Volume 14, Issue 30 ~ August 3 - August 9, 2006

The Bay Gardener

By Dr. Frank Gouin

Blame the Clover, Not the Grass

Cut your lawn tall to avoid stains – and clover

I overheard a mother scold her son about the green grass stains on his shirt and trousers. Apparently he had been rolling on the lawn. She blamed the stain on grasses, but clover was the culprit.

Clover has soft and succulent leaves and stems that are easily crushed. When the stems and leaves are crushed, chlorophyll quickly flows from the ruptured cells. Since the chlorophyll in clover is dark green, it takes just a few drops to stain. Chlorophyll is water soluble, so additional moisture added to the cloth will quickly enlarge the size of the stain, making it more noticeable.

Cutting your grass the right height is one of the best methods for preventing clover stains by giving clover no foothold in your lawn. A strong and healthy turf of grasses will inhibit the growth of clover. Strengthen your turf by raising the cutting height of your lawnmower to three and a half or four inches.

Once clover becomes established in your lawn, it can be very difficult to control or eliminate without weed killers. The only weed killers that will control clover without harming the grasses are Tri-mec — also known as Weed-B-Gone — and Speed Zone. Since clover tends to grow in patches, use spot spraying at recommended concentrations, and only treat the spots of clover and not the entire lawn.

Before spraying, set your lawn mower at the highest possible cutting height. Allow your lawn grasses to grow one or two inches higher than the new cutting height of the mower.

These weed killers perform best on rapidly growing weeds. If there has been no rain for one to two weeks before mowing, irrigate your lawn thoroughly immediately after mowing.

After mowing, wait two to three days before spot treating. Avoid spraying near trees, shrubs and flower beds; never spray when there is a wind or within 48 hours before a predicted rain.

It’s a bit of work, but mothers will be happy.

Corn, From Field to Table

There is nothing like a meal of sweet corn that has been harvested at about sunrise when the ears are at their maximum sweetness. The old wives’ tale that you want the water boiling before you go out to harvest the sweet corn is as far from the truth as can be.

To enjoy the sweetest corn you have ever eaten, harvest the corn early in the morning and store it in your refrigerator until you are ready to eat it. All night long, the sugars produced by the leaves through photosynthesis have been translocating from the leaves to the kernels. In the morning as soon as the sun starts to warm the leaves, translocation stops, and the sugars that have accumulated in the kernels begin to change to starch. By harvesting the corn early in the morning — preferably by sunrise — and storing the ears in the refrigerator, you prevent the sugars from being converted to starch.

Ask Dr. Gouin your questions at [email protected]. All questions will appear in Bay Weekly. Please include your name and address.

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