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From The Ground Up

Wildflower Tour Set For Whitten Center

By Pamela Redwine

The Wildflower tour at the Jamie L. Whitten Plant Material Center is quickly approaching.  The event will be held on Wednesday, June 15. Registration is from 8 a.m. until 10 a.m. Admission is $3 per person. Lunch will be served to those who call to RSVP by June 10.  You can call our office at 675-2730.  
As usual there will be wagon tours of wildflower fields and native grasses throughout the day. There will also be presentations on pollinators, container gardening, native plants and more!  Bring a plant and trade at the plant swap.  Also, Mississippi Native Wildflower seeds will be available for purchase.


Please be careful with your fertilizer applications. We have had several reports of whole plantings dying since the temperatures climbed. Investigation shows that over fertilization is the cause of plant death. One sample had a soluble salt reading of over 19 . Most plants die when the reading is 3.
One cup of conventional fertilizer is enough for fifty feet of row in the ground. Vegetables, except sweet corn and tomatoes, generally need to be fertilized only once after they are planted. Many vegetables are fertilized before planting and not again. One tablespoon of one of the blue fertilizers is enough for a gallon of solution which is applied to several plants in containers. Container vegetables need to be fertilized once every two weeks. More is not better.
It is hot and time for the hot weather vegetables to be planted. Heat tolerant tomatoes like Heat wave, Solar set, Bella Rosa, and others should be planted now to harvest in July and August. Hot peppers thrive in hot temperatures. In fact higher temperatures make hotter peppers.  Okra, eggplant, Southern peas, and Malabar and Ceylon spinach will keep something coming out of the garden through the summer.
It is not too early to be thinking about pumpkins. Check your seed sources and decide which variety your carvers need to make the best decorations. Planting is about a month away.

Enhance Lawn Health and Beauty with Proper Mowing

 The one activity that we perform on our lawn more than anything else is mowing yet it is also the most often done with lack of attention to mowing height, regularity, leaf wetness, or sharpness of blade.  Any of these factors could cause undue turf stress and provide less than desired results.
Every turf species has its own optimum mowing height and any extremes from this may cause scalping, turf thinning, and even loss of the lawn.  Shade intolerant species like Bermuda grass when maintained at a mowing height greater than two inches will begin to drop lower leaves from shading by the canopy above often creating a scalped appearance just after mowing when the top canopy is removed exposing the brown leafless stolons.  In contrast a St. Augustine lawn cut less than two inches in height may become wear stressed and lose turf density due to exposed stolons and reduced leaf area.  Recommended cutting heights for our warm season turf species are as follows: Bermuda grass 0.5-1.5 inches; zoysia 1.0–1.5; carpet grass 1.0-2.0 inches; centipede 1.5-2.0 inches and St. Augustine 2.5-3.0 inches.
Regardless of the turf species mowing regularity should follow the one-third rule.  This means never remove more than one-third of the total turf height at a single mowing.  Therefore, depending on the rate of growth and the desired maximum turf height this could require mowing several times a week for a hybrid Bermuda grass lawn or perhaps as little as once every two weeks for a centipede lawn under low water and fertility management.  Assuming the growth rate is the same for a Bermuda grass lawn kept at a one-inch height and a St. Augustine lawn maintained at 3 inches the Bermuda grass lawn would require three mowing to one for the St. Augustine lawn.  When the one-third rule is followed leaf clippings will fall into the canopy of the turf and decompose rather quickly.  With irregular and improper mowing excess leaf clipping collect on the turf canopy shading the turf below, increases disease and insect incidences, and creates excess thatch.
Blade sharpness will determine the quality of cut and aesthetic appearance of the turf.  A dull mower blade will tear rather than cut leaving leaf tips split, ragged and brown.  Keeping a sharp blade also provides greater efficiency from the mower.  Avoid cutting the lawn when there is leaf wetness from rain or heavy dew especially when disease pressures are prevalent.
“Cooling off” with cool colors in the landscape
Hot weather is already here in most parts of the state.  If you want the appearance of  “cool and calm” in your outdoor living areas be sure to incorporate flowers in shades of blue, purple, violet, lavender and everything in between.  Plants with foliage in shades of green massed around an area can add to the cool effect. Adding plants with white variegation, white flowers or silvery foliage will also add to the “cool, icy atmosphere.” Cool colors are considered relaxing and peaceful and hot colors such as reds and oranges are considered active, energetic and “hot.” So, I guess you need to decide if the overall atmosphere of your outdoor rooms should be cool or hot—for me, I prefer a mix with a tad more cool colors to calm and cool me down after a hard day of work at the Extension office!
Examples of flowering plants within the blue range are scaevola, catmint, petunia, verbena, iris, amsonia, asters and many of the perennial salvia including the mealy cup sage, bog sage, Mexican bush sage, ‘Indigo Spires’ and ‘East Friesland’ salvia—to name just a few.
Plants with silvery or whitish foliage are dusty miller, dianthus, lamb’s ear, and artemisias such as ‘Valerie Finnis’, ‘Silver Mound’ and ‘Powis Castle.’
Plants with white variegated foliage include hostas, scented geraniums, zonal geraniums, sedums, and many of the ornamental grasses.

Souce: Horticulture Tips for May 23, 2011 David Nagel, Wayne Wells, Lelia Kelly

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