Friday, October 30, 2009

City of Atlanta Launches Pilot Incentive Based Recycling Program

Pilot Recycling Rewards Program Will Help Promote Sustainability by Increasing Recycling Participation in Atlanta

The City of Atlanta announced today that a select group of Atlanta residents will soon be rewarded for their curbside recycling efforts. In an effort to encourage proper recycling habits, boost recycling participation, reduce the amount of recyclables being sent to area landfills and save taxpayer money, City officials introduced the pilot rewards program as an opportune way to move towards a greener, cleaner Atlanta.

In order to complement Atlanta’s existing sustainability initiatives, the City of Atlanta has partnered with Rehrig Pacific, a container company and service provider, to bring a unique incentive based pilot recycling program to its residents. As part of this pilot program, Rehrig Pacific has collaborated with key sponsor Coca-Cola Recycling, LLC and rewards partner RecycleBank® to offer Atlanta residents a premiere rewards and loyalty program that incentivizes household recycling. City officials are confident they will see a rise in recycling volumes and a decrease in waste tonnages. In addition to the benefit to the environment, the rewards program will give residents and local businesses a needed economic boost.

The City of Atlanta selected 10,000 households for the incentive based pilot recycling program. The participating households represent a cross section of recyclers throughout the City. The RecycleBank® rewards program will encourage better participation in the curbside recycling program. It will also allow the City to evaluate changes in the amounts of recyclables collected from residents participating in the pilot program.

“Incentive based recycling will help us to meet our recycling and sustainability goals while giving something back to our residents. During today’s recession and economic climate, saving money on groceries, on clothing, or at the pharmacy translates to great value. We have found a way to provide real financial rewards and help the environment at the same time,” said Mayor Franklin.

Each home in the pilot area will receive a brand new 96-gallon blue cart, retrofitted with an ID tag with the resident’s household address and RecycleBank account number. City trucks have been retrofitted with technology to read the cart ID tag. Upon activating their account with RecycleBank, either online or by phone, the household will begin to earn RecycleBank Points with every pick-up.

Points can be redeemed for rewards, gift cards, groceries, and products at hundreds of local and national RecycleBank Reward Partners. Partners include giant national brands and retailers such as Coca-Cola, Kraft Foods, Target.com, Publix, and CVS/pharmacy, as well as local partners like Zoo Atlanta, Radial Café, Rita’s Water Ice, MetroFresh, Edgewood Avenue Pizza, and Six Feet Under.

Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE), housed in Atlanta, is a significant player in making the pilot program a reality for their local neighbors. Through sponsorship dollars, they have enabled the purchase of the ten-thousand Rehrig Pacific blue recycling carts needed for the pilot program.
ABOUT THE PARTNERS

CITY OF ATLANTA
The City of Atlanta Recycling Program is a division of the Department of Public Works /Office of Solid Waste Services
(
http://www.atlantaga.gov/government/publicworks/dpwrecyclingprogram_08192008.aspx). This division promotes and supports recycling initiatives and programs, and educates City employees and the general public about waste reduction and recycling programs and opportunities. This division also serves as a liaison with local, state, and federal agencies on recycling issues to ensure responsiveness to problems and concerns, prepares grant proposals, and maintain records on the City’s recycling programs. The ReCART incentive based curbside recycling pilot project is a prime example of the City’s efforts to increase the amount of recyclables going to productive end uses rather than to area landfills.

RECYCLEBANK
RecycleBank is a rewards program that motivates people to recycle. Using the RecycleBank proprietary three-step process Recycle, Record, Reward™. We quickly and easily measure the amount of material each home recycles and then convert that activity into RecycleBank points that can be used at hundreds of local and national rewards partners.

COCA-COLA ENTERPRISES
Through this partnership, the goal of the world’s largest bottler is to increase opportunities to recover and recycle in the marketplace through Coca-Cola Recycling. Through recovery of the Atlanta materials, Coca-Cola can expect 150 metric tons of packaging materials. Coca-Cola Enterprises is the world's largest marketer, producer, and distributor of bottle and can liquid nonalcoholic refreshment.

REHRIG PACIFIC
Rehrig Pacific is an international company with operations and licensees worldwide manufacturing an ever-expanding product line of sustainable packaging products that includes plastic crates, pails, carts, and pallets designed to handle, store, and transport goods in the agriculture, bakery, beverage, dairy, environmental and retail materials handling marketplaces.

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

USDA wants to introduce families to their farmers

Kathleen Merrigan believes all families should know where their food comes from. To do that, they must first know where it all begins -- with farmers.

The deputy secretary for the U.S. Department of Agriculture visited the University of Georgia campus in Athens Oct. 26 to promote the department’s new Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative (www.usda.gov/knowyourfarmer).

“By better connecting consumers of food to their producers, people across the country will have a greater understanding of the challenges in agriculture today and the effort it takes to put food on their tables,” Merrigan said.

The initiative is especially important considering the average age of a U.S. farmer is 59 and climbing and many national and state agriculture experts are nearing retirement age, she said. Getting the next generation involved now is important.

“There seems to be more opportunities to talk about agriculture now than at any other time in my adult life,” she said.

As part of the initiative, she wants farmers to have the chance to talk to her and other USDA officials in person and through Web sites like YouTube. “We want to recognize a lot of expertise comes from the countryside,” she said. “We want to know what’s going on in Georgia, what’s working.”

While on campus, she spoke with UGA researchers, administrators, farmers and students and found out what the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences is doing to support locally grown food.

CAES promotes local food through work by the Center for Urban Agriculture, Farm to School programs, service-learning courses and community and school gardens.

The college recently graduated its first students in the organic agriculture certificate program, put together an organic production team that works with producers statewide and developed a new sustainable agriculture Web site (www.sustainagga.org) and newsletter.

“We have a unique opportunity to develop and supply local food systems right now,” said CAES sustainable agriculture coordinator Julia Gaskin.

To promote locally grown food, CAES also partners with the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education, Fort Valley State University, Georgia Organics, the Atlanta Local Food Initiative and Promoting Local Agriculture and Cultural Experiences, or PLACE.

Local food producers need places to process products like meat. CAES conducts feasibility studies to determine if meat-processing plants are feasible in certain parts of the state.

“There are no small processing facilities in the state,” said Georgia Organics director Alice Rolls. “For small poultry processing, they’re taking it to Mississippi.”

Merrigan mentioned there is interest in mobile poultry processing units, but said at best it’s a gray area when it comes to governing these facilities.

South Georgia farmer Bill Brim asked Merrigan how her department plans to tie food safety back to locally produced efforts.

“There is no size exemption on food safety,” she said. “We’re working on this.”

CAES dean Scott Angle reminded her that some critical research is not getting the funding it needs, for example, phosphorous use in watermelon and other environmental and sustainable issues.

“For farmers, it’s critically important, but government and industry doesn’t see it as important enough,” Angle said.

Farmers need financial help during disasters, like last year’s salmonella-related tomato scare that cost them $1.2 million in sales, said Terry Coleman, the Georgia deputy commission of agriculture.

“They’re vulnerable to natural disasters and also to misspeak,” Coleman said.

To get the next generation involved, young people need access to land and skills to grow food, said Craig Page with Athens-based PLACE.

“We need to be making it affordable so young people who want to farm closer to urban areas can,” he said, “so they can meet their social needs, too, and not be restricted to rural areas.”

Brian Barrett with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service told Merrigan that Georgia may soon move from being a state with few certified organic acres to one of the top 25. A $1.2 million NRCS grant will help it do that.

“Ag continues to grow in Georgia,” Angle said, “both at the state and local levels. It’s an interesting place to be right now.”

By Stephanie Schupska
University of Georgia
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Monday, October 26, 2009

UGA pumpkin variety grows well for Georgia farmers

Heading to a local pumpkin patch to pick the season’s best is a time-honored fall family activity. Thanks to University of Georgia researchers, a better, Georgia-specific pumpkin is available for carving or baking.

"Most of the pumpkins traditionally grown commercially in Georgia are Cucurbita pepo types," said George Boyhan, a horticulturist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. "They're in the same species as summer squash. And they're highly susceptible to viruses and other foliar diseases."

Even with an aggressive program to control tiny insect pests called aphids, aphid-transmitted viruses can quickly devastate the crop, he said, at times resulting in complete loss.

But Orange Bulldog is not so weak on the vine. The improved variety -- developed from germplasm collected in the jungles of South America – has greater levels of resistance to viruses than conventional pumpkins.

When Boyhan and retired CAES horticulturists Gerard Krewer and Darbie Granberry began working with the jungle seed, they discovered long, flat pumpkins, or ones not easily carved into jack-o’-lanterns.

The team worked to develop a more disease-resistant variety with a good jack-o’-lantern shape that’s adapted to Georgia’s climate. Orange Bulldog debuted in 2004.

It consistently yields 13,000 pounds to 20,000 pound per acre in northern and southern Georgia. Boyhan is now working to develop a variety with more uniformity in shape and color but with the same disease resistance as Orange Bulldog.

“The goal of the variety was to produce a pumpkin with higher levels of disease resistance,” he said. “So, it lends itself to organic farming where herbicides and fungicides are limited to a few organic compounds. We are looking at small growers and farmers markets and organic fruit seems to fit there.”

Organic seeds for Orange Bulldog will be available for next year’s crop.

The pumpkin variety has a considerable amount of variability, something shoppers at roadside stands and pick-your-own farms find appealing.

“People really like the variation of the pumpkin, they can use it for variety in decorating,” said Raymond Joyce, the UGA Cooperative Extension coordinator in Laurens County.

T&T Farms, a pick-your-own farm in Dudley, added an agritourism activity for school groups as well as an additional fall crop when they planted three-acres of Orange Bulldog this year. Joyce said he was surprised to see how well the pumpkin did in the field. It was grown without irrigation and had to be sprayed only once with a fungicide and then once with a herbicide.

“We had planted pumpkins in the past, but they always grew out too soon and never did too good,” said Nancy Tomlinson, owner of T&T Farms. “The neat thing about these pumpkins is they are all different. Some are long. Others are squatty. The color varies from light-yellow to bronze or deep orange. And some have green mingled in. It is neat to watch the variation in size, shape and color all come off the same vine.”

Having a successful pumpkin crop meant more business to the family farm this season. So did adding a corn maze and hayrides.

Apart from looking good, Orange Bulldog tastes good, too. In its immature state, it is bright yellow and can be prepared and eaten like summer squash. It’s particularly good sautéed with Vidalia onions, Boyhan said. The meat of a mature pumpkin can be cubed and cooked to make pumpkin pie filling.

“I’ve used it in cakes, pies and candy and cooked it like squash. You name it, we’ve tried it,” Tomlinson said.

To find pick-your-own pumpkin and other fruit or vegetable patches in your area, visit the Georgia Market Maker Web site at ga.marketmaker.uiuc.edu.

By April Sorrow
University of Georgia

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Master Gardeners celebrate 30 years in Georgia

This fall marks the 30th anniversary of the Master Gardener program in Georgia, and Master Gardeners gathered recently to celebrate the occasion by volunteering their skills at the Gwinnett Environmental & Heritage Center, located near Buford.

"Once we decided to go ahead and make the celebration a workday, we put out a call for locations,” said Krissy Slagle, a program assistant for the University of Georgia Master Gardener program.

Kathy Parent, Master Gardener and UGA Cooperative Extension program assistant in Gwinnett County, suggested the Gwinnett center because it's a green space and a teaching facility about water.

"We were looking for a location that would represent collaboration between Cooperative Extension and other educational organizations in the county, and the GEHC was just what we were looking for. Water has been a critical issue for the metro areas and the whole state, and it probably will be even more so in the future. They have done a great job creating an interactive educational exhibit for all of the generations,” said Marco Fonseca, the program’s state coordinator.

With tools in hand, 60 Master Gardens volunteered their services to build raised beds at the center. Kids who participate in gardening programs at the center also helped.

In addition to the raised beds, several other projects were completed.

Shannon Pable, a Gwinnett County Master Gardener, led an effort to extend a bed that she created soon after the center opened. The award-winning Georgia Gems garden showcases UGA plant introductions. Donated plants were added to the area to showcase low-maintenance ones suited for Georgia landscapes.

Throughout the year, Master Gardeners volunteer at the center, which is a model for sustainable horticultural practices.

"They willingly give their time and energy to support the Gwinnett Environmental & Heritage Center, sharing their knowledge with the public at our educational programs through Earth Day events and the Junior Master Gardener program and donating their time to improve our landscape,” said Catherine Long, exhibit program coordinator at the GEHC.

As Master Gardeners look back over the past three decades, Fonseca says that understanding, protection and enhancement of urban natural ecology are the future of program.

“We know that sustainable garden and landscape practices are in the best interest of all of our communities, and it’s our job to share that with others and to pass it along to the next generation,” he said.

University of Georgia

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Cutest Chick Found in Fayette County Classroom

Pre-K students in Dana Wren’s class watch as the baby chick pecks its way out of its shell.

The cutest chick in Fayette County is in Dana Wrenn’s pre-K classroom at Brooks Elementary.

Wrenn’s 20 students watched in amazement on October 9 as a baby chicken broke through its eggshell and hatched after two days of pecking.

“Finally the beak came through and we began to see a wet feathery creature appear, it looked like an alien to me,” says Wrenn. “When she was gathering her strength for the next portion of her hatching, we could see her heart beating and the rise and fall of her chest. She stretched her wings and poof; she arrived. It was so amazing.”

The hatching of the chick coincides with a life science farming unit Wrenn is teaching this month. A family of one of Wrenn’s former students raises chickens as a hobby and brought in three fertilized eggs. The eggs were kept in an incubator in the classroom but only one hatched after 21 days.

“What an incredible life lesson it is to see the magical wonder of an egg becoming a living chick. Children who are growing up in a techno world crave opportunities to experience life outdoors. I try to offer opportunities for exploration of life experiences and the wonder of our marvelous world,” says Wrenn.

As soon as the baby chick arrived, students began researching how to care for her. They knew they had to keep her warm and place her in a larger environment.

“We learned chicks must be kept at 95 degrees for their first week of life so we rounded up a plastic aquarium and rigged a lamp from the classroom to keep her warm,” says Wrenn.
The students also learned that chicks drink sugar water and eat starter scratch.

“They are keeping her watered and fed. We also discovered that we had to teach her how to drink and peck at her food,” says Wrenn.

The class named the chick Bemmie after a chicken character from the book “Love, Ruby Lavender,” a tale about Ruby Lavender, her grandmother and three stolen hens in the township of Halleluiah, Mississippi.

Bemmie will stay in the classroom for two weeks before she is transferred to the school’s butterfly garden. In the meantime, the students are waiting for a new batch of fertilized eggs in the hopes of getting another chick so Bemmie will have a companion.

Not only are students getting a lesson in life science, but they are also cultivating their writing skills by journaling about the experience and enhancing their vocabulary by learning new words. The students plan to publish a story, complete with pictures, about Bemmie’s transformation from a chick to a hen.

“Our Bemmie is growing by leaps and bounds In fact, she’s already getting pin feathers and trying to fly,” says Wrenn.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pickin' up pawpaws - a yummy garden chore

Pickin' up pawpaws, puttin' 'em in your pocket, Pickin' up pawpaws, puttin' 'em in your pocket, Pickin' up pawpaws, puttin' 'em in your pocket, Way down yonder in the pawpaw patch.

I sang that song as a child even though I had never seen a pawpaw, and my parents or grandparents never talked of one. As far as I knew, gathering pawpaws was like hunting a snipe or lassoing Sasquatch.

As an adult, I obtained two pawpaw seedlings and planted them out of curiosity and desire for the unusual. The pawpaws have been bearing for several years now, and I am pleased I gave in to my curiosity and desire. I also realized there is a lot this little folk ditty can teach us about this native but little-known fruit tree.

Pawpaws (Asimina triloba) are indeed more likely to grow “down yonder” in bottomland with deep soil than on higher and drier sites. They send up suckers and form a small colony of trees, or a “patch.” It’s is the largest fruit native to temperate North America and has a soft consistency.

Pawpaws drop to the ground when ripe, hence the necessity to pick them up, rather than harvest them off the tree. It is possible to pick them, but they are sweetest if not picked until fully ripe and ready to fall or have already fallen.

The pocket referred to in the song is an apron pocket or a tie-on pocket – a garment that women wore before pockets were sewn into clothes. A pawpaw in the pocket of modern-style clothes would make a mess – if you could even fit one in there. The pocket reference is an indication of the age of the song and how long people have been eating pawpaws.

I can understand why Nellie would slip away to gather pawpaws. They are sweet and tasty.
Not only Nellie and I think so. The Father of Our Country, George Washington, proclaimed the chilled pawpaw a favorite dessert. In addition to the rich flavor, he probably liked the creamy, custard-like texture. (Remember his false teeth.)

The flavor has been described as a mixture of mango, pineapple and banana. Friends and coworkers have mentioned overtones of pear, papaya and cantaloupe.

If the fruit is so flavorful, why is it not more popular?

The main reason is probably the fruit’s short shelf life, which is two to three days at room temperature and a little longer in the refrigerator. I tried picking some of the fruit green to see how it would ripen. The results were not satisfactory. The flavor was smoky and harsh.

Other reasons could be problems with propagation. Pawpaws don’t transplant well from the wild. However, unlike apples and pears, pawpaws grown from seed are similar to their parents. The downside is that the seeds should not dry out, are slow to germinate and require a period of moist chilling before they will sprout.

Some people may be put off by its texture because they think a fruit so soft must be over-ripe or spoiled. Others find the creamy texture appealing.

The smooth pulp can be an asset as it blends easily into ice cream. I imagine it would be ideal for sherbets or sorbets as the frozen pulp is practically a sorbet all by itself. I mixed the soft pulp into pancake batter for pancakes so moist and sweet they didn’t require syrup. (And I even cut down on the sugar in the recipe.)

Since growing your own is currently the only way to get a taste, I encourage gardeners to give the pawpaw a try. A few garden centers and mail-order nurseries carry pawpaws. Some offer named varieties propagated by cuttings or grafting.

Avoid bare-root plants as they do not transplant well. Buy those grown in containers instead.

And don’t be afraid to plant small ones.

For good pollination, plant two different varieties.

Aside from their fruit, pawpaw trees can be interesting additions to a garden. The leaves, which can be a foot or more long and six inches wide, provide a tropical effect. Fall color on my trees is an attractive moderate yellow, although I have read that some varieties can be more vibrant.

By Arty Schronce
Georgia Department of Agriculture

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

24th Annual Southern Gardening Symposium at Callaway Gardens®: January 29-31, 2010

While it’s still cold outside, get inspiration for your “dream garden” at the 24th annual Southern Gardening Symposium, one of the nation’s premier gardening events at beautiful Callaway Gardens®.

Make your plans to attend this January 29-31 symposium where you can listen and learn about gardening from an outstanding group of experts. Designed for novice to expert gardeners, this jam-packed schedule includes lectures, presentations and demonstrations. Though content-rich, this event provides the unique opportunity for personal interaction with the speakers throughout the weekend. The 2010 SGS program includes:

· Learning how to create an oasis in your own garden from Taunton Press’ “Idea” author Lee Anne White, who will discuss water garden design.

· Dreaming of a bold, tropical garden? Author Pam Baggett recommends sizzling plants for our sultry Southern climate.

· How about the dream “easy” garden? Author Pamela Crawford will highlight some of the easiest plants to grow in the southern garden.

· For the ultimate dream garden, June Mays will offer inspiration from the British landscape.

· Learn sustainable management practices including insect and disease basics from the University of Tennessee’s entertaining entomologist, Dr. Mark Windham.

· Sustainable gardening starts with good soil and William Cureton, a.k.a. “Captain Compost” will share his soil improvement techniques that anyone can do.

· George Sanko, from Georgia Perimeter College, will talk about ferns for shade gardens and even some ferns that tolerate sun.

· Keynote speaker, TV personality and garden writer Erica Glasener will share stories from ‘A Gardener’s Diary.’

Join like-minded gardening enthusiasts to dive right into the fun and learning with a series of pre-conference workshops and tours on Friday. Lee Anne White will lead a digital garden photography workshop and Erica Glasener will teach a garden design workshop. Truly be inspired by a tour of Jim Scott’s magical Lake Martin Garden. This garden has been featured in several gardening magazines for its creative use of rock and water.

In addition to these presentations, guests can indulge their passion at the SGS Marketplace offering one-stop shopping for the gardener. You’ll find an assortment of choice plants, many of which are touted by Symposium speakers as the new “must-haves”; a superb book selection including new releases by SGS speakers; and a delightful array of garden ornaments. Garden Delights, top supplier of native azaleas in the U.S., will be offering a selection of southern classic plants. McMahan’s Nursery, owned and operated by exotic plant collector Scott McMahan, offers amazing new and rare plants. Rocky Branch Garden Center will be selling plants highlighted by SGS speakers. Blooming Idiot will offer a wide selection of herbs, annuals and perennials. Petals from the Past will have heirloom varieties of favorite fruit trees and flowers. One-of-a-kind garden art pieces can be found from Lewis Simmons and Wade’s Metal Works.

SGS participants will have an exciting opportunity to participate in both silent and live auctions. The auction items include books and plants recommended by speakers; garden ornaments; botanical artwork by the late-Athos Menaboni; special plants provided by Callaway Gardens’ horticulture department, Hills & Dales Estate and Auburn University; items contributed by Marketplace vendors; and much more.

Preregistration for SGS is required by Friday, January 22, 2010. The program registration fee of $225 includes Friday’s opening reception; Saturday’s continental breakfast, programs with printed materials, box lunch and evening banquet; and Sunday’s continental breakfast and programs with printed materials.

The Southern Gardening Symposium is approved for seven contact hours for Georgia Certified Landscape Professional Continuing Education Units.

Callaway Gardens provides a variety of lodging options for SGS participants. The special rate of $75 per room per night is available in the Mountain Creek Inn® (based on double occupancy). This rate includes admission to Callaway Gardens per night of stay and day of departure. Nestled in the trees, the spacious Cottages and Villas are available for the choosing. Those looking to pamper themselves will love the luxury Lodge and Spa at Callaway Gardens.

Early–bird Specials! There are two great offers for those who register by October 31st, 2009:

Registration: Receive $25 off the program registration fee. Lodging: Receive the second night FREE when reserving the special SGS lodging rate of $120* per room in Mountain Creek® Inn.

For further information about SGS or to request a brochure, contact the Education Department at 1-800-CALLAWAY (225-5292), 706-663-5153 or education@callawaygardens.org.

*The above room rates are available only to registered SGS participants. Valid for Mountain Creek® Inn only and based on availability and double occupancy. Some restrictions apply. Symposium registration fee is separate.

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Monday, October 05, 2009

Autumn spiders

From big, fat barn spiders to their yellow garden cousins, between now and Halloween we will be seeing more spiders around our yards.

The first hard frost will kill them, but now they are mating and producing egg sacs that will overwinter and re-establish the population next spring.

The most commonly seen ones are orb-weaver spiders with large webs.

Barn spiders (Araneus cavaticus) can be found on porches, where flying insects attracted to porch lights get trapped in their webs. These spiders are nocturnal, constructing a new web every evening and taking it down before dawn. This rusty brown spider has legs extending about 2 inches, making it look large and noticeable. These spiders hide during the day, but at night are found in the middle of the web, waiting for insects to be trapped.

The yellow garden spider (Argiope aurantia) is one of the longest spiders in Georgia. It is frequently found in gardens and around shrubbery, where it constructs large webs to trap flying insects. The abdomen has distinctive yellow and black markings while the front part of the body, the cephalothorax, is white. The female typically remains in one spot throughout her life, repairing and reconstructing her web as it is damaged and ages. Her web may have a distinctive zigzag of silk through the middle, explaining its other common name, “writing spider.”

Unlike the nocturnal barn spider, the yellow garden spider can be found in its web anytime. Sometimes a smaller spider will be found in the web with her; this is the male.

These spiders have been present all summer, eating pest insects and growing. By late summer, they are large enough that people start noticing them.

Georgia has more than 800 species of spiders, all of which are harmless if you leave them alone. All spiders are more afraid of you than you are of them.

By Nancy Hinkle
University of Georgia

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Thursday, October 01, 2009

Water-logged lawns

As flood waters across the state recede after record rainfall, homeowners are left with a messy aftermath to deal with. This includes water-logged lawns that could suffer from the effect of too much of a good thing.

“Excessive rainfall creates an unfavorable soil environment for root growth,” said Alfredo Martinez, a University of Georgia Cooperative Extension plant pathologist. “The oxygen is displaced in the soil pores by water.”

Roots need oxygen

Without oxygen, root growth is restricted. In extreme cases, toxic gases such as hydrogen sulfides and metallic sulfides can accumulate, he said.

The result is weak or dead plants. Water-logged soil stays warmer longer and can increase turfgrass damage.

“Turfgrass injury due to flooding appears as dead brown areas,” Martinez said.

Symptoms will appear a few days after the flood water recedes, and the injured areas will follow the outline of low flooded areas. The first sign of trouble is raw sewage-like odor, which indicates a lack of oxygen in the soil.

After long periods of flooding, turfgrass can partially rot, he said.

“As with diagnosis of many turfgrass problems, history of the area is critical to correctly identify the problem,” Martinez said.

Watch for signs of damage

Additional problems associated with excess water are the diseases that thrive in extremely moist conditions and take advantage of the stressed plants.

The extent of damage depends on the length of flooding, said UGA Extension turfgrass specialist Clint Waltz.

Bermuda grass and bahia grass are most tolerant of flooding. Centipede is least tolerant. Zoysia and St. Augustine are intermediate.

To assess damage, look for white roots, green leaves or green or white runners above and below the soil surface. Green and white indicate a healthy plant while soft, milky white or brown stems and roots suggest the plant is dead.

Lend a helping hand

Lightly rake brown turf areas to determine if some grass has survived.

To help your lawn recovery from the flood:

* Improve surface and subsurface drainage. Keep drains clean. Dig temporary surface drains or put in subsurface drains.

* Remove any sediment like soil and organic debris on the surface by raking or shoveling to help surviving turf recover. Mow off dead leaves.

* Apply one-half pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet to encourage grass recovery. Follow normal maintenance practices the rest of the year.

If 40 percent to 50 percent of the area has healthy grass, there’s probably enough left to ‘grow in’ the rest, Waltz said.

Replacement an option

If more than 60 percent is lost, consider using sod, seed, plugs or planting a cover to restore the lawn. Sod produces an instant lawn with less long-term mess.
You can seed tall fescue now until early-November. Plugs should be installed later in the growing season.

You can establish a temporary cover with ryegrass or tall fescue. This should be done from mid-September through early-November. Turf-type tall fescue seeded at five pounds to six pounds per 1,000 square feet may survive if seeded in September. Higher seedling rates will lead to disease and other stress problems and should be avoided.

If tall fescue is used and bermuda, centipede or zoysia is wanted, the tall fescue will survive until next summer when centipede can be seeded or sodded into the tall fescue providing a gradual transition.

“In conditions like these, keeping things simple and being patient are the best strategies,” Waltz said.

For more information on caring for your turfgrass and landscape, contact your local UGA Extension agent at 1-800-ASK-UGA1. Or, visit the Web site www.GeorgiaTurf.com.

By Sharon Dowdy
University of Georgia

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