Monday, August 3, 2015

Some Information About Organic Fertilizers



This pass Sunday I was trying to take back my yard from the weeds that have grown since February when the spring season hit at Possum’s (what’s the saying about the shoeless cobbler) and I got hit with an unexpected rain shower as I was finishing up about  3 hours of spraying.

I guess I will have a good idea how long it took for my concoction to become rain fast. Hopefully, where the spray had a chance to dry, the spreader sticker helped out, but there were other areas that didn’t have a chance to dry.

While spraying in my beds, I did notice a huge number of moths, which usually indicates a worm attack is not too far away. Time to get out a little preventive worm killer it looks like. If you have ever experienced worm damage, you know it hits your lawn hard and fast, so preventative applications will keep you from having any surprises if you go out of town or even take a long nap! The worm season so far this year has been weird – very spotty.

As the summertime heat and humidity begin to move into the Lowcountry, I want to remind you of some of the benefits of using organic fertilizers, composts, mulch, wetting agents with biostimulants, and bridge products. Some of the things I write about are generalizations (ex. 10-10-10 is all synthetic – a fertilizer blender could put organic filler in the formula, but not likely).

When you purchase a typical 10-10-10 fertilizer, you are getting 30% nutrients and the rest of the bag is probably not used by the plant. Filler usually consists of drying agents to keep the fertilizer from absorbing moisture and becoming clumpy. Filler is also limestone (might get a little calcium or magnesium benefit) or other non-nutritional ingredients (including rocks). The nutrients in a 10-10-10 are water soluble so the plant can absorb them. The 10-10-10 is usually all fast release, so once it goes out on the ground, the plant better be ready to take it in, or the Nitrogen (what part hasn’t already volatized into the atmosphere as N2 gas) and the Potassium will leach through the soil profile or run-off into non-target areas.

Unlike humans, plants uptake only the nutrients that they need. No obese plants out there! A natural or organic fertilizer may have a lower N-P-K ratio; however, all the ingredients are either a food source for soil organisms, plant essential minerals or micro-nutrients. Organic fertilizers are not water soluble, and depend on beneficial soil organisms to convert the nutrients into a form that the plant can uptake. This is the same process that feeds the trees from fallen leaves and limbs in the woods. This process is the true, original slow release fertilizer. Nothing is lost to evaporation or run-off which is good with all the water around here. If you own a pig (cattle, chicken) farm along a river and we have excessive rainfall, you could have some run off into the river; however, that is from surface run off and not leaching.

With an organic fertilizer you generally have slow steady growth as the soil organisms meter out the nutrients. Slow steady growth is easier to maintain and less susceptible to disease and insect attack. The plant will grow deeper roots, making it more drought tolerant; therefore requiring less water (lower water bill).

A 10-10-10 might cause “flush growth” that requires more hedge trimming or mowing. The plant will be more susceptible to disease and insects. Excessive fertilization could also add to thatch in the lawn areas. A plant that is putting out a lot of new growth is often sacrificing root growth for top growth and the landscape needs more water as a result.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Control Nature the Natural Way



Horticulture Hotline 07/27/15
  Bill Lamson-Scribner

Biopesticides (also called bioscience products) are pesticides that are found in nature. Do you remember studying how the black walnut tree exudes its own preemergent herbicide (juglone that causes an allelopathic effect) to keep other plant life from growing underneath it and competing with it?  This is definitely the way of the future! 

The most common biopesticides that you might have heard of in the past would be pheromone traps for catching flies or Japanese beetles.  Pheromones are a natural chemical attractants (usually sexual) that animals as well as insects produce. You put these attractants on a glue board to attract flies and Japanese beetles and they get stuck. Bt or Bacillus thuringiensis is a bacteria that controls many different worms, caterpillars, mosquito larvae or Lepidoptera insects.  Diatomaceous earth is a natural contact insecticide derived from microscopic plankton or algae with silica skeletons.  Roaches, ants, fleas, and snails walk across this product and it causes abrasions to their exoskeleton and they dry out and die.

Many of the major chemical manufacturers are spending more money developing these types of products (finally) because they are easier to get approved through the EPA, saving them money in the long run.

Most bioscience products are very specific to certain pests.  In some cases it is required that you use them more frequently because the product breaks down in the environment very quickly.  Diatomaceous earth on the other hand lasts a very long time. It is important that you know the life cycle of the insect or pest that you are after because some bioscience products only attack the pests at a certain stage in their life cycle. 

Some bioscience products that we had had a lot of success with include; Harpin protein, Neem Oil, Spinosad, beneficial nematodes, various oils and insecticidal soaps.  Other bioscience products called bionutritional products or biostimulants that we have seen great success with include; humic acid (Possum Hume), seaweed products (liquefied seaweed and sea kelp products), and amino acid products.  SeaHume (a combination or seaweed and humic acid) is a proven performer in the Lowcountry.

To give you an example of a bioscience product, Harpin protein (found in Mighty Plant) is a bacteria’s (fire blight) waste product (poop) that is sprayed on the plant.  The plant thinks it is being attacked by a bacteria so it goes into its defensive mode.  The plant’s cuticle thickens preventing attack from certain insects, fungi and bacteria.  This cuticle thickening also conserves water.  The plant also flowers profusely in an effort to create seeds to perpetuate its species (war time babies) and also grows a larger root system.  Since most people grow plants for flowers, this is an obvious benefit.  A plant that has been treated with Harpin protein is more drought tolerant, has better flowers, has better foliage, can resist certain fungus and insect attacks, and has a stronger root system than an untreated plant. 

Always read, understand and follow product label. The product label is a Federal Law.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Sod



I have been getting a lot of questions about laying new sod this year. Here is a basic outline. You may want to consult with a professional as sod is expensive and tricky to get just right. This outline is for someone that wants to control weeds before sodding (start clean stay clean) not for the person that has a wedding in their back yard in 3 days!
                                                                                   
NEW GRASS
                                                                                                                                   MONTH     WEEK (COULD START ANYTIME APRIL - AUGUST)  PRODUCT 

START                                  TAKE SOIL TEST
                                               SPRAY SLOW ACTING GLYPHOSATE                                

START + 2 WEEKS                TILL         ADD AMENDMENTS
                                                SEAHUME                                         15#/M
                                                COTTON BURR ADD 3’’ TO TOP TILL IN 4-8 INCHES
                                          
START + 4 WEEKS                   SPRAY BURN DOWN PRODUCT                 
                                                                      OR
                                                 SPRAY SLOW ACTING GLYPHOSATE

IF YOU USE SLOW ACTING GLY WAIT 2 WEEKS, IF FAST KILL PRODUCT FOLLOW LABEL
                                   ESTABLISH FINISH GRADE THEN ADD
                                   SUSTANE 04-04-04                                      25#/M

                                             SOD

                               WATER IN THEN ADD
                                             PERK                                                   10#/M
                                             DISARM                                                 3#/M
                                             SEVIN                                                     3#/M
                                WATER LIGHTLY AND OFTEN DEPENDING ON YOUR SITUATION AT FIRST, THEN BEGIN TO BACK OFF WATER AS GRASS ROOTS IN

2 WEEKS AFTER SOD      08-02-04                                                 6#/M
                                              SEAHUME                                            10#/M
                                              CLEARY’S                                            5#/M
                                              BIFEN                                                    4#/M

BEGIN MAINTENANCE PROGRAM BASED ON SOIL TEST

ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW PRODUCT LABEL.
PLEASE MEASURE YOUR LAWN FOR ACCURATE APPLICATIONS. IT IS AGAINST FEDERAL LAW TO OVER APPLY PRODUCTS. ALSO IT CAN INJURE TURF, TREES, AND PLANTS.
POSSUM’S LANDSCAPE AND PEST CONTROL SUPPLY, LLC AND BILL LAMSON-SCRIBNER ASSUME NO LIABILITY WRITTEN OR IMPLIED.
THIS PROGGRAM IS JUST A GUIDE – SCOUT YOUR PROPERTY FOR POTENTIAL PROBLEMS.
FERTILIZERS WILL STAIN NON-TARGET AREAS (POOL DECKS, DRIVEWAYS, SIDEWALKS, ETC.) – ALWAYS APPLY WHEN DRY – BRUSH, SWEEP OR BLOW-OFF NON-TARGET AREAS – THEN WATER IN LAWN AREAS (UNLESS LABEL SAYS NOT TO WATER IN PRODUCT).


Bill Lamson-Scribner can be reached during the week at Possum’s Landscape and Pest Control Supply. Possum’s has three locations 481 Long Point Rd in Mt. Pleasant (971-9601), 3325 Business Circle in North Charleston (760-2600), or 606 Dupont Rd, in Charleston (766-1511). Bring your questions to a Possum’s location, or visit us at http://www.possumsupply.com. You can also call in your questions to “ The Garden Clinic”, Saturdays from noon to 1:00, on 1250 WTMA  (The Big Talker). The Horticulture Hotline is available 24 / 7 at possumsupply.com.