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Cummings and Goings in Agriculture

Timed Event Horse Show Set For 6:30 Friday Night

By Steve Cummings

The spring weather has been great and by the large number of request from our office, I think gardeners, farmers, and home owners have been taking advantage of the nice weather.  The Yalobusha County Homemakers and Master Gardeners secured the services of K&W Turf to help landscape the flower beds in front of the Multipurpose Building.  Kyle Jeffrey’s and his crew did an outstanding job.

The second timed event horse show will be this Friday night.  Training barrels will start at 6:30 pm with the show starting at 8 pm.  As usual, the show is free and open to the public.

 We are beginning to get questions on growing tomatoes.  If you want to learn more about growing tomatoes, mark April 2nd on your calendar.  There will be a Quick Bites program on growing tomatoes at noon at the Multipurpose Building.

Our former 4-H Program Assistant, Christine Fielder, is slowly making progress.  Just being at home and out of the hospital has definitely helped her spirits.

Horticulture Tips:

Houseplant Rejuvenation

 With spring’s arrival, houseplants should be ready to again grow quickly.  Help them along by removing dead leaves, cutting back straggly stems, and repotting those that have outgrown their containers.  Begin feeding every two weeks with water soluble 18-18-18 or 20-20-20.

Pussy Willow

Bring branches of pussy willow indoors as the buds begin to swell.  When place in a container of water, the furry buds will continue to open. If removed from the water and dried before the yellow flower parts appear, the graceful branches studded with downy catkins can be kept for years.  The branches root easily, so keep a few in water until they are well rooted.  Then you can transplant them into the garden.

 Add Some Shrubs

 Consider adding a few new spring-flowering shrubs to your garden. Dependable choices include forsythia, spireas, double Japanese kerria, Burkwood viburnum, doublefile viburnum, deutzia and star magnolia.

 Divide summer and fall blooming perennials

 Now is the time to divide perennials that bloom in the summer and fall. As you dig up the clump, discard weak or diseased parts and set healthy divisions at the depth they were growing before.  Allow enough space between divisions so that the mature clumps will touch but not compete.

 Get a head start with Transplants for Perennial and Annual Flowers

 Instead of waiting for seeds to sprout, set out transplants to give yourself an edge on the gardening season.  Choose young transplants that have filled their container and preferably not blooming. Avoid those that look top heavy, as they’re probably rootbound and will be stunted.

 Till your soil, working in plenty of organic matter, such as compost, sphagnum peat moss, or decomposed manure or sawdust.  This is a good time to apply any lime and fertilizer recommended by the soil test results.  Then level the soil with a garden rake, filling in depressions where water could collect.

 Apply a 2 inch layer of mulch to help keep the soil moist and cool during the coming hot weather.   You’ll find it easier to put down the mulch first and plant through it to set out your transplants.  Uniform and adequate spacing gives the planting bed a tidy look and allows the plants to develop without crowding. When spaced too close, annuals and perennials become spindly.  Too much spacing gives weeds room to grow.  With proper spacing, the top growth of the plants will shade the soil keeping it cool and free of weeds.

 Set plants at the same depth they were growing in the flat or container.  Finally, water well to settle the soil around the roots. Also pinch out any flowers. I know how hard that is to do, but removing the flowers will encourage more growth by diverting energy into the new growth and ultimately more flowers.

 Take advantage of Spring. Add an extra half-hour to your next trip and take a side road. Buttercups, red bud, dogwood, yellow hop clover, white clover and many other wild flowers are blooming now. Get out and walk around the neighborhood to see everyone’s flower garden.

 One of the concerns new gardeners face is not knowing if the old wives tales are true. One that comes up every planting time is the cucurbit crops (vine crops) being planted next to each other and cross pollinating. The hardest one to eliminate is that cantaloupe and cucumber will cross and you will get cantaloupe with no sugar that taste like a cucumber. These are different species and will not cross. The fact that some squash and pumpkins will cross really doesn’t matter unless you are saving seed to plant the next crop. The only vegetable crops you have to worry about pollen changing the part you eat is sweet corn. Pollen from corn with different genes for color or sweetness will change the kernel of this year’s harvest. Separate different sweet corns by at least 250 feet.

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