Monday, December 26, 2011

Moles - part 3

Happy New Year and may your yard have less mole damage in 2012. Moles are such a hot topic in this winter, so I figured I needed to expand on some other crucial points in dealing with the dreaded varmint.

Since I did not ask his permission to use his name, I will just call him the “Coke man”. The “Coke man” saw me one day and said, “Billy, watch out with that Mole Patrol. I killed a popular mole and ten moles came to his funeral!”

If a mole dies, moles will take over the tunnel system and territory of another mole. The three pronged approach works to deter this re-infestation (kill the mole, manage its food source, and repel curious intruders). Any of you Lowcountry dwellers that have ever swam in pluff mud know how hard it must be for the mole to tunnel through compacted soil, so if some other mole can do the hard work, why not move in to their habitat? If you just kill the mole, a new one will move in in about three to eight weeks.

As when you go fishing, hunting, or (for the ladies) shopping, you do not catch, kill, or buy something every time you cast, hunt, or go into a store. Baiting or trapping moles takes persistence. You may have to bait more than one time to be successful. Here are a few comments from people that were successful:

“Recommended Mole Patrol – Great stuff! Kills moles. Found 3 dead moles above ground just days after treatment.” Rick Clark

“Mole Patrol – Awesome, I had 40-50 tunnels in the yard. In 7-10 days, all moles were gone!” Mike Lamm

“The other product that works great is Mole Patrol. Once I got the knack of getting the product in the right tunnels without collapsing them, and touching the product. It really kills the moles. I will go about 7-8 weeks without seeing a single mole track and when they pop up, I bait again and there are no more tracks for another 7-8 weeks. I don’t like the way moles can tear up your yard in a single day. The Mole Patrol does not keep them out but sure makes their stay very short.” Robert Felts, Studio Cielo (sounds like Robert needs to try that three pronged approach to keep them out)

With baits as with any product following the label is crucial. I got a call from a customer one time that was putting way too much bait in the tunnel, and she was having poor results. She was really mad at these moles! Just like fishing, you do not want a huge piece of cut mullet to try to catch a small bream. We adjusted her rate down and she got great results. In her words, “Mole Patrol-if you know how to apply it, it will work perfect. I sold a lot of this product to my customers and they were very happy with the results.”Barbara Loza, B & L Landscaping.

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

Monday, December 19, 2011

Happy Moley Days

Moles: such a wonderful holiday topic, part two of three.

I still recommend a 3 prong approach when controlling moles for the less adventurous. These 3 steps are:

  1. Kill the mole
  2. Manage its food source
  3. Repel other moles from your yard

Moles tunnel through your yard looking for food. They usually have several main runs through your yard as well as secondary tunnels. The secondary tunnels are where they collect their food and once they have a gone down a secondary tunnel they will not return to that tunnel. In order to kill a mole with bait or a trap, you must be able to locate the main tunnel.

The best way to locate the main runs is to take a stick and poke holes in the tunnels in your yard. Next, mark where you made these holes. The next morning come and check to see if the holes are plugged, then you know you have a main tunnel. The mole will only plug holes on the main tunnel. That evening, open up one of the holes that the mole plugged the night before and place bait 5 feet on either side of the hole that you reopened. When the mole comes back to re-plug the hole it will have to walk right over the bait. These baits are very tasty to the mole, so the mole will usually eat the bait and die.

Three baits that we regularly hear good results about are Mole Patrol, TomCat and Talpirid. I prefer Mole Patrol because it is one third the price and has 6 times the amount of bait placement as Talpirid. Stay away from poison peanuts. Moles do not eat peanuts, they eat insects and worms.

Controlling the food source is the next most important factor in managing moles on your property. Depending on which doctor (PHD) you believe, the mole eats 85-125% of its body weight every day. In human terms a 100 lb. person would eat 85-125 lbs of food per day. That is a lot of food! Using a product like Lebanon Insect Control or Aloft on a regular basis will do a good job in managing the mole’s food source. Monitor your insect populations with a soap solution to determine how often you need to apply insecticides. Use two ounces of lemon dish detergent in a five gallon bucket of water and pour slowly over your soil in the areas where you think you might have insects and see what comes to the surface. Some products get tied up in the thatch to kill surface insects (like ants), so be sure to get a product for sub-surface insects.

Castrol products (Mole Repellent, Holy Moly) and other repellents (Mole Stopper) work good as perimeter treatments to keep moles from re-infesting your property. Be sure there are not any moles on your property before you put out this barrier or you will trap them inside your landscape. Make a 10-20 foot band treatment around the perimeter of your property. Reapply these repellents as the label recommends.

If you yard is free of moles right now, you can skip #1 and just manage their food source and repel them at the perimeter of your property. Be sure your yard is free of moles before you skip #1 in this process. If you take away the mole’s food source and he is in your yard already, he will really tear up your yard looking for food!

As it gets cooler, it is the time to kill them. Try to take away their food source, and try to repel them from your property and you should have good luck against the moles. Beware moles usually get more active as the temperature cools.

Managing moles is an ongoing process. Quick fixes are usually unsuccessful. We did have a customer at Possum’s that used some Mule Mix to dry up a wet area that moles favored, and the area dried up and the moles left. Maybe the moles do not like tunneling through Mule Mix, or once the area was dry, it was not an area that they wanted to tunnel (no insects?).

Moles roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost….

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

Monday, December 12, 2011

Moles Anyone?

Moles are really active once again. Every year I try not to write about them because I have been writing about them for over twenty years; however, when the question keeps popping up, I figure many other people have the same question. When people leaving messages on my phone asking me to a party and slip in at the end, “and hey, what do I do about this mole tearing up my yard?” I had a supplier from Alabama ask me about moles in his yard! Of course eating out, walking the dog, or being in any public place or gathering, the conversation of the tiny, devastating, ever eating, little mammal comes up. I also noticed sales at Possum’s of mole killing, repelling, starving, and smoking out of tunnels has gone through the roof the last few weeks.

Termites eat millions of dollars of structures a year. Cockroaches are nasty and cause problems for asthma sufferers. Rats, mice and squirrels eat wires in homes causing fires, and tear up duct work and insulation increasing your power bill. Gnats, mosquitoes and fire ants are biting and or sucking the blood out of you sometimes resulting in death and still do not raise the questions that the mole does.

The mole stays underground most of the time, destroying the beauty of your lawn and beds with tunnels – that’s it. We work hard to get a nice yard and they destroy it – Game on! Moles are definitely a big problem for this area.

Since moles are a mammal, they are a little harder to control than insects or other things that bother us in the yard. With insects you can use products that affect insects and do not affect mammals. With moles you have to be careful not to harm other mammals in your yard like children and pets.

Trapping moles is one option. Some people are very good with traps and are highly successful at catching moles; however, most people are not as skilled. Having traps in your yard might also attract the curiosity of other mammals (children and pets) that you do not want to injure. If you trap moles, you still want to control your mole cricket and grub population that could damage your turf.

We have heard many success stories with the Rodent Smoke Bombs. The bombs involve lighting a fuse and smoke, everyone’s dream way to get revenge on these rascals. At first I thought this was more of a “manly man” (Bubba) activity; however, we have had quite a few sophisticated looking females boasting their triumph over the mole with these smoke bombs. Limit their use to outdoors and please be careful. With the Rodent Smoke Bombs you do not have to be as skilled; however, you will still want to manage the insects in your soil that damage turf (mole crickets and grubs).

The mole takes several weeks to control and write about, so I will continue next week.

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

Monday, December 5, 2011

Excellerator Provides Great Results in Lowcountry Soils

Excellerator (Excell for short) is a new product that has been bringing the Lowcountry gardener many good results over the past year. Excell is granular specialty micronutrient fertilizer that contains 39% Silicon along with many other micronutrients that has helped produced ‘green” where there was no “green” before the application.

Mike Williams, head grounds keeper for the Charleston Riverdogs, introduced us to the product about 2 years ago. Mike wanted to try to get some added micronutrients into his sand based soil he has at Joe Riley Park and get the benefits of the Silicon.

In 2011 we started selling this product across our whole customer base at Possum’s with very positive feedback. Excell has helped high sodium soils, weak lawns, ‘green up’ off color shrubs and trees, reduce insect and disease attack, lowered water needs (by about 20%), improved fertilizer results, improved recovery of damaged turf, and much more. People have been very impressed with the color and vigor of their turf.

Excell contains 39% Silicon (the highest concentration in the industry), 24% Calcium, 6% Magnesium, 1.8% Iron, 0.50% Manganese, and trace amounts of Boron, Copper, Zinc, and Molybdenum. These micronutrients feed and strengthen the plant and also improve many other processes and responses within the plant and in the soil.

Excell promotes soil flocculation (many small particles coming together to form large particles) and aggregation which helps the air to water ratio in the soil. Roots like air in the soil, and roots will grow deeper into the soil as long as there is air, creating a more drought resistant plant. The roots can also ‘mine’ more nutrients out of the soil with an increased, dense root system.

Silicon promotes the excretion of growth hormones like cytokines, gibberellins, auxins, and manitols enhancing cell division and elongation. Silicon promotes better entrance of nutrients into the plant and also makes sure they get distributed correctly in the plant. Chewing insects have shown an aversion to plants high in Silicon. Silicon also helps the immune system of the plant, making it more resistant to disease.

Excellerator can give my yard less disease, less chewing insects, greener, healthier plants and turf, save 20% on water bill, and much, much more. Sounds like a great present to me!

Remember now is the best time to soil test to be ready for 2012.

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

Monday, November 28, 2011

Coach, Vice Principal, Athletic Director, Teacher, and Head Grounds Superintendent Bobby Behr Wins National Award

Congratulations to another Grounds Superintendent that uses Possum’s Products on their facility. Bobby Behr, Adam, and the many student helpers at Ashley Ridge High School won The Sports Turf Manager’s Association (STMA) NATIONAL Softball Field of the Year Award. Yes, they have the best Softball field in the USA.

Last year, Coach, Vice Principal, Athletic Director, Teacher, and Head Grounds Superintendent Bobby Behr and crew won the STMA’s top spot in the State for soccer, softball, and baseball fields. (I think the only reason he did not win football is the STMA did not want to give him a clean sweep – just my opinion!)

Whether the award is local, regional, or national, it gives us great pleasure at Possum’s to see customers pictured beside that Yard of the Month sign or just being successful at killing a flea, a weed, or a roach! Although at Possum’s we do not provide any of the sweat, money, equipment maintenance, or any of the factors that go into maintaining a landscape, pest free home, or field, we love those success stories!

Right after Coach, Vice Principal, Athletic Director, Teacher, and Head Grounds Superintendent Bobby Behr told me about his National Award for his softball field, the next question was, “when are we getting together to take soil tests to develop our program for next year?”

Soil testing is so important. How can you know how to fertilize an area without a soil test? Some areas in the USA require you take a soil test before fertilizing. When you soil test, you can target the nutrients you need to add or not add, getting the most bang for your buck. If you need lime, the soil test will tell you how much and what kind of lime (dolomitic or calcium based). With the amount of water we have around here that we depend on for jobs, food, and entertainment, soil testing seems like the responsible way to go and get the best results for your money.

Ashley Ridge High School played some good football this year as well. The Swamp Foxes had a 10 and 3 record and were the 2011 AAAA Region 8 Champs. They beat some perennial powerhouses along the way, including Summerville, Ft. Dorchester, and Stratford.

Next week, unless something major takes place, I will be writing about Excell, Dog Rocks, and SeaHume.