Cooperative Extension

Planting a fall cover crop will benefit your spring garden

Posted on
Thursday, August 25, 2016

If you decide not to plant a fall garden, consider planting a cover crop to give your garden a neat appearance while helping to protect the soil from erosion.

Cover crops also add rich, organic nutrients when they are tilled in the spring. A combination cover crop of a small grain (wheat, rye or oats) mixed with a legume (clover or Austrian winter peas) works well. The small grain serves as a nurse and protects the slower germinating clover or peas.

Clover is a very small seed, so mixed with wheat, it takes a pound or less to cover the average garden. Clover must be inoculated if it is not inoculated when you buy it. Inoculation covers the seed in black, powdered bacteria that helps digest the seed coat and increases germination.

The best way to inoculate seed is to combine the seed and a bag of inoculant in a small bucket with a little soft drink. Hand-mix the seed, inoculant and soft drink so that the seed is thoroughly combined with the black powder and soft drink. Use just enough soft drink to help the bacteria stick to the seed. Next, mix in a few pounds of small grain, such as wheat, and spread the mixture with a hand spreader on a tilled garden.

New varieties provide a host of bloom colors, plant sizes

Posted on
Thursday, August 25, 2016

Fall is the perfect time to admire blooming shrubs and trees. In many areas of the state, people take great pride in adorning their landscape with spectacular shrubs that exhibit color, shape and texture.

Some people would love to have a better-looking landscape, but are fearful of picking out the proper plants. By making careful selections, you can enhance your landscape and add showstoppers that create curb appeal.

It is essential to first take a good inventory of your existing landscape. Educate yourself on your landscape’s sunlight exposure, slope, drainage and soil type. All of these factors can have a huge effect on what you can successively grow. By nature, some plants prefer shade, while others thrive in full sun. Some plants adapt to either location. Some plants prefer moist environments, while others must have impeccable drainage to survive.

It is also important to pay attention to the mature size of the plants. There is nothing worse than placing a small, 1-gallon container plant in an area where there is no room for expansion, especially if the shrub will ultimately grow to a mature height and spread of 15 to 20 feet.

It’s not too late to plant homegrown tomatoes

Posted on
Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Bob Westerfield spends his days growing vegetables and watching for problems. As University of Georgia Extension’s consumer vegetable horticulturist, he answers questions from backyard gardeners and Extension agents across the state. In the summer months, most of the questions are about tomatoes.

“I’d say 90 out of 100 vegetable calls I get in the summer are about tomatoes,” said Westerfield. “I’m not a huge fan of eating fresh tomatoes, but those who do say the fresh-grown taste is incredible. I want to love to eat them, but I just don’t like them. But I will eat them cooked, and I love ketchup.”

Plant second crop, or first, now

With Georgia’s long summer growing season, Westerfield says it’s not too late to “grab some transplants and put them in the ground” and enjoy your own homegrown tomato harvest.

“Some folks planted tomatoes early and are pulling tomatoes now. On my farm, we stagger our plantings, so that we have some tomatoes that are almost red and some just in the blooming stage,” he said.

When planting tomatoes, Westerfield says you have to keep your personal preference in mind when selecting a variety. What do you plan to do with the tomatoes? Do you want something easy tomatoes to eat fresh or ones to use for canning?

Squash vine borers on gardeners’ hit list

Posted on
Thursday, July 31, 2014

Backyard squash growers may not agree on which variety is best, but they do agree on one thing – squash vine borers are the enemy.

The small larvae burrow through squash plant stems, wilting and eventually killing what appear to be lush, healthy plants. Since they are hidden inside the plant, most home gardeners have no idea the pests are there until the plants wither and die.

 

Squash vine borers overwinter in the soil, usually where squash or zucchini plants were planted the previous season. When the adults emerge from the soil, they lay eggs on the base of the stems of susceptible plants.

They love squash, too

The tiny destructive pests love to lay their eggs on summer squash, zucchini, winter squash and pumpkin plants but seldom attack cucumber and melons. After about a week, a pale larvae hatches and eats its way into the plant stems near soil-level. As water flow is cut off, the plant wilts and literally collapses.

There is no tried and true successful method to control the pest, but University of Georgia experts do offer tips for gardeners who choose to put up a fight.

To stay ahead of the pests, plant squash as early as possible so the plants are producing before the 6 to 8 summer weeks vine borers are active.

UGA’s presence felt at Sunbelt Agricultural Expo

Posted on
Monday, October 24, 2016

University of Georgia President Jere W. Morehead and other university administrators celebrated the opening of the 2016 Sunbelt Agricultural Expo by visiting the opening day of the three-day trade show Oct. 18 in Moultrie. 

This is the fourth consecutive year Morehead has taken part in the Expo festivities since becoming president of UGA in 2013. As he has in previous years, Morehead toured the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences building at Spence Field where he spoke with student ambassadors and visited with key agricultural leaders in Georgia.

"I always enjoy returning to South Georgia for this exciting event and seeing firsthand the critical role that the University of Georgia plays in supporting the state of Georgia's agriculture industry," Morehead said. "Coming to Sunbelt is a highlight of mine every year, and I am thankful to have had the opportunity to show support for our wonderful College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences."

Smoke from Georgia's wildfires spreading across northern Georgia

Posted on
Friday, November 18, 2016

If you’ve walked outside during the last week, you’ve probably noticed the smell of smoke in the air. The current exceptional drought covering much of northern Georgia and surrounding states has created perfect conditions for the growth of wildfires, which can be caused by careless trash burning, sparks from chains dragging behind trailers, or in a few cases, arson. 

The smoke from the fires can be carried a long way downwind, and winds from the north this week have directed a lot of the smoke right at Athens and Atlanta. Because of high atmospheric pressure,which acts like a lid on the smoke plumes, the smoke is concentrated near the ground. As the wind shifts around with the weather patterns, areas may see exceptionally heavy smoke or may experience clearer conditions. 

Air quality conditions can be tracked at the Environmental Protection Agency’s AirNow website at airnow.gov. A web page devoted to the fires and plumes can be found at www.airnow.gov/index.cfm?action=topics.smoke_wildfires. Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division of Air Quality also provides a map of current conditions at amp.georgiaair.org.

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Master 4-H'ers credit Georgia 4-H for teaching them public speaking, leadership skills

Posted on
Thursday, August 4, 2016

Born with autism, 19-year-old Christopher Morgan didn’t speak until he was 4 years old. Today, Morgan is one of 47 Georgia 4-H members who earned the coveted title of “Master 4-H’er” at the annual Georgia 4-H State Congress, held July 26-28 in Atlanta.

State Congress symbolizes the end of a year of hard work and dedication by Georgia 4-H youths. Students select an area of study, give an oral presentation before judges at their respective District Project Achievement (DPA) and participate in service and leadership events in their communities. Regional first place winners compete at the state competition in a variety of categories including history, horses, performing arts, and public speaking. Each student gives a 12-minute presentation before expert judges and prepares a portfolio detailing their research, leadership and service projects.

“It's a great way to make you learn more about what you love to do in life. It also teaches you life skills you will need to use throughout your life,” said Morgan of Warner Robins, Georgia. “For me, District Project Achievement changed my life by helping me win the battle against my autism. I couldn't talk until I was 4 years old, and when I finally was able to talk, I took 12 years of speech therapy to improve my public speaking skills.”

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Upcoming field day to showcase UGA research

Posted on
Thursday, July 28, 2016

An upcoming field day on Wednesday, Aug. 10, at the University of Georgia Southwest Georgia Research and Education Center (SWERC) in Plains, Georgia, will showcase cutting-edge agriculture research to farmers, UGA Cooperative Extension county agents and industry personnel.

Scientists representing UGA’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences on the Tifton and Griffin campuses will be discussing projects on Georgia's high-value agricultural crops, such as cotton, peanuts, corn and sorghum.

“This field day is important because the local farmers, agricultural businessmen and county Extension agents get a chance to see, firsthand, the research conducted here and talk with the specialists who will be speaking about their research,” said Stan Jones, SWERC superintendent.

The field day will begin at 8:30 a.m. with opening remarks from Jones and Joe West, assistant dean of the UGA Tifton Campus, who also oversees the SWREC in Plains. The program, which will conclude at noon, will include remarks from UGA scientists regarding insect management, fungicide treatments and statewide variety testing in cotton, peanuts and soybeans.

UGA turfgrass research field day just weeks away

Posted on
Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Whether you're a homeowner, new landscape company owner or a veteran golf course superintendent, you'll find the latest research-based information on growing and maintaining turfgrass at the University of Georgia Turfgrass Research Field Day.

Registration starts at 8 a.m. on Aug. 4 and tours begin at 9:15 a.m. and conclude at 2:30 p.m. The daylong event will be held rain or shine on the turfgrass research plots at the UGA campus in Griffin, Ga.

Residential and commercial lawn topics

UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences researchers and Extension specialists will present the latest information on how to care for residential lawns, commercial golf courses, athletic fields and any other space covered with turfgrass. Field day topics will include how to control weeds, insects and diseases, managing seed heads, heat and drought tolerance and an update on the UGA turfgrass breeding programs.

Guided tours will be offered in Spanish for Spanish-speaking attendees.

The field day is certified for private and commercial pesticide recertification credits in Georgia and neighboring states. A license number is required to receive the field day credits.

A catered BBQ lunch will be followed by displays and demonstrations of the latest turfgrass industry equipment. The self-guided portion of the research tour begins at 1:15 p.m.