SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Lifestyle

June 21, 2013

When to keep growing, when to cut back

Q: We have enjoyed growing some greens this year. Do I have to give them up very soon or can I grow them into the fall?

A: Make another trip to a seed rack right now before they’re all gone. Buy seeds now for late crops of greens and radishes and anything else that still plan to grow as the weather gets cooler. You’ve still got more than 60 days left in the late growing season, and if you have a cold frame, you could have greens year-round; delicious and so healthy!

Q: I think I missed a question from you which involved getting rid of the day lilies that have reseeded themselves and are living in your lawn.

A: Have you tried using Roundup with the applicator wand? You will have to walk around the lawn and spot-spray the unwanted lilies, being very careful to spray only the unwanted plants. This should kill the plant foliage as well as the root — if not, try a second application.

Q: What do all the numbers and letters on fertilizer packages mean? Do they think that you have a degree in chemistry?

A: You don’t have to have a degree in chemistry to read the fertilizer label. By law, numbers have to be listed the same way.

“N” is for nitrogen. Nitrogen is always the first number in labeling. Your plants need nitrogen to make chlorophyll and for strong leaf growth. Give your plant too much nitrogen and plants will produce the most beautiful, strong foliage you’ve ever seen — but very few flowers. Nitrogen is great on lawns for “greening up” in the spring.

“P” is for phosphorus and is always the second number. Plants need phosphorus for bright blooms, increased fruit development, and strong roots.

“K” is for potassium, or potash, and is always the third number on the label. Potassium is utilized in the plant for strong structure (stems and leaves) and also promotes general health, helps plants fight disease and stress, and improves the quality of fruits and vegetables. It also reduces a plant’s need for water by slowing loss of water through the leaves.

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