Garden Talk

with Rebecca Jordi


Leave a comment

Q: I was thinking about seeding a small, sunny area of my lawn with Argentine bahiasgrass. My neighbor thinks it is a bad idea. What are your thoughts?

 

Florida Lawn

Florida Lawn

A:   Argentine bahiagrass is a beautiful grass for home lawns and would be a good choice providing your soil pH is acidic enough.  I have found most of the soil in our area is quite the opposite – most soils are alkaline. After testing your soil, it became obvious you should consider another grass as the soil pH measured at 7.45.  Bahiagrass ideally would like the soil pH to be 5.5 so your soil is almost 100 times more alkaline than bahiagrass would prefer. This gives the grass a very poor starting point in addition to providing a permanent stress factor.  While we might be able to adjust the pH on a temporary basis it will only be temporary.  For your soil, the best choices for warm season grasses are Bermudagrass and St. Augustinegrass.  It is difficult enough to grow grass here with normal stress factors such as heat, drought and cold.  If the soil pH is too high or alkaline it will only compound your problems.  One other thing, it is a misconception to assume your soil pH is acidic simply because oaks are growing in your yard and the leaves drop into the soil.  It takes so long for them to decompose and alter soil pH. The only sure way to know the soil pH is to have it tested.  We can do a test for you at no cost.  Get a bucket; collect soil 4-6 inches deep from various areas within your lawn and drop it into the bucket.  Mix the soil in the bucket and bring up a portion of the soil to one of our offices.  The main office in Callahan is available most days from 8am – 5pm.  The Yulee satellite office has a Master Gardener on duty from 10am – 2pm on Fridays only (if it is not a holiday).

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Q: My peach tree is looking anemic. What could be wrong?

Peaches

Peaches

A:  I am glad you brought in a soil sample so we could test the soil pH for you.  We discovered your particular soil was alkaline (over 7.0).  Most of our fruit and vegetables prefer a slightly acid soil which is between 6.0 and 6.5.  When the soil becomes alkaline, often there are limitations to the absorption availability of some nutrients through the roots of the tree. Iron is one of those nutrients. It is involved in the manufacturing process of chlorophyll (the green pigment in leaves), which is important in carbohydrate production and it is required for certain enzyme functions. In high alkaline soils, iron is often unavailable to the plant which is why plants will often develop yellow leaves or look anemic. The University of Florida recommends adding chelated iron to the root area of the fruit tree when soils are above 7.0. Chelated iron is basically a type of iron with a special coating on it which will make it more available to the plant when the soil is alkaline. Many of our areas, especially along the coastal parts of Nassau, will have high alkaline soils. Fruit trees, such as your peach tree, could benefit from incorporating chelated iron into the soil around the roots. The directions on the package of chelated iron will provide the appropriate amount to apply.  Please follow the directions on the package as too much chelated iron can cause other problems.  Remember, you can always use less than the label recommendations but NEVER more. The “Label is the Law.”