Monday, October 29, 2012

Transplanting Trees and Shrubs

This time of year is a great time to transplant and plant new plants. Many people are asking me the best way to transplant shrubs and trees. Here are some guidelines for successfully transplanting plants or trees:

·        Decide the size of you root ball. For every inch in tree trunk diameter you want a foot of root ball. So if your tree is three inches in diameter your root ball should go in a circle one and a half feet from the trunk of the tree. You could tie a string around the tree leaving eighteen inches of string – then draw a line walking around the tree measuring with this string. Root balls can be very heavy so consider a hiring a professional. Be prepared to pay top dollar to move a plant because moving plants requires much more work than planting them out of containers. If your plants are way too crowded, get as much root ball as possible, and if they are so crowded that you cannot even get in there to work, you may have to sacrifice a few plants, so you do not kill them all. Always take as large a ball as possible.
·        Spray the plant you are going to move with an anti-transpirant (Cloud Cover, Wilt Proof, or Transfilm). These products will hold moisture in leaves and stems. 
·        Drench the ground with BioRush and SuperThrive. These are bio stimulant products that encourage rooting. Repeat monthly until you move the plant.
·        Root prune the plant. Go to the area that you determined your ball to go out to and push a shovel straight down – do not pry on the shovel – just cut the roots. Repeat this root pruning all the way around the plant. If the plant has been in the ground a long time, you may have to skip a shovel width each time you root prune to lessen the shock. Apply SeaHume granular (Humic acid and Seaweed bio stimulants) to decrease stress. Repeat monthly until you move the plant.
·        Keep an eye on the plant for the next month. Be sure to water it as needed.  When watering the soil, spray a fine mist on the foliage of the plant.  Since the roots have just been severed, this will help the plant absorb the water through the foliage and water the roots as well. 
·        After thirty days or if you could wait until a cooler time (November, December, January, February), dig away from the plant in the area that you root pruned. Resist the temptation to pry up on the plant. You should have a ball in a mote when you are finished. Try to have the plant moved a month before it sends out new growth or flowers in the spring.
·        Water the ball so the soil will stick to the roots.
·        Severe the ball from the area underneath the plant.
·        Always handle the root ball – do not grab the plant by its trunk.
·        Move the plant onto a tarp or some burlap.
·        Be sure when you move the plant to its new home, you plant it above existing grade.   Plants buried too deep are the biggest problem I see in landscapes.  A plant that is planted too deep is starved for oxygen which affects many other plant processes (ability to absorb nutrients or causes root rot). 
·        Be sure not to pile mulch up against the trunk of the tree or shrub as this will also kill the plant over a period of time. Consider using Cotton Burr Compost or Nature’s Blend as a mulch to get the nutrition associated with these products.
·        Spray the leaves and stems with anti-transpirant.
·        Use  Diehard Transplant (contains a friendly fungus inoculum, wetting agents, water holding gel, humic acid, Sea Kelp, root stimulating vitamins and beneficial bacteria) should also be added to increase the surface absorbing area of root systems with the back fill. Spray foliage with BioRush as it is a special blend of natural organic ingredients designed to help transplant survival. Drench with SuperThrive.
·        Apply the right amount of water.  Be sure to spray the foliage.
·        Apply the right amount of Cotton Burr Compost or Natures Blend mulch.
·        Apply granular SeaHume after you have moved the plant to encourage new root growth.
·        Stake the tree or shrub if needed.
·        Good Luck!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Winterizing Turf

Last week winterizing trees and shrubs was the main topic, so this week turf grass winterizing is going to dominate the article.

Yes, it is time to winterize your turf. SeaHume should be used alone or with the 00-00-25, depending on the results from your soil test. Look for a product with a 00 for the first number (nitrogen). A 00-00-25 with sulfate of potash and minors would be great. If you do not need the potash, consider just the SeaHume, a wonderful combination of seaweed and humic acid.

SeaHume will help grass, trees, shrubs, and flowers throughout the winter. The seaweed part of SeaHume has over 60 minor nutrients, carbohydrates, amino acids, gibberellins, auxins, cytokynins, anti-oxidants and other bio stimulants. The humic acid is also full of bio stimulants that help make nutrients that are in the soil available to the plant, help with soil structure, grow roots, and feed the microorganisms in the soil.

Beware of the national ad campaigns talking about winterizing fertilizers. These products are usually formulated for cool season grasses (rye, fescue). I saw one over the weekend that was a 22-00-14. Not exactly what we want to put on our yard in mid-October in the Lowcountry. Just ask Clemson University.

Have you ever had winter kill? Now is the time to prepare your grass for the wide variations in temperatures we have. If you had winter kill in the past, you need to be sure to correct low and poorly drained areas, reduce thatch in the yard, increase air movement in low areas, keep your lawn hydrated and feed and mow your grass lower than normal (centipede 1.0 to 1.5 inches, St. Augustine 2.5 to 3.0 inches). By mowing your grass lower, you will increase the air movement around the crown of the plant, so cold air will not settle at the crown of the plant and damage the grass. In Florida helicopters fly low over citrus groves that are in valleys to get the cold air out.    

When buying gas for your lawn mower, be sure to include a gas stabilizer to help prevent your carburetor from getting varnished over the winter. Try to purchase gas from a gas station that has ethanol free gas for your mower as well as your two cycle hand held equipment.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Winterizing Shrubs and Trees Plus

I’m not going to mention s$d w*bw@rm. Here are a few things to do while enjoying the beautiful Lowcountry weather.

Did you put out a preemergent product to your lawn and beds for winter annual weed control in August? If yes, depending on the product and the rate you used, it is time to reapply. If no, now is the time to get it spread onto your lawn and beds. Preemergent products control weeds as they germinate making your life and your plants’ (including grass) life easier.

Winterizing trees and shrubs with either a few products individually or as a multi prone approach will help insure the health of your landscape investment.

05-30-30 Root Pusher by Dogget is a “top shelf” fertilizer for trees and shrubs this time of year. A fertilizer that “top shelf” arborists use with special equipment to inject into the ground can also be used by the avid “Do It Yourselfer”. The DIY can apply Root Pusher to the top of the ground and water it in, or make it into a slurry in a bucket and pour the fertilizer around the plant or tree. If you go with the slurry in a bucket method, you can always add SuperThrive, BioRush, SeaHume, Fish / Seaweed blend, Dominion … Root Pusher has special penetrants incorporated in the product to improve distribution in the soil. Root Pusher will promote good wintering and fast spring starts without stimulating soft growth that is susceptible to damage. Just writing about this product makes me want to get a bag out in my yard!

Root Excellerator, SeaHume (granular is best this time of year, liquid still very good),
00-00-25, Cotton Burr Compost, Flowerbed Amendment, SuperThrive, Fish / Seaweed Blend, 04-00-10, Possum’s Minors are a few products that will benefit your trees and shrubs this winter. Trees and shrubs, like people, like to have some nutrition, so they do not go to bed hungry.

For trees and shrubs you can get ahead of the insect battle by using Neem oil or Horticulture oil. Neem oil has some fungicide benefits also which is a bonus. If you have a tree or shrub with a history of scale, twig borer, aphids, white flies …, apply a drench of Dominion now to protect the new growth next spring.

Leaf spot diseases have been a big issue this summer. As the leaves fall, rake them up to remove overwintering fungus. If you had any major problems, you might want to remove your old mulch, spray with lime / sulfur, and replace the mulch with Cotton Burr Compost or Flowerbed amendment.

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

Monday, October 8, 2012

D@&M Sod Webworm

It has been over a month now, and the sod webworm is still chewing the grass down to the runner, leaving weakened areas for weeds. The jagged, half chewed leaf blades give the grass a ratty appearance and give an opening for disease also. I know one yard that has had four different insecticides applied to it and new damaged areas keep appearing.

During “The Garden Clinic” radio show this past weekend, The Super Garden Hero and I must have had 8 calls in an hour about the sod webworm. So many calls on one subject is a sure indication that the Lowcountry is under attack. In the 23 years that we have done the radio show, I cannot remember (might be because I’m getting old) one topic dominating the phone lines like the sod webworm did this past weekend.  Hopefully, the cooler weather will send this “snowbird” insect back down to Central Florida and South Florida where it overwinters.

If you are battling the sod webworm, you might want to mow your grass every 5 to 7 days a little lower than normal. Sod webworms usually eat at night and on cloudy days, so birds (a natural predator) will not see them. By keeping the grass cut low, the birds might be able to see them easier and you might get some free control.

You might want to put some bird feeders out to attract birds. All birds do not eat sod webworms, but the webworm might be scared to feed on your grass with a bunch of bird activity in your yard. Birds are also fun to watch anyway.

If you can apply any control products late in the afternoon or early evening closer to the time the insect feeds, your success might increase. Due to scheduling late applications are not always practical; however, if you can do it late, give it a try.

Hopefully, this is that freaky year and we will go back to our normal mild fall outbreak. Every year one pest dominates the landscape and this has been the year of the sod webworm. I’m glad we do not have to fight it all year long like they do in South Florida.
A cold winter will do a lot to keep the sod webworm in check here.

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

Monday, October 1, 2012

Fall is for Planting

Fall is for planting, so here is a recipe for amending the soil for flower beds. You could use the same recipe for trees and shrubs with some slight modification. Test soil first, if possible. Wait 30 days to plant, if possible. Amend whole area not just the hole! With trees and shrubs do not till deeper than the root ball of the plants you are planting.  This recipe is based on per 100 sq. ft. of planting area:
·         Mule Mix – 200 lbs. per 100 sqft.  Mule Mix is super-heated calcified clay.  Mule Mix helps improve drainage and reduces compaction.  Mule Mix will last in the soil for over 20 years.  The particle can hold its weight in water and then releases it slowly as the plant needs it.  We have used this product to correct many water issues (too wet and too dry) over the years.
·         Bolster 04-04-04 Sustane – 2.5 lbs. per 100 sqft.  This product that increases fertilizer efficiency and improves soil biology.  It contains mycorrhiza spores increasing the ability for the roots absorb nutrients and water. Also contains biostimulants and iron.
·         SeaHume – 1.5 lbs. per 100 sqft. Humic acid and seaweed. Super product for establishing plants. Stimulates growth of beneficial microorganisms and root growth. Over 60 minor nutrients, amino acids, gibberellins and much, much more.   
·         Cotton Burr Compost – (4) 3 cu.ft. bags per 100 sq.ft. (sandy soil, increase to (6) bags).  Cotton Burr Compost is nature’s perfect soil conditioner.  The cotton boll (burr) is full of nutrients and will not tie up nitrogen like wood and wood-based soil amendments.  It will loosen up clay soils and add water holding capacities to sandy soils.  Cotton Burr is an excellent food source for beneficial soil organisms that help make nutrients available to plants, aerate the soil and helps keep harmful organisms and diseases in check. 
·         Flower Bed Amendment – (5) 1 cu.ft. bags per 100 sqft (in sand, increase to (8) bags).  This product not only contains Cotton Burrs, but also composted cattle manure, feather meal, cotton seed meal and alfalfa meal.  Alfalfa meal is high in nitrogen and contains Triacantanol, a natural root growth enhancer, and may help in the suppression and control of certain fungal diseases.

Mix these products together and till into 6-8 inches of soil.  With clay soil, you should have 1/3 amendments and 2/3 clay.  With sandy soil, it should be ½ amendments and ½ sand. For trees and shrubs adjust depth according to root ball size.
After tilling the bed, top dress with (4) bags of Natures Blend and then (2) bags of Cotton Burr Compost. For annuals cap it off with one pound of 17-00-09. Plant annuals through this top dressed area With this mixture, every time you water your plants are getting a “compost tea” full of nutrients.

Test your soil after 30 days and add any other amendments that your soil test indicates you need. 

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