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Cummings and Goings in Agriculture

Much Needed Rain Helps Offset Drought Conditions

By Steve Cummings

Yalobusha County farmers are busy making their 2008 farm plans.  They are buying and selling equipment, taking soil samples, and feeding livestock.  Many do not know how busy they are.  Look for some changes in the Yalobusha County scene.

Fortunately, we have dodged a couple of bullets as far as inclement winter weather is concerned.  The much needed rains are helping offset the drought conditions.  Wet and cold weather conditions do not mix well in the south, so I am ready for spring.

It’s not too late to sign up for the Master Gardener class.  Call our office at 675-2730 for complete details and to add your name to the roster.

Do you have tons of photos stored on your computer and no idea what to do with them?  On February 14th at noon, there will be a lunch and learn at the Yalobusha County Multipurpose Building where Mariah Smith, MSU-ES Computer Applications and Services Instructor, will provide some fun things you can do with your photos.  From refrigerator magnets to home movies on DVD, we’ll get your pics out of the “My Pictures” folder and out in the open for all to see.  So, bring a sack lunch and join us on the 14th and learn what to do with these photos.

Horticulture Tips:

Chase the Winter Blues Away with Blooming Houseplants

This time of year can be hard on gardeners. The weather is nasty and we’re all closed up inside the house getting more irritable by the minute.  It’s time to liven the mood with a blooming plant! Check out the garden centers or even the local grocery store for a cheery, colorful blooming azalea, Reiger begonia, cineraria or other plant. Once you bring your plant home, how do you care for them to get the longest cheery impact? Read on to find out!

Florist azaleas are generally considered to be only indoor plants but most are hardy down to 15 degrees F. These small potted plants come in colors of red, pink, rose, bicolors and white.  They bloom longer than regular azaleas, starting in winter and continuing through spring. These plants require lots of bright light, preferably from a southern window. Good drainage is a must. Don’t feed the plants until six weeks after they finish blooming. Then feed every two weeks with a general purpose houseplant fertilizer. In fall, switch to a bloom-booster fertilizer, such as 15-30-15, that’s higher in phosphorus than nitrogen. If you’d like to plant these azaleas outside in spring, wait until after the last frost.

Reiger begonias are among the showiest houseplants around. Their single or double blossoms remind me of roses.  Blooms can be pink, rose, red, orange, yellow and white.  Reigers need bright light to bloom well, but protect them from hot, afternoon sun, which can burn and curl the leaves.  Good drainage is essential.  Allow the surface to dry between watering. Be careful not to overwater, which causes rot.  Also, never wet the foliage.

While it is blooming feed it every watering with water soluble, bloom-booster fertilizer. When the plant stops blooming, it’s ready for a 3 month rest. Cease feeding and cut the stem to 3 inches above the soil line. When new growth appears, resume regular watering and feeding.

Cinerarias have spectacular, daisy like blossoms of blue, pink, or red which nearly smother the foliage. You’ll usually find them for sale only in winter because they need bright light and cool temperatures. This is one plant that won’t shy away from being placed near a cool window.  Watering them can be tricky. If you over water, they’ll rot; if you under water they’ll immediately wilt. Let the soil surface dry slightly between watering and make sure the container drains freely.

These plants should be treated as annuals. So, after cinerarias finish blooming, (you’re going to like this) throw them out!

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