Monday, April 29, 2019

Spring Is Here - Aeration Time

Horticulture Hotline 04/29/19
By Bill Lamson-Scribner

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. Wet soils compact way more than dry soils, and we have had our share of wet soils. This past fall’s record rainfall, before that we had Irma (before that Matthew and the million-year flood). Aeration will help rain or irrigation flush salts from the flooding out of the soils also. If you have ever considered aerating, this is the year to do it. 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.

Whether you get salt water intrusion or just from the pounding rains we get, your yard will greatly benefit from aeration. Salt water goes into the soil as a liquid, then the salt gets into all the pore space in the soil and dries out into a solid and binds up the soil like a glue would, giving the soil that crusty feeling. In parts of the country that they have to use high sodium water to water with, aeration can become a weekly or at least monthly cultural practice. The use of wetting agents to flush the salts and to reduce the need to water also becomes crucial.

Soil testing is also something to consider this year because of all the rain and the leaching of nutrients. Since I have tested many of the same properties soil annually for over twenty–five years, I can see that many nutrients have been flushed out by all the rain and need to be replaced.

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, Turface 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.
·        Turface 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. Turface will also keep fertilizer and water from leaching in sandy soils. Turface is great for wet or dry areas (like a thermos knows whether to keep something hot or cold).
·        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.

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

Monday, April 22, 2019

Check List Late April

Horticulture Hotline 04/22/19
By Bill Lamson-Scribner

Here is a quick list of questions about events in the yard:

Soil tested?  Custom Program written? Apply the products that your soil needs instead of guessing. Doing soil tests are cheaper and provide better results than random applications. With the heavy rain events the last 3 years, many nutrients have been leached from the soil. Why do you think farmers with hundreds of acres’ soil test?
“I started using Possum’s recipe for my lawn 3 years ago and I have never had a better lawn in the 35 years that I have been trying to grow the perfect lawn. Possum’s is awesome! I have the best lawn in the neighborhood.”  Greg Lienert
“The Best!  Cookbook program very user friendly—plus the support!!”
Bernard Arnold, O.D.
“Great products for my lawn.  15-00-15 Lawn Food!  My lawn never looked better!  Better than Scotts!  Great Products!”  George Bryant

Mosquitoes? Do you have a plan?

Prune and fertilize azaleas, camellias and other spring flowering plants after they bloom? Wait on Gardenias for now.

Fertilized your trees and shrubs? 17-00-09, 08-02-04 (organic), Professional feeding?

Huge fleshy leaves on new growth of camellias and azaleas? Leaf gall? Remove infected leaves and destroy.

Is Powdery mildew attacking roses, crepe myrtles, dogwoods?  Neem PY (organic)

Large Patch Fungus in turf – get an early start – prevention is cheaper than curative. Fame, T-Methyl, and Prophesy are a few chemical controls. Crab Shells, Serenade, and Natures Blend are organic controls that “fix” the problem.

Adult mole crickets are tunneling and mating – manage them. Intice Bait.

Fire ants are starting to forage – manage them.  Lebanon Insect Control, Extinguish Plus.

Grubs are near the surface – manage them. Some of these grubs will emerge into Japanese beetles that will shred your plant’s foliage in a month (especially roses and crepe myrtles). Kill them now!  Lebanon Insect Control, Grub X.

Get a “jump” on fleas this year. Lebanon Insect Control, Bug Blaster outside. Precor 2000, Alpine Flea Insecticide with IGR or Ultracide all have an adulticide as well as a growth regulator and are labeled for indoor use. Prefurred Plus to apply to pet.

Plant a vegetable garden?

Plant a flower garden?

If you applied preemergent in February, it is time for your second application (depending on the rate and product you used the first time). Remember the ornamental beds!

The leaves have fallen – new mulch?

Fertilized Palm Trees with 07-00-09 (the most awesome Palm Fertilizer)?

Tested your well water? Many are getting salty.

Pruned holly fern, cast iron plant, and monkey grass (Liriope)?

Moles? Mole Patrol, Traps, Repellex?

Checked your irrigation?

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

Monday, April 15, 2019

Cocktails and Leaf Gall

Horticulture Hotline 04/15/19
By Bill Lamson-Scribner

I guess in the restaurant (“Foodie”) world they call them “pairings.” Most of the customer base I deal with calls them “cocktails.” Basically, when you get a synergistic effect from adding two or more items together – when 1 + 1 = 5 not 2. When the two or more items together act better than the two or more items act individually, you have synergy. If you have a dead spot or dead area in your lawn, try some cotton burr compost (10  2 cubic foot bags per thousand square feet) and SeaHume (15 pounds per thousand square feet). You will thank me later!

If you took your lawn mower in the mower shop for a yearly check, be sure to double check the mowing height before you head out to mow. The lawn mower shop might have moved your wheel’s adjustment while working on your mower. I know I was all fired up to make my first mow of the season, and I took about three steps before I realized I was scalping my grass.

Have you noticed an azalea or a camellia whose leaves are 2-3 times the normal size and are real thick and fleshy?

They have leaf gall. Leaf gall is a very common disease that affects camellias and azaleas while they are putting on new leaves in the spring. This disease affects Camellia sasanqua (the small leaf camellia that blooms in the fall) more than Camellia japonica (the large leaf camellia that blooms in the winter).  The cool nights, overhead irrigation and rains in the early spring make this disease flourish.  This disease is caused by the fungus Exobasidium camelliae. Sometimes galls can be caused by insects or mites as well. There is another Exobasidium fungus that affects azaleas in a very similar way. 

Leaf gall is the common name for this fungus.  The leaves become very large and fleshy.  The new growth is much thicker than normal and then the leaves break apart and release spores.  When the leaf breaks apart, you can see the lower part of the leaf turns white.  The disease spreads by wind and splashing water. A good layer of mulch will help with the splashing water.

The best control for leaf gall is to pick the infected leaves off as soon as you see them in the spring.  If you can pull them off before the spores develop, you can prevent the disease from spreading.  Once you pull them off, place them in a plastic bag (the one your newspaper comes in is handy, a dog poop bag, or any other plastic bag you might have around the house) and throw them away in the garbage or burn them in the ever so popular backyard fire pit. 

Usually this disease does not require chemical treatment.  The manual pulling off of leaves and limiting overhead irrigation in the spring, when the nights are cool, will keep it in check.  If you have a severe problem year after year, you could apply Mancozeb at bud break.  This control should be your last resort, and only used in severe cases. 

For this year, pull off as many infected leaves as you can.  Soon your plants should go back to producing its normal size leaves.  The leaves that were affected by leaf gall will soon wither, turn brown and fall off the shrub.

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