Monday, October 26, 2020

Getting The Soil Right For Planting


Horticulture Hotline 10/26/20

By Bill Lamson-Scribner


Fall is for planting and transplanting. Here are a few products that will make a big difference for you. Test soil first, if possible. Amend your soil according to soil test with these additives. Wait 15 days and test soil again to be sure you have the nutrient levels where you want them. Wait 15 days to plant, if possible - not necessary.


Amend whole area not just the hole! With clay especially. I have witnessed many plants and trees where the soil was amended in a hole of clay. The clay acts like a bowl holding the water in the amended area around the roots, killing the plant or tree. With trees and shrubs do not till deeper than the root ball of the plants you are planting. Once the amendments settle you do not want your plant planted too deep.  This recipe is based on per 100 sq. ft. of planting area:

·         Turface – 200 lbs. per 100 sqft.  Turface is super-heated calcified clay.  Turface helps improve drainage and reduces compaction.  Turface will last in the soil for over 20 years.  The particle can hold its weight in water and then releases it slowly as the plant needs it.  We have used this product to correct many water issues (too wet and too dry – it is like a thermos knows whether to keep dry or wet) over the years.

·         Bolster 04-04-04 Sustane – 2.5 lbs. per 100 sqft.  This product increases fertilizer efficiency and improves soil biology.  It contains mycorrhiza spores increasing the ability for the roots absorb nutrients and water. Also contains biostimulants and iron.

·         SeaHume – 1.5 lbs. per 100 sqft. Humic acid and seaweed. Super product for establishing plants. Stimulates growth of beneficial microorganisms and root growth. Over 60 minor nutrients, carbon, amino acids, gibberellins and much, much more.  

·         Cotton Burr Compost – (4) 3 cu.ft. bags per 100 sq.ft. (sandy soil, increase to (6) bags).  Cotton Burr Compost is nature’s perfect soil conditioner.  The cotton boll (burr) is full of nutrients and will not tie up nitrogen like wood and wood-based soil amendments.  It will loosen up clay soils and add water holding capacities to sandy soils (also like a thermos!).  Cotton Burr is an excellent food source for beneficial soil organisms that help make nutrients available to plants, aerate the soil and helps keep harmful organisms and diseases in check. 

·         Nature’s Blend – (5) 1 cu.ft. bags per 100 sqft (in sand, increase to (8) bags).  This product not only contains Cotton Burrs, but also composted cattle manure, humates and alfalfa meal.  Alfalfa meal is high in nitrogen and contains Triacantanol, a natural root growth enhancer, and may help in the suppression and control of certain fungal diseases.

·         Diehard Transplant – inoculates soil with beneficial fungi, bacteria, and Trichoderma. Seaweed, humic acid, wetting agents and root promoting vitamins, and amino acids. Put Diehard Transplant in direct contact with the root system, so the mycorrhizal fungi will colonize the roots quickly.




Mix these products together and till into 6-8 inches of soil.  With clay soil, you should have 1/3 amendments and 2/3 clay.  With sandy soil, it should be ½ amendments and ½ sand. For trees and shrubs adjust depth according to root ball size.


After tilling the bed, top dress with (4) bags of Natures Blend and then (2) bags of Cotton Burr Compost. For annuals cap it off with one pound of 17-00-09. Plant annuals through this topdressed area. With this mixture, every time you water your plants are getting a “compost tea” full of nutrients.


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


Monday, October 19, 2020

Preparing For Winter


Horticulture Hotline 10/19/20

By Bill Lamson-Scribner


This is a great time of year to work in your yard. First spray your shrubs with Cyonara (just connect to your hose and spray) and say cyonara to mosquitoes, so you will enjoy your time outside. EcoVia is an organic option to spray and Possum’s Mosquito Swatter (Goat Island approved) is an organic option to spread.


Disease usually attacks the grass in the fall and spring so now is a great time to apply a systemic fungicide to prevent those attacks. Strobe G or T-Methyl are a couple of good options.


The cooler Fall temperatures are perfect for controlling weeds. Weed Free Zone is great if you like to spray. Dollar Weed Control is a granular that works on some really tough weeds including Florida Betony, Virginia Button Weed and Dollar weed. I wiped out an area of Virginia Button Weed in my yard with one application.


Preemergent herbicides will keep you ahead of the weeds. Broadleaf Weed Control with Gallery will control a wide variety of broadleaf weeds and 00-00-07 Dimension is good for the grassy weeds.


Forever people have used Dormant oil or Horticultural oil on their shrubs and trees in the fall and spring for overwintering insects. Now is a great time for that. I have started to use Neem oil because it is an organic oil that gets some fungi too.


Yes, it is time to winterize your turf. Look for a product with a 00 for the first number (nitrogen). A 00-00-25 with sulfate of potash and minors would be great. If you do not need the potash, consider SeaHume a wonderful combination of seaweed and humic acid. The seaweed has over 60 minor nutrients, amino acids, and bio stimulants. The humic acid is also full of bio stimulants that help make nutrients that are in the soil available to the plant, help with soil structure, grow roots, and feed the microorganisms in the soil. Both these products can be used together and will help your yard this winter and next spring. Possum’s Minors will also put your grass to bed happy.


Beware of the national ad campaigns talking about winterizing fertilizers. These products are usually formulated for cool season grasses (rye, fescue). I saw one over the weekend that was a 22-00-14. Not exactly what we want to put on our yard in mid-October in the Lowcountry.


When buying gas for your lawn mower, generator, or chain saw, be sure to include a gas stabilizer to help prevent your carburetor from getting varnished over the winter. Try to purchase gas from a gas station that has ethanol free gas for your mower as well as your two-cycle hand held equipment.


Hold off putting out pine straw or mulching the beds until the leaves in the trees have dropped, so the leaves do not mess up your new straw or mulch. If you recycle the leaves that drop in your yard instead of bagging them and setting them by the curb, you will gain some free nutrients and organic matter.


Watch out for worms munching on your grass. The worms are slowing down, but there are still some out there.


Fleas seem to be particularly bad this fall. Remember the 3-step approach – treat the yard, treat the house and treat the animal. Using a product that contains a growth regulator in the house and in the yard will greatly increase your success.


Rats that used to have plenty to eat at restaurants are now showing up at people’s homes.


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


Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Transplanting For Success


Horticulture Hotline 10/14/2020

By Bill Lamson-Scribner


Now is a great time of year to prepare for transplanting and to plant new plants. Many people are asking me the best way to transplant shrubs and trees. Here are some guidelines for successfully transplanting plants and trees or planting new ones:


·         Decide the size of you root ball. For every inch in tree trunk diameter you want a foot of root ball. 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. Sometimes you have to thin out plants for the overall health of the landscape.

·         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 SeaHume 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 (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 (early February to be safe).

·         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!


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