Monday, December 29, 2014

Cotton Burr Compost

Give Cotton Burr Compost a try in 2015.

I have an F-550 diesel truck with dual wheels in the back. Terrible on MPG, but can pull plants and small trees out of the ground without much trouble. Since we (Possum Employees) do not compete with our customers, we do not offer this service for hire; however, when my mother needed to remove a bed of junipers at the end of her drive way that were blocking her view, it was time for some “plant pull’n”! Can I get a Yee Haw?

Of course, I made sure there were no irrigation lines, gas lines or fiber optic wires in the area before I wrapped the chains around the plants. If the plants were anything besides old nasty juniper, I might have tried to transplant them (see last week’s article about transplanting at possumsupply .com).

After my truck gently yanked the juniper out of the ground, I removed the soil from around the root system and any other severed roots that didn’t get ripped out of the ground during the initial thrust of diesel power. I ended up with an area about the size of an Impala hood of bare dirt. Knowing that my mother had an old variety of St. Augustine (Raleigh), I decided to let the grass grow in from the sides instead of trying to locate a few pieces of Raleigh sod or put in a different variety.   

Around this new bare spot, I spread cotton burr compost. About a foot into the area where the existing grass is and a light layer over the bare dirt was all the cotton burr it took, and about 6 months later the area is almost covered. If I thought about it or had the time to think about it, I could have put a little booster application on every month. The most amazing thing is how green this area where I applied the cotton burr compost is 6 months ago is in the middle of winter compared to the surrounding area. We have had a lot of rain in 6 months and the organic product is still amending the soil.

One of the best examples of the long lasting effects of cotton burr compost is at Blackbaud Stadium – home of The Charleston Battery. Since the field is sand based for fast drainage, when Shannon and Kevin re-sod the 9 X 9 goal mouths, they add cotton burr compost to hold moisture while establishing the new sod. If you know where to look, you can see different shades of darker green grass from their addition of cotton burr compost over the years.

Cotton Burr Compost - give it a try in 2015! Spread one 2 cubic foot in a 7 x 7 area and see how your yard responds!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Transplanting Tips

We have had a few frosts, so now is a great time of year 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 (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, December 15, 2014

Winter Weed Control Including Dollarweed

Do you want to control dollarweed and other weeds this winter? Dollarweed seems to be a hot topic recently.

Winter annual weeds are also showing up everywhere.  Winter weeds are tricky. They come up now and are easy to kill; however, everyone’s in the holiday mode and entertaining their kids (college students included), shopping, partying, etc.

The Holidays and Bowl Games (if you include the Super Bowl) end in February. By then the weeds are much larger and harder to control. The weather is usually colder and when it is nice, people are wanting to get outside and try out their new golf club, tennis racket, running shoes, boat, fishing rod, or do something besides spray weeds. Prune roses and put out preemerge for summer weeds is something fun to do outside, maybe? (ha ha)

All the sudden it is March and these winter weeds start to flower and become very visible in the yard. Since they are now in their reproductive stage of growth because they are flowering (a little technical info), instead of the actively growing vegetative stage of their life (more technical info), the weeds are even harder to control. In most cases weeds are easiest to kill in the vegetative stage because most weed killers are systemic and the plant will move the product throughout the plant faster and more uniformly. In March, people will bring in beautiful bouquets of weeds into Possum’s Landscape and Pest Control Supply for us to identify.

It is best to kill weeds in turf while the grass is fully dormant or fully actively growing (not in transition). By March some turf can begin to wake up and start growing, depending on the weather. More reason to get out there now with your weed control.

If you have the capability to spray, a product called Weed Free Zone really does a number on Dollarweed.  Read and follow product label (pay particular attention to the temperature restrictions on using this product).  Weed Free Zone has revolutionized the control of many tough weeds including Dollarweed, Florida Betony and many other broadleaf weeds.  One of the unique features of this product is that it kills the weed very quickly letting you know exactly where you sprayed and if you missed any weeds.  This is a big advantage when going after Dollarweed because if you miss one lily pad it could recreate a whole network of other Dollarweed plants in a short period of time.  In the past some of the products that controlled Dollarweed worked very slowly (Image), so if you missed spraying a few lily pads, you could have a whole new crop by the time the old crop was dying.

For all the Bonus S lovers out there, closely read the label on the back of the bag before using this product.  Bonus S contains Atrazine.  Atrazine is a root absorbed chemical.  If you spread Bonus S in areas that the roots of desirable trees, shrubs, flowers or vegetables are located, you are poisoning the plants with Atrazine.  In our soils, it is very difficult to tell where roots of plants extend.  Also, roots do not know property lines and may come from your neighbor’s yard.  Be very careful when applying products that contain Atrazine.

For all products that you use on your lawn or around your house, you should read, understand and follow product labels.  I know reading labels is not as interesting as reading the police blotter; however, they are full of information that can help you safely apply the correct product to your yard.  This applies to all control products whether it is for weeds, fleas, moles, mice or any other pests.  Labels contain important information to help you apply the product correctly and safely for you, your plants, your pets, and the environment.