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Skaggs: Dos and donts for Georgia gardening
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Today's column comes to you courtesy of my good friend Wade Hutcheson, Spalding County Extension agent.

Wade compiled this list of gardening dos and don'ts a few years ago, and I recently came across it again.

It's good information and pretty funny as well. Enjoy!

Do treat for fire ants in the spring and fall.

Do scout your garden and landscape on a regular basis checking for pest problems such as weeds, insects, disease and cultural problems. Integrated pest management is a fantastic tool allowing you to convince yourself that a healthy plant is the best defense against pest problems.

Don't sprinkle grits around fire ant mounds. It's a waste of perfectly good grits. The ants will not explode even if they eat it.

Don't think if an ounce of pesticide is recommended, two ounces is better. Dead is dead. Research and development has provided the legally approved manner in which to use pesticides ... so then, DO READ THE LABEL!

Do apply 3 inches of organic mulch around your trees, shrubs and flowers.

Don't make mulch volcanoes. We true Southerners will know y'all ain't from around here and laugh at you.

Do raise the mowing height on your turf during dry periods.

Do know the recommended mowing height for your grass. You do know what kind of grass you have, right?

Don't bag those clippings unless you're actively composting.

Don't fertilize during long, dry periods. Fertilizers are chemical salts and can dehydrate soils further. It also leads to new growth, which the root system is unable to support due to no moisture.

Don't buy the flashiest bag of fertilizer on the shelf. Plants can't read, don't listen to the ads and only want the right amount of fertilizer given to them at the right time in the right amounts — which is usually small doses.

Do learn how to take a soil sample and interpret the results — or, don't lose the county extension agent's phone number.

Do know that the numbers on the fertilizer bag tell you how much nitrogen-phosphorous-calcium is in the bag on a percent-by-volume basis.

Don't be surprised by all the Japanese beetles, yellow jackets, scorpions, centipedes and lady beetles that you may see, some of which may even try to come inside your home. They're completely irrational in that regard.

Don't think you or the county agent can save a dead plant, tree or shrub. Dead is dead and even county agents can't reverse that. Sometimes we might tell you the cause of death and mostly that's gonna be improper planting.

Billy Skaggs is an agricultural agent and Hall County extension coordinator. Phone: 770-531-6988. Fax: 770-531-3994.