I hope you do a good spring cleaning in your house every year. A winter cleaning is important for your landscape. It can make it look much better and get it ready for spring.
You can prevent problems this spring by cleaning now. Raking leaves, removing spent flowers and cleaning up fallen limbs removes overwintering sites for insect pests. Getting rid of bugs' winter homes will make them less plentiful this spring. Diseases overwinter in this debris, too. The disease organisms might go dormant through the cold season, so you might not see signs that they're there. This little bit of work can save money in control of these problems or in replacing plants.
Cleanup also is important in fruit orchards. You should prune dead branches from any fruit tree. Cut back bunch grapes and muscadine vines to the main stem. Destroy weeds and clean up any plant debris and fallen fruit. You should prune shrubbery only for corrective reasons.
You don't have to remove mulch every year, but in some cases this is a good idea, particularly from flower beds and fruit plants where these insects and diseases can harbor.
It is always a good idea to take a soil test of your yard and gardens to see where your nutrient levels are. Soils that are deficient in certain elements can create problems. The following are signs of deficiencies that can occur during the growing season:
Nitrogen (symbol N): Leaves generally yellowish-green; more severe on older leaves. Stunted growth; small, fewer leaflets; early leaf drop. Dark-green to blue-green, slightly smaller leaves. Veins, petioles, or lower leaf surface might be reddish-purple, especially when young; death of lower pine needles.
Potassium (K): Partial chlorosis of most recently matured leaves in interveinal area beginning at tips, followed by necrosis. Older leaves might become brown and curl downward.
Calcium (C): Death of terminal buds, tip dieback, chlorosis of young leaves; leaves might become hard and stiff. Root injury is the first sign.
Magnesium (M): Marginal chlorosis on older leaves followed by interveinal chlorosis. Leaf margins might become brittle and curl upward.
Sulfur (S): Uniform chlorosis of new leaves; older leaves usually are not affected.
Iron (Fe): Interveinal chlorosis of young leaves (sharp distinction between green veins and yellow tissue between the veins). Older basal leaves greener; exposed leaves blanched.
Manganese (Mn): Interveinal chlorosis of young leaves beginning at margins and progressing towards midribs; followed by necrotic spots.
Boron (B): Terminal growth dies; later growth that develops has sparse foliage. Young leaves might be red, bronzed, or scorched. Leaves might be small, thick, distorted, or brittle.
Copper (Cu): Rosetting of terminal growth might die. Leaf symptoms not usually pronounced, but veins might be lighter than blades.
Molybdenum (Mo): Cupping of the older leaves; marginal chlorosis followed by interveinal chlorosis.
Sid Mullis is director for the University of Georgia extension service office for Richmond County. Call him at 821-2349, or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. The offices that serve Richmond and Columbia counties have a Web page at www.griffin.peachnet.edu/ga/columbia.
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