Monday, June 27, 2011

The 4th is Coming. Are you Ready?

Boy, what a difference a week makes. We finally got some much needed rain! We are still a long way from being caught up on our rainfall; however, the Lowcountry sure does look greener and happier. Depending on where you live, we are still several inches behind on rain for the year, so keep applying the wetting agents.

It was also nice to see Franz Witte, 93, in the Home & Garden section of The Post & Courier (June 19, 2011 edition). During the 1940’s Mr. Witte worked at WTMA in the early days of the station. More evidence that some things in radio do not change, he was an “on air personality”, a salesman, and program director.

Mr. Witte’s granddaughter (maybe even great-granddaughter?) is Sully Witte, the Editor of the Moultrie News. I guess you can see the connection between the Horticulture Hotline, The Garden Clinic and the Witte’s.

Next time I can get Dr. Tee Senn, seaweed and humate guru, who is also in his early 90’s and has worked in radio and TV, to visit, it would be great to get these two guys together and listen to their stories. A walk through Mr. Witte’s 750 plus plants, then some air conditioner time with a cold beverage. Can you imagine the stories?

Of course, the rains brought the mosquitoes. With the 4th of July weekend coming up, consider using some protection against these blood suckers. Mosquito Repelling Granulars (organic), Bifen, and Cyonara are all very effective in controlling mosquitoes.

Bifen and Cyonara are very broad-spectrum and control everything from ants to wasps. If you plan to be in the back yard cooking, eating watermelon, or shooting fireworks, controlling ants, mosquitoes, flies, and wasps will make the holiday much more enjoyable.

Standing in fire ants in the dark, swatting at flies on your burger or getting stung by a wasp, is never a good thing, and not how you want your party to be remembered.

On a Possum note, we started carrying cat and dog food. We have food for the basic diet and the more sophisticated diet, and some treats as well!

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

Monday, June 20, 2011

Summer time and the Living is Easy

Indian Hawthorn (AKA Raphs) finished blooming and can be pruned as needed. Watch out for the leaf spot disease that attacks these plants. If your plant’s foliage is thinning and it has spots on its leaves, there is a good chance your plant is under attack. Honor Guard does a good job of keeping this fungus in check; however, this disease will always be out there so regular spraying is a must. Also, when spraying fungicides, it is important to switch chemical classes to avoid resistance. If they do not need pruning hold off, because pruning encourages new growth and the disease likes new growth.

If you are taking a vacation this summer and have St. Augustine grass, be sure to put out an insecticide to protect your lawn from ‘the nasty rascal, the chinch bug’. Chinch bugs can do serious damage in a very short period of time. They love and multiple greatly in hot, dry weather, so this year has been a very bountiful year for them. Tirade, ECOPCO Exempt (organic), or Aloft (a newer product with some long term control – 3 months) should help you manage this lawn terrorist.

As the temperature and humidity rises, St. Augustine grass will also get a leaf spot disease called gray leaf spot. Even though I usually try to avoid scientific names, I have to use this one because there are different leaf spot diseases that are controlled with different products. Look for the name Pyricularia grisea on the label to get control of this leaf spot. Several years ago, I picked up a customer from another store (and he still shops with us) because the other store was selling him a product that was labeled for the leaf spot (Helminthosporium spp) and after repeated applications the customer was not getting any control. The product was not labeled for the gray leaf spot (Pyricularia grisea) that the customer was trying to control in his clients St. Augustine grass. Some products that are labeled for this disease include Prophesy, Cleary’s 3336, and Disarm.

Azaleas are getting ready to set their flower buds for next year, so it is very important to do any pruning on these plants right away. Even if you pruned them hard right after they bloomed, you can still do any touch up pruning to manage any growth that might have occurred since the last pruning. An application of Messenger should help them set more blooms for next year. Watch out for lace bugs sucking on your plants.

Any of the repeat blooming azaleas (Encore, Red Slipper) should be pruned right after they flower. If you prune fairly hard, you will likely lose some of the next flush of blooms; however, they should get back in sync fairly quickly, providing you multiple blooms.

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

Monday, June 13, 2011

Measure Your Yard For Accurate Applications

Anyone get any rain last week? I know I did not. I go whole summers without priming my well; however, this year watering has been mandatory. Hopefully, we will get some rain by the end of the week.

A topic that I mentioned last week briefly needs to be expanded on. That topic would be the dreaded measure your lawn and bed areas. Knowing the square footage of your grass areas and bed areas are key to applying any fertilizer or control product correctly. An old bathroom scale and bucket also aid in the proper application of products.

I can remember several times hearing different variations of this same answer to my question while at the counter at Possum’s. “How square feet is your yard?” Rough answer,” well, last year I put out that bag that covers 5000 square feet and it was perfect for my yard, so I must have 5000 square feet.” Sorry, wrong answer.

Based on a pound of nitrogen, we sell 50 pound bags that cover as much as 23,000 square feet and as little as 1000 square feet. Unfortunately, the bag does not know the size of our yards.

In the old days, yards were mostly square or rectangular, and they were easy to measure. Now most yards have curvy bed lines that sweep across the landscape, making them more difficult to measure. If you can break the yard up into little squares or rectangles, and measure the length and the width then you can get your square footage. Length multiplied by width will give you your square footage. Add up all the squares and rectangles that you measured the square feet of, and you will come up with the square footage of your yard.

If this sounds like total “Greek or Geek” to you, ask a landscaper, a landscape architect, someone that works with floors or carpets, an engineer, a construction worker, someone who pours driveways, or anyone else that regularly needs to measure the square footage of something to help you.

Now, there are even websites that you can log onto and they will tell you the square footage of your yard. Of course, I like to do it the old fashion way – length times width.

I know this measuring seems like a pain, but most of us stay in a house for several years or several decades. A little pain spread over several years of having very useful information is worth it.

Once you measure the yard, put the measurements in about 5 to 10 locations throughout your house, your car and garage, so you do not lose them.

Monday, June 6, 2011

June Happenings

  1. The nasty rascal, the chinch bug in St. Augustine grass has been killing large areas of turf in the Lowcountry. Remember the products that control chinch bugs generally have a short residual. If you are going out of town for any length of time, be sure you treat the lawn before you leave. If you prefer to treat less often, Aloft is the way to go. Aloft is more expensive; however, depending on the rates you apply the product, you only have to keep the pets inside once instead of three times.
  2. Fleas have been a close second to chinch bugs this Spring. Any pet owner, especially one that has his or her pet sleep in the same room as themselves, can not stand to be kept up half the night by the sound of their pet scratching fleas. Fleas are hard to control. Plan to treat the animal, the house, and the yard. The use of growth regulators will make a near impossible task, much easier. Expect about two weeks to get this pest managed.
  3. If history repeats itself, Japanese beetles will be eating our plants very soon. Any of your favorite plants that they like to munch on could be protected by a drench of Dominion systemic insecticide.
  4. The cool nights this Spring were perfect for powdery mildew on plants. Roses, Crepe Myrtles, Dogwoods, Verbena and Gerber Daisies are a few plants that I would check for powdery mildew. Powdery mildew is a white substance that grows on the tops of the leaves. On Crepe Myrtles, flowering will be affected in a big way.
  5. While driving through neighborhoods localized dry spots are very evident. These are areas in the yard that turn that bluish gray color from lack of water. New neighborhoods with young grass and poor soils seem to be most susceptible to these dry areas. Exposed areas with lots of wind and areas at the beaches also are good candidates for these localized dry spots. Adding organic matter to the soil (Cotton Burr Composts or SeaHume), wetting agents (Aqueduct), or adjusting sprinkler heads will help with these dry areas. Remember to water in the early a.m. before the wind picks up, so the grass will dry by nightfall.
  6. Moles seem to be particularly active this spring. They just had their young in April and now they are tunneling up a storm. The young moles are hungry! Manage the food source in your yard (grubs, mole crickets) with Lebanon Insect Control and go after the mole with Mole Patrol.
  7. Be sure to change that dull mower blade from last year. This will give your grass a cleaner cut and will allow less entry points for disease. Inspect your blade for nicks and damage if you are going to continue to use the same blade. Since a mower blade spins at very high speeds, any nicks or bends can lead to the blade being out of balance. When a blade is out of balance, the mower will vibrate (like your tire out of balance on your car) and you could damage the spindle and other parts of your mower that cost far more than a new blade.
  8. Look up at your trees. If you have any tree work that needs to be done, I would get it done as soon as possible. Look for trees that have cavities at the base of the tree and look at the tops for broken limbs and weak crotch angles. Have a tree care professional inspect your trees for safety. Most tree companies will inspect for free. Try to get this done before the Lowcountry is in that cone for a direct hit for a hurricane! The tree companies are usually very busy by then.
  9. As with all products, you should read and follow product labels. More is not better when dealing with control products. Measure your yard so you know your square footage and watch overlapping when applying your products. You also need to watch the weather forecast to insure the products have a proper amount of time on your lawn prior to any rain. If the product needs to be watered into the ground, a slow watering by a sprinkler is better than a gully washer from the sky. A very hard rain can wash products into the storm water drains which are bad for the environment and you have wasted a lot of money.

Also sweep or blow fertilizers or control products off of hard surfaces when you

are finished applying them. In the case of fertilizer this may prevent staining, and most importantly it will keep products from washing through storm drains to the marshes.

  1. With the dry weather we had earlier this year, spider mites have come out in full force. Be sure to use a product labeled for mites when trying to control these plant juice suckers. Mites are not insects, so all insecticides do not control them. Malathion and oil should work until the temperatures get too hot.
  2. Another plant juice sucker that is out in full force is the lace bug on Azaleas. If the leaves look mottled, flip the leaf over and look very closely for the pest. The lace bug is small and well camouflaged so you might need a magnify glass. Dominion Tree and Shrub or Merit will give you long term control of this pest.