Growin’ Green

Flower Bed Planning And Preparation

By Brent Gray


Plan flower beds carefully. Consider the mature heights of various plantings so you can see and enjoy each group. Color combinations are also important. Plant pleasing blends as well as suitable contrasts. Do not plant too close. Take into consideration the ultimate width of each plant so that plants do not become too crowded. Try new types and cultivars to add interest to your plantings.
Prepare flowerbeds carefully.  Good drainage is necessary. Work beds thoroughly and deeply. Incorporate organic matter, limestone, and fertilizer into flowerbeds.
Remember to protect established roots and sprouts of perennials growing in flowerbeds, which will also be planted with annuals. Either work around perennials or lift them, work the bed, and reset them.
After the danger of frost has passed and the ground begins to warm, plant all tender flower plants like ageratum, begonia, coleus, geranium, impatiens, marigold, petunia, periwinkle and zinnia. Tender warm season vines like moonflower, morning glory, scarlet runner bean, and hyacinth bean can be planted after the ground warms and all danger of frost has passed.
 
Spring Dead Spot
Perfectly Named

Each spring as homeowners begin mowing, fertilizing, and watering their lawns my telephone and email inquiries pick up with questions concerning turfgrass diseases. The first calls generally come from homeowners having dead circular patches in their hybrid bermudagrass lawns.  Man-agers of golf courses and athletic fields are quite familiar with this root-infecting disease referred to as Spring Dead Spot. The symptoms of this disease problem becomes quite evident as healthy turf breaks dormancy and begins to green the diseased circular patches remain brown.  The demise and eventual death of these patchy areas actually began as early as last fall and through the winter months.  There may be one or more pathogens (Lep-tosphaeria spp., Gaeuman-nomyces spp., Ophiosphae-rella sp.) infecting and colonizing the roots and stolons of the bermudagrass. Even though the infection began as early as last summer the symptoms were not evident then because of the turf’s regenerative capacity then. Once temperatures cooled below turf growth the disease got the better hand.
While filling in of these areas may be slow usually the turf will recover by the end of the summer as healthy turf around these patches grows back into the dead spots.  The disease often shows back up in the same areas in following years.   A slightly lower cutting height to encourage lateral growth, keeping thatch to a minimum, aerification to stimulate root growth, and a well-balanced fertility and watering regime will speed recovery. Weed competition must also be managed. To reduce the severity of spring dead spot next winter maintain adequate potassium levels, keep thatch levels below three-quarters of an inch, and raise the mowing height towards the end of the growing season.  Fall applications of selected fungicides have given some protection.
 
Vegetables
The fifty percent chance of frost date has passed for Mississippi, so warm season things can go into the ground now. Patty pan squash growers have a new shade to add to their palette for colorful sauteed squash. Total Eclipse is a darker green than most of the green skinned “flying saucer” varieties and can contrast with lighter green, yellow and white skinned baby squash in a colorful side dish. Patty pan squash are grown just like yellow crookneck and zucchini.
Honeydew melon lovers may want to switch gears a little and look for “Melemon” plants. Melemon is a 2013 All-America Garden winner that competes with honeydew melons for sweetness, but has a trait that makes it easier for novice growers. Melemon is a frog skin melon that changes rind color as the melon ripens. The skin becomes lighter going from a medium green to chartreuse. Cantaloupe slip when ripe, but honeydew melons have such a subtle color change it is difficult to determine when they are ripe. Melemon will deliver the extra sweetness of a honeydew without having to guess when it is time to harvest. The down side of this new melon is the 85-90 day wait from planting to harvest.
Keep an eye on your cabbage plants.  Harvest the heads if the top starts to bulge. The bulge is generally due to the stem starting to grow into a flower stalk. Once that happens, the plant will send all of its energy into the stalk rather than into the leaves and the cabbage will become progressively less sweet.

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