By Brent Gray
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 So-ciety website. Address is http://www.ahs.org/gardening-resources/gardening-maps/heat-zone-map.
In our climate the heat tolerance of plants can be a more limiting factor for plant survival than cold tolerance.
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.
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.
High temperatures in the eighties and lows in the sixties are ideal weather for almost everything in the vegetable garden If your plants are not growing very rapidly now you need to investigate the reason. Nematodes are the silent weakener to vegetable plants the way that high blood pressure is the silent killer in people. The visible symptoms on the green part of the plant are slow growth, pale color and unexpected wilting. Nematodes are microscopic worms that attack the roots of the plants and prevent the root hairs and feeder roots from absorbing water and nutrients. Roots may exhibit thickening of the tips or may develop galls. You have to dig up the root system to see the symptoms. Contact your local county extension office for the nematode kit to send a sample to the lab if you think you have a problem.
Delta Residents take note: There will be a workshop on starting in the commercial vegetable growing industry on October 11 in the Washington County convention center. Contact Dr. Cindy Ayers, President Mississippi Fruit and Vegetable Growers Associa-tion at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.This is the time to transplant broccoli and cabbage into the garden. These plants can tolerate frosts and light freezes. Make sure the plants have white roots. Plant them in very moist soil and apply 1/2 pound of nitrogen per 100 row feet to get them growing well.
Don’t forget the Truck Crops Fall Flower and Garden Fest on October 17 and 18.
Container gardeners should be planning on their cool season vegetables just as the in ground growers. Containers left empty develop weed and insect problems when neglected. Ants can turn a pot of planting mix into a well-drained nest in just a few weeks.
Consider helping at the local school garden if you are tired of your own. Many schools in Mississippi are helping children develop an appreciation for vegetables by growing a raised bed or two on the school grounds. Call your local school office and see if they could use your expertise.