Here are some recommended Greenkeeping tasks for December maintenance work for the Performance Bowling Greens Program.
Carrying out maintenance is of course dependent on the weather and underlying conditions. It has largely turned mild again, so I’m hearing a few reports from readers about fusarium and red thread outbreaks on greens. It’s important to keep an eye on these, especially fusarium as it can spread quickly in mild conditions. I’m not averse to getting the sprayer out to spot treat these outbreaks with fungicide if totally necessary. Blanket sprays and preventative sprays have no place in the Performance Greens Program, they do much more harm than good, so vigilance is important.
Here’s what you should ideally be getting on with this month:
Mowing (8mm and at least one cut this month)
Mowing should go on through the winter months when conditions allow. It’s important to keep the height of cut at 7 or 8mm throughout the winter period and not to let the grass get too long at any point. Not only does longer grass encourage disease, by creating a slightly warmer microclimate at the green surface, it also become coarser in texture.
Disease Control and Prevention (get some more Liquid Seaweed on)
Greens that are still in the recovery phase probably will see occasional outbreaks of fusarium when the weather is mild and you shouldn’t be too complacent about these if your green is still thatchy, annual meadow grass dominated and/or apt to stay wet and soft at the surface.
Spot treatments of fungicide are still recommended if needed.
Seaweed Liquid with its plethora of trace elements and natural plant inoculants is an essential helper in the soil in deep winter. Trace elements like Copper and Zinc are known to help grass plants fend off attacks from fusarium and other fungal pathogens and its bio-stimulant properties helps to keep the microbe population growing and active.
Dew/worm cast removal
Worm casts left on the surface or smeared into the turf with the mower become ideal seedbeds for weeds next year, so try to make sure you clear them using a switch or brush frequently when conditions allow.
We have over 50 species of earthworm and only 3 surface feeding species’ produce surface casts. They feed surface detritus, taking it back underground, helping to recycle it into soil. If you leave debris on the surface you will get more casting worms, so try to keep it clean.
Worm killers are mostly unavailable now thankfully, as they did more harm than good, so it comes down to suppressing worm activity if they are causing a nuisance. Light applications of sulphur liquid or lentils (granules) can have a good suppressant effect.
Deep slit tining
This is the most important job throughout the winter months for any bowling green. By deep, I mean 125 to 200mm, with tines that can get in to the upper limit of this range being preferred.
If you’re starting this kind of maintenance for the first time, the tines might not penetrate to this depth due to hard, compacted layers in the soil, but persevere with twice a month slit tining and you will notice a gradual and incremental improvement in the depth achieved.
Tank mix the compost tea with Liquid Seaweed for an additional bio-stimulant boost to keep plants
More on Compost Tea here.
Moss has been a continuing problem for many readers. Moss takes hold in any space that is left in the sward, so until your green has fully transitioned into a healthy, perennial dominated one, this will continue to be a problem, albeit decreasingly so.
Killing it at this time of year is of course counter productive as it simply creates space for more moss to come after it. If you still have lively looking moss on your green you can keep it under control until spring using some Chelated Liquid Iron.
Of course as always, if you have any questions comments or problems, please feel free to drop me a line.