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.

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!

Landscape Design Basics

One question I hear most often is “how do I choose what to plant in the landscape beds around my house?” Tall ones, short ones, fat ones, skinny ones? Where do I start? Here’s some easy to follow tips that all landscape designers use.

Plant shrubs that stay short in front of windows, porches, decks, and entryways so you don’t block the view.

Plant larger (taller) shrubs in front of areas without windows

These small and larger shrubs become your “foundation” plants that will be in your landscape for many years to come. As these plants mature you will see differences in the height of the plants which gives variety to your landscape.

You then can plant small perennials and annuals in front of the foundation plants. This will add depth to the bed along with colorful flowers.

  • Perennials bloom at different times of the year and most die back in the winter but reappear in spring and bring you blooms for years to come.
  • Annuals also bloom at different times of the year but usually do not last more than 1 growing season.

I suggest using a combination of perennials and annuals in your bed. The perennials since they come back year after year and the annuals for the “wow” factor their blooms bring to the bed.

You can follow these tips whether your flower bed is shady or sunny. Other things to consider are choosing plants that are not all green – mix it up with plants that have purple, yellow or variegated leaves. Use of different shaped plants (fat, thin, wispy) will also add to the beauty and interest of the landscape.

Follow these basic guidelines and your landscape will look like a professional designed it.

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Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous Earth is the ONLY product that is  fast working,  easy to use, ORGANIC and you can eat the produce the same day you apply it!121

Diatomaceous earth works to get rid of insects such as:

  • Aphids
  • Thrips
  • Ants
  • Mites
  • Earwigs
  • Bedbugs
  • Adult Flea
  • Beetles
  • Cockroaches
  • Snails
  • Slugs

……..just to name a few! ​

To these insects, diatomaceous earth is a lethal dust with microscopic sharp edges that cut through their protective covering and dries them out. One of the benefits of diatomaceous earth for insect control is that the insects have no way to build up a resistance to it, which can’t be said for many chemical control insecticides. Diatomaceous earth will not harm the worms or any of the beneficial microorganisms in the soil.

We keep it in stock year round!

What is diatomaceous earth?

Diatomaceous earth is made from fossilized water plants and is a natural occurring siliceous sedimentary mineral compound from the remains of algae-like plants called diatoms. The plants have been part of Earth’s ecology system dating back to prehistoric times. The chalky deposits the diatoms left are called diatomite. The diatoms are mined and ground up to make a powder that has a look and feel much like talcum powder.

Pre-Emergent: Stop Weeds Before They Sprout!

Is it too late to apply a pre-emergent to my lawn and flower beds?60400.png

No, this is the perfect time to broadcast pre-emergent granules on your lawn and flower beds to help prevent warm season weeds from germinating and growing this summer. Remember to do so again in the Fall to help prevent cool season weeds. Your lawn will be so much healthier when it isn’t competing for nutrients and water with ugly weeds.

Neil Sperry suggests using a pre-emergent with Dimension as the active ingredient. There are several products that include Dimension and we’ve found one that works in both lawns and flower beds which has a higher concentration than many on the market – thus saving you money. Bring us your lawn and bed dimensions (pardon the pun) and we’ll calculate how much you need.

A Pre-Emergent lawn care product eliminates weeds at the earliest stage of growth — before you even see them. Several key factors are important to consider if you want to use this type of weed killer effectively.

Here in East Texas, because our weather is all over the place, it is recommended to put it down every 3 to 4 months.