ASK WENDY

Make your own plugs and save some green


Published: Saturday, July 27, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at 4:43 p.m.

Q: I have some bare spots in my Zoysia grass. Should I use sod or plugs to patch the holes?

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Thrifty gardeners make their own plugs by digging up 3-inch-by-3-inch squares of grass from a healthy area of the lawn and transplanting them to areas that are bare.

(Courtesy of Wendy Wilber)

A: Dead areas caused by damage or lack of water can be patched using sod or plugs. If it is a small area, I prefer the plugs because they have a well-developed root system and will take off quickly. Plant them about 12-16 inches apart for quick grow-in. Sod would be better if you have a larger area to cover. Sod pieces have had their roots cut away, so you will need to make sure they stay moist. The summer rains should help, but if the weather dries up, you will need to water the sod pieces every day for at least two weeks.

Thrifty gardeners make their own plugs by digging up 3-inch-by-3-inch squares of grass from a healthy area of the lawn and transplanting them to areas that are bare. These homemade plugs need to be watered regularly until they take off in a couple of weeks. If you have questions about your lawn or garden, contact the UF/IFAS Extension Alachua County Master Gardeners at 955-2402.

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Q: The weeds and stinkbugs are winning, and I am ready to give up my vegetable garden for the summer. What should I do to my raised beds now?

A: This is the step that many gardeners forget to do. If you aren't growing great summer crops like okra, sweet potatoes, and Seminole pumpkin, it is a good idea to put the garden to bed for a couple of months while you start your plans for the fall garden.

The first thing to do is to remove everything from the bed. Even though it looks like you might have one or two tomatoes or peppers trying to finish, pull them out.

The longer they stay in, the more insect and disease problems they will leave behind. Especially if you have had stinkbug or leaf footed plant bug problems, you need to get rid of their hiding places. Also, take out all the weeds. If the weeds stay in, then they make seeds that will be next season's weed problem.

Once everything is out, cover the soil with a layer of cardboard or newspaper, and put a 3-inch layer of leaves or mulch on top of the paper. This will effectively block the sun from reaching any weeds or weed seeds that were missed. When you are ready to plant in September, remove the mulch and the paper, work in some compost or aged manure into the soil, and you are ready to put in seeds or transplants.

Some gardeners choose to solarize their garden soil in the summer. Solarizing uses the heat from the sun to kill weed seeds and deter fungal and pest problems. To solarize your garden soil, remove all plants and weeds and moisten the soil. Cover the area with 3 mm or thicker of clear plastic. Weigh the plastic down with boards and bricks to ensure a tight cover. In the summer, temperatures under the plastic will rise to at least 120 degrees. It needs to get this hot to kill off the pests and weeds. Leave the plastic in place for at least six weeks. Then remove the plastic and compost or manure, and you are ready to plant for the fall garden.

For more information about solarizing your soil, visit the UF/IFAS Extension website at www.solutionsforyourlife.com.

Wendy Wilber is an extension agent with UF/IFAS. Email her at wlwilber@ifas.ufl.edu.

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