Monday, February 28, 2022

Spring is Coming Fast


Horticulture Hotline 02/28/22

By Bill Lamson-Scribner


I’m already being ask what should I do for my lawn, trees, and shrubs now. People are getting the itch. Being the soil test geek that I am, I always recommend taking a soil test to figure out what the soil is needing or has too much of. I still haven’t met anyone, and I hang around some pretty sharp agronomist, that can look at a lawn and say you need 15#/M of dolomitic lime on that lawn. They all use labs to test the soil.


With the weather forecast, some T-Methyl or Strobe G would be good as a preventive for brown patch / large patch. SeaHume would help get some minor nutrients in the grass plant (helping to protect the plant from another cold event) and encourage rooting. 00-00-25 would help get some potassium in the plant that would help with cold hardiness and disease resistance. Cotton Burr Compost will help you fill in thin areas.


Winter weeds will be in full force the next few weeks – treat them now before they begin to flower. If they are flowering try to mow them low, wait 2 days, then treat them. Depending on when you preemerged last, you might want to consider preemerging.


Trees and shrubs took a beating as well. Soil test would help them too. Right now organics would be the best thing to get them on their road to recovery. Organics are regulated by the microorganisms in the soil. Microorganisms break down the organic product into a useable form for the plant (like in the forest). If it is cold, microorganisms are slow and don’t make nutrients available to the plant. When it warms up the nutrients are there and ready for the plant as it needs nutrients to leaf out and begin to grow.


Back to Nature products as a mulch, Corn Gluten, Milorganite, Vermiplex (worm), worm castings, SeaHume, Fish, Seaweed, Fish & Seaweed, SUPERthrive, and others will help get the plants going when they are ready. Nature’s Blend and SeaHume granular will give you a lot of bang for your buck. 00-00-25 is a good addition to this 1-2 punch.


With potential cracks (fissures) in the plants from the freezing, Dominion would be a good thing to drench if you have a history borers or insect issues.


Pruning is the other hot topic. If you don’t have to prune, then wait. Pruning will open up a hole for insects and disease and you will lose the insulation of the dead tissue. Who knows, we may have another super cold event. If you have a plant that is total mush by your front door, go ahead and prune away. In about a month or two depending on the plant, you will see the new buds swell up and you will know where the live tissue is and where you should prune back to. Damaged tree limbs would be the exception. If you look at the pictures of the Lantana, you will see what looks like a big dead mess has new growth popping out everywhere along the stems.


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


Monday, February 21, 2022

De-Thatch or Not

Horticulture Hotline 02/21/22


Now is a great time to bring in a soil test and get ready for this year.  Soil amendments often take months to affect the soil.   If you take your tests now, you will be well on your way for 2022 with a custom program for a beautiful lawn. Here is what David Cebula had to say, “The soil test recommendations from Possum’s immediately rectified a cation exchange issue by identifying what amendments the lawn needed. My lawn greens up earliest and stays green the longest now that I followed their recommendations.”


I get a lot of questions from people that have moved here from areas where they grow cool season grasses (bluegrass, ryegrass, fescue) about de-thatching the lawn with a de-thatching machine. You want to de-thatch or aerate your grass when it is actively growing.  Since warm season grasses grow on runners (cool season grasses grow in clumps), it is very traumatic to de-thatch a lawn in the Lowcountry.  De-thatching rips up runners and makes a huge mess for you to clean up.  I usually prefer to de-thatch by core aerating and leaving the cores with their micro-organisms on top of the grass to decompose the thatch. Top dressing with Cotton Burr Compost also aids in the decomposition of the thatch layer. Bio Grounds Keeper is a granular product that has thatch eating microbes is always good addition.


If your lawn has excessive amounts of thatch, you can use a de-thatcher in May when the grass is actively growing.  After using this machine and raking up all the debris, you will understand why I like core aerating instead of de-thatching. The old saying is, “run de-thatcher for 10 minutes / rake up debris for 10 hours.”   Core aerating will manage thatch and give you the extra benefit of lessening compaction and bring air to the roots.  Aerating also helps with water, fertilizer and control products penetration into the soil.  For the best affect, top dress with Cotton Burr Compost after aerating and add Bio Grounds Keeper. If you are fertilizing and mowing the correct amounts, you should be able to manage thatch easily.


Moles, preemergent weed control, soil test, fire ants, mole crickets, leaves, fleas, kill winter weeds before they seed, pruning (especially cold damaged and crepe myrtles), and soil for spring gardens seem to be the hot topics at Possum’s.


Monday, February 14, 2022

The Insect No One Has...


Horticulture Hotline 02/14/22


Since I have been writing and talking about preemergent herbicides a lot lately, I’m going to include two pictures – one person used a preemergent product for winter weeds (nice dormant zoysia grass lawn) and one didn’t (a mess of green weeds). It is time to use a preemergent weed control product for small seeded summer annual weeds. What are you going to do?


This week I am going to try to cover cockroach. The cockroach always wins the most called about / asked about insect award, and is second to the mole in the overall called about / asked about pest. The person asking about roaches is never the person with the issue. They are always asking for their brother, mother, cousin, friend, …


There are many different species of roaches (at least 69). I’m going to concentrate on the most common roaches that dwell in the Lowcountry. To most people the roach is like a snake – the only good one is a dead one.


For controlling roaches, you want to think like a roach, monitor the situation, employ non-chemical strategies, and use control products (organic, Green, conventional) if needed.


The German cockroach is the small roach that likes kitchens and bathrooms. These roaches like to live inside and can be introduced to your house from boxes or containers that are carried into your house. Boxes are like a hotel for roaches and more and more boxes are coming to our homes. German roaches multiply very quickly once inside.


The American cockroach AKA “water bug”, “Palmetto bug”, and “South Carolina state bird”, is the other main cockroach in this area. These roaches like to live on boats, in sewers as well as in your house.


The Brownbanded cockroach is also common to this area. These roaches like to live up high in cabinets, high shelves in closets, pantries, desks, bookshelves or other areas away from the kitchen. The Brownbanded cockroach can live in drier areas than the German roach and usually will inhabit these areas so it does not have to compete with the German roach. The American and German cockroach will out compete the Brownbanded cockroach.


There are other species of cockroaches in this area, and if you control the above three species, you will most likely control the others as well. Asian cockroaches in mulched beds are becoming more of an issue. First you will want to monitor and identify which species is bothering you. There are glue boards you can put out in areas you have seen them. You can look for fecal pellets and egg casings – “Honey, what are you doing?” – “I’m looking for roach fecal pellets and egg casings” - “No football on today?” ….  We also sell these aerosol “flushing agents” that you can spray in areas that you suspect activity, and the roaches will quickly come running out of hiding, giving you the opportunity to personally smack them.


If you have roaches, sanitation is really important. Keeping dirty dishes, garbage and sources of water to a minimum will help limit the population of roaches. Even clutter in a house provides harborage sights for the roach. Caulking cracks, weatherproofing windows and doors, sealing pipes and eliminating other entry points will also help with roaches as well as other pests.


For control products the baits inside the house do a very good job. These baits exploit all the bad habits of roaches. Baby roaches eat the fecal pellets of adult roaches to develop into adult roaches themselves. Roaches also cannibalize their dead. So, if one roach eats the bait, poops, then dies. Another roach will eat this poop and eventually die. Another roach will see the dead roach and eat it and die as well. This transfer of active ingredient creates a great “domino effect” that has impressed many people. The specific nature of this application and the low amount of active ingredient used makes this control method a “green” application, depending on the product you use.


Using the growth regulators, either Gentrol or Nylar, will also help break up the roach’s life cycle. These growth regulators will extend the period of control.


Outside you will want to do a perimeter treatment. There are several products on the market that will nail these roaches (along with many other pests). Bifen, Viper, Cyonara Lawn and Garden, Intice Perimeter 10 (“green”) and EcoPCO WP X (“green”) are a small sample of many products that are available. Generally, treating the perimeter involves spraying or spreading 3 to 10 feet out from your house in the mulched areas. If you are spraying apply plenty of water with the product to carry it down where the pests are hiding. Also spray about 3 feet up the side of your house, around windows, porches, garages, eaves, garbage areas and other areas where pests may be found. Read and follow label directions for the specifics of doing a perimeter treatment for the product you choose to use.


If searching for roach fecal pellets with a flashlight does not sound like fun to you, remember there are a bunch of Pest Management Professionals in the area that would love to do this inspection for you.