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From The Ground Up

Forestry Association Will Meet July 7

By Pamela Redwine

The Yalobusha County Forestry Association will meet Thursday, July 7 at 5:30 p.m. The topic of the program will be prescribed burning and the speaker will be John Gruchy, Conservation Resource Biologist for the Private Lands Habitat Program with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.  

A meal will be served sponsored by the Southern Pine Beetle Prevention Program, USDA Forest Service, Mississippi Forestry Commission, and MSU Extension Service.  Please call the Extension office at 675-2730 by noon on Wednesday, July 6th to register.

HORTICULTURE TIPS

April showers bring May flowers. June showers bring foliar diseases to vegetable gardens. Early blight, septoria leaf blotch and other foliar diseases are attacking tomatoes now. Pruning diseased leaves and removing them from the garden will help prevent the spread of the disease. Proper use of the correct fungicide will also keep the fungi from eating your plants.

Spring vegetable crops may be finishing their productive life now. Consider planting a summer cover crop to the garden if you don’t plan to put in any producing plants. Good cover crops include southern peas, sun hemp, and guar. Guar is an interesting summer legume. The Latin binomial (scientific name) of  Cyamopsis tetragonolobus L.tells you the seeds are little cubes. Guar is grown in the U.S.A. primarily as a source of gum to thicken drilling mud for oil wells.  It is called cluster bean in India and is eaten like a green bean.

Fruit trees are putting the energy they capture from the sun into the fruit now. Lack of water will prevent the leaves from making sugar to send to the developing fruit. Add at least an inch of water to the area inside the drip line any week you don’t get rain. About three fourths of the state is considered abnormally dry with one quarter of the state considered in severe or extreme drought. Only counties near Tennessee are not considered to be  moisture deficient.

Softwood Cuttings

June is the month to begin taking softwood cuttings.  This type of cutting is taken from current season’s growth.  Softwood cuttings should be from new growth that is firm, mature and slightly brittle.  To test the branch tip to see if it is at the right stage of growth bend it to about a 90-degree angle.  If it snaps instead of bending, it is right for making a softwood cutting.

Plants that root easily from softwood cuttings include azalea, aucuba, crapemyrtle, boxwood, camellia, Chinese holly, English ivy, Japanese holly, photinia, and Japanese ligustrum.   

Container Gardens

The secret of successful containers lies in regular feeding and watering.  Check containers daily and water them whenever the potting mix feels dry.  During our hot summers, containers in full bloom may need watering twice a day.  Hanging baskets pose the biggest problems.  Being high up, you cannot always reach them easily to water.  When you do, they drip all over you, and if they dry out badly the water just bounces off the surface without soaking in.  Fortunately, there are various products and devices to help with these problems.  If you forget to feed regularly, use slow-release fertilizer pills, granules or sachets.  If watering is a problem, try self-watering pots or add a water-retaining gel to the soil before planting.  Some potting mixes now come with the water-retaining agent already mixed in. If you have several awkward baskets to water, it might be worth investing in a long-handled, hooked, watering attachment for your hose.

Environmental Helpers

Most of us have become more environmentally conscious and are “pitching in” to help the environment by recycling our newspapers, aluminum cans, plastic containers, used motor oils and perhaps purchasing more energy-efficient appliances.  By properly maintaining our home lawns and landscapes we can become even greater environmental stewards.  Just think of what our world would be like without lawns, trees and shrubs!  Here in the US there are more than 31 million acres of grass and our home lawns are often overlooked as major environmental helpers.

Grass conserves water and cleans the air.  The next time it rains, notice where the water comes from that fills the street gutters and storm drains. Not from our lawns because dense, healthy turf is superb in trapping precipitation and reducing soil erosion. Each square foot of a healthy lawn can absorb over one-half gallon of rainwater without noticeable runoff. This water then becomes a valuable resource in nourishing the lawn, trees and shrubs while soaking through the topsoil and replenishing groundwater reserves.  This same lawn is also serving as a primary collector of dust, dirt, and air pollutants while producing oxygen vital to our survival.

Lawns provide energy conservation and comfort.  A well maintained lawn could keep your home cooler on hot days by reducing surface temperatures as much as 15 to 30 degrees compared to bare soil and 20 to 40 degrees cooler than asphalt.  Your lawn probably has more air conditioning capacity than your central air conditioning unit.

Lawns improve soil quality.  Grass plants are continually building new topsoil from decomposing roots, stems and leaves.  A typical lawn will produce 233 pounds of grass clippings per 1,000 square feet during each growing season.  Therefore, cycling grass clippings back on the lawn definitely helps the environment and reduces landfill waste.

Lawns, in addition to environmental benefits, provides a place to relax, have fun, generally feel good about ourselves and even increase property values. So, the next time you are working hard to make your lawn look good pat yourself on the back for being a good environmental steward.

 

Article Source: Horticulture Tips for June 13, 2011 David Nagel, Lelia Kelly, Wayne Wells

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