Monday, November 24, 2014

A Few Random Answers to Recent Questions

A few questions that I have been asked recently:

What is a good all purpose insecticide besides Sevin?

Sevin is great on turf because it kills above ground (ants, ticks, chinch bugs, sod webworms, mosquitoes, fleas and many more) and below ground (grubs and mole crickets) insects. For above ground insects in turf areas consider a product containing bifenthrin (Bifen, Bug Blaster), and for below ground insects use Grubz Out for long term control.

Sevin has been a go to product for a long time in gardens (as a dust and as a liquid). There are many general insecticides that you could replace it with in the garden. Neem Py is a natural product that is broad spectrum and works on insects as well as certain diseases (fungi). Insecticidal Soaps are also good for the garden. Vegetables Plus also has a very extensive label. Viper dust is a good replacement for Sevin dust. Always read, understand, and follow product labels.

What is a good soil to compost ratio in a large raised garden?

The ratio of compost to soil depends on the native soil and the compost you are working with in your garden. If you have a tight, heavy clay soil, you would start with one part cotton burr compost to four parts clay. If you have basic loamy soil, you would use one part cotton burr compost to two parts soil. If your soil is real sandy, use one part cotton burr compost to one part sand. On athletic fields we mix four parts sand with one part cotton burr compost (often called 80:20 mix). Try to let your garden rest for thirty days after amending (not necessary with cotton burr compost since it is already fully composted, but still a good idea).

What is a good all purpose organic fertilizer?

You know I have to recommend a soil test. You could use the best fertilizer in the world; however, if you are missing one part of the plant nutrient puzzle, your crop will not reach its potential.

We have a lot of customers at Possum’s use Flower Bed Amendment as a top dress fertilizer. With its blend of composted cotton burrs, composted cattle manure, feather meal, cottonseed meal, and alfalfa meal it would certainly have something in it to get your plants growing happily. The cotton burrs will also condition your soil and last for up to two years!

Something a little more conventional would be Bradfield Organics 3-1-5. These products are alfalfa based with other natural ingredients including humates (condition soil, make nutrients available), molasses (feeds microorganisms), and sulfate of potash. They are proven performers in the Lowcountry. Sustane and Espoma make other good organic products, so take a soil test and see which one will work best for you. I like using a mix of different organic products on my yard, so I get the different benefits each one has to offer. SeaHume will make all fertilizers work better by adding biostimulants and minor nutrients.

Using Neptune’s Harvest fish, seaweed, and fish and seaweed blend as a spray or a drench will also help increase your yield.

Thank you for your questions and keep them coming!