Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Happy Labor Day To The Arborist

Horticulture Hotline 09/29/2020

By Bill Lamson-Scribner


Three weeks ago, was Labor Day. Two weeks ago, I wrote about a very few situations that landscapers face doing their job. Last week, some of the Pest Management Professionals (PMP) situations were told.  If you missed either of these articles, you can go to possumsupply.com and look under the Horticulture Hotline tab, and it will be there for you. This week I will share some of the stories of the Arborist and the situations they find themselves.


With Arborist AKA Tree Guys what is often overlooked is what they bring to a site when they arrive. Bucket Truck ($120,000), Chipper Truck that hauls the chips ($85,000), Chipper ($50,000), Stump Grinder ($55,000), Boss’s Truck ($70,000), chain saws, rope, blowers, rakes and miscellaneous hand tools. They show up with over 400,000 dollars’ worth of equipment for starters (based on used equipment prices) and this does not even include a crane or a truck to put the trunks of the tree that the crane lifts. A lot of maintenance is required to keep this equipment running. Hydraulics, blades for the saws, chippers, and stump grinder all need to be spot on for a smooth day.


Do you remember the ropes hanging from the gym roof in high school? Could you climb the ropes then? Could you climb them now? Tree climbers do this all the time – 100 degrees or 40 degrees outside.


While climbing a rope they might stop to inspect a cavity in the tree. Looking in that hole there might be some other eyes looking back at you. Snakes like these holes. The beloved possum likes these holes. Raccoons like these holes. When you see the beloved possum dead in the middle of the road, they are not too intimidating. When a mama possum is getting ready to be evicted from her tree cavity and is hissing at you eye to eye while you are climbing a rope, things are a little different.


The ground guys that feed the limbs into the chipper are always busy. Talk about some hard-hot work. Lifting an average of ten to fifty-pound limbs and logs all day and carrying them to the chipper in the heat. The logs might get thrown into the back of the chipper truck for future firewood sales. Splitting and stacking firewood is another type of work.


Trees also support vines. English ivy on trees is a favorite for roaches, but poison ivy is the most feared. So, picture this – you are hot, sweaty, chain saw chips and saw dust all over you and you have that itchy poison ivy spreading with the sweat all over you.


Hats off to the Tree Guys, I hope you had a good Labor Day!


The recent rains, shorter daylight hours and cooler weather has really made the large patch explode. Moles are enjoying the grubs near the surface, army worms and sod webworms are munching, winter weeds are germinating - preemerge for winter weeds now, and winterize your lawn and shrubs. Mosquitoes love this fall weather!


Monday, September 21, 2020

Pest Management Professional and Labor Day


Horticulture Hotline 09/21/2020

By Bill Lamson-Scribner


Two weeks ago, was Labor Day. Last week, I wrote about a very few situations that landscapers face doing their job. If you missed last week’s article, you can go to possumsupply.com and look under the Horticulture Hotline tab, and it will be there for you. This week, some of the Pest Management Professionals (PMP) situations are told.  


Let’s just go straight to the crawl space of your house. Is it a belly crawl? Is it an on your knees crawl? Is it wet? Does duct work hang low though out the crawl space? Is the duct work sweating, causing the insulation to hang down? Is your crawl space dark? Are you just a little claustrophobic?


Why is the PMP in you crawl space? Maybe an annual termite check to keep your termite bond up to date. The PMP might have been under your house every year for 5 years – pretty routine; however, this year he is crawling along on his belly and looks up to see something else that crawls around on its belly – a rattlesnake! The PMP can’t jump up and run, and he still has a job to do. What would you do?


During these same inspections in the dark with a flashlight and / or miners light, the PMP could see rats, spiders, raccoons, possums and mice. The PMP might have to crawl though the feces and dried urine of any of these critters. Yuck!


The crawl space is a treasure chest of stories. I remember the time a lady was having flea issues in her house and she didn’t have any pets. In the crawl space was a family of the beloved possum complete with fleas. Possum’s hiss and show their teeth when getting evicted from a nice cool crawl space, and the PMP is looking at them eye to eye. A snake that has been feeding on mice and rats hanging out on a beam above you can be a little unsettling. These snakes might not be poisonous, but they are BIG!


How about the HOT attic? Squirrels, rats and bats seem to be the most common uninvited guest. Crawling around a 120 plus degree attic does not sound fun. The story I have probably heard the most is the PMP getting rained on with roaches while treating a trailer house.


The PMP that treats apartment complexes that are ‘key accounts,” where you knock on the door and if no one answers you let yourself in to inspect and treat the area, has generated many stories and life and death situations – mostly human situations. Seeing drugs and drug paraphernalia is common. Naked people or people in various stages of undress can be uncomfortable. Waking someone up that was working or partying late, might result in a gun being pulled on you. Bags of nasty trash with diapers and rats eating out of them is always a good way to start the day.


There are a lot more situations than there are column inches. I hope the PMP’s had a great Labor Day!


Army worms, sod webworms, preemergent for winter weeds, and winterizing your lawn and shrubs are key right now!



Monday, September 14, 2020

Labor Day


Horticulture Hotline 09/14/2020

By Bill Lamson-Scribner


Last Monday was Labor Day. I took a little time to think about the customers that I work with at Possum’s and the stories that I heard over the years as well as some of my own experiences.


Here is how the U. S. Department of Labor describes the beginning of Labor Day:

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.


Since this is the Horticulture Hotline, lets start with the landscaper. Can you imagine working in the yard – outside, in this heat – for forty plus hours a week. By 7 am your pants, socks and shirt are soaked with sweat. Wearing long sleeves to help protect themselves from the sun, the landscaper throughout the day might have a forty-pound backpack sprayer on their back spraying for weeds, a twenty-pound blower on their back-blowing leaves or a twelve-pound trimmer in their hands. The heat now, the cold in the winter. When you get home at night after being on the cusp of dehydration all day, all you want to do is take a shower, air dry, eat fruit or salad and get ready to do it again the next morning.


Landscapers also run into “things” in the landscape. Pruning bushes, they could see a snake looking back at them or disturb a nest of wasps. Running a string trimmer down a fence line on a property they just started to manage, the landscaper might hit that hidden fire ant mound and sling ants all over their pants. All the sudden the fire ant releases its attack pheromone and the ants begin biting.


Poison ivy was one of itchy hazards of the job. I think I had chiggers, red bugs, or ticks on me for two years straight. I was lucky I never got lyme disease or any of the other diseases tick carry. Having my girlfriend paint nail polish on my chigger bites was a nightly chore and not very effective. The enzymes the chigger released would still cause itching.


Then there was the time I got bit by a brown recluse spider and I had to sign a waiver that I wouldn’t hold the hospital liable if the enzymes that the spider injected in my finger caused it to rot or fall off of my hand. The big fields at the Navy base that we would mow once a month had the nastiest, biggest and meanest mosquitoes hiding in the tall grass. When Wild Dunes was being developed in the early 1980’s, there were some big mosquitoes there as well. One of my worst days at Wild Dunes was planting 174 Spanish Bayonet Yuccas – prick marks all over my arms and nightmares as well. Lifting palm trees into areas without equipment access was always fun.


Many landscapers cannot even take off Labor Day because they are required to do weekly maintenance – what a shame. For the rest of you landscapers, I hope you enjoyed your Labor Day!