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Posted By Tony Melton Florence County Extension Agent

   My phone rings off the hook in the spring with people asking me how to control the ugly weeds in their lawn.  I always tell them you missed the best time to control these weeds, last fall.  This year why don’t you get ahead of the weeds and apply a pre-emergent herbicide now to control lawn weeds and you won't have to call me in the spring.  These weeds which most people refer to as spring weeds are actually winter weeds.  Similar to my wife these weeds don’t like our summer heat but they don’t have the luxury my wife has to turn the thermostat to cold (what I call “Hog Killing Temperatures”). These weeds germinate and start to grow in the fall when it cools down, usually in late September or October in our area, and grow all winter long.

   Most people don’t pay any attention to them until they start to flower in the spring and their spouses makes them cut the lawn (weeds) early before the grass starts to grow.  Many times this spurs them into action and they head to the lawn and garden center to buy a Weed-n-Feed. This kills the weeds and gets their spouse off their case for a while; however, controlling the weeds after flowering is a waste of time and money because they have already produced the seed for next year’s crop of weeds and since these weeds hate the heat they will actually die in a few weeks with the heat of the summer.  Some folks get around this by applying the Weed-n-Feed before the weeds flower, get large, and take over their lawn.  However, if applied too early, the fertilizer in those Weed-n-Feeds will be washed away, polluting our environment, and lost before it can be utilized by the grass.  Therefore, now is the best time to control these weeds with a pre-emergent herbicide (make sure it doesn’t have fertilizer added) before they start to emerge and grow.
   Using a pre-emergent herbicide in the fall reminds me of the old adage my mama taught me “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  Pre-emergent means before germination and an herbicide is any chemical that injures or kills a plant.  Therefore, when properly applied a pre-emergent herbicide will prevent weed seeds from germinating, keep the weeds from growing, and like my daddy would say, “Nip the problem in the bud.”  However, to be effective these products need to be applied before weed emergence and watered in soon after application so timing and method of application is very important. 
   Many companies make many types of pre-emergent herbicides with all types of active ingredients and brand names, but quite honestly in Florence there is a limited availability of products.  Obtaining the one best for your lawn situation can be difficult.  However, the more you know about your lawn, including the type of grass, soil, and weeds present, will make the selection much easier.  Also, reading and following all label directions will help you make the best herbicide selection and ensure optimum use and results.  You may think getting out your five dollar reading glasses and comprehending a pesticide label is punishment but if you do a poor job of controlling the weeds, leave checkerboard like streaks in your lawn, or worst of all damage your lawn and have nothing but brown grass next summer your spouse and neighbors will never let you hear the end of it.  Products such as Atrazine, Balan, Dimension, Pennant, Triflurlin, Surflan, Team, and XL may be found locally.

  


 
Posted By Tony Melton Florence County Extension Agent

       When I was in school, I hated history.  Next week I will be 51 years old and it is kind of ironic that the older (more historic) I become the more I like history, old things, and antiques.  You know you are getting old if you dimly remember when Mike Siedel was a meteorologist at an upstate SC TV station, when Jim Cantore had hair, and your TV automatically switches between the Weather Channel and the History Channel.  Now, I see that we can learn much from the past.

        First of all, if you are regular reader of this article you know that I like to write about the plants that were in my mother’s and grandmother’s gardens.  Those tried and true plants were and should still be the foundation of any southern garden.  They take our heat, drought, and fluctuations in temperatures and keeps-on-ticking.  When other plants are under so much stress that they lose the fight against South Carolina’s constant onslaught of insects and diseases, they flourish.  Many of these plants were true native plants, others were hardy exotics, but it all depends on whose definition of native plants you are using.  Therefore, at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 18th, I will be giving a presentation on “Native Plants in the Landscape” at Horne’s Restaurant located at 829 South Irby St. in Florence.  Even though this will be a presentation to a commercial ornamental association called the Pee Dee Plant Professionals, anyone may attend just purchase your own supper.  Also, at this meeting you will be introduced to many professionals in the green industry which may be helpful when it comes to purchasing, planting, and maintaining plants in your garden.

        Next, the Tobacco Festival in Lake City, which is nearly as old as I am, is September 18 through 20.  A major part of SC history was written in the tobacco field, curing barn, and sale barn.  I grew-up in McBee where it is too sandy to grow tobacco so this peach boy enjoys learning about our SC’s tobacco heritage.

        Finally, the National Historic Bean Museum has once again developed into the hub of excitement in Lake City, including the Tobacco Festival.  On the Saturday during the Tobacco Festival the Museum will host a farmer’s market, many craft vendors, an antique auction, and many historical exhibits.

 

        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

    Fall is falling fast.  I can feel an early morning crispness in the air, someone is losing badly on the football field (not to mention any names), and the hurricanes are rolling ashore.  It is that preparation time of year.  We all know the answer to the question of "Should we be prepared or not?"  Do we want to do the preparation?  No, but we must.  It's is a small price to pay for living in the best state in the greatest nation on earth.  Remember, people first, animals next, but don't forget the plants.

      First of all, take a close look at those plants that threaten people or animals.  For instance, I was very thankful that my father-in- law had two of his large pine trees removed from his front yard last week.  Many of us cannot forget how Hugo broke many a pine tree like a match stem. However, these trees were especially threatening because one had a split crotch and the other supported a large fusiform rust gall.  Watch out for any tree that has limbs, especially main trunks, growing upright and too closely together.  The technique I use to explain this to folks is to put your closed fists together, open to simulate the growth of two trunks, and the result is that as they grow they push themselves apart.  Bradford pears are naturally prone to this problem, but all trees -- especially ones that are near to people and animals -- should be inspected for this problem.  Also, watch out for any tree that has disease or insect damage.  The gall could be easily seen, diagnosed, and made the imminent removal of my father-in-law's tree apparent.  However, not all problems are so apparent, so, once again, all trees that have the capability to become hazardous to people or animals should be closely inspected.

      Next, and there is no easy way to say this, but take care of
plants that have the capability to become ballistic missiles.  Bring in 
those hanging baskets, patio plants, and any plant in a container, no
matter how large.  Remove fruit, especially mature fruit, from trees,
vegetables, and trellised vines.


      Finally, protect plants from damaging themselves and others. For instance, I am pruning my muscadine vines now to remove excessive
foliage which will act like a sail in the wind.  Otherwise, I don't think my trellis will withstand the high winds we may get.  Also, prune plants to remove weak or damaged branches.  Even though it is the wrong time of year to prune most plants, a nice, even pruning cut is always better than a rough, jagged break from wind damage.

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 <http://www.mig.org> , select streaming video, and scroll down to where our shows are archived.


 

 

 
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