Dr. Eddie Seagle.

Dr. Eddie Seagle.

“At last came the golden month of the wild folk-- honey-sweet May, when the birds come back, and the flowers come out, and the air is full of the sunrise scents and songs of the dawning year.” -Samuel Scoville Jr.

"Make hay in May for you may never know what June is coming with and you may never know what July will present! When you see May, make hay!” -Ernest Agyemang Yeboah.

Officially, summer is only weeks away as the temps rise into the high 80’s and low 90’s this week. Such weather promotes 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. However, be ever reminded of continued social distancing and proper hygiene practices. And don’t forget gardening and landscaping which provide much gratification. Upcoming May-June tips include:

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.

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 landscaping 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. 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 remainder of this spring season! Help the homeless every chance you get. And as you receive blessings, always pay them forward and share with others. Continue to practice social distancing and proper hygiene practices (masks, gloves, cleanliness) as you are out and about for essential reasons. Remember to pray for one another. God bless each of you and God bless the USA!

“For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him.” 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10.

Seagle is a Sustainability Verifier, Golf Environment Organization (Scotland), Agronomist and Horticulturalist, CSI: Seagle (Consulting Services International) LLC, 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 csi_seagle @yahoo.com.

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