Category: featured

Crepe Myrtle Bark Scale

Everybody, go out and look at your crepe myrtles.  Right now!  You’re looking for fuzzy/felt-y white patches on the bark.  If you find one look closer.  If it is a cluster of insects, squish a patch of them, if it ‘bleeds pink’ you probably have Crepe Myrtle Bark Scale (CMBS).  This is a problem.

Yesterday a customer brought in a picture of a crepe myrtle infested with white fuzzy bugs.  I had mealy bugs on my mind when I looked at the picture and even though I’ve never seen mealy bugs on a crepe myrtle I thought that may be the case.  However, after thinking about it, I’m worried the customer may have had CMBS.

Having CMBS in our area is not a good thing.  Since the scale insects responsible for CMBS are not native to our area, they have few natural predators at this time, allowing them to spread and do damage at a faster rate than might otherwise be the case.   I sold my customer a product that contains an insecticide and a fungicide spray which is my ‘go to’ for crepe myrtle problems because insect problems are generally followed by powdery mildew problems.  However, I wish I had sold him the same active ingredient product in a drench form rather than a spray.  A systemic insecticide drench is showing to be the most effective treatment at this time.   Multiple treatments are recommended.

Here are a couple links to related articles:

https://extension.msstate.edu/sites/default/files/publications/publications/p2938.pdf

https://agrilifecdn.tamu.edu/citybugstest/files/2010/05/EHT-049-Crape-myrtle-bark-scale.pdf

Texas Tee and 5 Tips for a Green Organic Lawn

Mark and I were as surprised as everybody else when we found out Ladybug garden products was going out of business.  Ladybug has been our go-to organic fertilizer and compost for many years.  For the first time in ages we found ourselves researching other products and trying to source organic soils, composts and fertilizers and I think we found some great new products.

We like to shop local.  One of the new lawn fertilizers Mark found was from Texas company, Maestro Gro.  These folks, from Joshua, TX,  have been making organic fertilizer since 1987.  They produce Rabbit Hill Farms fertilizers, Garrett Juice and our new lawn fertilizer, Texas Tee.

texas tee

We tried the Texas Tee out on our own back yard last week.  We get so busy during the springtime, our own yard work often gets pushed back until early summer, so this was the first fertilizer application of the year.  The dry weather combined with our frugal lawn watering regimen has left our yard a little stressed as well.  Add in the fact that our little dogs are often in the back yard, and organic fertilizer is really the only choice for our back yard at this time.

Organic fertilizers do tend to be a little more expensive than their chemical counterparts.  It’s because of the ingredients.  You do get what you pay for.  Texas Tee is made of feather meal, alfalfa meal, composted chicken litter, molasses, potash and humates.  These ingredients are blended in a formula that products a 6-2-4 ratio of nitrogen (greens the lawn), phosphorus (helps the roots) and potassium (overall plant health).  It’s worth it to pay for these ingredients because you get a slow release fertilizer that feeds your soil, the beneficial microbes that live in your soil, as well as your grass.

I filmed Mark explaining how to use the Texas Tee on your yard and posted it on our new youtube channel.  You can watch it here.  (Please subscribe and all that stuff . . . )

And now for my five tips for a healthy organic lawn:

  1.  Use an organic fertilizer.
  2. Cut your lawn to the recommended height (and NO shorter).  St. Augustine should be cut at 3 1/2 inches.  Bermuda should be cut to 2 to 2 1/2 inches.  NEVER remove more than 1/3 of the grass blade at a time.
  3. Don’t bag your lawn clippings.  Leave the clippings on the grass.  They can help nourish your soil as they decompose.  You can use a mulching blade on your mower to help out the process.  (Caveat:  If you have lots of weed heads that you’re mowing off, you may want to bag these clippings.  To help lessen weed pressure, mow your weeds more frequently before they go to seed.)
  4. Add 1/4 inch of good quality compost to your yard every year in the spring or early summer.  This is the most loving thing you can do for your soil and grass.  It is a lot of work, so don’t skimp on the quality of the compost–make it count!
  5. Water conservatively, in the morning, only on your water days.  Around here you can water twice a week.  Some lawns can get by just fine on 1 inch of water once a week.  My best tip for watering anything in Texas is:  water in just a short, shallow, burst first and let it soak in, then go back and complete your watering.  Think of your yard like a dry dish sponge.  If you run the water real heavy on the dry sponge, most of it will run off.  It’s not until the sponge soaks in that first bit of water that it’s able to retain any fluid.

After years of gardening in Central Texas I have decided it’s not a bad thing to tolerate some weeds and a few bugs.  There are certain things just not worth fighting.  But, if you keep your yard and soil healthy, you really will have less weed and disease pressure and have more time in your gardening routine to enjoy your yard.

 

Mark & Kim learn to YouTube

Mark and I are proof that old dogs can learn new tricks.  After lots of trial and error we are finding our way around YouTube, a new camera and video editing software.  And our marriage is still intact!

As small small-business owners, we don’t have the budget to do much advertising.  I looked into print advertising and realized I could either hire a part-time employee or I could do a monthly ad in a local paper.  I didn’t do the ad.  But I did decide that we had to start being more creative in letting the community know who we are.

I started this blog and learned how to post on Facebook.  We’ve done some store events –super-fun!  And now we’re trying our hand at making videos.  We’re hoping videos can be a way to address common questions we hear from customers.  Our second video is about how to use our Brown Bag fertilizer.  It’s great fertilizer for our clay soil, but -apart from coverage information- there are no instructions on the bag.  Now we can direct our customers to our video to see how we set our spreader when we apply Brown Bag.

We have a bunch to learn.  On the most recent video I was so intent on getting Mark in focus, I didn’t realize I also had the tripod in the shot.  I tried to hide it in ‘post production’ but boogered-up and the tripod pops into frame for about a second.  I’m telling myself that getting content posted is more important than perfection.  I’d never post anything if I waited until I was fully competent.  –I think there’s a life lesson in there somewhere.

If you have any suggestions for future videos please let me know and I’ll see what we can do.    (Also, Bo is sad that Mark’s video is getting more plays than his.  You can watch Bo dig a carrot at Gaddy’s youtube channel.)

thumbnail-carrot-dog-3

Stop Spring Weeds, Use a Pre-emergent Herbicide Now

February is the ‘sweet spot’ of the year when it comes to applying pre-emergent herbicide to your lawn.  A little effort now can greatly reduce the weed pressure in your yard later in the season.  Pre-emergents work by drying up weed seeds so they never get a chance to sprout.  The trick is, you have to apply the pre-emergent before the seeds begin to germinate.  And that means, you have to do a little yard work before it is warm enough outside for you to really feel like doing yard work.

We have several pre-emergent options at Gaddy’s.  If you want an organic pre-emergent, we sell corn gluten meal.  Besides being a desiccant, corn gluten is a natural source of nitrogen, the element that helps ‘green-up’ your grass once it starts growing.  Our Fertilome-Hi Yield Grass and Weed Preventer is an economical chemical pre-emergent.  One $15.99 bag will cover 3,500 to 5,000 sq ft.  If you want a product with a pre-emergent and a post-emergent, we sell Weed Beater Complete.

Use a broadcast spreader to apply pre-emergent granules.  Read the directions carefully.  Most pre-emergents need a little bit of moisture to become active.  For example the Hi Yield product recommends about 1/2 inch or rainfall or irrigation.  But too much rainfall immediately after application can lessen the effectiveness of the pre-emergent by washing it away.

When using pre-emergent, think about places in your yard where you want seeds to germinate and avoid those areas.  Don’t apply pre-emergent in a vegetable bed where you want to start seeds next month or in an area of your yard that you want to reseed.  Some pre-emergent can be effective for up to 3 months.  The pre-emergent will not differentiate between the seeds you want to grow and those you want to kill.

Gaddy’s Partners with Johnson’s Backyard Garden

Looking for a way to keep your resolutions?  Try signing up for a CSA from Johnson’s Backyard Garden.  You can pickup your share every Wednesday straight from Gaddy’s! 

Johnson’s Backyard Garden (JBG) is an organic farm that has grown from a family project in an AJohnson's Backyard Gardenustin backyard to a bona fide farm large enough to provide fresh produce to Texans from Dallas to Houston to San Antonio and areas in between–including Pflugerville!  Mark and I first became enamored of Johnson’s Backyard Garden when we visited their booth at the Texas Farmer’s Market last spring.  The JBG booth was so packed with people and produce, we had to wait in line to get inside.  It was worth it!  Although we had a garden, JBG had grown lots of interesting veggies that we hadn’t even thought of growing ourselves.

If you’ve ever thought of signing up for a CSA, now is the time to do it.  Joining in January helps the CSA plan for and pay for spring.  Plus you get to enjoy some great produce.  And if that’s not enough, JBG is extending a great offer to first-time or renewing members.  Add “getcookin1” at checkout and receive one CSA share free with your subscription.  To sign up click here.

Mark and I are still planting our market garden in the back lot of the store, but this year we are being realistic about the amount of time we have to work in the garden.  2018 is going to be a year of changes for us.  We are in the process of adding to our sales floor and incorporating new shelving into the store that we purchased from Zinger Hardware (so sad to see them go).  This leaves us even less time for gardening than we had last year, so I’m doubly excited to partner with JBG because I want to keep fresh, organic produce a part of our store’s mission.  And, if you’d like to volunteer out in the garden please email me at kimgaddy@gaddys.com.  I’ll be more than happy for any extra hands.

Field Trip to McGregor

Mark and I took advantage of a day off  and decided to take ourselves on a field trip up to McGregor, TX where Derksen Portable Buildings are constructed.  We toured the Derksen facility and watched as buildings were framed, sided, painted and finished out.  Because we’ve been impressed with the overall quality of the Derksen buildings, we weren’t surprised to find the Derksen facility clean, organized and extremely busy.  In the photo above, Mark is standing outside a cabin painted in one of Derksen’s new color options.  The buyers of this cabin chose to have the electric package installed as well as an air conditioner.  As you can see, we interrupted the carpenter as he was finishing up the porch.

Here are a couple pictures taken inside of the Derksen facility.  The buildings pretty much go from frame to finish in here.  It was fun to walk through and see all the different options people had chosen for their buildings.

I thought this was a charming cottage shed.  It features a new style door with small transom windows and a fabulous dormer window above the doors to let in extra natural lighting.

d transom.jpg

I’m fascinated by the tiny-house movement and have often thought a Derksen cabin would make a good tiny house shell.   Turns out there are a lot of folks thinking the same thing.  Derksen can frame out walls, add electric and A/C, frame for a commode and shower, spray in insulation, and finish walls and ceilings.  Pretty impressive.

Many thanks go out to Dave for showing us around the facility.  W had a great time and feel like we know a lot more about how the buildings are constructed and all the options our customers have in designing their own storage shed, cabin or barn.

d mid entry

Organic Lawn Fertilizer

Although I’m not opposed to the judicious use of chemical fertilizer, I am a much bigger proponent of organic fertilizers.  When you put organic fertilizer on your lawn you are feeding your soil not just your grass.  And soil health is crucial to any type of gardening.

Organic fertilizers use natural ingredients like compost, bone meal, feather meal, molasses, corn gluten meal, and  potash among other ingredients to create a mixture that contains a blend of nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P), and potassium (K).  Just as important as the NPK blend are the extra micronutrients and beneficial bacteria organic fertilizers impart to your soil.  Unlike chemical fertilizers that deliver the NPK on inert ingredients, organic fertilizers use beneficial material like compost for the foundation of their products.  Plus the organic materials have staying power, providing long-term benefits for your plants.  It is a win-win situation for your lawn.

Benefits of organic lawn fertilizer:

  1. Beneficial bacteria and micronutrients are added to your soil.
  2. Increased bioavailability of nutrients to your plants.
  3. Organic matter stays in the soil for a longer time than chemical ingredients.
  4. Very difficult to ‘burn’ plants when using organic fertilizer.
  5. Environmentally friendly by decreasing nitrogen and phosphorous ‘run off’.

ladybug fert

One of our most popular organic fertilizers is the Ladybug Brand 8-2-4.  It’s a great all purpose fertilizer to have on hand because it can be used on the lawn as well as in the flower bed or vegetable garden.  Gaddy’s carries it in 6# or 25# bags.

As some of you might have noticed, we’re in the middle of rearranging the store at Gaddy’s.  To make shopping the organic gardening products easier, I’ve put them all in one spot.  Come by and check out our new line of Jobe’s organic products.  Jobe’s has a fabulous line of organic soils as well as organic fertilizer spikes.

org wall.jpg

 

What do the numbers on fertilizer bags mean?

The three numbers on a bag of fertilizer represent the percentage of three elements commonly found in fertilizer–nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P) and potassium (K).  Nitrogen is used for leaf growth and helps plants stay green.  Because of this many lawn fertilizers have a higher percentage of nitrogen, like in a  15-5-10 fertilizer.  Phosphorous, represented by the second number, helps plants form new roots, fruits and flowers.  Many ‘super bloom’ type fertilizers have a high phosphorous number like a 9-58-8.

super bloom.jpg

Potassium, represented as the third number on a bag of fertilizer, promotes overall plant health.  Soluble potash is a source of potassium.

potash.jpg

A common garden fertilizer is a 13-13-13 blend.  There are equal amounts of N, P and K in this fertilizer blend.  So what’s the difference between a 13-13-13 and a 10-10-10?  They both have equal ratios of N,P and K in them but the amounts of N, P and K compared to the inert ingredients in the bag is different.  The N-P-K numbers also represent the percentage of each ingredient by weight.  A 13-13-13 bag has 13% N, 13% P, and 13% K.  In a bag of 13-13-13, 61% of the weight would be due to the carrier ingredients, often clay.  In a bag of 10-10-10, 70% of the weight would be due to carrier ingredients.

15-5-10

Organic fertilizers will also have a N-P-K number.  The numbers are usually lower than on a bag of chemical fertilizer, but the carrier products are often times beneficial materials for your yard such as compost.  Plus many products such as the Ladybug garden fertilizer shown below, have added organic micronutrients and beneficial mycorrhizal fungi.

lady fert.jpg

 

 

Asparagus

Mark and I planted two long rows of asparagus in the market garden yesterday.  Asparagus is a wonderful vegetable for Pflugerville because it actually enjoys the slightly alkaline soil in our area.  However asparagus appreciates looser soil than our black clay so be sure to amend your soil with plenty of organic matter and maybe some sand when you prepare asparagus beds.

We planted our asparagus at the edge of our garden.  Asparagus goes well at a well-drained edge of your yard or garden because the bed will be there for a long long time.  It will probably take two or three years for the asparagus we planted yesterday to be producing at full capacity.

Asparagus is propagated by planting 1 or 2 year old roots, called crowns, into 4-12 inch deep trenches.  Gently separate the roots so the center of the crown will lie in the center of your trench like an octopus.  (See picture below.)  The trenches can be gradually filled as the plant grows, or filled in all at once if your soil is loose enough for the plants to break through easily.

asparagus mark planting.jpg

I recommend choosing a male variety of asparagus like the Jersy Knight that we planted.  Male varieties are hearty and good producers, plus they do not produce berries and seeds like the female plants.  (‘Washington’ varieties are generally female.)

Keep the new asparagus bed well watered and weeded throughout the spring, summer and autumn.  In the winter, after the first freeze, cut the ferns off at ground level and remove them from the bed.  Ferns left in the garden over winter provide good shelter for asparagus beetles which could wreak havoc on the plants in the spring.

It’s best not to harvest and asparagus for the first two years after planting.  The idea is that all the plants energy should go back into the plant’s root system, providing for a better harvest in subsequent years.  However, I have picked just a few spears on the second year  and didn’t have any long term problems based on my impatience.

Asparagus is usually the first think ready to pick in our home garden in the early spring.  When you are finally able to start harvesting your asparagus, snap the spears off with your hand at ground level.  The sprouts should be about 4 to 10 inches in height.  Don’t let the spears get too big or they will be tough and fibrous.  When the weather gets warmer and the spear heads start opening up, stop picking and wait for next year.  Asparagus is best when eaten fresh, but will save in the fridge for up to three weeks.

 

asparagus bag.jpg
Asparagus crowns remind me of something Prof. Sprout might be planting at Hogwarts.  BTW an old feed bag makes a great knee pad when planting.

 

 

 

Show Your Poultry Pride

chick-boots

I, myself, am just a couple chickens shy of becoming a crazy chicken lady, so these boots are right up my alley.  They’re great for garden work or egg-gathering or simply running around town.  They’re available at Gaddy’s in sizes 6 to 10 (note:  they run a little small).  Can’t wait to try mine out.

Also, we just received our first shipment of Socksmith socks at Gaddy’s.  I’ve been a Socksmith fan for a couple of years now.  They’re the only crew sock I’ll wear when I’m working 12-hour shifts as a nurse because the tops don’t cut into my calves.  Even better, they come in the most adorable patterns.  I ordered every farm or garden theme sock Socksmith makes.  To make these socks even more irresistible, I’ve priced them at just $5.99 each (suggested retail is $8.00).  Really, I’m just hoping we sell through the socks quickly enough so I can order even MORE cute socks.