Monday, January 20, 2020

Get Ahead of Your Weeds


Horticulture Hotline 01/20/20
By Bill Lamson-Scribner

The Saucer or Tulip Magnolias are blooming, which usually indicates spring is rapidly approaching. In NASCAR terms the pace car is pulling off the track onto pit row and the green flag is waving. If you are more of a swimmer or track person, the starter has said, “take your mark” and is squeezing the trigger. Yes, a new growing season has arrived! The red maples are tasseling, Sweetgum trees are blooming, some Prunus trees are showing color, brown patch / large patch is everywhere, and fresh fire ant mounds are visible.  

The soil temperature indicates that it is just about time to apply preemergent products to your beds and turf. Valentine’s Day and the running of the Daytona 500 are just around the corner. The time to apply the magical weed preventer is coming up fast.

Depending on which Phd doctor you believe, crabgrass germinates when the soil temperature (3 inches deep) stays above 55 degrees (some people say 57 degrees), for 3 straight days provided adequate moisture in the soil. Now some doctors say remains 57 degrees or above for 24 hours at a depth of 3 inches with adequate moisture.  The manufacturers of the preemergent products suggest that you apply the product 2 weeks before the temperatures are right, so you have to be able to predict the future. If you are not in to monitoring the soil temperature and do not have ESP (do people still use the term ESP), Valentine’s Day or the running of the Daytona 500 should work for you.  Spreading a preemergent product now could save hours of spot spraying later.

The turf areas as well as the landscape bed areas will greatly benefit from the use of preemerge products. Not only will the yard look better, but your plants will not have to compete with the weeds for sun, nutrients, and water. If you are controlling weeds with preemergent products, there are less weeds there for you to spray or pull, saving you time. There is also less stress on you trying to find time to control the weeds in your yard later once the weeds have emerged. Control them now with a preemergent control product!

For those new readers of the Horticulture Hotline, preemergent control products kill weeds as they germinate.  The weeds never come up and you never have to worry about them.  Crabgrass, goosegrass, barnyardgrass, crowfootgrass, dallisgrass (seedling), foxtail, annual bluegrass, smutgrass, barley, kikuyugrass, wild oats, bittercress, carpetweed, chickweed, Carolina geranium, henbit, knotweed, lespedeza, marestail, black medic, mustard, oxalis, pineappleweed, pigweed, redroot, parsley-piert, purslane, rocket, shephardspurse, speedwell, spurge, and woodsorrel are examples of weeds controlled by preemergent products.  Small seeded annual weeds are controlled by preemergent products.

Read the label of the specific product that you are using to get an exact list of weeds that the manufacturer has tested and shown to control. Preemergent products applied now do not control winter annual weeds that are already up like annual blue grass. To control annual bluegrass, you would have used a preemergent in August and again in October (this could vary with products and rates).

Clover, Florida Betony, Nutsedge and Dollar weed are not controlled by preemergent control products.  These are perennial weeds. Weed Free Zone is a liquid that will do a good job on controlling many of your broadleaf weeds. The Nutsedge will require a different product and is most likely not visible right now.  It is important to control these weeds now before they go into their reproductive stage.  A weed in its reproductive stage is harder to control than a weed in its vegetative stage. By controlling the weed now you avoid having to deal with more weed seeds next year.

It is very noticeable when you ride through the Lowcountry which homeowners and which businesses used preemergent products last fall at the correct time. One business or home lawn will be nice and brown and dormant without a spec of green in sight. Right next to it will be brown turf mixed with green weeds. Again, it is very important to control those weeds now before they begin to flower.

If you are trying to control weeds in the lawn that are up and starting to flower or seed, mow – wait 2 days and spray – then wait at least another 3 days before you mow again. The mowing will get the weeds actively growing and weeds that are actively growing are easier to kill. If the product is root absorbed, be careful around desirable plants, and water-in properly. If you water in too much, you could move the product passed the shallow root zone of the weed you are targeting.

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

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). Saturday's show is replayed Sunday from 11:00 - Noon.


Monday, January 6, 2020

Time to Plant and Transplant


Horticulture Hotline 01/06/2020
By Bill Lamson-Scribner

Now is a great time of year to prepare for transplanting and to plant new plants. Many people are asking me the best way to transplant shrubs and trees. Here are some guidelines for successfully transplanting plants and trees or planting new ones:

·         Decide the size of you root ball. For every inch in tree trunk diameter you want a foot of root ball. If your tree is three inches in diameter, your root ball should go in a circle one and a half feet from the trunk of the tree. You could tie a string around the tree leaving eighteen inches of string – then draw a line walking around the tree measuring with this string. Root balls can be very heavy so consider a hiring a professional. Be prepared to pay top dollar to move a plant because moving plants requires much more work than planting them out of containers. If your plants are way too crowded, get as much root ball as possible, and if they are so crowded that you cannot even get in there to work, you may have to sacrifice a few plants, so you do not kill them all. Always take as large a ball as possible. Sometimes you have to thin out plants for the overall health of the landscape.
·         Spray the plant you are going to move with an anti-transpirant (Cloud Cover, Wilt Proof, or Transfilm). These products will hold moisture in leaves and stems. 
·         Drench the ground with SeaHume and SuperThrive. These are bio stimulant products that encourage rooting. Repeat monthly until you move the plant.  
·         Root prune the plant. Go to the area that you determined your ball to go out to and push a shovel straight down – do not pry on the shovel – just cut the roots. Repeat this root pruning all the way around the plant. If the plant has been in the ground a long time, you may have to skip a shovel width each time you root prune to lessen the shock. Apply SeaHume granular (Humic acid and Seaweed bio stimulants) to decrease stress. Repeat monthly until you move the plant.
·         Keep an eye on the plant for the next month. Be sure to water it as needed.  When watering the soil, spray a fine mist on the foliage of the plant.  Since the roots have just been severed, this will help the plant absorb the water through the foliage and water the roots as well. 
·         After thirty days or if you could wait until a cooler time (February), dig away from the plant in the area that you root pruned. Resist the temptation to pry up on the plant. You should have a ball in a mote when you are finished. Try to have the plant moved a month before it sends out new growth or flowers in the spring (early February to be safe).
·         Water the ball so the soil will stick to the roots.
·         Severe the ball from the area underneath the plant.
·         Always handle the root ball – do not grab the plant by its trunk.
·         Move the plant onto a tarp or some burlap.
·         Be sure when you move the plant to its new home, you plant it above existing grade.   Plants buried too deep are the biggest problem I see in landscapes.  A plant that is planted too deep is starved for oxygen which affects many other plant processes (ability to absorb nutrients or causes root rot). 
·         Be sure not to pile mulch up against the trunk of the tree or shrub as this will also kill the plant over a period of time. Consider using Cotton Burr Compost or Nature’s Blend as a mulch to get the nutrition associated with these products.
·         Spray the leaves and stems with anti-transpirant.
·         Use  Diehard Transplant (contains a friendly fungus inoculum, wetting agents, water holding gel, humic acid, Sea Kelp, root stimulating vitamins and beneficial bacteria) should also be added to increase the surface absorbing area of root systems with the back fill. Spray foliage with BioRush as it is a special blend of natural organic ingredients designed to help transplant survival. Drench with SuperThrive.
·         Apply the right amount of water.  Be sure to spray the foliage.
·         Apply the right amount of Cotton Burr Compost or Natures Blend mulch.
·         Apply granular SeaHume after you have moved the plant to encourage new root growth.
·         Stake the tree or shrub if needed.
·         Good Luck!

Charleston + Camellias = Enjoy the beauty. Camellia Show 1/25/20 – call (843) 367-9596 for more information.

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

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). Saturday's show is replayed Sunday from 11:00 - Noon.


Monday, December 30, 2019

Gardener Resolutions


Horticulture Hotline 12/30/19
  Bill Lamson-Scribner

Here are a few New Year’s Resolutions for the Gardener:

Take a soil test so you know what your soil needs are and amend the soil accordingly. I have been doing this for myself on landscape jobs since the late 1970’s and for other people since the early 1990’s. When people return to Possum’s Landscape and Pest Control after following our prescription for their lawn, they are happy, happy, happy. It is amazing how your grass will respond with a little tweaking of nutrients. A custom program is the best way to go, so you have a yearly calendar of what to apply and when to apply it. What is the old saying, “if you write down a goal, your chances to achieve it go way up.” A custom program will give you a step by step formula for an awesome yard in 2020. 

Go through all of the old products you have in your garage and identify why you purchased them to begin with and if they are products that can still be used.  This will save you money and make room for new and improved products.

Manage winter weeds now while they are young. The bigger they get the harder they are to control. Treat fungus proactively – you will save money.

Use wetting agents this year.  Wetting agents have been shown to save approximately 30-60% of water consumption for a yard.  This would be a huge savings on your water bill.  By watering less, you will have less fungus problems and save money by not having to buy as much fungicides or water. At Possum’s we have noticed that a lot of people that use wetting agents save even more water because they are more in tune to their watering and their water bill. They are saving more like 80%, so if their water bill was $100.00 per month now the bill is only $20.00. A huge savings and water bills are usually more than $100.00. There are many other benefits to using wetting agents, and I was finally able to develop an easy RTS (connect straight to your hose) applicator.

In an effort to conserve water, it is time to get that hose that leaks at the faucet, a new gasket. Check your irrigation. Are all the zones necessary or can you turn some off? Shrubs and trees should be established after one year or before. Are the heads spraying the way they were intended to spray?  

In 2020 try to remove fertilizer and other control products from hard surfaces like driveways, sidewalks, pool decks, and streets before these products are washed into the storm water.  This will help protect the beautiful area in which we live.  Since a lot of storm water ends up in our marshes and waterways, this will also help protect our natural resources that we use for recreation, food, and jobs. 

Buy a 100 pack of disposable nitrile gloves.  These things are great!  You can use them when handling control products and fertilizers, when changing the oil in your lawn mower, while taking down your Christmas tree to keep sap off of your hands, while painting or taking out the trash, cleaning, picking up after your dog and yard work….  These gloves are very inexpensive and can save you lots of hot water while trying to remove things from your hands.  These gloves are also good at keeping the human scent away from mole, mice and rat bait.

In 2020, add organic matter to your lawn and beds.  Organic matter will also help you lower your water bill while adding many other benefits to your soil.  Cotton Burr compost has been improving Lowcountry soils with great results for the past 17 years.  If you want to see for yourself the benefits of cotton burr compost, measure a 100 square foot area in your turf (10 feet x 10 feet) and spread one 2 cubic foot bag. Check out the progress over a month.

In order to combat weeds, plan to put out preemergents in your lawns and beds according to product label.  This will make your life a lot less stressful and your yard will be looking a lot better without weeds.  If time is a big issue, consider buying a years supply of product now, so you will have the product handy when it is time to apply. 

In 2020, always apply product according to the label’s directions.  No more, “if one ounce is good….two ounces will be real good”. Many of our fire ant products, less is better. On the pest control side of our business, roaches and rats can be repelled with too much product. Follow the label that has cost the manufacturer millions of dollars to get approval from the EPA and you will have better results. This will also save you money - not to mention the product label is a Federal Law. 

For those pet owners out there whose animals have a history of flea problems, be proactive by applying growth regulators. Pivot Ultra Plus, Ultracide, Nylar, or Precor applied every three months, should keep your pet free of fleas. Rotate products with different active ingredients.

Always mow the grass with a sharp mower blade and prune the bushes with sharp pruning blades.  You will have cleaner cuts and less chance of disease. .

Read a good book about gardening.  Reading is how we learn and it will motivate you as a bonus. 

Happy New Year!

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

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). Saturday's show is replayed Sunday from 11:00 - Noon.