Cummings and Goings in Agriculture

With Heat Comes Blossom End Rot On Fruits

By Steve Cummings

If you have been meaning to come to a horse show this year and haven’t had a chance, this Saturday, June 14, will provide you another opportunity.  There will be three horse shows in one day at the Yalobusha County Multipurpose Building this Saturday.  The Mississippi Youth Champion Horse Show will begin at 10:30 am.  

The best youth riders from our 4-H Club and the surrounding counties will compete in this warm-up show before the district 4-H.  A judged Tri Lakes Western Horse Show will follow at 3 p.m. and the timed-event show will start no earlier than 8 p.m.  You will have the opportunity to support our young people and see the best horses in the state.  Also, since there is no admission, you can come and go as you please.

On June 17 there will be a pine tree thinning cost sharing program at 6:30 p.m. at the Yalobusha County Multipurpose Building.  If you have pine trees you will want to attend this program, call the Extension office at 675-2730 to make reservations.

The Yalobusha County Homemakers’ Council is hosting a Home Interior Design Program at 10 a.m. on June 17 at the Multipurpose Building.  Ellen Shaw of Bruce will conduct the program and it is open to the public.

Horticulture Tips:

The heat is on and blossom end rot is everywhere.  The discoloration at the bottom of tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, squash, watermelons and even a few cantaloupe are the result of not enough water being pulled through the roots, stems and leaves of the plants.  The only solution is to keep the soil moist but not wet.

This is the time of year when larks have advantages over owls. Larks are those early rising folks who sometimes are awake before sunrise. This is the coolest part of the day and if you are up, it is one of the best times to work in the garden. Temperatures stay above eighty five until after ten p.m. while dawn temperatures are much closer to seventy. Be prepared to work wet since everything in the garden will be covered with dew. Owls are those folks who stay up late and sleep late. They should drink plenty of liquids and where a hat when working in the garden.

The more normal high temperatures are not all bad, however. Many gardeners are reporting that sweet corn, tomatoes, and okra are finally starting to grow after the cooler, wetter spring. Watch the color of the new growth of tomato plants and be prepared to add a little extra nutrition if the plants starts to yellow.

Watering Made Easy

As we move into the summer months, your garden will need consistent attention to maintain its beauty and health.  One of the most important elements in keeping your garden healthy under a hot sun is watering.  It doesn’t have to be time-consuming, though, and can even be very easy.

One of the most efficient methods of watering is drip irrigation.  This system requires the use of a soaker hose that supplies water through porous tubing by lying directly on the ground next to the plants. Since the water is delivered at very low water pressure, it’s quickly absorbed by the soil with a minimum loss to runoff or evaporation.

Soaker hoses are economical and easy to place around plants.  You can secure the hoses in place by making large “hairpins” out of old wire coat hangers. Place these over the hoses and sink into the ground to secure.  Then you can hide the hoses with a layer of mulch—don’t forget to leave the end of the hose visible so you can connect it to the water source.

Your soaker hose will work best with the tap open only 1/4 to 1/2 a turn. Twice a year, clean your soaker hose’s pores by turning the water on full force for 1 minute and then off again.  Repeat 3 times, then remove the end cap and flush the hose to remove remaining debris.

Relieve Soil Compaction to Improve Turf Health

The ideal soil for plant growth contains approximately 50 percent solids and 25 percent each of water and air.  However, this is rarely the case with our heavy clay soils as they become compacted over time from traffic, mowing, etc.  The effect of soil compaction is a reduction of pore space for oxygen, water and nutrients to move into the soil.  As a result roots become shallow and less numerous therefore weakening the turf.

Aerification is a practical way to relieve compaction with specially designed turf cultivation equipment. Often this equipment can be rented from equipment rental stores or larger nursery centers.  The most often used is a “core aerifier” which has many hollow tubes attached to an engine powered shaft that plunges these tubes into the soil to a depth of 3 or more inches at a spacing of about 2 inches apart.  As each tube enters the soil the tube fills with dirt and at every successive time it enters the soil the previous core of soil is discharged on the soil surface. The result is numerous openings in the top few inches of soil to allow water, nutrients, and oxygen to enter.  Done in late spring through mid-summer when the turf is actively growing the roots will quickly grow and push soil to these openings improving the solid to pore space ratio.

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