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.

Monday, November 21, 2011

"Oh Christmas Tree....

I was out this weekend and the Salvation Army Bell was ringing and the Christmas Tree sales tents were going up. I wanted to get this article out early, so you could make plans to go to a local Christmas Tree Farm, find a local source for a cut tree or use a live tree that you could use in your landscape after the holidays if you were so inclined.

After Thanksgiving, many of you will be searching for a Christmas tree. If you are going to buy a cut tree, consider buying it from a local business that is here year-round like a garden center. If you buy it from a tent, or a temporary site, look for one that is run by the Exchange Club, Optimist Club, Rotary Club, a local church, a local school club, a local landscaper or another local organization. Many local organizations that sell trees give a portion of the profits to local charities such as Camp Happy Days.

There are some people from out of state that set up tents in grocery store parking lots. They take their profits out of state when they leave. If you support our local businesses, then you keep our money in our local economy and maybe save a local job.

Many of the local garden centers offer great Christmas gifts along with trees this time of year. They have purchased many seasonal items that would be a great present for anyone. Gift certificates are usually available for the hard to shop for gardener. Shopping at a garden center is a great way to avoid long lines. The parking is free and plentiful this time of year.

Have you ever considered a live tree? Different Hollies (right now you can tell the females with beautiful berries), Leyland Cypress, Eastern Red Cedar, Little Gem Magnolias, Osmanthus, Deodara Cedar and many more make great trees and after the holidays you can plant them in your yard instead of throwing them to the curb.

Local tree farms are also an option. Noel’s Christmas Tree Farm on Johns Island and Too Goo Doo Tree Farm on the way to Edisto are two local tree farms. Picking out your own tree is fun for the whole family and usually involves hot chocolate and hay rides. You know you are getting a fresh tree when you cut it yourself.

If you go with a traditional cut tree, make sure it is in water at the place you buy it (unless it is coming fresh off of the truck), and make sure it stays in water until you take it to the curb. Once you bring it home cut an inch off of the bottom of the tree and place it in a 5 gallon bucket of water. Be sure this is a clean 5 gallon bucket that doesn’t have any bait ball residue left from shrimp season! While the tree is still outside, consider spraying the tree with Transfilm, Cloud Cover or Wilt Proof to keep the water loss through the leaves at a minimum. Let the tree dry before bringing it into the house.

Locate your tree within your house away from heating ducts and the fireplace. A stand that can hold a lot of water is a big plus because a fresh cut Christmas tree can drink 1-2 gallons of water per day. Have one responsible adult in charge of watering the Christmas tree daily to avoid ruining the carpet or floors. If you can, fill (2) one gallon milk jugs each day and let them sit for 24 hours, this will allow the chlorine to evaporate out of the water. Letting the chlorine evaporate from the water you water your plants, is a practice you should use when watering all house plants.

There are many secrets to keeping a tree fresh. Having a fresh cut and keeping water above this cut at all times is the most important thing you can do for the tree. The water conducting vessels quickly close up if the tree does not have constant water. Using a drop of Super Thrive in each gallon of water will help the tree stay fresh. Many people use 7-up and an aspirin in the water.

Thank you for all of your letters, questions and for reading The Horticulture Hotline.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Fall Fleas and other goings on

The great Lowcountry weather continues. We could definitely use some rain. The people that put out ryegrass in non-irrigated areas would certainly like some rain before the temperatures get too cold for the rye to germinate and thicken up. Fleas seemed to have exploded in population in the past two weeks. The never ending mole activity seems to have increased. On a positive note at Possum’s have been getting very positive feedback on Excellerator (Excell), Dog Rocks and SeaHume Granular.

Even though we are in prime Large Brown Patch season, the turf needs some water. These low humidity, windy days can really dry out turf, trees, and plants. Plants and turf that are dehydrated are not healthy, so it is more susceptible to disease and other damage. Wear damage from dogs is always an issue with dehydrated turf.

Speaking of dogs, something triggered fleas to get active again and terrorize our pets. The population exploded! The dry weather then the rain we had was most likely the trigger; however, we could say it had something to do with the full moon, high tide, and Halloween (blood sucking fleas).

Controlling fleas is a multi-step activity if you are a do it yourselfer, or a one step process if you like to let the professional handle the job (pick up phone and call a Pest Management Company).

For fleas the right product is crucial. Look for one with an adulticide and a growth regulator in it. Product names to look for include Precor 2000 and Ultracide. These products are easy to use aerosols that kill the adult fleas and prevent fleas that come out later into developing into adult fleas. Vacuum, spray, let dry, and vacuum again. The vibration from vacuuming brings the flea out of the larva stage and into the adult stage that the control products are designed to be effective against. Always empty your vacuum or the bag of your vacuum outside or your vacuum will be a source for spreading the fleas.

Treat your animal with Petcor or Bio Spot. Both of these products have an adulticide and a growth regulator and do a fabulous job compared to a much more expensive highly advertised product (at about one third of the price).

The yard should be treated with Cyonara and Nylar. Again, the Cyonara will knock down the adults and the Nylar is a growth regulator that will help break up the life cycle of the flea. Nylar also works on roaches and mosquitoes as a bonus.

Unless something major happens, I will continue these topics next week.

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

Monday, November 7, 2011

Fall Leaf Drop

A little cool some mornings, but the beautiful days continue. Oyster Roasts, Frogmore Stew, and Fish Fries are in full swing. What a great time to be in the Lowcountry. The Holiday Festival of Lights at James Island County Park is just around the corner, so the holiday mode will take over. I have been to several other light shows in this state and in the Southeast and none of them have even come close to the spectacular show put on by Charleston County Parks and Recreation.

Gardenias, Azaleas, Magnolias, and many other evergreen plants are losing some of their leaves. Although these plants are evergreens, they still have some natural leaf drop this time of year every year.

Since the chlorophyll has left the leaves, people often mistake the yellowing of the leaves as a nutrient deficiency (most commonly iron) or think their plant is going into a decline. The chlorophyll is the “green” of the leaf, and usually masks the other colors of the leaf. Maple leaves turn red in the fall because the chlorophyll that usually masks the red color goes away leaving the red color behind.

As the chlorophyll leaves the leaf, bacteria and fungi grow on the leaf because the leaf is starting to drop from the plant and the leaf is not actively growing to ward off attack of these secondary invaders. At Possum’s we get a lot of calls from people that feel like their plant has a disease because of the leaf spots on the leaves that are getting ready to fall off of the plant. There is usually no reason to treat these leaf spot diseases that are attacking a leaf that is getting ready to fall off the plant anyway. These diseases are different from the diseases that attack an actively growing plant.

If you have a plant that is dropping leaves especially if it is a new plant, check to make sure it was not planted too deep. Established plants can end up being “planted too deep” because of mulch accumulation over the years. When I worked in Hilton Head, I was involved in a large project at the Lighthouse where azaleas were dying in large quantities from too much pine straw being applied year after year.

Most plants do not like wet roots. If you have a plant that is dropping leaves, check your drainage, and be sure the plant is not getting too much water or the soil is too clayey.

A well fertilized plant will usually have less leaf drop. Looking at crepe myrtles and azaleas really illustrates this fact. You have to be sure you are looking at the same varieties of plant, and you can see a huge difference in crepe myrtles in August and September depending on the fertility program they are on. Now is a great time to soil test to get ready for 2012.

I’ll leave you with that!!