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Too soon to re-seed lawn, but not to give it a drink

RIO RANCHO, N.M. — Q: I have several bare spots that have popped up in the lawn this winter. Can I go ahead and re-seed those spots now?

A: I truly believe that you’d be unsuccessful trying to re-seed now. The soil is nowhere near warm enough to encourage the seed to want to grow. If the weather turns chilly again, and it will, the seed could easily suffer frost damage.

So no, wait until at least the end of this month, at the earliest, for that project.

Now, if you want to give the lawn a leg up, there are a couple of things you could do for it. Give the lawn a deep drink of water. As dry as we’ve been, you can bet below ground the grass roots are suffering. Get the lawn truly wet. Watch where your precious water goes though. Be sure the tools you are using, be it an in-ground sprinkler system or a hose-end sprinkler, that the water is not flowing away down a sidewalk or gutter!

Then, consider fertilization for the lawn areas. Be sure that the product you’re offering contains lots more phosphorus in the mix. Remember the rhyme “up, down, and all around”? It’s the phosphorus, the middle number in fertilizer tables, the “down” that you’re looking for. It’s the mineral that promotes healthy below-ground growth. Not a lot of nitrogen, the first number, or the “up” in the rhyme. That’ll come later in the season.

Then if it’s been awhile, spread a stout layer of finely milled compost, well-aged manure, and some gypsum over the area. As they work into the soil and the lawn grows through it, the area becomes healthier by the addition of more fertility. Then get the lawn aerated. By having the lawn “punched” the amendments, fertilizer and most importantly the water, are more ably encouraged to go below ground where they are needed most this time of year.

If the area is fairly small you can aerate by impaling a pitchfork into the ground. Make at least eight impalements in each square foot of area. Just be sure to wear stout footwear if you do the project yourself. Please, keep yourself safe.

Having improved the lawn area all the way around, when it becomes time for the re-seeding, you’re going to be that far ahead and that’ll be a good thing.

Q: Can you grow dahlias in pots? I’m fascinated by all of the different colors available.

A: I don’t see why not. I’d be sure to read all of the packaging and aim for plants that don’t grow to be humongous in size at maturity. That could be trouble, unless of course you have truly humongous pots.

Go ahead and select your choices now while the selection is best and growing. You are right, the colors and bloom sizes of dahlias are most amazing!

These multi-petal creations are also fairly easy to grow. I’d recommend keeping them out of harm’s way by offering a bit of protection from harsh winds and aim to keep the spaces they are planted in consistently watered. Perhaps growing them in a very hot spot might be a bit much, like up against a southern exposure wall.

Given a good air movement and maybe a smidgen of relief from the wicked afternoon heat they’ll do great there.

You know what size pots you have and will be best able to choose the proper tubers if you read the packaging and are a wee bit patient yet before you plant these easy to grow, cheerful treasures! Happy Digging In.

Need tips on growing your garden? Tracey Fitzgibbon is a certified nurseryman. Send your garden-related questions to Digging In, Rio Rancho/West Side Journal, P.O. Drawer J, Albuquerque, NM 87103.
— This article appeared on page 02 of the Albuquerque Journal