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How to Get Rid of Wild Parsnip

Every summer our customers ask us, how can I get rid of wild parsnip (or poison oak or poison ivy or other itchy weeds) without using glyphosate?

If you want to get rid of itchy weeds without using chemicals, our OMRI listed Phydura may be the solution for you. This natural weed-killer contains clove oil and other natural ingredients to destroy weeds while you watch. Within hours you will see the leaves of sprayed plants shriveling and dying.

And yet, Phydura is so pure it can be used in organic agriculture. And unlike other products, Phydura will not linger in the root system of plants. That means it will be safer for children, pets, and the environment. But it also means that repeat applications will almost certainly be necessary if you are dealing with perennial weeds such as poison oak, poison ivy, poison sumac, or wild parsnip.

Poison Parsnip in bloom

Leaves of three, let it be!

If you  want more detailed directions for getting rid of weeds, hop on over to our longer blog post on how to get rid of poison parsnip without using chemical herbicides. But if you already know you need a safer alternative for weeds around your home, park or school, check out our OMRI listed Phydura weed killer today!

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Do I Need to Prune My Flowering Shrubs?

Are you looking at your beautifully blooming shrubs and wondering if you should be pruning them to keep them looking their best?

Well, you can relax. The truth is, most flowering shrubs don’t need a lot of pruning. They aren’t like boxwoods and other bushes which are generally pruned into tidy, restrained shapes. A loose, breezy look is part of their casual charm.

Flowering shrubs tend to grow in gently rounded shapes and most of the time they don’t need to be pruned more than once a year to maintain this look.

The Best Time to Prune Flowering Shrubs

If you need to shape or cut back a flowering shrub such as a Forsythia, Quince, Azelea, or Lilac, it’s best to do it as soon as the blooms fade. You can even do it while they are actually blooming and enjoy the trimmings as a nice bouquet!

Can I Trim My Flowering Shrub in the Summer or Fall?

Aside from emergency damage control, you should avoid pruning flowering shrubs later in the year. That’s because these bushes tend to form new flower buds very soon after blooming. If you wait too long after bloom-time, new flower buds will already have formed and you will be cutting those off, making it impossible for the plant to bloom next year.

Of course you can and should remove damaged branches whenever necessary. But, If you prune extensively in the summer, fall, or winter you won’t get many blooms in the following spring.

So if you see a few branches on your flowering shrub that should be cut back, why not do it now and enjoy the blooms indoors as a bouquet? That way you can enjoy your blooms inside and outside, this year and next year–what could be better?

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Dynaweed: Natural “Weed and Feed”

Have you ever wished there were an easy, non-toxic way to make your lawn look better? Well, if so, have a look at Soil Tech’s Dynaweed.

  • Dynaweed controls weeds and fertilizes established plants at the same time.
  • Dynaweed can be used in a spreader or applied by hand.
  • Dynaweed is safe to use around children, pets and even prized perennials

Sound too good to be true? Well, it’s not. Dynaweed is made from corn gluten meal. Corn gluten meal acts as a pre-emergent herbicide. That means you put it on before weeds start to grow. It works by killing the feeder roots of sprouting seeds, so you need to apply it early in the spring, about the time forsythia and daffodils begin to bloom. 

When Forsythia bloom, it is time to apply Dynaweed!

Dynaweed won’t harm established plants or people or animals, so that makes it really easy to work with. And it contains roughly 10% nitrogen, so it feeds your plants while you are preventing weed growth!

Who Uses Dynaweed?

Grounds managers at parks and schools often look for non-chemical alternatives and they have had success with corn gluten meal. Harley Carter, athletic director at a private school in Fairfield, Iowa learned about corn gluten meal from Soil Technologies, Inc. He was looking for help with his unirrigated soccer field. It had initially been seeded in a mix of bluegrass and rye. But, “the grass hadn’t grown in well and the field was in dire need of weed control,” he said.

He decided to give Dynaweed a try. Dynaweed can be applied in both the spring and fall. But the playing schedule was so busy that Carter was only able to apply it in the spring. Never-the-less, after 4 years of use Carter said, “It takes time, but there’s no doubt that it works. Our soccer field looks as good as anybody’s in the league.” 

With spring in the air, order Dynaweed now and be ready for a better looking lawn. Naturally!

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Fall Gardening To Do List

Fall is the time when last year’s clean up meets next year’s preparation. But don’t let fall garden chores get overwhelming–use this handy checklist to remind you of what needs to be done and why.

1- Remove diseased or pest infested plants. If you don’t, you make it easy for the same pests and diseases to find your plants next year. (Of course other plant debris can be composted.)

2- Get your soil tested. Some nutrients can be added in the fall to give plants a running start in the spring. Cover crops and/or compost can also be used to improve your soil.

3- Remove grass around fruit trees. Having growth near your tree trunks makes it easy for

Pile of fall leaves with fan rake on lawn

Fall leaves can be turned into next year’s compost!

mice and other pests to create nests there.

4- Fence against rabbits, deer, mice. In the dead of winter these animals often turn to eating tree bark. To keep rodents from damaging your trees, make a cylinder of ¼ inch hardware cloth with a large enough diameter to stand a couple inches away from the trunks of your fruit trees. Bury it a little way into the ground and anchor it securely to a post. (Of course deer will require much larger fencing.)

5- Chase off moles and other ground dwellers. Using a repellent such as Chase Mole in the fall may cause these pests to leave now and stay away all winter!

6- Plant garlic, daffodils, and other bulbs. Planting in the fall gives bulbs a chance to start their root growth early for better growth in the spring.

7- Use cover crops or mulch to prevent erosion and preserve soil. Bare soil tends to wash away with winter thaws and spring rains. Cover your soil to keep it where you want it!

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Customer Testimonial: Nemastop

At America Natural, satisfied customers are our business! Recently we heard from a customer whose boxwoods were diagnosed with pathogenic nematodes. They didn’t want to use harsh chemicals so they tried Nemastop and were very pleased with the results. Here’s the story in their own words:

We have over 400 large boxwoods on our property that were having serious problems. We had them tested and found that they were being damaged by pathogenic nematodes. I was very worried because the loss of our boxwoods would devastate our landscape. I found Nemastop online and decided to give it a try because I wasn’t going to use the heavy chemicals that were recommended.

Nemastop worked wonderfully! I’m very pleased with the product. This year I’ve made five treatments of Nemastop and we’ve had no die-back at all on the boxwoods. I’ve recommended it to several arborists and research people.

Nemastop is pretty amazing stuff. I’m very impressed with it.

– R. H. Port Matilda, PA

lawn and hedge in a summer park

Prevent Nematode Damage with Nemastop

Whether it’s Boxwoods with  nematodes or some other problem, let America Natural help you find  natural solutions for your pest control or fertilizer needs.

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How to Get Rid of Wild Poison Parsnip Without Using Chemical Herbicides

It’s a common dilemma– you want to get rid of rash causing weeds, but you don’t want to get a rash in the process.

Poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac, wild parsnip, cow parsnip, giant hogweed and other weeds can all cause significant irritation. Any one of them can make the next few weeks of your summer itchy and miserable. Over the past few years, poison parsnip, or wild parsnip, has become a more and more widespread problem across the US.

How to Identify Wild Parsnip

Wild parsnip often grows along roadsides and if nobody mows it, by midsummer it will be several feet high and covered with masses of small yellow flowers in an umbrella shape (like carrots or dill). The leaves have a sawtooth edge. During the first year of growth, you may see only small rosettes of these leaves.

Wild_Parsnip_Wikipedia 07112016

At some point, usually during the second year, the plant will send up a tall stem and an attractive yellow umbrella shaped cluster of flowers. While it is in bloom it is easy to identify and you still have time to eliminate it before it forms seed heads and plants a bumper crop for next year! 

Sap from the stem, leaves or flowers of the wild parsnip can react with sunlight to cause burns on your skin. The reaction is called “phytophotodermatitis.” The rash can look a bit like a sunburn. It may include blisters and generally appears within a couple days of contact with the plant.  Discoloration can last for several months.

How to Get Rid of Wild Parsnip

Use caution when working around wild parsnip and other rash-causing plants. No matter what your weed problem, follow these 6 easy steps to get rid of the weeds without using harsh chemicals and dramatically cut your chances of getting a rash from these weeds.

1- Cover Up— Wear protective clothing. Long pants, shoes and socks, long sleeves and gloves are all musts. Protective eyeware is also a good idea. You don’t want the saps or oils from these plants to get on your skin or in your eyes.

2- Keep Your Distance— Work at arm’s length whenever possible. Rather than getting your face down in the weeds, use long handle tools or mowers to keep yourself at a distance from the plants and to help you avoid the saps and oils that cause the problems. Individual plants can be cut off below ground level with a sharp spade or a dandelion fork. But larger patches of the weed may have to be mowed or eliminated with a brush cutter.

3- Stay Cool— Work during the cooler part of the day and on cloudy days, if possible. Sunlight, sweat and heat can all increase the rash causing potential of these plants.

4- Use Herbicides Wisely— Use a burn down herbicide, such as Phydura, to attack plants you can’t uproot or mow. Most likely it will take more than one application to kill the root. However, even if you don’t succeed in killing the root, you will have slowed the spread of the plant. If you eliminate the leaves, stems and flowers late enough in the summer, plants like poison parsnip won’t have time to make seeds before winter hits. If you miss your window and seeds do form, apply Dynaweed in fall or spring, to help keep those seeds from sprouting.

5- Be Careful With the Debris–Do not burn or compost wild parsnip plants that have been cut down or dug up. If possible, leave the stems to dry out completely at the site. Carefully dispose of plant material in black plastic bags and leave in direct sun for a week or more. Contact your municipality to determine if the bagged plants can be sent to your local landfill site or not.

6- Cut the Grease— Wash up immediately after all your hard work. Include your tools in this clean up, and remember to launder your clothing separately. Most important, of course, is to remove any oils and saps from your skin. Use a grease-cutting detergent. Consider using special soaps that are designed to remove the rash causing saps and oils from your skin and clothing.

If you follow these steps, you will soon have weeds like poison parsnip under control and you won’t be suffering their itchy rashes.

For more about identifying rash causing plants, click here for an illustrated guide put out by the University of Illinois.

 

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Natural Pest Control Guide

Summer is wonderful, but sometimes it seems like every pest in the world is lunching in your garden. Not to worry–American Natural has got your back. Next time you discover that your backyard has become Nature’s Dining Commons, consult this handy Natural Pest Control Guide to see how American Natural can help.

fallow deer calf ( Dama ) portrait while looking at camera

Deer can be a challenging garden pest to control.

Deer

Controls: Fencing (must be 8 feet tall or use two shorter fences), Aromatic Deterrents

Products: Garlic Gard, Plant Pro-Tec Garlic

Rabbits

Controls: Fencing + Underground Barriers

Products:  Garlic GardPlant Pro-Tec Garlic 

Moles, Gophers, Armadillos

Controls: Underground Barriers, Castor Oil Products

Products: Chase LiquidChase Granular 

Insects

Controls: Zappers, Traps, Aromatic Deterrents, Insecticides

Products: NimBio Sys, Milky Spore, PyGanic, Dipel Pro DF, Nemastop, Perma-Guard D20, Perma-Guard D-21, Perma-Guard DE, PureSpray Green, Cedarwood Oil

Mold, Mildew, Fungus, Pond Scum 

Controls: Increase airflow, avoid watering in the evening, microbial inoculants, anti-fungal products

Products: PureSpray Green, Fungastop, Pond Kleen, Green Clean Granules, Green Clean Tablets

Weeds

Controls: Hand weeding, suppressants, sprays 

Products: Dynaweed, Phydura

As you can see, American Natural has got a wealth of products to help you protect your garden from hungry critters. Just click on any of the links above to learn more.

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Avoid Gardening Injuries–Work Smart!

Although it doesn’t take place in a gym, there’s no doubt that gardening can be a workout!

Like any physical activity, you may need to approach garden work a little carefully to avoid injury. Follow these tips to stay safe and keep yourself enjoying gardening all season long.

Image of female farmer working in the garden

Don’t let constant leaning hurt your back– Choose tools that let you work upright, and use them that way!

  • Choose your tools wisely and take good care of them. Take your height into account when you are selecting long handle tools. If you are tall, longer handles may help you stand up straighter. D ring grips can be added to increase leverage. Keep your shovels and hoes clean and well sharpened so you can work more efficiently.
  • Start small. Most gardeners will tell you that their first garden was too much to take care of—don’t let this happen to you! Start small. Proponents of square foot gardening say it is possible to grow enough vegetables for one person in as little as 16 square feet. That’s just 4 feet by 4 feet!
  • Design with maintenance in mind. Things like raised beds, mulch, and drip irrigation can make it easier to maintain your garden throughout a long summer.
  • Stretch before and after. Hoing, raking, lifting, bending, kneeling, squatting. They can all use muscles that are not used to working quite so hard. Stretch a little before you start to discourage injury and again at the end to decrease sore muscles.
  • Pace yourself. Take the time to sit and rest between tasks. Incorporate a bench or a stump in your garden design, or bring a bucket you can turn over and sit on.
  • Alternate Tasks. Prevent muscle fatigue by moving back and forth between tasks that use different parts of your body.
  • Stay hydrated. Bring water with you and drink small amounts often.
  • Bring your own shade. Wear a hat, bring an umbrella, or work in the early morning or evening hours when the sun’s rays are not so strong.

With a little care, gardening can provide great exercise as well as delicious produce. And that’s a better deal than any gym membership around!

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How to Harden Off Seedlings

This time of year a lot of gardeners are beginning to harden off seedlings. If you’ve never done it before you may be wondering how to harden off plants and why you need to do it. Let’s start with defining hardening-off.

 

What is Hardening-Off?

 

If you started plants indoors or you bought some little plants at the store, these plants have been grown in a very sheltered environment. It was neither too warm nor too cold. They had just enough water and plenty of gentle light.

 

But when you put them outside, everything will change for these small plants. It will get much warmer and much colder outside than it did inside. The sun will shine more brightly and the wind will blow. Rains may pelt down or it may go days with no rain at all.

 

Plants need a gradual introduction to these extremes and a chance to toughen up. Easing your plants into this new environment is commonly called “hardening-off.”

seedling tomatoes and garden tools on a wooden background

Tomato seedlings need temperatures to be over 65 F before they go outside

When Should you Harden Off Plants?

 

The timing for hardening off plants depends on 3 things–the type of plants, the size of the seedlings and the local weather.  Gardeners should wait until their plants have at least 3-4 true leaves, but not so long that their roots become cramped and in danger of getting pot bound. Gardeners also need to wait until nighttime temperatures are warm enough for the plants.

 

  • Cold Hardy Crops, such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, cabbage, onions, leeks and parsley can be hardened off when nighttime temperatures are above 40℉. Tender
  • Crops, such as cucumber and melon should wait until temperatures are above 50℉.
  • Warm Weather Crops, such as basil, tomatoes, peppers will need to wait until temperatures are consistently above 65℉.

 

How To Harden Off Plants

 

The key is to hardening-off is to make all changes gradually. Pick a mild day, without much wind. For a few hours, when the sun is not too intense, put your little plants outside. Whenever the temperature is expected to drop or to increase significantly, bring the plants back indoors. Do the same when strong winds or rain are expected.

 

During this time avoid fertilizing the seedlings. Especially don’t give them extra nitrogen. They need to put their energy into getting stronger and stockier, so don’t encourage leafy growth by increasing nitrogen.

 

Over the course of a week or more, gradually increase the amount of time outdoors and the extremes you expose your plants to. After 7-10 days you should be ready to plant out your seedlings.


Transplanting Seedlings

 

If you can, pick a mild cloudy day, after the heat of the sun is gone from your garden area. After you have planted your seedlings, give them a drink of diluted fertilizer to help them get going after the move. It is common for plants to undergo some degree of “transplant shock” at this time. But a gradual transition and a little extra care can keep this to a minimum and get your garden growing as quickly as possible!

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Dynaweed Natural “Weed and Feed” is on Sale!

What is Dynaweed?

Dynaweed is a natural weed and feed alternative. It provides pre-emergent weed control for lawn, landscape and garden.

What does that mean?

It means that you use Dynaweed BEFORE you see weeds. Used properly, Dynaweed dehydrates weed seeds before they germinate so that roots never form and weeds never grow.

Is Dynaweed safe?

As a chemical-free alternative to other herbicides, Dynaweed is safe and effective. It can be used on sensitive lawns and ornamentals to prevent the growth of persistent weeds. Remarkably, Dynaweed is so gentle on the  environment that it is exempt from residue tolerance requirements.

After applying Dynaweed, humans and animals can use the landscape immediately. Because Dynaweed is 60% protein, we recommend reducing or eliminating other fertilizers, especially those high in nitrogen, for six to eight weeks.

What kind of weeds does Dynaweed work on?

  • Barnyard grass
  • Bermuda grass
  • Buckhorn plantain
  • Crabgrass
  • Creeping bentgrass
  • Curly dock
  • Dandelions
  • Foxtail
  • Lamb’s-quarters
  • Purslane
  • Redroot pigweed
  • Smart weed
blooming yellow forsythia against the blue sky

When forsythia bloom, it is time to apply Dynaweed.

How do I know when to apply Dynaweed?

Spring and fall are the best times to use Dynaweed, and timing is important.

For spring application, use Dynaweed when forsythia, daffodils, or jonquil begin to bloom in your area. For fall application, the ideal time is between August 15 and September 20 in most regions of the United States.

How do you use Dynaweed?

Dynaweed is easy to use because it doesn’t require any special handling, application, or protective clothing. Use Dynaweed on perennial crops such as turfgrass, herbs, ornamentals, or berries. Apply with a standard fertilizer spreader. For a spring or fall application of Dynaweed, use 15-20 pounds per 1000 square feet. If you are only applying once a year, use the higher rate of application.

If you water your crop after application, allow the soil surface to dry completely between watering. Dynaweed requires this drying period for best results. You will find the benefits of Dynaweed are cumulative over the years. Each year you will have fewer unwanted weeds and even stronger plants and grass!

Now is the ideal time to buy Dynaweed and it is on sale for a limited time! See our product pages for our special sale prices.

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