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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Moving Grapefuit Tree to New Location Means Cutting it Back

Thinning cut removes branch at a crotch
or where two branches come together.
Q. I have two, 3 year old grapefruit trees that I want to move to new area of yard.  How far back should I prune them before the move?

A. The purpose in pruning them would be to reduce the top because you need to destroy part of its established root system to move them. So by cutting the top back, you compensate somewhat for the partial loss of the root system. If you were moving them without destroying much of the roots, you would not need to prune them back.

            However, if you are digging them from the ground and you notice that you have to cut through quite a bit of roots, and larger roots at that, then I would take about one third out of the canopy. I would probably remove some limbs totally that might be a bit too close together.

            The type of cut you make will be important. There are two types: one where you remove a branch at the juncture of two branches leaving only one of the two remaining (thinning cut).

Heading cut is made anywhere along a branch just above a bud.
Heading cuts are not made where two branches come together.
            The second type is where a cut is made somewhere along the branch, NOT at a juncture (heading cut). It is best if you use THINNING CUTS (remove an entire branch or limb) if possible. These are cuts made at the juncture of two branches, leaving only one behind.

            This type of cut results in a general thinning of the branches (fewer branches in the area). The heading cut does not result in fewer branches, just shorter branches.

What Should I Be Doing for My Lawn in March?

Lawn aerator punches holes in your lawn to get air deeper
and helps your lawn improve its drought tolerance.
Q. What should I be doing for my lawn now in March?

These are the aeration plugs left behind by a core aerator. They
should be raked up and put in your compost pile.
A. We should be thinking about getting it ready for the heat. Better heat and drought tolerance is achieved with a deeper root system and good nutrition. If you did not aerate your lawn in the fall, then now would be a good time to do that.

            Watch out for your irrigation lines and sprinkler heads. The tines of the aerator can go down four inches. Your irrigation lines may not be that deep in some places. Aerating the lawn will allow air to travel into the soil deeper and help the grass to develop a deeper root system. Deep rooting is the magic behind good drought tolerance.
Aeration helps your lawn get a deeper root system.

            Good nutrition is key to good heat tolerance. Use a good quality lawn fertilizer at least once during the year. The best time to spend that kind of money is before the heat comes. Buy a trade name lawn fertilizer that has a history with lawns. Scotts comes to mind. There are others as well.

Scarring of Nectarine from Thrips Can Be Prevented

Nectarine damage from thrips. Picture from another reader,
not this one.
Q. I have an Arctic Star nectarine but the fruit really looks awful each year. How do I make the fruit look better and is this fruit safe to eat?

A. This particular nectarine is one of my favorite fruits to grow in Las Vegas and it is also one of the more difficult to grow as well. The difficulty is just what you are experiencing. The fruit becomes scarred because of the Western flower thrip.

            But let me say something about the quality of this fruit first. When I first tasted this fruit I was blown away. The flavor profiles are absolutely remarkable when it is grown here in the desert. My best description would be “perfumey”. Now I am not a “perfumey” kind of guy but it has this floral overtone that sets it apart.

Arctic Star nectarine growing at the Orchard. Sprays were
applied to control the scarring from thrips.
             It is a white-fleshed nectarine. Typical, like many white fleshed peaches, I would describe the taste having some almond in the background, very sweet and with these floral (I would call them rose) backgrounds.

            Nectarine is a hairless peach. It was discovered in a peach orchard as a “sport” (mutation) growing on a peach tree. This branch with the hairless peach was propagated by cuttings and then used as budwood to make more nectarines.

            The hair on a peach that some people object to actually adds some protection from insects for the fruit. Tiny insects, like the Western flower thrips, are so small (long and narrow measuring about 1/32 of an inch long) that they have a hard time battling their way down to the skin of a hairy peach.
Scarring from thrips starts at a very early time
in fruit development. Spraying should begin
immediately after flower petal fall.

            However, once that hair is no longer there this insect has no problem getting to the skin of the fruit. Once at the skin, this thrip uses its modified mouthpart to rip and shred at the skin surface and lap up the juice from the fruit much like a dog.

            This tearing and shredding of the fruit skin leaves scarring on the fruit surface as it grows. This scarring is what you are seeing. I have watched thrips start their feeding inside the flowers of peach and nectarine, feeding on the ovary of the flower. As the ovary becomes pollinated and the fruit develops, the hair on the peach keeps the thrip at bay.

            However, the hairless peach, the nectarine, does not have this protection and the thrip continues feeding up to harvest. This can cause tremendous scarring of the fruit and it looks so awful no one wants to eat it. It is, however, perfectly safe to eat.

            Control of the thrip on nectarine requires a spray program on nectarines but not on peach. Sprays used in rotation include insecticidal soaps, neem oil and spinosad. I will talk more about control and give some pictures in my blog. Start your spray schedule right after the petals fall from the flowers. Do not spray flowers in bloom...ever. Follow label directions on your sprays. Obey the re-entry period that the label states even though the sprays I mentioned are "organic". However, the most effective spray in the group is the spinosad. Spray the fruit to protect it. Add a wetting agent to the spray to get better fruit coverage.

Amazing CanadaGreen Grass Not So Amazing for Las Vegas

Q. Do you know anything about a grass seed called CanadaGreen I saw for sale in a magazine? It says it sprouts and covers the area in ten days and can survive from 120F to 40 below zero. Is it any better than our local selections available at stores here?
A. I did a little bit of background check on this grass. You can say anything about anything you want when you are marketing but if they don’t tell you what kind of grass is in the bag then you have no way of knowing if it will work in Las Vegas.

            So, not knowing the grass, I did find a review by someone who bought some seed and quoted what was in the bag. State seed laws require that you must state the percentages of grasses on the label of a product, its germination percentage, percent weed seed, etc. However, an advertisement doesn’t have to.

            This seed is nothing special. It contains 53.2 % creeping red fescue, 23.4 % annual ryegrass, 14.1% perennial ryegrass and 4.4 % Kentucky bluegrass. The reason it comes up fast is primarily the annual ryegrass. You can find the same mix of grass seed, called Shade Mix or something about shade, at your local hardware or grocery store.

            Annual ryegrass is considered a “nurse grass” by some because it comes up quickly and provides some protection for the slower germinating grasses. Many people consider it a weed. It is an inexpensive grass, used by blow and go guys in Las Vegas for overseeding bermudagrass for winter color.

            It is an annual grass and does not handle heat very well and, when used for winter overseeding, dies in early summer when temperatures hit 100+F. Besides that, it is really not very pretty at all. It is light green, never gets dark green and looks rough when you mow it.

            Creeping red fescue will not survive Las Vegas summers. It is considered a shade grass and will die the same time as the annual ryegrass does. Does great in Western Oregon!

            The third is perennial ryegrass and it might survive the summers in Las Vegas depending on the variety of perennial rye. Some are heat tolerant (Palmer and Prelude for instance) while others are not (Manhattan and Pennfine for instance). If it is not a heat tolerant perennial rye, it will die when it gets hot. If it is a heat tolerant rye, then you have a 14% winner!

            Kentucky bluegrass is very slow to germinate and can take about a month to sprout. A good grass for northern climates but is questionable in the hot south like us.

            Don’t waste your money. You can find plenty of grass seed locally that won’t work here. At least if you buy it locally, and it dies, you will support local purveyors.
These reviews are from Amazon.com, purchasers of CanadaGreen grass seed.
The Truth About Canada Green Grass Seed, March 11, 2011
I recently purchased this item thinking it was a special type of seed.
This is a regular shade type grass seed mixture.
It contains:
53.2 % Creeping red fescue
23.4 % Annual Rye grass
14.1 Perennial Rye grass
4.4 % Kentucky Bluegrass
These numbers were on the bag as required.
This is close to the same ingredients in most shade mixtures you can buy at any hardware store. I recently saw a shade mixture with almost identical amounts of these seeds for about $3.00 a pound at my local hardware store. Also the commercials and ads says you can just spread it by hand but the bag tells you to till the soil to a depth of 2" , rake it in and then use a roller. Not as easy as it seems in their ads.
I wish these important mixture percentages were listed before I purchased mine from Amazon. Hopefully it helps you in your buying decision.

S. Marsh (Dover NH)
We planted the seeds from the directions, watered daily had beautiful sunshine everyday & not 1 sprout of grass to be seen even 2 weeks later. Have contacted the company several times & have had no success in getting an aknowledgement or a response...they said they guarantee that you will have a full lawn in 10 days - well not from this product !

Shay0124 (Houston, Texas)
This grass did grow quickly. I saw growth within a week - soft and pretty. However, it cannot take the Texas heat and promptly died within three weeks despite proper watering. This product may do very well in other parts of the country that do not consistently have temps over 90 degrees for many months.

After 25 days since we sowed the Canada Green seed according to their
directions we have had ZERO (0) germination indicating bad seed. We contacted
the supplier on three occassions asking that "good" replacement seed be
sent so that we could meet the fall seeding period. We were told by the supplier
"We do not replace seed"

This grass seed must be mostly a type of annual grass. I planted this grass in three different places. It came up quickly, and I was pleased, but now, the following Spring, the areas are now bare dirt. In other areas of the yard I planted 5-way Tall fesue from Rural King. Those areas are thriving and nice and green.

The grass seed is a big waste of money, I had to go back and replant all the areas that I originally planted with Canada Green Grass Lawn Seed.

This stuff stinks, so don't be a sucker and buy Canada Green Grass Lawn Seed.

Brandon Sterne (Concrete, WA)
I ordered 5 bags and spread it all in newly tilled ground. I watered regularly and still not one single blade of grass has grown. Perhaps it grows in Canada but not Washington State!! Would not waste my money again.

I bought Canada Green Grass through Amazon last fall (2006). Prior to overseeding with it in my front yard, I core aerated and dethatched and then put the seed down heavily. I covered it with straw and it came up great with a few bare patches left before winter came.

This spring, I am amazed! It is growing into an incredibly thick and beautiful turf! It looks wonderful! I have done this process before with other seed mixtures, but never with this kind of result. The only question mark is how it will do once we have our very hot and very dry spell here in Missouri this summer. But the thickness and density of the turf is what has amazed me the most.

C. Lewis "LWC" (South Carolina)
This review is from: Canada Green Grass Seed (Sports)
Canda Green performance was less than adequate - poor germination rate and as a result a sparsely covered lawn area. I planted seed purchased from a local store in an adjoining area for comparison - there was little difference if any.

North Californian (Santa Rosa)
I'm lazy - so I just lightly raked up the dead grass in the bare spots, then tossed the grass seed on the mostly bare patches of ground, covering them well, then got a 40 lb bag of potting soil and lightly tossed a thin layer on top to hide the seed from the birds and to hold moisture. Then set the sprinklers to run daily for 2 minutes a shot at 5 AM, noon & 4 PM to keep the area damp.

In a week the seed sprouted and I've now cut it for the first time and it's really filled & blended in well.

Prep is important, and I didn't really expect this simple technique to work, but it did. Super easy & quick.

I sowed the seed within a few days after it arrived so it was fresh & kept it out of the light. It was fall in North California, so not hot and not cold. The area is fairly shaded by trees also.

This review is from: Canada Green Grass Seed (Sports)
seams to be growing well so far, Just needed plenty of water and it took a week and a half for the first sprouts to show up, just do reserch to make sure it will grow in your location.