By Brent Gray
Don’t be bowled over by the flashy marketing and promises of some web plant sources. Do some comparison shopping, comparing size, cost, ship dates, mode of shipping, guarantees, etc. When you find a good online source stick with them.
Don’t forget to check local garden centers and nurseries. They may be able to order the plant for you and get an even better deal and a bigger plant by combining your order with others.
Most gardeners today are becoming savvier with online ordering of plants. Be a discerning shopper. First, know the plant is well suited to this climate. Usually plant hardiness zone information is provided. Check the heat hardiness of perennials to see if they are heat tolerant for the south. If you are not familiar with the heat zones, check out the heat zone map on the American Horticulture Society website. The addess is http://www.ahs.org /pdfs/05_heat_map.pdf. In our climate the heat tolerance of plants can be a more limiting factor for plant survival than cold tolerance.
If you will be getting plants this fall or winter, prepare the bed or planting area now, if possible. That way, you can get the plants directly into the ground without delay when they arrive. If you do want to plant in the fall or winter, place your orders as soon as possible to get the best selection and to have the plants on hand for planting at the best time.
It is planting time for direct seeded onions and strawberries. Check your local garden center for onions adapted to Mississippi conditions. Make sure the variety is a short or intermediate day type. Long day onions do not start to bulb until the temperatures are too high for the plant to grow. Short day onions will be ready for harvest for bulbs in June, intermediate day onions will be harvested in July. Plant the seed about one inch apart in rows at least five inches apart. This allows you to have green onions for Christmas utilizing the plants you remove to reach the right population for bulbs. You can pull the onion plant at any time and use it as a scallion. Onions have very short roots so irrigation is a necessity, particularly during October. Short roots also require frequent, small fertilizer applications.
Strawberry plants should be available at garden centers upon request. Spring bearing varieties like Chandler, Tangi, and Cama-rosa are harvested in May and early June while ever bearing varieties like Albion and Ozark Beauty make smaller berries over a longer period. Make arrangements to be notified when the plants arrive and plant that same day. Planting depth is critical since strawberry crowns planted too deeply will have difficulty producing leaves and crowns set above the soil surface will have problems growing roots.Make sure the crown is on the soil surface and irrigate the same day you plant to create a good crown to soil contact. The plants are very cold tolerant, but the flowers are killed by frost. Planting in October may set a few berries during the winter if temperatures remain above forty degrees.
Remember the Fall Flower and Garden Fest at Truck Crops Experiment Station October 18 and 19.
Some homeowners like to over seed their lawn with perennial ryegrass to have a green lawn during winter. Annual ryegrass is not well adapted to this practice and should not be used. Over seeding is detrimental to the warm season lawn grass, but it can be very attractive. Prepare for over seeding by gradually decreasing your mowing height for a few weeks. Germination of the perennial ryegrass is much better if the lawn is watered after seeding. Remember that over seeded lawns require the same amount of maintenance all winter as the warm season lawn required all summer.