Monday, March 27, 2023

March Checklist


Horticulture Hotline 03/27/23

By Bill Lamson-Scribner


If you have been waiting for the weather to warm up, here is a brief checklist of things that should have been completed around the yard:

·         Test soil. You might be wasting your money. Over fertilizing or under fertilizing could affect your landscape. Soil test provide valuable information for accurate fertilizing! Consider a custom program (Possum’s), especially if you are new to the area. Charleston is a difficult place to grow grass compared to most areas of the USA. Long growing season for weeds to germinate, critters, fungus, and the grass here is not that easy to establish from seed.

·         Have you applied SeaHume G to lawn and beds for a healthy start? The catalyst to make your fertilizers work better.

·         Have you fertilized your trees and shrubs? No soil test? Try 17-00-09.

·         Have you applied a preemergent to lawn and beds (this late use Dimension if it is your first application)? Remember it is never too late to start a preemerge program. With our mild climate weeds germinate almost every day of the year. It is never too late to start a preemergent program. Once you have put out a preemergent product, new small seeded annual weeds will stop coming up. Some weeds might have come up already, so you kill them and you should not have new weeds replace them. Read and follow product label.

·         Have you drench Dominion around plants with a history of insect problems?

·         Have you applied a preventive fungicide to turf if you have a history of fungus (T-Methyl, Strobe G)? We had a wet winter.

·         Mole Crickets overwinter as adults and do their mating flights right now. Have you killed them now before they can make new babies and increase the population? Be sure your lawn and beds are free of fire ants (always but especially with Easter egg hunts coming up), and if you have pets, fleas and ticks should be controlled. If you live near the woods, chiggers may be an issue. (Granular Sevin will work on these pests. If you prefer organic, check with a Possum’s near you to find a product or products that will work in your situation.)

·         Have you gone through your irrigation system to be sure everything is operating correctly? In my travels through the Lowcountry, I have noticed many broken heads (geysers) and heads that are spraying into the street. Although they have been calling for rain, where I live, we have had very little. These low humidity days will dry out your grass and plants quickly. Plants and grass are putting out new leaves and need water! Wetting Agents will help get the water into the soil.

·         The little fury terrorist of the yard is having babies now. Have you killed a mole recently or at least repelled one out of your yard?

·         Is your lawn mower ready for another season? New Blade? New Air Filter? New Spark Plug?

·         Have you measured your turf and bed areas so you know how much product you need to buy and apply to your yard? Getting the right amount of product on your lawn will determine the success of your efforts.

·         Take time to enjoy the Gardens, baseball, softball, and soccer.


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


Monday, March 20, 2023

Get Ready To Aerate

                                                      Two Great Products in One Bag
                                                      Nutrition and a Great Hotel For Microbes
                                            Stunning Japanese Maple

Horticulture Hotline 03/20/23

By Bill Lamson-Scribner


Although it is not time to aerate your landscape, as the night time temperatures warm up and the grass starts to actively grow, aerating should be considered for the health of your whole landscape. Wet soils compact way more than dry soils, and we have had our share of wet soils. While you have the holes open in your yard, there are many products that you can add to that root zone area that will benefit your turf, trees, and shrubs.


Aerating reduces compaction, reduces thatch, increases oxygen movement to the roots, makes a better environment for earthworms, brings beneficial microorganisms to the surface, cuts runners, and allows better penetration of water, fertilizers, or control products into the soil. Increasing water penetration means less runoff into stormwater drains and erosion. Many people associate aerating with lawns only; however, it is great for the whole yard!


Right after aerating, while the holes are open, is a good time to add SeaHume G, BGK 7500, products containing mycorrhiza, Crab Shell, Turface and/or Cotton Burr Compost.  Even if you are not aerating, these products are great to add to your lawn and beds.

·         SeaHume G is a bio-stimulant humic acid product that will help your roots grow, soften up the soil, feed beneficial micro-organisms in the soil, make nutrients that are in the soil more available to the plants, and keep fertilizer from leaching. SeaHume G also contains 10% cold water seaweed. The seaweed also acts as a bio-stimulant and is a source of over 60 minor elements, amino acids, and natural chelating agents.

·         BGK 7500 is a granular organic product that has thatch eating bacteria mix in with a 03-03-03 fertilizer. BGK 7500 is also fortified with 6% humic acid.

·         04-04-04 Bolster and other products that contain mycorrhiza. By applying these products while the roots are exposed, the mycorrhiza can attach to the roots quickly. These friendly fungi will help the plant absorb water and nutrients from the soil while competing with bad fungus in the soil.

·         Turface can last about 20 years in the soil and help manage moisture.  This is a clay product that has been super-heated until it pops!  This makes this product sterile as well as turns it into a little capillary.  This capillary holds water and then releases it as the plant needs it.  This product is used on baseball infields to manage the moisture levels in clay; otherwise, the clay would be rock hard or moist and slimy. Turface will also keep fertilizer and water from leaching in sandy soils. Turface is great for wet or dry areas (like a thermos knows whether to keep something hot or cold).

·         Cotton Burr Compost will add water holding capabilities to the soil by adding organic matter to the soil.  Cotton Burr Compost will soften up clay as well as giving sandy soil nutrient holding capacity.  Cotton Burr Compost is very high in nutrition and will also help increase populations of beneficial organisms in the soil.


All the above products will help conserve moisture as well.


Always read, understand, and follow product label. The product label is a Federal Law. Measure your landscape, so you know how much product to use.


Monday, March 13, 2023

Pruning and Organics

Bottlebrush blooming up top - surrounded by cold damage

                                                     Hibiscus coming back after looking dead!

Horticulture Hotline 03/13/23

By Bill Lamson-Scribner


Some plants were damaged by the recent freezing temperatures, and if you can wait to see where they begin to leaf out, you might be surprised that you have more plant left that is not damaged than you thought. Take a lantana as an example. The leaves may be black and nasty looking, but the branches may be alive and well. Leaves are thin and mostly water. The branches and stems are denser and contain more sugars that make them less susceptible to cold damage. Often on a lantana, the leaves get damaged; however, the plant totally comes back so you do not lose any of the size (mass) of the total plant.


Oleander is another plant that will leaf out along the main stems, if you can wait a few weeks. If you just want to reduce the size of the plant, stagger your cuts. Instead of giving the plant a flat top at 8 inches, taper down from the middle of the plant. Have the middle say 14 inches, and as you go to the outer area make your cuts at say 10 inches then down to 8 inches.


I know my hibiscus, bottlebrush and lemon tree will often surprise me with new life after a cold snap, and leaf-out far more than expected.


When I see those buds on my bald cypress swelling, I think of one thing – ORGANICS!

Cotton Burr Compost, Nature’s Blend, 09-00-00 Corn Gluten, Blood Meal, Bone Meal, Feather Meal, Cotton Seed Meal, 08-02-04 Sustane, 06-04-00 Milorganite and / or SeaHume are great products to use now on your ornamental plants and turf. If you plan to use just one product, I would go with SeaHume now. After the oaks lose their leaves, use Cotton Burr Compost or Nature’s Blend as a mulch instead of pine straw (low nutrition) or bark (nutrition not available). If you use Cotton Burr Compost, or Nature’s Blend as a mulch, every time it rains your plants will get a drink of compost tea, and you know how we like our tea around here! If you like the color of pinestraw or bark mulch, you can cover the Cotton Burr Compost or Nature’s Blend with a thin layer of pinestraw or bark mulch.


For best results spread over the whole bed; however, you can spread the products around individual plants. If you plan to do individual plants, be sure to cover where the roots are and out a little past where you think they are. Remember to keep compost or mulch off the trunk of trees and shrubs.


As microorganisms break the organics down into a usable form to the plants, organic products feed the soil. When the soil is cold, these microorganisms are pretty much inactive. As the temperatures warm up, the microorganisms become more active and begin to break down the organic material and make the nutrients available to the plant. The plant is beginning to grow and put-on new leaves as the temperature warms up, so like magic there is food available to the plant right when it needs it most. The forest with its leaves, twigs, limbs, and microorganism population is fertilized in this manner.


Cotton Burr Compost, Nature’s Blend, composted chicken manure, and composted cow manure are all composted to the point that they do not tie up nitrogen. Some organics can steal nutrients away from the plants while they decompose fully. Wood chips, fresh raked leaves, or grass clippings are best put into a compost pile until you are unable to tell what they were originally, and they are fully composted.


Nature’s Blend not only contains Cotton Burrs, but also composted cattle manure, alfalfa meal and humates.  Alfalfa meal is high in nitrogen and contains Triacantanol, a natural growth enhancer (basal breaks in roses, root growth …), and may help in the suppression and control of certain fungal diseases.


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 and many other benefits.


Since SeaHume and Nature’s Blend have a cocktail of good organics, I am starting with them this year. The 09-00-00, 08-02-04, or 06-04-00 I will use later. I am hoping to bring my cold damage plants back and have them healthy to repair themselves from the pruning back some of them will get.


Control summer annual weeds before they emerge with preemergent herbicides. Crabgrass will be germinating soon, so get your preemerge of choice out now! Kill winter weeds that are up now before they produce viable seed for next year. One annual blue grass plant can produce up to 6,000 seeds for next year – control it now!


Before another season of applying products to your landscape, now is a great time to measure your turf areas and your bed areas, so you know how much product to use.


Read and follow product label.