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Cummings and Goings in Agriculture

Wait For Frost Danger To Pass Before Planting Annuals

By Steve Cummings

Our secretary, April Kilpatrick’s son, Wesley, has had a couple of surgeries on his shoulder since our last article. Wesley got sick last week with an infection that located in his shoulder. He is recuperating at Blair Batson Hospital in Jackson at the time of this writing and hopefully will be home by the time you read this.

  Our former 4-H program associate, Christine Fielder, is slowly recovering at home. She is some better, but her progress is slow.

  Everyone appreciates your concern for our office staff and their families. Please bear with us as we are very short-handed at this time.


  Tomato plants exposed to cold soil temperatures will turn purple, particularly the veins and stems. This is due to phosphorus deficiency caused by slow root growth due to the cold temperatures. The color will disappear when the soil warms.

Bedding Plants

  Tender annuals can be set out as soon as danger of frost has passed. Among transplants that should be available at nurseries and garden centers are marigolds, impatients, geraniums, portulaca, petunias, ageratum, salvias, coleus and many others. Select those that have not begun to flower, if possible. If flowers are present, pinch these off after transplanting into your garden.


  Rejuvenate any houseplants that have suffered from the low light and insufficient humidity typical of most homes in winter. Cut back plants that have lost leaves, divide crowded ferns, and repot overgrown plants. To encourage vigorous new growth, supply soluble fertilizer such as 18-18-18 according to label directions.


  If you feel really energetic you can remove the old bloom stalks of your narcissus after they finish flowering to tidy up the appearance. Let the leaves grow until they begin to fade. Feed all spring flowering bulbs with 1/4 cup of 5-10-10 per 10 square feet of bed area. Summer flowering bulbs to plant when the ground warms in the next few weeks include caladiums, gladiolus, lilies, cannas, dahliahs, and tuberoses.


  When the threat of frost has passed, sow seeds of foxglove, columbine, coneflower, hollyhock, and sweet fennel. Prepare seedbeds by loosening the soil to a depth of 6-8 inches and working in organic matter and other needed amendments. It’s also time to divide overcrowded clumps of established perennials, such as phlox, Shasta daisies, chrysanthemums, and asters.

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