Monday, November 26, 2012

Holiday Guest Part Two

Rodents are another uninvited guest that is very common this time of year. Rats, mice, and even squirrels are looking for a warm place to spend the winter. With pet food, cereal, other household garbage, and heat, our homes are very inviting to rodents.

Rodents do major damage to our homes. They will make holes in our duct work. Talk about losing efficiency. Sending cold air through a duct with holes in it during the hot summers in the Lowcountry has to waste some major dollars. Rodents also chew on wires that can mess up your electricity in your house and in the worst case that can lead to a fire. Just seeing or hearing a rodent in your home can be quit unsettling not to mention the disease, fecal pellets, urine and other nasty things associated with rodents.

Rodents can rapidly increase in numbers by attracting other rodents through scent and also by having babies. If you think you have an issue, act quickly. There are many wildlife control companies and pest management companies in the area that will be glad to help you manage this situation.   

Exclusion is always the best way to deal with rodents; however, they are sneaky guys and can squeeze into very tight places. They say a mouse can enter a home through a crack the size of a dime and a rat can enter a home through a crack the size of a quarter. Paying close attention to crawl space doors, foundation vents, flashing, and attic vents are the easy obvious entry points. When you do a major exclusion job, you have to get the rodents that are already in your house out or you have just trapped them in your house.

Using baits can be tricky around homes with children and pets; however, they can be a very effective tool. The rodent can also die in an area (wall void, duct work, attic …) that might smell up the house for a few days. Not real good during your holiday party!

Traps are nice because you can see what you have caught. Snap-E traps, T-Rex, and the old wooden Victor traps are very effective. The Snap-E trap claims to be the fastest, most humane way to kill a rodent. Glue boards also work and are not spring loaded; however, a slower death for the uninvited guest.

Where you place the traps and how you bait them will determine how successful you are with the traps. Usually rodents travel along a wall – like a roach. Rodents are aware of their surroundings, so sometimes it is best to put a trap in an area with bait but without setting it for a day or two to see if the rodent is coming to it. Then set it and hopefully you will catch the rodent.

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

Monday, November 19, 2012

Holiday Guest Part One

The Holiday time of year brings many invited guest and some not so invited guest into our homes and landscapes. The cooler weather drives roaches and rodents into homes and businesses were it is warm. Fleas seem to flourish during the winter when you would think you would be done with them for the year. Drain flies always threaten to take off with the family turkey at Thanksgiving dinner. Bedbugs are an increasing problem in the Lowcountry that some of your invited guest (or college student) might bring into your home. Outside the moles are going crazy trying to find food before the food tunnels too deep.

Roaches are best treated outside your house – a perimeter treatment. Eco-PCO WPX, Essentria G, and InTice granular bait are three good organic choices. Bifen liquid and granular or Cyonara liquid and granular are four good traditional control products.

The granular products are easy to apply in mulched beds around a structure. The spray able products can be used around windows, around entry doors, around garage doors and in mulched beds. When using a liquid product in mulch, use a lot of water to get the product in the target area. For pests other than roaches, you can also spray around porch lights and in corners where spiders congregate.

If some of the roaches have entered your home, these liquids can be used to spray in cracks and crevices inside your home where the roaches live. When I have roaches in a structure, I prefer to use a gel bait product. InVict Gold and MaxForce Magnum are two gels that are very effective.

I prefer the gel products because of the domino effect they have on the roach population. One roach can eat the gel and effect several other roaches by touch and by the fecal pellets. Just like killing fire ants with a bait product – a little active ingredient goes a long way.

For extended control you can apply products in wall voids, attics, crawl spaces and other labeled areas. InTice granular weatherized bait and BorActin are two Orthoboric acid products that will give you very long control and are “Green”. CimeXa is a silica gel product that will also provide long term control, and is also LEED tier 3 product.

Well, it looks like I’ll have to address the other uninvited guests after Thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgiving and watch out for the drain flies making off with your turkey!

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

Monday, November 12, 2012

Christmas Tree Options

I went through the Festival of Lights at James Island County Park this past weekend. Another outstanding display of lights this year, plus the sand castle, train, walk around displays, shops and all the “fair food!” If you’re a kid, does Christmas still seems like it takes forever to get here? It sure comes up quick to me!  

I wanted to get this yearly Christmas Tree 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. Very important to always keep profits local, especially these days.

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. A ride in the country is always a good family event (how much longer will it take to get there?).  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.  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. If you notice any insects on the tree, blast it with a strong stream of water or consider an insecticidal soap. 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 5, 2012

Things To Do 11/05/12

Moles are doing their fall tunneling, and they are everywhere! The three step method of control still gets the best results. Kill the mole. Traps, mole patrol and Talprid seem to work best. Manage the moles food source. Sevin, Aloft, and Grubz Out are very good at killing moles food supply. The third step is to apply a repellent to keep new moles out of the yard. Holy Moley and Mole and Vole repellent do a very good job. With the repellents, you can create a barrier around your property, so you use less repellent and save money.

Large Patch / Brown Patch / Zoysia Patch have been in lawns this fall; however, the lack of rain was keeping it to a minimal. The recent rains made it explode in some yards with those all too familiar circles of disease. In our warm season grasses, these diseases can be in irregular patterns as well as the circles. Map the areas you see the disease, since the disease is in the soil it will tend to reappear in the same areas. Turn off the irrigation. Correct any thatch, compaction or drainage issues. Apply Cleary’s, Prophesy, Serenade (organic) or Disarm. Add Neptune Harvest’s Crab Shell (organic) product to the area to add beneficial organisms to the soil to combat the bad organisms. We have also seen for ourselves and heard from customers that the use of Cotton Burr Compost really helps with this disease.

Yes, you can still winterize your turf – it is not too late. 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 SeaHume a wonderful combination of seaweed and humic acid. The seaweed has over 60 minor nutrients, amino acids, and 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. Both these products can be used together and will help your yard this winter and next spring.   

Now is the time to collect soil to get on a program for 2013. If it has been 30 days since you applied a fertilizer, why wait? Beat the spring rush of soil tests at the lab (and my desk if you use Possum’s). If you have any amending to do (lime, etc.), you do it over the winter and be ready for spring. Having a soil test and program is like having a landscape design; it gives you a roadmap to follow, so you are applying the right products at the right time for your soil. 

Yes, you still have time to plant bulbs. A little 04-04-04 Bolster, Bio-Tone Starter Plus,  and / or SeaHume should get them off to a good start.

Do not forget your Neem oil or Horticultural oil for your plants. With all the leaf spot diseases this year, I really like the Neem oil, since it acts as a fungicide as well. If you had any plants that had leaf spot this year, rake up the leaves as they fall (and destroy them), and spray Lime / Sulfur on the ground to help kill overwintering spores.

Hopefully, you have applied a preemergent herbicide to your lawn and beds. If not, why wait? Applying these products now can save you a lot of time this spring and your lawn and plants will thank you for removing the weed competition.

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