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!