Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Corn Growers Shortcourse in Tifton

The Corn Shortcourse for 2013 is scheduled for Tuesday, January 15 at the RDC Conference Center in Tifton.

Due to good corn prices, interest in the program is expected to run high. This year's panel of three National Corn Grower Winners (from Georgia, Texas, and Missouri) is also expected to generate some strong interest.

The agenda includes presentations on Preventing Yield Losses to Diseases and Nematodes, results of 2012 Fertility Studies, Weed Control Systems, Insect Control Methods, Strategies to Manage Nitrogen, Outlook and Market Update for 2013, Strategies for Maintaining Top Yield Potential, and Knowing Your Corn's Growth and Development - A Better Way to Manage.

The day will also include a Georgia Corn Growers Association Business Meeting, refreshment break, lunch, door prizes, and trade exhibits.

For additional information, contact your local Cooperative Extension office (see righthand sidebar) or call the conference office at 229-386-3416.

Registration can be through the mail (Send your contact information and a check for the $5 registration fee to Corn Short Course, Tifton Campus Conference Center, 2360 Rainwater Road, Tifton, GA, 31793-5766) or through the online site at this link.

Registration fee at the door on the day of the event is $10.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Indoor Citrus for Gardeners Who Can't Wait for Spring

Key Lime flowers, in December.               Photo/Amy Whitney
For gardeners willing to risk potential scratches from long thorns, dwarf citrus trees grown in containers can be very rewarding. When the little trees are well-cared for, they tend to produce an abundance of sweet-smelling flowers that will, if pollinated, result in a lot of healthful, delicious fruit.

Illinois Cooperative Extension Education Specialist Sandra Mason provides a list of consistent indoor producers in the article "Add a tropical flair to your home with citrus": "Ones that bloom and fruit reliably indoors include Meyer lemon, Ponderosa lemon, Otaheite orange, Persian lime, calamondin orange and kumquats."

Although these all will bloom and fruit when grown outdoors year-round in warmer regions of the country, North Georgia is still a little too cold for most of these to survive the winter outside. Like in Illinois, gardeners in North Georgia who are tending citrus need to keep the trees indoors during the colder months.

Mason recommends keeping citrus outdoors in summer, and then moving the plants indoors when the temperatures outside get below 50 degrees F.  The plants will need to be placed near the sunniest windows, according to Mason, and humidity in their space will need to be kept fairly high.

The Mississippi State University publication "Growing Citrus in Containers in Mississippi" echoes Mason's recommendations and adds specific information on the best growing medium and fertilizers for citrus in containers.

For the growing medium, the MSU publication explains that "A good mixture is four to five parts ground pine bark and one part sand." Plants should be watered when moisture can no longer be detected "below the top inch or two of soil," and a slow-release fertilizer that contains the essential micronutrients iron, manganese, and zinc is recommended.

The MSU publication closes with this statement: "Mississippi gardeners can produce a limited amount of high quality citrus products by growing them in containers anywhere in the state. There are some challenges to this type of production, but the effort is worthwhile."

Ditto, for gardeners in Georgia!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Upcoming Events

Propagating Perennials
Friday, Jan. 11, Noon to 1:00 p.m. Free and open to the public. Bring your lunch and enjoy the presentation! Presented by Cobb County Master Gardener Electa Keil, at the County Water Lab at 660 S. Cobb Drive (the smaller brick building at the back of the property), as part of the ongoing Lunch & Learn presentation series of Cobb County Cooperative Extension's Master Gardener Volunteers of Cobb County. Electa will show us how to grow from seed and from both soft and hard wood cuttings.

The Art of Pruning
Monday, Jan. 14, 6:30 - 7:30 p.m. Free and open to the public. Presented by Cobb County Master Gardener Pam Bohlander, at East Cobb Regional Library, as part of the ongoing Gardeners Night Out presentation series of Cobb County Cooperative Extension's Master Gardener Volunteers of Cobb County.

Friday, December 7, 2012

A Soil Test Now Can Save Some Pain Later

When a lawn or garden is doing less well than we are hoping for, in spite of a lot of time and  money spent on planting, fertilizing, and watering, an answer to the question of "what's wrong?" can sometimes be found in the results of a soil test.

To encourage healthy plants, getting the soil "right" is incredibly important. A routine soil test can help by identifying the pH and the balance of major nutrients of the soil in question. In general, soils in Cobb County tend to be more acidic than most turfgrass and garden plants will do well in, but it is actually possible to apply so much limestone to the soil that the pH is raised too high.

When the pH is beyond the most optimal range (which varies, depending on the kinds of plants being grown), the plants are less able to use the nutrients that may have been added to the soil, in either fertilizer or composts.

The value of a soil test, such as one done at the soils lab at UGA, is that it will not only identify the soil's pH and nutrient levels, but it also will provide a recommendation for how much limestone (or not) and specific fertilizers should be applied to benefit the desired plants.

Adjusting a soil's pH is a long-term project. Applications of limestone for raising the pH, or sulfur for lowering the pH, won't make a big difference right away; it takes months to work. If a soil test done now finds that the pH is too low for the desired plants (Bermudagrass, for example), then applying limestone now, or very soon, will give it more time to work ahead of the growing season.

The UGA publication Soil Testing for Home Lawns, Gardens, and Wildlife Food Plots provides instructions for taking soil samples, including that about 2 cups of soil should be brought to the local Cooperative Extension office for sending to UGA. Currently in Cobb County, the routine soil test costs $8, as of Jan. 2016, and it can take seven-to-ten days to get the results, which can be returned via either email or U.S. Postal Service.