Saturday, February 25, 2012

Turf Short Course Part 2

Dr Tim Phillips presented a talk on roses at the Turf Short Course during the landscape track.  Dr Phillips is a fescue breeder at UK, but his sideline is roses.  He's in charge of the rose garden at the UK Arboretum.  Here are some tidbits from that talk:
  • There are over 1700 varieties of roses at the Arboretum
  • Knockouts came on the scene in 1999
  • AARS (All America Rose Selections) have conducted no-spray trials for a number of years, winners have had no fungicides or insecticides sprayed.  Here are some of the winners:
  • Cheap roses from box stores -- 80% of the time they are mislabeled or have rose mosaic virus
  • Roses do much better in the sun, minimal amount if 4 hrs sun each day for OK flowering
    • 8 hours of sun per day -- you get twice as many roses than at 4
    • 12 hrs of sun per day -- get more flowers but individual flowers don't last as long, may bleach out color
  • If planting bare-root roses, do not skip this step -- soak roots for 24 hours before planting
  • Don't prune weak plants as hard as you might robust plants
  • Climbers should be pruned after they are done flowering, usually around late June
  • Roses do not like wilting at all
  • After a couple of freezes (<25F), trim roses back to 2-4' tall
  • Rose rosette is becoming a huge problem.  Be on the lookout and prune out early, otherwise it will become systemic and you must remove the entire plant

Friday, February 24, 2012

Turf Short Course

I attended one day of the Turf Short Course in Louisville yesterday.  As it turned out, I went to sessions on Landscapes, but came away with some very interesting info.

Steve Higgins presented on water quality and how what landscape professionals do affects our water supply:
  • We all live downstream.
  • KY has over 7000 impaired streams (2010)
  • Test your soil, don't guess.  Only put down the nutrients that are deficient.  Over fertilizing with phosphorus and nitrogen are huge problems, creating dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Landowners with streams or creeks or ponds -- establish no mow areas around them.  Mowing close to water's edge destabilizes the soil and allows tons of sediment erosion.  For ponds, this leads to a dying or fast-aging pond.
  • He argues that in subdivisions, just about all areas (even grassy areas) are impervious to water.  Compaction of soil during construction is a huge issue.  Also, contractors regularly bury construction debris.  
  • To reduce runoff, the UK Hospital has created a rooftop garden, very cool.
  • Buy only the pesticides you need.  If your pesticide storage areas are overflowing, get rid of unused or old pesticides by calling the KY Dept of Agriculture's Pesticide Division.
Lynn Rushing presented a wonderful presentation on ponds:
  • Ponds go through natural cycles each year.
  • Ponds, especially those near subdivisions, are the trash cans for the entire area -- pesticide and fertilizer runoff all collects in ponds.  Sediments collect there as well.
  • Healthy pond has good digestion of organic matter -- each year, 1 to 5" of muck accumulate if the pond is not digesting well.
  • Ponds should not be swimming pools -- it's an ecosystem unto itself.  Many life forms share the space and we must respect them all.
  • Algae are very common problems in ponds when the ecosystem is out of balance.  If you use a herbicide to kill 100% of the algae all at once, you will get a fish kill.
  • To manage algae, dredging helps, but only one part of the solution
  • To manage algae, bottom aeration is a great help because it's basically constant dredging.
  • Ponds die every 12 years or so.
  • Canada geese are terrible pests -- one goose can produce 1200# of poop each year, 8 produce as much as a cow.
  • Mallard ducks are wonderful additions to ponds because they eat algae and pond weeds, plus their poop actually inhibits algal growth!  Amazing.
  • Aeration is key, bottom aeration is best, fountains are just for show.  Oxygenating the pond prevents anaerobic digestion and bad odors.  They should even during the winter.
  • Grass carp eat crass, not algae or pond weeds that indicate a healthy pond -- they actually can increase algae growth
  • If you see blue or black lumpy globs of algae, these could be TOXIC.  Cows, horses, dogs can be killed.
Hope you find this as interesting as I do.  Good conference.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

You Can't Stop an Early Spring

You know, I'm the first person who would like to see spring come early.  However, during the winter, if it's going to be cold, I like it to stay cold.

There is plenty of evidence of plants resuming growth during this stint of temperatures in the 50s.  Take a look at our daffs. 
Feb 1, 2012

Last year, our daffodils here at the office weren't at this stage until March 1.  A whole dang month.
March 1, 2011

In 2010, daffodils were at the stage they're at right now on March 9.  More than a dang month.

March 9, 2010
Even fennel is putting out new growth.
Fennel emerging Feb 1, 2012
Freezing temperatures are far from over.  I'm discouraged, especially for fruit growers.  Apple, pear, and peach buds are beginning to swell, making them less hardy.  Blackberries and raspberries will also start growing.  When flower buds are killed, fruit crops are gone.  Let's hope we get back to normal temperatures and stay there.  Or the flip side would be to stay warm -- I like that a little better!