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From The Ground Up

Private Applicators Course Set For Feb. 28

By Pamela Redwine

I have really enjoyed the snow this year and who knows how long it will be before we have another snowy winter like this one.

My family and I have enjoyed all the usual snow activities: sledding, making a snow man and as I write this news article (on another snow day out of school and off work) my family is enjoying fresh snow ice cream.  

However, I am ready for spring and so are my daffodils. I am hoping this will be a better year for my yard – which really means I hope I have time to work in it this year.

Speaking of Spring – If you need to renew your Private Applicators certification the Extension Service will be offering this course on Feb. 28 at 10 a.m. The cost is $10. Please call 675-2730 to reserve your spot.

HORTICULTURE TIPS

Lawn burweed is troublesome to so many homeowners it is worthy of being brought to your attention every year at this time. Lawn burweed (Soliva pterosperma), more commonly called sticker weed due to the cluster of tiny seeds with spines that at maturity stick into tender flesh of bare feet, knees, hands, or whatever parts of the body that may come in contact with them.

Lawn burweed is best described as a low-growing, freely branched winter annual having leaves that are twice divided into narrow segments or lobes similar to the appearance of tiny carrot leaves. The real identifier is the small rosette button fruit clusters that form down in the leaf axils once the plant reaches a reproductive stage.

At maturity, usually late spring and into summer is when we endure their pain from the dried sharp spines. Not to be confused with Southern Sandbur (Cenchrus echinatus) a summer annual grassy weed with seedheads having sharp spines or burs.

If you did not apply a pre-emergent herbicide earlier this fall to control winter annual weeds and you had lawn burweed in your lawn last summer then you most likely have them again now.  And, you will have to endure their painful spines for another summer each time you walk barefoot on your lawn unless you take action soon to control them.

Once the fruiting clusters have formed and produced the tiny seeds and spines killing the plants will eliminate the weeds but the tiny spines and seed will remain to inflict pain for another summer.

Extension publications #1322 and #1532 provide lists of several good post-emergent herbicide choices that will control this weed along with most other winter annual weed species but timing is critical. This publication and others pertaining to weed control and home lawns can be downloaded from the website  www.msucares.com.

Pruning Apples

Prune apples every year for the best quality fruit. Now that the branches are bare, this is the best time to do it because you can easily see the form of the tree. Ideally, there should be one central leader and several main branches radiating from it. Consider removing a major limb to achieve better form and to help prevent limb breakage when the tree is loaded with fruit. Also remove water sprouts—those long, upright shoots that grew last summer. They have no flowerbeds and, if left on the tree, will crowd more productive limbs.

Next, take out the lesser of two limbs that cross or any limb that grows inward, judging each for its size, fruitfulness, and contribution to the overall form of the tree. Prune any broken, dead, or diseased wood, and spray the tree with dormant oil to eliminate over wintering insects. For great information on how to select a fruit tree for the home orchard visit the Gardening Through the Seasons videos on the Mississippi State University Extension Service website at the following link: http://msucares.com/gardenvideos/index.html. Look for the “Selecting Fruit Trees” under the January videos.

Best Month To Prune

February is the best month to prune. Always try to maintain the natural form of a plant unless it is used in a formal situation. Natural growth habits often make your landscape more interesting. However, if a plant is in constant need of pruning to control its size, consider replacing it with one that won’t outgrow its location as it matures.

For tips on pruning crape myrtles, ground covers, broadleaf evergreens and hydrangeas you can view the Gardening through the Seasons videos on these topics are on our website at http://msucares.com/gardenvideos/index.html.

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