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From The Ground Up

Extension Service Planning For New Year

By Pamela Redwine

It is not even Christmas yet, but the Yalobusha County Extension Service has already started planning for the New Year. We have a variety of new programs that we are going to be offering– so make sure you read this article each week because you won’t want to miss out.

Once again the Extension Service will be offering the six week Master Gardener Training.  The training will be every Tuesday and Thursday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The first class will start Feb. 15 and the last class will be on March 24. If you are interested in signing up for the class please contact the Extension Office at 662.675.2730 or yalobush@ext.msstate.edu The cost of the class is $85.

On Thursday, Dec. 9 from 4:30 p.m. until 6 p.m. the 4-H FCS Club will meet at the Extension office located in the Multi-Purpose Building in Coffeeville to hand sew Christmas Ornaments. Call the Extension office at 662.675.2730 or email us at yalobush@ext.msstate.edu to reserve your child’s spot!  All children ages 5 to 18 are invited.

Fruit Trees

If you can locate them you can plant fruit trees and shrubs now. Blueberries, blackberries, bunch grapes, apple, pear and peach trees can all be planted now. Some nurseries will have containerized fruit plants that can be put in the ground this fall. Fall planting will allow these plants to “root in” over the winter and will give them a head start over plants that are not put in the ground until early spring. For best results, follow local recommendations for the most suitable selections in your area. Check with an established garden center or call your county Extension office for planting advice. You can also watch the online video Gardening through the Seasons January segment entitled “Selecting Fruit Trees” on the Mississippi State University Extension Service website: http://msucares.com/gardenvideos/.

Prevent damage from hungry rodents on newly planted or established fruit trees by keeping all grass and mulch away from the trunk. An 18- inch tall collar of chicken wire or commercial tree wrap will deter rabbits and other above ground munchers. Be sure that as the tree grows the tree trunk guard does not restrict the growth. Better to remove it and replace with a larger model than to hinder trunk development.

Winter Storage of Lawn Equipment

The frosty mornings of late fall and winter have arrived and our warm season turf species lawns are now into winter dormancy. Therefore, most of us have shut down most lawn chores, especially mowing, and will let our lawn care equipment sit idle for a few months as well. Some simple and easy winter storage preparation will ensure this equipment will perform when needed next spring. A thorough cleaning of equipment to remove dirt, grass clippings etc. will prevent rust and corrosion and will reveal any damaged or worn parts that may need replacing. Changing the oil, cleaning the air filter, and even replacing the spark plug on gasoline engines before storage will have them ready to go when needed. If these engines will not be run for at least two months it is recommended that the fuel tank be drained and the engine run until all fuel is out of the carburetor. An alternative option is to pour a gasoline stabilizer (Sta-Bil) into the tank to prevent the gas from separating and leaving gum and varnish deposits to clog the fuel system. Another option is to simply put a small amount of fresh fuel in the tank and run the engines for about ten minutes once each idle month. If you have equipment that has seen its better days and you doubt that it will make it through another season, now is a great time to purchase new equipment as many dealers have some great year-end bargains available.

Catalogues are arriving and many “new” vegetable varieties are featured. One thing to bear in mind is that the word new next to a name means the variety is new to the company, not necessarily that the variety has just been developed. One 2011 catalogue proudly announced their new variety of southern peas as Zipper Cream. This variety has been around for many years and is productive in Mississippi, but it is only new to the company.

Most of North Mississippi experienced a killing freeze this past weekend and most of South Mississippi approached thirty two degrees. Examine plants in the landscape and remove dead tissue. Allowing black zinnia, basil or tomato plants to slowly rot in the sun may increase the population of disease organisms. Take the dead plants to the compost pile or incorporate them into the soil. Prune dead tissue from woody ornamentals if it hasn’t fallen off after a few days.

Now is the time to plant cold season vegetables. Plants that easily survive mid twenties temperatures include kale (particularly Siberian kale), collard, cabbage, English peas, beets, broad or faba beans, and spinach. Rhubarb lovers should try now, but the odds of temperatures being too warm before the plants get large enough are against you. Onion growers can set out transplants now if you can find them. It is late to be starting from seed, but the predictions are for a mild winter, so direct seeding may work.

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