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Before talking about composting and similar topics let me share a little story. I have these bells on my backdoor knob that hang down from a rope-like material, and when my now 18-year-old pound hound Ol’Boy has to go outside, he nudges the bells with his nose and we let him out.Since we have been in this super rainy weather pattern for the last year, his habits have evolved. About a year ago, he would ring the bells, get his nose wet, come back inside, wait about a half hour, ring the bells again and head outside to do his thing.By the fall, Ol’Boy would ring the bells, go outside, get his nose wet, come back inside, turn around immediately and go back outside in the weather elements, realizing he might as well get it over as the rain wasn’t stopping. Now, he rings the bells and heads straight outside and does his thing – hard rain or drizzle. I think he likes the toweling off treatment he gets and he runs around the house like he is a puppy again!Now, let’s get down to business.When I see 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!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 inactive. As the temperatures warm up, the microorganisms begin to break down the organic material and make the nutrients available to the plant. The plant will begin to grow and develop 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 actually 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, 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 60 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 the 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’m starting with them this year. I’m hoping to bring my cold damaged plants back and have them healthy enough to repair themselves after the severe pruning back some of them will get.Control summer annual weeds before they emerge with pre-emergent herbicides. Crabgrass will be germinating soon, so get your pre-emerge of choice out now. Kill winter weeds that are up now before they produce viable seed for next year. Try not to prune azaleas now or you will be removing their flower buds and their spring flowers.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 labels.
Bill Lamson-Scribner can be reached during the week at Possum’s Landscape and Pest Control Supply, 481 Long Point Road in Mount Pleasant (971-9601). Or visit at possumsupply.com.
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