Burnett: Be determined to beat crabgrass

I know from personal experience (nursery operators) begin working toward the spring selling season before the Christmas season begins.

  • Mar. 22, 2016 8:00 a.m.


Every spring in early March the Greenery opens its doors to the public with its benches filled with early blooming annuals and perennials.

Tell Seglar and his family have been servicing the Okanagan in this way for several decades now and every year the gardeners of Kelowna flood to the Greenery to get a taste of spring.

One might think the folk at the Greenery just open up the doors in March and start selling; however, I know from personal experience when we had our bedding plant operation on Ethel Street they begin working toward the spring selling season before the Christmas season begins.

One of the great things you can find early is the selection of huge tomato plants, many of which already have tomatoes on them. Of course you can’t plant them out yet but if you have a nice, well-lit area in the house to keep them in good shape until early May, then it is one sure way to “beat your neighbours” in the annual race to see who can get the first ripe tomato in the garden.

Crab grass

One of the questions that pops up, especially in the heat of summer, concerns the control of crab grass in the lawn.

For the uninitiated, crab grass is an annual weed that grows in the very hot areas of the lawn and manifests as a low lying grass with fine seed stalks. It begins to turn a purple colour as the season progresses into fall at which time the seed ripens and drops to the ground.

Crab grass dies before winter and only grows back in the spring from the seed it drops in the fall.

For many years we had products available which contained a pre-emergence herbicide which stops seeds from germinating to give very good control; however, these are no longer on the market.

There is still one product out there containing corn gluten meal which is purported to give control; however, the application rate and timing is so important that if not applied precisely according to instructions control is minimal at best.

There are some commercial companies which have a crab grass control program but again, timing is essential.

My advice is to go back to the old method of controlling this common weed and that is to make your lawn so healthy and thick the crab grass has no chance of survival.

The following is taken from my sheet on crab grass control:

“In spring do a top dress and over-seed with a good Okanagan grass seed blend.

“Let the turf grass grow at least two to three inches long well into the summer so as to shade the overwintering crabgrass seed which will prevent it from germinating.

“Later in summer when some crab grass appears remove it by cutting below the crown with a knife and discard. Apply some top soil in the bare areas and re-seed again.

“Repeat these procedures for the next two or three years and the crab grass will subside.

Even though the problem will improve with this, it is necessary to keep up the due diligence in order that the problem does not worsen.”

For my entire Information Sheet on Crab Grass email me at don@thegardenexpert.com.

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