Sunday, January 25, 2015

Moles, Moles and more Moles

Moles are always a hot topic in the Lowcountry. I try to write about them only once a year.

  I still recommend a 3 prong approach when controlling moles for the less adventurous people that do not want to trap and look at a dead mole.  These 3 steps are:

  1. Kill the mole
  2. Manage its food source
  3. Repel other moles from your yard

Moles tunnel through your yard looking for food.  They usually have several main runs through your yard as well as secondary tunnels.  The secondary tunnels are where they collect their food, and once they have a gone down a secondary tunnel, they will not return to that tunnel.  In order to kill a mole with bait or a trap, you must be able to locate the main tunnel.

The best way to locate the main runs is to take a stick and poke holes in the tunnels in your yard.  Next, mark where you made these holes.  The next morning come and check to see if the holes are plugged. If they are plugged, then you know you have a main tunnel.  The mole will only plug holes on the main tunnel.  That evening, open up one of the holes that the mole plugged the night before and place bait (or trap) 5 feet on either side of the hole that you reopened.  When the mole comes back to re-plug the hole it will have to walk right over the bait (or trap).  These baits are very tasty to the mole, so the mole will usually eat the bait and die.

Three baits that we regularly hear good results about are Mole Patrol, poison worms and Talpirid.  I prefer Mole Patrol because it is one third the price and has 6 times the amount of bait placement as Talpirid.  Stay away from poison peanuts.  Moles do not eat peanuts, they eat insects and worms.

Controlling the food source is the next most important factor in managing moles on your property.  Depending on which doctor (PHD) you believe, the mole eats 85-125% of its body weight every day.  In human terms a 100 lb. person would eat 85-125 lbs of food per day. That is a lot of food! Think of Michael Phelps and all he eats from swimming in water. A mole is swimming in soil!

Using a product like Sevin or Aloft on a regular basis will do a good job in managing the mole’s food source.  Monitor your insect populations with a soap solution to determine how often you need to apply insecticides.  Use two ounces of lemon dish detergent in a five gallon bucket of water and pour slowly over your soil in the areas where you think you might have insects and see what comes to the surface.  Some products get tied up in the thatch to kill surface insects (like ants), so be sure to get a product for sub-surface insects.

Castrol products (Mole Repellent, Repellex Mole,Vole and Gopher Repellent) and other repellents (Mole Stopper) work good as perimeter treatments to keep moles from re-infesting your property. Be sure there are not any moles on your property before you put out this barrier or you will trap them inside your landscape.  Make a 10-20 foot band treatment around the perimeter of your property.  Reapply these repellents as the label recommends. 

If you yard is free of moles right now, you can skip #1 and just manage their food source and repel them at the perimeter of your property.  Be sure your yard is free of moles before you skip #1 in this process.  If you take away the mole’s food source and he is in your yard already, he will really tear up your yard looking for food!

If all this sounds like too much work, try the mole and rodent smoke bombs or hire a professional!

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

Monday, January 19, 2015

Turf Disease, Camellias and Moles

Wow, the start to 2015 has either been cold, rainy, or just plain nasty. The sun has hardly peaked out at all (must have been quite the New Year’s celebration for the sun or it is a Buckeye)!

Fungus loves this weather. The grass is pretty much wet all day long, giving the fungal spores an opportunity to germinate and spread. While going through neighborhoods, I see the large circles of brown (large) patch in St. Augustine and centipede. On ball fields that never get fungus (I mean haven’t had fungus in the 24 years that I have worked with them), fungus is popping up. On one ball field after identifying the disease, I said, “what fungicide do you have in your shed?” (It is always good to use a product you have if it effective against the target pest you are after – in this case a fungus.) The grounds superintendent said, “we do not have any fungicides. We haven’t had a fungus since the complex was built.” I guess that complex was built 15 years ago.

Brown patch usually occurs in irregular circles. The good thing is that you do not need to treat your whole lawn, just the areas you see the discoloration. The areas will be bigger than this, but if the area you see is the size of a penny, you would want to treat an area the size of a quarter. In reality the area might be 3 feet across and you would want to treat an area 5 feet across.

Camellia blooms also took a hit during the cold. Pull the damaged ones off your plant and pick up the dead ones from the ground (helps with petal blight and looks cleaner). There should be plenty of buds ready to explode and give you more color. The old damaged blooms will take away from the beauty of the new blooms.

The perennial furry friend in the landscape is certainly making his presence known. Yes, I writing about the dreaded mole. I still recommend a 3 prong approach when controlling moles.  These 3 steps are:
  1. Kill the mole (trap or poison)
  2. Manage its food source (Sevin)
  3. Repel other moles from your yard (Repellex).
The three prong approach usually controls moles for the longest period of time.

We are rapidly approaching the time for preemergent herbicides to be applied once again!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Are you Ready to Garden?

Horticulture Hotline 01/12/15
By Bill Lamson-Scribner

Are you ready for the 2015 season in your yard?

Here are a few things to do on these nice winter days.

·         Get soil tested – for everyone that has not already.
·         Kill winter weeds now while they are young and your grass is dormant.
·         Take mower in to have serviced to beat the Spring rush. With the new ethanol gas lawn mower engines and other engines have had issues. No one likes their mechanic to tell them, “pick it up in 4 weeks.”
·         Keep leaves off lawn areas. Keeps moisture from being trapped and if you or your lawn service are applying products, you will have a more uniform coverage without the leaves.
·         Move any shrub or tree now before it is too late. Root prune now, move before they start putting on new growth. Try DieHard Transplant to help survival.
·          Spray trees and shrubs with paraffinic oil (ultra-fine, Omni Supreme oil) as opposed to petroleum oils (Volck) to control over-wintering insects. Watch temperatures. If you have ongoing issues with scale, aphids, white flies, or other sucking bugs, try Safari or Dominion for long term control. Neem oil works on diseases as well as insects.
·         Have you tried Lime / Sulfur spray around the ground of deciduous plants that get diseased? Roses, hydrangea and blueberries are good examples of plants that benefit from this sanitation practice.
·         Sharpen pruning tools or purchase new ones.
·         If you haven’t already, get your bulbs in the ground.
·         Apply SeaHume to turf, trees, flowers, and shrubs. Adding organics now will help in the spring. Cotton Burr Compost?
·         Re-do bed lines to reflect maturing landscape.
·         Get bird house ready for nesting birds.
·         Have moles, get Mole Patrol or Repellex Mole Repellent – they really work.
·         Have deer, get Deer Stopper – it really works.
·         Check irrigation or get on professional’s list to check. Be sure the heads are pointed the right way. Can you eliminate (turn off) the zone watering the shrubs and trees? Have you tried wetting agents to lower your water bill (we hear between 30 and 60 percent)? Less water equals less disease.
·         Prune Crepe Myrtles – don’t butcher them. Remove crossing (rubbing) limbs, inward growing limbs and diseased limbs. Topping or reducing their height is not considered proper pruning.
·         Hold off on pruning plants damaged by the cold – we could still have freezing temperatures.
·         Test well for salt.

·         Attend meetings of the Rose, Camellia, Horticultural Societies and other like horticultural societies. Get ready to preemerge in February. Kill small seeded summer annual weeds before they take over your landscape.
·         Get out and enjoy our County, State and City parks as well as our local plantations.