“The world’s favorite season is the spring. All things seem possible in May.” Edwin Way Teale.
“We know the past but cannot control it. We control the future but cannot know it.” Claude Shannon.
“You are as welcome as the flowers in May.” Charles Macklin.
Summer is only weeks away and school will soon be over for the year. The temps will rise into the high 90’s this week as spring prepares to transition into summer. The great outdoors will have an open invitation for all types of recreational and summer activities including vacations and weekend trips to the mountains and beaches, baseball and golfing, boating and swimming, bicycling and motor biking, ziplining and hiking, horseback riding and wagon rides, camping and fishing, among others. And don’t forget gardening and landscaping which will be in full speed.
Annuals: Remove all faded blooms to prevent annuals from going to seed and consuming needed food reserves thus encouraging continued flowering. Remove all weeds which compete with annuals for space, light, air, moisture and nutrients. Inspect all beds and plants for any insect and disease activity. If detected, spray appropriate chemicals as per label directions.
Chrysanthemums (mums): Prune your mums to prevent unnecessary elongated growth. Pinch these plants back about four-inches, and continue to prune the new growth as it reaches three-inches in length. Stop pinching when flower buds begin to form and develop.
Fire ants: Fire ants are very obvious because of their mounding activities and fiery bite. Select appropriate chemicals of choice from local garden centers and follow label directions for use. Treatment may be mound applied or broadcast pending specific insecticide and severity of problem.
Gardenias: Inspect your gardenias for yellowing in the leaves, especially between the veins. This is usually a deficiency in iron which is termed iron chlorosis. Correct this issue by applying Epsom salt to the soil and iron chelate as a foliar spray.
Geraniums: When outdoor geraniums become leggy, make cuttings to root in pots for your patio, deck or terrace. Insert three six-inch cuttings in an eight-inch pot of peaty, well-drained soil or promix (or similar product). Keep moist, but not wet, until roots are formed and new growth is evident. Then, reduce watering to the amount needed only to prevent wilting. Continue to grow these plants into well-developed specimens for your curb appeal enjoyment.
Irrigation: Inspect your irrigation system on a regular basis to ascertain proper function and uniformity in output with each head. Simply watching it cycle through the stations is a basic way for visual evaluation. Periodically place catchment containers in particular zones to measure actual output or flow rate. Do not over-water.
Kudzu bugs: Be on look-out for these pesty little creatures which are becoming a major issue for us. This is a fairly new pest to this country. The adults will move to a host legume to lay eggs and die. They reproduce on such plants as kudzu, soybeans and wisteria. This time of year they will congregate in groups or communities on almost anything, but are not feeding (only a nuisance). They will overwinter in the home (like the ladybugs) and then emerge in the spring. Spray them with pyrethroids to discourage their presence. You can smell them also.
Lawn repair: Don’t postpone lawn repairs. If you re-seed, plug or lay new sod on eroded or damaged areas now, the new turf will have sufficient time to establish by the end of the growing season. Prepare the soil in the bare areas before seeding, plugging or sodding. Consider using sod to repair most areas of any significant size, and seed or plugs in smaller situations. The establishment rate with sod is rapid, thus restricting the opportunity for most weeds to establish and invade. Be sure to keep these areas moist to encourage survival and rapid establishment. Do not waste water but keep moist until established. If using herbicides to kill existing vegetation prior to sodding, wait 10-14 days after application to prepare the soil and lay the new sod.
Mole crickets: The mole crickets are becoming very active at this time. Chemicals are most effective during this part of the season because of the susceptibility of the young to pesticides. The mole cricket kills by eating the roots of turfgrasses and/or tunneling through the soil causing dessication and death. Choose a recommended chemical based upon identification and advisement.
Mulching: This is one of the most important steps in getting the landscape through the summer. Mulch creates positive curb appeal, discourages weeds, conserves moisture, and insulates the soil against excessive heat. The most readily available organic mulches are pine straw, wood chips, bark nuggets, peanut hulls, pecan hulls, grass clippings, shredded leaves, among others. To be most effective, the mulch should be distributed at a depth of 3 to 4 inches.
Perennials: Remove faded flowers for curb appeal, plant health, and aesthetically-pleasing landscape with new showy flowers. Be sure to prune those perennials that will grow too large for their site. Remove approximately one-third of the plant (leaving two-thirds) and the resulting plants will be more compact and floriferous. Remove all weeds which compete with perennials for space, light, air, moisture and nutrients. Inspect all beds and plants for any insect and disease activity. If detected, spray appropriate chemicals per label directions.
Shrubs: Many container-grown shrubs can be planted including gardenias and azaleas, provided you water them faithfully during the hot, dry weather of July and August. Another approach is to purchase plants now at reduced prices and plant them in decorative pots for use around the home. These potted plants will dry-out more frequently, so remember to adjust your watering program accordingly. Prune arborvitaes and junipers now for good structure since they are completing their main growth for the season.
Think in terms of native and sustainable plants in the landscape. May this bit of awareness ignite your desire to learn and ask questions, encourage you to further apply your gained knowledge, and bring you to further realize that environmental stewardship and sustainability should be at the foundation of all your home landscape activities.
Keep your hanging baskets and potted plants refreshed with water and food. Remember to feed and water the songbirds, and give your pets the care they need. Be on the lookout for children playing and bicyclists riding along the streets and roadways throughout our communities. Pay attention to school buses and respect their stop signs and other signals as they transport our children to and from school and home. And remember to safely share the road with motorcycles. Drive alert and arrive alive. Don’t drive distracted or impaired, don’t text while driving, and “click-it” or ticket. Let’s keep everyone safe while enjoying the spring season! Help the homeless every chance you get. And as you receive blessings, always pay them forward and share with others. Continue to be in prayer for our upcoming annual mission trip to Peru, as well as, all the other mission trips scheduled for this summer. In His Mission and Grip! Blessings!
“Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act.” Proverbs 3:27. “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?” 1 John 3:17. “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.” Hebrews 6:10.
Eddie Seagle is a Sustainability Associate, Golf Environment Organization (Scotland), Agronomist and Horticulturalist, CSI: Seagle (Consulting Services International), Professor Emeritus and Honorary Alumnus (Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College), Distinguished Professor for Teaching and Learning (University System of Georgia) and Short Term Missionary (Heritage Church, Moultrie). Direct inquiries to email@example.com.