Monday, May 24, 2021

Finally Warm Nights


Horticulture Hotline 05/24/21

  Bill Lamson-Scribner


I can’t believe it is the end of May and the night time temperatures are finally warming up to the point that the grass is really ready to grow! With the low humidity, windy days, the cool nights and the lack of rainfall, the grass has just been sitting there waiting. Well, I hope you have the lawnmower ready because the cool nights are about to go away! The weather forecast still looks dry. A little irrigation, a wetting agent and some organics should get your yard growing. After this rough spring, now (always) is a great time to add organics


Back to Nature and Bradford Organic products are the perfect organics for your Lowcountry yard.  All organics are good - some are better than others.  As the old saying goes, “There is good compost.  There is cheap compost.  But there ain’t no good, cheap, compost”! 


For the nitrogen in these organic products to become available to the plants, micro-organisms must break the nitrogen down into a form that is useable to the plant.  These organic products can be applied year-round without having to worry about causing flush growth that might get burned off by the cold.  As the plant (grass, tree, shrub or flower bed) is ready for the nutrients, the micro-organisms will make them available to the plant.  This “system” is what you find in Nature (forests). 


Cotton Burr Compost is considered by many to be unquestionably the finest soil conditioner on the market.  It is prized for its ability to loosen tight, clay soils or improve moisture retention in sandy soils.  Cotton Burr Compost can be used alone or in combination with other organics.  Back to Nature (the manufacturer of Cotton Burr Compost) blends cotton burrs with other components to provide diverse benefits from different organic sources.  Natures Blend is a popular product that are derived from Cotton Burr Compost.


Natures Blend contains composted cattle manure, cotton burrs, alfalfa and humate.  The addition of humate to this product makes it the “top shelf” soil conditioner in their line of products.  Humates have high levels of carbon that help feed the micro-organisms in the soil.  These micro-organisms make nutrients available to the plant, aerate the soil, and compete with plant pathogenic organisms in the soil. Natures Blend also has the alfalfa meal.  Alfalfa meal is high in nitrogen and contains Triacantanol, a natural growth enhancer and may help in the suppression and control of certain fungal diseases.


Corn Gluten by Bradford Organics (09-00-00) is an organic preemergent as well as a great source of nitrogen.  If you have been using preemergents in your lawn and beds over the years, you can make an easy transition to Corn Gluten and still get great results.  If your yard is a sea of weeds and you have never used preemergents, expect some control the first year but it will not be 100 %.  The chemical preemergent products only claim to be about 85% effective.  By creating a healthy yard through the use of organics, the competition from weeds should diminish.  Many people that started using Corn Gluten as a preemergent, are also using it as a fertilizer because of its long-term feeding of the landscape.


08-02-04 by Bradford Organics is really popular among local organic farmers and backyard gardeners. The aerobically composted turkey manure and the classic 4:1:2 ratio (remember 16-04-08?) keeps them coming back for more.


People with new sod love the 04-04-04 Bolster by Bradford Organics. This blend of organics and beneficial mycorrhiza fungi will help get that grass rooting very quickly. If you have older grass that is developing thatch, the 03-03-03 Bio Grounds Keeper with its thatch eating microorganisms. It is a lot easier to spread this product than run a de-thatcher and clean up the mess. Some Zoysia grass tend to develop thatch quicker than others and should use 03-03-03 regularly. Usually, a yard with a lot of thatch greens-up later and can have other issues like grubs, disease, worms, and winter-kill.


SeaHume would do great by itself or in combination with any of the above. SeaHume, as many of you have experienced, causes quite the synergistic effect when put out with compost or fertilizer (compost or fertilizer 10, SeaHume 10 together 60) SeaHume is a combination of cold-water kelp (Ascophyllum nodosum) and humates.


The seaweed is full of sixty major and minor nutrients, amino acids, carbohydrates and natural occurring plant growth promoting substances (bio stimulants, gibberellins) that increase plant vigor, quality and yield. Humates increase the availability of nutrients in the soil, increase root growth, keeps nutrients in area that roots can reach (increase CEC), make the soil more friable, super high in carbon and many other benefits including more drought tolerant (less water bill).


All these above products can be used to form “compost tea”, or “compost stew” if you prefer.  By top dressing these organics across your lawn or beds, your soil is getting some compost tea every time it rains!


Monday, May 17, 2021

Citrus Leafminers and So Much More!


Horticulture Hotline 05/17/21

By Bill Lamson-Scribner


If you like the fragrance of magnolias and gardenias, what a great time of year to work in the yard or take a walk. Two weeks ago, I was smelling the thick intoxicating smell of banana shrubs, and now, the clean smell of the gardenias and magnolias. The weather has been cool, making those outside jobs enjoyable. The cool nights also have slowed the grass where it is not actively growing in some areas (zoysia is extra slow waking up). In some areas it seems like the grass is a month behind.  


1.      The Citrus Leafminer Pheromone Traps have been doing a great job! If you put them out in February, it is time to put out new ones. They “last up to 15 weeks”. As good as my foliage looks, I’m not going to risk expecting them to last 15 weeks! I have already seen the nasty rascal chinch bug in St. Augustine grass, grass feeding worms, and at Possum’s, we are already selling a lot of flea killing products (fleas loved the moist fall).  If you have St. Augustine grass, be sure to put out a product labeled for chinch bugs such as Allectus, Bug Blaster, Bifen or Lebanon Insect Control.  Pulling into your driveway to a dead lawn after a family vacation is not the “welcome home” you want.

2.      The cool, dry nights make powdery mildew on plants and large patch on lawns a problem.  Roses, Crepe Myrtles, Dogwoods, Verbena and Gerber Daisies are a few plants that I would check for powdery mildew.  Powdery mildew is a white substance that grows on the tops of the leaves.  As the lawn tries to figure out whether it is still winter (nighttime temperature still in the 60’s), or summer (daytime temperature in the high 80’s), Large Patch (Brown Patch) is prevalent.  For powdery mildew, Honor Guard, Fertilome Systemic Fungicide, or Neem PY (organic) will do a good job.  For Large Patch consider T-Methyl, Strobe or Serenade (organic) in active areas. 

3.      While driving through neighborhoods localized dry spots were very evident when we had that dry spell.  These are areas in the yard that turn that bluish gray color from lack of water.  New neighborhoods with young grass and poor soils seem to be most susceptible to these dry areas.  Exposed areas with lots of wind and areas at the beaches also are good candidates for these localized dry spots.  Adding organic matter to the soil (Cotton Burr Composts or SeaHume), wetting agents, or adjusting sprinkler heads will help with these dry areas.  Remember to water in the early a.m. before the wind picks up, so the grass will dry by nightfall.

4.      Moles seem to be particularly active this spring.  They just had their young in April and now they are tunneling up a storm.  The young moles are hungry!  Manage the food source in your yard (grubs, mole crickets) with Lebanon Insect Control and go after the mole with Mole Patrol. Repellex will do a good job of repelling them, if you would rather go that route.

5.      As with all products, you should read and follow product labels.  More is not better when dealing with control products.  Know your square footage and watch overlapping when applying your products.  You also need to watch the weather forecast to ensure the products have a proper amount of time on your target pest prior to any rain.  If the product needs to be watered into the ground, a slow watering by a sprinkler is better than a gully washer from the sky.  A very hard rain can wash products into the storm water drains which are bad for the environment and you have wasted a lot of money.

6.      Also sweep or blow fertilizers or control products off of hard surfaces when you

      finish applying them. In the case of fertilizer this may prevent staining, and            most importantly it will keep products from washing through storm drains to the     marshes.


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


Monday, May 10, 2021

Wasps, Flies, Fire Ants, Mosquitoes


Horticulture Hotline 05/10/21

By Bill Lamson-Scribner


Wasps, flies, fire ants, mosquitoes – oh my!


Digger wasps are continuing to multiply in numbers in the Lowcountry. At Possum’s we use to get a few complaints in localized areas, now the numbers seem to be on the rise. One faithful reader of the ‘Horticulture Hotline’ sent me a 14-page letter describing the progression of damage to her yard. I saw an old friend in the grocery store and a conversation that would have dominated by fishing stories or stories about old times was dominated by ground bees. The presence of wasps is intimidating and unsafe.


Digger wasps start out as just a few holes in the yard. The holes are where the adults lay their eggs. In the spring, the young emerge. In the fall these wasps are now adults and they dig new holes and lay eggs for the following spring. In a very short time period, you can go from having a few digger wasps to thousands. All these holes can ruin your turf areas and the wasps make it less enjoyable to be in the yard.


Most of these wasps are predatory feeders. They eat grubs (should manage for moles and potential turf damage), small flying insects and ground dwelling insects (mole crickets, grubs). The wasps sting the prey to death, then bring the dead prey back to the wasp’s hole (nest), then lay an egg on it so the young have an instant food supply when it hatches.


All control should be done at dust or at night when the wasps are in their hole. You need to plan on several applications of products to manage this pest. Since the wasps eat insects in your yard that you should be managing to certain thresholds, going after the wasp as well as their food source should benefit you greatly (like the mole). Since the wasps like subsurface insects, Sevin would be a good product to start your management program. Who knows you might kill a fire ant or the nasty rascal the chinch bug as a bonus?


If you just have a few holes, D-Fence Dust is a great product. At night treat in and around the hole. When the wasp land near the hole and go into the hole, the dust gets on them and kills them. The wasps also transfer the dust between themselves. Some people will also “plug” the hole. At Possum’s we sell the plugs, but you could possibly use something from around the house. Be sure to turn off the irrigation and check for rain. After you use the dust, it would be best for the area to stay dry for the night.


If you have many of these uninvited guests, DeltaGard G or Turf Ranger could be used across the whole area. Remember they fly, so getting your neighbors involved is crucial. These products need to be watered in to get to the target. Turf Ranger recommends ½ inch of water. Water the product in slowly so the product soaks into the ground, and does not run off into a non-target area. Apply these products when you first see the wasps and until they are gone, waiting at least one week between applications.


EcoVia is a National Organics Program compliant product that is labeled for wasps and other small flying insects (mosquitoes – yeah). EcoVia is safe to use around water, kids, and pets. Consider using EcoVia in your product rotation.


When treating always wear dark clothes and have a can of wasp freeze on your person. Digger wasps did not get there overnight, and they are not going to go away overnight.


Ants seem to be coming to the surface despite the dry weather, and I’m seeing mounds everywhere. Grilling, here come the nasty flies. No telling what they landed on before they landed on your dinner, especially if you have a dog. Wasps in bushes, in the corners of your doors, in your grill, on your gutters, on your outdoor furniture, everywhere! Have you heard that familiar sound by your ear that a mosquito makes recently?


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