I have new bahia sod that was put in place 3 weeks ago. I saw weeds popping up so I bought a weed stop weed killer that I’m ready to spray and I just wanted to check that it is OK to use it.

 

Hold onto that spray bottle! Although it isn’t very blatant about it, that product is designed to be used on turf that is dormant. It would have been perfect in December, when our grass was dozing off. Now it would do damage. Make sure to read the label carefully because many herbicides state that an herbicide should only be used on an established lawn.

Sod that comes in from the sod farm has been micro fertilized and is raring to go. While our temperatures this last week will have slowed it down a little, it will not be held back for long and the weed killer could have done it substantial damage. You need a post emergent control product.

Since the weeds are already popping up, you need a product with 2,4-D or Dicamba in it to control them.

Can I plant beets now? And do I need to presoak okra like my neighbor suggests?

This is the last month for a lot of cool weather veggies including beets, carrots, endive, lettuces and peas. Okra is a really summery crop. If you plant it now, it’s going to struggle to germinate because the soil is too cool. Our top gardeners do presoak it.

If you suspect your seeds may be getting old, do a quick test on them. If you’ve had trouble with that packet, get a fresh one. You can test germination on your kitchen counter with a plastic container lid, a wet paper towel, a few seeds and a second lid to hold the moisture in. In 2-12 days you should see them begin to germinate if the seeds are still healthy.

We are free to plant cucumbers, green beans, potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash (that’s a big family!). Lots of gardeners have their tomatoes in already and the planting will go on for those for a while. The earlier the better to escape the insects and diseases that will build up as the heat comes on.

As I was working in the yard, I noticed some ants crawling up the house. What do I do about it?

The first thing I would do I to grab some packing tape, or some other clear tape and capture some for investigation. I’d also try to identify where they were coming from and where on the house they were going. Are they entering the house or just crawling?

Ants may be getting food from your kitchen or from outside. They may be just using the house for a warm dry place. Regardless, we don’t have to share our houses with them!

Looking at the samples, the first thing I’d identify, if I didn’t already, is whether the insect has a narrow waist. Ants have three body parts and a narrow area we call their waist. There is another insect that frequently moves around at this time of the year and looks a bit like an ant but does not have a waist. It is a termite. So I’m always glad to see a waist.

Then I make sure it is relatively small, and therefore not a carpenter ant. Most homeowners deal with carpenter ants sooner or later and we all survive it. Carpenter ants are black to reddish brown bicolor and large to medium sized and much larger than most of the pesty little kitchen ants. They love wet wood and are a flashing light warning that there is a leak somewhere that is creating wet wood for them to nest in. If you find you have carpenter ants, you will find the nest, kill the nest, repair the leak, and all will be well. You may seek professional help to do this. But don’t delay. Carpenter ants can do structural damage.

To Identify the ants? Go to http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ig080

If your ants are finding food on honeydew on plants outside, some plant trimming and house caulking may be all that are necessary. It’s always best to keep plants from touching your house anyway.

Ants actually perform many necessary jobs in the environment. They clean up, and keep some populations in check. I didn’t mention fire ants, though, did I?

Can we grow French tarragon here?

Yes. Some people find it hard to grow. Mine is growing in a fair amount of shade in a container with fairly rich soil. It is rarely if ever watered, except by rainfall. Mine has been perennial for several years and since I have increased the usage, I have added a second plant.

It’s a well behaved plant, preferring a fairly rich, well drained soil. Container growth is really necessary here to get the excellent drainage they need. A spot with partial shade will help protect them from the summer sun. You should be able to harvest year round and serve with dishes with fish, chicken, eggs and more.

If the French tarragon fails you, Mexican tarragon is a bit easier. See gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/plants/edibles/vegetables/mexican-tarragon.html.

Becky Wern is a master gardener with the Duval County Extension Service and the University of Florida/IFAS. If you have gardening questions, you can speak to a master gardener from 9:30 a.m. to noon and 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Duval extension office at (904) 255-7450.