© Keep Saraland Beautiful. All Rights Reserved. Website design and hosting by North Mobile Internet Services, Inc.

KeepSaralandBeautiful

12 May

Next Meeting

Meetings are held on the 2nd Thursday of each month at 12 noon at the Saraland Chamber Offices.

KSB GARDENING NEWS FROM JAMES MILES

Mayor Dr. Howard Rubenstein, Council Chair Joe McDonald, Council Members: Newton Cromer, Wayne Biggs, Natalie Moye and Veronica Hudson
December 2021 Where did the year go?! I don’t know about you, but parts of this year went by in a blur. Here we are in December, WOW! For plants that have a history of scale insects, whiteflies, mealy bugs, and the like, you can make a horticulture/dormant oil treatment. Always read the label for application rates, temperature restrictions, etc. To ensure effective applications, be sure to apply the product on the underside of the leaves as well as the top, and branches. For some heavy infestations, you may want to prune those parts out before spraying. This is the time to collect fruit/scion wood for grafting and budding. If you have a grafted/budded tree with fruit you really like and want to propagate. You can collect wood from the dormant plant and refrigerate it until the proper time to graft or bud. Here are a few tips for collecting desirable wood: Make sure your pruners are sanitized Cut the bottom of the fruit/scion wood at an angle to identify the bottom. This will facilitate the correct orientation of the wood or bud Store wrapped in a damp paper towel or damp sawdust. Store refrigerated until you are ready to use them. Here are a couple of links for more information about grafting technics: Pecan Inlay Grafting Technique - YouTube https://www.aces.edu/blog/topics/farming/grafting-methods/ We have finally experienced enough cold weather to kill off some of our warm-season weeds. However, some of our warm-season tender ornamentals are still hanging in especially if they are in a protected site. How much cold weather have we had? Well, here are our chill hour numbers as of December 2nd: Brewton, AL – 175 hours Old Model; 52 hour Modified Model Fairhope, AL – 77 hours Old Model; 36 hour Modified Model Moss Point, MS – 120 hours Old Model; 120 hours Modified Model Currently, there is not a weather station in Mobile that is used to calculate chill hours. The Modified Model compensates for the warm snaps we get during the fall and early winter that negates any short irregular chill hours. It tends to be more representative of what our area truly accumulates. With that being said and a little summating from the numbers above, you can see we are below 100 hours. You can compare that to what your plants need to monitor our seasonal progress. 2021 Summary: This has been another unusual year! A wetter than normal year posed significant issues in all stages of agriculture production, landscaping, and anything outdoors. I spoke with a second-generation farmer in his late 70’s and he stated, “I’ve been farming all my life, but I learned more about farming this year than I ever have”. That is a profound statement that really made me appreciate those that were successful. With the changes in weather trends and the climate, gardeners and farmers have to pay attention to current situations and make adjustments to their cultural activities. During a wet year, reduce irrigation, time fungicide applications during extended dry days between rain events, and prune canopies to improve air movements to help dry the canopies. In dry years, irrigate to maintain constant soil moisture, direct irrigation to the soil and not the tip of the plants, and reduce fungicide applications. Garden by the current situation and not just by a calendar or checklist. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! November 2021 Finally, the grass has slowed to the point that I can clean my mower and put it away for a few months. Usually before the first cut in the spring, I will change the oil, sharpen, or change the blades, and clean or replace the air filter. Plant spring bulbs. There are many reasons for poor bulb performance. Start with giving the bulbs a squeeze to check the condition. Healthy bulbs are firm and have some weight as opposed to feeling light, hallow, or soft. Other things to look for are discolorations, odd texture, odd shape, mold, or rotting odor. Plant the bulbs three to four times the height of the bulb itself. Planting depth, as well as exposure to full sunlight, ensures that the bulb will be able to sustain the weather conditions of your landscape. Do your homework, research bulbs for the recommended depth to plant each specific bulb type you are interested in. Now is the perfect time to send in a soil sample to the Auburn Soil Testing Lab. You can pick up the soil test boxes from the Alabama Cooperative Extension Office, 1070 Schillinger Rd. N., Mobile AL 36608. Once you get the results back, if it calls for lime, apply according to the recommendations as soon as you can. It takes lime months to work and soil moisture is key. Special note: If you plan on adding bulk organic matter to your soil, wait until after you have incorporated it to collect and send in soil samples. If you have an area that you want to improve the soil condition because of compaction and/or clay soils. You can plant a cool season cover crop such as clover, rye, wheat, etc. Allow it to grow during the cool-season and terminate it in late winter, early spring. You will then incorporate it into your soil by tilling or disking. This will add valuable organic matter to the soil. Before you plant a warm-season crop or grass, soil test, and follow recommendations. October 2021 I love fall! The temperatures are pleasant, the fishing is phenomenal, and it’s time to plant and enjoy fall vegetables. If you’ve been looking for vegetable transplants in garden centers recently you probably noticed a shortage of those plants. The normal sources of transplants in the region are behind in supplying transplants to local garden centers. However, you can still find vegetable transplants if you are patient, and you can contact local school horticulture programs that start their own veggies, and they are on schedule. Fall is a transition period for the grass and other plants to slow down. During this period it is important not to fertilize, especially with anything that contains nitrogen. Nitrogen the first number on the fertilizer analysis, (20-5-10) promotes growth. If you promote growth now or later this year, the turf could be injured during a cold front. I would warn against using a high nitrogen product past August. There are programs and products that are labeled as winterizers. They are not suited for this area. This is the appropriate time to apply pre-emergent herbicides to control winter weeds such as lawn burweed and annual bluegrass. A complete list can be found in IPM-590 https://www.aces.edu/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/IPM-0590-Home-Lawns-Chemical-Control_021821L-G.pdf Also, I will warn that it is not recommended to use products that contain both the fertilizer and the herbicide tother in this area. The timing of applications is not compatible. Order strawberry plants now. Strawberry plants grow best for our area during the cool season. The best time to plant them here is late October thru November. They can be difficult to find this time of the year locally, but you can mail order them fairly easy. You can also ask your favorite garden center if they can get them. Always inspect plants closely before you buy them. Look for deal-breakers like root problems, hard to control insects and diseases, planting errors (planted too deep in the container), etc. If you find such conditions keep looking. With a wetter than normal September, some gardeners have witnessed fruit split of citrus, persimmons, etc. This is rare this time of year as we are normally drier. However, the splitting is a typical response to too much water. When the soil is saturated, the plants will take up more water than they can expel through the normal path of stomates on the leaves. The fruit on the trees will absorb so much water that the fruit swells more quickly than the skin can stretch, resulting in split fruit. On another fruit note, if you notice that some of your fruit trees bear fruit heavy every other year this is called alternate bearing. You have not done anything wrong. Some plants are more prone to it than others. Several things can and do contribute to this such as freezes, droughts, and hurricanes. Any event that causes the plants to lose their leaves outside of the normal seasonal transitions will trigger this pattern. There are a couple of things you can do to help reduce that cycle. Fertilize a little bit more and remove some fruit on the heavy crop year. Last month we had a spectacular moon view, I hope you got to enjoy it. As you work in your garden and landscape have a few locations picked out for sitting and viewing. Consider the time of day and season. Take a moment on one cool morning to sit out in your garden with a hot cup of coffee and enjoy the view. September 2021 Believe it or not, we are in the early stages of the fall transition. Some of our ornamental trees are starting to yellow and drop a few leaves, fall- blooming natives and other perennials are showing their colors and/or budding up, and if you have Bahia grass mixed in your turf grass you should have noticed a reduction in seedheads. I use this time to plan and prep for my vegetable gardening: find seeds/transplants locally or order apply soil amendments select location to correspond with my crop rotation plan This is also a good time to locate woody ornamentals that you plan to plant later this fall thru the winter. Your favorite local garden center can even help you identify great performers for your specific landscape. If your turf is weak or stressed (yellowing, thin, or newly planted) you can fertilize with 5-5-25 @ 4 lbs. per 1,000 ft2 or 0-0-64 @ 2 lbs. per 1,000 ft2 or equivalent. This treatment is optional, if your turf is in good condition and not under stress omit it unless your soil test recommends adding potassium. Also, avoid formulations that contain an herbicide. You can make one more treatment for Fire Ants before the end of the year. Throughout this month treat with a Fire Ant Bait. If immediate results are desired, use a Fire Ant killer. Bait vs killer, these products are very different in action and treatments. Please read the labels and use them accordingly. The baits are very effective and economical. Continue to remove weeds and keep them from going to seed. You can physically remove them, and in turf areas you can use a selective herbicide to kill the broadleaf weeds there. An herbicide treatment now will be effective because the weeds will not have a chance to recover resulting in a reduced population in the next growing season. We are still getting frequent rains but if the rains stop for more than a week you should irrigate to reduce the chance of stress. It is important that your plants don’t go into the dormant season drought-stressed, which will affect their health and performance next year. The area’s satsuma crop still looks great. My backyard trees are loaded. The pecan crop looks good at this point, but this is a risky time for this crop due to storms. Local peanuts growers have started to dig, thus fresh peanuts are available and easy to find. They are great for boiling and roasting for a snack during football games. Believe it or not, fall is on the way! August 2021 Let’s talk container gardening. Containers can add diversity to your garden and allow mobility to follow the sunny spots in the landscape. I will touch on some basic things to consider when planting in containers. Container size is very important and often underestimated. First, most container plants need to be repotted immediately or planted in the ground. If left in the original container there is a high risk it will become severely rootbound. For vegetables choose container size as follows: 3-gal for small to medium size plants like lettuce and squash; 5-gal for larger plants like tomatoes. Choose containers adequate to accommodate the mature size of the plants in question. You can even mix plants in a container. If you plant more than one plant per container, remember to increase the size of the container to accommodate the additional plants. Containers can be made of almost any material, but the most important thing is drainage. The container must have holes in the bottom or near the bottom edge. Potting Mix Your potting mix should be soilless, containing a blend of peat moss, coarse builder’s sand, perlite, and/or vermiculite. You can purchase a premixed product, or you can blend your own. If you blend your own do your homework on the pH needs of your plants and lime to raise the pH to the desired level. After planting your plants be sure to fill the container to within ½” to ¾” of the top. Tip If you plant a vining plant or plants that are top-heavy you will need to add some support and/or anchor the container. Now is the time to plan for fall planting. If you are into vegetables review your past notes and compare to seed sources for possible new varieties. More in-depth details can be found at: https://www.aces.edu/blog/topics/landscaping/container-gardening/ Enjoy the outdoor! July 2021 Planting in the summer. Summer is not ideal for planting in the south. Can it be done? The short answer is yes. The limitation of summer planting is water. If you choose to plant in the summer months, start with a healthy container plant. Site selection and preparation must be maximized. You must be dedicated to watering the new plant through the start of fall. That means you must make arrangements if you go out of town… All the things we normally preach about planting still apply, don’t plant too deep, don’t disturb the rootball too much, mulch around the plant, and water-water-water. When watering, do not wet the top of the plant just the ground around the base. Rogue played out and diseased vegetable plants. Don’t leave plants and produce residue in the garden area, leftover plants and produce will help diseases and insects carry over to the next season. This is a great time to solarize sections of your garden to reduce soil-borne pests. This involves the following steps: 1. Remove existing plant material. 2. Till, double dig, turn the soil to maximize soil exposure. 3. Irrigate to increase soil moisture for the steaming. 4. Cover with clear plastic, make sure the plastic lays flat against the soil and the edges are sealed airtight with soils, boards, rocks, etc. 5. Leave the plastic in place for a least 6 weeks, 8 to 10 weeks would be better. 6. When you uncover to plant your desirable plants, it’s important not to disturb the soil too much. Doing so will bring pathogen from the deeper soil back up in the rootzone re-contaminating the soil you just solarized. All you should have to do is plant. You can also solarize annual bedding plant areas. I get asked the question, how often should I cut my grass quite a bit. Well, there is not a simple answer but here’s my typical response. If you leave your clippings on the lawn, every 5 days. If you bag or rake your clippings, every 7 days. Weather and type of grass are factors that can change those days. If you fertilize regularly and irrigate, you may have to shorten your interval. If we are in a drought, you are not irrigating, and your grass is in a summer dormant stage, you may add days to your interval. From time to time during droughts, I get photos of plants that show signs of fertilizer burn. If you fertilize drought-stressed plants, the initial shock of the fertilizer can damage plants. If you want to fertilize plants during a drought period. Irrigate them a couple of times to increase the soil moisture, make sure the plant is hydrated, and actively growing before fertilizing. Continue to scout for mole crickets, spittlebugs, and chinch bugs in your turf grass. This garden tip is more of a confession. In a small flowerbed, I recently let the crabgrass get ahead of me. With all the rain it grew large quickly. I noticed that it had put on seedheads. I didn’t have time to treat it with an herbicide as the seeds would still mature and fall into the bed. If I used a “weedeater”, I would have spread the seeds over a larger area. Pulling the weeds with the seedheads on them would also spread the seeds. What is the solution? I used my garden scissors to gently cut the seedheads off, afterwards I was able to pull most of the remaining weeds, especially those close to my desirable plants. This also gave me a bit more time to apply an herbicide before new seedheads formed. Thankfully, it was a small bed. Consider the above scenario when dealing with any annual weed such as crabgrass, chamber bitter, etc. in your flower beds. Take the time to sit and enjoy your garden. June 2021 The wet cool spring has delayed some insect activity. Don’t stop scouting your landscape and garden, you should keep an eye out for pests and problems so you can address them early before they get ahead of you. The week after Mother’s Day, I noticed Mole crickets active in the lawn. There was tunneling activity and exit holes where they would emerge from the soil for mating flights. Now is not the time to treat, just note where you see the activity. You will target those areas in a few weeks when you see immature mole crickets that are about a ½” long. That stage of the lifecycle is the most vulnerable to control methods. So, how do you know when to treat? Soapy water flushes. The soap flush is a scouting technique used to confirm the presence of insects. The method is to mix 2 tablespoons of liquid dishwashing soap (my preference is lemon-scented) in 1 gallon of water. Don’t use forceful mixing that will result in heavy foam suds, this will make it difficult to see the insects. Next, pour the soapy water onto the area you noticed activity. Any mole crickets present will surface in a minute or so. Irrigating the area after flushing can minimize sun scalding of the turf. There many over-the-counter products labeled for mole cricket control. Most cases will require multiple treatments. For more information, you can check this link: https://www.aces.edu/blog/topics/lawn-garden/biology-and-control-of-mole-crickets/ If you haven’t treated for fire ants, you still have time to put out fire ant bait. Pruning, this is the time of the year you keep your pruners with you at all times in the landscape. You won’t always be doing heavy pruning but a snip here and there to keep the growth thinned and what I like to call “directing traffic”. Directing traffic simply means continue training to the desired form. Local produce is in full swing, support local growers… Fertilize St. Augustine, etc. If you know you have a high population of summer annuals you can use weed and feed products now, just check the label for your type of turf and restrictions. Friendly reminder, Alabama Free Fishing Day is June 12, 2021. For more information: https://www.outdooralabama.com/fishing/free-fishing-day May 2021 April showers bring May flowers, especially if you plant in between the showers. This month is still good for planting. I was out at A-Bloom Garden center a couple of weeks ago looking for some azaleas. As I perused their selection, I noticed some milkweed and some bottlebrush. That sparked my recollection of plants that did not survive the February freeze. So, my 7-plant purchase turned into a 30-plant purchase. The day in the life of a plant collector, LOL. Last month I described the results of pruning azaleas. Well, I suppose I should address the when and how to prune azaleas. Here are a few tips: 1. Prune your azaleas after they finish blooming. Ideally, you will do it immediately after they bloom. This is also a great time for an application of fertilizer. Fertilize according to soil test or ½ cup of azalea fertilizer per year of age. 2. Make pruning cuts at the base of limbs, not just clip the ends or hedge. If you do hedge, make additional cuts throughout with hand pruners. 3. Resist pruning past the end of July. This will give the plants time to set more flower buds in a typical year. 4. Sanitize your pruning equipment between plants. Landscape design tips 1. Plant odd numbers, this keeps the eye and subconscious from dividing the plants. 2. Plant groups of color and not alternating colors like pink, white, pink, white… Groups of colors create more Pop! Lawn areas Warm-season weeds have started to compete with our lawn grasses. Products that contain a combination of the following active ingredients will take care of most of our broadleaf weeds in turf: 2,4-D + MCPP + Dicamba. Check the label of these products for your turf type and temperature restrictions. Fertilize your centipede grass with 15-0-15 or according to your soil test results. Treat for Brown Patch in centipede grass with Immunox. If your soil test result indicated high phosphorus, add iron. This is especially important for acid-loving plants like azaleas, gardenias, camellias, blueberries, centipede grass, etc. House Plants A word of caution putting plants, that have been in the house for the winter, outside. You must get them acclimated to the sun by gradually exposing them. This will reduce the chance of sunscald. Anyone that knows me, knows not only am I an outdoor person, and I am an avid angler. With that being said, I feel obligated to share that Alabama Free Fishing Day is June 12, 2021. For more information: https://www.outdooralabama.com/fishing/free-fishing-day April 2021 It seems that spring has finally settled in. The azaleas and wisteria are really putting on a show this year. If you look closely you can see the difference in the azaleas that have not been pruned and those pruned regularly and those pruned too late in the growing season. The unpruned azaleas are full of blooms throughout the canopy. The regularly pruned ones have blooms in a single layer on the end of the branches. Those pruned late in the growing season have sparse blooms because they did not have enough time to set more blooming points (buds). As I drive through the rural areas of the county, I have also noticed dogwoods providing a colorful break in the woods. Another plant that is really showing out this year is the Multiflora Rose. I have seen it more and in places I never knew it existed until this year. The Multiflora Rose is an exotic invasive, so I am not encouraging planting or propagating it, just enjoying the show. Our warm-season turfgrass is starting to green up and actively grow so you can fertilize your St. Augustine, Bermuda, Zoysia, and Bahia now. Do not fertilize Centipede until May. Be careful utilizing herbicides on turfgrass during the green-up period. Even products labeled for them can injure them at this sensitive time. Winter weeds are still hanging in there. Part of controlling winter weeds is preventing them from producing more seeds. Mow, weed-eat, etc. use any method that fits your management activity to keep them from flowering and flowers from maturing. Renewing mulch in bed areas can also be an important tool for controlling weeds. This is the perfect time to use fire ant bait. If you have not pruned out the dead and damaged plant material from the freeze a few weeks ago, this is a good time to do so. Clean/Sanitize your pruning equipment between plants to reduce the chance of spreading diseases. I use 70% isopropyl alcohol, but you can also use 10% bleach. On the vegetable and ornamental front, Bryant Career Technical Center and Mary G. Montgomery High School both have horticulture programs that sell plants to the public. You can find them on Facebook or call the schools directly for more details. These students spend months learning and caring for the plants for their sales. Please support these programs and get to know the instructors, they can help you with your landscape and garden plans. One important part of any landscape is a sitting area(s). This is one of the most overlooked parts of any landscape. If you spend any amount of time tending to your landscape, a sitting area will give you an opportunity to enjoy the space you have created and labored for. It can become your place of tranquility. You can also expand your experience to enjoying the many birds and other wildlife that also enjoy your landscape. You should have more than one sitting area or at the very least be able to move your seat to different areas. It is Spring! Enjoy the show! March 2021 Well, the vacation from the lawnmower is over… Sometime this first week of March, I will crank the lawnmower for the first time in 2021. Just to be clear, I will not be cutting my turfgrass. The turf hasn’t greened up enough to warrant mowing; what I will be mowing is the winter weeds. This is partially my fault as I didn’t apply a pre-emergent herbicide to the entire yard back in October. As a result, cool-season weeds are abundant in some areas. Mowing them not only results in a neat and uniform height but also more importantly removes the seedheads that will produce more seeds. By reducing the canopy, you also reduce the habitat for insects and diseases. One insect that will become very active in the next couple of weeks, if the weather continues to be warm and rainy, is the Crane Fly. Crane flies incorrectly called mosquito hawks; they are not related to nor have anything to do with mosquitoes. They are indeed flies. The stage we are seeing now is the adult stage. Some adults feed on nectar and some lack mouthparts and do not feed at all. The adults only live for 2-3 days. They are harmless to plants, animals including people. The sole purpose of the adult crane fly is to mate, and for the females to lay eggs. The larval stage has chewing mouthparts and feeds primarily on decomposing organic matter. With that in mind, they are considered beneficial for their contribution to our ecosystem. No treatment is warranted or recommended. If they become a significant nuisance for you and your family, mow weed-grown and overgrown areas to help dry the soil out. In the next few weeks, our turfgrass will start to green up. A big word of Caution with herbicides during lawn green-up. Even products labeled for your particular turf can injure it during green-up. Please read the label carefully and follow them. Vegetables!!! Now is the start of the spring gardening season! I have my list of spring vegetables that are a mainstay as well as my list of fall vegetables. Each of us has our favorites and that will be a topic for another time but for now, I have just a few reminders: Grow what you and your family like to eat. Grow more than 1 variety and experiment with at least 1 new one each year. Rotate vegetables to new areas each growing season for a 3-year rotation. Irrigate and harvest in the morning. Do NOT wet the plants when you irrigate. Stay ahead of the weeds. Have fun! I will begin raising chickens this year. Raising chickens has a multitude of benefits to the landscape and garden. The one thing I will call your attention to is food safety with any livestock in and around your vegetables. They should be excluded from your vegetable garden area 90 days before harvesting above-ground crops like tomatoes and 120 days for crops in direct contact with the soil such as radishes. Be safe and do the math. February 2021 Generally, I leave my citrus on the trees and only harvest what I can use in a weeks’ time. Remove any remaining fruit from your fruit trees, whether it is still edible or dried fruit mummies. You should clean off all fruit from them to ensure that the trees will flower again for the upcoming season and decrease disease carry over. That applies to all fruits. As of January 30th, we have accumulated 480 Chill hours with the Old Model (which counts hours when the temperature is 45° F and below) and 414 Chill hours with the Modified Model (which counts hours when the temperature is between 45° and 30° F). The chill hour count will end February 15th. Mid-February is the time to start pruning. You can do light clean-up and thinning prune to all your plants. Some plants need more extensive pruning now such as fruit trees (except blueberries and blackberries) and most of our ornamentals (not azaleas, hydrangeas, and gardenias). It’s still a good time to plant ornamentals and fruits. I planted several blueberry plants the last week of January. Make sure to keep them watered. This is the time to plant Irish potatoes, sugar snaps, and sweet peas. If you start your own seeds for transplants, now is the time to get them going. There is an app named “SOW”, from the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, that is a vegetable planting guide. It gives you a wealth of information on vegetables, dates, pests, harvest, etc. You still have time to review seed catalogs and websites for warm-season vegetables that can be planted later or direct-seeded. This is also the window to apply pre-emergent herbicide treatments to your turf area. Make sure the product you select is labeled for the type of turfgrass you have. Also, avoid “Weed & Feed” type products as it is too early to fertilize. Don’t forget Valentine’s Day is February 14th. Consider live plants for Valentine’s gifts. January 2021 Happy New Year! Continue to care for your poinsettias. You can keep them alive after the flowering and leaf drop. In a few months when the temperatures are in the 80’s and above, you can repot or plant them outside. You can plant another crop of cool-season vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, lettuce, turnips, radishes, etc. It’s a perfect time to scope out websites and catalogs for your vegetable mainstays and possible new varieties for your warm-season vegetables. Spray shrubs and trees with a history of scale insects with dormant oil. Be sure to read the label for rates, temperature restrictions, etc. If you did not soil test last month, you can still do so. If you did, lime according to the results. Most of the recommendations are in ton per acre, which is the equivalent of 50 lbs. per 1,000 ft2. If your recommendations are more than 1 ton per acre, it should be split into 2 or 3 separate applications at 4 to 6-month intervals. Now is a good time to have your lawn and garden equipment serviced. Change the oil in engines, sharpen blades, shovels, pruners, etc. For advanced gardeners or those looking for a challenge, you can graft camellias now. Here is a link for more information about camellias: https://www.aces.edu/blog/topics/care-trees-shrubs/the-culture-of-camellias-the-state-flower-of-alabama/
2020 BLOGS 2020 BLOGS 2021 BLOGS 2021 BLOGS
© Keep Saraland Beautiful. All Rights Reserved. Website design and hosting by North Mobile Internet Services, Inc.

KeepSaralandBeautiful

12 May

Next Meeting

Meetings are held on the 2nd Thursday of each month at 12 noon at the Saraland Chamber Offices.

KSB GARDENING NEWS FROM JAMES MILES

Join Keep Saraland Beautiful

Business Membership Your business can join KSB for as little as $120 per year. Your dues are used for beautification of the city. When available, Business Members are entitled to the use of a custom-built garbage receptacle to be used at your business' location as long as you are a member. We need to build partnerships with the business community and you can help! Individual Membership Join Keep Saraland Beautiful as an Individual Member for as little as $12 or join as a family for $25. Your dues are used for beautification of the city. We need volunteers to join our organization for the betterment of Saraland!
Business Membership Form Business Membership Form Individual Membership Form Individual Membership Form
Mayor Dr. Howard Rubenstein, Council Chair Joe McDonald, Council Members: Newton Cromer, Wayne Biggs, Natalie Moye and Veronica Hudson
December 2021 Where did the year go?! I don’t know about you, but parts of this year went by in a blur. Here we are in December, WOW! For plants that have a history of scale insects, whiteflies, mealy bugs, and the like, you can make a horticulture/dormant oil treatment. Always read the label for application rates, temperature restrictions, etc. To ensure effective applications, be sure to apply the product on the underside of the leaves as well as the top, and branches. For some heavy infestations, you may want to prune those parts out before spraying. This is the time to collect fruit/scion wood for grafting and budding. If you have a grafted/budded tree with fruit you really like and want to propagate. You can collect wood from the dormant plant and refrigerate it until the proper time to graft or bud. Here are a few tips for collecting desirable wood: Make sure your pruners are sanitized Cut the bottom of the fruit/scion wood at an angle to identify the bottom. This will facilitate the correct orientation of the wood or bud Store wrapped in a damp paper towel or damp sawdust. Store refrigerated until you are ready to use them. Here are a couple of links for more information about grafting technics: Pecan Inlay Grafting Technique - YouTube https://www.aces.edu/blog/topics/farming/grafting- methods/ We have finally experienced enough cold weather to kill off some of our warm-season weeds. However, some of our warm-season tender ornamentals are still hanging in especially if they are in a protected site. How much cold weather have we had? Well, here are our chill hour numbers as of December 2nd: Brewton, AL – 175 hours Old Model; 52 hour Modified Model Fairhope, AL – 77 hours Old Model; 36 hour Modified Model Moss Point, MS – 120 hours Old Model; 120 hours Modified Model Currently, there is not a weather station in Mobile that is used to calculate chill hours. The Modified Model compensates for the warm snaps we get during the fall and early winter that negates any short irregular chill hours. It tends to be more representative of what our area truly accumulates. With that being said and a little summating from the numbers above, you can see we are below 100 hours. You can compare that to what your plants need to monitor our seasonal progress. 2021 Summary: This has been another unusual year! A wetter than normal year posed significant issues in all stages of agriculture production, landscaping, and anything outdoors. I spoke with a second-generation farmer in his late 70’s and he stated, “I’ve been farming all my life, but I learned more about farming this year than I ever have”. That is a profound statement that really made me appreciate those that were successful. With the changes in weather trends and the climate, gardeners and farmers have to pay attention to current situations and make adjustments to their cultural activities. During a wet year, reduce irrigation, time fungicide applications during extended dry days between rain events, and prune canopies to improve air movements to help dry the canopies. In dry years, irrigate to maintain constant soil moisture, direct irrigation to the soil and not the tip of the plants, and reduce fungicide applications. Garden by the current situation and not just by a calendar or checklist. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! November 2021 Finally, the grass has slowed to the point that I can clean my mower and put it away for a few months. Usually before the first cut in the spring, I will change the oil, sharpen, or change the blades, and clean or replace the air filter. Plant spring bulbs. There are many reasons for poor bulb performance. Start with giving the bulbs a squeeze to check the condition. Healthy bulbs are firm and have some weight as opposed to feeling light, hallow, or soft. Other things to look for are discolorations, odd texture, odd shape, mold, or rotting odor. Plant the bulbs three to four times the height of the bulb itself. Planting depth, as well as exposure to full sunlight, ensures that the bulb will be able to sustain the weather conditions of your landscape. Do your homework, research bulbs for the recommended depth to plant each specific bulb type you are interested in. Now is the perfect time to send in a soil sample to the Auburn Soil Testing Lab. You can pick up the soil test boxes from the Alabama Cooperative Extension Office, 1070 Schillinger Rd. N., Mobile AL 36608. Once you get the results back, if it calls for lime, apply according to the recommendations as soon as you can. It takes lime months to work and soil moisture is key. Special note: If you plan on adding bulk organic matter to your soil, wait until after you have incorporated it to collect and send in soil samples. If you have an area that you want to improve the soil condition because of compaction and/or clay soils. You can plant a cool season cover crop such as clover, rye, wheat, etc. Allow it to grow during the cool-season and terminate it in late winter, early spring. You will then incorporate it into your soil by tilling or disking. This will add valuable organic matter to the soil. Before you plant a warm-season crop or grass, soil test, and follow recommendations. October 2021 I love fall! The temperatures are pleasant, the fishing is phenomenal, and it’s time to plant and enjoy fall vegetables. If you’ve been looking for vegetable transplants in garden centers recently you probably noticed a shortage of those plants. The normal sources of transplants in the region are behind in supplying transplants to local garden centers. However, you can still find vegetable transplants if you are patient, and you can contact local school horticulture programs that start their own veggies, and they are on schedule. Fall is a transition period for the grass and other plants to slow down. During this period it is important not to fertilize, especially with anything that contains nitrogen. Nitrogen the first number on the fertilizer analysis, (20-5-10) promotes growth. If you promote growth now or later this year, the turf could be injured during a cold front. I would warn against using a high nitrogen product past August. There are programs and products that are labeled as winterizers. They are not suited for this area. This is the appropriate time to apply pre-emergent herbicides to control winter weeds such as lawn burweed and annual bluegrass. A complete list can be found in IPM-590 https://www.aces.edu/wp- content/uploads/2020/02/IPM-0590-Home-Lawns- Chemical-Control_021821L-G.pdf Also, I will warn that it is not recommended to use products that contain both the fertilizer and the herbicide tother in this area. The timing of applications is not compatible. Order strawberry plants now. Strawberry plants grow best for our area during the cool season. The best time to plant them here is late October thru November. They can be difficult to find this time of the year locally, but you can mail order them fairly easy. You can also ask your favorite garden center if they can get them. Always inspect plants closely before you buy them. Look for deal-breakers like root problems, hard to control insects and diseases, planting errors (planted too deep in the container), etc. If you find such conditions keep looking. With a wetter than normal September, some gardeners have witnessed fruit split of citrus, persimmons, etc. This is rare this time of year as we are normally drier. However, the splitting is a typical response to too much water. When the soil is saturated, the plants will take up more water than they can expel through the normal path of stomates on the leaves. The fruit on the trees will absorb so much water that the fruit swells more quickly than the skin can stretch, resulting in split fruit. On another fruit note, if you notice that some of your fruit trees bear fruit heavy every other year this is called alternate bearing. You have not done anything wrong. Some plants are more prone to it than others. Several things can and do contribute to this such as freezes, droughts, and hurricanes. Any event that causes the plants to lose their leaves outside of the normal seasonal transitions will trigger this pattern. There are a couple of things you can do to help reduce that cycle. Fertilize a little bit more and remove some fruit on the heavy crop year. Last month we had a spectacular moon view, I hope you got to enjoy it. As you work in your garden and landscape have a few locations picked out for sitting and viewing. Consider the time of day and season. Take a moment on one cool morning to sit out in your garden with a hot cup of coffee and enjoy the view. September 2021 Believe it or not, we are in the early stages of the fall transition. Some of our ornamental trees are starting to yellow and drop a few leaves, fall-blooming natives and other perennials are showing their colors and/or budding up, and if you have Bahia grass mixed in your turf grass you should have noticed a reduction in seedheads. I use this time to plan and prep for my vegetable gardening: find seeds/transplants locally or order apply soil amendments select location to correspond with my crop rotation plan This is also a good time to locate woody ornamentals that you plan to plant later this fall thru the winter. Your favorite local garden center can even help you identify great performers for your specific landscape. If your turf is weak or stressed (yellowing, thin, or newly planted) you can fertilize with 5-5-25 @ 4 lbs. per 1,000 ft2 or 0-0-64 @ 2 lbs. per 1,000 ft2 or equivalent. This treatment is optional, if your turf is in good condition and not under stress omit it unless your soil test recommends adding potassium. Also, avoid formulations that contain an herbicide. You can make one more treatment for Fire Ants before the end of the year. Throughout this month treat with a Fire Ant Bait. If immediate results are desired, use a Fire Ant killer. Bait vs killer, these products are very different in action and treatments. Please read the labels and use them accordingly. The baits are very effective and economical. Continue to remove weeds and keep them from going to seed. You can physically remove them, and in turf areas you can use a selective herbicide to kill the broadleaf weeds there. An herbicide treatment now will be effective because the weeds will not have a chance to recover resulting in a reduced population in the next growing season. We are still getting frequent rains but if the rains stop for more than a week you should irrigate to reduce the chance of stress. It is important that your plants don’t go into the dormant season drought- stressed, which will affect their health and performance next year. The area’s satsuma crop still looks great. My backyard trees are loaded. The pecan crop looks good at this point, but this is a risky time for this crop due to storms. Local peanuts growers have started to dig, thus fresh peanuts are available and easy to find. They are great for boiling and roasting for a snack during football games. Believe it or not, fall is on the way! August 2021 Let’s talk container gardening. Containers can add diversity to your garden and allow mobility to follow the sunny spots in the landscape. I will touch on some basic things to consider when planting in containers. Container size is very important and often underestimated. First, most container plants need to be repotted immediately or planted in the ground. If left in the original container there is a high risk it will become severely rootbound. For vegetables choose container size as follows: 3- gal for small to medium size plants like lettuce and squash; 5-gal for larger plants like tomatoes. Choose containers adequate to accommodate the mature size of the plants in question. You can even mix plants in a container. If you plant more than one plant per container, remember to increase the size of the container to accommodate the additional plants. Containers can be made of almost any material, but the most important thing is drainage. The container must have holes in the bottom or near the bottom edge. Potting Mix Your potting mix should be soilless, containing a blend of peat moss, coarse builder’s sand, perlite, and/or vermiculite. You can purchase a premixed product, or you can blend your own. If you blend your own do your homework on the pH needs of your plants and lime to raise the pH to the desired level. After planting your plants be sure to fill the container to within ½” to ¾” of the top. Tip If you plant a vining plant or plants that are top-heavy you will need to add some support and/or anchor the container. Now is the time to plan for fall planting. If you are into vegetables review your past notes and compare to seed sources for possible new varieties. More in-depth details can be found at: https://www.aces.edu/blog/topics/landscaping/contai ner-gardening/ Enjoy the outdoor! July 2021 Planting in the summer. Summer is not ideal for planting in the south. Can it be done? The short answer is yes. The limitation of summer planting is water. If you choose to plant in the summer months, start with a healthy container plant. Site selection and preparation must be maximized. You must be dedicated to watering the new plant through the start of fall. That means you must make arrangements if you go out of town… All the things we normally preach about planting still apply, don’t plant too deep, don’t disturb the rootball too much, mulch around the plant, and water-water-water. When watering, do not wet the top of the plant just the ground around the base. Rogue played out and diseased vegetable plants. Don’t leave plants and produce residue in the garden area, leftover plants and produce will help diseases and insects carry over to the next season. This is a great time to solarize sections of your garden to reduce soil-borne pests. This involves the following steps: 1. Remove existing plant material. 2. Till, double dig, turn the soil to maximize soil exposure. 3. Irrigate to increase soil moisture for the steaming. 4. Cover with clear plastic, make sure the plastic lays flat against the soil and the edges are sealed airtight with soils, boards, rocks, etc. 5. Leave the plastic in place for a least 6 weeks, 8 to 10 weeks would be better. 6. When you uncover to plant your desirable plants, it’s important not to disturb the soil too much. Doing so will bring pathogen from the deeper soil back up in the rootzone re-contaminating the soil you just solarized. All you should have to do is plant. You can also solarize annual bedding plant areas. I get asked the question, how often should I cut my grass quite a bit. Well, there is not a simple answer but here’s my typical response. If you leave your clippings on the lawn, every 5 days. If you bag or rake your clippings, every 7 days. Weather and type of grass are factors that can change those days. If you fertilize regularly and irrigate, you may have to shorten your interval. If we are in a drought, you are not irrigating, and your grass is in a summer dormant stage, you may add days to your interval. From time to time during droughts, I get photos of plants that show signs of fertilizer burn. If you fertilize drought-stressed plants, the initial shock of the fertilizer can damage plants. If you want to fertilize plants during a drought period. Irrigate them a couple of times to increase the soil moisture, make sure the plant is hydrated, and actively growing before fertilizing. Continue to scout for mole crickets, spittlebugs, and chinch bugs in your turf grass. This garden tip is more of a confession. In a small flowerbed, I recently let the crabgrass get ahead of me. With all the rain it grew large quickly. I noticed that it had put on seedheads. I didn’t have time to treat it with an herbicide as the seeds would still mature and fall into the bed. If I used a “weedeater”, I would have spread the seeds over a larger area. Pulling the weeds with the seedheads on them would also spread the seeds. What is the solution? I used my garden scissors to gently cut the seedheads off, afterwards I was able to pull most of the remaining weeds, especially those close to my desirable plants. This also gave me a bit more time to apply an herbicide before new seedheads formed. Thankfully, it was a small bed. Consider the above scenario when dealing with any annual weed such as crabgrass, chamber bitter, etc. in your flower beds. Take the time to sit and enjoy your garden. June 2021 The wet cool spring has delayed some insect activity. Don’t stop scouting your landscape and garden, you should keep an eye out for pests and problems so you can address them early before they get ahead of you. The week after Mother’s Day, I noticed Mole crickets active in the lawn. There was tunneling activity and exit holes where they would emerge from the soil for mating flights. Now is not the time to treat, just note where you see the activity. You will target those areas in a few weeks when you see immature mole crickets that are about a ½” long. That stage of the lifecycle is the most vulnerable to control methods. So, how do you know when to treat? Soapy water flushes. The soap flush is a scouting technique used to confirm the presence of insects. The method is to mix 2 tablespoons of liquid dishwashing soap (my preference is lemon-scented) in 1 gallon of water. Don’t use forceful mixing that will result in heavy foam suds, this will make it difficult to see the insects. Next, pour the soapy water onto the area you noticed activity. Any mole crickets present will surface in a minute or so. Irrigating the area after flushing can minimize sun scalding of the turf. There many over-the-counter products labeled for mole cricket control. Most cases will require multiple treatments. For more information, you can check this link: https://www.aces.edu/blog/topics/lawn- garden/biology-and-control-of-mole-crickets/ If you haven’t treated for fire ants, you still have time to put out fire ant bait. Pruning, this is the time of the year you keep your pruners with you at all times in the landscape. You won’t always be doing heavy pruning but a snip here and there to keep the growth thinned and what I like to call “directing traffic”. Directing traffic simply means continue training to the desired form. Local produce is in full swing, support local growers… Fertilize St. Augustine, etc. If you know you have a high population of summer annuals you can use weed and feed products now, just check the label for your type of turf and restrictions. Friendly reminder, Alabama Free Fishing Day is June 12, 2021. For more information: https://www.outdooralabama.com/fishing/free-fishing- day May 2021 April showers bring May flowers, especially if you plant in between the showers. This month is still good for planting. I was out at A- Bloom Garden center a couple of weeks ago looking for some azaleas. As I perused their selection, I noticed some milkweed and some bottlebrush. That sparked my recollection of plants that did not survive the February freeze. So, my 7-plant purchase turned into a 30-plant purchase. The day in the life of a plant collector, LOL. Last month I described the results of pruning azaleas. Well, I suppose I should address the when and how to prune azaleas. Here are a few tips: 1. Prune your azaleas after they finish blooming. Ideally, you will do it immediately after they bloom. This is also a great time for an application of fertilizer. Fertilize according to soil test or ½ cup of azalea fertilizer per year of age. 2. Make pruning cuts at the base of limbs, not just clip the ends or hedge. If you do hedge, make additional cuts throughout with hand pruners. 3. Resist pruning past the end of July. This will give the plants time to set more flower buds in a typical year. 4. Sanitize your pruning equipment between plants. Landscape design tips 1. Plant odd numbers, this keeps the eye and subconscious from dividing the plants. 2. Plant groups of color and not alternating colors like pink, white, pink, white… Groups of colors create more Pop! Lawn areas Warm-season weeds have started to compete with our lawn grasses. Products that contain a combination of the following active ingredients will take care of most of our broadleaf weeds in turf: 2,4- D + MCPP + Dicamba. Check the label of these products for your turf type and temperature restrictions. Fertilize your centipede grass with 15-0-15 or according to your soil test results. Treat for Brown Patch in centipede grass with Immunox. If your soil test result indicated high phosphorus, add iron. This is especially important for acid-loving plants like azaleas, gardenias, camellias, blueberries, centipede grass, etc. House Plants A word of caution putting plants, that have been in the house for the winter, outside. You must get them acclimated to the sun by gradually exposing them. This will reduce the chance of sunscald. Anyone that knows me, knows not only am I an outdoor person, and I am an avid angler. With that being said, I feel obligated to share that Alabama Free Fishing Day is June 12, 2021. For more information: https://www.outdooralabama.com/fishing/free-fishing- day April 2021 It seems that spring has finally settled in. The azaleas and wisteria are really putting on a show this year. If you look closely you can see the difference in the azaleas that have not been pruned and those pruned regularly and those pruned too late in the growing season. The unpruned azaleas are full of blooms throughout the canopy. The regularly pruned ones have blooms in a single layer on the end of the branches. Those pruned late in the growing season have sparse blooms because they did not have enough time to set more blooming points (buds). As I drive through the rural areas of the county, I have also noticed dogwoods providing a colorful break in the woods. Another plant that is really showing out this year is the Multiflora Rose. I have seen it more and in places I never knew it existed until this year. The Multiflora Rose is an exotic invasive, so I am not encouraging planting or propagating it, just enjoying the show. Our warm-season turfgrass is starting to green up and actively grow so you can fertilize your St. Augustine, Bermuda, Zoysia, and Bahia now. Do not fertilize Centipede until May. Be careful utilizing herbicides on turfgrass during the green-up period. Even products labeled for them can injure them at this sensitive time. Winter weeds are still hanging in there. Part of controlling winter weeds is preventing them from producing more seeds. Mow, weed-eat, etc. use any method that fits your management activity to keep them from flowering and flowers from maturing. Renewing mulch in bed areas can also be an important tool for controlling weeds. This is the perfect time to use fire ant bait. If you have not pruned out the dead and damaged plant material from the freeze a few weeks ago, this is a good time to do so. Clean/Sanitize your pruning equipment between plants to reduce the chance of spreading diseases. I use 70% isopropyl alcohol, but you can also use 10% bleach. On the vegetable and ornamental front, Bryant Career Technical Center and Mary G. Montgomery High School both have horticulture programs that sell plants to the public. You can find them on Facebook or call the schools directly for more details. These students spend months learning and caring for the plants for their sales. Please support these programs and get to know the instructors, they can help you with your landscape and garden plans. One important part of any landscape is a sitting area(s). This is one of the most overlooked parts of any landscape. If you spend any amount of time tending to your landscape, a sitting area will give you an opportunity to enjoy the space you have created and labored for. It can become your place of tranquility. You can also expand your experience to enjoying the many birds and other wildlife that also enjoy your landscape. You should have more than one sitting area or at the very least be able to move your seat to different areas. It is Spring! Enjoy the show! March 2021 Well, the vacation from the lawnmower is over… Sometime this first week of March, I will crank the lawnmower for the first time in 2021. Just to be clear, I will not be cutting my turfgrass. The turf hasn’t greened up enough to warrant mowing; what I will be mowing is the winter weeds. This is partially my fault as I didn’t apply a pre-emergent herbicide to the entire yard back in October. As a result, cool-season weeds are abundant in some areas. Mowing them not only results in a neat and uniform height but also more importantly removes the seedheads that will produce more seeds. By reducing the canopy, you also reduce the habitat for insects and diseases. One insect that will become very active in the next couple of weeks, if the weather continues to be warm and rainy, is the Crane Fly. Crane flies incorrectly called mosquito hawks; they are not related to nor have anything to do with mosquitoes. They are indeed flies. The stage we are seeing now is the adult stage. Some adults feed on nectar and some lack mouthparts and do not feed at all. The adults only live for 2-3 days. They are harmless to plants, animals including people. The sole purpose of the adult crane fly is to mate, and for the females to lay eggs. The larval stage has chewing mouthparts and feeds primarily on decomposing organic matter. With that in mind, they are considered beneficial for their contribution to our ecosystem. No treatment is warranted or recommended. If they become a significant nuisance for you and your family, mow weed-grown and overgrown areas to help dry the soil out. In the next few weeks, our turfgrass will start to green up. A big word of Caution with herbicides during lawn green-up. Even products labeled for your particular turf can injure it during green-up. Please read the label carefully and follow them. Vegetables!!! Now is the start of the spring gardening season! I have my list of spring vegetables that are a mainstay as well as my list of fall vegetables. Each of us has our favorites and that will be a topic for another time but for now, I have just a few reminders: Grow what you and your family like to eat. Grow more than 1 variety and experiment with at least 1 new one each year. Rotate vegetables to new areas each growing season for a 3-year rotation. Irrigate and harvest in the morning. Do NOT wet the plants when you irrigate. Stay ahead of the weeds. Have fun! I will begin raising chickens this year. Raising chickens has a multitude of benefits to the landscape and garden. The one thing I will call your attention to is food safety with any livestock in and around your vegetables. They should be excluded from your vegetable garden area 90 days before harvesting above-ground crops like tomatoes and 120 days for crops in direct contact with the soil such as radishes. Be safe and do the math. February 2021 Generally, I leave my citrus on the trees and only harvest what I can use in a weeks’ time. Remove any remaining fruit from your fruit trees, whether it is still edible or dried fruit mummies. You should clean off all fruit from them to ensure that the trees will flower again for the upcoming season and decrease disease carry over. That applies to all fruits. As of January 30th, we have accumulated 480 Chill hours with the Old Model (which counts hours when the temperature is 45° F and below) and 414 Chill hours with the Modified Model (which counts hours when the temperature is between 45° and 30° F). The chill hour count will end February 15th. Mid-February is the time to start pruning. You can do light clean-up and thinning prune to all your plants. Some plants need more extensive pruning now such as fruit trees (except blueberries and blackberries) and most of our ornamentals (not azaleas, hydrangeas, and gardenias). It’s still a good time to plant ornamentals and fruits. I planted several blueberry plants the last week of January. Make sure to keep them watered. This is the time to plant Irish potatoes, sugar snaps, and sweet peas. If you start your own seeds for transplants, now is the time to get them going. There is an app named “SOW”, from the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, that is a vegetable planting guide. It gives you a wealth of information on vegetables, dates, pests, harvest, etc. You still have time to review seed catalogs and websites for warm-season vegetables that can be planted later or direct-seeded. This is also the window to apply pre-emergent herbicide treatments to your turf area. Make sure the product you select is labeled for the type of turfgrass you have. Also, avoid “Weed & Feed” type products as it is too early to fertilize. Don’t forget Valentine’s Day is February 14th. Consider live plants for Valentine’s gifts. January 2021 Happy New Year! Continue to care for your poinsettias. You can keep them alive after the flowering and leaf drop. In a few months when the temperatures are in the 80’s and above, you can repot or plant them outside. You can plant another crop of cool-season vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, lettuce, turnips, radishes, etc. It’s a perfect time to scope out websites and catalogs for your vegetable mainstays and possible new varieties for your warm-season vegetables. Spray shrubs and trees with a history of scale insects with dormant oil. Be sure to read the label for rates, temperature restrictions, etc. If you did not soil test last month, you can still do so. If you did, lime according to the results. Most of the recommendations are in ton per acre, which is the equivalent of 50 lbs. per 1,000 ft2. If your recommendations are more than 1 ton per acre, it should be split into 2 or 3 separate applications at 4 to 6-month intervals. Now is a good time to have your lawn and garden equipment serviced. Change the oil in engines, sharpen blades, shovels, pruners, etc. For advanced gardeners or those looking for a challenge, you can graft camellias now. Here is a link for more information about camellias: https://www.aces.edu/blog/topics/care-trees- shrubs/the-culture-of-camellias-the-state-flower-of- alabama/
2020 BLOGS 2020 BLOGS 2021 BLOGS 2021 BLOGS