Monday, April 30, 2012

'Old Friends' & Large Patch

Yesterday, a neighbor and I were talking about a bike I rode many miles on from the age of 14 until 22 (when someone else thought they needed it more than I). I do not know if it was the look in my eye or the way I talked about that bike, but at the end of the conversation he asked, “it was like an old friend wasn’t it?”

I do not know if it is just me or most gardeners, but I have many ‘old friends’ that I work in the garden with. One of the first items that comes to mind is a pair of Felco #2 hand pruners that I have had since 1987. I have replaced more than a few blades and springs, but they are still getting the job done.

Gloves have to fall in that ‘old friend’ category. When my pants get too frayed or get a hole in them, they go into the wear in the yard pile. I think everyone has had that pair of jeans that just fit a little better than any other pair like an ‘old friend.’

Since I’m now a home gardener with commercial equipment from over twenty years ago, I have many ‘old friends’ in the tool category. Sprayers (store them wet), spreaders (clean the fertilizer off of them), shovels, rakes and even the hose that the ‘hose murderer’ cut to pieces and I mended back to life have all grown into ‘old friends’ over the years.

What are some of your ‘old friends’?

Large patch disease is a big problem in the Lowcountry, knowing that it is a soil borne disease can help you with control strategies.  Being a soil borne disease, you know that it will reoccur in the same areas year after year.  If a leaf blade with Large Patch is moved from one part of the yard to another (lawn mower), this can begin a new infection area; however, these are not spores flying through the air.  As a soil borne fungus, if you map the areas that you have the disease, you can concentrate your control efforts (dollars) into a smaller area, putting less control products into the environment.  If your yard is 5,000 sq ft usually you might have a few infected areas which might total approx. 500 ft.  Instead of buying control products to treat 5,000 sq ft, you can concentrate your efforts into the 500 ft (i.e. 10% of your total yard).  If Large Patch was an air borne fungus with spores, you would have had to treat the entire yard because air borne fungus spreads a lot quicker than soil borne fungus.

As your grass is coming out of dormancy and the temperatures remain cool at night, Large Patch will be ready to attack your grass.  A good granular one-two punch control strategy is Cleary’s 3336 (a systemic fungicide that gets into the plant) and Disarm or Dual Action Fungicide (also a systemic fungicide but a different chemical class).

Large Patch usually likes wet, heavy thatch, improper nutrition, and/or compacted soils.  Culturally you need to manage your irrigation system, raise any low areas, and correct drainage problems.  Reducing thatch, maintaining proper fertility levels, and aerating to alleviate compaction, will also help control Large Patch.