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Growin’ Green

New Director Plans To Meet Yalobusha Folk

By Brent Gray

I am excited to be in Yalobusha county working with the Extension Service.   Just to tell you a little about myself:  I grew up around Terry, Miss. which is just south of Jackson on a farm raising cattle and row crop. I graduated from MSU and owned and operated a landscape business for the past 20 years doing commercial landscape projects around the state.  

I have two daughters, Lydia & Heather. Heather will be joining me here in Yalobusha County. I have also taught entomology at Hinds Jr. College.  

I enjoy horses, rodeos, and horse shows. I participate in team roping and calf roping events. I look forward to getting out in the county and meeting everyone. If you have questions or need assistance, please feel free to call me here at the Extension Office, 662-675-2730.

HORTICULTURE TIPS

As the temperatures rise and our lawns flourish with growth throughout the summer we see more and more of our lawn insect pests showing up. St. Augustine grass lawns are particularly susceptible to chinch bug injury.  Centipede and zoysia can have severe infestations of two-lined spittle bugs. Zoysia and bermudagrass can be attacked by specific microscopic mites specific to each species.  Lawn caterpillars such as sod webworms, cutworms, and armyworms will feed on all of our turf species. Mole crickets and white grubs of several types of beetles and billbugs can destroy the roots of lawn grasses. While fire ants, ticks and fleas, slugs and snails do little damage to the turf they certainly can be annoying and even a liability.

The key to successful lawn insect pest management is weekly scouting for their presence and proper use of insecticides before damaging thresholds are reached. This may require getting on your hands and knees to part the turf canopy to look closely for small nymphs and immature larvae or digging a small square of turf up to discover root feeders like white grubs and billbug larvae.

Over the next couple of weeks I will discuss in more detail several of these pests but to learn more about these insects, their injury symptoms, how to locate and identify them, and insecticides for their control you can also refer to extension publication #2331 “Control of Insect Pests in and Around the Home Lawn.”  This publication can be downloaded from the extension web at www.MSUcares.com or obtained from your local extension office.

Watering Plants

Keeping landscape plants watered during drought can be a chore, but with a little planning and forethought it can be easier. Be aware of the symptoms of water stress.  Wilting and discoloration of foliage is the primary symptom. Trees and shrubs may lose their leaves in an attempt to reduce water loss through transpiration.  Wilting that occurs during the heat of a midsummer day is common and temporary; don’t fret about it. But, wilting that extends beyond the heat of the day, in particular wilting of a plant in the early morning can indicate a serious water shortage.

To prevent water stress, before plant damage occurs, you should try to anticipate water needs and supply water when there is a lack of rainfall. Keeping the water supply consistent is the trick to good plant growth and is also the challenge.  Some tips for making the job easier and more efficient follows: When watering always water deeply to encourage deep roots that are more resistant to drought.  Applying mulch 3-4” deep around all plants and in landscape beds will conserve moisture.  Using soaker hoses or installing a drip irrigation system is more effective than using overhead sprinklers. Benefits to using a drip irrigation system are less water loss to evaporation or runoff and it saves time. Because the water doesn’t touch plant leaves, the chances of moisture-related disease occurring is reduced. Finally, a drip irrigation system reduces soil compaction. Since drip irrigation releases water so slowly, compaction does not become a problem. Drip irrigation systems do require a little effort for installation, but is easily accomplished for most do-it-yourselfers.

Gardeners looking for new container vegetable varieties should look for “Orange Blaze” bell pepper seeds in their garden center seed racks. This 2011 All America selection  grows only two feet tall and produces small, bright orange bell peppers in only sixty five days from transplanting. Container grown plants can be moved into the garage overnight if an early freeze threatens. Also 2011 All America selections for container vegetables are two cherry tomatoes suitable for hanging basket or container production. Terenzo and Lizano produce ripe tomatoes in about sixty five days also.

Now is a critical time in the vegetable garden for weed management. Most vegetable gardens are just about finished with production and the tendency of most gardeners is to let the weeds grow in and around the spent corn stalks and tomato vines. The problem with this practice is the growing of tens of thousands of seeds that will grow weeds next year. One of the best things a gardener can do after the last pea is plucked is to take the vines and other old plants to the compost area. If composting is not part of your routine, run the lawn mower and cut down everything in the garden. Plant a cover crop of southern peas now if you are not going to grow anything else.

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