East Texas Ag News: October is transitional month for gardeners

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Published: Oct. 19, 2023 at 2:34 PM CDT
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LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - Our recent cool weather has been most welcomed and signals the slow transition into the winter months. The mild weather means working outside is not nearly as draining as working in the heat. At my location, I am just about 30 days away from the historical average first frost. Homeowners have plenty of tasks to do at this time and some that need to be put off until spring.

It is too late to fertilize your lawn. Nitrogen fertilization applied at this time will not be fully utilized by summer grasses that have already stopped growing in preparation for cooler weather.

It is a great time to add lime to your lawn if it needs it. “Lime” is simply ground up limestone that takes weeks to months to interact with the soil to raise your pH. Be sure to test to see if and how much lime you need. Many soils don’t need any lime and the only way to know is to properly test it.

Mulching in the fall is a great way to protect roots from cold weather and cover any stray weed seeds that may have made it into your beds. If you have pine trees, be sure utilize that wonderful, free, fallen pine straw.

Fall is too early to prune back fruit trees. The intensive pruning of peaches, plums, apples, and more need to be completed during mid to late winter.

Fall the best time of the year to plant perennials. If you have access to potted trees, shrubs, or other perennials, putting them in the ground now will give them the most amount of time to get their roots established before our next hot, dry summer.

Surprisingly, a few warm days in the fall is also the best time to treat for fire ants. Be sure to apply a fire ant product that is a bait. The last few warm days of fall will find fire ants gathering up their winter stores and a well-timed bait can work on the fire ants all winter long and greatly reduce their numbers come next spring.

You may have already mown your lawn for the last time this year. Once we get some additional rain in the coming weeks, you can then turn off your automatic sprinkler system. Your lawn may need some water in the winter season, but this if often supplied with our typical rainfall.

Be sure to add a pre-emergent herbicide to your lawn in the next month or so to stop those early spring weeds that invade so many lawns. There are several good options on the market. I like any product that contains Atrazine as it serves as a pre- and post-emergent herbicide that is safe on our tender San Augustine.

Lastly, be sure to start planning now for the spring garden. “Spring gardens” can start as early as mid- January when onions need to be planted. Working compost into your soil and controlling weeds before

The busy holidays setting in will enable you to get a roaring start in the 2024 season. And thinking now about that spring garden may help you fill out your Christmas wish list!


Cary Sims is the County Extension Agent for agriculture and natural resources for Angelina County. His email address is cw-sims@tamu.edu.