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The Family Plot — April 30, 2015

Hi, thanks for
joining us for “The Family Plot:
Gardening in the Mid-South.” I’m Chris Cooper. Hummingbirds are a fun
addition to any garden. We’ll show you how to set
up a hummingbird feeder. Also, the fruit has set. We’ll talk about what you need
to do to keep the bugs at bay. That’s just ahead on.. “The Family Plot:
Gardening in the Mid-South.” (female announcer)
Production funding for “The Family Plot: Gardening in
the Mid-South” is provided by Good Winds Landscape and Garden
Center in Germantown since 1943 and continuing to offer its
plants for successful gardening with seven greenhouses
and three acres of plants plus comprehensive
landscape services.. [soft music] [theme music] Welcome to ‘The Family Plot.” I’m Chris Cooper. Joining me today
is Mitch Robinson. Mitch is the conservation
education manager at Strawberry Plains
Audubon Center. And Mister D is here. Thanks for joining me. Glad to be back. Alright, Mitch. The hummingbirds are here. They are here. Alright. I’ve heard a lot of people
talk about the hummingbirds. I can’t wait to get
some at my house. So, here’s the question though
that everybody likes to ask. What about hummingbird feeders? You know, how do
you locate them? Where do you go to purchase
them and things like that? So, can you enlighten us. Sure thing. So, there’s a variety of
hummingbird feeders out there on the market. This is the typical one that
we sell at Strawberry Plains. Another place you can
get here in Memphis is Wild Birds Unlimited. But you can even go
to general places, like Walmart I
think will sell them. It really just depends on
what you’re looking for. We recommend these
because they’re sturdy. They’re glass. They hold up well
over the seasons. But your next question
was about the location? Yeah, where do you locate
the feeders themselves? So, we just say, where
do you like to hang out? Where do you like to eat dinner? Maybe have a beer after work. Typically, where is
your relaxation spot? Because hummingbirds
are highly mobile. They’re going to
move to the spots where they sense the nectar. And so, I recommend, you know,
maybe a back porch or outside your kitchen window
where you might do dishes or, you know, prep your dinner. Just as long as
there is enough space, you know, a good foot to two
feet between that and the window or building itself. (Chris)
Okay, makes sense. Now what about cleaning it? Well, cleaning it.. You know, it’s a lot
easier than it seems. You know,
it’s basically the nectar is just a sugar water solution. You know, we mix one part
sugar to four parts water. Real quick, I’ll just
say we use hot water. Doesn’t need to be boiling
but the sugar does need to be dissolved in the water. And so, we typically take a
large gallon jug and fill it with sugar part and
then add hot water. Shake it up. Once that water — or
the sugar is dissolved, just tap it off with cold
water and you’re ready to go. You can store that
in the fridge and use it for the next couple of days. So, when it gets time to clean
your feeder or you see that it’s empty, we recommend
washing it out each time that you do bring it in. Basically you just unscrew. You can hold this
under the faucet itself with some hot water. Rinse it out. Should be good to go. But if you do get some black
mold or anything like that, we recommend not using
soap, using just a light bleach solution like a one to ten. And that should clear it out. As for actually scrubbing, we do
sell these types of devices that can scrub the inside
of the glass itself. It fits down. I won’t stick it all the
way in because it’s not wet. But you can scrub it out. And then again with the
actual feeding holes themselves, we also have these type of
scrubbers that go inside the hole and get any type of
particulates or such that might have gotten in
there and clogged it. (Chris)
How about that? Now when do we need to
take our feeders down? Well, that’s the big question. We recommend you do
not take them down. Actually, that’s correct. So, a lot of people
have been concerned. Oh, if I leave my feeders up,
the hummingbirds won’t know to go south and they’ll stay
here throughout the winter. Actually, hummingbirds have a
much more innate sense of time and when to go than we
actually give them credit for. And a lot of the work that’s
been done by some individuals with the former hummingbird
study group on the coast and at Alabama were the
first to recognize this, that there’s a lot of
species of not the Ruby Throat, which is what we get
mostly west of the Mississippi, but western species will
actually sometimes get pushed over in storms and will
actually overwinter here. And so, we have several species
that have been noted throughout the past decade that have
overwintered throughout the whole season here
in Mississippi. So, we say unless there’s a
reason for you to take it down, you know, someone’s
complaining about it, we say leave at least one up
and just kind of check it throughout the season. Wow. So, just leave it there. Okay. So, no concerns
about the rough winter weather or anything like that? Well, you know, if they’re here,
we want to give them something to eat. So, you know,
definitely check on it. At times, we’ve had
overwintering birds that it has gotten well below freezing and
we’ve even set up kind of areas where we’ll put some heat
lamps on it to ensure that that, you know, mixture
doesn’t freeze. Let’s talk about the
Native Plant Sale. Yes sir. What do we need to
know about that? So, our Native Plant
Sale is May 15th and 16th. It is one of the biggest
outreach opportunities we have to talk about the importance of
native plants to both support and attract wildlife to
your home and garden. During that plant sale, we’ll
actually be doing a program. I’ll be facilitating
at 1:00 p.m. each day. It’s going to be free to the
public and it’s part of the National Audubon Society’s new
Hummingbirds at Home program. You can go to
hummingbirdsathome.com. It’s a web-based
smart phone app, as well as website app, that
encourages individuals of all ages and backgrounds without
any science or bird background. You can significantly contribute
as a citizen to the scientific work that’s being done to
understand how hummingbirds are being affected by
climate change. Bloom periods are happening
at earlier times than we anticipated in the past. How are the birds reacting? So, it gives you an opportunity
to input not only the amount of birds you’re seeing but
what are they feeding on. And that’s going to influence a
lot of our understanding about these birds’ life
cycles in the future. (Chris)
How about that? Yeah. Mister D likes that. Pretty good. Let me ask you
about this though, Mitch. So, how did you become
interested in hummingbirds? Well, it’s kind of par
for the course working at Strawberry Plains. We’re kind of known as
the hummingbird center of, you know, the Southeast. But I have to say it really was
being so intimately connected to them on a daily basis working
there over the past year. Being able to sit at lunch and
look out and count anywhere from a dozen to
two-dozen hummingbirds, you know, somewhat
violently going at each other, fighting for this
food for such a small, beautiful, little specimen. It’s just fascinating how such a
small creature can have such a massive migration
pattern and be so, um, specifically focused on
returning every year to the same areas to breed. Just absolutely
remarkable creatures. That’s what I think is
so remarkable about it, as well. Mister D? Do you ever have any problems
with pests getting in your hummingbird
feeder like raccoons? Raccoons, not specifically. Ants are the big issues. Another little thing
that we suggest is.. You can actually make these
if you wanted to get crafty. But it’s basically just a little
cup that will be suspended from a string, the same one
your hummingbird feeder is suspended from. And you just fill it with water. It will keep out ants but will
also serve as a water source for hummingbirds. You know, hummingbirds
don’t depend just on nectar. They eat insects. Often times people will ask,
“Where did my hummingbirds go? They were here and
they disappeared.” Well, during this
time of the year, a lot of those first
hummingbirds you’re seeing are scouts. They may actually be leaving the
area and heading further north to their original
breeding grounds. But as you move further in to
the season and in to the summer, the females, when
their eggs hatch, will actually be feeding their
insects solely — excuse me — feeding their
nestlings solely insects, most of which are butterfly
and moth larvae, caterpillars. So, um, often times if you just
see a lot of activity and then the next day it diminishes,
that’s often the possibilities that the birds have either moved
on to their grounds or they’re actually feeding insects. (Mike)
Horn worms. Horn worms! I was thinking the same thing. When you said caterpillars,
I was thinking about that. If you do have pests on some
of your fruits and vegetables, you know, that may not be a bad
idea to have some hummingbird feeders nearby. Not a bad idea, especially
near your vegetable garden. Yeah. That’s not too bad. So, this goes on top. Explain that one more time. So, the string hangs down
from here to the feeder. And then above this, you’ll have
another string that hangs to either the shepherd’s hook or
to the overhang from your roof. They drown on their
way to the honey. They do. Maybe there’s something
else that will eat those ants. The only other thing we’ve had
issues with is sometimes bees will congregate and the birds
will have to compete with them. We’ve heard that if you can
actually put a pan below the feeder, if it’s an area where
you’re not going to be walking around much, with
just that same solution, the bees would rather much more
spend their time much more in that pan where they have more of
a resource than having to fight the hummingbirds. Mitch, we
appreciate that information. Absolutely. Alright. There are a number of gardening
events going on in the next couple of weeks. Here are just a few
that might interest you. [theme music] Alright, Mister D. Let’s talk about
home orchard care. Okay. And we actually just
learned something. Maybe we can hang one of
these hummingbird feeders in our orchard to take care of
those little insects. We thank Mitch for that
information for sure. It’d be worth trying. Yeah. The thing that, you know.. I know I’ve got apple
trees, and blueberries, and blackberries
in my landscape. And everything that I’ve
got are finished blooming, except for the blackberries. And the blueberries
are still blooming. But my fruit
trees, my apple trees, are through blooming. I know there may be
some fruit trees that are still blooming out there. The thing you need to
keep in mind with peaches, plums and nectarines, you pretty
much have to control two things on peaches, plums
and nectarines. You have to control
the plum curculio, which is an insect, or it
can destroy your fruit. And you have to
control brown rot, which is a fungal disease. There are other fungal
diseases that attack them. But those are the two
biggest problems in peaches, plums and nectarines. Okay. They really need to be
sprayed during bloom with just a fungicide. Because early stages of
brown rot occur during bloom. So, if you’re still — you’ve
had blooming fruit trees out there, I would put at least
a couple of applications. Early bloom and
late bloom, you know, maybe even a mid-bloom
application of just a fungicide. And I think Captan is probably
one of the most common ones out there. But there are home orchard
sprays out there that already have the insecticide and
fungicide mixed together. There’s several,
several out there under several different
trade names. But do not use one of those home
orchard sprays while the plants are blooming because you
can kill hummingbirds. Not hummingbirds —
You can kill honey bees. Not hummingbirds but
you can kill honey bees, which are very
important for pollination. If pollination doesn’t
occur, you don’t have any fruit. So, do not put an insecticide
out there while the plants are blooming. After all the petals have fallen
off and after you’re past bloom, then the simplest thing to do is
just to go with one of the home orchard sprays. It’s already mixed up for
you and you need to spray, you know, every seven to
ten days up until harvest. And if you do that and if the
rain doesn’t wash your product off, you should have
nice, clean, healthy fruit. You also need to be thinking
about thinning the fruit. This is too early, really
early to do that right now. But it’s very important that
you control brown rot and plum curculio or you won’t
have any good fruit to thin, you know, on peaches,
plums and nectarines. Now apples and pears, you know,
you can get by with being a little more lax on those. They do have rots, several
different fungal diseases that they get. (Chris)
Fire blight. Yeah, that’s bacterial. And they do have insects
that will get in them. But if you want
good, clean fruit, then you need to
follow a spray schedule. Basically, a spray schedule. And if you’re in dry conditions,
you can stretch that out to ten days. If it’s raining every day, you
need to spray every day because the rain will wash
your product off. And fungicides,
for the most part, are preventative in nature. And they’re prophylactic
treatment to control — prevent fungal diseases. And if that
treatment is washed off, you have no protection. Like it never happened. And the problem we have in our
area is there are weeks that it rains every day. And that’s why it’s such a
challenge to control insects and diseases on especially
peaches, plums and nectarines. Because if you go a week
and it rains every day, there’s no way you can keep that
protective coat of insecticide and fungicide on there. If a female plum
curculio lands on your fruit, she makes a little
semi-circular cut, lifts the flap up,
lays an egg under it. So, you can
actually go to the fruit, the little, small fruit and
if it’s got a little half-moon shaped scar on it, that
egg has already been laid. They little
caterpillar is in there. And even the
hummingbird can’t get to it. Insecticide
definitely can’t get to it. Right, right. But that’s the.. That’s what our
commercial growers face. You think in your
back yard is a problem. But the commercial
growers face that. I was going to ask
you about Mister Jones. He faces that problem out
there at Jones Orchard. And Henry. You know, they deal
with that, you know, all the time that
fruit’s forming. But that’s the way
to do it, you know. Now do we have to worry as much
about disease or insects with our blueberries or our grapes. You know, I used to say no. Blackberries and
things like that. You know, blackberries I’ve
not had any problems with. I lost my entire
blueberry crop last year. I have a little bitty
young blueberry plants, half a dozen or so. And I lost my entire crop
to an insect called the blueberry maggot. I’ve never ever had
to spray blueberries. I never seen that as a problem. But every little blueberry had
a little bitty critter in it. So now, I’m going to have to
spray my blueberries with an insecticide this year. I have relatives
that have blueberries that did not have that problem. I don’t know why I
had that problem. But apparently, you know, they
like my little hill top over there and they
attacked my blueberry plants. So, it’s just
like anything else, the vegetables and everything. You probably need to.. I needed to have done a
better job of scouting. And had I seen
that happening and.. You know, it was over with
before I could do anything about it. I got busy. June is when I’m my
busiest throughout the year. And that’s when the
blueberries get ripe. And I went out there
to pick blueberries, you know, and there were
no blueberries out there. They were all gone. I probably got three blueberries
on my plants that survived. So, usually, you know,
blueberries are one that are pretty much trouble-free. But I’m not sure. You know, I’m not sure that
there’s anything that you don’t have to — that you
better not keep an eye on. If you have an
excellent crop of blueberries, then you got to
worry about birds. (Chris)
Yeah, that’ll be the next thing. But, you know, follow the
regular spray schedule if you want to have good,
clean, disease-free and insect-free fruit. And then there are other things
that you need to do like I mentioned. It’s not too late to prune. If you haven’t pruned, if you
drug around and didn’t get your pruning done, you know, three or
four weeks ago when you needed to, it’s still not too late. Go out there and you can
go out there and prune. And I would do that if you’ve
got a jungle in your trees. But go on and do that. Get started on a spray schedule. Hopefully you did a good job of
soil testing and you fertilized, you know. Now is a good time to fertilize
if you haven’t put a fertilizer out there. But, you know, you
could over-fertilize. There’s probably more
danger in over-fertilizing than under-fertilizing. You know, I think peaches.. Two pounds of a complete
fertilizer per tree pre year of age up to a maximum of
12 pounds per plant, you know. And broadcast in the drip
line, under the drip line of the plant. And apples, it’s
even less than that. I think apples.. A rule of thumb —
three-quarters of a pound up to a maximum of seven pounds. You know, three-quarters of a
pound of a complete fertilizer per tree per year of age up to
a maximum of seven pounds per plant, you know. But that’s.. Those are things you
can be doing right now. Okay. Alright, got work to do. Work to do. Alright, here’s
our Q and A session. Mitch, you jump
in there with us. Alright. Here’s our first viewer mail. Okay. Jim writes: Is there a systemic
product to control rust on my iris? I am currently spraying Daconil. And he said it helps. Are you aware of a systemic
product that will control rust? That’s the thing. I’m not aware of one,
especially for homeowners. As I mentioned
earlier, for the most part, fungicides are
preventative in nature. There are some
that have a little bit of kick back activity. But for the most part,
fungicides are preventative in nature. And so, they are a pesticide
that if you want to control diseases, you have to put
them out on a regular basis to prevent the
disease from occurring. You ain’t gonna have to
put them out forever. You put them out when new
foliage is coming out and, you know, just
control it, you know, when the plants are
susceptible to the diseases. But insecticides,
on the other hand, you know, you can wait
until you have a problem. You can see the problem,
identify what the problem is and you can just treat that problem. But fungicides.. Unfortunately we don’t have any
real good systemic fungicides. We have a few systemic
insecticides out there that the plants will take up
through the roots and go through
the vascular system. And there are a few of those. But as far as fungicides,
I’m not aware of any. What you would need to
do, too, is practice, again, you know, good
cultural practices. Space the plants out, let the
air get in there to dry those leaves off so it’ll stay wet
for an extended period of time. And something else
I would do, too, Mister Jim — I would
rotate my fungicides. So, Daconil,
which is chlorothalonil as the active ingredient. I rotate that with
Immunox, which is Myclobutanil. You know, it’s something that I
would recommend that you would use, as well, you know, to
get your rust under control. Try to prevent
resistance form occurring. So, I would rotate
that, Mister Jim, and that should do
the trick for you. (Mike)
Just remember
the disease triangle. (Chris)
Yeah. (Mike)
Got to have the host, got to
have the disease organism and you got to have the
proper environment. Unfortunately we don’t have
a lot of control over the environment unless you’re
watering at the wrong time and putting too much water out
and getting the soil too wet and all that. If you have control over
that part of the environment, you can control it. Otherwise, then you got
to deal with the host, which you can remove. If you have a severe problem
with the same plant year after year, like I used to
have with the Photinia. I took the Photinia out. I took that
disease problem away. I didn’t have
Photinia leaf spot anymore because I didn’t
have any Photinia. So, you know, keep that
disease triangle in mind. Take it out or
resistant varieties. (Mike)
Resistant varieties, excellent. There are some out there. Resistant Photinia. There are some out there. Alright, Mister Jim. There you go. Thanks for the question. Alright, Mister James writes: I
have a few hundred fruit trees on my farm. What herbicide should I
use around the base of them? Mister D? Mister James, it would be
helpful to know what kind of fruit trees you have. However, however,
we can make some probably some blanket statements. Um, to control grass, you
can use Poast or Fusilade. I’m not sure the active
ingredients but Poast and Fusilade will control the
grasses and will not hurt any fruit tree that I’m aware of. Fusilade is Fluazifop is the
active ingredient for that. Um.. Don’t.. You know, you might be
tempted to use RoundUp. (Chris)
I was waiting for you to say it. You might be tempted to use
Glyphosate but I’ve had some bad experiences with
Glyphosate around fruit trees, around grapes especially. It makes them do weird things. I mean, they’ll grow weird
and it can create problems. So, I’d be very, very careful. I probably wouldn’t. I do not, on mine, use
Glyphosate around my fruits. But I do use the grass
product that I just mentioned. And you got a few
hundred fruit trees. You’re more than a homeowner. Yes. I would consider you
a commercial grower. Now there are others that are
labeled just for apples and some of the pre-emergent
products, like Solicam. And, you know, there’s several
of them that maybe labeled for one fruit tree
and not for others. And you might want
to look at those, as many fruit trees as you
have, to put out early as a pre-emergent product, you know,
in an area around the plant. Alright, Mister James. Here’s our next letter here. I like this on a
little note card. How about that? I have this green
moss on my lawn. What can I spray on it
and not kill my grass? Any information
would be helpful. That’s Mister R.T. What do you think
about that one, Mister D? You’re the weed man in the lawn. Yeah. Let me say this, Mister R.T. You have better conditions
for the moss than you do for the grass. Okay? Because the moss
likes compact soils, soils that are poorly
drained, poor soil fertility. And guess what else. Shade. The moss loves that. The grass does not. So, that’s what you have to
do culturally is limb up some trees, get some light in
there, build that Ph up. Plant some ground covers maybe. (Chris)
Maybe some ground covers, better drainage
perhaps are some things that you would need to do. Okay? But he specifically
asked what could he spray. So, let’s address that one. There are some products that
you can use to control moss. They usually contain iron
sulfate or copper sulfate.. Which will also kill grass. (Chris)
…which will also
kill your grass. So, you have to be careful.. (Mike)
It will kill the moss. ..when you’re
using these products. (Mike)
That’s right. So, Mister R.T., this is.. You got to figure out what
you’re going to do here. You can either have the
grass or you can have the moss. You might want to shift
gears and do something a little different. That’s what I would do. I would shift gears and I would
plant something that doesn’t mind shade, moisture. That’s what I would do. Yeah because I always say this. You need to put the right grass
species in the right location. On the other hand, you don’t
have to mow moss very often. You don’t have to mow
moss and it’s green. It looks nice. There are a lot of mossy
lawns here in Shelby County. Something to be said for that. Keep the leaves off of it
and it looks real good. I have a little
moss in my backyard. I know why I have it, you know. Because I have these conditions. Barefooted and walk
around on it, it feels good. Alright, Mister D,
Mitch, we’re out of time. Thanks for being here. Absolutely. (Chris)
Remember, we love
to hear from you. Send us a letter or an e-mail
with your gardening questions. Send your e-mail to
[email protected] The mailing address is
Family Plot 7151 Cherry Farms Road,
Cordova, Tennessee 38016. That’s all we
have time for today. Thanks for watching. I’m Chris Cooper. Be sure to join us
next time for “The Family Plot:
Gardening in the Mid-South.” Be safe! [theme music] (female announcer)
Production funding for “The Family Plot: Gardening in
the Mid-South” is provided by Good Winds Landscape and Garden
Center in Germantown since 1943 and continuing to offer its
plants for successful gardening with seven greenhouses
and three acres of plants plus comprehensive

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