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Cummings and Goings in Agriculture

Odd Combination Of Events Set For Multipurpose Building On April 26

By Steve Cummings

Hopefully, this weeks’ little cold snap will be the last of the winter weather for the year.  Maybe this was blackberry winter.  Our farmers need two or three weeks to get the corn and early soybeans planted, and then it will be time to plant cotton.  Also, our home gardeners are ready to get busy, as everybody is ready to grow tomatoes.

Every once in a while there are two activities going on at the Multipurpose Building at the same time.  On Saturday, April 26th, there will be an odd combination of events.  There will be a judged horse show starting at 3pm with the timed events starting no earlier than 7pm.

The morning of April 26th the North Mississippi Lake Iris Society will have their annual Iris show.  Judging will be at 10 am and the Iris will be available for public viewing from 1 – 4 pm.  Entries may be entered between 7 and 10 am.  Make one trip to the Multipurpose Building and take in the Iris Show and Horse Show.  Both are free to the public.  The Yalobusha County Homemaker’s Council will be assisting with the Iris Show.

Horticulture Tips:

Lawns Can be for the Birds Too

As I was working in my lawn this weekend I noticed several bird species appearing to enjoy the warmth of spring as much as me.  With their cheerful songs they were busy collecting nesting material and scouting the lawn and flower beds for food.  Their activity was a reminder that our lawns can and should be for the birds too as they not only add beauty and cheerfulness to the landscape but help us keep damaging insect populations in check.  

If you haven’t removed old nest from your birdhouses from last year or have not put out your hummingbird feeders yet get these done today as we have had hummingbirds visiting our feeders here in Starkville since the last week in March and the bluebirds and nuthatches have already occupied our nest boxes.  

For those of you who have never hung a hummingbird feeder near a kitchen window or put up a simple bluebird box I encourage you to do so.  You will be amazed to what they will add to your landscape and the entertainment they will provide.

Tomato plants are tough but brittle.  Try not to bend them as you attach them to stakes, slip cages over them, or pull them upright with string. The stems will break rather than bend and you then have a top and a bottom that can both survive, but will take several weeks to grow their respective roots or leaves. If you do wind up holding a stem in your hand, you can remove two thirds of the leaves, dip the bottom end in rooting hormone, and place it into the ground. Keep this orphan moist and it will eventually grow a new root system. The detached bottom should grow a new main stem from a dormant bud and also eventually grow into a new plant.

The temperature roller coaster continues this Spring and the rains are back. Try to keep water from standing in the furrows in the garden by digging ditches, but don’t work the soil in the garden while it is wet. Disturbing saturated soils leads to worse problems later with clods and impermeable layers.

Keep an eye on onions, cabbage, broccoli and other cool season vegetables in the garden. Harvest them at the first sign of bolting. If you are anywhere near Starkville this weekend, come to the Horticulture Club plant sale and you can observe the clever use of some medium stall spikes of yellow blooms among the pansies. Those spikes are from the ornamental kale.

Hardening off Transplants

Tender annuals started indoors should gradually be “hardened off” before planting them in the garden.  Hardening is a procedure that prepares indoor-grown plants for the rigors of the outdoors.  Reduce watering and set them outdoors during the day.  Bring them inside at night.  Continue this for three to four days.

If the temperature drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, take the plants inside.  After four days, allow the plants to be outside all day and night.  After about a week or two, the plants should be hardened off and ready to be transplanted with a minimum of shock.

Another alternative is to put the plants in a cold frame for a week or two, monitoring the temperature and adjusting the cold frame cover accordingly.

Generally speaking, all of Mississippi should be beyond the chance for freezing weather by tax day-April 15th.  The more southern parts obviously before that date.  But we all know what happened last April in the northern part of the state with the freezing temperatures that occurred in late April—gardeners have to be an optimistic group. The general philosophy is plant and pray for good weather.

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