Thursday, January 21, 2010

Playing with Fire!

I was at the Coastal Carolina Camellia Society meeting the other night and got talking to one of my friends there about my Blog. (Thanks Marilyn!!) She gave me some more great ideas for this thing.
Basically she said, "Good, we can follow you and do what you do" This excited me and scared me at the same time! I don't "always" follow the written in stone, concrete instructions. With that being said, I DO ALWAYS follow the instructions on pesticide labels, that is the law folks!!
No, when I say I don't always follow things, my feeding, pruning and overall growing basics tend to get "tweeked" a lot.
Let me give you an example. Here in North Charleston, as well as everywhere in the country, we had some pretty cold weather the first few weeks of January. I, of course, had most of my citrus in the greenhouse. Anything below 29 degrees forecasted gets my attention. We had 12 nights in a row below that threshold. Everything came out fine, it only got down to 33 in there on the coldest night. It dropped to 18 outside.
Well, on January 15th, the weather was predicted to be warm for at least a week....(if you call lows in the upper 30's low 40's warm) I pulled all the citrus out of the greenhouse, yes all 45 varieties. I knew there was some good rain on the I fed them! Anybody that knows anything about plants, the middle of January is NOT the time to be feeding anything. It will cause it to flush new growth and that new growth will be much more susceptible to cold and frost. Unless they call for sub 32 degrees again, they will stay outside to get as much sun and fresh air as they can.
If I am giving advice on when to fertilize your citrus trees, I have to take a bunch of things into account. If they are growing in the ground, wait until at least the end of February or middle of March to feed them. If they are in containers, are you willing to bring them in if it gets really cold again? If yes, go ahead and feed them. Just keep a GOOD eye on the weather. Also, your gut will help you a lot. If you feel the least little bit uneasy about a certain forecast, or if it is so borderline close, bring them in.
What do I usually feed mine? Again, here we go with the tweeking. I have a crazy schedule. I use this product called "Citrus Tone" it is made by Espoma. Probably the best stuff I have found. I don't remember the recommended application rates, I just sprinkle some on the soil of each plant every two weeks and either water in or wait for the rains. The alternate weeks, I use Fish Emulsion, sometimes as a foliar spray or sometimes as a drench. I know this sounds expensive, and it is. That is why I don't recommend it to everyone. The Citrus Tone could be used every 4 weeks or so.....maybe even follow the recommended rates on the bag?! What a concept huh? LOL
The fish emulsion can be used whenever. Citrus require large amounts of Nitrogen (the first number on fertilizers). I do this for my container plants because Nitrogen leaches out of the soil the fastest of all the nutrients. See my logic here?
In ground plants, once every 6 weeks is good for them.
As a side note, if you can't find the Citrus Tone, any water soluable fertilizer for Acid Loving plants is a great alternative.
Just to let you know, I did go off my beaten path above with what I fed mine on January 15th. I used some slow release fertilizer and blood meal, I told you I tweek mine every so often. To be honest, I was out of Citrus Tone!
Happy Growing!

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