Tuesday, October 31, 2023

                                             Low pH - Lime? How Much? What Kind?

                                            High pH
                Fall - Cassia, Hibiscus, Young Rye, Yellow Rope, and fragrance of Tea Olives


Horticulture Hotline 10/31/23


What is a great thing to do in the yard at this time of year? Take a soil test! A soil test can tell you so much that is impossible to tell by just looking at the ground. I have worked for and hung around some well know Doctors of Agronomy (soil doctors) and not one of them can look at a soil and tell you what a soil test can tell you.


 Any of ya’ll that know me would think that big, fat, bald dude would have to have high cholesterol and high blood pressure; however, I do not (blessed with good genes). I have a friend that is very athletic and thin, and he has high cholesterol. My older brother once asked me, “Bill do you have high cholesterol?” I said, “no.” He asked, “ever had it tested?” I said, “no.” He asked, “so if you never have it tested, it means your cholesterol levels are good?” I then went and got it tested.  


What I am trying to illustrate is there is no substitute for good soil testing. I have done some consulting for a school district in the Upstate where they have red clay. The new grounds superintendent that contacted me said, “the person before me put out 1000 pounds of lime an acre like everyone does up here.” We tested the soil and found that they have been over applying lime. From the small investment of a soil test, we were able to save about $100 per acre and the labor and wear and tear on the tractor. We were also able to identify what the soil needed and devote the time and resources to correct those deficiencies.


You can save money by putting out the products that your yard needs and you will also see better results.


The soil test is going to provide you with a lot of technical information.  The basic test that we run provides you with soil pH, buffer pH, available phosphorus, exchangeable potassium, calcium, magnesium, Cation Exchange Capacity, and percent base saturation with recommendations for nitrogen, phosphate, potash, magnesium, and lime based on plant type and use.  Depending on the site location, level of maintenance, and client needs, we also test for other elements in the soil.


If the above paragraph made your eyes glaze over, for a fee we can provide you with a program that will help correct any deficiencies or amend the soil as suggested by the soil sample.  When I go to the doctor and they take a blood test, I do not know what they are testing for or what all the numbers mean.  I trust them to interpret the results and put me on a program to address any excesses or deficiencies. Then I must follow their recommendations. Just this morning, looking at soil test from the Charleston area, I saw a pH as low as 4 and one as high as 7.6 


One of the many pleasures of my job is seeing a customer that has done a soil test and have amended their soil appropriately, come into the store with a picture of them by a “Yard of the Month” sign or just comment on how much better their yard looks after taking a soil test and taking the needed action.


Greg Lienert, a soil test customer wrote, “I started using Possum’s recipe for my lawn 3 years ago and I have never had a better lawn in the 35 years that I have been trying to grow the perfect lawn. Possum’s is awesome! I have the best lawn in the neighborhood.”


 My compost (cotton burr) supplier’s motto is ‘There’s good compost.  There’s cheap compost. But there ain’t no good, cheap, compost’.  You could apply this saying to soil tests as well.

Monday, October 23, 2023

Transplanting and More


                                                      Root Pruning

                                            Japanese Maple FREE

Horticulture Hotline 10/23/23

By Bill Lamson-Scribner


Sweet Tea Olives’ fragrance is welcoming in Fall! Camellias, Cassia, Pyracantha, Hollies, Ryegrass, Bottle Brush, Goldenrod (along the roadsides), Nandina and many others (including my blue handled oyster knife) bring on the color of fall! The ocean waters have cooled down some, so hopefully, the threat of a hurricane has passed for another year – Yeah!


Although the weather is great for outdoor activities, remember to water. These low humidity, cooler, windy days can send your turf into early dormancy. If you have an area that is usually wet in your yard, it is probably the greenest as far as the grass goes. If you want to keep your grass greener into the fall, consider SeaHume, Possum Minors, and water. Ryegrass or Possum Green Pigment (paint) will also do the trick.


This article reminds me of what someone once told me about car commercials and cars being on sale on the radio – if you are not buying a car, you do not really hear the commercials, but if you are in the market for a car, you do hear them. So, if you are thinking about transplanting, this article is for you…


Now is a great time of year to prepare for transplanting and to plant new plants. “Fall is for planting!” You might have a plant, like a Japanese Maple seedling, that you want to give as a gift… On the way to the radio show (noon to 1:00 on WTMA 1250 AM – Call in show with your questions) on Saturday, I will sometimes call the three Possum Stores and ask them what questions are the hot topics that week. The best way to transplant shrubs and trees was mentioned by two of the stores. Here are some guidelines for successfully transplanting of 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 must 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. These products come in a granular formulation if you would rather spread than drench.  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.


·         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. Remove the stakes as soon as you can.

·         Good Luck!


In the fall, the environmental conditions are perfect for large patch fungus (formally known as brown patch fungus) on your turfgrass, and it is very visible right now. Strobe and T-Methyl are great systemic products to rotate. With the cooler weather, I did a perimeter treat around my house for any insects (roaches and others) that might want to make my home their home.


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



Monday, October 9, 2023

Dry Fall

                                                     Stinkhorn with Fly - Spore Spreader

Horticulture Hotline 10/09/23

By Bill Lamson-Scribner


Hopefully, you have put out your preemerge for winter weeds by now in your beds and on your turf. On your home turf, you should be done with nitrogen fertilizer (watch out for national brand winterizer fertilizers designed for fescue sold in national chain stores in the area). Potash, iron, and other minor nutrient products can (and should) be used into the fall. A soil test should help you with any rates to apply.


I mentioned that I have eight tea olives that are at least twenty feet tall. Well, I smelled the great fall fragrance, and that put me in the put out the fall organics mode. Neptune’s Harvest Fish / Seaweed Blend was the product I choose to drench around certain plants.  The lovely smell of the organics overpowered the sweet tea olive’s smell until I put out ryegrass seed and was watering to get the rye to germinate. I can smell the sweet tea olives once again! Sam, a neighborhood dog, had to get a few baths after rolling in the Fish / Seaweed Blend. I am sure the plants will love the fall organics.


The weather has been extremely dry recently. If you like your landscape to be happy, be sure to water. I am seeing many lawns go dormant and trees losing their leaves prematurely because of this dry spell we are experiencing.


Stinkhorn fungi has been smelling up new mulch beds all over the Lowcountry. This fungus has an awful nasty odor that smells like rotten flesh.


Some plants in nature attract insects with sweet smelling nectar to spread pollen to other plants.  This fungus; however, exudes a slime over part of its fruiting body (the mushroom) attracting flies that like rotten flesh or feces.  The flies then spread the fungus because spores attach to their bodies.  Nice! You have a mushroom that exudes a smell like rotten flesh and feces to attract flies.  I guess this is the opposite approach of a gardenia. 


The way I control stinkhorn is with a plastic bag like picking up dog poop.  Put a bag on your hand, lift the mushroom pull the plastic bag over the mushroom and try not to drop too many spores.  These mushrooms are the fruiting body of a fungus that is beneath the soil.  The orange fruiting body is attached to hyphae that are underneath the ground decomposing organic matter.  In nature, most fungi are good for your soil; however, this can be an unwelcome guest in your yard because of the dumpster smell.  Fungi, in general, tend to like acidic soil as do most plants, so I would not try to control them by adjusting the pH.  Hopefully, the environmental conditions that cause them to pop up all over the place will go away soon. 


There is something that looks like an egg that the mushroom pops out of that some people (mainly in Asia) consider a delicacy.  No thank you, I am not interested in something that smells like rotten flesh or feces.


With fall arriving, look for mole crickets tunneling near the surface. Mole crickets do a lot of damage in the fall that often goes undetected because the grass is going dormant (brown) anyway, leaving big dead areas in the spring.


Although it has been dry, large patch fungus is showing up as it does every year. Look for yellowing grass. The yellowing can be in a circular pattern; however, it is not always in a circular pattern. Since large patch is a soil-borne disease, it will usually appear in the same areas year after year. Strobe Pro G will help you combat that disease.


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



                                                  Large Patch
                                             Loves Those Fall Organics