Flood Irrigation & Soil Worms

Question:

 I have an area that is watered by drip irrigation and wish to fertilize it. Do I need to "flood" irrigate the area to dissolve the dry fertilizer? 

Answer:

  •  Sure, flooding the area would work, but it would not be my number one choice. I'd instead scatter fertilizer around the drip emitters and hand-water the area under the drip line of the plants. I come back in a week to ten days and do it again. You're now able to target a specific area while avoiding wasting water.
  • Many landscape plants only need to be fed annually, so another option would be to move up your feeding to earlier in the year so you could let Mother Nature dissolve the fertilizer with a late-season soaking.
    • With ornamental landscape trees and shrubs, you could start as early as March first. If you need to feed multiple times, I will see if a fertilizer injector was available for the irrigation system I was using and install one?
    • If not, I'd apply Osmocote in the area where the emitters released water. Osmocote is a time-release fertilizer that lasts four months and releases nutrients every time you watered. It's ineffective without water; hence the placement is critical. It can be broadcast over the soil, and it's not necessary to be worked in.
  •  Also, it's not necessary to remove any of the mulch that might in place.

Question:

About six weeks ago, we purchased and planted a lime bush. When we took it out of the container, the dirt fell away from the root ball, and we think we saw some little worms or grubs. We've now found an online source for Beneficial Nematodes to control the worms. Would this be helpful as there hasn't been any new growth?

Answer:

  • An application of Beneficial Nematodes wouldn't hurt, but I'm not sure it will help either.
  • Not every worm we see in the ground is an omen for something bad to happen. Also, it's a bit early for grubs to be active. Beneficial Nematodes are available at many independent garden centers, so it wouldn't be necessary to purchase them online. You could apply for them this weekend instead of waiting for them to arrive.
  • One of the reasons you lack growth could have resulted from the breaking or cracking of the root ball. The sluggish growth could also be the result of the planting depth.
    • The original root ball should be visible at grade level. If the top of the original root ball is down half of an inch or deeper, it's planted too deep, and I'd replant it. With a shovel, carefully lift the plant up, push the soil under the root ball at the proper height, firm or compact the soil around the root ball, and reconstruct the water basin.
    • It is okay for the top of the roots to be exposed. In about a month, I'd begin regular applications of Citrus Food.