Make Plans To Attend The State Fair
The weather this weekend was almost perfect other than being so dry and dusty. I was able to work on a few projects around the house that had been neglected like trimming shrubs, cleaning flowerbeds and cleaning the outside of my house. This weekend also was nice for bow hunting and squirrel hunting which I did not get to do because of the forementioned projects.
I also got the chance to work in the fall garden with my oldest son, Levi, who is five. We were cleaning off tomato beds and dead plants and getting them ready to plant greens that could be watered. On Sunday evening after all of the old debris was picked up we started trying to plant some seeds on the plastic mulch beds. I had the bright idea that I would go down the mulch bed and poke holes across the bed the whole length of the bed and then just put a few seeds in each hole. Like I said before, Levi was helping me, and he wanted to help plant some seeds. I gave him a handful of kale seeds (probably several hundred) and he planted about 10 holes with that handful. He ended up getting several handfuls and planted several holes, I have a feeling there is going to be kale everywhere.
Coming up this weekend and next week I will be traveling to Jackson to the state fair to work at the cattle shows. I am a little embarrassed to say that this will be a new experience for me. I am really looking forward to all of the fair activities and specialty fried foods. I would encourage all that don’t have plans this weekend or next weekend to look at going to the fair.
If you plan on ordering cheese this year from Mississippi State, now is the time to do so. Cheese orders can be placed online at msucheese.com or just call the Extension Office at 662-675-2730.
As we move into the cooler days of fall, it is a good time to stroll through the garden and take notes of what worked and what didn’t. Make those design plans now for that great garden next spring. Now, I know you are thinking, “Sure, easy for you to say; but I am no designer!” I say, “Oh, yes you are!” First, relax. It is your garden. Do what looks pleasing and functional to you. There is a tremendous amount of information on landscape design in books, on the internet—but, ultimately you are the judge of what works for you. Use the resources only to guide you in your decisions.
For beginners, I would suggest the following easy principles to get you started and give you some confidence.
1) Put plants with opposite texture, shape, and form next to each other. Contrasting plants tend to “show off’ each other. One classic example, is combining the upright, spiky forms of ornamentals grasses with a plant like ‘Autumn Joy’ sedum, or combining Siberian iris with peonies.
2) Remember massing of the same plant is more effective than a single species here another species there, unless you are using one plant as a specimen or focal point. More on focal points later. Masses or groups consisting of odd numbers are more interesting than even numbers. Group like colors of the same species together for a bolder effect than mixing a lot of different colors together—that is not to say you can’t mix up colors if that is what you prefer! If you like that look, which is more the ‘cottage garden’ look try to edge the planting with the same plant or hardscape to tie it all together and give some continuity. For example, a low edging of boxwood, monkey grass, or even a low fence would work great.
3. Pay attention to which plants retain good foliage throughout the season, and use them. This will build an interesting framework of foliage, so you won’t notice so much the plants that look ratty and scraggly after they bloom—like peonies and bearded iris.
4. Plan for a focal point each month. Make it fun! Your focal points can be striking in color or outrageous in shape and form. Focal points should be in places of high visibility, catch and hold the eye. Examples would be by the front door, at the entrance to the driveway. Next to a favorite bench or sitting area, or right outside a favorite window, so it can be viewed from inside the house. An example of an easy focal point for October would be a large pumpkin by the front door that has had the top removed and the insides hollowing out. Fill with soil, plant with pansies or other blooming small plants, stick in a few cut stems of ornamental grass blooms or other interesting branches to give it some vertical line or height and you are done.
Vegetables can be a part of your landscape design. Red mustards like Red Giant, Osaka Purple and Garnet Giant and red lettuces provide a purple-red splash of color. One of the most striking edible landscape plants is curly leafed red kale. Varieties like Redbor and Scarlet, create a mound of purple that can stand as high as two feet. Dinosaur kale is an intense dark green and harvesting single leaves eventually creates a miniature palm tree in the garden. Peas on a trellis provide white or pastel flowers.
Everything in the vegetable garden should be growing well now. Irrigation is likely necessary for most gardens since rain has been widely scattered. Crops need an inch of water each week. Warm season crops should be safe for another month since the National weather service is calling for above normal temperatures and below normal rainfall. The three month forecast is the same. Late planted tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers and other warm season crops actually do very well when temperatures are in the seventies and eighties during the day as long as lows remain above fifty. Cool season crops have been delayed by the higher than normal temperatures, but will grow much better when temperatures remain below eighty five.
Cooler weather brings out the desire to build things outdoors. Raised bed and container structures for cool season production make sense for those of us with poorly drained soil. Make sure the beds are eight inches deep for most root crops like turnip, rutabaga and beet. Carrot growers should make the beds at least ten inches unless they are growing short rooted varieties. Imperator type carrots can grow a foot long root, so make sure your variety fits your growing condition.
(Horticulture tips provided by Dr. Leila Kelly and Dr. David Nagel.)