Spring dead spot evident in Bermuda grass lawns  

Distributed by Lisa Stewart, Webster County Director

Now that warm season turfgrasses have greened up from winter dead circular patches in Burmuda grass lawns, athletic fields and golf courses are quite visible. While the symptoms of this disease problem is quite evident now as healthy turf breaks dormancy and begins to grow the diseased patches remains brown. The demise and ultimate death of the turf in these spots actually began as early as last fall and through the winter months. One or more pathogens (Leptosphaeria spp., Gaeumannomyces spp., Ophiosphaerella sp.) could be infecting and colonizing the roots and stolons of the bermudagrass. Even though the infection began last fall the symptoms were not evident then because the turf still had regenerative capacity to keep it alive. Once temperatures cooled below turf growth the disease got the better hand. While filling in of these dead areas may be slow usually the turf will recover by the end of the summer. A slightly lower cutting height to encourage lateral growth, keeping thatch to a minimum, aerification to stimulate root growth and a well-balanced fertility and watering regime will speed recovery. Weed competition must also be managed. To reduce the severity of spring dead spot this coming winter maintain adequate potassium levels, keep thatch levels below three-quarters of an inch and raise the mowing height towards the end of the growing season. Fall applications of selected fungicides (DMIs, strobularins) have given some protection. Bedding Plants Flats of marigolds, geraniums, impatiens, Madagascar periwinkle, ageratum, petunias, moss rose, scarlet sage and more abound in garden centers, grocery and discount stores. Selecting the best ones for your landscape to achieve the biggest color impact is always a fun and sometimes challenging endeavor. Look for named selections in the colors and sizes that will suit you and your landscape scheme. Remember, plants not yet in bloom will get a better start in your garden than those already blooming. In addition, plants that have grown to fill their container will experience less transplanting shock than those that have overgrown their pots. Some folks interplant annuals among their perennial and shrub borders to supplement or sustain the bloom show of the other plant material. For example, edging a bed of yellow “Hyperion” daylilies with the blue-flowering annual ageratum would make a nice show. Other folks prefer to use annuals in a bed or container all to themselves. This type of planting is typically used as an accent or focal point. Or you could use annuals both ways — incorporated in your perennial or shrub beds and also in areas or containers used for accent or special impact. At planting, work a slow-release fertilizer into the soil, applying at the rate recommended on the label. This will save you a lot of time this summer because you will not have to reapply for months. When you plant, space transplants as recommended on their labels. Use a trowel as a spacing guide. Good Friday has passed and most gardeners have planted at least the first vegetables for the Spring. Please mark your calendar to spend at least one day a week in the garden. Small weeds and young insects are easily controlled. Old weeds will take more than a swipe of the hoe to remove and many adult insects can only be killed by direct force. The best indication of a healthy garden is the footprints of the gardener. Frost protection is always a good idea when the weather forecast is for the mid-thirties or below. Newly formed young fruit are susceptible to cold injury and newly transplanted vegetables and flowers can be damaged. Even tomatoes advertised as cold tolerant are susceptible to frost injury, so take steps to protect your plants. Frost protection can take many forms. Covering with a sheet or light blanket is often sufficient. Some gardeners will cover recent transplants with a pot and hold the pot in place with a brick. Making sure the soil is moist will help plants survive cold temperatures since the water keeps the plants hydrated and acts as a temperature moderator in the soil. Commercial growers in Florida often run water down the rows during cold nights. Butter pea is a term used to describe small, nearly round lima beans. They come in two types, butter peas and speckled butter peas. Butter peas are light green and resemble baby lima beans with a light green seed coat and white seed interior. Specked butter peas have a dark reddish-brown seed coat with darker flecks and a white interior. Butter peas tend to be milder flavored than their counterpart lima beans, while speckled butter peas are more intensely flavored than Jackson Wonder butter beans. The plants produce well in Mississippi gardens. Each pod tends to have four seed in comparison to the two or three seed in lima bean pods.