Archive for January, 2013

Winter Burweed Should be Treated Before It’s Too Late


Winter Burweed Should be Treated Before It is Too Late
Keith Hawkins, LSU AgCenter, Beauregard Parish

     As a County Agent for the AgCenter, I strive to help homeowners with their lawn question and provide the best research-based information available. However, in my own yard, my attitude towards turf is more lax. I mow the yard and treat for fire ants, and that was it as far as lawn maintenance was concerned. I regard my yard as more of a botanical collection and have learned to identify St. Augustine, Bermudagrass and bahia grass. My yard is also a training lab in learning lawn weeds such as annual bluegrass, henbit, dichondra, carpetweed, and other weeds.

lawn burweed 1

Lawn Burweed in the Winter. Image by LSU AgCenter

      I have been very tolerant of lawn weeds until I walked barefoot one spring a few years ago and encountered stickers. The stickers became so bad that Gracie, our female Maltese dog, would not walk on the yard. After attending Dr. Ron Strahan’s Master Gardener classes on turf and on weeds, I learned that I have lawn burweed, or stickerweed.

     When the stickers are felt, it is too late to treat. The trick to treating burweed is timing. I have already seen burweed in my yard this month of January so I will be treating soon to prevent the stickers.

     Last February I used an herbicide with the active ingredient call Atrazine and where I applied it in accordance with the label, the treatment was an overwhelming success. I did not treat the whole backyard, but there was enough burweed-free yard that Gracie could comfortably visit the lawn and conduct her business.

      One treatment worked well for me, but sometimes another treatment may be necessary. Here are the suggested products labeled to control lawn burweed:
o Atrazine 1.5 oz. / gal. water per 1000 sq. ft.
o Weed B Gone 3 oz. / gal water per 1000 sq. ft.
o Ferti Lome Weed Free Zone 1.5 oz./ gal. water per 1000 sq. ft.
o 2,4D 1.5 oz./gal. water per 1000 sq ft.
o Bayer Advanced Southern Weed killer 2 oz. /gal. water per 1000 sq ft.
o Trimec 2 oz. /gal. water per 1000 sq. ft.
o Spectracide Weedstop 2 2oz./gal. water per 1000 sq. ft.

     These products are safe to use as labeled. If you use these or any pesticides off-label then you can expect damage. Also, these products are labeled for turf and could harm broad-leaf plants such as ornamentals, trees and shrubs.

     The “take home” lesson for the homeowners is to find lawn burweed, a winter weed, early and treat it as soon as discovered. When you or your family feel the stickers, then it is too late to treat, and you will have to wait a year for the next chance to deal with this weed.

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Growing Muscadines in Beauregard Parish


Editor’s note: This blog comes from an email discussion about muscadines, a native form of grapes. kh

Growing Muscadines in Beauregard Parish

by Jimmy Earl Cooley and Skip Cryer, Master Gardeners

muscadine grapes

Ripe Muscadine Grapes, NCSU image


>The two muscadine grape vines that you gave me and we planted to the rightof the house, looking toward the pond, I named SKIPPER 1 and SKIPPER 2.   #1,  I moved to the runway about this time, last year, and it
produced about half gal of nice grapes.  #2 did not produce any and never
has to date.  #1 was moved using the tractor front end loader, with no
particular attention to care of roots and left maybe three feet of the four
leaders attached.  I had previously dug the hole, on runway, to accept #1,
with no particular attention or addition of anything to hole.  I noted
that there were a fair amount of roots, near main stem (vertical) and out
approx 2 to 2.5 feet out from leader with very few large diameter roots.
I estimate that, with the front end loader, I got about 75 % of roots with
trensfer of #1 vine.  So expect it to do better this year and can only
conclude that lack of full sun and proximity to other trees and vegetation
prevented production of grapes at original location.  Now #1 vine was one
that was further from the surrounging treesand #2 is closer to trees,
especially a rather large pine tree.

>So, two weeks ago I moved #2 vine, using same procudure as #1,  from
near house to runway, except this time I pulled the 4 horizonal off rebar
trelace and rolled up and tied to central stem, planning to unroll and secure
to new rebar trelace on runway.  When vine and roots were in front loader,
so I could examine roots, I was surprised to see that several large roots had
not broken or pulled up but were holding on to root ball and these roots were
not where the most sun hit but under ground and toward the large pine tree
trunk, two long roots were large as my index finger and thumb and some 12 feet long, probably even longer as I cut off before finding end since it was tangled with pine tree roots.  Thought this was strange cause expected largest and most vigrous root growth would be away from trees and toward open area with more sun.  So roots liked shade and pine needle mulch and grew better in that environment and not so good in open area, but neither configuration produced enough roots to support vine anb make fruit?? The open area had mulch around stem for approx 3ft but only put it down in spring and was mostly gone now. I kept both vines watered during dry times in original location.

>Anything to learn.

>Mulch a good thing, shallow roots

>Muscadine in wild, roots covered good. filtered sun

>Can successfully move complete vine and expect it to survive using front
end loader

>It will be interesting to see results this year.  Believe you gave me
the two vines 4 years ago, is that what tou remember?  Comment please and
further recommendations appreciated.

>Later, jec

SKIPPER GRAPE VINE #2/Reply by Skip Cryer

Well, we get into ideology,  It is a long way from Ison to Cooley Hill.  Even though geologically the areas are similar the soils have differing origins whaterver that would have to do with the subject.  We are in the Mississippi basin and they are not.  First, pine needles unmulched last a long time due to a very slow rot cycle and do not wash or blow away.  Their purpose would not be to modify the soil but protect the emerging shallow root growth from grass and weed competition and to preserve moisture so that mandatory watering would not be necessary.  We normally have an extended dry spell late spring or June.  The amount of Miracle Gro that I mentioned would simply be enough to kick start feeder root growth.  Just like any plant does better when planted if a starter liquid is used.  Green manure or hot chicken manure I would not use anyway.  Well rotted cloved hoof or horse manure would not bother me.  Cottenseed meal is low nitrogen, slow release.  Sawdust unless very well rotted is a no no.  It robs the soil of its nitrogen.  What pH muscadines thrive at is not something discussed much.  They are basically native plants that do very well  in pine forests, mixed pine and deciduous forests, sandy hills, and on slopes along streams.  The pH of these soils in Louisana range naturally from 3.5-4.5, acidic.  The ground is covered with pine needles and oak leaves.

I am no expert but am hardheaded about some things.  After loss of much money and time trying to make plants grow where they are not comfortable I have yielded.  I will be up front.  I don’t understand a lot of recommendations written for gardening books and those from businesses selling side products.  I tend to sort out what is sensible, works, and does not require me to spend lots of hours pampering.  Absolutly noting done impacts every plant the same.  Soils over even a relatively short distance are different in chemistry, grain size, moisture retention, etc.  My vines are scattered over an area approximately 600 x 200 feet, hill top to borderline boggy.  I treat them all the same.  I repair trellises, prune and pick.  I get differing growth from 2-3 feet to 12-15 without watering or fertilizer.  I have never limed.  The more growth I get the less berries I get.  Fertilizer causes more growth.  I have killed shrubs and trees with commercial fertilizer placement followed by dry weather–it turns toxic in a hurry.  However your vines are young starters.  You may get some quick vine growth to cover your trellises and quicker maturity.  Mine have been planted for a long time and my interests are different.

I do believe that muscadines are one of those plants that has a tough constitution which allows them to grow in almost any condition other than snow and standing water,  They do like sun and to have their roots left alone.  They are happy with pruning but cannot tolerate herbicides.

If you want to follow Ison’s recommendations I don’t see that harm would follow.  Ironically, I am into a new ‘research’  mode.  I have two young vines, an Ison and a Black Beauty that I have planted in my pine trees.  According to everything this is waiting failure.  The only thing I plan to do is let them grow and if they do set a trellis for them.  The only negative thing that may happen to them is dry weather before they establish a supporting root system.  Two years ago I tried two in another evironment and dry weather got them.  We got less than 40 inches of rain that year.  Last year we got 72 inces according to the weather station.  Interstingly I got a berry crop both years.  Normal rainfall is about 50 inches.

I will give you my real thought on the subject.  I think growing plants is like growing children.  Pamper them with lots of attention, plenty of food and drink, protection, etc their growth and development becomes based on this environment.  When it is time to cut them loose on their own they go into a level of shock.  Watch your garden as the ground dries up and the commercial fertilizer begins to run out.  Humans are obsessive about creating faux environments though I readily admit total austerity is not conducive to success in all cases but point made.  Moderation in all things is mandatory.  My yard trees and other plants are tough.  When I go my family will not have to worry about pampering them to keep them from following.

Why do bare root trees outgrow trees planted from pots or do they?

Try it, they may like it.

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Grow Your Own Healthy Crops


Grow Your Own Healthy Crops
By George Giltner, Master Gardener, Beauregard Parish, LA
Health and nutritional value of food has become a common daily concern. The CDC reports that in 1958 less than 1% of the US population was diagnosed with diabetes. By 2010, the percentage has trended to an amazing 7%. For our youth, estimates are that 33% are overweight and at risk for diabetes. The cost of coronary heart disease in the US is over $150 billion annually (World Health Organization), with over 100 million people having high cholesterol levels (200mg/dl), and 70 million are treated for high blood pressure. WHO also reports that global cancer rates could increase by 50% by 2020. Our Western lifestyle with a high caloric diet, rich in fat, refined carbohydrates and animal protein, combined with low physical activity, lead to obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, arterial hypertension and cancer. Those are the unhealthy facts.
Now, is the time for a healthy life-style awakening, a behavioral reality check, and sensible cost-saving solutions to your health goals. Gardening can be the best choice solution for healthy nutrition and physical activity. The DeRidder LSU AgCenter has a nutritionist, Master Gardener classes, and a wealth of experts to support you. Gardens can be grown in containers, from pots to raised beds, or bigger into row gardens. In a month you can have a nice crop of red lettuce, kale, and broccoli. For spring, plan for one of the healthiest foods, legumes. The garden-fun exercise is good for the entire family. Dr. Kathy Fontenot, LSU AgCenter School Gardening coordinator, says “When kids grow vegetables, they will eat them.” This behavioral change even applies to adults!
Since gardening is a consumer of time and effort, you expect a good return on your investment. Education and learning are vital to a successful outcome. The Master Gardeners Program along with the comrade of contacts through the course provides abundant gardening knowledge.
You will also want to grow the healthiest and most nutritional veggies. Questions concerning diets and healthy food can be answered by Christy at the LSU AgCenter.
Whether to go organic or chemical or somewhere between in your garden quest is another nutritional choice. Common chemical fertilizers (NPK) are notorious for acidification and depletion of organic matter in soil. Also balance of nutrients is variable due to solubility and leaching of nutrients, especially when high rainfall amounts occur. However organic agricultural practices in general are right on track towards providing necessary soil conditions for growing vegetables with good, and sometimes superior, nutritional qualities. New mixed-fertility, management systems makes selective use of commercial fertilizers and organics with the goal of producing mineral-dense nutritious foods. These ecologically-oriented farms using this system, produce foods of superior nutritional quality. In many instances it surpasses their certified organic counterparts. Soil testing is of prime importance. It provides the analysis necessary to correct mineral deficiencies in various soils whether organic, chemical or mixture farming.
Between 1963 to 1992, the USDA reported average drops in the mineral content of some fruits and vegetables (oranges, apples, carrots, potatoes, corn, tomatoes, etc.) The average % change was -30% for calcium, -32% for iron, -21% for magnesium, -11% for phosphorus, and -6.5% for potassium. Other studies support depletion of soil minerals in American farm soils and a loss of food nutritional values.
The practice of adding well-made compost in organic gardening is an excellent method of avoiding mineral depletion. Home gardens are under the control of the gardener, who feeds the soil with composted kitchen waste to a large variety of other organic matter. This supports soil life with needed macro/micro minerals and nutrients that in turn, supplies the vegetables with a balance of absorbable minerals (20) and other nutrients in a desirable on-demand release.
Another factor in food nutrition is freshness. Fresh vegetables are more nutritious than canned goods, some frozen goods, and imported produce. Canned veggies are cooked, then have stabilizers, salt, and preservatives added which make them a poor choice for people with health issues. Cooking and draining of food can result in a 75% loss of potassium. Blanching of frozen veggies causes the loss of water-soluble vitamins (like B vitamins), but removes few of the fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin A, E, and carotenoids. 30% of vitamin C is lost in freezing. For more information refer to the USDA Table of Nutrient Retention Factors (2003). Imported or distant produce is typically picked raw, then treated with ethylene or other agents for a ripe appearance and a fresh look. However time and the disrupted ripening process of fruit can severely affect its nutritional quality and flavor. Food from the local grower or home garden can always be picked fresh and can have flavor comparable to vine ripe tomatoes.
The ‘mystery factor’ of our food supply is a major residual concern for most people. The ‘mystery factor’ can be “Where did this food come from?” or “Are any harmful pesticide residues or biologicals in or on the food?” or “What is the true nutritional value?”. A recent TV documentary stated that only 2% of food from China is inspected. A close inspection of supermarket pork may reveal that it came from Haiti or another third world country. Also there are only 3 major food suppliers of food in this country. Their main concern is growing food for a profit. It must look good, taste fair, have a long shelf-life and above all – be sold. Therefore, the best approach to obtaining good nutritional food without the ‘mystery factor’ is to buy local quality food or grow it yourself.
So there are healthy benefits in growing your own food. You can control fertility, pesticide usage, harvest time and choose many types of flavorful, nutritious vegetable varieties. Garden produce can lower your grocery budget, or it may even produce income from a Farmers Market. It is a pleasant endeavor that can improve physical and mental well-being.

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Honey Bee Enemy #1: Varroa Mites

By George Giltner, Master Gardener

LSUAC4C72-80px[1]MasGarTM5x7_w85[1] A Blog from the LSU AgCenter & Beauregard Master Gardeners

                      Honey bees pollinate about 1/3 of the human diet, directly or indirectly to apples, blueberries, and 130 other crops in the United States.  For fruit and nut crops, the degree of pollination dictates the maximum yield and profitability of these crops.  This is why bee pollination services are reported at $9 billion plus within the United States alone.

Valuable bee populations have risen and fallen within the past decade due to numerous causes.  Some report that the honey bee’s worst enemy is man with improper use of insecticides.  However I disagree. We propagate bees, promote their good genes, aid their health against natural diseases, and supply them with abundant foraging acreage in a mutual beneficial relationship.  Enemy # 1 is debatable, but Varroa destructor, a mite (below arrow above) rate very high on the list.  The worst enemy is the one in a beekeeper’s hive.

Varroa mites actually originated in Asia.  There they did little harm to the eastern honey bees.  But when American honey bees were brought to Asia, the devastating damage to hives became evident.  Then over the past 100 years, these mites have spread worldwide.

5 varroa mites

A Varroa mite (under blue arrow) attacking a juvenile honey bee

The adult mites are reddish brown, round, and range from one to two millimeters in diameter.  Varroa go between the bee segments, puncture the soft tissue, and feed on bee hemolymph through the puncture.  The mites are passed from bee to bee in the hive.  Also they are transported to other hives when bees drift into other hives, when healthy bees rob weaker hives, and when beekeepers put hives in new locations.

When the mites reproduce, they enter the brood cells of larval bees that are about to be capped.  The mites feed on the bee larvae, lay eggs that soon hatch, and both continue to feed on the bee larvae.  The result of this feeding is damage or death to the developing bee.  It is safe to assume that hundreds of thousands of bee hives have been destroyed, causing billions of dollars of economic loss.

It sounds hopeless, but beekeepers can take countermeasures.  Sticky traps underneath a screen bottom tray can capture the varroa mites as they frequently fall off the bees.  Placing colonies in full sun modestly reduce varroa numbers.  Fogging mineral oil and dusting the bees with powdered sugar have not been proven to be effective to this date.

The most significant advancement toward control has been through genetic breeding programs.  Favored genes are associated with bee behavior.  One behavior is for the bees to groom themselves and other bees in the brood.  Therefore mites are knocked off the bees lowering the mites in the bee colony.  Another behavior is hygienic bees that can detect problems in the developing brood.  They uncapped the infected larvae and remove it from the hive.  This hygienic behavior is called ‘varroa sensitive hygiene’ or simply ‘VSH’.  Bees with these genetic traits can be purchased from specific bee suppliers.

Contact Keith Hawkins (337-463-7006) at the LSU Agcenter or the Southwest Beekeeper’s Association for additional information.

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Small Hive Beetles, a Pest of Honey Bees

By George Giltner, Master Gardener

LSUAC4C72-80px[1] A Blog from the LSU AgCenter, Beauregard Parish, LA

American beekeepers first began to report problems with small hive beetles (Aethina tumida) in 1996.  Since then, they have spread throughout the United States mainly through importing queens from other countries and transporting hives from state to state.

Damage caused by hive beetles includes Colony Collapse Disorder, ruining honey by beetle larvae feces, fermentation of honey by inoculation of the honey with yeast, and larvae tunneling through the comb destroying bee larvae.  Heavy infections can transform a beautiful golden honey hive into a discolored frothy mess.


Larva of Small Hive Beetle

The cream colored larvae grow to ½ inch.  Note the distinct hairs on the body and only three pairs of legs near the head.  Don’t mistake these larvae for the greater wax moth larvae (Galleria mellonella) which has four pairs of prolegs near the posterior end.

The larvae do their damage in 7 to 10 days, then they exit the hive and head for the ground (within 6 foot of the hive) to pupate for 3 to 6 weeks.  At this point in their life cycle, they are vulnerable.  Permethrin drenched soil will destroy the larvae, but it is highly toxic to bees.  Follow instructions.


Honey bees and Small hive beetle

The adult, black to dark brown beetles emerge from pupation, then they seek new hives and mates (up to miles away) to lay new eggs within a week.  Once within a hive the bees can only nudge them around into corners and crevices, as their beetle wings protect them from bee stings.  The adults live 6 months plus, while laying 1000 eggs in over-lapping generations.

The behavior of the adults is to avoid light and to congregate in areas of the hive that are inaccessible to bees.  Avoiding light is also larval behavior, except in the latter stages when it is maturing and seeking its way out of the hive.  A fluorescent light near the hive floor may attract larvae seeking to pupate.  Sweep up the larvae and drown in soapy water.

The most effective means of control is prevention by maintaining a clean apiary and honey house, reduce stresses from mite parasitism and diseases, and propagate bees that have strong hygienic traits.  Since the beetles prefer shady locations, put hive in direct sun for at least some of the day.  Perform regular cleaning or screen bottom boards to prevent debris that larvae can pupate inside the hive.  Utilize mechanical traps inside the hive to reduce numbers.  Some of the traps available are the West Trap, the Hood Trap, the Freeman Beetle Trap, AJ’s Beetle trap, and Cutt’s Beetle Blaster.  The Beetlejail trap gets them at the front door by drowning them in oil.

An extensive and very well written article on identification, life cycle, and control measures for the small hive beetles can be found at www.  Also for expertise from experience beekeepers contact the Southwest Louisiana Beekeepers Association through county agent Keith Hawkins at or 337-463-7006.  Happy Beekeeping!

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Pine Straw – Good or Bad Mulch ?

By George Giltner, Louisiana Master Gardener

LSUAC4C72-80px[1]MasGarTM5x7_w85[1] A blog from the LSU AgCenter and Louisiana Master Gardeners program

                      Many discussions among gardeners, landscapers, and online blogs are about mulch.  A good mulch beautifies the plant base, retains moisture, prevents weeds, allows gaseous exchange to the roots, prevents erosion, provides soil insulation, and adds nutrients to the soil.  We are so fortunate in Beauregard Parish to have one of the best mulches under our feet, pine straw.  However, an online computer search or a neighborly conversation always seems to bring up “the acidity issue with pine straw”.

3 pine straw

Beauregard Parish is blessed with pine straw, a beneficial mulch.

Beyond opinions and bias are scientific facts and factors that can resolve these “acid discussions”.  To a certain extent, whatever your position, you are correct.  Yes, pine straw releases organic acids to the soil, but it will have little effect on your plants.  Now let’s “look in the weeds” for the reasons.

Rain – Every time it rains, from the early beginning of time, the soil gets an acid wash.  Gas compounds of carbon (CO2), sulfur (SO2), nitrogen (nitrates), and other substances have reacted with water to form acid rain.  Our current pH (acid-base scale of O to 14) of rain is 5.6 here, which is mildly acidic.  Rain’s acid water that is loaded with oxygen, is great for plant’s root systems. Oxygen allows for the roots and microbes in the rhizosphere to respire and grow, and to produce more acids, organic acids.  The mildly acid nature of the water enables minerals to be available for plant absorption. Therefore rain contributes to a continuous supply of acids, which is overall more in quantity than a typical mulching of pine straw.

Soil – The soil in our area is classified as Ultisol with a composition of weathered clay, kaolinite.  This aluminosilicate clay soil is acidic (pH 4.3 on my land), has a poor ability to hold mineral nutrients, and lacks organic matter.  In order to grow crops, it has to be limed, fertilized, and benefits significantly with organic matter additions.  So, correcting the soil pH to begin with, is a much larger acidity factor than addition of pine straw mulch.  Also the pH will drift down with time, as the calcium of the lime is released from the weak mineral-holding kaolinite or goes into solution with rainwater leaching.

Amendments – Acid fertilizers whether synthetic or organic contribute to the total soil acidity.  Most box store fertilizers like 10-10-10 are acidic.  Acidic organic fertilizers like cotton seed meal are for use around blueberries, azaleas, and other low pH plants.  Peat moss adds organic matter and lowers the pH of soil.  Therefore these amendments can impact soil pH greatly, depending on application quantities and length of time (years) they have been applied.

Pine straw – Cell vacuoles of pine straw are loaded with tannic acids.  These phenolic acids are antibacterial, anti-enzyme, antioxidant, and bind with insect proteins.  Their function is to protect the needles from biological attacks.  Some tannins and other organic substances that form acids are readily soluble in water, while others become soluble as they break down by slow fungal decay.  A large factor in release of these acids from the needles is physical.  If the waxy cuticle of the needle is damaged, water readily penetrates the interior needle, hastening release of tannic acids, cellulose and lignin by-products.  Example: The mowing of pine needles destroys them in weeks, whereas whole pines needles take many years (as many as 10 years) to break down in the forest.  The mower blades shred pine straw opening it up to water and microbes which speed up leaching of organic acids and decay.

Therefore the bottom line is, yes, pine straw is a good mulch.  It will add some temporary acidity to your soil, but even these organic acids are eventually broken down by microbes.  However the amount of pine straw acid contribution is very small in comparison to rain, amendments, and soil acids over a growing season.  Monitor the soil pH with soil testing, correct acid levels with calcium compounds, add organic matter to aid in buffering the soil pH, and have great plants mulched with pine straw.

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Planting Tips & Community Gardening Plots Available in DeRidder for 2013

By George Giltner, Master Gardener

LSUAC4C72-80px[1]MasGarTM5x7_w85[1] A Blog from the LSU AgCenter and Beauregard Master Gardeners

Master Gardeners welcome gardeners to grow and care for vegetable plots in DeRidder.  Master Gardeners or community gardeners can obtain plots by calling the AgCenter, 463-7006, or George Giltner at 460-1715.  Corn, early tomatoes, a row of blackberries, broccoli, lettuce, snap peas, etc. are suggestions.  Our aim is to grow healthy, nutrient dense foods, and to support our LSU AgCenter.

A healthy potato variety, Nicola, will be trialed this spring in two sites in the Master Garden.  This potato has a low glycemic index and a buttery flavor that is great for potato salads and mashed potatoes.  One planting site is the primarily clay soil on the west end, and the other in a sandy loam site in the center of the garden center.

1 mg garden

Santa visiting a winter garden in Beauregard Parish

Potato planning tips:

  1. Be sure to order your potatoes early.  Many heirloom and hard-to-find varieties sell out quickly.  Ask about the delivery date.  This is important because potatoes do not do well when the temperatures reach the 90’s.  If a late planting runs into hot weather while the tubers are in the early bulking stage, you may get a low yield.
  2. When your seed potatoes arrive, store them in the refrigerator until the week before you are going to plant them.  To break their dormancy, take them out of the refrigerator, and place them on a bright and warm place, like a window seal.
  3. Plan on where you want to plant your potatoes.  The critical consideration for planting is good soil drainage.  Heavy spring rains can soak soil and turn it to anaerobic conditions and rot,  without proper drainage.  Do not plant potatoes where tomatoes or other members of the Nightshade family grew the previous year.  Plant them in spots where cabbage, mustards or other brassicas were grown for their fumigant and disease resistant properties.
  4. The right time to plant is determined by weather conditions.  Potatoes should be planted in soils that are dry enough to be cultivated without heavily sticking to cultivating tools.  The target date for our Nicola potatoes is Feb. 14.  However some may be planted under hoop wire and cover cloth for an earlier start.
2 mg garden

Containerized beds with hoop covers for winter gardening.

More planting and gardening tips will follow next month.  Gardening is fun.  You get mental and physical exercise, but the best part is really great food at the end of the day.  An outstanding web site is  All of us want good health.  So think about a New Year of discovering ways to live a healthy life style.

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Rhinoceros Beetle – Giant Grub Worm

By George Giltner, Master Gardener

LSUAC4C72-80px[1]MasGarTM5x7_w85[1] A Blog from the LSU AgCenter & Beauregard Master Gardeners

3 rhino beetle adult

Adult Rhino Beetle

The rhino beetles (Scarabaeidae family) look like June bugs on steroids with up to a two inch length.  Some species have males with large horns which make them ferocious looking.  However, do not fear because these beeltes are harmless.  They even make good pets which can be kept in captivity for up to two years.

Strategus aleous is a common species found in our Beauregard Parish.  Look around parking lots at night, as they are attracted to street lights near grass or wooded areas.  The males have dominant curved side horns and a frontal rhino horn.  If two males are put a box, you may have a battle of the bugs contest with shoving and pushing.  These bugs are extremely strong.  One entomologist glued a weight 100X the weight of the beetle, on its back.  It carried the weight.  This is equivalent to a man walking with three cars on his back.  Therefore ounce per ounce, these beetles are among the world’s strongest animals.  Online “Giant Beeltes, Hercules Beetles, Ox Beetles, Rhino Beetles and Unicorn Beetles” can bring in big prices from collectors.  Perfect specimens can be sold for thousands of dollars.

4 rhino beetle grub

Grub of Rhino Beetle

The giant 4 inch grubs that residents of Beauregard parish find in their compost, rotting stumps, sawdust, and leaf piles are the harmless larvae of these beetles. They are beneficial by aiding in the decomposition of high-carbon organic matter. In my own 4’ cube compost pile, I have counted up to 50 of these grubs. They are dossel and easily picked from finished compost to add to unfinished organic matter. Fishermen love to use these grubs to catch the prize “big One”.  Insectivorous animals like opossums and armadillos love to dig up thick layers of leaves under hardwood forest to feast on the grubs of these giant beetles.

These fascinating goliaths of the beetle order, Coleoptera, are totally beneficial to man.  Whether put to use as fish bait, a compost grinder, or as a pet for a curious child, these beetles are useful insects.

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Open Bee Hive for Inspection…..Nov 2012

by Jimmy Earl Cooley, beekeeper & Master Gardener

LSUAC4C72-80px[1] A Blog from the LSU AgCenter, Beauregard Parish, LA

I have been feeding sugar water for two months in hopes of giving necessary food to tempt bees to fill the two empty frames in my top, of two, brood boxes with sugar.  I opened the hive in Nov 23rd and found it amazingly clean and free of hive beetles and all bees docile and cooperative. Although the two frames were still completely empty with no activity, although they were consuming a quart bottle of sugar water every few days.  Must be using to support the hive or other bees and yellow jackets stealing water.  I rotated the entrance board to reduce the entrance hole from approx. 3inch to 1 inch for winter and placed spacers between inner cover and top cover to allow for ventilation during winter.  I removed several frames from top brood box and looked down to bottom brood box and everything looked good and clean and full of bees.  Noticed on the side of a frame from top brood box, what appeared to be a queen cell or maybe several together, with openings on top, as if queens may have hatched out.  I did not pull any lower or other frames from top box to search for queen. So looks like winter is progressing without incident or problems.  Plan to open hive again for quick inspection in Dec.  Comments appreciated.   Jimmy Earl Cooley 11-24-2012

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Latest Beedeeping Notes for 2012

LSUAC4C72-80px[1] A Blog from the LSU AgCenter, Beauregard Parish, LA

Thursday Oct 4, 2012

As per my last entry in bee logbook, the top super was removed and harvested and not replaced on top of the two brood boxes, so Hebert Hive consist of two large brood boxes, a base, and inner cover and the top.  Today I removed the top and inner cover and examined 6 of the 10 frames inside the top brood box.  To my amazement I saw only one hive beetle, and manage to squash it,  there were approximately 25 in the upper super when I removed to harvest the honey inside and expected to see more now, but did not and that is good news.  I removed two frames starting at end and three from other end leaving the five in the center.  None of the five frames, from the sides (1 and 2 and 8, 9, 10) contained honey, just honey comb – bees were busy working on both sides of the frame and everything looked clean and ready for deposit of pollen, nectar, honey, or egg.  This surprised me as I thought there was honey on some of these outer frames will have to go back and look at my notes and photos to determine, but probably just my memory error.  I do remember that my plans were to take the frames from the super that had honey and exchange for the frames in the upper brood box that had no honey, so there would be additional honey for them for the winter.  But Richard suggested that I go ahead and remove and harvest the super and leave it off for the winter, so that’s what I did.  Now that the honey flow is slow and winter is approaching, I think I will start feeding sugar water (2 parts sugar and 1 part water) again for about a month to give additional food so they can fill the frames in the upper brood box that are empty. Any suggestions on this idea?  Took photos of the frames today, which are enclosed with this email message.  The hive seemed to be perturbed a lot today and I did not remove any frames from the bottom brood box – just looked down at them and the floor when frames were removed from the upper brood box for inspection.  They were hitting my head veil rather consistently and with a lot of force, but none managed to get into suit and sting me!  So other that lack of honey in the upper brood box, everything looked good as far as my experience tells me.    Later,    jec


Happy bees in Mr. Jimmy’s bee box

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