A Rough End to the Season for Warm-season Turfgrasses

The lack of rainfall in the second half of the growing season has hindered the production and storage of energy that normally takes place in warm-season turfgrasses from late summer through fall.  In effect, warm-season turfgrasses could enter winter dormancy with depleted carbohydrate reserves.  Dr. Clint Waltz, Extension Turfgrass Specialist with the University of Georgia, is concerned that winter hardiness and spring green-up issues could result from a rough end to the growing season.  The weather over the next few weeks will decide how warm-season turfgrasses cross the finish line into dormancy.

“The limiting factor is water,” said Waltz. The biological activity that is necessary to gather and store carbohydrates requires water and we need some rain.  With soil temperatures at the 4″ depth holding in the 60’s for October and the forecast through the end of the month calling for high temperatures near 80 degrees for much of the state, there may be some opportunity for growth where irrigation is available.  However, gains will be marginal as the day length, temperatures, and radiant heat levels continue to drop.  Applying 1/2″ inch of irrigation per week may be sufficient to help mitigate spring green-up issues and prevent crown desiccation if dry weather continues.  Fertilizer is NOT recommended for warm-season grasses at this point in the season, especially nitrogen.  Applications of potassium are generally recommended to promote winter hardiness, but without adequate water, the benefits of these applications may not be fully realized.

What can turf managers do to prepare?  Irrigate if you can, do not fertilize, minimize mowing and wear damage, and avoid practices such as aeration that would induce additional plant stress as the turfgrass enters dormancy.  When using irrigation systems, be sure to follow the parameters of the Georgia Water Stewardship Act of 2010 and stay informed on the latest drought information at www.georgiawatersmart.com. For more information on landscape watering visit www.Georgiaturf.com and download the publication “Best Management Practices for Landscape Water Conservation.” Most importantly, contact your local UGA County Extension Agent at http://extension.uga.edu/about/county/index.cfm or call 1-800-ASK-UGA1

Orange Bulldog Pumpkins to the Rescue

Do you want to grow beautiful orange pumpkins for Halloween?  But, after years of seeing your crop succumb to disease you have become discouraged.  And, after learning that most of the pumpkins you see for sale at church pumpkin patches are grown in New Mexico (think LOW humidity), you have given up.  Well, I have great news for you!

University of Georgia researchers have developed and released a new pumpkin variety bred especially to handle Georgia’s summer climate.  Orange Bulldog was developed by UGA researchers from germplasm collected in South America.  It shows greater resistance to viruses than conventional pumpkins.  The vines show resistance to powdery mildew and downy mildew.  This is really great news for Georgia gardeners!

Orange Bulldog Pumpkin. Photo credit: UGA
Orange Bulldog Pumpkin. Photo credit: UGA

The pumpkins average about 10 pounds.  Most have an internal cavity which is perfect for carving.  The color ranges from a salmon color to a burnt orange.  And, seeds were readily available for 2016 and should be for 2017.

Experts recommend following good growing practices.   Commercial Production and Management of Pumpkins and Gourds contains great information from UGA.  North Carolina Extension also has some good information in Growing Pumpkins and Winter Squash.

So, as you enjoy this year’s Jack-o-Lanterns make your growing plans for next Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

Don’t Leave a Weedy Mess!

Many community gardeners don’t take advantage of our Georgia winters and finish their garden as the temperatures get cool.  As you get ready for the garden break, don’t leave a weedy mess!

A garden plot left full of weeds is not just an eyesore that is unfair to your fellow community gardeners, it can be detrimental to your future crops.

The Weed Seed Bank – don’t make deposits

Weed scientists have a saying:

One year’s seeding means ten years weeding!

If a weed is allowed to produce seed those seeds will happily deposit in your plot to germinate at another time.  In weed science terms, you have added to the dreaded weed seed bank.   Plant seeds are tough and are a plant’s mechanism for long-term survival.

Some seeds from a legume collected beneath permafrost in the Yukon germinated.  The estimated age of those seeds?  10,000 years old!

A sample of seeds dated 237 years old from a British museum herbarium germinated.

Garden Debris Can Create a Welcome Over-Wintering Spot for Pests

Pests like Mexican bean beetles can overwinter in garden debris waiting for your spring planting of bush beans.  Don’t give them that extra edge.

What are some alternatives?  If you aren’t growing cool-season vegetables, try growing a cover crop.  Or, cover your plot with plastic and do some winter solarization.  At the very least, clean your plot and add a cover of mulch.

Give next year’s warm-season crops a good start while being a good community garden neighbor.

Happy Gardening!



Carrying and Transporting Chainsaws

Carrying and Transporting Chainsaws

Put your soul into your work, not your hand or foot:

Always carry the chainsaw with the bar pointed behind you, as shown above. If pointed forward, even when off, you could trip and fall on it. Be sure the hot muffler is located away from your body as you walk.

Engage the chain break any time you take a step with a running saw. Glenn Peroni of North American Training Solutions has demonstrated with one of his famous saw impersonations.

This is what you should sound like when you are cutting up a tree.

Hear the clicking as Glenn engages the chain break? Can you tell how many steps he is taking?

Always shut the chainsaw off before setting it down and before carrying it any distance. It is extremely dangerous to carry a chainsaw while the engine is running.

Let the chainsaw cool before you transport it. Use a scabbard or bar guard to cover the chain when carrying or transporting a saw. The scabbard will protect you and the saw.

Consider purchasing and using some type of carrying case for use during transit and long periods of storage. A case provides protection for you and your valuable equipment. It also makes a great place to store important maintenance instructions (owner’s manual) and tools required for daily maintenance like a bar wrench and a chain file for light sharpening or touch up! Plus, you look sharp.

So how many steps did Glenn Peroni take in his Saw Song Performance? If you guessed at least three, you would be correct.

Only three safety trainings left this year and the one in Columbus is full! Sign up quickly!

October Chores for Your Georgia Garden

The checklist for October gardening chores according to UGA’s Vegetable Garden Calendar:

October Garden Chores

  1. Choose the mild weather during this period to plant or transplant the following: beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, collards, lettuce, mustard, onions, radishes, spinach and turnips. Plant your second planting of fall crops such as collards, turnips, cabbage, mustard and kale.  For variety recommendations see the Vegetable Planting Chart.
There is still time to plant lettuce and other cool-season greens.
There is still time to plant lettuce and other cool-season greens.

2.  Refurbish mulch to control weeds, and start adding leaves and other materials for the compost pile. Store your manure under cover to prevent leaching of nutrients.

3. Water deeply and thoroughly to prevent drought stress. Pay special attention to new transplants.

Seedlings will need water during October, which is usually one of our driest months.
Seedlings will probably need supplemental water during October, which is usually one of our driest months.

4. Harvest mature green peppers and tomatoes before frost gets them — it may not come until November, but be ready.

5. Harvest herbs and dry them in a cool, dry place.

Happy Fall Gardening!

Boots and Gloves

Boots and Gloves

Danger never takes a vacation:

Why does it matter what kind of gloves you wear?

  • For one thing, you’re holding a tool that’s running at 11,000 RPM which means that there is potential for a ton of vibration that’s transferred to your hands and forearms. This may lead to numbness of your hands and fatigue on your arms and shoulders.
  • Plus, you’re working with an extremely sharp chain traveling at 55 MPH.

What are some characteristics of a good pair of gloves?

  • Gel padding in the palms to drastically reduce vibration.
  • Lined with cut-resistant DuPont Kevlar fiber to prevent minor cuts. They should be rated at Level 3 for cut resistance. (ANSI/ISEA 105-2005 Standard.
  • Snug fit. Get the right size to fit your hands.
  • Non-slip with breathable Spandex with goatskin or other materials that provide good control for your fingers and palms. Make sure the top of the glove is well made.
  • Knit wrist closure with Velcro keeps debris out and doesn’t get caught in things like chippers, saw tips, or sticks.
  • Machine washable if possible.
  • Why worry about boots?
  • You are on your feet for more than eight hours a day. Your ability to work efficiently is directly proportional to your foot comfort.
  • Protecting your feet in rough conditions should be a high priority.

What are characteristics of a good boot?

  • Correctly fitted to the size of your foot.
  • Lined with DuPont Kevlar for chain cut resistance (24m/sec chainsaw speed)
  • High abrasion resistance.
  • Steel shank for support.
  • Moisture repellent upper.
  • Pillow cushion inserts.
  • Steel, titanium or plastic toed boots. Titanium and plastic toed boots reduce the overall weight of the boot.
  • Meets OSHA regulation 1910.260, ANSI Standard Z41PT83, ASTM F2413-2011 CAN/CSA Z195-2009

Why you should wear a hard hat cutting down a tree

We are done with PPE!

Chainsaw Chaps or Pants

Chainsaw Chaps or Pants

Do not think because an accident hasn’t happened to you that it can’t happen.

OSHA requires that chainsaw operators use chainsaw chaps or pants. This is a good thing!

Do you have reflexes faster than your saw’s chain? Maybe if you are superman. If not, and you aren’t wearing chainsaw pants or chaps when you operate your saw…well, there’s a sign for that.

The CDC reports, “Each year, approximately 36,000 people are treated in hospital emergency departments for injuries from using chain saws.” Saw cuts are ugly cuts.

Saw pants/chaps are made with several layers of cut retardant material, often Kevlar, that prevents a moving chain from cutting through it. Upon contact the chain and sprocket become filled with fibers which jam the chain against the bar, slowing or stopping the chain’s movement. This gives the operator extra reaction time. At that second, the investment you made will be so worth it. No blood, no ER visit, no bills, still wearing two boots.

Fasten all the buckles on chaps and keep them snug. They should cover the full length of the thigh to two inches below the top of the boot. Even better, to the insole.

If you use a saw daily, it is wise to invest in safety pants. They look good, fit well, and you will be sure to have them on if you need them. They cost a bit more, but the added comfort makes them worth it.

When your cool chaps or pants arrive, take time to thoroughly read and understand the manufacturer’s care and use instructions. Chaps and pants must be washed. They aren’t effective dirty. Some are machine washable in cold water, but they don’t like the dryer or chlorine bleach. Read the care guidelines and follow them.

If you cut your saw chaps/pants, you must replace them. One cut, you chuck!

Always keep your chaps/pants on when using your saw. They are worthless in the truck.

Guess what else? Chaps are sexy…right up there with hard hats, safety glasses, and ear plugs.

Chaps work! You want to watch this video….

Behold Chainsaw Proof Pants in Action

Want to see what happens when your saw cuts your chaps? DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME!!! AT WORK!!! Anywhere…