Monday, April 28, 2014

Cocktails For The Yard & House Part 5 : Fungus

The series continues…Cocktails For Better Results Part 5. If you missed part 1,2, 3 and 4 and would like to see them, go to and look under Horticulture Hotline tab.

Large Patch or Brown Patch fungus loves these weather conditions. Temperatures at night in the high 50’s to high 60’s and moisture make conditions real favorable for Large Patch or Brown Patch fungus. We have had plenty of these conditions making the fungus environment perfect for the spread of this disease.

Since it is very difficult to control night time temperatures, you can put your efforts into doing other cultural things to help minimize the disease. Large Patch or Brown Patch fungus likes wet, heavy thatch, improper nutrition, and/or compacted soils.   Culturally you need to manage your irrigation system, raise any low areas, and correct drainage problems.  Reducing thatch, maintaining proper fertility levels, and aerating to alleviate compaction, will also help control Large Patch or Brown Patch fungus.

Certain organic products have shown to increase microorganisms in the soil that compete with plant pathogenic fungus in the soil. At Possum’s we get good feedback from Nature’s Blend, SeaHume, Crab Shell, Corn Gluten, Cotton Burr Compost, and some of the Roots products. These products are not fungicides; however, people that use them report back to us that they notice less fungus in the yards that they apply these products.

I have heard way too many success stories from the use of the above products to mention in this article; however, I have to mention three. A landscaper that mainly works in the Summerville area near the Ashley River told me that since he has been using SeaHume  his use of fungicides has almost gone to zero. I can look at his sales history with Possum’s and his fungicide use has definitely plummeted. Another landscaper had fought fungus continually in one yard in Stono Ferry. He started using Nature’s Blend and the fungus is gone. A homeowner that lives up Highway 41 told me about their success with Neptune Harvest’s Crab Shell product. This person had fungus in the same area for over 10 years, and applied Crab Shell lightly a few times and hasn’t had the fungus for 3 years.

Since the grass is coming out of dormancy so slow, a systemic control product like Cleary’s 3336 and Disarm might be a good idea to get you through the next month or so as long as conditions are favorable for the disease.

Being a soil borne disease, you know that it will reoccur in the same areas year after year.  If the base of a leaf blade with Large Patch is moved from one part of the yard to another (lawn mower), this can begin a new infection area; however, these are not spores flying through the air.  As a soil borne fungus, if you map the areas that you have the disease, you can concentrate your control efforts (dollars) into a smaller area, putting less control products into the environment.  If your yard is 5,000 sq ft usually you might have a few infected areas which might total approx. 500 ft.  Instead of buying control products to treat 5,000 sq ft, you can concentrate your efforts into the 500 ft (i.e. 10% of your total yard).  If Large Patch was an air borne fungus with spores, you would have had to treat the entire yard because air borne fungus spreads a lot quicker than soil borne fungus.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Cocktails For Better Results 4: Aeration & Additives

The series continues…Cocktails For Better Results Part 4. If you missed part 1,2 and 3 and would like to see them, go to and look under Horticulture Hotline tab.

This “Cocktail” is a little different. It mixes the cultural practice of aerating with other products. As the night time temperatures warm up and the grass starts to actively grow, aerating should be considered for the health of your whole landscape. Trees and bed areas can benefit from aeration as well as turf areas. While you have the holes open in your yard, there are many products that you can add to that root zone area that will benefit your turf, trees, and shrubs.

Aerating reduces compaction, reduces thatch, increases oxygen movement to the roots, brings beneficial microorganisms to the surface, cuts runners, and allows better penetration of water, fertilizers, or control products into the soil.

Right after aerating, while the holes are open, is a good time to add SeaHume G, BGK 7500, products containing mycorrhiza, Crab Shell, Mule Mix and/or Cotton Burr Compost.  Even if you are not aerating, these products are great to add to your lawn and beds.
·         SeaHume G is a bio-stimulant humic acid product that will help your roots grow, soften up the soil, feed beneficial micro-organisms in the soil, make nutrients that are in the soil more available to the plants, and keep fertilizer from leaching.
·         SeaHume G also contains 10% cold water seaweed. The seaweed also acts as a bio-stimulant and is a source of over 60 minor elements, amino acids, and natural chelating agents.
·         BGK 7500 is a granular organic product that has thatch eating bacteria mix in with a 03-03-03 fertilizer. BGK 7500 is also fortified with 6% humic acid.
·         04-04-04 Bolster and other products that contain mycorrhiza. By applying these products while the roots are exposed, the mycorrhiza can attach to the roots quickly. These friendly fungi will help the plant absorb water and nutrients from the soil while competing with bad fungus in the soil.
·         Crab Shell by Neptune’s Harvest will increase the chitin eating bacteria in the soil. These bacteria will help control nematodes and fungus. I would definitely use this product in areas that I have problems with large / brown patch.
·         Mule Mix can last about 20 years in the soil and help manage moisture.  This is a clay product that has been super-heated until it pops!  This makes this product sterile as well as turns it into a little capillary.  This capillary holds water and then releases it as the plant needs it.  This product is used on baseball infields to manage the moisture levels in clay; otherwise the clay would be rock hard or moist and slimy. Mule Mix will also keep fertilizer and water from leaching in sandy soils. Mule Mix is great for wet or dry areas.
·         Cotton Burr Compost will add water holding capabilities to the soil by adding organic matter to the soil.  Cotton Burr Compost will soften up clay as well as giving sandy soil nutrient holding capacity.  Cotton Burr Compost is very high in nutrition and will also help increase populations of beneficial organisms in the soil.

All the above products will help conserve moisture as well.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Cocktails For Better Results Part 3 Fleas & Growth Regulators

The series continues…Cocktails For Better Results Part 3. If you missed part 1 and 2 and would like to see them, go to and look under Horticulture Hotline tab.

Fleas (roaches and bedbugs) are very persistent insects that are a challenge to control. The use of an adulticide and a growth regulator (ie cocktail) will increase your odds of success greatly.

Adult biting fleas only account for about 2% of the population, the rest are in the egg, larva and pupae stage. If you are using a product that only controls adults, you are going to have to spray regularly to kill the new adults as they emerge. This constant spraying is a battle most people do not want to fight. However, if you mix in a growth regulator (many aerosol products have a growth regulator already mixed in), within about 2 weeks (it takes a little time fleas to emerge and for the growth regulator to break up the life cycle) your flea population should ‘crash.’

There are some cultural steps (part of the cocktail if you will) that would help you with your flea control success as well. Vacuum, spray, let area dry then vacuum again. If your vacuum has a bag, be sure to take it outside to remove it and put it in another bag in the garbage can, so any fleas (eggs, adults, larva, pupae) you might have sucked up will not re-infest your home. Vacuum often, at least daily, for best results.

Treating your animal will also add to your success.  Prefurred One or Prefurred Plus are post patented Fipronil products that you apply directly to your dog or cat every 30 days. Being a “generic”, the price has dropped significantly (customers tell us 30 to 50 percent off). Petcor, Biospot or a flea collar will also protect your animal.

Treat your yard and bed areas with IC3 (National Organics Program compliant), Essentria G (National Organics Program compliant), Bug Blasters, or Sevin. Pivot is a growth regulator that you can use outdoors to break up the life cycle of many pests. Pivot works on many different flies, mosquitoes, fleas, roaches and many other pests.

By treating the family pet, the home and the yard proactively, you should have good success against the flea. If this sounds like too much work or something you would rather have a professional tackle, there are many good Pest Management Professionals in the area. If you call a Pest Management Company, give his products 2 weeks to work before you call him back out to your house (unless the company tells you otherwise). The process simply takes that long.

If you are thinking about aerating this spring, while you have the holes open in your lawn, some good additives are: SeaHume G, 04-04-04 Bolster, Mule Mix, BGK 7500, Crab Shell and / or Cotton Burr Compost. Get the full benefit from the aeration! Sounds like another cultural / product cocktail!!