Monday, March 7, 2016

THE BOOK!!

      I know it has been a LONG time since I posted, but I assure you it is for a good reason!
Camellia season is in full swing and pretty much every weekend I have been judging and competing.
Then there is work, my new position at Hidden Ponds Nursery has been an extreme blessing!
I know what you are saying, lots of people play on the weekend and work all week! Big Deal!
You are correct!
     There is one more small thing that I failed to mention that I have been doing.....Writing A Book!!


     I am very proud of how this ended up coming out. Originally, it was going to be kind of a textbook on growing citrus. As I was writing it, I realized it was coming out more of how I do one of my lectures. So it is basically, a lecture inside of a book. It is 99% on growing citrus in containers, so folks up north can enjoy too.
Here is the first chapter, to give you the idea of what to expect in it.



CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION

     Citrus.
     The word itself conjures up pictures of huge groves in Florida. Maybe you think about that first morning glass of orange juice or a grapefruit cut in half as a snack.
     I understand, not everybody can move to Florida or California, but wouldn’t you love to live in a place that, just outside your back door, is a tree that you can pick your own fresh citrus fruit?
     This book will help you do just that!
     “How to grow citrus practically anywhere” is designed to help people, who are not exactly living in prime citrus producing areas.
     This book will not go into how to grow them in the ground, if you are in a place warm enough to grow it that way, there are plenty of other books out there for that. This is going to be more on container cultivation. This book will be beneficial if you have say, a large patio that you can’t plant a tree into the ground. A balcony in the city might confront you. Maybe you rent and one day will want to move, you can take them with you. Perhaps, you like to rearrange furniture or the knick-knacks in the house; wouldn’t it be fun to do that in your yard? Probably one of the main reasons you will want to read this book is if you live in a very cold place, Maine comes to mind. There are not too many tangerines being produced up there! But there could be. As long as you have a sunny, warm room, a greenhouse or a place to hang some lights and the desire to put some real effort into it, you can grow Calamondins in Canada and Mandarins in Massachusetts.
     How is THAT for optimism?
     Growing citrus in containers is no harder than growing any other plant. Yes, it can get big and, I will not kid you, there is a great deal of work involved. As Thomas Edison once said, “The three great essentials to achieve anything worth while are: Hard Work, Stick-to-itiveness, and Common Sense”.
     This book is going to help you with all three of those.
     Chapter 2 will start out with a little history on citrus. It is always nice to know where something comes from. Where it has been or how it got someplace else. By researching the origins, this also gives you a better idea of what kind of growing conditions it is accustomed to.
     Chapter 3 will be all about what to search out to grow. This chapter will give you examples of the different cultivars as well as the different citrus fruits out there. Taste is so different among people; it would be impossible to describe what each tastes like. I will give you a list of what I know is good, what some of the odd things are used for, and give you an idea of what to start with.
     Chapter 4 will discuss your trees home. What size pot to use, when to repot. It will give you the benefits, pro and con, to using plastic versus terracotta and other materials.
     Chapter 5 will tell you what to fill those pots up with. Soil is the basis for which your plants survive. What are some of the best and worst out there, what are some of the different combinations of ingredients that can be used, why some are better than others, etc.
     Chapter 6 is all about fertilizers. What to use, what to avoid and what kinds of things happen to fertilizers over a period of time. What the purpose of using fertilizers is, good and bad. It will also discuss deficiencies, what to look for in your tree and how to correct them.
     Chapter 7 will be on watering and sunlight, you would think that these would be two things that are easy to supply!  In containers it actually gets a little tricky. Too much sun is just as bad as too little. Water can be an enemy for a couple of reasons.
     Chapter 8 really gets to the heart of the matter, protection. This is the main reason that it is difficult to grow citrus above a Zone 8. In this chapter we will discuss what the cold does to trees, other than make them cold. Ways to protect them in marginal areas. Some of these things to do will be fun; some of them easy and all will be very useful to help you in protecting them.
     Chapter 9 is all about other things that want to eat your precious tree and fruit, other than you. From aphids to white fly and from birds to bird poop like creatures; we will delve into the pests that affect citrus trees and ways to avoid and conquer them.
     Chapter 10 will find out what makes your tree sick. We will not cover all of the diseases that bother your trees, that would be a book in of it self. We will talk about the main ones, the ones that you might have a better chance of seeing, hopefully not, but it is best to know about them. The ways to protect your trees from the diseases and ways to rid your self of them, should they happen to appear.
     Chapter 11, there are other problems that may come up that don’t really fit pests or diseases, they just kind of happen. Some are naturally occurring some can be prevented; still others just take time to fix themselves.
     Chapter 12 can be summed up in one word…reproduce. We will discuss the different ways that citrus trees can be propagated, from grafting and rooting, to seed planting. Each has its merits and disadvantages. There are also varying levels of expertise used here, I will break it down to the most elementary methods possible.
     Chapter 13, I will wrap this all up in a nice neat little package. I will give you the benefits of all of this, things to share with other people, and how to really have fun with your new hobby.
     Chapter 14. What would a book about growing such tasty things be without at least a few of my tips on how to use your fruit?
     After reading this introduction, I hope I have you excited about what is inside? The world of growing citrus for your self is a combination of many things, hard work, excitement, perseverance, and with a little luck, success! In the end it will all be worthwhile when you bite into your first, home grown tangerine!
     Let’s get started!

     As they say, you need to know what is in it, before you buy it! Okay, badly paraphrased, but you get the gist.
     I would be honored if you would check out my website, and maybe even purchase my little venture into literature. You can get it as downloadable files or as a printed book in the mail.
     The website is The Citrus Guy Hort-Books
Thank You in advance, I appreciate your time!
Happy Growing

Sunday, January 31, 2016

American Camellia Society Convention and Flower Show

This particular article will definitely be off the beaten path for me. It is going to be a bunch of pictures.
Let me explain the back story.
I am a member of the Coastal Carolina Camellia Society. I am the current President, Flower Show Chairman, and I was the Co-Chairman of the American Camellia Societies Annual Convention, which was held here in Charleston, SC from January 19-23rd.
For over a year the convention committee worked on this thing. If you have never put anything on like this before, trust me when I say, it is A LOT OF WORK!!
The committee was great to work with and I would work with these folks again, anytime.
The pictures below are just some of the many, many that were taken. There were numerous photographers and I am not sure who many came from. If I use some of your pictures, Thank You!
So, without further adieu here is the 2016 ACS National Convention in Pictures.

 Saturday Banquet

Checking the Contention Table

Flowers Coming In

More Flowers Coming In

 The Head Table

 Judging Taking Place

 Flowers at the Charleston Tea

Scones at the Tea

Tea Table Set-up

Leslie and Lynn Enjoying the Tea

Finger foods at the Tea

The Powerbrass at the banquet
At the banquet
You might know a few of these
Banquet
More Banquet
Banquet
Tim Lowry and gang
Enjoying the banquet
The Band enjoying dinner
Announcements
Singing Carolina In The Morning
Betty and Tim
Tom and Tommy
Check those flowers at the mall
Just a few of the flowers
Miss Charleston
Flower Placement
Flower Prep
The Show is about to begin

Friday, January 1, 2016

A New Year Has Begun!!

Happy New Year!
You have probably heard that, or said that, about a million times already, and it is just past lunch time, January 1st!
I have no problem with this, it shows that we want everybody to have a great year. Health, happiness, financial enjoyment, are all wished upon each other.
Many folks even have new year's traditions to aid in having those things that are wished upon. Here in the south, and probably many other places, Hoppin' John is the food of choice.


Traditionally made with black-eyed peas that have been cooked with ham hock, Hoppin’ John is often accompanied on New Year’s by collards (green means money) and cornbread (good as gold).
As for the origin of the dish's name, there are many possibilities, some of which are kind of comical. Some say an old, hobbled man called Hoppin’ John became known for selling peas and rice on the streets of Charleston. Others say slave children hopped around the table in eager anticipation of the dish. Then there are those that are demeaning to human intelligence in general, like the notion that it comes from "Hop in, John," supposedly an obscure South Carolina way of inviting a guest to come eat. It's obscure because nobody in South Carolina actually says that, nor have I EVER heard anybody say that.
When it comes to the actual production, it was probably made with something other than black-eyed peas. In October 1907, the Quality Shop advertised in the Charleston News and Courier that they had just received the season's first shipment of cowpeas and noted, "It isn't New Year's yet, but this old Southern dish is always hailed with delight." As early as 1909, the members of the Hibernian Society gathered to enjoy, as the Charleston Evening Post described it, "The New Year's hopping-john, a dish of cowpeas, bacon and rice that invariably gives good luck for the whole year to those who eat it on New Years day."
There are many ways to prepare this meal, but because of the many things that HAVE changed over the years, you will most likely be disappointed with what is served today. Today's ingredients have been transformed by a century of hybridization, mechanization, and standardization to meet the demands of an industrialized, cost-minimizing food system.
The original ingredients of Hoppin' John are simple: one pound of bacon, one pint of peas, and one pint of rice. The earliest appearance in print seems to be in Sarah Rutledge's The Carolina Housewife (1847), and it's important to note that everything was cooked together in the same pot:

First put on the peas, and when half boiled, add the bacon. When the peas are well boiled, throw in the rice, which must first be washed and gravelled. When the rice has been boiling half an hour, take the pot off the fire and put it on coals to steam, as in boiling rice alone.

The last instruction reflects the traditional Carolina way of making rice, it isn't quite like most people make it today. Rather than cooking it 20 minutes until all the water was absorbed, cooks boiled it in a large amount of salted water until the grains had become swollen. Then the excess water was drained off and the pot was left on the ashes to allow to "soak"—that is, to essentially steam over low heat till each of the snowy white grains stood dry and perfectly separate and distinct.
There is so much more history, intrigue and information online concerning this holiday tradition, but, being that this is a gardening blog, I should end on a gardening note.
You can grow some of the ingredients yourself, at least the collards and peas, and maybe get a little closer to the original taste.
It is definitely too late to plant them for this year, this being written on new year's day, but you can book mark this info for next year.
Collard greens are a cool season vegetable and are often planted in late summer to early autumn for winter harvest in the south. Frost actually improves the flavor of collard greens. ( Yankee Editor's Comment-There is NO AMOUNT of frost that can improve the flavor of collards)


The best collard greens growing environment is one with moist, fertile soil. The area chosen for collard greens planting should be in full sun. Plant seeds in rows at least 3 feet apart, as growing collard greens get large and need room to grow. Thin seedlings to 18 inches apart for adequate room in the rows. While 60 to 75 days is an average harvest time for growing collard greens to reach maturity, the leaves can be picked at any time they are of edible size from the bottom of the large, inedible stalks. Fertilize occasionally, every 3-4 weeks with a liquid fertilizer.



As for the peas (beans), these will need to be grown during the summer and dried, awaiting the end of the year.
Plan for about 80-100 days of warm weather in order to grow black-eyed peas to maturity. They should be planted in the spring after the danger of frost has passed and grown in light shade. They’ll tolerate full sun, but will need more frequent watering. Plant black-eyed peas in sandy, fertile soil that drains well. Add lots of mature compost prior to planting. The plants will benefit greatly from a feeding of compost tea or an organic fertilizer after seedlings emerge and monthly throughout the growing season. Avoid fertilizers that contain nitrogen as legumes like black-eyed peas already fix nitrogen into the soil and too much can be a problem. 
Black-eyed peas, as well as many other beans, come in both bush and vine varieties (determinate-meaning all ripen at once or indeterminate-will ripen over a long period of time). Bush varieties can be easier to care for but can take up more space. Vine types need a trellis or stakes to keep their vines off of the ground.
Seeds will need 7-10 days to germinate.
Well, there you have it, a brief discussion of why you are eating Hoppin John, the traditional way to prepare it, and how to grow some of the ingredients yourself for next year. I can't guarantee it will bring you good fortune, but at least it will give you a chance to work out in the yard, and THAT my friends is priceless!
As always, if you have any questions, comments or complaints about this or ANY of my other articles, I am but just an e-mail away...TheCitrusGuy@netzero.com.
You can also check out my up and coming website...http://thecitrusguy.moonfruit.com/
Happy Growing!
Darren


Saturday, October 17, 2015

2015 Citrus Expo Update!!!

Due to the extensive flooding in South Carolina, Cypress Gardens was hit hard. They are closed for repairs. We have moved the Citrus Expo, just a few miles difference. Please pass this around:



2015 SOUTHEASTERN COLD HARDY CITRUS EXPO
Old Santee Canal State Park
900 Stony Landing Rd, Moncks Corner, SC 29461
Saturday, November 21st, 2015
Fee this year is $5 (Admission to Santee Canal Park)
ALL EVENTS INCLUDED

Schedule for the Citrus Expo
Saturday, November 21st, 2015
7:30-9:30am Vendors and exhibitors set-up
8 am to 9:30 am Citrus Fruit and Jam/Jellies Entries accepted
Judging starts at 9:30
9:20 am- Expo Officially Starts with Opening Announcements (Darren Sheriff and Kathy Woolsey)
Speakers:
9:30am-Dr. Merle Shepard- Citrus Growing in Faraway Places
10:30am- Darren Sheriff- Citrus Greening quarantines and what it means to you
11:30- 12:30 pm Lunch- Citrus Fruit Tasting
Garden Club will do chili and sweets for lunch-Prices will vary
Catfish Food truck will be on premises!
12:30pm Expo Resumes (Darren Sheriff)
More Speakers:
12:30pm- Jim Strohm-Bees and their importance to Citrus Fruit
1:30pm- Tim Armstrong-The occurrence of extreme cold across the Southeastern U.S and its effects on Citrus
2:30-3:00-Question and Answer period for panel of experts
3:00-?? Fruit and Jam/Jelly Awards Announcements
There will also be door prizes as well as vendors of all kinds. Citrus trees, books and much, much more.
You can find more info at https://www.facebook.com/SoutheasternCitrusExpo or get in touch with Darren: TheCitrusGuy@netzero.com or (843) 200-5818


The Jam and Jelly rules are as follows:
Bring entries  8am to 9:30 am.
Entries must be in by 9:30 am.
All types of Homemade Jams, Jellies and Marmalade will be accepted and subdivided into 4 classes.
Class 1. Best Tree Fruits (apple, pear, peach and others) red ticket
Class 2. Best Brambles and berries (strawberry, blueberry, grape and others) blue ticket
Class 3. Best Vegetables (Pepper, tomato, watermelon and others) green ticket
Class 4. Best Odd balls and mixed fruit (cactus, daylily, guava and others) yellow ticket
The Best of the Best Trophy – selected from the 4 top winners in each class.
We will have plates, crackers and spreading utensils on hand.


The ruling that we received about bringing Citrus Fruit to the competition is:
“I appreciate your dedication and concern for both citrus and the quarantines. The way the law reads, only plants and plant parts are regulated. Fruit is not a regulated article and can be moved freely under the Asian Citrus Psyllid and the Citrus Greening quarantines. In Florida it is different because they are also under quarantine for citrus canker in which case the fruit is regulated. So short answer is that yes, fruit can moved into and out of Charleston County as long as there are no leaves, stems or any other plant parts attached or moved with it.
Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any other questions or need any further assistance.

Sherry P. Aultman
Interim State Plant Regulatory Official
CAPS Program Coordinator
Organic Certification Program
Clemson University
Department of Plant Industry
Southeastern Citrus Exposition
Moncks Corner, SC
November 21, 2015

Fruit Entry Form

Exhibitor Entry Number _______________
(Will be provided by event officials)

To enter, you must present 3 or more fruit of each variety, with (if possible) one stem and leaf attached. One of the fruits must be cut in half crosswise (as you would cut a grapefruit to eat), to display the interior of the fruit. Those in quarantined areas are exempt from the leaf and stem request.
Display plates will be provided.
Category of Fruit:
Class 1. Sweet Orange: Cultivar_____________________________
Class 2. Sour Orange: Cultivar______________________________
Class 3. Mandarin: Cultivar_________________________________
Class 4. Kumquats: Cultivar_________________________________
Class 5. Grapefruit & Pomelo: Cultivar________________________
Class 6. Lemon: Cultivar____________________________________
Class 7. Lime: Cultivar: _____________________________________
Class 8. Hybrids & Other (specify if possible)____________________
Class 9. Seedling Crossed by grower___________________________
Class 10. Citrus Bowl ( 5+ different fruit named ) _________________________________________________________

NOTE: PLACE THIS SIDE UP DURING JUDGING



>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Fold form here>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

TO ENSURE THE CONCEALMENT OF THE PARTICIPANT’S IDENTITY DURING JUDGING, THIS SIDE MUST REMAIN DOWN. (Unfold and display the entire form after all judging is complete) Please complete the following. Where grown: ________________________ _________________________ State & County/Parrish USDA Hardiness Zone __________ Thank you for your participation. Good luck!


Citruholics Banquet will be held 6pm Friday Night, November 20th at Gilligans Restaurant in Moncks Corner. The address is: 582 Dock Rd, Moncks Corner, SC 29461
All food will be on your own, but we would like a head count for Gilligan’s so we can call them for table set ups.
Send your desire to attend the banquet either to Darren Sheriff (TheCitrusGuy@netzero.com) or Kathy Woolsey (krwoolsey@gmail.com)

Hotel accommodations at Moncks Corner Inn, 505 Rembert C Dennis Blvd, Moncks Corner, SC 29461. This classic lodging is 1.1 miles from Old Santee Canal State Park and 1.3 miles from Gilligan’s Restaurant.

The straightforward rooms come with desks and flat-screen TVs, plus minifridges, microwaves and coffeemakers. There's also free WiFi and high-pressure showerheads in the bathrooms, while kids 19 and under stay free with an adult. Suites add kitchens and dining tables; some feature whirlpool tubs.

Amenities include a free breakfast bar, a seasonal outdoor pool and an exercise room, as well as a 24-hour business center and free parking.

Monday, September 7, 2015

2015 Southeastern Cold Hardy Citrus Expo

The 2015 Southeastern Cold Hardy Citrus Expo is coming to the Charleston, SC area November, 21.
It is being held at Cypress Gardens in Moncks Corner.
I am particularly excited about this for a number of reasons.
The first, being obvious, it is a Citrus Event!!
Second, the group that I started here in Charleston, The Lowcountry Fruit Growers Society, is the hosting entity.
Third, I will get to see a bunch of my Citraholics that I have not seen in quite some time.
Fourth, if you have never been to one, you have missed out. They are LOTS of fun!!
Finally, I will more than likely, end up with a bunch of seeds of some new Citrus that I am not currently growing.
Just to give you an idea of what is going on that day:
There will be a fruit competition, to see who can grow the prettiest, largest, most unusual and sweetest piece of nature's candy! You will be able to taste test some yourself.
Also on the agenda, a Jam and Jelly contest, door prizes and lots of good food and information.
Below, you will find out all of the information. Please feel free to get in touch with me if you have any questions.
Share this info with anybody, that you know, that might be interested.
Happy Growing!
Darren

2015 SOUTHEASTERN COLD HARDY CITRUS EXPO
Cypress Gardens, Moncks Corner, SC
Saturday, November 21st, 2015
Fee this year is $10 (Admission to Cypress Gardens)
Senior Citizens-Military and AAA Members $9
ALL EVENTS INCLUDED (Except Banquet)

Schedule for the Citrus Expo
Saturday, November 21st, 2015
7:30-10am Vendors and exhibitors set-up in Dean Hall or on patio
8 am to 10 am Citrus Fruit and Jam/Jellies Entries accepted in the Conference Cottage
Judging from 10 to 11
9:50 am- Expo Officially Starts with Opening Announcements (Darren Sheriff and Kathy Woolsey)
Speakers:
10am-Dr. Merle Shepard- Citrus Growing in Faraway Places
11am- Darren Sheriff- Citrus Greening quarantines and what it means to you
12- 1:30 pm Lunch
Friends of Cypress Gardens- Hot Dogs, Hamburgers and Chili or “on your own”.
Catfish Food truck will be on premises!
1:30pm Expo Resumes (Darren Sheriff)
More Speakers:
1:30pm- Jim Strohm-Bees and their importance to Citrus Fruit
2:30pm- Tim Armstrong-The occurrence of extreme cold across the Southeastern U.S and its effects on Citrus
3:30-4:15-Question and Answer period for panel of experts
4:15-Fruit and Jam/Jelly Awards Announcements
Happy Hour Social 5-6 BYOB & Citrus Fruit Tasting
Citruholics Banquet 6-8 pm. Heritage room. (Separate $20 fee to attend this)
Sit down BBQ dinner (cooked by a certified BBQ Judge) Green Beans, Corn Bread, Sweet Potatoes, Beverages and Citrus Themed Dessert Cart
Please register at http://mkt.com/camellia-garden-club-kathy-woolsey/citraholic-banquet or call Cypress Gardens at (843) 553-0515 Loretta
 www.cypressgardens.info and 3030 Cypress Gardens Rd, Moncks Corner SC 29461

There will also be door prizes as well as vendors of all kinds. Citrus trees, books and much, much more.
You can find more info at https://www.facebook.com/SoutheasternCitrusExpo or get in touch with Darren: TheCitrusGuy@netzero.com or (843) 200-5818


The Jam and Jelly rules are as follows:
Bring entries to the Conference Cottage, Cypress Gardens between 8am to 10 am.
Entries must be in by 10 am.
All types of Homemade Jams, Jellies and Marmalade will be accepted and subdivided into 4 classes.
Class 1. Best Tree Fruits (apple, pear, peach and others) red ticket
Class 2. Best Brambles and berries (strawberry, blueberry, grape and others) blue ticket
Class 3. Best Vegetables (Pepper, tomato, watermelon and others) green ticket
Class 4. Best Odd balls and mixed fruit (cactus, daylily, guava and others) yellow ticket
The Best of the Best Trophy – selected from the 4 top winners in each class.
We will have plates, crackers and spreading utensils on hand.


The ruling that we received about bringing Citrus Fruit to the competition is:
“I appreciate your dedication and concern for both citrus and the quarantines. The way the law reads, only plants and plant parts are regulated. Fruit is not a regulated article and can be moved freely under the Asian Citrus Psyllid and the Citrus Greening quarantines. In Florida it is different because they are also under quarantine for citrus canker in which case the fruit is regulated. So short answer is that yes, fruit can moved into and out of Charleston County as long as there are no leaves, stems or any other plant parts attached or moved with it.
Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any other questions or need any further assistance.

Sherry P. Aultman
Interim State Plant Regulatory Official
CAPS Program Coordinator
Organic Certification Program
Clemson University
Department of Plant Industry
Southeastern Citrus Exposition
Cypress Gardens
 Moncks Corner, SC
November 21, 2015

Fruit Entry Form

Exhibitor Entry Number _______________
(Will be provided by event officials)

To enter, you must present 3 or more fruit of each variety, with (if possible) one stem and leaf attached. One of the fruits must be cut in half crosswise (as you would cut a grapefruit to eat), to display the interior of the fruit. Those in quarantined areas are exempt from the leaf and stem request.
Display plates will be provided.
Category of Fruit:
Class 1. Sweet Orange: Cultivar_____________________________
Class 2. Sour Orange: Cultivar______________________________
Class 3. Mandarin: Cultivar_________________________________
Class 4. Kumquats: Cultivar_________________________________
Class 5. Grapefruit & Pomelo: Cultivar________________________
Class 6. Lemon: Cultivar____________________________________
Class 7. Lime: Cultivar: _____________________________________
Class 8. Hybrids & Other (specify if possible)____________________
Class 9. Seedling Crossed by grower___________________________
Class 10. Citrus Bowl ( 5+ different fruit named ) _________________________________________________________

NOTE: PLACE THIS SIDE UP DURING JUDGING



>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Fold form here>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

TO ENSURE THE CONCEALMENT OF THE PARTICIPANT’S IDENTITY DURING JUDGING, THIS SIDE MUST REMAIN DOWN. (Unfold and display the entire form after all judging is complete) Please complete the following. Where grown: ________________________ _________________________ State & County/Parrish USDA Hardiness Zone __________ Thank you for your participation. Good luck!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

It's Almost Planting Time!!

Yes, you read that correctly and it is still August!
Most people think of spring as the time to start planting, I am here to tell you, that ain't necessarily so!! Granted, you can plant in the spring and everything will be fine. The stores and garden centers certainly play to that. Let me give you a little food for thought.
Fall will be here, officially, in about 4 weeks. Avoid the rush and start prepping now.



Many people prefer January through March, at least for us here in the south, for planting, but the fall months of September through December have distinct advantages. Lets start with us humans first.
We gardeners are slowly migrating back outdoors after, in many places, record-breaking heat this summer. We love to garden, but the heat and humidity can really take a toll on the body. If you are anything like me, you have been struggling through and gardening anyway, so you are at least in a "little" bit better shape than you will be after a long winter of inactivity. So right there, fall makes more sense to be planting.
How many times have you planted something in the spring or summer and have it do this:


You know that it is stressed, but do you know why?
When shrubs and trees are brought home and transplanted, they may suffer varying degrees of shock or stress. This may be from root loss (for field-grown or ball and burlap plants) or it could be the changes in how they were being cared for (container-grown plants). They might have been watered more often or the water pH could be vastly different. Weather conditions and the condition of your soil can also have an impact on how well and how quickly a plant adjusts to its new location.
The shock or stress is caused by the demand of the plant tops for water and the limited ability of the root system to supply it. Again, this is where fall planting is better. The plant may be getting ready to drop its leaves anyway, so there is no need to continue supporting them.  A plant's demand for water is far less in cooler and often rainy, fall weather. The plant has a better chance of a quick recovery in these situations, especially if it gets to develop new roots. Fall is also the time it builds up nutrient reserves needed for healthy growth come spring. Most of the country have soils that are warm enough throughout the fall and early winter that we can get good root growth. The thing to remember is the activity below ground goes right on until the deep soil temperature drops below 40 degrees.

Don't necessarily go to a lot of trouble to put in peat moss or compost in the hole with the soil. Research has shown plants actually grow better if they are planted in the same soil you dug it out of. This is where a soil test is beneficial. If the soil you are planting in is really poor, with lots of clay, no nutrients, etc. by all means add some compost or other soil amendments. The theory for this is, if the soil in the planting hole is much more nutrient-rich than the surrounding soil, the roots won't want to spread beyond it and will grow in circles instead of out like a web. Make sure that you mulch with 2 or 3 inches of some type of pine straw, compost or some kind of organic material. Water it thoroughly to get rid of air pockets and so it has a good supply of water. The greatest cause of death of newly planted trees and shrubs is planting them too deep. The general rule of thumb is, make your planting hole one inch less than the rootball.
Do not fertilize the tree or shrub. This is fall. We do not want to encourage foliage to grow; it will only weaken the plant, taking energy away from root establishment, and the foliage will just get burned by the cold or frost. Fertilize in the spring. This also goes for pruning. Pruning encourages new growth, which has the same detrimental effects in fall as fertilizer. This being said, if there are broken branches or crossing branches, you will want to cut them off. If you buy from a reputable nursery, you should not have either of these problems. 
All of this information is also applicable to moving a tree or shrub from one spot to another in your yard.
Every plant in the landscape should serve a purpose. Ask yourself if you want a plant for screening, for privacy, or for shade. How large will it be five years from now? Plants, like people, grow up. Remember, that a small one-gallon-size plant will look entirely different after a few years of growth in your landscape. If you're wondering how fast a tree or shrub grows, the easy answer is this: If you want it to get big fast, it'll be slow-growing. If you really want it to stay small, it will grow quickly!!
Okay, all joking aside, here is a recap:
If you plant a shrub in spring, it must acclimate itself to its new home and begin growing immediately.  At the same time, it has to produce leaves, flowers, and then endure the rapidly arriving summer heat. Plant the same shrub in fall, and it becomes happily dormant above ground soon after planting, but the roots have several months to grow and become comfortable and strong in their new home. Fall planting gives your plant’s roots a wonderful “head start” over spring planting. 
Isn't all of this a good reason to be getting your shovels back out?
If you have any questions, comments or concerns about this, or any of my other articles, please drop me a line at: TheCitrusGuy@netzero.com. You can also find me on Facebook as The Citrus Guy.
Happy Growing!
Darren

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Resistance Is Futile!

No, I have not become a part of the Borg collective. Only Star Trek geeks will get this.
Actually what I want to talk about is food. When you are hungry, you go get something to eat, right?
When any animal gets hungry, they go get something to eat?  Right again!
We, as human gardeners, enjoy growing our own food to eat? Right one more time!
Well, unfortunately, we have competition in our garden, and it isn't even only our fruits and veggies that are the target.
You all know who or what I am referring to here.
The White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) can be seen bounding through South Carolina's woods year-round. They are plentiful in our state, and in 1972 the legislature named them the official state animal. Ten other states recognize the White-tailed Deer as their state animal, too!


You might call them Bambi.
You may think they are cute, and they are, from a distance. As long as they stay out of my yard I have no trouble with them.
Being in the nursery business, they go by another name, Damn Deer!!
I understand the whole, "they are a living thing and they need to eat too!" Yea, yea, but what were they eating before my cucumbers and pepper plants were here?!
Again, I know what you are thinking, we are taking away their habitat and their food supply. I get that also. I am not! But yet, I am the one that feeds them my tomato plants, my peach tree and anything else that they see.
But enough about my complaints.
I hear it every single day at work, I can't have a nice yard because the deer keep eating everything. Is there anything I can do to stop them, short of enclosing my yard in barbed wire?
I usually tell them to electrify the barbed wire too, but that doesn't go over well.

Deer damage on Hostas

Here in South Carolina, the current estimated deer population is about 750, 000. That is a lot of hungry animals.
Hunting is the only sure fire way to bring those numbers down, but that is frowned upon by not only animal rights groups, but HOA's where the houses are extremely close together.
So if you can't put up a fence, shooting them is out, what else can you do?
You can encase each plant in fencing, but that kind of looks stupid. There are all kinds of deer repellent sprays on the market. The down side to them is, one, they stink and two, you have to reapply after every rain or irrigation event. There is one product on the market that seems to work pretty good, I have even tested it myself....Milorganite. It is actually a fertilizer.  It is composed of heat-dried microbes that have digested the organic matter in wastewater.  Milorganite is manufactured by the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District.  The District captures wastewater from the metropolitan Milwaukee area, including local industries such as MillerCoors.  This water is then treated with microbes to digest nutrients that are found in it, and cleaned water is returned to Lake Michigan.  The resulting microbes are then dried, becoming Milorganite fertilizers.
Sounds cool, huh?
Okay, so maybe that isn't your cup of tea either.
Your last hope is either artificial plants or ones that they don't tend to eat. Now mind you, the list I am about to share with you is just a guide to plants that are not USUALLY eaten by deer. If they are hungry enough they will eat anything.

Barberry : Berberis thunbergii
Spirea : Spirea sp.
Dogwood : Cornus florida
Viburnum : Viburnum sp.
Juniper : Juniperus sp.
Pyracantha : Pyracantha coccinea
Mahonia : Mahonia aquifolium
Pieris : Pieris sp.
Yaupon Holly : Ilex sp.
Society Garlic : Tulbaghia violacea

This is just a very small list. A Google search will reveal many others. Clemson actually has a very good page that has a fairly extensive list of what they don't usually eat and what they love. It can be viewed HERE. It is from 1996, but still has some very useful info on it. I want to stress here again, just because somebody lists a plant as deer resistant, it DOES NOT mean they will not eat it, just that they don't prefer to eat it.
Then there are the plants that, if you plant them, every deer within 100 miles of you will come by.
Two, off the top of my head are, Hostas and Knockout Roses. You wouldn't think that they would eat the roses, with the thorns and such. I know of a homeowner here in Charleston that, because they live in a heavily populated area, they were not going to listen to my advice and not plant certain things. I told them, do not plant the roses, pittosporum and hostas. They assured me, I won't have any problem, there are too many people around, the houses are too close together, and there is always activity around to scare them off. I wished them luck.
The very next morning, they were back. The deer ate EVERYTHING they planted!! Almost $800 worth of plants. Right down to the ground. They even ate a few things I didn't think they would eat, like ligustrum and liriope.
Do I have the answer for this problem? Not really. I can suggest plants that they don't usually eat. Encourage you to build a fence. Maybe tell you to get a big dog that will stay outside all night.
This is actually a common sight in many of the neighborhoods around here.


So, in the end, resistance is futile. Maybe we should just learn to live with them?
 Not me, I will continue to use milorganite and encase my plants in cages, even if it does look stupid!!
If you have any questions or comments about this, or any of my other articles, Please let me know.
I can also be found on Facebook as The Citrus Guy.
Happy Growing!
Darren