Stinky growths are stinkhorn mushrooms
past. Brown patch, also known as large patch, is a common lawn disease during the warmish weather of late fall through early spring. The fungus likes to grow under moist conditions and in areas of reduced air movement. Also, late-season fertilizer applications that stimulate lush growth favor the disease.
Residents with brown patch this year can likely expect it next year. If you want to keep the turf as free as possible of the somewhat circular brown patches, apply a lawn fungicide labeled for this disease in late October and 30 days later in November, following label instructions. Then reapply in early February. There is good news. Brown patch normally does not kill lawns, and most grass recovers when spring weather returns.
Spring transplants are started right about now, as it usually requires six weeks to have them ready for the March garden. Sow the seeds in cell packs or small containers. New packets of tomato seeds should give good germination, so you can sow one seed per cell or container. Fill the containers with a germination mix or potting soil and sow the seeds, covering them very lightly. Keep moist and warm to have seeds up and growing in about a week.
One secret to successful transplants is giving them full sun exposure. Windowsills are seldom adequate, as the light source causes seedlings to stretch in one direction. Keep the seedlings outdoors during warm days in full sun. Make sure the soil remains moist and start applying a fertilizer solution one week after germination. Use any general-use product mixed at one-half the normal rate. Fertilize weekly until the plants are ready for the garden.
We can blame a lot on the weather, but this time, the black film is due to insects feeding on the leaves and stems of the tree. If you look closely, you may find whiteflies, mealybugs or scale insects sucking juices from the tree portions. Some resultant plant sap, but mainly excreta from the insects, is food for the sooty mold fungus.
Eliminate both problems with a horticultural oil spray available from your local garden center. Follow label instructions and make repeat sprays as needed. Be sure to spray the underside of the leaves and stems to obtain good insect control and to cause the sooty mold to slowly slough off the tree portions.
Hibiscus plants should still be green and growing due to the warm fall weather. What they may lack is adequate water and fertilizer. Dig in the ground to check the soil moisture level. The ground should remain uniformly moist for good growth and leaf retention. Also, maintain a two- to three-inch mulch layer over the root system.
Feedings every three months sound adequate, but it depends on the amount and type of fertilizer. Try using a slowrelease fertilizer as instructed on the label. Also, use a minor-nutrient spray found at garden centers for one or two applications. Even with this good care, recovery may take until spring due to the cooler winter weather.
Fungicides may help retard or control the stinkhorn mushrooms, but products that might work cost several hundred dollars with no guarantee of success.