hom Heavy top dressing will kill your grass
BY KEITH STANGLER
Q. We had lots of trees in our yard -- too many. We had them removed. We plan to put down four to six inches of black dirt over the area and seed it. Should I treat the area with roundup before laying down the new soil?
A. No need. Roundup should not be needed in this case as the heavy application of new top soil will effectively kill any vegetation. Try to plant your grass seed quickly now, for sure before Sept. 15.
Q. We have a maple tree that is bi-color. I don't think it is supposed to be that way. The leaves on the west half of the tree are brown and crispy and some of these have fallen to the ground. The other half of the leaves look green and are apparently okay. Is this tree half-dead?
A. Your tree, like many trees in southern Minnesota, is exhibiting symptoms of drought stress. There is nothing wrong with your tree that a good soaking with the water hose won't cure. The brown leaves are the tree's exhibiting its survival skills, keeping half its leaves green because that is what little available water will support. So even if the brown half dies (and I doubt if that will happen if a thorough watering is done immediately) the remaining live tissue will ensure the tree's survival.
Q. I have tried some apples from my Honeygold apple tree. They taste pretty good, but they are not juicy like they were other years. Does the dry weather cause that?
A. Absolutely. There is still time to improve the quality of fruit by watering trees like yours.
Q. Our onions are about softball size now but the tops are all turning brown. Should we water them or pull them?
A. The browning of the foliage indicates the onions are mature and should be harvested to start the drying process. It is too late to water them now as they are no longer taking in water as they are now mature. You could have delayed this maturing process by watering them throughout this dry period, but water (especially excessive water) now will only encourage soft spots and rotting of the onion. Pull them, put them on chicken wire or screen and allow them to dry thoroughly until the outside skins are dry and paper-like. Then, they can be bagged for winter storage or dehydrated.
Keith Stangler has 36 years experience as a horticulturist. For comment or questions call (507) 285-7739 or (800) 562-1758.