2.16.2015

Here We Grow Again

  In our world, the "F" in February has meant "Fertilizer". (Yeah, I can hear Peggy in the background, being an ex-Yankee, sayin' that there's another word for fertilizer that folks say up north in February when they get hit with another foot of snow...but this aint it). For us Southern gardeners, fertilizer is what it is...garden fertilizer. What I learned about when to do this, I can't rightly recall, but probably early on as a kid, when my first gardening experience was to have to do a li'l dreaded weeding, and thought, "oh sure, go ahead and fertilize...just the sort of encouragement these dollar weeds and Johnson grass needs".  But I know it to be true, and I know I've heard it all my life, this gardening fact, that the right time to fertilize is in February. 
   The old timers gardening experts, etc. all agree that it's the best time to fertilize down here in the soggy South.  I do remember the county agent stopping by when I first moved here and recommending 13-13-13 fertilizer as a good mix for my yard.  (We all simply call it "triple thirteen") That and the addition of zinc around the pecan trees is all that's needed for our soil. 
   Over 20 years ago I saw my "across the street neighbor," Jude, dragging a heavy metal pole around with a 5-gal. bucket and a sack of fertilizer. Well, I just had to go over and inquire; that's how we are in our neighborhood.  He told me that this homemade 'hole-puncher' was neighborhood community 
property  and used by almost everyone on our street, so, from that year on, every February, I have track down the "tool" and use it in our yard too. (Sometimes, one of the neighbors may have to come 'track it down' at our house.)
 Now that our trees are large, I fertilize our fruit and nut trees only.  They work hard giving to us so I figure it's only right to give back to them, and they always reward us with a good bounty, (unless the squirrels or other predators get to it before we do, but anymore, with cats on patrol in our yard, the harvest has been bountiful).
  Born from the axle of some long-forgotten farming equipment this "frankentool" has a cross-piece welded to it for a foot step.  It is used by jamming it down into the ground, all the way to the cross-piece and then "wallowing" the hole.  This makes the hole wider and allows the tool to be easily removed.  

After that, we pour in 1 lb. of fertilizer into the hole.  We learned years ago that a red Solo cupful to the top ring is 1 lb.

So it's: stick it in around the outer 'drip line' of the tree, wiggle it around, pull it out and repeat, while at each hole, Peg pours in the fertilizer.  We did this about 100 times altogether, in our whole yard, counting for all the fruit and nut trees.
   The big Plum trees and citrus trees each got 10 or so holes, while the smaller, newly planted trees only got 4.  I think the rule for most things is 1 lb. per year of growth.  
 After we add the cupful of fertilizer, we take 2 steps to the right and repeat all the way around the tree. We let the tree canopy 'tell us how much to put', since the outside of the canopy is our 'drip line'. 
    My helper dawggy, Beaux, insisted on helping, but tends to wander off around the neighborhood looking for a more exciting adventure than what we are up to, so I tied his leash to my overalls.  That worked pretty good 'til at one point the Brat got excited and ran around and around me and hog-tied my feet together.
After the first few holes our chubby ole dog decided he would rather spend his day chillin' on the porch swing.
When I was finally done, my beloved wife rewarded me by building a fire in the pit and bringing her sweaty ole hubby a cold beer.
I am pretty sure that for the last few years that hole-puncher has been getting heavier and heavier and harder to drag around the yard.  I am also sure that if that dang thing could talk it would prolly say, "Oh -----!('fertilizer'), blame the tool!"

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