The Word on Worm Castings: How do they work? What can they be used for?

Worm castings are the richest natural fertilizer known to humans. That’s right: as little as a tablespoon of pure worm castings provides enough organic plant nutrients to feed a 6″ potted plant for more than two months. 

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Worm castings stimulate plant growth more than any other natural product on the market. Unlike animal manure and artificial fertilizers it is absorbed easily and immediately by plants.

 

What Can Worm Castings Be Used For?

Worm Castings can be used as an ingredient of potting soil (as plant nutrients) for plants in and around the house. It can also be used as a planting additive for trees, vegetables, shrubs and flowers and because Worm Castings will never burn plants, you can use as much of it as you like.

Benefits of Worm Castings

  1. Removal of toxins & bacteria
    • The humus in the worm castings extracts toxins and harmful fungi and bacteria from the soil. Worm Castings therefore have the ability to fight off plant diseases.
  2. Assists with nutrient absorption
    • The worm castings have the ability to fix heavy metals in organic waste. This prevents plants from absorbing more of these chemical compounds than they need. These compounds can then be released later when the plants need them.
  3. Works as a barrier in undesirable soil pH levels
    • Worm Castings act as a barrier to help plants grow in soil where the pH levels are too high or too low. They prevent extreme pH levels from making it impossible for plants to absorb nutrients from the soil.
  4. Stimulates plant growth
    • The humic acid in Worm Castings stimulate plant growth, even in very low concentrations. The humic acid is in an ionically distributed state in which it can easily be absorbed by the plant, over and above any normal mineral nutrients. Humic acid also stimulates the development of micro flora populations in the soil.
  5. Increases water retention
    • Worm Castings increase the ability of soil to retain water. The worm castings form aggregates, which are mineral clusters that combine in such a way that they can withstand water erosion and compaction, and also increase water retention.
  6. Reduces carbon and increases nitrogen in soil
    • Worm Castings reduce the acid-forming carbon in the soil, and increase the nitrogen levels in a state that the plant can easily use. Organic plant wastes usually have a carbon-nitrogen ratio of more than 20 to 1. Because of this ratio, the nitrogen is unavailable to plants, and the soil around the organic waste becomes acidic.

How to use Worm Castings:

For Germinationwiggle magic_01

Use 20 to 30% Worm Castings with sand as an excellent germination mixture. It will also ensure continuous and lush growth for about three months, without you having to add any other plant food.

As a Soil Conditioner

If you hoe a layer of barren soil, add a layer of Worm Castings and give it some water, you will be surprised at the growth of your first season’s plants.

As a Fertilizer

Sprinkle Worm Castings around the base of plants or lightly dig it in, and then add water. They can also be sprinkled on a large scale with a spreader. Remember: you cannot use too much Worm Castings, they cannot damage your plants.

As a Liquid Fertilizer

Worm Castings can easily be mixed with water. Use 1 cup Worm Castings for every gallon of water and wait 1 week. This liquid mixture can be used as an excellent fertilizer or leaf foliate spray. It also helps to control insects. Many people prefer this method of application.

We have known for hundreds of years that earthworms are the best way to improve plant growth and to increase plant yield, such as fruit.

How to fertilize palms the RIGHT way!

windmill-palm-1Elements your palms need to stay healthy

Applied in correct combination; magnesium, iron, and manganese will keep fronds from yellowing or curling. How much and when depends on where you live.

Cheap fertilizer can wash away after 3 rains

It’s better for the environment and more economical to use fertilizer that has a continuous release formula that feeds your palm tree for few months rather than using a ‘cheap’ fertilizer that will wash away after 3 rains. Improper fertilization can lead to burn, which is most evident in the new spears, turning them brown and crispy.

Steps to establishing a new palm:

  1. Water plays huge role in establishing a new palm. Water every day for 45 days until the risk of transplant shock has passed.
  2. Apply the fertilizer away from the base of the palm, staying around 18″ away from the base. Banding fertilizer around the base of the palm tree is considered a poor practice because it can damage the roots.
  3. Wait about 4 to 6 weeks after planting to fertilize.

Fertilizing palms DO’s:

  • Thoroughly read the directions on the fertilizer bag.
  • Water BEFORE AND AFTER fertilizing, especially when using a quick release material. Under-fertilize rather than over-fertilize.
  • Under-fertilized plants just don’t grow as fast; over-fertilize them and they may die. Pick a fertilizer with an approximate NPK ratio (like an 8-8-8).
  • sago-palmAn ideal palm fertilizer has the right mix of microelements, magnesium and calcium.
  • Slow release fertilizers are preferred, a bit more expensive but better for the plants in the long run.
  • You can also augment with organic fertilizers such as blood meal, bone meal, fish emulsion, and worm castings.
  • Fertilize completely around the plant, distributing the granules over the entire root distribution area (approximately the size covered by the mid-day shadow of the plant).
  • Work fertilizer into the soil if possible.
  • Rake the garden of debris, apply their fertilizer, and finish with a top dressing.
  • Soil test for salt content, especially in container plants. Inexpensive pronged meters easily tell you when you have problems.
  • Keep turf well away from your palm trees. This will make it easier to fertilize your palms and will help keep diseases away from your palm.

 Fertilizing palms DON’Ts:

  • DON’T fertilize on dry soil, as it can lead to plant burn and death.
  • DON’T over-fertilize as this can lead to plant injury.
  • DON’T Throw granular fertilizer down the crown of the plant.
  • DON’T Throw all the fertilizer in one pile at the base of the plant. Scatter it.
  • DON’T Throw the fertilizer against the trunk of the plant in a big pile as this can lead to necrosis or scaring of the trunk.
  • DON’T Use the cheapest, highest concentration quick release fertilizers such as ammonium nitrate 30:0:0 (lawn fertilizer), as this can lead to plant burn or injury.
  • DON’T Put fertilizer directly in contact with the roots when repotting a container plant, especially if using a quick release fertilizer.
  • DON’T Put manure into the hole when planting a palm. Too often the generated heat and solute concentration are damaging to the palms roots.
  • DON’T assume that foliar spray fertilizers are adequate for all the plant’s needs.
  • DON’T allow rain to fall on your stored bags of fertilizer as this may solidify the granules or leach out the fertilizer. Protect the bags with a tarp.

Hydrangeas: The Colorful, Bloom-filled, and Shade-loving Shrub

Many flowering plants are given as gifts on Mother’s Day and I’d say Hydrangeas top the list in popularity.  With so many colors and bloom types to choose from it is easy to choose a different variety each year.endless-summer-shrubs-2634b3-64_1000

Japanese legend associates heartfelt emotion, gratitude for understanding and apology with the hydrangea after a Japanese emperor neglected the girl he loved in favor of business and gave hydrangeas to her family to show how much he cared for her.

In addition, hydrangeas are beautiful plants that have evolved from the big ball-shaped flowers to lacecap flowers consisting of clusters of tiny blooms accented by larger blooms and large cone-shaped panicle flowers.  The colors range from white, pink, blue, purple and multicolor and even blooms that change colors as the flower matures.

endle summer blue hydrangeaThese beauties require shade and can handle some morning sun.  They like a well-draining soil that is kept moist but not soggy.  Mulching will help moisture retention and cool the soil in the summer heat.  They will bloom throughout the season giving you a lot of showy blooms.  An added bonus is that they easily make great dried flowers.

IMPORTANT:  Hydrangeas are deciduous and lose their leaves during winter.  Do no prune them at this time or you will cut off buds and will have no flowers.  Prune right after they are through blooming.   They develop blooms on previous year’s growth, so cut only stems that produced flowers this year or do not prune at all. Panicle hydrange

If you have a shady spot in your landscape add a hydrangea and enjoy their many blooms.  No shade in the yard – then plant in a container and place it on a shaded patio or porch.  These lovely ladies are wonderful additions and it is easy to see why they are such a popular gift.

Treating Black Spot on Roses

We’ve had a really wet spring here in East Texas so far! Unless you’re on a Black spot prevention program for your roses, they most likely have been infected.

blackspotWhat Exactly is Black Spot?

Black spot is a fungal disease that can devastate roses. The fungus develops as black spots on the leaves, and over time, causes the leaves to turn yellow and drop off. Aside from looking unsightly, it can weaken the rose plant overall. Black spot thrives during hot, humid, or rainy summers and hot days with cool, damp nights.

What Does Black Spot Do?

Black spot will look like somewhat circular black spots on leaves. It usually occurs on the upper sides of leaves, but can also develop on the undersides. The outer margins o

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f the black circles are ragged or feathery and they are usually surrounded by a ring of yellow.

Spots begin on the lower leaves and move upward. They can appear as early as when the leaves first unfurl. These spots can enlarge and eventually merge. Affected leaves often fall off the plants, and if left unchecked, the entire plant can defoliate.

The fungus can also infect young canes, causing dark purple or black blisters on the canes, and even the flowers may show some red spotting. Infected plants will set fewer flower buds and without leaves, the plants become stressed and susceptible to more problems.

How do I treat Black Spot?

Black spot is easily treated with a Systemic Disease Control spray. With the active ingredient being Propiconazole (say that 5 times fast!). The systemic disease control will be absorbed up into the plant, so there’s no chance of washing away! You can find Systemic Disease Control at THGC today!

Caring for a Crape Myrtle with Scale

When it comes to Crape Myrtle care, experts say the best place to start is the bark.

There’s a new bug that’s making it’s way around our region attacking Crape Myrtles. It’s called Crape Myrtle Scale and it attacks by secreting an enzyme (yes that means poop!) all over the crape myrtle, which then molds over turning your crape myrtle black. Yuck!

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Crape Myrtle with Bark Scale

If you notice this is happening to your tree, don’t worry. All you need is a Systemic Insect Drench.

The next steps are easy:

  1. Measure the amount of drench recommended
  2. Mix it into the appropriate amount of water
  3. Pour at the base of the tree.

That’s it! It will absorb into the tree and kill the bugs from the inside out.

Have more questions? Give us a call at 903-753-2223 or shoot us a text at 903-339-0922 and we’ll be happy to help!

Are You Planting Shrubs Too Close Together?

It’s easy to do – planting small plants too close together.  It’s hard to believe that 12” plant will be 4-5’ tall and wide within a few years.  You might try pruning to maintain them for a while, but that gets really tiring and the plant doesn’t look right when it isn’t allowed to grow to its preferred size.

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INCORRECTLY SPACED PLANTS

We all want instant gratification so here’s some tips on how to create a fuller looking landscape while waiting on your shrubs to reach maturity:

  • Plant small annual flowers in groupings of 3s to fill gaps between your shrubs and edge of the bed.  This will also add a pop of color to your landscape.
  • Plant small annual flowers in front of your shrubs to form a colorful border.
  • Use liriope as accent plants – either as a border or in groupings.
  • Plant larger annuals (coleus, penta, dusty miller) which can grow to 1’ tall and wide in the bed to take up empty space.
  • Mulch your bed, besides helping retain moisture and block out weeds it gives the bed a finished look.
BROWNIE 4

CORRECTLY SPACED PLANTS

When setting out your plants in your flowerbed read the plant tag and plan on the plant reaching the largest size.  We have a long growing season and most plants will reach their full maturity size in our area.

Choose plants that will not require frequent pruning to “fit” into your space.  There are so many different species of plants in all textures and sizes to choose from.  Make sure and ask questions when choosing your plants.

A word of caution – the plant tag gives general information about the plant.  The same tag is used nationally and the plant can perform differently depending upon the climate of the area.  Not all plants like our Texas summer heat but this will not be listed on the plant tag.  Again, ask questions if you are unsure if a plant is right for a specific area.

To summarize – make sure to measure when planting your shrubs and plan for their growth.  Use the tips to make the bed look fuller until the shrubs mature.  Ask questions and ask for help when making your plant choices.  Follow these steps and you will have a beautiful landscape you can enjoy for years to come.

 

Grab & Go: Trendy Planters Without the Effort

Ever wish you could have planters like those in trendy magazines full of beautiful plants grabandgofor each season.  You see them on decks, porches, patios, by the front door, or poolside.  Not everyone has the time or know-how needed to create containers that will last, but now you don’t have to.  Grab & Go containers from The Home & Garden Center are the answer.

What is a Grab & Go container?  It’s a pre-planted container in various size and price ranges enabling you to grab it and go with it to your home where you can either use it “as is” or drop the pot into your favorite container.  Either way, it gives you instant, professionally designed and planted containers like those magazine photos.

Custom Grab & Go containers are available also.  Choose the plants and container yourself or give us a color pallet and leave the rest to us.

We are planting spring and summer Grab & Go containers daily to keep up with the demand.