2/5/2014 6:00:00 AM Vegetable tasks for this time of year
BY MIKE REED
Many gardeners think that a cold winter like we are having will decrease the insect pressure in the spring. This is true for a few insects, but the majority of insect pests are only slightly delayed by starting with fewer than normal over wintered adults. Some aphid eggs can survive temperatures well below zero.
There are several things to get done before the end of February. Planning and planting are at the forefront of the list, but there are other tasks which need to be completed before March is here. Winter cover crops should be turned in at least a month before planting the crop to eat. This allows the plants to decompose and release their nutrients. Wood ashes or lime should be applied if the soil is acidic. You can test the soil pH yourself with a kit from the garden center or with pH paper from the hobby or chemistry store. You can get your soil tested for acidity and nutrient levels for $6 at the local extension office. Vegetables grow best when the soil pH levels are between 6.2 and 7.5, but few vegetable grow well when the pH level is below 5.2.Thoroughly mixing liming materials with soil will begin acid neutralization immediately and will probably have pH levels well raised in a few weeks.
Keep in mind that tomatoes, peppers, and other spring garden favorites should be started "under protection" about six weeks before the last frost for your area. Vine crops like cantaloupe, cucumber and watermelon should be started three weeks prior to last frost. You can find the anticipated last frost date at http://www.plantmaps.com/interactive-mississippi-last-frost-date-map.php. It surprises people that Clarksdale (75 miles south of Memphis) and Hattiesburg (75 miles north of the Gulf of Mexico) share the same frost dates.
If you would like more information on the 4-H Gardening project, give me a call. My phone number is (601) 656-4602.
Feb. 6 - Neshoba County 4-H Horse Club Meeting, 6 p.m., Neshoba Coliseum.
Feb. 12 - Leadership Neshoba, 8 a.m., Community Development Partnership Depot.