Archives
You are currently viewing archive for May 2008
Posted By Tony Melton Florence County Extension Agent

   Warning! There is a new devastating disease of centipede, which I have coined Squirt Bottle Blight (the Blight), rampant in the Pee Dee.  The Blight shows up this time of year, coincides with a high number of TV commercials advertising weed killers, increases with neighbor watching (mimicking), and results in dead areas in lawns.  As the result of a squirt bottle application of an herbicide, the centers of these spots usually are totally void of anything green and have varying levels of green growth outward.  Believe me it took quite awhile asking questions of many homeowners to diagnose this problem because no one wants to take the heat or responsibility for killing his own lawn.  Also, I don’t like being the bearer of bad news or serving as the referee for angry spouses.

    The weed killers responsible for the Blight are usually one of two different types -- broad spectrum or broadleaf herbicides.  First, the broad spectrum materials kill anything green or growing, usually are systemic (move in the plant), and usually would not be applied to grass in the growing season (late spring or summertime).  The main cause of the damage is the false belief that centipede grass goes totally dormant in the winter which rarely happens because under the surface green material can be found.  Therefore, when these materials are applied they leach downward to the green leaves and stems, move into the centipede plants systemically, and kill a large area of the grass. Also, if these materials are applied to weeds in the lawn during the growing season, again they move systemically through the centipede runners (rhizomes), and kill large areas of the lawn even if they are only applied to one single weed.   The second cause of the Blight, the broadleaf killers, is an even more deceptive cause of the disease.  Most broadleaf herbicides labeled for centipede usually are safe if they are applied at the proper time. TV commercials falsely spread the word that that these products can safely be used anytime on any grass, when actually, if these materials are applied during centipede green-up, the Blight will occur.  The bottom line is to never apply any weed killer to centipede during green-up.  Also, an additional problem with the application of these types of weed killers is that they can travel through the air.  Because most of the products contain 2,4-D they are volatile and even without the presence of  wind they can turn into a gas and move across your yard, your neighbor’s yard, and down the street causing all types of damage as they contact untargeted foliage. Lately I have been swamped with samples of deformed, curled, strap- like leaves of ornamentals, fruit trees, and vegetables which are typical symptoms of 2,4-D injury.

   The perpetuators, carriers, or transmitters of The Blight are usually non-suspecting, non-questioning, believers of TV commercials who do not read the entire label of these weed killer products.  I know labels are long and boring but they are the law, and that small print usually contains all the information to keep you from making devastating mistakes.

   Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to people of all ages, regardless of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital or family status and is an equal opportunity employer. If you enjoy gardening and using flowers and plants in decorations, please watch Down Home with Tony and Amanda on Thursday nights at 8:00 pm on the SC Channel (ETV's digital station)

  


 
Posted By Tony Melton Florence County Extension Agent

   I love this cool weather; however, sooner rather than later it will get hot in the Pee Dee.  Soon that coat I sported this past week will turn into a sweat soaked tee-shirt.  If it doesn’t get warm up before long, those recent northern transplants might think I am lying about our hot summers, but I’m sure July and August will make them believers.  The one thing I’m sure of is that they’re delighted to have given up the frigid north for our ten months of glorious weather here in the Pee Dee.  It may take a few years, but they will learn how to answer the question “How hot is it in the Pee Dee?”

    It’s so hot that so-called June Bearing strawberries stop bearing in June and folks are trying to hold onto spring by fighting over that last gallon of these locally-grown crimson beauties.

   It’s so hot that lavender and lilacs don’t live long here, and the only time we get to smell those fragrances is when we use perfume to cover the scent of our glistening, perspiration, or just plain sweat.

   It’s so hot that tomatoes drop their flowers, stop producing, and give us little sustenance since homegrown ‘mater sandwiches are our #1 favorite summertime food. 

   It’s so hot that beans drop their flowers, stop producing, and give us little sustenance since butterbeans are our #2 favorite summertime food.

   It’s so hot that okra has to be picked daily, and fried okra (taking the place of ‘mater sandwiches)  becomes our #1 summertime food because southerners love anything fried, and boiled okra becomes #2 since it so slimy that it doesn’t take much effort (in this heat) to swallow.

    It’s so hot that sweet potato becomes our favorite pie because sweet potatoes (and their close kin morning glories) take over our gardens in August since they love the heat.

    It’s so hot that Camellia sinensis becomes our favorite plant since it is the source of those tiny little tea leaves which when combined with tons of sugar make our southern life-blood, sweet tea, which keeps us hydrated and sweating.

   Finally, it’s so hot that kudzu grows faster than some folks walk, talk, or work.

 

   Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to people of all ages, regardless of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital or family status and is an equal opportunity employer.  If you enjoy gardening and using flowers and plants in decorations, please watch Down Home with Tony and Amanda on Thursday nights at 8:00 pm on the SC Channel (ETV's digital station). If you don't get that channel, you can go to www.mig.org, select streaming video, and scroll down to where our shows are archived.


 
Posted By Tony Melton Florence County Extension Agent

   I just visited a home with a beautiful specimen tree growing in the backyard. It was prized by the homeowner because it exhibited unusual rough fissured bark, highly branched limbs, dangling yellow flower spikes, and lustrous-dark-green-heartshaped leaves. During the fall, its small clusters of threelobed fruit split to reveal unusual popcorn-like seed.

   I tried to explain to the homeowner this tree (Chinese tallow tree or popcorn tree) is listed as a "nonnative invasive plant" by the USDA Forest Service, but as sometimes happens to us all, he was blinded by beauty: Many nonnative invasive plants have certain desirable characteristics but owners beware. Because of their invasive nature these plants multiply rapidly, outcompete native plants and are trying to take over the world.

   Do not be deceived by the lacy foliage of the mimosa tree, the showy flowers of the princess tree (paulownia), the sweet smelling flowers and beautiful fall colors of the Chinaberry tree, the silvery foliage of the eleagnus, the bright-red fall color of the burning bush, or the beautifulsweet-smelling flowers of the privet. Also, let's overlook the beautiful flowers and fruit of the honeysuckles, the red glistening fruit of the nandina, the natural appeal of the multiflora rose, the scarlet seed of the bittersweet, the cannonball shaped fruit of the air potato (yam), the scrambling nature and violet flowers of the perlwinkle, the lustrous leaves of the English ivy, and last but not least the lavender waterfalls of the wisterias.

   Having these plants is like having a lion by the tail or like I say, a three-legged dog. My three-legged dog incident started one Sunday after church. A friend of my wife's was out of town and asked us to let her dog(s) out. As I opened the back door of this upscale home, two dogs scampered out. One was a dust-mop type dog, which I expected. The other was kind of a scraggly threelegged dog which seemed a little out of place. Mavbe thev felt sorry for the dog and loved its three legs.

   When I called the dogs back inside, the dust-mop dog scampered right back inside, but the three-legged dog ran down the neighborhood. Have I lost the dog they loved?

   Therefore, I chased the dog all over the neighborhood, finally got him pinned, dragged him all the way back, stuck him inside, and locked the door. Thank goodness he was three-legged, or I still would be chasing him.

   The short of it was, it was not their dog. They had left their garage door up a few inches with the door inside cracked, and this three-legged dog snuck inside. He messed up their entire house, and I assisted.

   The moral of the story is: Please do not assist these nonnative invasive plants to mess up our forests.


 
Posted By Tony Melton Florence County Extension Agent

   Centipede is a low maintenance grass.  It was developed to flourish in situations where it would be ignored or left alone, except when it comes to mowing. Many homeowners simply over-maintain centipede which leads to its demise.  I have had hundreds of phone calls where they begin by telling me how beautiful, thick, and lush their centipede lawn was for four, five, or maybe six years and now there is nothing but dirt.  Therefore many folks call centipede a poor man’s grass, a lazy man’s grass, a golfer’s grass, or my favorite a redneck grass.

If you fertilize your grass enough to keep it darker green than your lawn mower but it stills turns bright yellow in the spring (Iron deficiency) then you might have a redneck grass.


   If your lawn is cushiony, soft, and feels like a lush carpet and then it starts to dying then you might have a redneck grass.

   If you plant bag after bag of that expensive seed and water it daily to keep those tiny plants alive but it bears quicker than your balding husband then you might have a redneck grass.

   If your irrigation water bill is higher than your child’s tuition and your lawn still gets bad grades then you might have a redneck grass.

   If your lawn prefers a good long drink once a week to a sip everyday then you might have a redneck grass.

   If your lawn prefers a shower in the wee hours of the morning before sun-up then you might have a redneck grass.

   If your kid loses his football in the tall grass of your front yard and  your grass loses the game because it prefers to be cut short (1 to 1.5 inches) you might have a redneck grass.

   If your lawn prefers not to be wakened in the early morning by a lawn mower spreading disease (Large Patch) then you might have a redneck grass.


   If you love to give your lawn a crew-cut with your thousand horsepower zero-turn mower faster than a qualifying pole lap and your grass wins the race then you might have a redneck grass.

 

   If you prefer setting in your porch swing, drinking a cold ice tea, and watching Down Home with Tony & Amanda on the SC Channel to  irrigating or fertilizing your lawn and your grass appreciates the relaxation then you might have a redneck grass.

   Finally, if you spend more time babying your lawn than you do watching Making-it-Grow on ETV and it still dies then you might have  a redneck grass.

Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to people of all ages, regardless of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital or family status and is an equal opportunity employer.  If you enjoy gardening and using flowers and plants in decorations, please watch Down Home with Tony and Amanda on Thursday nights at 8:00 pm on the SC Channel (ETV's digital station). If you don't get that channel, you can go to www.mig.org, select streaming video, and scroll down to where our shows are archived.


 
Posted By Tony Melton Florence County Extension Agent

    Because of that late frost, thank goodness I waited until last Saturday to plant my vegetable garden.  I’ve seen some yards that were fertilized too early turn totally black from frost damage.  I hope the turf is strong enough to overcome such damage.  Again, fertilizing anything too early is always a bad idea.  
   This year I am trying something new for my garden -- no-till. I’m going no-till because my garden is near my house (only ten feet away), on a slope, and I don’t want any erosion.  So this year I simply sprayed the area with glyphosate (Round-up) and the next day troweled-in my seed and transplants.  I was amazed at how much softer and moister the soil was under an area I had used newspapers and leaves as mulch last season.  Be sure I will mulch the entire area this year.  Periodically I will report in this article on my no-till experience.  I am sure there will some negatives but I hope mostly positives to report as the season goes on.
   I hope my tomatoes grow well because I can’t wait for my first home-grown “mater.”  I planted a few good standard plants like Celebrity, Betterboy, and Big Beef.  However, just in case tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV) is bad this year, I also planted some TSWV resistant varieties like Amelia, Southern Star, Red Defender, Crista, and Bella Rosa.  Some of these varieties have shipping tomato characteristics and taste, but, like my daddy used to say, “A home- grown mater beats any store-bought mater.”   And if TSWV is bad this year the only home-grown mater I’ll get will be from a TSWV resistant variety.

   Maybe I got my love of gardening from my dad; however, a lot of things have changed since Dad’s ten-acre garden.  First of all, Dad had to plant on bottom land and count on rainfall, but I have trickle irrigation in my garden.  With trickle you don’t wet the leaves of the crop; therefore, you don’t encourage disease, you can water anytime day or night, and you put exactly the amount of water the plants needs.  Also, you can add fertilizer through the irrigation water, called fertigation.  This allows you to give the perfect environment for plant growth and crop yield.
   Next, Dad spread things over ten acres, but there is no wasted space in my garden.   Bare spots allow weeds to grow and can promote erosion and leaching of nutrients.  Every gardening guru seems to favor a certain gardening technique such as square-foot, relay, inter-planting, succession or vertical gardening,  I suggest using a combination of all techniques; however, whatever gardening technique you choose, the important concept to remember is conservation.  Conserve light, space, water, time, and nutrients.  In other words, don’t allow anything to be wasted.  The older I get the main resource I don’t want to waste is Tony (myself).
   Finally, Dad and Momma had plenty of planters, hoers, picker and eaters.  Were they better, stricter or meaner parents than those of today’s times, I don’t know?  We were tired but happier, healthier, and less stressed in those days.  In your planning, always consider who will be doing the work and eating the fruits.

   Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to people of all ages, regardless of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital or family status and is an equal opportunity employer

 

  
 


 

 

 
Google

Recent Entries
 
Archives
 
Links
 
Visitors

You have 275293 hits.