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Growin’ Green

Wastewater Operators Course Jan. 22

By Brent Gray

There will be a private applicators training on Tuesday, Jan. 15 at 9 a.m.  Training is at the Yalobusha  Multi-Purpose Building.  The training will last ap-proximately two hours and there is a $10 charge.  Remember, to buy restricted chemicals you must have this license. If you need additional information on this, please contact me at our office at (662) 675-2730.
MDEQ is sponsoring a workshop for our state’s wastewater operators on Jan. 22 from 9 a. m. – 4 p. m. For more information please contact Michelle Burns, Environmental Operator Trainer, Mississippi Depart-ment of Environmental Quality at (662) 234-3733 or email

Though best known for their foliage, some aucubas also have red berries useful in holiday decorations. If your plant fails to produce berries, it’s either a male plant or a female that needs pollinating.  The selection Variegata (commonly called Gold-dust plant) is always female, while Picturata is always male.
Orchids — Of the gift plants available at this time of year, phalaenopsis orchids may the most economical buy, if you prize long lasting blooms. Plants may cost $25 or more, but the flower last 3 to 4 months.  Look for plants with branched stems or more than one stem per plant.
Bromeliads — When grown indoors, bromeliads should be planted in soil that is allowed to dry slightly between waterings.  However, when grown outdoors or in a greenhouse, the plant survives nicely on a piece of driftwood where aerial roots hold it in place.  In this case, fill the cup formed by the circle of leaves at the center of the plant with water.
Houseplants — Now that you’ve brought them all indoors, prune overgrown plants by removing entire branches. If you have a lot of plants, try grouping them so your home doesn’t look like a horticultural orphanage. Set small pots on top of the soil beneath potted trees.  Use big baskets with other containers to combine several separate plants into a temporary garden.
Flea beetles and other hard bodied insects are attacking greens in Mississippi. Flea beetles are very small round beetles that make very small round holes in greens’ leaves. Organic growers should use pyrellin since the normal insecticide we use on greens, insecticidal soap, just gives you clean beetles. Sevin is an effective beetle killer for non-organic growers, but it has a two week waiting period before you can harvest. Pyrethroids like bifenthrin have shorter waiting periods. Pyrethroids are the man made versions of the organic pyrellin. Be sure to follow the label recommendations whenever you use a pesticide.
Fall planted cabbage should be getting ready for harvest soon.  Although you can leave the heads in the fields for a while after they become firm, try to get them harvested within a week to ten days after they are dense to a good squeeze. The interior leaves are still expanding and the head may split if you leave them too long. Split heads are edible, but the ruptured leaves are an avenue of entry for insects and disease organisms.
Smother crop was once the term used for what we now call cover crops. Smother crops were grown to suppress weed growth by growing something to keep the sunlight from reaching the weeds. Consider growing a smother or cover crop of leafy greens like turnip, kale, collards or mustard after you have harvested your last vegetables from the garden. These grow quickly and provide erosion protection as well as weed suppression. Other suggestions to prevent an invasion of henbit and annual bluegrass include a three inch layer of leaves, three layers of newspaper, or growing another cool season crop like carrots, sugar snap peas, or  onions. Remember the coldest temperatures are ahead of us, so  half hardy things like lettuce are still a gamble.
As we move through the holiday season and reflect on the many blessings of this past year we can also include those derived from our lawns and gardening activities. We can remember the hot days of summer when our lawns were as much as 30 degrees cooler than the paved street or driveway.  
The tremendous capabilities for noise abatement, filtering of dust and pollens from the air, prevention of erosion and water filtration, production of oxygen to breathe, and the sheer gratification from their aesthetics and beauty. Not only did your efforts throughout the growing season keep your lawn healthy, but your own physical and mental health in exercise and stress relief was benefited as well.
This will be the last turf tip of the year so let me take this opportunity to thank each of you for your interest each week and especially for your questions, inputs and ideas throughout the year.  I hope that these tips have been helpful in keeping your lawn beautiful and healthy.   
In extending my greetings to everyone. I wish you a very joyous New Year and successful lawn maintenance in 2013.
Horticulture Tips
Wayne Wells, Lelia Kelly, David Nagel

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