Monday, January 18, 2021

2020 Wet Year

 

Horticulture Hotline 01/18/21

By Bill Lamson-Scribner

 

We have had an exceptional amount of rain last year - 2020. Laurie, a regular listener to the radio show (“The Garden Clinic” Saturdays from noon to one and replayed Sunday from 11 to noon on WTMA), recorded a thirty-inch increase in rainfall from 2019 to 2020. That is one wet year! Managing water is very important for the health of your house and landscape.

 

Starting with gutters, do you have them? Do you need them? Are they clean and functioning properly? If water is running off your roof and draining under your house (crawl space), you may want to consider gutters. Moisture underneath a house can led to mold, fungus, moisture damage and termites. Homes without gutters often get rot around windows when the water runs off the roof and splashes off of plants back onto the house.

 

If you have gutters, are the plants near the downspouts drowning? Do you need to put a piece of flexible pipe on the end of the downspout and direct the water to a place in the yard where it is not a problem? Could you collect this water in a rain barrel and store it for future use?

 

A large low area in the yard could be dealt with in many ways. Find the lowest point and put a drain and run the water elsewhere. If there are not any tree roots in the area, you could fill in the area with topsoil. If the area is small enough, consider using bagged topsoil, so you do not bring a bunch of weeds in the soil to your yard. If the area is really big, you could remove the grass with a sod cutter and re-grade the area – adding drains if needed.

 

If you would like to drain an area very effectively and without having to do a lot of digging, then Turface is the way to go. All you need to do is aerate the area then apply Turface. If you don’t have an aerator, you can just spread the Turface along the surface. We have worked with many customers using this product in many different situations with great results. Turface will help drain large areas and small areas. Some areas that are bigger and wetter you can dig columns with a post hole digger or auger and backfill with Turface. You will also save on the water and fungicide bill with this product.

 

Using wetting agents can also help get water off of the surface and into the ground.

 

Hot topics at Possum’s – pruning (what / when / how), moles, fungus, rats, preemergent products and timing, weeds (kill them now), custom soil tests…

 

Always read and follow product label. It is the law.

Monday, January 11, 2021

New Year's Resolutions For The Gardener

 

Horticulture Hotline 01/11/21

  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 1980’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 2021. 

 

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. If you kill them now, you won’t have to pull out the mower to mow the weeds.

 

Treat fungus proactively – you will save money. There is a lot of disease out there waiting for conditions to get right for another attack. Our ground stays warm enough for grass to absorb nutrients or systemic fungicides. Keep your eyes out for the next warm spell because the large patch / brown patch we had in the fall will explode again.

 

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?  If you need help, get the irrigation person over now before the spring rush.

 

In 2021 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. You will also avoid that nasty staining.

 

 

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. COVID-19 has given them another use.

 

In 2021, 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 18 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. Many people feel their fungicide use has gone down after using cotton burr.

 

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 year’s supply of product now, so you will have the product handy when it is time to apply. 

 

In 2021, 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. Take your mower to the shop for a tune-up before the spring rush.

 

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.

 

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Roach Control Humor

 

Horticulture Hotline 01/06/21

By Bill Lamson-Scribner

 

I was walking my dog very slowly over the Holidays, and I thought of something that was very 2020. Ol’Boy’s (my 18-year-old pound hound) walks are getting shorter in length and longer in time, so I have plenty of time to think about various topics.

 

For over 20 years when a neighbor of mine was out of town, I would pick up their newspaper and any occasional box and move them to their back porch. Now there seems to be regular deliveries of multiple boxes and not as many newspapers. I guess because of all these boxes, many people have cameras on their front porches. Anyway, to make a long story short, I decided to leave the boxes on the front porch because I didn’t want to be caught on camera moving them to the back porch in case someone else came along and stole them off of the back porch. 2020 – see ya!

 

While cleaning out a file cabinet, I was reminder why I’m a big believer in prevention and protection. I like to treat around the outside of my house for roaches to prevent them from ever entering my house.

 

The following is paraphrased from an American Nurseryman article dated 7/1/1989.

 

An Israeli women’s overzealous attempt to rid her home of a cockroach led to the hospital where her husband was treated for burns, broken ribs and a cracked pelvis.

 

As told in the National Arborists newsletter, the woman crushed the bug and deposited it in the toilet. However, as cockroaches so often do, this one refused to die, so the woman sprayed an entire can of insecticide in the toilet.

 

Her husband, unapprised of the situation when he came home, went to the toilet, sat down and lit a cigarette. After finishing it, he flicked the cigarette butt into the toilet, igniting the pesticide. Certain parts of his anatomy were burned in the resulting flames.

 

As for his broken ribs and pelvis… those occurred when the paramedics were carrying him out. When the paramedics learned how the man burned himself in such an unusual area, they broke into hysterics and lost control of the stretcher, adding injuries to insult.

 

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