill the plants that are sprayed directly and does not spread on to the next plants even if it rains soon after.

If you allow the weeds to get really big before you decide to eliminate them, then pulling them by hand is the first step followed by the weed killers on the remaining smaller weeds. Then try harder to keep ahead of them. Sometimes in a really large area of weeds it is easier to mow them down then come back 10 to 15 days later and spray. Do not mow and spray on the same day as that is a total waste of time. The weeds must have actively growing tops in order for the weed killers to work. Once you mow them, the tops are gone for a short time so wait until they are growing again before you spray.

Fungi, bacteria, and diseases of all kinds are best battled early, even before they show up. It’s called preventative spraying and just about any fungicide will work. As with my theory on fertilizers, it’s a good idea to use a couple of different kinds alternating one, then the other. This way you attack a larger variety of diseases before they appear. Diseases love wet climates with warm weather and shady conditions. With the amount of rainfall that we have had this year, diseases are running rampant. Watch for them on your roses, lilacs, tomato plants, grapes, melons, cucumbers and squash. If your roses, lilacs and other shrubbery plants get too far gone, simply cut them back now and allow them to re-grow. Unfortunately, you cannot cut back and re-grow most vegetable plants so you must selectively cut off the most affected leaves and stems then apply dusting sulfur to put the disease in check. Remember that diseases grow best if and when you water your plants late in the evening so try always to only water early in the day.

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Doug Hackbarth

Doug's is the former owner of Broadview Florist & Greenhouses in Waynedale. He authors a garden & landscaping article in the newspaper. In his adolescence he attended Hillcrest, Kekionga and Elmhurst HS. His expertise has been shared in print, tv and radio. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer